Christmas: The Word Becomes Flesh 

Christ is born!  Glorify Him! 


For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:12-13)

While in common parlance, “the word of God” is thought to refer to the Bible, the written Scriptures, in traditional Christian theology Christ is the Word of God who became incarnate for our salvation. Thus, the Word of God is a “Who” rather than a “what”. While it is not incorrect to think of the Bible as the Word of God, it is far more correct to think of the Word of God as the God-man Jesus Christ – the Scripture bears witness to Him (John 5:39). St John at the beginning of his Gospel is clear that it is the Word of God who becomes flesh in Jesus Christ (John 1:1-17).


Thinking about the Word of God as a person was not invented by Christians, for the idea was already present in Judaism. Referring to John 1:1-3, THE JEWISH ANNOTATED NEW TESTAMENT says:

In the beginning, echoing the opening of Genesis. The Word signifies God’s power of creation and redemption; as a means of expression, reason (or truth), and grace it is identified with Jesus (1:9, 14, 17), it suggests Wisdom terminology (Psalm 33:6; Proverbs 8:7-30; Wisdom 9:1, 9; 18: 15; Sirach 24:9; 43:26). For the Alexandrian Jewish philosopher Philo, God’s Logos was the very first fruit of creation… In the wisdom of Ben Sirach, Wisdom is strongly associated and even identified with the divine commandment, that is, the Torah (Sirach 24:22-23). (p 157).


The same book goes on to explain the idea of the Word of God in ancient Judaism:

In the first centuries of the Christian era, the idea of the Word (Greek Logos) was known in some Greek philosophical circles as a link connecting the transcendent/the divine with humanity/the terrestrial. For Jews, the idea of this link between heaven and earth, whether called by the Greek Logos or Sophia (‘wisdom’) or by the Aramaic Memra (‘word’), permeated first- and second-century thought.


Philo writes:

whereas the voice of mortals is judged by hearing, the sacred oracles intimate that the words of God (logoi, the plural) are seen as light is seen, for we are told that all of the people saw the Voice (Exodus 20:18), not that they heard it; for what was happening was not an impact of air made by the organs of mouth and tongue, but the radiating splendor of virtue indistinguishable from a fountain of reason. … But the voice of God which is not that of verbs and names yet seen by the eye of the soul, he [Moses] rightly introduces as ‘visible.’

Further, for Philo as for the Gospel of John, the Logos is both a part of God and also a separate being:

To His Word (Logos), his chief messenger (archangelos), highest in the age and honor, the Father (Pater) of all has given the special prerogative, to stand on the border and separate the creature from the Creator.


… historical investigation suggests that in the first two centuries CE, the Memra [Syriac: Word] was not a mere name, but an actual divine entity functioning as a mediator.  (THE JEWISH ANNOTATED NEW TESTAMENT, pp 546-547)

The idea that the Word of God is a person has its roots in Jewish spiritual thinking. Christ is the fulfillment of this tradition – He isn’t rejecting Jewish tradition but bringing it to completion (Matthew 5:17; also Christ’s words on the cross in John 19:30 – “It is accomplished.”). The Word is identified with God – the Word becoming flesh is fulfillment of Jewish thought found in the Law and the Prophets.

Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  (1 Corinthians 1:24)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.