By Fred Zaspel–
The apostle John is the only Biblical writer to refer to Jesus as “the Word.” He employs the other more usual titles also — Christ (Messiah), Lord, King, Lamb, etc. — but this one is unique to John. He begins his Gospel, his account of the earthly life of Jesus, by introducing Jesus as “the Word.”
Why does John refer to Jesus as “the Word” of God? What is the significance of this title? What is John trying to tell us?
One of the fundamental tenets of the Christian faith is that God speaks. Throughout all the many centuries of history God has been making himself known. He “speaks” in the very created order, revealing his power and wisdom and glory. He speaks in providence, his sovereign direction of all that is to his own ends. And he has spoken many times through the centuries to many of his chosen people and through his spokesmen the prophets. Our God speaks and makes himself known. Indeed, this is the whole ground of authority in the Christian religion. Christianity, unlike any other religion, is a revealed religion. What we believe we believe because God has communicated it to us. God has told us what is true and what is false, what is right and what is wrong, and we believe and respond accordingly. He has told us who he is and what he is like. He has told us how we may be saved and what will come of us if we do not comply. God has spoken. Everything about us rests on this fact.
But over the centuries God’s self-revelation was given progressively. It did not come all at once. He spoke to his people through various prophets in various ways, until finally he made himself known climactically and fully.
This is precisely what we are told in Hebrews 1:1-2. Follow the thinking here carefully:
In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son (Heb. 1:1-2).
Do you see the point the inspired writer is making? God spoke and spoke and spoke and spoke again until finally all that self-revelation culminated in the arrival of Jesus Christ. Jesus, God the Son, is the climactic revelation of God. He is, as it were, God speaking — God making himself known. As one writer has stated it, in the words and deeds of Jesus God is making himself known. Jesus’ words, his actions, his very life — it is all the self-revelation of God, God placing himself on display.
And so the apostle John very aptly refers to Jesus as “the Word” of God. He is, as it were, God speaking. He is God making himself known. This, and nothing less, is the significance of Jesus Christ.
John wraps up his prologue with this same thought.
No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known (John 1:18).
What an awesome truth this is. God has spoken fully and climactically. In Jesus Christ we learn clearly who God is, what he is like, what pleases him, what angers him, and what he expects of us. Do you wish to know what God is truly like? Then look at Jesus. Listen to him. Watch his life, his actions and reactions. See what pleases him and what angers him. And as you read through the Gospels and observe Jesus, keep this firmly in mind — here God himself is speaking. In Jesus Christ God is making himself known.
Fred Zaspel holds a Ph.D. in historical theology from the Free University of Amsterdam. He is currently a pastor at the Reformed Baptist Church of Franconia, PA. He is also the interim Senior Pastor at New Hyde Park Baptist Church on New York’s Long Island, and Adjunct Professor of Systematic Theology at Calvary Baptist Seminary in Lansdale, PA. He is also the author of The Continuing Relevance of Divine Law (1991); The Theology of Fulfillment (1994); Jews, Gentiles, & the Goal of Redemptive History (1996); New Covenant Theology with Tom Wells (New Covenant Media); The Theology of B.B. Warfield: A Systematic Summary (Crossway, 2010); Warfield on the Christian Life: Living in Light of the Gospel (Crossway, 2012). Fred is married to Kimberly and they have two grown children, Gina and Jim.