The Word

Trinitarians commonly assume that "The Word" is another name for "Jesus" and this assumption changes the meaning of John 1 in such a way that it supports their view that Jesus is God. Therefore, it is important to understand what "the Word of God" really means:

What is "the Word"?

In both Greek literature and Scripture, logos has a very wide range of meanings that fall into two basic categories: one is the mind and products of the mind like “reason,” (the word “logic” is ultimately from the root logos), and the other is the expression of that reason in language or life: thus, “word,” “saying,” “command” etc. The Bible itself demonstrates the wide range of meaning of logos. Some of the ways it is translated in English versions of the Bible are: account, appearance, book, command, conversation, eloquence, flattery, grievance, heard, instruction, matter, message, ministry, news, proposal, question, reason, reasonable, reply, report, rule, rumor, said, say, saying, sentence, speaker, speaking, speech, stories, story, talk, talking, teaching, testimony, thing, things, this, truths, what, why, word and words. Although the word logos appears over 300 times in the Greek text, it is only translated “word” about 175 times in the King James Version, and 125 times in the NIV 84.

Whichever way we view the indented meaning of "the word" according to John 1, drastically changing the message of John 1.

"The Word" according to Strong's Concordance

Strong's Concordance
logos a word (as embodying an idea), a statement, a speech
Original Word λόγος, ου, ὁ
Part of Speech Noun, Masculine
Transliteration logos
Phonetic Spelling log'-os
Definition a word (as embodying an idea), a statement, a speech
Usage a word, speech, divine utterance, analogy.

"The Word" according to the BDAG Greek-English lexicon

The words in italics are translated from logos:

  • Speaking words you say (Romans 15:18 NIV, “what I have said”).
  • A statement you make (Luke 20:20 NASB, “they might catch him in some statement).
  • A question (Matthew 21:24 NIV, “I will also ask you one question”).
  • Preaching (1 Timothy 5:17 NIV, “especially those whose work is preaching).
  • Command (Galatians 5:14 NIV, “the entire law is summed up in a single command”).
  • Proverb; saying (John 4:37 NIV, “thus the saying, ‘One sows, and another reaps’”).
  • Message; instruction; proclamation (Luke 4:32 NIV, “his message had authority”).
  • Assertion; declaration; teaching (John 6:60 NIV, “this is a hard teaching”).
  • The subject under discussion; matter (Acts 8:21 NIV, “you have no part or share in this ministry.” Acts 15:6 NASB, “And the apostles... came together to look into this matter”).
  • Revelation from God (Matthew 15:6 NIV, “you nullify the Word of God”).
  • God’s revelation spoken by His servants (Hebrews 13:7 NIV, “leaders who spoke the Word of God”).
  • A reckoning, an account (Matthew 12:36 NIV84, “men will have to give account” on the Day of Judgment).
  • An account or “matter” in a financial sense (Matthew 18:23 NIV84, “A king who wanted to settle “accounts” with his servants”).
  • A reason; motive (Acts 10:29 NASB), “I ask for what reason you have sent for me”).

The above list is not exhaustive, but it does show that logos has a very wide range of meanings.

"The Word" according to John

Let's also consider how the same author of John 1 also applies "the word", transliterated as "ho logos" from Greek, in the same book:

For here the saying (ho logos) holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ -- John 4:37 (ESV)

When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying (ho logos); who can listen to it?” -- John 6:60 (ESV)

Jesus answered them " seek to kill me because my word (ho logos) finds no place in you." -- John 8:37

Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? If he called them gods to whom the word of God (ho logos) came — and Scripture cannot be broken — do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” -- John 10:34-38 (ESV)

Though he (Jesus) had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, so that the word (ho logos) spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

“Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” (Isaiah 53:1)

-- John 12:37-38 (ESV)

And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in Him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees Him Who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words (rhēmatōn) and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words (rhēmata) has a Judge; the word (ho logos) that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment — what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.” -- John 12:44-50 (ESV)

But the word (ho logos) that is written in their Law must be fulfilled. -- John 15:25 (ESV)

Jesus spoke these words, lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father... I have given them Your word (logon); and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word (ho logos) is truth. -- John 17:14-17 (NKJV)

This was to fulfill the word (ho logos) that he had spoken. -- John 18:9 (ESV)

This was to fulfill the word (ho logos) that Jesus had spoken to show by what kind of death he was going to die. -- John 18:32 (ESV)

All these verses indicated that Jesus is not literally "the word of God" himself. To summarize:

Meaning of "word" Scripture
the saying John 4:37, 6:60
promise John 8:37, 17:14-17
teaching John 10:34-48, 12:44-50, 15:25
prophecy John 12:37-38, 18:9,32

If John believed that "the Word" is Jesus, he would have over and over proof how Jesus is "the Word", but in contrast John never uses any form of "the Word" to directly refer Jesus himself, for example:

When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word (logō) that Jesus had spoken. -- John 2:22 (ESV)

Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word (logon). -- John 4:39-41 (ESV)

Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word (logō) that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. -- John 4:50 (ESV)

So Jesus said to them... "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word (logon) and believes him who sent me has eternal life." -- John 5:24 (ESV)

His voice you have never heard, this form you have never seen, and you do not have His word (logon) abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom He has sent. -- John 5:38 (ESV)

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word (logō), you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” -- John 8:31 (ESV)

Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but whe sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word (logon)." -- John 8:42-43 (ESV)

Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. Yet iI do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and He is the judge. Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word (logon), he will never see death.”
The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word (logon), he will never taste death.’ Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?”
Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father Who glorifies me, of Whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ But you have not known Him. I know Him. If I were to say that I do not know Him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know Him and I keep His word (logon).

-- John 8:49-55 (ESV)

"I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word (logou), that they may all be one, just as You, Father, are in me, and I in You, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that You have sent me." -- John 17:20-21 (ESV)

According to these definitions from the author himself, we can conclude that "the Word" is not a person at all, but an abstract concept like God's plan, promise, commitment, instructions or command which also correspond with Strong's Concordance.

"The Word" according to Acts

And the word (ho logos) of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith. -- Acts 6:7 (ESV)

"The Word" according to other apostles

John was not the only apostle that testified about how Jesus fulfilled "the word of God".

Peter's version:

Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested (show forth/declare) to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know — this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God (the Word), you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. -- Acts 2:22-24 (ESV)

Stephen's shortened version:

“Brothers and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham...

Yet He (God) gave him (Abraham) no inheritance in it, not even a foot’s length, but promised (gave His Word) to give it to him as a possession and to his offspring after him, though he had no child. And God spoke to this effect...

But tas the time of the promise drew near, which God had granted to Abraham...

You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”...

But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

-- Acts 7:2,6,51-53,55-56 (ESV)

Paul's shortened version:

So Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said:

“Men of Israel and you who fear God, listen. The God of this people Israel chose our fathers...

Of this man’s offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as He promised. Before his coming, John had proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. And as John was finishing his course, he said, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but behold, after me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.’

“Brothers, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to us has been sent the message of this salvation...

And we bring you the good news that what God promised (the Word) to the fathers, this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus....

Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.

-- Acts 13:16-17,23-26,32,38-39 (ESV)

Paul's letter to Titus:

Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began, but has in due time manifested (to make clear/visible/known) His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior; -- Titus 1:1-3 (NKJV)

As seen above the other apostles called "the Word of God":

Apostle Description
Peter the definite plan and foreknowledge of God
Stephen God's promise
Paul God's promise

The Word about our future

For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!

But according to His promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

-- 2 Peter 3:5-13 (ESV)

In this context, "the word of God" is God's promise.