Understanding Logos
Understanding Logos

Understanding Logos

Meaning of Logos (λόγος, translated word)

Strong’s Dictionary  g3056

λόγος logos; from 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.

Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary

(MED) [3364] λόγος logos 330x a word, a thing uttered, Mt. 12:32, 37; 1 Cor. 14:19; speech, language, talk, Mt. 22:15; Lk. 20:20; 2 Cor. 10:10; Jas. 3:2; converse, Lk. 24:17; mere talk, wordy show, 1 Cor. 4:19, 20; Col. 2:23; 1 Jn. 3:18; language, mode of discourse, style of speaking, Mt. 5:37; 1 Cor. 1:17; 1 Thess. 2:5; a saying, a speech, Mk. 7:29; Eph. 4:29; an expression, form of words, formula, Mt. 26:44; Rom. 13:9; Gal. 5:14; a saying, a thing propounded in discourse, Mt. 7:24; 19,11; Jn. 4:37; 6,60; 1 Tim. 1:15; a message, announcement, 2 Cor. 5:19; a prophetic announcement, Jn. 12:38; an account, statement, 1 Pet. 3:15; a story, report, Mt. 28:15; Jn. 4:39; 21,23; 2 Thess. 2:2; a written narrative, a treatise, Acts 1:1; a set discourse, Acts 20:7; doctrine, Jn. 8:31, 37; 2 Tim. 2:17; subject-matter, Acts 15:6; reckoning, account, Mt. 12:36; 18,23; 25,19; Lk. 16:2; Acts 19:40; 20,24; Rom. 9:28; Phil. 4:15, 17; Heb. 4:13; a plea, Mt. 5:32; Acts 19:38; a motive, Acts 10:29; reason, Acts 18:14; ὁ λόγος, the word of God, especially in the Gospel, Mt. 13:21, 22; Mk. 16:20; Lk. 1:2; Acts 6:4; ὁ λόγος, the divine WORD, or Logos, Jn. 1:1 [3056] See message; report; word.

Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament

λόγος, ου, ὁ. related to λέγω (arrange in order); (1) as a general term for speaking, but always with rational content word, speech (MT 22.46); often opposite ἔργον (deed) (1J 3.18); (2) with the specific translation depending on a wide variety of contexts; (a) question (MT 21.24); (b) prophecy (JN 2.22); (c) command (2P 3.5); (d) report (AC 11.22); (e) message, teaching (LU 4.32); (f) declaration, statement, assertion (MT 12.32), opposite μῦθος (legend); (g) plural, of words forming a unity of expression discourse, speech, teaching, conversation (MT 7.24); (h) of what is being discussed subject, thing, matter (MK 9.10); (3) of divine revelation; (a) word, message (of God) (JN 10.35); (b) commandment(s) (MT 15.6); (c) of God’s full self-revelation through Jesus Christ the Word (JN 1.1); (d) of the content of the gospel word, message (LU 5.1); (4) in a somewhat legal or technical sense; (a) accusation, matter, charge; (b) account, reckoning (RO 14.12); (c) reason, motive (AC 10.29)

John 1:1-3, The meaning as attested by early English translations

Logos (translated Word) means something said (including the thought). It always pertains to rational content. Just about every English translation from the Greek that was before the KJV translation, interpreted the Logos (Word) in John 1:3, as an “it” rather than a “him”. In the context of the prologue of John, the Logos (Word) is aspect of God rather than a “him” that implies a preexistent person. In most modern English translations John 1:1-3 is typically translated in such a way to bias the reader to interpreting the Word as being “he”. However, it should be understood that the Word (Logos) is an abstract noun that pertains to the aspect of God’s wisdom including his logic, reasoning, intentions, plan, or purpose for humanity. It is through this Logos (Word) that all things became. The Word was also made flesh when Jesus was spoken into existence since Christ is the center of God’s plan and purpose for humanity. However, this is not to say that the Word was a preexistent person that existed before Jesus was conceived.

Early Translations of John 1:1-3
1560 Geneva Bible John 1:1-3
1560 Geneva Bible
1537 Matthews Bible John 1;1-3 integritysyndicate.com
1537 Matthews Bible

Tyndale’s 1526 and 1534 Translations

The first English version of the Scriptures made by direct translation from the original Hebrew and Greek, and the first to be printed, was the work of William Tyndale. Meeting bitter opposition, he was accused of perverting the meaning of the Scriptures. In October 1536 he was publicly executed and burned at the stake. Yet Tyndale’s work became the foundation of subsequent English versions. William Tyndale translated the prologue of John’s Gospel much differently than popular modern translations. The image to the right is the first page of the gospel of John of a surviving copy of Tyndale’s 1526 New Testament. 

Modern spelling of John 1:1-5,14 of Tyndale’s 1534 translation:

“In the beginning was the word, and the word was with god: and the word was god. The same was in the beginning with god. All things were made by it, and without it, was made nothing, that was made. In it was life, and the life was the light of men, and the light shineth in the darkness, but the darkness comprehended it not… And the word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw the glory of it, as the glory of the only begotten son of the father, which word was full of grace and verity.”

The word used for “with” in John 1:1 is pros in the Greek which literally means “toward”. Thus, a more literal translation of John 1:1b is “ the Word was toward the God”. The translated “with” gives a bias to make you think of it as a person alongside another person. “Toward the God” implies “according to God” or “pertaining to God”. Again Word (Logos) is an aspect of God pertaining to His logic, wisdom, intentions, reason, ect.

