Q: #431. Why did John call Jesus the "Word" in (Jn 1:1,14)(1 Jn 1:1)(1 Jn 5:7)(Rev 19:13)?
By: Steve Shirley
A: There are several different thoughts on why John called Jesus the "Word." After studying this pretty extensively, here is my explanation.
First, we need to look at the Greek word used for "Word," which is logos. This word has several meanings, but perhaps its most primary meaning (as found in Strong's) is "something said (incl. the thought)... the expression of thought." This was a word that had significant, but somewhat different meaning to both Greeks and Jews during the time in which John wrote. To the Greeks, the "word" was often used in Greek philosophy as the divine logos that ordered and ruled the universe. A somewhat lesser god that mediated between God and the world. On the other hand, to the Jews, the "word" pointed more towards the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, the name "word" was constantly connected with God and His actions. For example:
(Ps 33:6) By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.
(Ps 119:89) For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven.
(Ps 147:19) He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel.
(Isa 40:8) The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.
(Isa 55:11) So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
(Jer 23:29) Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord...
(Ps 107:20) He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.
Therefore, for the Jews, using the word "Word" for Jesus associated Him with the Jewish God of the Old Testament. Thus, we can see that in using "Word," John was attempting to appeal to both Greeks and Jews.
John verses 1 and 2 also say a few other key things about the "Word." He was "with God in the beginning" (thus eternal) and He WAS GOD. These are clear indicators of the deity of the "Word." In addition, in verse 3, we see that through the "Word," "all things were made..., and without Him nothing was made that was made." When we get to (Jn 1:14), we clearly see that the "Word" is Jesus when it says, "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us..."
Here is another key to our understanding. The Bible also tells us a number of times that "no man has seen God" (Ex 33:20)(1 Tim 6:16)(1 Jn 4:12,20). I believe this is referring to the Father (see Jn 1:18, Jn 6:46), as clearly men have seen Jesus in both the Old and New Testament. (I discuss appearances of Jesus in the Old Testament here.) So, if no man has seen (or known) the Father, how can He reveal Himself to us? He chose to do so through Jesus. Jesus said He did so a number of times.
(Mt 11:27) All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. (Also see: Lk 10:22)
(Jn 14:8-11) Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. (9) Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? (10) Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. (11) Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake.
(Jn 14:24) He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.
(Jn 12:44-45) Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me. (45) And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me.
In other words, when we take our definition from above for "logos," "something said (incl. the thought)... the expression of thought," and apply this to Jesus, Jesus expressed the thoughts and words of the Father (who no man has seen or known) to mankind. He showed us the Father. I believe (Heb 1:1-2) are key verses for understanding this:
(Heb 1:1-2)(NASB) God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, (2) in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.
In other words, in the Old Testament, God (the Father) revealed Himself (spoke) in various ways by the prophets, but in the New Testament, He revealed Himself (spoke) through Jesus. Jesus was/is the complete expression of the Father.
(Col 1:15) Jesus is "...the image of the invisible God..."
(Heb 1:3) Jesus is "the brightness of His (the Father's) glory and the express image of His person."
(1 Cor 1:24) "...Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
(Col 2:9) "In him (Jesus) dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily."
(2 Cor 4:4) "Christ, who is the image of God..."
(Phil 2:5-6) "Christ Jesus: (6) Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God."
Therefore, in summing up, as I see it, the reason why John called Jesus the "Word" is because while He was on Earth, He was the personification of God the Father. Through Jesus, the invisible Father could be known. Let's compare this to our own lives. If we want someone who does not know us to know us, how do we do so? We communicate with that person through spoken and written words. As we do so, a person can get to know us better. This might also somewhat apply to what the Father did, except that the way He chose "to help us know Him better" was to reveal Himself through Jesus. Through the "spoken" words of Jesus, which were later "written" in the New Testament, we can know the Father.