by Matthan Lewis

When God created the world back in Genesis 1, what did he use? He didn’t use any uncreated material, nor did he create the world out of himself. Instead, God created the world out of nothing. How was this done? Through the Logos, the Divine Word. St. John reveals this reality when he says at the beginning of his Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made” (John 1:1-3).

This isn’t just said here, either. We also see it in Hebrews, in which it says: “By faith we understand that the world was framed by the word of God” (Hebrews 11:3) and in the Psalms, it states: “By the word of the Lord the heavens were established” (Psalms 33:6). Thus, this reality is not some poetic metaphor on the part of St. John, but rather was already taught in the Old Testament

What is Logos?

The question arises first: what is Logos? A direct translation is “Word,” and so it is the “Word of God.” This much is evident. However, much is implied in this fact, for words are not just sounds we make with our mouth, they mean something substantial. Words are, fundamentally speaking, parts of language that communicate truth to other rational beings. Words wouldn’t exist if there was only one person as there is no need to convey truth to yourself since you already know said truth.

Logos is Word, and words hold truth in them. This much is true. However, what is special about words is that only rational beings can use them. Reason gives a rational being the ability to acquire truth. We keep that truth in our minds before we communicate it to other rational beings through words. Animals do not have a rational soul, and so they cannot acquire truth (at least acquire it to the extent that rational beings do), and so they cannot use words.

What is the use in all this? It is to show the implications held within the idea of Logos. Logos means “Word,” but in the case of the Divine Word it can also mean Reason or Plan (as you can’t make a plan without reason), and so what is being said here is that God’s Logos or Word/Reason came out and created the world through its communication of truth.

Now, there are two options for what Logos could be. Either Logos is Word in the most literal sense of it (a part of language used to communicate truth), or Logos itself is the Divine Reason. And since we can very well say that words, as they contain truth, are in the image of our reason which contemplates truth, we can say that Logos is in the image of the Divine Reason. If we posit this, we have scripture to back us up. For it says of Christ: “Who is the image of the invisible God [Reason]” (Colossians 1:15), and as reason is invisible, held within the soul, whereas words are “visible” in that they are shown to other people through communication. It seems then we could make this connection.

This does not follow, however. Christ is indeed the visible image of the invisible Father, and it is also true that words are the “visible” image of the invisible intellect, yet it does not follow that Christ is the visible Word to the invisible intellect. This is simply lazy reasoning. The truth of the matter is that Christ is the image of the Father and the Divine Reason itself, the Divine Reason that orders and guides all creation from its inception to its consummation.

In Genesis 1

We first see the Divine Word in Genesis 1, in which it says: “And God said: Be light made. And light was made. And God saw the light that it was good” (Genesis 1:3-4). This is the three-step process that God goes through for the major parts of his creation process (not all, mind you, but the big ones). First: God commands with his Divine Word that things be created. Second: God creates said things. Third: God declares that the things he created are good.

The last part is important because it shows that those things which the Word makes are inherently good and are worthy of existence God doesn’t declare to create, then creates separately, but the declaration of God is itself the act of creation and calling it good declares that it was a good creative process. And likewise, the acts of creating and declaring that the creation is good are not separate but connected. For God declares their creation at the beginning of each creation and declares their goodness at the end of each creation, both using the Logos. Thus, the declaration of creation and the declaration of goodness are both connected.

This connection exists for two reasons. The first is because goodness and existence are connected and, if Aquinas is to be believed on this, substantially synonymous. The second reason, though, is because goodness is the end of all things: all things go towards their own goodness. When God declares something is good, he is declaring that it contains a goodness in itself which it has received from him. Being is convertible with goodness, and so insofar as it has created being it is good. Likewise, God is perfect in himself and has no need of creation to make himself greater. So while everything certainly was made for the glory of God and everything is ordered back to him, it does not make him greater or more glorious but is a completely free gift of creation.

Now, when we get to the part of the creation process when God creates living things, he says of each one that they should go about reproducing and growing based on their kind. This means that the Logos isn’t simply creating with nothing in mind; the Logos is setting up laws by which creation is to operate. And laws, as many may well know, can only come about from a rational being. This further supports the idea that Logos is itself the Divine Reason since it can create these laws of nature. With these laws in place, things are consistent and causally connected. They aren’t, as the empiricists thought, just predictions based upon experience. They are fundamental and causally existent.

In Genesis 2

We also see in Genesis 2 that man also takes this Logos into himself when he is given the breath of life, and from thereon God gives him the role of “co-creator”, for in Genesis 2 it says: “And the Lord God having formed out of the ground all the beasts of the earth, and all the fowls of the air, brought them to Adam to see what he would call them: for whatsoever Adam called any living creature the same is its name” (Genesis 2:19). Thus, whatever Adam called the creatures is what its name was, and in giving a creature its name, it became a “living creature”.

