Everything in the Bible Isn’t about Jesus

The Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, c. 1563

If you’ve been a Christian for very long or were raised in a Christian church, chances are that you’ve heard that the Bible is really all about Jesus. That cliché has some truth to it, but it’s misleading. [Read more…]

3 Prayers for Independence Day

Taken from the Book of Common Prayer.

Independence Day (July 4)

Lord God Almighty, in whose Name the founders of this country won liberty for themselves and for us, and lit the torch of freedom for nations then unborn: Grant, we beseech thee, that we and all the people of this land may have grace to maintain our liberties in righteousness and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. [Read more…]

Sermon Preparation Is Twenty Hours of Prayer

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

By Matthew Kim, adapted from Preaching Points: 55 Tips for Improving Your Pulpit Ministry.

It’s something that we all know in our minds. We’ve considered it. But it’s often difficult to put into practice. What am I talking about? 

Pastor R. Kent Hughes, who pastored College Church in Wheaton, IL, for some twenty-seven years, once had this to say about preaching: “Sermon preparation is twenty hours of prayer.” 

Twenty hours? What does he mean? How can we pray for twenty hours when we have so many things to do in ministry?

What Hughes means is that prayer is extremely valuable in sermon preparation. Prayer is indispensable. We need to pray, because we’re engaged in a spiritual battle. The moment we walk up into the pulpit we recognize that what we are doing is not something that just any communicator does. We’re preaching God’s Word. And the enemy doesn’t want us to. The enemy doesn’t want us to have power. He doesn’t want us to display God’s power through our sermon.

What we’re doing is bathing our sermon in prayer. How do we do that?

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It begins when we select a text. I know that there are moments in pastoral ministry where I just thought, What does the church need to hear? And so I would just simply go to a text or look for a text. But to have this attitude of sermon preparation being twenty hours of prayer means that from the moment I think about a given sermon, I’m given to prayer. I’m seeking God’s guidance. I ask, “God, what do you want me to learn from this particular passage? Which passage should I preach on?” 

As we’re going through the rigors of exegesis and determining what the author is talking about, I’m constantly prayerful. What does it mean to pray in such a way that we’re asking the Holy Spirit to guide us to understand the authorial intent of the passage? What does this mean for the people back in Bible times, and what does it mean for us today? Even in outlining or writing our manuscript, we’re constantly soaking our sermon in prayer. We’re praying through what it means to speak to people in such a way that God’s Word comes alive in their midst.

One of the ways we can do this practically speaking is praying through the church directory. Pray about your congregation’s needs and struggles. What is that family going through at this moment? What does it look like for this person who has lost her job to understand this particular passage? And as we do so, we slow down our preparation. We don’t just rush through it to get the sermon finished. We don’t just go through the exercise of exegesis. But we are prayerful about each moment of the sermon preparation process.

A few years ago I was standing on the curb. I remember it vividly. I was a candidate for a pastoral position at a church. One of the pastors on the church staff looked at me. But he didn’t just look at me. He gave me one of those up-and-down glances which made me feel uncomfortable. He inquired, “Matt, so how many hours do you pray each day?” I thought to myself, Hours? I think in minutes. But what he was really getting at is, “Do you have a deep and profound relationship with the Lord?” D. L. Moody was known to say, “He who kneels the most, stands the best.” That’s what R. Kent Hughes may have in view when he wisely encourages: Sermon preparation is twenty hours of prayer.

This post is adapted from “Sermon preparation is twenty hours of prayer,” by Matthew Kim in Preaching Points: 55 Tips for Improving Your Pulpit Ministry, edited by Scott M. Gibson (Lexham Press, 2016).

What Is the Orthodox Faith? 9 Facts about the Orthodox Church

Until 1054, there was simply the Church. No Eastern Orthodox Church, no Roman Catholic Church, no Reformation, and no denominations. There were just two large branches of the same tree: the church in the West and the church in the East.

But in 1054, tension between the two came to a head in what is now known as the Great Schism—a split between the two that has yet to be mended. The result was two broad strands of Christianity: the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Here are nine facts about the Eastern Orthodox Church.

1. They split from the West for several reasons

On a basic level (whole books are written on these matters), the divisions between the East and West boiled down to doctrine, culture, and authority.

