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The heavens are established by the Lord’s Word.


"In the beginning was the Word… All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made" (John 1:1,3)

"By the word of the Lord were the heavens made: and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth" (Ps. 33:6).

An article in one of our church periodicals has proudly spoken about the height and fullness of the Christian viewpoint expressed in the four Gospels. At the same time, it expressed the unacceptable and false notion that in the first phrases of the Gospel of John, where the Lord Jesus Christ is named "Logos" in the Greek text and "Word" in the Slavic text, this name was supposedly borrowed by the Evangelist from Greek philosophy, namely from the Judeo-Hellenic conceptions of Philon, the Jewish philosopher in ancient Alexandria. "Although his views do not coincide completely with the Gospel of John, much will remain unclear without getting familiar with his philosophical theory," claims the article.

A Christian soul cannot agree with this.

In the entire span of New Testament books where does one see an attempt to establish a link between Christian truths and Greek philosophy? Does not the Apostle Paul say about the wisdom of this age: "Let no man deceive himself…For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness." "The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain" (1 Cor. 3). Whom does the Apostle Paul rebuke for blindness and narrowness of mind? And concerning the Apostle John we shall say: was it necessary to turn to worldly philosophy for him who declared with all the strength of spirit: "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" (I John 5:4-5).

If the Evangelist John had had, in his mind, an certain mysterious image of a "Logos" for which he was writing the Gospel, he would have continued using this name for the Lord in his writings. But this does not happen. That same first chapter of his Gospel is filled with other names for the Savior: Life, Light, Only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, Lamb of God, Messiah, Son of God, King of Israel, Rabbi, Son of man. And only in the 14th verse of this chapter we read: "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us" … But this is very far from any philosophical image, because we read later on: "And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."

Yes, the Gospel from John is truly the Gospel of the "Word," but the "Word of God," for it almost completely consists of the words of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and, besides, the Lord Himself witnesses: "My doctrine is not Mine, but His that sent Me" (John 7:16). The Gospel from John is truly "Theology." It is the fourth Gospel written in order of time. But in the consciousness of the Church and in the practice of the Church’s service it is "first." The cycle of Liturgical readings begins precisely with the reading of the first chapter: "In the beginning was the Word…" Because of this honor, the author of the Gospel is called "the Theologian" in the Orthodox Church

We must definitively reject the affirmation of the mentioned article and similar ones, such as: "John used the concept of Logos, applied it to the name of Jesus Christ and gave this concept a new meaning."

Was the Apostle John some cabinet thinker, keeping track of the spirit of philosophy, in its true Greek or Judeo-Hellenic variation? Did his personal interest turn to papyrus or leather scrolls with philosophical ideas in a ancient library? Or would he use an accidental, on-the-fly idea for his great purpose?

There is only one other place, among the New Testament texts, where the Savior is called "the Word": in the 19th chapter of the Revelation of St. John the Theologian : "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and He that sat upon him…had a name written, that no man knew, but He Himself. And He was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God" (19:11-13). Biblical exegesis sees a direct tie to this image and as though its accomplishment in the vision described by the prophet Isaiah in chapter 63 of his book: "Who is this that cometh from Edom with dyed garments…Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? — I have trodden the winepress alone…and the year of my redeemed is come…Thou, O Lord, art our Father, our Redeemer; Thy Name is from everlasting…" (Chap. 63:1-4, 16).

The coherence of these two places in the Gospel and the Revelation, besides its spiritual meaning, is important to us because it confirms that the Apostle John wrote the Revelation, being inspired from above. It is also important because the Lord is called the Word of "God," which negates any philosophical idea of "Logos" as an independent Being, a mediator between God and the creation, or a "Paraclite" (as the author of the above-mentioned article referred to the Logos). The Lord calls the Holy Spirit Paraclite, or "Comforter," in His final discussion with His disciples.

That is about enough attention to the article. But still the question remains unclear: Why did the Evangelist refer to the Lord Jesus Christ as "Word," or "Logos," in the first lines of his Gospel? And at the same time, why do we find the name Logos, or Word, only in these lines of the New Testament? May the Holy Apostle forgive us for attempting to invade his holy thought, which is not clear enough for us, with our narrow and sinful minds, for entering into that region of the soul, which we usually call "the subconscious."