We know this to be the case, for this verse parallels the verse in which man was created, wherein it says: “And the Lord God formed man of the slime of the earth: and breathed into his face the breath of life, and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). Only when man obtains the breath of life, the authority, and Logos, does he can name things, and only once this happens does he become a living soul.

We also see this same parallel structure appearing with Eve who was created, brought to Adam, and Adam named her. “And the Lord God built the rib which he took from Adam into a woman: and brought her to Adam. And Adam said… she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man” (Genesis 2:22).

Man cannot create ex nihilo as God does with the Divine Word; nonetheless, he can put things in subordination to himself, and designate something’s nature to an extent using words. For, although man is not God, nonetheless, he is like him, just as it says in Genesis 1: “And God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27) Thus, it is the distinction between creating and making. Creating brings things from non-existence into existence, while making brings something from a lower existence into a higher existence.

Logos and Sophia

We also see elsewhere that Sophia or Wisdom, which we may say is the other side to Logos or Reason, also creates the world and establishes order in it, for in the Book of Proverbs, it says that “Wisdom hath built herself a house, she hath hewn her out seven pillars” (Proverbs 9:1). Now, these “seven pillars” refers to the seven days of Genesis. Further, we know that Wisdom referred to here is indeed Christ, for Wisdom herself says: “Come, eat my bread, and drink the wine which I have mingled for you.” (Proverbs 9:5). This imagery of bread and wine harkens back to Melchizedek who offered bread and wine for Abraham but also foreshadows the Divine Logos offering the apostles his Body and Blood under the appearance of bread and wine.

Another verse in Proverbs which helps us with Wisdom says, “By wisdom the house shall be built, and by prudence it shall be strengthened” (Proverbs 24:3). Virtue is only capable of a rational being, and so prudence, one of the highest virtues, can only be identified here if Wisdom is taken to be Logos, and Logos is taken to be Divine Reason. The last proof of this fact is the verse which states, “but thou [Wisdom] hast ordered all things in measure, and number, and weight” (Wisdom 11:21). The act of ordering or arranging things is only capable of one who is inherently rational, and to order “all things” is only capable of a Divine Reason.

Logos and Power in Jeremiah

In the Book of Jeremiah, Jeremiah himself writes concerning creation: “He [God] that maketh the earth by his power, that prepareth the world by his wisdom, and stretcheth out the heavens by his knowledge” (Jeremiah 10:12). Now, we have seen Logos as Wisdom, and Logos as reason or knowledge. However, calling Logos “Power” seems at first glance to be a new development made by Jeremiah. What did he mean when he equated Logos with Power?

We first look at what the Bible has to say concerning words and power. The Bible discusses this in many different places, such as in Proverbs, wherein Solomon writes, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21), and in Matthew, wherein it says, “For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Matthew 12:37). Both these verses concern salvation and words. The words we speak can either give us eternal life, or they can give us eternal death.

Many may take this power to be a more metaphorical power, for the words themselves don’t condemn us, but our will which says the words does. While this is correct to an extent, we must also acknowledge the literal power of words. Christ, quoting the Book of Deuteronomy, says that “Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4).

This cannot be taken in a metaphorical sense, for the comparison is of something which literally nourishes someone, not metaphorically nourishes them. It would not make sense for the scriptures to compare something which literally nourishes someone to something which only metaphorically nourishes someone. Thus, we must say that the words of God literally nourish the soul in the same way that bread nourishes the body. Further, if bread possesses the power to nourish the body, it must also be the case that words possess the power to nourish the soul. Thus, words have the power to nourish or deprive the soul of life.

Words possess power in another sense as well. We refer back to our discussion on words and language, and how words are a means to communicate truth. Now, we must say that truth and being are one and the same, for whatever possesses being must be true, and whatever is true must possess being. Thus, as words carry truth to those places that don’t possess it, so too do words, especially the Divine Word, carry being to those places that don’t possess it.

There was no being and thus no truth outside of God before creation. Yet, through the Divine communication, being and truth were brought to where they before did not exist, and so all of creation was created through the Divine Word. That which does not possess power cannot create, and so for the Divine Word to create, it must already possess power. Yet, creating out of nothing entails an absolute creation, not a relative creation (such as what man possesses through naming), and so it follows that the Divine Word doesn’t merely possess power, but is all-powerful or Power itself.


From all this, we see the matter more clearly. There is a significance to God’s mode of Creation through Logos, for words hold truth, being, and power within them. We also see that throughout the Bible there is a consistent theology of Logos as the creative principle, and that through God’s goodness he has made man in his image and likeness and given him the role of co-creator so that he may virtuously fulfill his role in creation.

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