This question is inspired by What "Word" is John talking about in John 1:1? He argues that the Logos is an impersonal Word of God which He used to create the world just as our own words are impersonal.

Trinitarians begin their interpretation of John 1:1 with an assumption. Since the Word/Logos at verse 14 is a person, they assume the Word/Logos of John 1:1 is also a person. But is this the case?

The Trinity Delusion, John 1:1.

According to him, there is a difference between the impersonal Word of God and the man Christ Jesus. Christ was united with the impersonal Logos and being personified by Him.1 What is said by Christ is said divinely by the impersonal Logos. How do Trinitarians explain that the Logos is a person and why Trinitarians believe the Logos is a person?

1 Paul of Samosata the originator of this belief was condemned at the Council of Antioch in 268. To give an explanation on his belief, I've made an analysis on his Christology.

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    I'm not sure why this is downvoted, it sounds like a real question and something that could be backed up by scripture. Maybe asking for the biblical basis, but that maybe duplicated somewhere on this site already. – The Freemason Mar 18 '15 at 12:59
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    Downvoting because the main question: "How do Trinitarians explain that the Logos is a person?" doesn't make sense. If you asking why Trinitarians believe the Logos is a person then there are plenty of other questions that explain this. And also because this seems to be an attempt to promote a very minor sect within Christianity. – DJClayworth Mar 18 '15 at 13:20
  • @DJClayworth I'm a Catholic. You can't just down vote a question simply because you disagree. Vote is based on content not on your agreement to it. Why Trinitarians believe the Logos is a person is basically the same with asking to explain it. – Adithia Kusno Mar 18 '15 at 13:38
  • It wasn't clear to me that you were asking why Catholics and other Trinitarians believe the Logos is a person. If that's the case then it's a reasonable question. – DJClayworth Mar 18 '15 at 15:22
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    It seems pretty clear that the Logos referred to in John 1:14 is personal. Even the author you quote above admits it. – DJClayworth Mar 18 '15 at 21:34

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-14, NIV)

Trinitarians would say that the Logos is a person because of these highlighted phrases:

  1. The Word/Logos is God. Christians believe in a personal God, so if the Logos is God then it is a person too.
  2. The Word made everything. Impersonal things don't make stuff.
  3. The Word became flesh and dwelt on the earth. Impersonal words don't become flesh and live on the earth.
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  • This is a good answer. So as a summary, Christians believe in a personal Logos because of theological belief. If you watched the video and read the article I provided above, Samosatans argue that it was God who created the world through His Word. In that sense, the Word can be perceived as impersonal. You're right that an impersonal thing can't incarnate but Samosatans argue that the impersonal Logos dwelt the man Christ. It gives life to Him and empower Him with divine authority even over sin and death. To make it better you might want to expand more by addressing those I mentioned. – Adithia Kusno Mar 18 '15 at 22:19
  • I think you need to re-word or re-consider point #2 - the text says everything was made through the logos, not by him. – Steve Taylor Mar 31 '17 at 11:48

The Author's Argument

If we read carefully, the author is arguing that "the Word" (ο λογος) in John 1:1-3 does not refer to the person of Jesus Christ because that was not what John intended the reader to understand. The rest of the argument in the video consists in support for believing that this was not John's intent.

This is an interesting argument in that an implicit premise is that whatever John intended to express in writing the Gospel was true. Perhaps this is a subtle point, but it indicates that the author is appealing to the authority of the Apostle John and not to the authority of the Gospel text itself.

Validity of the Author's Argument

For an argument to be valid, it is impossible for one or more of the argument's premises to be true and for the conclusion to be false. In this case:

(Premise P1) Whatever the Apostle John sought to express in the Gospel account he wrote must be true

(Premise P2) The Apostle John did not seek to express that "the Word" in the beginning of the Gospel referred to the person of Jesus Christ

(Conclusion C) Therefore, "the Word" in the beginning of the Gospel according to John does not refer to the person of Jesus Christ

This is a valid argument. There is no way for the conclusion to be false if both premises are true.

Soundness of the Author's Argument

For an argument to be sound, it must be valid and all of the premises must actually be true. Here, I think, is where the problems lie.

