Updated: Jan 27
The Gospel reading in the Episcopal Lectionary for the first Sunday after Christmas comes from the beginning of John’s Gospel. It begins by stating, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The next statement makes a reference to a man, through the use of the pronoun “he.” John then wrote, “He was in the beginning with God.” I believe it is common practice to read John’s “Word” as “Jesus Christ,” who is elsewhere known as “the alpha and the omega” – the beginning and the end.
When I say I believe it is common practice to see the use of a capitalized “Word” as “Jesus,” this is to say the Holy Bible is not thought to be the “Word,” as printed letters on pages are far too limiting to be God. If the “Word” was God, and Jesus is God incarnate, then the “Word” is alive, and not inanimate … like is a book of books.
The only problem I find with thinking the “Word” is Jesus is this: Jesus, like the Holy Bible, is too limiting. It would not be wrong to associate Jesus to the “Word,” but the “Word” is still more. Two points support this.
First, the word written by the Beloved John, translated as “Word,” is “Logos.” While that does have the ability to translate as “Word,” it just as easily can be translated as “Work.” A Greek parallel website shows the “L” as not capitalized, but as the lower-case “l.“ That makes the capitalization manufactured by a translator, improperly implying a proper name. That helps lead one to identify a person (Jesus) with a “word.” However, Strong’s Concordance says this about the meaning of “logos”:
“from lego 3004; something said (including the thought); by implication, a topic (subject of discourse), also reasoning (the mental faculty) or motive; by extension, a computation; specially, (with the article in John) the Divine Expression (i.e. Christ):–account, cause, communication, X concerning, doctrine, fame, X have to do, intent, matter, mouth, preaching, question, reason, + reckon, remove, say(-ing), shew, X speaker, speech, talk, thing, + none of these things move me, tidings, treatise, utterance, word, work.”
Notice “word” is only one choice. It equally means, “a thought,” “reasoning,” “motive,” “a computation,” “a cause,” and “an intent.” When you add that to the fact that “logos” is a form of the verb, “lego,” that word is detailed by Strong’s as meaning:
“a primary verb; properly, to “lay” forth, i.e. (figuratively) relate (in words (usually of systematic or set discourse; whereas epo 2036 and phemi 5346 generally refer to an individual expression or speech respectively; while rheo 4483 is properly to break silence merely, and laleo 2980 means an extended or random harangue)); by implication, to mean:–ask, bid, boast, call, describe, give out, name, put forth, say(-ing, on), shew, speak, tell, utter.”
This explains how “logos” can mean “work” or “a meaning,” which is like an “idea” in one’s mind, which is then stated or spoken through the use of words. All of this understanding put together means “logos” is not restricted to only one translation. Like God, “logos” is greater that one limited meaning. Therefore, one could better state verse 1, according to John’s Gospel, as saying, “In the beginning was the intention, and the meaning was with God, and God was the reason.”
Now, we know John wrote his Gospel for the purpose of focusing on Jesus Christ. This makes verse 1 applicable to Jesus, but not as the flesh (he writes about that later, in verse 14). Jesus in the flesh was the idea of God in the beginning, as God’s purpose all along, kind of like a “twinkle in God’s all-seeing eye.”
While that is enough to alter the way one understands “the Word,” one needs to see the strange naming of “John.” To me, that can be confusing, as far as the issue of “the Word” being Jesus is concerned. John the Beloved, the author of this Gospel being analyzed, wrote in verse 6, “There was a man sent from God, whose name [was] John.” Then, in verse 15, after “the Word became flesh,” we read how “John bear witness of him” in the flesh. Finally, in verse 19, we are told, “And this is the record of John.” That last John is clearly John the Baptist, based on the statements following that introduction. However, that clear flow makes it appear that John the Baptist is one sent by God, to bear witness to Jesus (“the Word”). This is how we pick up on John the Baptist’s history and then refer back to see how that John is understandable as the one sent by God, to testify to the light, while not being the light.
Again, the power of God’s meaning is so great that John’s naming of John does speak of John the Baptist, but just like seeing “the Word” as only having that one translation capability is limiting to God and His Word. We miss the true depth of meaning when we become so restrictive. To remove our godlike imposing of limits, we need to analyze John more closely, to see how to grasp the full purpose behind John the Beloved writing about that name.
As English-speaking Christians (or Gentile heathens, whatever your beliefs on religion are), we miss so much meaning by requiring someone translate the books of the Holy Bible for us. By not being fluent in Hebrew and Greek (this includes myself), we read names the way we use names … commonly. By that use of names, we copy or make up names, using whatever sounds pretty or unique or individual, when we name life forms (new babies or pets).
