The Messiah is called “Counselor” (Isaiah 9:6) and is said to have “the spirit of counsel” to rest upon Him (Isaiah 11:2). This Counsellor communicates the will of God to man in the ultimate form of truth and grace as the Word made flesh (John 1:1, 14). John’s usage of the Greek word λόγος as a name for the Messiah relates the attribute of given divine counsel. W. E. Vines explains the title:

(I) “the expression of thought,”…

(a) as embodying a conception or idea…

(b) a saying or statement…

(c) discourse, speech, of instruction, etc….

(II) “The Personal Word,” a title of the Son of God…

(1) His distinct and superfinite Personality,

(2) His relation in the Godhead

(3) His deity; in Jhn 1:3 His creative power; in Jhn1:14 His Incarnation… thus fulfilling the significance of the title “Logos,” the “Word,” the personal manifestation, not of a part of the Divine nature, but of the whole Deity[.]1)W. E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Fleming H. Revell Co. (Old Tappan, NJ: 1940, 1966), Vol. 4, pp. 229-230

H. P. Liddon offers how this title reflect Christ’s divinity.

Yet the Logos necessarily suggests to our minds the further idea of communication; the Logos is Speech as well as Thought. And of His actual self-communication St. John mentions two phases or stages; the first creation, the second revelation. The Word unveils Himself to the soul through the meditation of objects of sense in the physical world, and He also unveils Himself immediately. Accordingly St. John says that ‘all things were made’ by the Word, and that the Word Who creates is also the Revealer: ‘the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory.’ He possesses δόξα, that is, in St. John, the totality of the Divine attributes. This ‘glory’ is not merely something belonging to His Essential Nature; since He allows us to behold It through His veil of Flesh.2)H. P. Liddon, The Divinity of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Longmans, Green, and Co. (New York, NY: 1908), p. 232

Daniel Boyarin proposed a developing history of thought preceding John’s Gospel that Jews understood his Logos theology. “It is at least possible that the beginning of trinitarian reflection was precisely in non-Christian Jewish accounts of the second and visible God, variously, the Logos (Memra), Wisdom, or even perhaps the Son of God.”3)Daniel Boyarin, “The Gospel of the Memra: Jewish Binitarianism and the Prologue to John,” The Harvard Theological Review, Vol. 94, No. 3 (July 2001), p. 249 Philo, the Alexandrian Jew, frequently uses the expression of λόγος in a similar way that reflect New Testament thinking of Christ. Examples of such expressions are as follows:

For God, like a shepherd and a king, governs (as if they were a flock of sheep) the earth, and the water, and the air, and the fire, and all the plants, and living creatures that are in them, whether mortal or divine; and he regulates the nature of the heavens… appointing, as their immediate superintendent, his own right reason [logos], his first-born son, who is to receive the charge of this sacred company, as the lieutenant of the great king; for it is said somewhere, “Behold, I am he! I will send my messenger before thy face, who shall keep thee in the road.”4)Philo, On Husbandry 51; The Works of Philo: New Updated Edition, (Trans. C. D. Yonge) Hendrickson Publishers (Peabody, MA: 1997), p. p. 178

The New Testament authors depict Christ as the good shepherd (John 10:11, 14); the first born son (Colossians 1:13-15); the captain/lieutenant (Hebrews 2:10); and the one Who governs and superintends creation (Colossians 1:16-17). Philo states, “filled with the most universal manna; for manna is called something which is the primary genus of everything. But the most universal of all things is God; and in the second place the word of God.”5)Philo, Allegorical Interpretation, 2.86; The Works of Philo: New Updated Edition, (Trans. C. D. Yonge) Hendrickson Publishers (Peabody, MA: 1997), p. 47 Likewise, Jesus Christ is the bread of life (John 6:33, 35, 48, 51, 58). Philo further relates, “The High priest… being also an emblem of that reason [logos] which holds together and regulates the universe.”6)Philo, On the Life of Moses, 2. 133; The Works of Philo: New Updated Edition, (Trans. C. D. Yonge) Hendrickson Publishers (Peabody, MA: 1997), p. p. 502 The book of Hebrew presents Jesus Christ as our High Priest (Hebrew 3:1; 4:14; 6:20).

