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Listening to the Multilingual God: John's PrologueSample

Listening to the Multilingual God: John's Prologue

DAY 1 OF 7

 "In the beginning was the Word"
—John 1:1

John's reference to Jesus as the "Word" powerfully echoes the act of creation in Genesis 1 where God speaks the universe into being. John probably intended us to make this correlation, but it is only one of many. In fact, his original Greek term, Logos, is a central concept of Greek philosophy, encompassing a large spectrum of meanings that through the centuries has included "reasoning," the "principle that permeates all reality," and the intermediary between God and the cosmos. It's easy to see how potent John's use of this term was to express the truth about Jesus Christ, building a powerful bridge to the broader culture to which he was communicating.

It's possible that no language has ever found a perfect translation for Logos, but some less well-known languages provide beautiful illustrations of the majesty John was trying to convey that can lead us to an even closer appreciation and understanding of God.

Here are two of many different approaches:  

In Tongan, Logos is translated as "Folofola." Folofola is a term used in the kingly language and is related to the meaning of unrolling the mat, an indispensable item in Tongan traditions. The mats, especially those with beautiful and elaborate designs, are traditionally rolled up and kept carefully until a guest visits the house. The term thus evokes to the Tongans the idea of God's Word being unrolled to reveal his love and salvation for mankind.

Another example is the translation of Logos into Chinese. Most Chinese Bible translations use the word Dao (also transcribed as Tao), which functions as the central term in every Chinese religious and philosophical tradition to describe reason and a path toward living right. It also means "speech." In a remarkable overlay of two different but very rich and ancient cultures, Chinese Bible readers can gain a unique depth of understanding of John's original message.

Drawing from these insights from Tongan, meditate on Jesus as God's welcome mat for you, unrolled in beauty and honor to show you his love and salvation. With Chinese believers, think about Jesus as God's communicated speech to you, the path toward righteousness. Thank God for his perfect Word to you in all its intricacy, beauty, purity, and invitation.


About this Plan

Listening to the Multilingual God: John's Prologue

God’s communication with humanity was intended from the beginning for “every nation, tribe, and language.” Each language has unique capacities to communicate certain biblical messages in exceptionally enriching ways that...


We would like to thank United Bible Societies - Global Mission Team for providing this plan. For more information, please visit:

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