Prologue of John, Tyndale 1525
Tyndale 1524

Additional Translations

Below are a few modern translations from a Unitarian perspective

John 1:1-5 (REV)

“In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and what God was the word was. This word was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through it, and apart from it nothing came into being that has come into being. In it was life, and the life was the light of humankind. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it… And the word became flesh and pitched his tent among us, and we gazed at his glory; glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”   (Revised English Version,   https://www.revisedenglishversion.com/John/1/nav1)

John 1:1-5, 14 (OGF)

“In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was fully expressive of God Himself. This was with God in the beginning. Everything came into being through it, and without it nothing of what came into being existed. In it there was life, and that life was the light of man. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overwhelm it… And the word came into existence, a human being, and tabernacled among us, and we have beheld his glory, the glory such as a uniquely begotten Son enjoys from his Father, full of grace and truth.”    (One God, the Father, One Man Messiah Translation, https://amzn.to/3bqyI1R)

John 1:1-5, 14 (ALT)

An alternative interpretation of John 1:1-5 and verse 14 which reflects the meaning of the Greek text, is as follows:

“In beginning was the Logic, and the Logic was pertaining to the God: and God was the Logic. This was in beginning pertaining to the God. All things were made through it, and apart from it nothing was made. What was made through it was life, and the life is the light of men; and the light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not apprehend it… And the Logic was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten son from the father, full of grace and truth.”

Jesus is the center of God’s Logos (His plan and purpose)

Through God’s Logos, Jesus was created as the center of God’s plan and purpose for humanity. The Word or wisdom of God can be personified but is not literally a person. Jesus exemplifies the Word because the manifold wisdom of God is God’s eternal purpose realized in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Galatians 4:4-5 (ESV)

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”

Ephesians 1:3-5 (ESV)

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.”

Ephesians 1:9-11 (ESV)

“making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.”

Ephesians 3:9-11(ESV)

“to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 (ESV)

“For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.”

1 Corinthians 1:24 (ESV)

but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”

Revelation 19:10 (ESV)

“Worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” 

Revelation 19:13 (ESV)

“He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.”

Hebrews 2:5-6 (ESV)

For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. It has been testified somewhere, “What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him? 

God made all things by His wisdom and understanding (Logos)

Proverbs 3:19-20 (ESV)

“The LORD by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding he established the heavens; by his knowledge the deeps broke open, and the clouds drop down the dew.”

Jeremiah 10:12 (ESV)

It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding stretched out the heavens.

Jeremiah 51:15 (ESV)

It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding stretched out the heavens.

Psalms 104:24 (ESV)

O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.

Psalms 136:5 (ESV)

to him who by understanding made the heavens, for his steadfast love endures forever;

God possessed wisdom at the beginning of His work

Wisdom is personified in Proverbs 8 as “she/her” but is not literally a preexistent person. This is synonymous with the preexistent Logos of the prologue of John that was with God in the beginning. 

Proverbs 8 (ASV)

1 Doth not wisdom cry, And understanding put forth her voice?
2 On the top of high places by the way, Where the paths meet, she standeth;
3 Beside the gates, at the entry of the city, At the coming in at the doors, she crieth aloud:
4 Unto you, O men, I call; And my voice is to the sons of men.
5 O ye simple, understand prudence; And, ye fools, be of an understanding heart.
6 Hear, for I will speak excellent things; And the opening of my lips shall be right things.
7 For my mouth shall utter truth; And wickedness is an abomination to my lips.
8 All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; There is nothing crooked or perverse in them.
9 They are all plain to him that understandeth, And right to them that find knowledge.
10 Receive my instruction, and not silver; And knowledge rather than choice gold.
11 For wisdom is better than rubies; And all the things that may be desired are not to be compared unto it.
12 I wisdom have made prudence my dwelling, And find out knowledge and discretion.
13 The fear of Jehovah is to hate evil: Pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, And the perverse mouth, do I hate.
14 Counsel is mine, and sound knowledge: I am understanding; I have might.
15 By me kings reign, And princes decree justice.
16 By me princes rule, And nobles, even all the judges of the earth.
17 I love them that love me; And those that seek me diligently shall find me.
18 Riches and honor are with me; Yea, durable wealth and righteousness.
19 My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; And my revenue than choice silver.
20 I walk in the way of righteousness, In the midst of the paths of justice;
21 That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance, And that I may fill their treasuries.
22 Jehovah possessed me in the beginning of his way, Before his works of old.
23 I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, Before the earth was.
24 When there were no depths, I was brought forth, When there were no fountains abounding with water.
25 Before the mountains were settled, Before the hills was I brought forth;
26 While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, Nor the beginning of the dust of the world.
27 When he established the heavens, I was there: When he set a circle upon the face of the deep,
28 When he made firm the skies above, When the fountains of the deep became strong,
29 When he gave to the sea its bound, That the waters should not transgress his commandment, When he marked out the foundations of the earth;
30 Then I was by him, as a master workman; And I was daily his delight, Rejoicing always before him,
31 Rejoicing in his habitable earth; And my delight was with the sons of men.
32 Now therefore, my sons, hearken unto me; For blessed are they that keep my ways.
33 Hear instruction, and be wise, And refuse it not.
34 Blessed is the man that heareth me, Watching daily at my gates, Waiting at the posts of my doors.
35 For whoso findeth me findeth life, And shall obtain favor of Jehovah.
36 But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: All they that hate me love death.

Logos in Reference to the Unitarian Map of Meaning

The Logos is an aspect of God pertaining to God’s intentions (Wisdom). The Holy Spirit is also an aspect of God pertaining to his Controlling Influence. By God’s Intentions (Logos) and through God’s controlling influence (Holy Spirit), all things come into existence. This is how the original creation (first Adam) was made and this is how Jesus Christ (the second Adam) was made. 

Biblical Unitarian Map of Meaning Diagram, integritysyndicate.com

The Word being made flesh = God speaking Jesus into existence

John 1:14 (ESV)

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit (breath of God)

Luke 1:35 (ESV)

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.