This culminating in Philo’s thought with, “Now the image of God is the Word, by which all the world was made.”7)Philo, The Special Law 1.81; The Works of Philo: New Updated Edition, (Trans. C. D. Yonge) Hendrickson Publishers (Peabody, MA: 1997), p. 541 The Lord Jesus is the express image of God (Colossians 1:15; Hebrew 1:3). When Psalm 1 has the blessed man rejecting the counsel of ungodly in contrast to delighting in God’s law, so Jesus Christ is the counsellor, Who, as the Word of God incarnate, offers God’s word to be yoked with as His follower (Matthew 11:28-30). God’s way and judgement was considered His “yoke” (Jeremiah 5:5), which brings rest to the souls of those who will walk therein (Jeremiah 6:16). The Mishna refers to the “yoke of the law” (Aboth 3.5)8)The Mishna (Trans. Herbert Danby), Hendrickson Pub. (Peabody, MA: 1933, 2016), p. 450 which Christ is likely implying His words as equal in authority to, or overriding the former law (Hebrews 9:15). Other Jewish texts complained that “many of your people who separated themselves from your statutes and who have cast away from them the yoke of your law” (2 Baruch 41:3).9)The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (Ed. James H. Charlesworth) Doubleday (New York, NY: 1983), Vol. 1, p. 633 They were who walked in the counsel of the ungodly (Psalm 1:1). Moses inaugurated the law and first covenant by the sprinkling of blood (Exodus 24:7-8) and prophesied of one who would be like him (Deuteronomy 18:15-19) being fulfilled in Christ offering of a new yoke to the people.

Philo wasn’t the only Jew that was projecting this kind of theological views. Boyarin says, “However, there were other Jews [other than Philo], and moreover, not only Greek speking ones, who manifested. Version of Logos theology. Notions of the second god as personified word of wisdom or God were present among Semetic-speaking Jews as well.”10)Daniel Boyarin, “The Gospel of the Memra: Jewish Binitarianism and the Prologue to John,” The Harvard Theological Review, Vol. 94, No. 3 (July 2001), p. 252) Christ as Logos (“intellect”) is parallel to the “Wisdom” theology of the Old Testament. “But if Christ is the Logos in St. John, in these Gospels He is the Sophia.”((H. P. Liddon, The Divinity of our Lord, Longmans, Green, and Co.(New York, 1908) p. 254 Alloy Grillmeier suggests, “The Jewish-Hellenistic wisdom literature is more important for Paul than apocalyptic and the Rabbis.”11)Alloys Grillmeier, Christ in Christian Tradition: From the Apostolic Age to Chalcedon (451)(trans J. S. Bowden), Sheed and Ward (New York, NY: 1965), p. 14 Indeed, Paul calls Christ, “the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24). But this parallel did not originate with Paul. He followed what Jesus Christ taught about Himself. Comparing parallel passages from the synoptics, the title “wisdom” as the sender of the apostles is exchanged with “I” by Christ as the sender (Matthew 23:34 cf. Luke 11:49). It is true that “More often, early Judaism seems to have understood wisdom as an aspect or part of God, merely personified distinctly.”12)Craig S. Keener, The Historical Jesus of the Gospels, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. (Grand Rapids, MI: 2009, 2012), p. 281 Therefore, H. P. Liddon states, “In the Book of Proverbs the Wisdom is co-eternal with Jehovah; Wisdom assists Him in the work of creation; Wisdom reigns, as one specially honoured, in the palace of the King of Heaven; Widsom is the adequate object of the eternal joy of God; God possesses Wisdom, Wisdom delights in God.”13)H. P. Liddon, The Divinity of our Lord, Longmans, Green, and Co.(New York, NY: 1908) p. 60

In other ancient Jewish documents, Wisdom came from the Lord as Word of God. “All wisdom cometh from the Lord, and is with him for ever…. The word of God most high is the fountain of wisdom; and her ways are everlasting commandments.”14)The Wisdom of Jesus son of Sirach 1:1, 5 in The Apocrypha (ed. Manuel Komroff), Barnes & Noble Books (New York, NY: 1992), p. 158 The Wisdom of Solomon proclaims, “And thy counsel who hath known, except thou give wisdom, and send thy Holy spirit from above?”15)Wisdom of Solomon 9:17 in The Apocrypha (ed. Manuel Komroff), Barnes & Noble Books (New York, NY: 1992), p. 140 Christ as the Wisdom and Word of God reveals the Father (John 1:14, 18). This revealing of the Father is exclusively given to the Son (John 14:6).

