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What is the significance of Word in the Gospel of John?



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Another answer from our community:This is used 22 times in the Gospel of John in the singular and 18 times in the plural, including 3 in the first verse:

John 1:1 (King James Version) 1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

The way that this is used in John demonstrates amply the two characteresitcs which set this Gospel apart from the others. John has both simplicity and profundity. The term 'word' is used in six different ways and each of them is made subordinate to the stated purpose of the Gospel:

John 20:30-31 (King James Version) 30And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:

31But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

The first verse and first use, is in a sense John's 'mission statement' in which he explicitly, in deliberately echoing the words and the format of Genesis 1:1, tells his readers that Jesus is the God who made 'the heaven and earth and all that in them is.' Since the world was made by the word of God, when He stated 'Let there be...' eight times in Genesis 1, the implication is most explicit that Jesus was directly involved in this.

Secondly, it has a more normal use in relation to the word or words which Jesus spoke. It is so used in 2:22; 4:40,41,50; 5:24,47; 8:20.30,31,37,43; 12:48 and 15:7,20, as examples. Even in these uses we see John's purpose coming to the fore since the belief or unbelief of those who heard the word or words which Jesus spoke is addressed and dwelt on. Thus Jesus' word ans words are not mere words in John but they have power and they also bring a reaction of either belief or unbelief in the hearers. Thus they at no time are addressed 'into thin air.'

John 6:63 (King James Version) 63It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

Just as the divine word was active in creation calling into existence the things which did not previously exist, so the divine word of Jesus creates new life in those who receive it.

Thirdly, and somewhat connected to the second use is Jesus' identification of His spoken word with the word of the Father. As God's Son and divinely appointed messenger on earth, He is the 'word made flesh'.

John 1:14 (King James Version) 14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Jesus words are thus not just His own but are also those which He, in His state of humiliation and emptying while on earth, has been directed to speak by the Father. These include the word and words which bear witness to Himself as divine. They also include the many which direct hearers to Himself as 'the way, the truth and the life.' (John14:6). Verses in this category include 3:34; 5:38; 8:47; 10:35, 17:1, 6, 8, 14, 17; 15:3 and 18:1. The following verse indicates that Jesus was claiming divine authority for His word and words.

John 14:24 (King James Version) 24He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.

Fourthly Jesus speaks of those who would believe through the word spoken by the disciples.

John 17:20 (King James Version) 20Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

Fifthly, the Holy Spirit is the one who will bring Jesus' words to the remembrance of the disciples after He is gone.

John 14:26 (King James Version) 26But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

Sixthly, there is somewhat 'ordinary' meaning of word used in:

John 9:22 (King James Version) 22These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.

Even this brings in the main theme of believing as they did not wish to express any faith or support for Jesus, even though they knew Jesus had healed their son of congenital blindness. For they 'feared men.'

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In the beginning was the Word (Greek: Logos) and the Word was with God. This concept was developed in John's Gospel, as well as in 1 John, the epistle believed by some scholars to have influenced the author of the Gospel we know as John's Gospel. It closely resembles the Logos found in Philo, and is certainly related to it. It also have affinities with Lady Wisdom, the Old Testament spirit also believed to have participated in creation.

The Logos was likened by the Alexandrian Jew, Philo, (and other strands of Hellenistic philosophy) to a stream of Light-Radiation issuing from God, with stages of decreasing brilliance, forming a hierarchy of God's powers and activities. Like most Hellenistic philosophers, Philo believed that the ultimate God was unknowable and indefinable. Humanity could reach and understand him only through his emanations. The Logos was God's mediator, his thought expressed in a comprehensible form. Remembering that he was a Jew and that he lived before the beginning of Christianity, Philo also called the Logos: "the first born", the "image of God", the "first-begotten", the "son of God", the "eldest of the angels" and the "name of God".

John's Gospel at times appears to have been opposed to Docetism, a belief that Jesus was an apparition and was not a man of flesh and blood. The phrase "and the Word became flesh, and dwelt amongst us" is clearly at variance with Docetism.To many Hellenistic Jews, the Word, or Logos, was already a familiar concept. John tapped into this familiarity and used it to refer to Jesus and to support the divinity of Jesus, as well as to counter the docetic notion that Jesus was not of flesh.