What Is “the Word” From John 1?

Have you ever been asked to summarize who you are? Maybe you had to write a bio for your Facebook or LinkedIn profile. Maybe you’ve been asked to describe yourself during a job interview. Maybe you were on a date and you were asked the question, “So tell me about yourself.” In those moments, we try to find the best words to condense in our origin, heritage, personality, character, credentials, strengths, and our likes and dislikes into a few words.

Here’s my brief Facebook bio: “Danny is my name . . . I am 37. I am a Christian. I am married to a beautiful woman. I have two beautiful children—Jude and Zoe. I am a Content and Digital Discipleship Manager at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale. I love living for Christ Jesus, spending time with my family and friends, doing my part to show God’s love to the world, writing, singing, watching movies, playing board games, and engaging in my community.”

To be honest, this only scratches the surface as to who I am, what I do, and what my life is all about. Why? Because a few words, even a few chapters or an entire volume of books, doesn’t seem like enough to encapsulate me. Now, imagine trying to encapsulate the God of the universe. In John 21:25 (NIV) we’re accurately told, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”

Defining the Logos: To the Greeks

Truthfully, there is no way to capture who God is in words. Even the Bible, the living and active word of the Lord, as John said, does not wholly and completely describe the fullness of our God. There is not enough ink, lead, paper, or computer data storage to contain that. So, how does God explain Himself to us? John 1:14 (NIV) tell us, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”

The Greek word we see here for Word is logos. The concept of the logos is a powerful, complex, and beautiful idea. The simplest way to explain the Greek philosophy behind it is that logos is the reason or unspoken rationale behind something. The term essentially described a collection of things, put together in thought and expressed in words. This was a very important word in almost all philosophical schools in ancient Greece, because as the Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels says, “Around 500 B.C. [they] began to adopt the word and use it to signify that which gives shape, form, or life to the material universe.” This is what logos meant to great philosophers like Heraclitus, Sophists, Plato, and Aristotle. It was considered the universal reason inherent in all things; the binding laws that sustained all in existence.

Defining the Logos: To the Jews

In Hebrew culture, it is the dynamic force of God’s will. The Jewish Targums—spoken paraphrases, explanations, and expansions of the Jewish Scriptures that a Rabbi would give in the common language of the listeners—echoed this understanding of the Word. They often used the term memra—a word derived from the Aramaic word for “speak”—to describe God’s creative activity and will.

This understanding of the concept, as well as the terminology used in John 1:1, harkens us back to the creation narrative found in Genesis 1. There we see God speak and then everything in the universe comes into existence. Hebrews 11:3 (ESV, emphasis added) further explains this, saying, “The universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”

So in John 1:1–2 (NIV) when it says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning,” the apostle is telling us that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the living embodiment of the Word of God. He is God in the flesh; the One who spoke the will of the Lord into being in the beginning (Genesis 1:1–2:3; Psalm 33:9; Hebrews 11:3). He is the character, heart, will, and mind of God the Father as revealed to the world. He is, as the Greeks believed, the universal reason inherent in all things (John 1:3); the binding laws that sustained all in existence (Colossians 1:15–17).

The Living Logos

But it goes beyond that, to something much deeper and greater. As was mentioned in the beginning of this article, consider how your words are meant to explain who you are to others, to reveal your thoughts and heart. In the same way, the Son of God was sent in order to reveal His Father’s thoughts and heart—His Word—to the world . . . He was sent to show us God. Why? Because even the Scriptures could not fully encapsulate the heart and character of God. Even the “holy, righteous, and good” law of God could not save us from our fallen state (Romans 7:10–12 NIV). Even the words of the prophets could not turn the hearts of the people forever. Only God Himself could accomplish these things.

Thus, Jesus came to make a way for us to know God deeply and intimately, to be saved from our sins, to transform our hearts, renew our minds, and bring our spirits to life (John 1:4–5), and to give all those who believe in Him “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” (John 1:12–13 NIV).

But He didn’t stop there . . . You see, Jesus, the living Word, “became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14 NIV), and He left us the Holy Spirit, who makes His dwelling within us (Ezekiel 36:26; Romans 8:9–11; 1 Corinthians 3:16), to put His Word in our hearts and etch it into our very souls.

Final Thoughts

Today, you can know Him intimately, so much so that you’ll be able to fill all the world’s pages with the work He has done in your life. You can know in your soul, you can experience and walk in the Word in a very real way, as He speaks His Word directly into your heart! What a beautiful and overwhelmingly amazing thought that is!

About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.