Under inspiration, John introduced the title/name “the Word of God” to the world in 96 C.E. (Rev. 19:13) Two years later, in 98 C.E., he opens his account of Jesus’ life using the shortened form “the Word” to again assign this unique role to Jesus. (John 1:1, 14) This time he adds a time frame, stating that he was called the Word ‘in the beginning’. No one else in all of Scripture is known by this title or name.
So these are the facts:
1. Jesus is the Word of God.
2. The title/name “the Word of God” is unique to Jesus.
3. He possessed this title/name “in the beginning”.
4. The Bible gives no explicit definition for the meaning of this role.
Our Current Understanding
Our understanding is that being called ‘the Word of God’ refers to Jesus’ role as Jehovah’s Chief Spokesman. (w08 9/15 p. 30) We also use the term “Universal Spokesman.” (w67 6/15 p. 379)
Since he was called this ‘in the beginning’, this role was given to him in anticipation of being God’s spokesman once other intelligent creatures came into existence. Therefore, he is God’s spokesman to angels. He also was the one who spoke to the perfect human pair in the Garden of Eden. (it-2 p. 53)
This means that Jehovah created Jesus with the intention—among others—to use him as an intermediary when speaking with his perfect angelic and human creatures. He would not be speaking directly to them.
What is our basis for saying that being the Word means being a spokesman? It is interesting to examine the two references to our teaching on the matter in Insight on the Scriptures volume two. (it-2 p.53; p. 1203) A careful reading of both references as well as everything that has been printed on the subject over the past 60 years in our publications shows a complete lack of Scriptural evidence to support our understanding. That Jesus has served as God’s spokesman on occasion is well documented in Scripture. However, no scriptural references are presented in any of our publications to demonstrate that being the Word of God means being God’s spokesman.
So why do we make this assumption? Perhaps, and I’m speculating here, it is because the Greek term /logos/ means “word” and a word is a particle of speak, so we arrive at this interpretation by default. After all, what else could it refer to?
Where Does Our Teaching Force Us to Go?
If being ‘the Word’ means being God’s spokesman, then we must ask ourselves why he was assigned such a role at a time when there was no one to speak to on Jehovah’s behalf? We must also conclude that Jehovah, the model for every human father, sets the example of talking to his angelic sons only through an intermediary. There is also the apparent inconsistency of a God who will listen directly (not through an intermediary) to the prayers of sinners, but will not speak directly to his perfect spirit sons.
Another incongruity stems from the fact that the title/name is unique to Jesus, yet the role of spokesman is not. Even enemies of God have served as his spokesman. (Balaam and Caiaphas come to mind – Num. 23:5; John 11:49) So how can the term be unique? Calling Jesus God’s chief or universal spokesman doesn’t resolve the issue, because unique isn’t a question of quantity, but of quality. To be more of a spokesman than anyone else, doesn’t make one unique. We wouldn’t call Jesus God’s chief Word or God’s universal Word. Yet if Word means spokesman, then every angel or human who has ever served in the capacity of spokesman for God can aptly be called God’s Word, at least for the time he spoke in God’s name.
If Jesus is God’s universal spokesman, why is he never shown in any of the visions of heaven performing that role? Jehovah is always depicted as speaking directly to his angelic creatures. (E.g., 1 Kings 22:22, 23 and Job 1:7) It is unfounded speculation on our part to teach that Jesus served as God’s spokesman on these occasions.
Additionally, the Bible clearly says that angels did the speaking prior to Jesus’ coming to Earth.
(Hebrews 2:2, 3) For if the word spoken through angels proved to be firm, and every transgression and disobedient act received a retribution in harmony with justice; 3 how shall we escape if we have neglected a salvation of such greatness in that it began to be spoken through [our] Lord and was verified for us by those who heard him,
There is no evidence showing that Jesus also served in this capacity. In fact, the one time he is mentioned, he wasn’t serving as spokesman at all, but rather as the senior one called upon to facilitate the angelic spokesman’s task. (Dan. 10:13)
Following the Evidence
Let’s take a fresh look at things without preconceptions.
What is the “word of God”? Let’s start by examining the meaning of the term.
Since God’s word is unique, a simple dictionary definition will not suffice. Instead, let’s look at what the Bible has to say. Isa. 55:11 speaks of his word not going forth without returning to him with results. When Jehovah said at Gen. 1:3 “Let light come to be”, it wasn’t a simple declaration as it would be were a human to utter such words. His words are synonymous with reality. When Jehovah says something, it happens.
So could being called ‘the Word of God’ (Rev. 19:13) mean more than simply being the one who relays God’s word to others?
Let’s look at the context of Revelation chapter 19. Here Jesus is depicted as a judge, a warrior, and an executioner. Essentially, he is the one designated to carry out or accomplish God’s word, not merely speak it.