Though the schism is complex and any simple explanation is bound to miss much of the nuance, some of the primary issues related to:

  • Language differences (broadly speaking, Eastern churches used a Greek rite and sacred text while the church centered in Rome used a Latin rite and the Latin Vulgate)
  • The filioque clause, affirmed by the Western church as a part of the creed but denounced by the Council of Constantinople […]1
  • The use of unleavened bread in the Eucharist by Western churches
  • Ecclesiastical authority

The issue of ecclesiastical authority underlies and punctuates the specific doctrinal differences. In 553, John IV, Patriarch of Constantinople, adopted the title Ecumenical Patriarch. The pope objected to this title, arguing that it went beyond the authority and position afforded to the see of Constantinople. In 1054, Pope Leo IX sent a delegation led by Cardinal Humbert of Silva Candida, to object to the current Patriarch of Constantinople Michael I Cerularius’ use of the title Ecumenical Patriarch and to insist (among other things) that he recognize the pope as the head of the Church (caput et mater ecclesiarum). Cerularius refused and in response Humbert excommunicated him. Cerularius in turn excommunicated Humbert and the rest of the papal legates (notably, though, not Leo IX himself).

It is worth noting that though 1054 is generally held to be the formal date of the schism, there were many subsequent events (such as the crusades) that drove the two sides further apart. Though there were further attempts at reunification (such as the Council of Florence), nothing has been successful.

In 1965, Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I of Constantinople lifted the mutual excommunications. However, this was largely symbolic and didn’t resolve the original theological differences or the many doctrinal differences that had accumulated in the previous 1,000 years (especially the effects of scholasticism and the enlightenment on western theology).

2. The Orthodox Church affirms the Nicene Creed, but with one exception

The Orthodox Church affirms the Nicene Creed, but slightly different from the Western church. The Orthodox Creed does not include the phrase “and the son” (Latin filioque). With the filioque clause, this section in the creed reads:

I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord, the giver of life,

who proceedeth from the Father ⟨and the Son⟩.

Who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified.

Why was this phrase added, and why did the Eastern church object to it?

In an attempt to counter Arian claims that Christ was different from God the Father, a sixth-century church council in Toledo, Spain, added the word filioque to a creed describing the procession of the Holy Spirit. The creed affirmed that the Holy Spirit was sent by the Father and the Son (John 14:26). The Eastern church objected to this addition, arguing that it exceeded what the Bible said about the procession of the Spirit […].2

3. Orthodox means “straight teaching”

The word Orthodox literally means “straight teaching” or “straight worship,” being derived from two Greek words: orthos, meaning “straight,” and doxa, meaning “teach­ing” or “worship.” As the encroachments of false teaching and division multiplied in early Christian times, threatening to obscure the identity and purity of the Church, the term “Orthodox” quite logically came to be applied to it.

 

 

4. The Orthodox Church doesn’t have a pope

Whereas the head of the Roman Catholic Church, the bishop of Rome (the pope), resides in the Vatican, the Orthodox Church does not necessarily have one primary leader.

If there were one, though, it would be the Ecumenical Patriarch, the head of the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Archbishop of Constantinople. He resides in Istanbul, Turkey, and is considered “primus inter pares (first among equals) among the heads of the several autocephalous churches that make up the Eastern Orthodox Church.”3

The current Ecumenical Patriarch is Bartholomew I of Constantinople.

5. Theosis is a major emphasis of the Orthodox Church

Théosis is becoming like God. It is “is the process of a worshiper becoming free of hamartía (“missing the mark”), being united with God, beginning in this life and later consummated in bodily resurrection. For Orthodox Christians, théōsis (see 2 Pet. 1:4) is salvation.”4

Athanasius, commenting 2 Peter 1:4, says that theosis is “becoming by grace what God is by nature.” In this way theosis is about more than sanctification; it is participating in the life of God and becoming more like him as we do.

6. The Orthodox Church highly values the Church Fathers

There is a strong sense in which the Orthodox Church sees themselves as the living continuation of the ideas of the Church Fathers, like St. John Chrysostom, Basil the Great, and Gregory of Nazianzus, known as “the three holy hierarchs.” St. John Chrysostom’s Easter homily, for example, is read in many Orthodox churches during the holiday.

7. Orthodox Churches are replete with iconography

Whereas Protestant churches are averse to iconography and images of God in worship, the Orthodox Church gives icons a prominent place in its worship.

