Logos (Word) is a common Greek word used in a quasi-technical sense as a title of the Messiah (Christ) in the Johannine writings. It carries a large number of different meanings: its basic translation is "word", i.e. meaningful utterance, whence develop its many senses: 'statement', 'declaration', 'discourse', 'subject-matter', 'doctrine', 'affair' and, by another development, 'reason', 'cause', 'sake', 'respect'. As a grammatical term it means a finite sentence - in logic a factual statement, definition, or judgement - in rhetoric a correctly constructed piece of oratory. As a term of psychology and metaphysics it was used by the Stoa, following Herakleitos, to signify the divine power of function by which the universe is given unity, coherence, and meaning: man is made in accordance with the same principle, and is himself said to possess Logos, both inwardly and expressed as speech. The term is also used as the pattern or norm of man whereby he may live 'according to nature'.
In the Johannine writings "the Word" appears as a title (Jn.1:1,14; Rev.19:13). The apostle John identified the One to whom this title belongs, namely, Yah'shua (Jesus), He being so designated not only during His ministry on earth but also during His pre-existence as well as after His exaltation. A title often describes the function served or the duty performed by the bearer. So it was with the title Kal Hatze, meaning "the voice or word of the king", that was given an Abyssinian officer. Based on his travels from 1768 to 1773, James Bruce describes the duties of the Kal Hatze as follows. He stood by a window covered with a curtain through which, unseen inside, the king spoke to this officer. He then conveyed the message to the persons or party concerned. Thus the Kal Hatze acted as the 'word' or voice of the Abyssinian king. It should be noted that Yahweh made Aaron the 'word' or spokesman ('mouth') of Moses, saying: "He must speak for you to the people; and he shall be mouth for you, and you shall be to him as Elohim (God)" (Ex.4:16).
In the same way Yahweh's firstborn Son doubtless served as the 'mouth' or 'spokesman' for His Father, the great King of Eternity. He was Elohim's (God's) Word or communication for conveying information and instructions to the Creator's other children. Showing that Yah'shua (Jesus) continued to serve as His Father's Spokesman or Word during His earthly ministry, He told His listeners: "For I have not spoken on My own authority; the Father who sent me has Himself given me 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 bidden Me" (Jn.12:49-50; see also Jn.14:10 & 7:16-17).
John 1:1 is the only unambiguous case as to the meaning of Logos. Here we have a highly metaphysical prologue to the Gospel in which the significance of the Messiah (Christ) is interpreted theologically. Attempts have been made to link the prologue primarily with the Old Testament use of dábár (which the Greek Septuagint/LXX translates Logos) , or with the Rabinnical teaching concerning the Torah. These fail because these concepts are not sufficiently differentiated from the supreme Godhead to stand without alteration in v.14 ("... the Word became flesh and dwelt among us ..."). The figure of Wisdom (Heb. Hochmah, Gk. Sophia) provides more parallels but lacks identification in our sources with the Word : the teachings about the Primal or Heavenly Man which others have invoked is too conjectural to command much confidence. Only the Philonic Logos-teaching provides a clear theological scheme in which the Word possesses a like unity with Elohim (God) and a like distinction from Him, and in which both creative and sustaining activity in the universe and revelatory activity towards men is ascribed to. Further, the necessarily unique concept of incarnation is nevertheless a proper development of the identification of Philo's Logos with the Ideal Man. Either a direct use of Philo or a similar background in intellectual circles of Hellenistic Jewry may lie behind this .
In 1 John 1:1 the phrase "word of life" is unlikely to bear the meaning of Logos in its technical theological sense; both context and construction are against this. Even if this be from the same pen as the Gospel (which some scholars regard as doubtful) the letter may date from a time prior to the adoption of the full-grown Logos-doctrine. The sense of "Christian gospel" fits this context best.
In Revelation 19:13 the sense of "gospel" may lie behind the ascription of the title Logos of Elohim (God) to the triumphant figure ("... the name by which He (Yah'shua/Jesus) is called the Word of Elohim (God)" - cp. Rev.6:2). We may also compare the imagery of the Wisdom of Solomon 18:15-16 ("All things were lying in peace and silence, and night in her swift course was half spent, when Thy almighty Word leapt from Thy royal throne in heaven into the midst of that doomed land like a restless warrior, bearing the sharp sword of Thy inflexible decree ..." - NEB).
All three places illustrate how the fullness of Yah'shua (Jesus) consistently exhausts all preparatory imagery and thought; and how many places need an exegesis which draws upon many sources for full exposition. Yah'shua (Jesus) gives fresh meaning to terminology which prior to Him was expressive of lesser mysteries.
So what is the origin of "Logos"? The most likely suggestion is that it comes from a Jewish Hellenistic background, and that it referred to a supernatural Being, since other Jews referred to Torah and Wisdom in a similar way. Therefore, Christians who spoke of Yah'shua (Jesus) as the Word were saying that he held the highest place in the order of things, second only to Yahweh Himself, sharing all the powers and attributes of Deity. When John speaks of the Word becoming flesh (Jn.1:14) he means that Elohim (Christ) appeared as a man of weakness and humiliation, but also, for those who believed, as the Saviour -- that is the meaning of the words "full of grace and truth".
Thus there seems to be a natural development of the theology of Logos (Dabar, Memra) from the Old Testament, to the Johannine Epistles, until we reach a fully-fledged doctrine in John's Gospel. Jewish speculation, seen in the Nebi'im (Prophets), Psalms and Wisdom literature, had already, in varying degrees, personified the notion of the powerful and active Word of Elohim (God), and such speculation had deep roots in the thought of other peoples of the ancient world, Egypt in particular. "By the Word (dábár) of Yahweh the heavens, and all their host by the breath of His mouth ..." (Ps.33:6). "For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven ... so shall My Word (dábár) be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it" (Is.55:10-11).
Aided by the Stoic use of the term, Philo, the Jewish writer of Alexandria in the early half of the first century after Christ, had given new currency to this strand of biblical imagery. It is then not surprising that, just as Paul uses the closely parallel idea of Elohim's (God's) Wisdom as a way of giving expression to his conviction of Christ's universal significance, so another part of the Christian body worked with the concept of the Word.
 Wisdom is clearly identified with the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) in Ecclesiastes, Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) and the Wisdom of Solomon. (27 February 2004)
 Perhaps a better identification is with the Aramaic Memra which carries the sense of Yahweh's expression of Himself. Thus Richard Wurmbrand suggests a translation for Jn.1:1, "In the beginning was the Real Thing". That the original concept is Hebraic rather than Greek is shown by the couplet, "The Word was with Elohim (God)" and "The Word was Elohim (God)" for it is a matter of both/and and not either/or. Thus the Word was not a created being in the sense that man is. Thus it is more likely that the Gospel of John was originally written in Hebrew than Greek, and in Aramaic rather than Hebrew. That its subsequent translation from Aramaic to Greek made a special appeal to contemporary Helenistic thought (particularly that of the Stoa) may perhaps further testify of the book's inspired origin. Alternatively, this may be the best evidence that John was originally written in Greek but by a Hebraic mind. (27 February 2004)