"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
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
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" (-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
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
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.
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
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
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. -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. - 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"
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 ). "For all things that I have heard of My Father I
have made known unto you" (). "All
things that the Father hath are Mine" (). 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).