The Christmas Prologue 1 – the true meaning of life, WORD, LOGOS and the TORAH
John’s gospel was written around 80-100 AD but it was the first fourteen verses that were venerated in the Middle Ages by the Roman Catholic Church where they were worn around the neck to ward off evil spirits. They would read it over the sick and newly baptised. Putting aside such veneration I do want to elevate these powerful verses as we approach and walk through Christmas into a new year. Here is the Prologue:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. 9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. 14 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.”
History tells us that in 500BC the Greeks were asking whether in a changing world there was an abiding principle, a reason for it all. Their conclusion was summed up in one word, ‘WORD’ which is the English translation of the actual word, ‘LOGOS’.
This was later developed by the Stoics who talked of the LOGOS as the world-soul and they began to shape their whole lives around the LOGOS.
At the time of Jesus there was an Alexandrian Jew named Philo who had a Hebrew and Greek background and he took hold of the LOGOS idea and developed it.
But what is LOGOS/WORD? Philo believed:-
- The LOGOS has no distinct personality, it is described as a rudder to shape man’s course or an instrument to fashion the world.
- The LOGOS is God’s first-born Son (but not as we know it) and implying a pre-existence.
- The LOGOS bridges the gap between God and the world.
This was the Greek thought regarding the meaning of life, the LOGOS. John knew this Greek thought when he wrote his gospel but he also knew the Jewish thought found in our Old Testament:-
- The WORD (LOGOS) had creative powers (Genesis 1; Psalm 33)
- God offers His care through His WORD (LOGOS) (Psalm 147, 148)
- God’s LOGOS will accomplish its purpose (Isaiah 55, Psalm 147).
- Judgment is executed by the LOGOS (Hosea 6).
- The LOGOS is the means of revelation in the prophets.
Further to this the Jews believe that Dabar, Hebrew for WORD is the Torah, God’s way of communicating with us.
- The TORAH was created before the foundation of the world.
- The TORAH lay on God’s bosom.
- God created through the first-born and the first-born was the TORAH.
- The words of the TORAH are life for the world.
WORD, LOGOS and the TORAH, Trying to answer the meaning of life.
John is fully aware of the Greek and Jewish position regarding this meaning of life, the reason for it all, why we are here and what our purpose is. This is how he starts his gospel:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
To the Greek, John says, “this rational principle of the universe that you hold to is a personal being and has become human.”
To the Jew, John says “your thought of pre-existent DABAR is kind of correct but there is so much more and He was never created. HE has personal attributes and HE has been here and I have seen HIM. The TORAH is JESUS CHRIST!
Jesus is not only the reason for the season, He is the reason for life.
Jesus is not only the true meaning behind Christmas, He is the true meaning to everything.
From the springboard of this LOGOS and TORAH, John would go on to record Jesus’ statements that he was the bread, the light, the door, the Shepherd, the Resurrection and Life, the Way, Truth and Life and the vine and he does so with 2 simple words, ‘I AM’ that not even Moses used for God they were so holy.
The Jews reject Jesus as WORD. Our world is indifferent to the WORD but still pursue their LOGOS.
But the WORD said it and John records it.
Jesus is the WORD, the LOGOS and the TORAH, the true meaning of life. There is none other.