“The claim of exclusivity of mutual knowledge of Father and son should be compared to the claims that state only Wisdom knows God and vice versa (cf. Job 28:1-27; Sir 1:6, 8; Bar. 3:15-32; Prov. 8:12; Wis. 7:24ff.; 8:3-8; 9:4, ,9, 11). The middle two clauses suggest that Jesus sees his relationship to the Father in the light of wisdom ideas, and he may see himself as Wisdom incarnate here.16)Ben Witherington III, The Christology of Jesus, Augsburg Fortress (Minneapolis, MN: 1990), p. 227

Craig Keener states:

By using here a term frequently used for passing on tradition [“delivered unto me” (Mt. 11:27)] the Gospels might contrast Jesus’ revelation, which is directly from the Father, with the traditions that sages received from earlier sages…. The Father has given Jesus the sole prerogative to reveal him, so that anyone who approaches God a different way will not find him.17)Craig S. Keener, The Historical Jesus of the Gospels, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. (Grand Rapids, MI: 2009, 2012), p. 273

Loving God, or Christ, is expressed by keeping His commandments (John 14:15, 21 15:10; 1John 2:3; 3:22; 24; 5:2,3). Psalm 1:2 expresses the true affection of loving God as “delight” and “meditate” on the law continually as Christians are to “abide” in Christ (John 15:4-10; 1 John 2:28; 3:6, 24). John draws Psalm 1 allusions of affectionate, continual, action as directed by Christ, “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” (1John 2:6).

Another unique expression is found in the Targumim. In Genesis 15:1 it is states, “the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision,” with the Herbrew phrase, דְבַר־יְהוָה֙ “the word of the Lord” rendered in the LXX as ρῆμα Κυρίου, but the Targum Onkelos simply uses the word מימר “word, command, Targ. Gen. XLI, 44. Targ. Ps. XIX, 4; a. fr.—2) (hypostatized) (דיְיָ)… the Word, i.e. the Lord (used in Targum to obviate anthropomorphism).”18)Marcus Jastrow, A Dictionary of the Targumim, The Talmud Babli and Yerushalmi, and the Midrashic Literature, Judaica Press, Inc. (New York, NY: 1971, 1996), p. 775 By saying the word is “hypostatized” is to indicate the “word” is being personified as in the epistle to the Hebrews when it describes Jesus Christ “who being the brightness of his glory, the express image of his [i.e., God’s] person [ὑποστάσεως, hypostasis]” (Hebrews 1:3). The theological term hypostatsis “denotes a real personal subsistence or person…. It developed theologically as the term to describe any one of the three real and distinct subsistences in the one undivided substances or essence of God, and especially the one unified personality of Christ the Son in his two natures, human and divine.”19)W. E. Ward, in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (ed. Walter A. Elwell), Baker Books (Grand Rapids, MI: 1984), p. 539

Daniel Boyarin comments,

In all of the Palstinian Aramaic translations of the bible, the term memra—as a translation of various terms in the Hebrew either simply mean God or are names of God—is legion and theologically highly significant, because these usages parallel nearly exactly the function of the Logos, the dueteros theos in Logos theology.20)Daniel Boyarin, “The Gospel of the Memra: Jewish Binitarianism and the Prologue to John,” The Harvard Theological Review, Vol. 94, No. 3 (July 2001), p. 256

Alfred Edershiem explained how the phrase מימר memra, is personified and equated with Jehovah in the Targum of Isaiah.

The varied use of the terms Shekhinah and Yeqara, and then Memra, in the Targum of Is. vi., is very remarkable. In ver. 1 it is the Yeqara, and its train – the heavenward glory – which fills the Heavenly Temple. In ver. 3 we hear the Trishagion in connection with the dwelling of His Shekhintha, while the splendour (Ziv) of His Yeqara fills the earth – as it were, falls down to it. In ver. 5 the prophet dreads, because he had seen the Yeqara of the Shekhinah, while in ver. 6 the coal is taken from before the Shekhintha (which is) upon the throne of the Yeqara (a remarkable expression, which occurs often; so especially in ix. xvii. 16). Finally, in ver. 8, the prophet hears the voice of the Memra of Jehovah speaking the words of vv. 9, 10. It is intensely interesting to notice that in St. John xii. 40, these words are prophetically applied in connection with Christ. Thus St. John applies to the Logos what the Targum understands of the Memra of Jehovah.”21)Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Macdonald Publishing Co. (Mclean, VA: 1883, 1886), Vol. 2, p. 660-661

