Thursday, June 7, 2012

Jesus: The Supreme Revelation of God the Father

The Greek word λόγος that lies behind the English translation the Word in John 1:1, 14 was used by some Greek Stoic philosophers to designate reason, which was thought of as being the basic principle which gives structure to the universe. But to understand the significance of logos in John 1, the concept of word needs to be placed primarily within a Jewish framework rather than a Greek one. In a Jewish context in which the Hebrew Bible is greatly influential, this concept would be linked in the first instance to the concept of the word of God. The word of God is the primary vehicle of divine revelation in the Old Testament. The obvious thematic connections between John 1 and Gen 1 (e.g., the phrase in the beginning, and the concepts of creation, life, light, darkness) also suggest that the concept of logos in John 1 should be understood in a manner consistent with the concept of word in Gen 1. Ten times the expression and God said occurs in Gen 1. The concept of word back in the beginning, as recorded in Gen 1, is the word of God, the word of divine fiat. The primary function of the word of God is revelation, the communication of God’s thoughts.

The Logos, therefore, is the Word in the sense that he uniquely reveals God. But with what are we to identify this Word? The key to identity of the Word is found in John 1:14, where John says: “the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.” It is obvious that John understood that the Word became incarnate in Jesus at a particular point in human history. The Word in more technical theological terminology is the second person of the Trinity, who is understood in John 1:14 to have become incarnate in the person of Jesus. In other words, Jesus is the incarnation of the Logos, who is the eternal self-revelation of God.

The revelatory function of the Logos is confirmed by the way in which the prologue in John 1 concludes: “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known” (John 1:18). The Logos makes known (i.e., reveals) the Father. The Logos becoming incarnate in Jesus makes Jesus the supreme revelation of God the Father. The implication stemming from this is that a person cannot truly know God without knowing Jesus.

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