In the beginning was the Word, . . . John 1:1
Word – There is no doubt at all that John does not use logos as the Greeks used logos. First, John deliberately structures his thought so that we are reminded of the opening verse of the Tanakh. Everyone knows that. Second, John replaces YHWH with logos in his opening. That alone should tell us John is not thinking of the Greek divine principle. He is thinking of a living God who acts. In fact, John isn’t even thinking of “God” in the same sense as the Greeks think about the gods. John’s God is a verb – divine activity manifest in creative power. If the Hebrew thought patterns perceive the world primarily as verbs (actions), then why would we think that “God” is anything like our Greek concept of “person”? This is a case where we need radical reorientation. We are so used to thinking of persons in terms of “things” that we can’t even imagine what it would be like to see persons as actions. But let’s give it a try.
The Word, logos, is manifested action. Yes, the Word is the person Yeshua but Yeshua is the active incarnation of the divine agency. The Word is YHWH, a form of the verb “to be.” If we want to see who God is, we must look at the actions of the Word (God manifest in human form) for God is displayed and understood in what He does in the person of Yeshua. And the first thing we discover is this: God speaks. The divine spoken word is the manifestation of God’s essential being. He is the speaking God. He is the only speaking God. All idols, all false gods, are not speaking gods. They are blind, deaf and dumb. They are not alive. Any appeal to a god who does not speak is deception and idolatry. The Word is first and foremost the speaking of God in the form of a human being.
Of course, since human beings carry the “image” of God, now we know that this image is not a particular set of attributes but rather the potential for actions. Human being is the manifestation of action modeled after the divine activity. Human being is following after God’s being by doing what He does. The Word expresses what He does perfectly because the Word is the divine agency manifest in the exact expression of God’s actions. The Word is God’s speaking in flesh and blood. To be human in the sense of Genesis 1 is to be the manifestation of the speaking God. How do we do that? By acting as He instructs us to act. Why do we do that? Because acting in these ways manifests His image in our flesh and blood. In other words, obedience is the activity of revealing the God who acts in this world. Each act of obedience speaks God into this place and creates a manifestation of His righteousness. Each act of obedience alters forever the face of the earth because it creates “God speak.”
This reorientation is not as strange as we might think. Don’t we say, “Actions speak louder than words”? What do we mean? That we see the true perspective in what another person does, not in what he says. Imagine if that other person is God. Then His actions are His words. There is no possibility that He would say one thing but do another. His word is His manifested being. That is why He is utterly reliable. God always does what He says.
When the Word became manifest in flesh and blood, that Word was not simply God incarnate in a human being. That Word exhibited verbally who God is. The same activity that brought everything into being is the same activity now manifest in physical form. No longer are our concepts going to be “fleshed out” by people, places and things. Now we will have to see the God who is in the God who acts.
Topical Index: verbs, logos, John 1:1