The Greek Orthodox Church of America explains the presence of icon in their services this way:

An icon is a holy image which is the distinctive art form of the Orthodox Church. An icon may be a painting of wood, on canvas, a mosaic or a fresco. Occupying a very prominent place in Orthodox worship and theology, icons depict Christ Our Lord, Mary the Theotokos, the saints, and angels. They may also portray events from the Scriptures or the history of the Church, such as the Birth of Christ, the Resurrection, or Pentecost

The icon is not simply decorative, inspirational, or educational. Most importantly, it signifies the presence of the person depicted. The icon is like a window linking heaven and earth.5

8. Many Orthodox Churches lack pews or chairs; worshippers stand during the service.

First-time visitors to Orthodox churches are often surprised not to see pews or chairs in the nave. This is because most worshippers in this tradition stand during the service.

Rev. G. S. Debolsky explains that when the prophets saw visions of saints worshipping in heaven, the saints were standing (Isaiah 6:2; 1 Kings 22:19; Daniel 7:10; Apocalypse 7:11). Additionally, the saints in the Old Testament were said to be standing during their worship (2 Chronicles 5:12; 6:2; 20:5, 13; Nehemiah 8:7; 9:4, 5).6

In fact, it is technically forbidden to kneel on Sundays or during the Paschal season.

This tradition is a broader reflection of the Orthodox Church’s commitment to follow the Bible’s prescription for worship as closely as possible.

9. Orthodox priests can be married

The language is intentional here: “be married” versus “marry.” As Wesley Smith writes,

It is a misnomer to say that Orthodox priests can marry. They can be married, and indeed, most Orthodox priests are. But a priest can’t marry while a priest. If he wishes to have a family life, he must get hitched before he is ordained to the diaconate, the penultimate step before becoming a priest.7

In Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, it is the norm for bishops to be celibate.

There is much more to the Orthodox Church than these nine facts, of course. Explore our special Orthodox library packages in Logos, packed to the brim with enriching resources from the Orthodox tradition.

Explore Orthodox libraries in Logos.

From the Heavenly Home of John G. Paton: ‘He Walked with God, Why May Not I?’

Recently I’ve started reading an autobiography that’s long been on my list: John G. Paton: The Autobiography of the Pioneer Missionary to the New Hebrides (Vanautu).

I first learned of it when I asked a Banner of Truth bookseller at a conference, “What’s the best book in your stack?” Without hesitation he pointed me to Paton’s autobiography.

Sometime later I saw a friend post about it online, and just a few months ago I heard a pastor say something like, “If you want an unforgettable image of a nurturing Christian home, read the beginning of ol’ Paton’s autobiography.”

So I bumped it up the list and I’m finally getting to it. And I’m underlining everywhere.

I happened to have it with me when I arrived at work this morning, and was sharing all this with a coworker, who encouraged me to post about it. And seeing as we’re so close to Father’s Day, now’s as fitting a time as ever to share my favorite two passages of the book so far.

Here is Paton describing the layout of their home and the spiritual disciplines that took place there. (Note that this book was published in the late 1800s. The author’s spelling is left intact.)

Our home consisted of a “but” and a “ben” and a “mid room,” or chamber, called the “closet.” The one end was my mother’s domain […]. The other end was my father’s workshop […]. The ‘closet’ was a very small apartment betwixt the other two, having room only for a bed, a little table and a chair, with a diminutive window shedding diminutive light on the scene. This was the Sanctuary of that cottage home.

Thither daily, and oftentimes a day, generally after each meal, we saw our father retire, and ‘shut to the door’; and we children got to understand by a sort of spiritual instinct (for the thing was too sacred to be talked about) that prayers were being poured out there for us, as of old by the High Priest within the veil in the Most Holy Place. We occasionally heard the pathetic echoes of a trembling voice pleading as if for life, and we learned to slip out and in past that door on tiptoe, not to disturb the holy colloquy. The outside world might not know, but we knew, whence came that happy light as of a newborn smile that always was dawning on my father’s face: it was a reflection from the Divine Presence, in the consciousness of which he lived.

Never, in temple or cathedral, on mountain or in glen, can I hope to feel that the Lord God is more near, more visibly walking and talking with men, than under that humble cottage roof of thatch and oaken wattles. Though everything else in religion were by some unthinkable catastrophe to be swept out of memory, or blotted from my understanding, my soul would wander back to those early scenes, and shut itself up once again in that Sanctuary Closet, and, hearing still the echoes of those cries to God, would hurl back all doubt with the victorious appeal, “He walked with God, why may not I?”