Edersheim further discussed the frequency of the words use in the different Targumim and more particular the specific passages where the word is used undoubtedly to indicate the hypostatized Jehovah. The undoubted occurrences of Memra in Targum Onkelos—Gen 3:8, 10; 6:6 (bis), 7; 8:21; 9:12, 13, 15,16, 17; 15:1, 6; 17:2, 7, 10, 11; 21:20, 22, 23; 22:16; 24:3; 26:3, 24, 28; 28:15, 20 21; 31:49, 50; 35:3; 39:2, 3, 21, 23; 48:21; 49:24, 25; Ex. 3:12; 4:12, 15; 10:10; 14:31; 15:2; 18:19; 19:17; 29:42, 43; 30:6; 31:13, 17; 33:22, Lev. 20:23; 24:12; 26:9, 11, 30, 46; Numb. 14:9 (bis), 43; 17:19 (in our Version v. 4); 21:5; 23:21; Deut. 1:30; 2:7; 3:22; 4:37; 5:5; 9:3; 18:16, 19, 20:1; 23:15; 31:6, 8; 32:51; 33:3, 27.22)Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Macdonald Publishing Co. (Mclean, VA: 1883, 1886), Vol. 2, p. 662 In the Targum Jerushalmi on the Pentateuch “Of undoubted application to a Personal Manifestation of God” Edersheim notes: Gen. 1:27; 3:9, 22; 5:24; 6:3; 8:16; 15:1; 16:3; 19:24; 21:33; 22:8, 14; 28:10; 30:22 (bis); 31:9; 35:9 (quat.); 38:25; 40:23; Exod. 3:14; 6:3; 12:42 (quat.); 13:18; 14:15, 24, 25; 15:12, 25 (bis); 19:5, 7, 8, 9 (bis); 20:1, 24; 25:4; 27:16; Deut. 1:1; 3:2; 4:34; 26:3, 14, 17, 18; 28:27, 68; 32:15, 39, 51; 33:2, 7; 34:9, 10, 11.23)Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Macdonald Publishing Co. (Mclean, VA: 1883, 1886), Vol. 2, p. 662 Finally, the undoubted personal manifestations of memra in the Targum Pseudo-Jonathan: Gen. 2:8, 10, 24; 4:26; 5:2; 7:16; 9:12, 13, 15, 16, 17; 11:8; 12:17; 15:1; 17:2, 7, 10, 11; 18:5; 19:24 (bis); 20:6, 18: 21:22; 22, 23, 33; 22:1; 24:3; 24:3, 24, 28; 27:28, 31; 28:10, 15, 20; 29:12; 31:3, 50; 35:3, 9; 39:2, 3, 21, 23; 41:1; 46:4; 48:9, 21; 49:25; 50:20; Exod. 1:21; 2:5; 3:12; 7:25; 10:10; 12:23, 29; 13:8, 15, 17; 14:25, 31; 15:25; 17:13, 15, 16 (bis); 18:19; 20:7; 26:28; 29:42, 43; 30:6, 36; 31:13, 17; 32:35; 33:9, 19; 34:5; 36:33; Lev. 1:1 (bis); 6:2; 8:35; 9:23; 20:23; 24:12 (bis); 26:11, 12, 30, 44, 46; Numb. 3:16, 39, 51; 4:37, 41, 45, 49; 9:18 (bis), 19, 20, (bis), 23 (ter); 10:13, 35, 36; 14:9, 41, 43; 16:11, 26; 17:4; 21:5, 6, 8, 9, 34; 22:18,19, 28; 23:3, 4, 8 (bis), 16, 20, 21; 24:13; 27:16; 31:8; 33:4; Deut. 1:10, 30, 43; 2:7, 21; 3:22; 4:3, 7, (bis) 20, 24, 33, 36; 5:5 (bis), 11, 22, 23, 24 (bis), 25, 26; 6:13, 21, 22; 9:3; 11:23; 12:5, 11; 18:19; 20:1; 21:20; 24:18, 19; 26:5, 14, 18; 28:7,9, 11, 13, 20, 21,22, 25, 27, 28, 35, 48, 49, 59, 61, 63, 68; 29:2, 4; 30:3, 4, 5, 7; 31:5, 8, 23; 32:6, 9, 12,36; 33:29; 34:1, 5, 10, 11.24)Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Macdonald Publishing Co. (Mclean, VA: 1883, 1886), Vol. 2, p. 663

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Heath's Testimony Heath heads the Set Free addictions ministry on Friday nights at Mukwonago Baptist Church and is involved in evangelism on the University of Wisconsin Whitewater campus, offering his expertise in apologetics at the weekly Set Free Bible Study every Tuesday evening. He currently lives in East Troy, Wisconsin with his wife and nine children.