The attention of each Christian familiar with the Bible is attracted by the parallels one can notice between the beginning of the Old Testament book "Genesis" and the beginning of John’s Gospel from the very first words. We shall review these parallels.

"En arkhi" — "In the beginning" — are the first words of both holy writings. The Greek "arkhi" has three fundamental meanings: a) the beginning of an event or task, in the usual and common meaning of the word; b) leadership, domination, or power; c) historical, past, ancient, and in the religious sense — limitless and eternal.

In the book’s original language, Moses uses this word in its usual, primary meaning: God, prior to any of His actions outside Himself, created heaven and earth. The same word stands first in the Gospel of John, but the Holy Apostle elevates the idea of the Greek word "arkhi": "In the beginning was the Word" — Word, as the personal Godly existence, "was in the beginning" — before any other existence, moreover: before any time, in limitless eternity. In that same Gospel this word is repeated once more, with the same meaning: we present the verse here. When the Judeans asked the Lord: "Who art Thou?" — Jesus answered them: "Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning." (John 8:25) — Tin archin, oti ke lalo imin. So the first books of each Testament, old and new, begin with the same expressive word; but in the book of the New Testament it has a more elevated meaning than in Genesis.

Further on in the texts of both books, especially in the first five verses of each, we note this internal connection. Maybe it was not produced on purpose by the Evangelist, since the sequence does not exactly coincide. This connection could be a natural result of the essence of the subjects. Here we note the superiority of the New Testament events as compared with those of the Old Testament. We will now compare the parallel places in Genesis and in the Gospel.

  

Genesis

The Gospel

1. "In the beginning God created…" "And God said: Let there be..."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. "And the earth was without form, and void" (Lifeless)…

 

 

3. "And God said: Let there be light." — This is said about physical light.

 

4. "And darkness was upon the face of the deep…"

In the following lines:

5. About the Holy Spirit: "And the Spirit of God moved upon the waters…"

 

 

 

6. "And God said: Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness…So God created man in His own image…"

 

 

7. "And He rested on the seventh day for all His work which He had made" (Genesis 2:2).

 

 

1. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

Here the truth of Monotheism is elevated through the revelation of the second Person – the Son - in God. The expression "was with God" is clarified later, in verse 18: "the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father."

 

2. "All things were made by Him (the Word), and without Him was not anything made that was made."

The verb "said" is clarified with the words "Said by the Word," which demonstrates the participation of the second Godly Person, the Creator of the entire world, the executor of the Father’s will.

3. "In Him (the Word) was life" (contrary).

 

 

 

4. "And the life was the Light of men." The subject of the thought is immensely elevated, although the same word is used.

About the Word, the Son of God: "And the Light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not" (contrary).

6. The words of John the Baptist: "And I knew Him not; but that He should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon Him" (Chap. 1:31-32 - comparison).

7. About the Word adopting human nature: "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father" (Chap. 1:14 - comparison).

8. The Coming of the Word to earth. The glory of the Savior: "Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man" (John 1:51— comparison).

 

This coherence of thoughts and expressions between the two holy books of the Old and New Testaments, this light of the Gospel, considered to be the first by the Church’s self-consciousness, which is shed by the latter on the first book of Moses, is confirmed by the words of the Apostle himself in the first chapter of his Gospel: "And of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" (16-17).

And there is no need to look for a source of the "Logos — Word" name, which has become an inherent part of Christian tradition. And this name, or notion, is by no means foreign to the Old Testament: "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth" (Ps. 33:6), — it is said in the Psalter, which was part of the Hebrews’ daily reading. These words are identical in both the ancient Hebrew text and in the "Translation of the 70." The same is found in Psalm 148:4-7 and in Psalm 119:89: "For ever, O Lord, Thy word is settled in heaven;" the same in Psalm 107:19-20.

But the final conversation of the Lord with His disciples is a source of still greater enlightenment for us: "And the word which ye hear is not Mine, but the Father’s which sent Me" (John 14:24). "For all things that I have heard of My Father I have made known unto you" (15:15). "All things that the Father hath are Mine" (16:15). This is the basic subject of that great conversation, as well as of the following prayer spoken out by the Lord.

The Orthodox Church lovingly accepted the naming of the Son of God as "Word" and uses it often, but never by itself, but with another of its attributes: "Thou didst bear the Word of God" ("It is meet), "O Only-Begotten Son and Word of God" (from the Liturgy); "All-powerful, Word of the Father" (prayers before sleep).

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