And then later…

And so began in his seventeenth year that blessed custom of Family Prayer, morning and evening, which my father practised probably without one single avoidable omission till he lay on his deathbed, seventy-seven years of age; when, even to the last day of his life, a portion of Scripture was read, and his voice was heard softly joining in the Psalm, and his lips breathed morning and evening Prayer—falling in sweet benediction on the heads of all his children, far away many of them over all the earth, but all meeting him there at the Throne of Grace. None of us can remember that any day ever passed unhallowed thus; no hurry for market, no rush to business, no arrival of friends or guests, no trouble or sorrow, no joy or excitement, ever prevent at least our kneeling around the family altar, while the High Priest led our prayers to God, and offered himself and his children there.

Fathers, may God strengthen you for your high calling of raising children in the Lord.

Learning Logos: How to Add Notes to Guide Sections

I hope you’re enjoying the new Logos 8 Notes tool as much as I am. I know it was a big transition from 7 to 8 Notes, but if you’re not quite there yet, please keep going. The new Notes database really is remarkable. 

And it seems with each new update the power of Notes expands. The recently released 8.5 is no exception: we can now add Notes to Guide sections. [Read more…]

2 Ways Jesus Is the Word of God: Revelation and Logos

There are at least two senses in Scripture in which Jesus is the word of God. Though related, one has to do with the idea of revelation, and the other with the Greek word logos. [Read more…]

Review: An Introduction to the Greek New Testament Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge

Dirk Jongkind’s Introduction to the Greek New Testament Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge is a short, simple, and excellent introduction to New Testament textual criticism. It has such a long title because it also tells a bit of the story behind the new Tyndale House Greek New Testament (THGNT), the goal of which is “to give the text of the original Greek as accurately as possible.” (Anyone interested in textual criticism or involved in academic biblical studies should have the new THGNT—and it happens to be on Pre-Pub in Logos right now.)
[Read more…]

Let the Bible Be What It Is

As a biblical scholar, I’m often asked for advice on how to interpret the Bible. I could refer people to tools (like Logos Bible Software) and techniques for analyzing the original languages, even for people dependent on English. But neither of those are my go-to answer. My own journey has convinced me there’s one fundamental insight that, if faithfully observed, will help more than anything. It’s the best piece of advice I can give you:
Let the Bible be what it is. [Read more…]

What Is Logos in the Bible? A Short and Extended Answer

More than the name of this blog and our Bible study software, logos (which we pronounce LOW-goess . . .  and LAH-gahss) is an important Greek word in biblical and theological studies.

Logos is arguably the most debated and most discussed word in the Greek New Testament,” writes Douglas Estes in his entry on this word in the Lexham Bible Dictionary (a free resource from Lexham Press).

What does logos mean, and why is it significant for Christian theology and biblical studies? This post, adapted from Estes’ explanation, offers a thorough explanation of the word.

Short answer

Logos (λόγος, logos) is a concept-word in the Bible symbolic of the nature and function of Jesus Christ. It is also used to refer to the revelation of God in the world.

Introduction to Logos

The Greek word logos simply means “word.” However, along with this most basic definition comes a host of quasi-technical and technical uses of the word logos in the Bible as well as ancient Greek literature. Its most famous usage is John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

The Meaning of Logos in the Bible

The standard rendering of logos in English is “word.” This holds true in English regardless of whether logos is used in a mundane or technical sense. Over the centuries, and in a variety of languages, other suggestions have been made—such as the recent idea of rendering logos as “message” in English—but none have stuck with any permanency.

There are three primary uses for the word logos in the New Testament:

  1. Logos in its standard meaning designates a word, speech, or the act of speaking (Acts 7:22).
  2. Logos in its special meaning refers to the special revelation of God to people (Mark 7:13).
  3. Logos in its unique meaning personifies the revelation of God as Jesus the Messiah (John 1:14).

Since the writers of the New Testament used logos more than 300 times, mostly with the standard meaning, even this range of meaning is quite large. For example, its standard usage can mean:

  • An accounting (Matthew 12:36)
  • A reason (Acts 10:29)
  • An appearance or aural display (Colossians 2:23)
  • A preaching (1 Timothy 5:17)
  • A word (1 Corinthians 1:5)

The wide semantic range of logos lends itself well to theological and philosophical discourse (Phillips, Prologue, 106).