To us, there is not much thought behind a name. Rarely do we name a person based on a predetermined meaning, although we may name the white dog, with the black spot on its back, “Spot.” That is what names are – they are meanings applied to a life form. The life form is then reflecting a preexisting state, so that a person represents something greater than self.
That is why Native American tribes give names that translate as natural occurrences, like “Running deer” or “Lives in the woods.” The name is applied to something unique to the child, which the child absorbs the energy of. An example is the name Jacob (Hebrew), which means “Holding his heel.” He was given that name because he was born a twin, second born, immediately after Esau (his brother’s name, which means “Hairy”). Heels, holding, and hairy all existed prior to that birth of twins, and will always exist, even though Jacob and Esau are long gone now.
Names are the Word behind a title. The name John (Ioannes in Greek) has to be seen in the same light. It is rooted in the Hebrew word-name “Yochanan,” which means, “Yahweh is gracious.” That is how the use of “Ioannes” must be understood, because if you think about it … “John” is not a copyrighted name that only one person can have. It is one of the most popular names in the world, used so much we use it to identify unidentified dead males – as “John Doe.” Likewise, the many customers of prostitutes are generically called “johns.”
When one takes the verse 6 statement, “There was a man sent from God, whose name [was] John,” remove the implied “was” (in brackets) and let the statement say, “There was a man sent from God, whose name – “Yahweh is gracious.” Since the Gospel of John was talking about an “Intent” (the Word) and “Reason” of God, “in the beginning,” a Plan to illuminate a world of darkness in need of light, a flame that would not be overcome by that darkened world, that Intent is expanded through the statement, “There was a man sent from God.”
Think about that. There was a “man” sent from God. Do you recall the Hebrew “word” for “man” is “adam”? If you recall that, try reading verse 5 as now saying, “The adam sent by God,” for the “Purpose” of providing “light,” was God’s graciousness, thereby a man named John (not Adam, but adam John). Adam (of Adam and Eve fame) is John.
Father, John, and the Holy Spirit
As one goes along reading the Gospel of John, when one gets to chapter 5 we begin reading how Jesus is referred to (occasionally) as the Son of man. In John 5:27 we find the first reference, which states, “And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.” The Greek actually is “[Greek text deleted],“ (pronounced hwee-os anthropos es-teé), which literally says, “son man he.”
Again, substitute the Hebrew word for man and one can see how Jesus is called the Son of Adam, or “son adam he.” The word for “son” (huios, pronounced hwee-os’) is in-line with figurative kinship, as a “descendant of Adam” (now called John, as God’s graciousness to “little adam” mankind). Realizing how “logos” is the “intent” of God, from the very beginning of Creation, by giving Adam the name “John,” it only means the man we know as Adam was God’s graciousness to the world. We then see how John-Adam “came to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.” The word translated as “testify” is ”marturia,” which means, “evidence given, record, report,” as well as ‘testimony” and “witness.” Thus, Adam would be the origin of the trace lineage to Jesus, as the line of evidence that can be traced back to the beginning, from whence the light originated.
When John wrote, “so that all might believe through him,” that means Adam was the first priest to the One God. As such, the Intent of the Holy Bible is to be the “record” of those who believed in the same One God, from Adam-John, leading through all the Patriarchs, giving rise to the Law of Moses, the nation of Israel, the Temple of Solomon, all the Prophets, the exiles who maintained faith, up to Jesus Christ (the light). But, that is only those who believed and maintained the faith in the light to come. many would be born, but only the good kept the coals for the fire burning.
When we read the confusing line that John’s Gospel holds (one actually separated from the rest by parentheses), verse 15, which says, “John bear witness of him, and cried, saying, ‘This was he of whom I spoke, He that comes after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.’”[KJV] This is so confusing because it has been seen attributed to John the Baptist, and not to Adam-John, the first Son of God made in the flesh.
When it is read as stating, “Adam-John bear record of Jesus [a statement of lineage], and exclaimed loudly, saying, ‘Jesus is who I bring Intent of, Jesus that come after Adam-John is preferred ahead of Adam-John [Jesus is seen as the Son of God, His only son]: for Jesus was the purpose from the beginning.” That statement bears so much more meaning in reference to “the Word” being Jesus, when one sees Jesus as the Purpose through which God made Adam, God’s gracious gift to mankind (John).
That gift would ultimately be when “Yahweh is Salvation” (Jesus) arrived in the flesh, from the lineage of the Son of man.
I hope this is clear to everyone. I welcome your responses.
R. T. Tippett