John's Gospel

The Way It Happened

John 1:14, the Logos (Part II of V)

And the Logos became flesh,

and dwelt among us,

and we saw his glory

//Yesterday, I repeated a statement attributed to the philosopher Plato, long before Jesus lived, suggesting that one day God might send forth a Logos, who would reveal all mysteries and make everything plain.

Hundreds of years later, John wrote about this Logos in his Gospel. But before John wrote, Philo of Alexandria (a Hellenized Jew) also used the term Logos to reconcile Stoicism and Judaism. Philo spoke of the knowledge of God as eternal life, and identified the Logos as the firstborn Son of God—a phrase which, until New Testament times, had always been understood metaphorically. Philo never pictured the Logos as a personal being.

But John, in his Gospel, turned this line of thought on its head. In an astounding claim, John alleges that this Logos has arrived … and that it came in the flesh! Literally, as written in Greek, John’s opening verses tell how God came and “tabernacled” with mortals, choosing a temporary dwelling place among his people. This language evokes an image of the portable tabernacle of the Hebrew nation as they traveled through the wilderness.

Until verse 14 (today’s verse), John’s Hellenistic audience would have never imagined he was speaking about a historical character, or describing the events of a historical life. His readers already knew all about the Logos, but now John drops a bombshell: he is writing about the glory of the Jewish Messiah, a flesh-and-blood person!

Where is this line of philosophical thought leading us? More tomorrow.