The Meaning of Logos in the Gospel of John

The leading use of logos in its unique sense occurs in the opening chapter of John’s Gospel. This chapter introduces the idea that Jesus is the Word: the Word that existed prior to creation, the Word that exists in connection to God, the Word that is God, and the Word that became human, cohabited with people, and possessed a glory that can only be described as the glory of God (John 1:1, 14). As the Gospel of John never uses logos in this unique, technical manner again after the first chapter, and never explicitly says that the logos is Jesus, many have speculated that the Word-prologue predates the Gospel in the form of an earlier hymn or liturgy (Schnackenburg, Gospel, 1.224–32; Jeremias, Jesus, 100); however, there is little evidence for this, and attempts to recreate the hymn are highly speculative (Keener, Gospel, 333–37). While there are a multitude of theories for why the Gospel writer selected the logos concept-word, the clear emphasis of the opening of the Gospel and entrance of the Word into the world is cosmological, reflecting the opening of Genesis 1 (Estes, Temporal Mechanics, 107–13).

The Meaning of Logos in the Remainder of the New Testament

There are two other unique, personified uses of logos in the New Testament, both of which are found in the Johannine literature.

  1. In 1 John 1:1, Jesus is referred to as the “Word of life”; both “word” and “life” are significant to John, as this opening to the first letter is related in some way to the opening of the Gospel.
  2. In Revelation 19:13, the returning Messiah is called the “Word of God,” as a reference to His person and work as both the revealed and the revealer.

All of the remaining uses of logos in the New Testament are mostly standard uses, with a small number of special uses mixed in (e.g., Acts 4:31, where logos refers to the gospel message).

The Meaning of Logos in the Old Testament (LXX)

The Old Testament (LXX, or Septuagint, the translation of the Old Testament into Greek) use of logos closely matches both standard and special New Testament uses. As with the New Testament, most uses of logos in the Old Testament fit within the standard semantic range of “word” as speech, utterance, or word. The LXX does make regular use of logos to specify the “word of the Lord” (e.g., Isaiah 1:10, where the LXX translates יהוה־דָּבָר, yhwhdavar), relating to the special proclamation of God in the world. When used this way, logos does not mean the literal words or speech or message of God; instead, it refers to the “dynamic, active communication” of God’s purpose and plan to His people in light of His creative activity (Need, “Re-Reading,” 399). The key difference between the Testaments is that there is no personification of logos in the Old Testament indicative of the Messiah. In Proverbs 8, the Old Testament personifies Wisdom, leading some to believe this is a precursor to the unique, technical use of logos occurring in the Johannine sections of the New Testament.

 

The Historical Background of the Logos Concept

Many theories have been proposed attempting to explain why the Gospel of John introduces Jesus as the Word.

Old Testament Word

This theory proposes that the logos in John simply referred to the Old Testament word for word (דָּבָר, davar) as it related to the revelatory activity of God (the “word of the Lord,” 2 Sam 7:4), and then personified over time from the “word of God” (revelation) to the “Word of God” (Messiah revealed; Carson, Gospel). This theory is the closest literary parallel and thought-milieu to the New Testament. As a result, it has gained a wide range of general acceptance. The lack of evidence showing such a substantial shift in meaning is this theory’s major weakness.

Old Testament Wisdom

In the centuries before the writing of the New Testament, the Jewish concept of Wisdom, or Sophia (σοφία, sophia), was personified as a literary motif in several texts (Proverbs, Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, Baruch), prompting arguments that “Sophia” is the root idea for Logos (Scott, Sophia). Paul appears to make a weak allusion to these two ideas also (1 Cor 1:24). This theory may be supported by the presence of a divine, personified hypostasis for God in Jewish contexts. The concept of Sophia shares some similarities with “Word.” However, Sophia may simply be a literary motif. Furthermore, it is unclear why the writer of the Gospel of John wouldn’t have simply used sophia instead of logos.

Jewish-Hellenistic Popular Philosophy

Philo (20 BC–AD 50), a Hellenistic Jew from Alexandria, wrote many books combining Hebrew and Greek theology and philosophy; he used logos in many different ways to refer to diverse aspects of God and his activity in the world (Tobin, “Prologue”). This theory is supported by the fact that Philo is a near-contemporary of John. Furthermore, the use of the language has several striking similarities. However, this theory has three major weaknesses:

  1. Philo never appears to personify logos in the same way John does (perhaps due to his strict monotheism).
  2. Philo’s philosophical system is complex and frequently at odds with the Bible’s worldview.
  3. Philo was not influential in his lifetime.