How about the context of the second reference to this title/name, found at John 1:1? Here we learn that Jesus was called the word in the beginning. What did he do in the beginning? Verse 3 tells us that “all things came into existence through him”. This tallies with what is found at Proverbs chapter 8 where Jesus is referred to as God’s master worker. When Jehovah spoke the words that resulted in the creation of all things, both spiritual or physical, Jesus was the master worker who accomplished his words.
It is evident from the context of John 1:1-3 that the role of spokesman is not being referenced, but that of doer or accomplisher or embodiment of God’s creative word, Yes.
In addition, the context refers to a unique role, one that only Jesus if referred to in Scripture as performing.
A Round Peg in a Round Hole
This understanding of the Word of God referring to the role as the embodiment or accomplisher of God’s word removes the need to assume things that are not in evidence in scripture. We don’t have to assume that Jesus was performing a role (spokesman) in heaven when he is never depicted doing so. We don’t have to assume that Jehovah will not speak directly to his beloved spiritual children, but only do so through an intermediary—especially when he is never depicted doing so. We don’t have to explain how Jesus could be the universal spokesman when he is never shown speaking universally in Jehovah’s behalf, nor is he ever referred to as universal spokesman nor a chief spokesman in the Bible. We don’t have to explain why he’d be assigned a role like spokesman at a time when there was no need for one, since only he and Jehovah existed ‘in the beginning’. We don’t have the conundrum of referring to a common role like God’s spokesman as somehow unique to Jesus. In short, we are not seen as trying to force a square peg into a round hole.
If being the Word means being the one designated to accomplish, fulfill and carry out God’s word, then we have a role that is unique to Jesus, was needed ‘in the beginning’ and is consistent with the context of both passages.
This explanation is simple, consistent with scripture, and doesn’t require us to speculate. In addition, while being God’s spokesman is a most honorable role, it is nothing compared to being the very embodiment of that Word.
(2 Corinthians 1:20) For no matter how many the promises of God are, they have become Yes by means of him. Therefore also through him is the “Amen” [said] to God for glory through us.
Since I first wrote this essay, I came across another thought while preparing for the five-day elders school.
A similar expression is found at Exodus 4:16, where Jehovah says to Moses concerning his brother Aaron: “And he must speak for you to the people; and it must occur that he will serve as a mouth to you, and you will serve as God to him.” As spokesman for God’s chief representative on earth, Aaron served as “a mouth” for Moses. Likewise with the Word, or Logos, who became Jesus Christ. Jehovah evidently used his Son to convey information and instructions to others of his family of spirit sons, even as he used that Son to deliver his message to humans on earth. (it-2 p. 53 Jesus Christ)
First, it should be noted that the last sentence provides no ‘evidence’ that proves how Jehovah ‘evidently’ used his Son. (I have found that ‘evidently’ is a codeword in our publications for “Here be speculation”) In fact, the entire topic is presented without Scriptural evidence, so we must conclude in fairness to the reader that what it is teaching is based on human speculation.
But, you may say, isn’t Aaron’s relationship with Moses proof of the meaning of logos? Surely there is something in the fact that this relationship is described with a term that is ‘similar’ to logos?
My Seventh Day Adventist aunt once tried to prove the Trinity to me by using the illustration of an egg which is made up of three parts. I was very young and it stumped me until a wiser friend told me that an illustration cannot be used as proof. The purpose of an illustration, analogy, or parable is to facilitate the understanding of a truth that has already been established.
Therefore, since we cannot prove the meaning of logos as it applies to Jesus by using the illustration of Moses and Aaron, can we at least use it to illustrate a truth already established?
Yes, if we have an established truth. Do we?
From the foregoing essay, it should be obvious to the reader that there is no Scriptural proof whatsoever for our current official teaching on this subject. What about the alternate understanding put forward in this essay? The Bible at Isaiah 55:11 does specifically tell us what the Word of God is. From this we can infer that anyone having that designation must perform that role. However, that is still a deduction. Nevertheless, unlike our current teaching, it has the benefit of being consistent with the context and harmonious with the rest of Scripture.
Does the analogy drawn from the relationship between Aaron and Moses continue to demonstrate that harmony?
Let’s see. Have a look at Exodus 7:19.
“Subsequently Jehovah said to Moses: “Say to Aaron, ‘Take your rod and stretch your hand out over the waters of Egypt, over their rivers, over their Nile canals and over their reedy pools and over all their impounded waters, that they may become blood.’. . .”
So Aaron was not only Moses’ spokesman, but he was the one used to carry out the word of Moses, which he received from God. It would appear that the relationship of Aaron to Moses can actually be used to illustrate the true meaning of the role Jesus performs as the Word of God.