Q&A: What is logos?

What is logos?

Question

It appears the word logos is used differently in the Bible than it is in philosophy. Can you briefly explain this?

Answer

In John 1:1 we read, "In the beginning was the Word [Logos], and the Word [Logos] was with God, and the Word [Logos] was God." The Greek term "logos" is translated as "word," "principle" or "thought."

But why does John emphasize this term so much? Three times in one verse!!! Because John desires to connect with the readers of his day and introduce them to Jesus.

In John's time, the term logos carried a lot of philosophical baggage with it. Ancient Greek philosophy desired to find ultimate truth. They desired to answer the ultimate question(s) of reality. In time, they settled on logos to describe this ultimate reality. Logos was the term they used to give meaning to the entire universe. According to Greek philosophy, it is the logos that not only gave life, but gave the meaning to life as well. In Greek philosophy logos meant a universal divine reason and creative order.

Being a master apologist and desiring to convince those that read his gospel of the ultimate truth, John reveals that the Logos is not some mere impersonal force as in philosophy, but instead a living personal being. In John's gospel the Logos literally became incarnate (John 1:14) who by grace alone (John 1:13, 16, 17) can be accepted (John 1:12). Jesus Christ is God, the Creator of the entire universe. He is the ultimate reality (John 1:1-4). It is Jesus alone that gives meaning and purpose to life.

So, the Holy Spirit's logos is more than some mere impersonal logic, act, deed, or divine reason. [1] Rather the Logos is a He and not merely an it. For John the Logos is personally active in creation, revelation, and redemption. In John's gospel:

Jesus is eternal ("In the beginning was the Word," John 1:1)
Jesus the Son is distinct from God the Father ("the Word was with God," John 1:1, 2)
Jesus is God ("the Word was God," John 1:1)
Jesus is the Creator ("All things were made through him," John 1:3, 9)
Jesus is the giver of life ("In him was life," John 1:4)
Jesus is the ultimate value and guide ("the life was the light of men," John 1:4-5)
Jesus has a name ("in his name," John 1:12)
Jesus became incarnate ("the Word became flesh," John 1:14)
Jesus came to live upon the earth ("and dwelt among us," John 1:14)
And Jesus is the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14)

So, John's Logos is personal. He is God, the Creator, the giver of life, the ultimate value and guide, the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth, who came to live upon this very earth. In the fullness of time, Jesus died, but he resurrected up from the dead to the right hand of God the Father and rules over his kingdom. At the consummation of all things, he will personally come again and take his children to their eternal home.

God is not just a concept. He is a personal Being. Do you know him?

Note

Aristotle (384-322 BC) was a Greek philosopher during the Classical period in Ancient Greece. He used three terms to explain how rhetoric, or modes of persuasion, work. These three terms are: (1); ethos (2); pathos; and (3) logos. Ethos is often called an appeal to ethics. It is a means of convincing an audience thru the authority of the persuader. Pathos is called an appeal to emotion. It is a way of convincing an audience of an argument by creating an emotional response. Logos is often referred to as an appeal to logic. It is a way of persuading an audience with reason, using such things as facts and figures.

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).