John’s Theology

One theory for the origin of the logos concept in the Gospel of John comes through the evolution of christological thought apparent in Johannine context: after working through the creation of the letters and the text of the Fourth Gospel, wherein the focus is repeatedly on the Christ as the revelation of God, the fourth evangelist may have written the prologue as the fruition and capstone of all of his thoughts on the person and work of Jesus (Miller, “Johannine”). As this theory takes the thought-process of the evangelist seriously, it is elegant and plausible. However, it does not actually answer the question regarding the origin of the concept, as the evangelist must have had some original semantic range for logos.

Greek Philosophy

For Heraclitus and later Stoic philosophers, logos was a symbol of divine reason; it is possible that John borrowed this concept from the Hellenistic milieu in which he wrote (Hook, “Spirit,” 227). While few individuals support this theory today, early church fathers such as Irenaeus and Augustine indirectly favored it. This theory may be plausible, as Greek philosophy did have a pervasive influence, and was accepted by many in the early church. However, there is no direct evidence that the writer of the Fourth Gospel knew or cared about Greek philosophy.

The Torah

In order to place the Gospel of John squarely in Jewish context, this theory proposes that logos is best understood as the incarnated Torah (Reed, Semitic). The theory is based on some parallels between “word” and “law” (νόμος, nomos) in the LXX (Psa 119:15); thus, one could translate John 1:1 as Jacobus Schoneveld did: “In the beginning was the Torah, and the Torah was toward God, and Godlike was the Torah.” This theory’s major strength is that it encourages a Jewish context for reading John. Furthermore, some parallels between “word” and “law” are possible. However, as there is very limited evidence for such a personified reading, this theory has received only limited acceptance.

[…]

No accepted consensus regarding the origin of the logos concept-word exists. This much appears probable: the writer of the Gospel of John knew Greek, and thus must have encountered, to some degree, at least a rudimentary Hellenistic philosophical understanding of the use of logos; however, being first a Jew not a Greek, the author was more concerned about Old Testament thought patterns and contemporary Jewish language customs. Thus, it seems likely that, in the proclamation of the Gospel over time, these strains bore christological fruit for the evangelist, culminating in the unique “Word” concept presented in John 1.

The Reception of the Logos Concept in Early Church History

The logos concept was a foundational idea for theological development from the start of the early church. Perhaps the earliest Christian document after the New Testament is 1 Clement (ca. AD 95–97), in which the author inserts logos in its special usage of God’s revelation (1 Clement 13.3). First Clement may also contain the first existing unique, technical usage of logos as Jesus outside of the New Testament (if 1 Clement 27.4 is read as an allusion to Colossians 1:16; if not, it is still a very close parallel to John 1:1 and Genesis 1:1). A similar allusion to the logos as God’s revelation/Bible (New Testament) occurs in the Letter of Barnabas 6:17 (ca. AD 100) and Polycarp 7.2 (ca. AD 120).

The first and clearest reference to logos as Christ comes in the letters of Ignatius, a bishop of Antioch, who was martyred ca. AD 110 (To the Magnesians 8.2). By the middle of the second century, the logos concept began to appear in conventional (Letter to Diognetus 12.9), apologetic (Justin Martyr, Irenaeus) and theological (Irenaeus) uses. At the start of the third century, Origen’s focus on the logos as to the nature of Christ signaled the intense interest that Christian theology would put on the word into the future.

Logos in Culture

The logos concept continues to influence Western culture; it is foundational to Christian belief. The Greek idea of logos (with variant connotations) was also a major influence in Heraclitus (ca. 540–480 BC), Isocrates (436–338 BC), Aristotle (384–322 BC), and the Stoics, even becoming part of ancient popular culture (Philo). The concept has continued to influence Western culture since that time, partly due to the philosophical tradition of the logos that resumed post-Fourth Gospel with Neo-Platonism and with various strains of Gnosticism. Propelled through the centuries in its comparison/contrast to Christian theology, the logos continued into modern philosophical discussion with diverse thinkers including Hegel (1770–1831), Edmund Husserl (1859–1938), Carl Jung (1875–1961), and Jacques Derrida (1930–2004).

Without the theology of the Gospel of John, it seems unlikely that logos would have remained popular into late medieval or modern thought. Logos is one of the very few Greek words of the New Testament to be transliterated into English and put into everyday Christian usage.

This post is adapted from Douglas Estes’ “Logos” entry in the Lexham Bible Dictionary. Read the full version and bibliography in the Logos desktop app.

Douglas Estes is associate professor of New Testament and practical theology at South University-Columbia. He’s the author or editor of eight books, and is the editor of Didaktikos. He contributes to publications such as Christianity Today and Bible Study Magazine. Douglas is a fellow in the Center for Pastor Theologians.