As proof that John did not intend "the Word" to refer to the Person of Jesus Christ, the author offers the following:

(P3) The text does not actually refer to "Jesus", but rather to "the Word"

(P4) The text does not actually refer to "the Son", but rather to "the Word"

(P5) The text does not later say (1:14) that "Jesus" became flesh, but rather that "the Word" became flesh

(P6) The text does not later say that "the Son" became flesh, but rather that "the Word" became flesh

(P7) Although English translations state All things were made by him, etc. (v.3), the Greek pronoun (αὐτός) can also refer to an inanimate object (e.g. "the Word")

(P8) Genesis 1:3 states And God said, Let there be light

(P9) The author of Hebrews states (11:3) The ages were formed by the Word of God

(P10) Psalm 148:5 states He commanded and the heavens were created

(P11) The Apostle Paul states He called things that do not exist into existence (Romans 4:17)

(P12) Psalm 33:9 states He spoke and it was; he commanded and it came to stand

(P13) Psalm 33:6 states By the Word of the Lord the Heavens were made

(P14) The Apostle Peter states (2 Peter 3:5) The heavens and earth came to exist by the word of God

To all of the above, the author asks, "What do you think John has in mind?" He concludes:

John is referring to God's spoken Word

This particular argument, unlike the greater argument, is not valid. Without exception, each of the Scriptures the author cites can be interpreted in exactly the same way in which Trinitarians interpret John 1:1. For example, Psalm 33:6 - By the Word of the Lord the heavens were made - can be understood to mean that the heavens were made by the Son; Genesis 1:3 can be understood to mean that it was Jesus - who is Himself God, co-equal with the Father - who actually said the words, "Let there be light"; etc.

Furthermore, since the author's argument rests solely on the intent of John, we (and he) should really examine the entire corpus of John's works, including the rest of the Gospel, the Book of Revelation, and his epistles (all of which are generally attributed to him). The following passages of attest to John's understanding that Christ, did, in fact, possess equality of divinity and honor with the Father:

And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life (1 John 5:20).

For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will (John 5:21).

For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself (John 5:26)

That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him (John 5:23)

I and my Father are one (John 10:30)

Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me (John 14:11; 10:38)

And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them (John 17:10)

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty (Revelation 1:8)

And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was (John 17:5)

All of these passages debunk any speculation that John somehow considered "the Word" to refer to something other than the second person of the Trinity.

The author's argument is unsound.

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  • I'd suggest correcting your second-last paragraph - John lived hundreds of years before Christians formulated the Trinity, and so it is patently anachronistic to claim that John intended his words to relate to a concept which would not be created for a long time. – Steve Taylor Mar 31 '17 at 11:46
  • @SteveTaylor - The question was addressed to "Trinitarians". Most Trinitarians do not understand the Trinity as a concept or as something that was formulated, but by something that exists and has always existed in and of itself. That was the context for my answer. – guest37 Mar 31 '17 at 17:10
  • That's a gross misrepresentation of Trinitarianism, though - I believe in the Trinity, but I know that nobody before the 4th Century had such a term or formulation. That's just intellectual honesty, which is really nothing remarkable amongst Christians, in my experience. – Steve Taylor Mar 31 '17 at 17:17
  • I guess what I was trying to say is that regardless of when people might have begun to use the term "Trinity", the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit always existed. Are you arguing that the Evangelists and Apostles themselves did not recognize that God existed in three Divine Persons, or are you stating that they did not use the term "Trinity" to describe this dogma? – guest37 Mar 31 '17 at 17:37
  • I'm saying we can't really know exactly how the apostles formulated their belief in God and how that related to the Father, to Jesus and to the Holy Spirit. If they had believed in "the Trinity" in the formula we believe in now, they certainly didn't teach it as such, because it isn't communicated in the generations of Christians who came after them. We don't believe in the Trinity because we believe the Apostles affirmed and taught it (they didn't), we believe in it because it's the best approximation we've found to how the scriptures describe the nature of God. – Steve Taylor Mar 31 '17 at 17:47

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