Hi. Welcome to Redeem the Commute. I’m Ryan, your host of the daily challenges. Today is Tuesday, the day we study the Bible together. This week, as part of our series on the identity of Jesus, we’re going to study how Jesus was God. We’ll read one of the classic passages in the Bible that describes this with great poetry and depth. It’s the introduction to the Gospel of John:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
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. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. (John 1:1-18 ESV)
A bit of context to help us understand how John says this:
In Palestine at that time – 1st century AD – two distinct cultures were, whether they liked it or not, living together.
Jews and what the Bible calls the Greeks – everyone else living around the Mediterranean, influenced by Greek lifestyles and philosophy, like the Romans, for example.
Like each group was studying hard in their respective fields…what they both called the word.
The Jews were studying what they called the Word of God.
I don’t just mean the words of God – but rather The Word in capital letters. For the Jews, this was a technical term for the presence and action of God in history.
The Word was a concept that combined God’s Speech & Action together. There were no empty words with God, what God said simply happened,
Like God’s word at creation – God says let there be light, and there’s light. His word isn’t empty, but does something.
Or God’s word written in the Law – first 5 books of the Bible – God spoke them, and they were law.
But giving a name to this agency was helpful because they so revered God, would not utter his name, handy to substitute “Word of God” for his name when they spoke about his activity in this world and reserve the word “God” for the less tangible aspects of God.
The Greeks also studied something called the word too
They knew it as the Logos – Greek term for a reasonable “word” or conversation. We can still see this word at the end of our words like biology, psychology, etc.
These are words about life, words about our psyches. The study of what they’re all about.
There was also a standalone concept called The Logos – the Principle and pattern that gave the world or cosmos its character, reason or coherence. (HCBD)
One pastor described it as the “invisible, intelligent force behind everything, that connects everything, harmonizes everything.”
This was familiar to the Greeks, particularly those in the Stoic school of philosophy, and not unlike most things you’ll find in the spirituality section at Chapters.
A later Jewish philosopher Philo eventually mixed the two together, and personified the Word of God as an intermediate agent between God and the world.
At the beginning of his gospel, John mentions these two areas of study for Jews and Greeks – the Word of God, and the Logos.
Something for everyone – familiar – each would have heard him mention what life is all about.
Tomorrow we’ll see how John used this concept to introduce something new and revolutionary.
Question: Do you tend to “look” for a God who is an impersonal life force like the Greeks, or who is an active presence in history like the Jews? How does John says Jesus is different from both of these?
Meeting with a Group? Your discussion questions are in this week’s Group Study Guide