What is Logos in the Bible? Its Definition and Significance

Logos is the Greek word transcribed as “reason,” “word,” “speech,” or “principle.” In Greek philosophy, it related to a universal, divine reason or the mind of God. The gospel of John connected this Greek term with the nature and existence of God and Jesus Christ.
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What is Logos in the Bible? Its Definition and Significance

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1

What is Logos?

Logos is broadly defined as the Word of God, or principle of divine reason and creative order, identified in the Gospel of John with the second person of the Trinity incarnate in Jesus Christ.

The concept of the Logos has had a crucial and far-reaching influence upon philosophical and Christian thought. The term has a long history, and the development of the idea it embodies is really the unfolding of man's conception of God. To understand the relationship of the Deity to the world has been the goal of all religious philosophy. While diverging views as to the Divine manifestation have been conceived, the Greek word logos has been used with a certain degree of agreement by a series of thinkers to express and define the nature and form of God's revelation.

Logos means in classical Greek both "reason" and "word." The translation "thought" is probably the best equivalent for the Greek term, since it indicates, on the one hand, the faculty of reason, or the thought inwardly conceived in the mind; and, on the other hand, the thought outwardly expressed through the vehicle of language. The two ideas thought and speech, are indubitably blended in the term logos; and in every employment of the word, in philosophy and Scripture, both concepts of thought and its outward expression are closely connected.

Logos in the Bible

According to gotquestions.org, In the New Testament, the Gospel of John begins, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was at the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:1-4). Here it is clear that the “Word” or Logos is a reference to Jesus Christ. 

The Gospel of John 1:1-14 - The Word Became Flesh

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth"

John argues that Jesus, the Word or Logos, is eternal and is God. Further, all creation came about by and through Jesus, who is presented as the source of life. Amazingly, this Logos came and lived among us: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

John’s Gospel begins by using the Greek idea of a “divine reason” or “the mind of God” as a way to connect with the readers of his day, who mostly spoke Greek, and introduce Jesus to them as God. Greek philosophy may have used the word in reference to divine reason, but John used it to note many of the attributes of Jesus. In John’s use of the Logos concept, we find that

-Jesus is eternal (“In the beginning was the Word”)

-Jesus was with God prior to coming to earth (“the Word was with God”)

-Jesus is God (“the Word was God.”)

-Jesus is Creator (“All things were made through him”)

-Jesus is the Giver of Life (“In him was life”)

-Jesus became human to live among us (“the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”)

The Meaning and Significance of Logos 

In reference to the history and development of Logos, the Gospel of John mentions two phases: creation and revelation. The Word reveals Himself through the mediation of objects of sense and also manifests Himself directly. Therefore, in this part of the prologue (John 1:3-5), a threefold distinction also occurs.

(i) He is the Creator of the visible universe. "All things were made through him"--a phrase which describes the Logos as the origin of the entire creative activity of God and excludes the idea favored by Plato and Philo that God was only the architect who formed the cosmos from previously existing matter. 

(ii) The Logos is also the source of the intellectual, moral and spiritual life of man. "In him was life, and the life was the light of men." He is the light as well as the life--the fountain of all the various forms of being and thought in and by whom all created things live, and from whom all obtain understanding. 

(iii) The climax of Divine revelation is expressed in the statement, The Word became flesh," which implies, on the one hand, the reality of Christ's humanity, and, on the other, the voluntariness of His incarnation, but excludes the notion that in becoming a man the Logos ceased to be God. Though clothed in flesh, the Logos continues to be the self-manifesting God, and retains, even in human form, the character of the Eternal One. In physical creation, the power of God is revealed. In the bestowal of light to mankind, His wisdom is chiefly manifested. But in the third especially is His love unveiled. All the perfections of the Deity are focused and made visible in Christ--the "glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).

How Is Jesus the Logos (the Word)?

In Greek philosophy, the logos remains an impersonal force, a lifeless and abstract philosophical concept that is a necessary postulate for the cause of order and purpose in the universe. In Hebrew thought, the Logos is personal. He indeed has the power of unity, coherence, and purpose, but the distinctive point is that the biblical Logos is a He, not an it.

All attempts to translate the word Logos have suffered from some degree of inadequacy. No English word is able to capture the fullness of John's Logoswhen he declared that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Attempts have been made by philosophers to translate Logos as logic, act, or deed—all of which are inadequate definitions.

God's Logos does include action. The Logos is the eternal Word in action. But it is no irrational action or sheer expression of feeling. It is the divine Actor, acting in creation and redemption in a coherent way, who is announced in John's Gospel.

That the Word became flesh and dwelt among us is the startling conclusion of John's prologue. The cosmic Christ enters our humanity. It is the supreme moment of visitation of the eternal with the temporal, the infinite with the finite, the unconditioned with the conditioned.

Excerpt from "Interpreting the Logos"

 

Sources

BibleStudyTools.com: Logos Definition and Meaning - Bible Dictionary

GotQuestions.org: What is the Logos?


Originally published July 31, 2019.