"Logos" and "Lalia"

After a night on the Mount of Olives, Jesus came to the Temple to teach the people. It was to be a busy day.

Instructor in Religion, Madison College

AFTER a night on the Mount of Olives, Jesus came to the Temple to teach the people. It was to be a busy day. This was the day on which the Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman taken in adultery. This was the day on which Jesus claimed His title as the Light of the world, with the subse­quent debate with the Pharisees concerning His prerogative to this title. During the course of this debate Jesus made some of His most stinging charges. The Pharisees became so infuriated when He exposed their sinful stubbornness that they at­tempted to stone Him.

This entire episode was a result of the failure of the Jews to understand Jesus and His message for them.

After considerable conversation Jesus asked, "Why do you not understand what I say?" (John 8:43, R.S.V.; See PDF for the complete quote). I have spoken to you in simple, easy words, and you do not under­stand them. Why do you not comprehend my words?

"Because you cannot bear to hear my word" (Please see PDF) was the answer Jesus sup­plied to His own question.

You do not understand My lalia, My spoken words, these simple sentences I have said, because you do not compre­hend My logos—the idea behind the say­ings; the word in its semantic significance. The distinction between these two words is brought out clearly by Trench in his Synonyms of the New Testament, para, lxxvi: "(See PDF) and (See PDF) are set in a certain antithesis to one another here, and in the seizing of the point of this must lie the right understanding of the verse."

What an insult! No wonder they became angry! This unlettered peasant had the audacity to tell them, the scholars, that they were too ignorant to apprehend His reasoning.

Of course, we enlightened Christians of the twentieth century look back with dis­dain at the slowness of their perception. We marvel that they were so fearfully faithless.

The insight of our most prayerful med­itations must surely compel our most hon­est and forthright paralleling of this tragic episode of the distant past with our under­standing of today.

Do we understand the lalia, the recorded sayings, the spoken words of Jesus? To be sure, we can systematize the doctrines of the Bible into neat little bundles of in­controvertible "truths." But do we really understand His words, His way, His will? If we do, why do we not experience the full­ness of the power of the Spirit?

I fear that we have but touched the sur­face in our spiritual understanding, because we do not adequately experience the logos, the Word, which is both of God and God. "Christ in you, the hope of glory," must challenge us to deeper and dearer experi­ence.

Christ, the logos, the Word made flesh, is implanted in our hearts by the Spirit. When the Spirit had succeeded the selfish­ness in the lives of the apostles, "the mean­ing of these truths [lessons taught by Jesus —lalia] flashed upon their minds as a new revelation; and truth, pure and unadulter­ated, made a place for itself. Then the wonderful experience of His life became theirs. The Word [logos] bore testimony through them."—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 520.

This must not be a theory—a speculative hypothesis—but must be our theology (lit­erally: theos-logos)—God-Word. "The fol­lowers of Christ must be partakers of His experience. They must receive and assim­ilate the word of God. . . . They must . . . reflect the divine attributes."—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 278.

What a privilege it is to study, to experi­ence the Word. This experience in Christ is "not only to us the promise and pledge of life, not only the means of opening again to us the treasures of wisdom: they are a broader, higher revelation of His charac­ter" (Education, p. 28), which revelation reaches its climax in the exemplification of the Word in us His followers.

When through Christ the Word we understand His "words of instruction," lalia, "Jesus is to us an abiding presence, control­ling our thoughts and ideas and actions. ... A sense of human accountability and of human influence gives character to our views of life [our interpretations of His lalia]. . . . Jesus Christ is everything to us -—the first, the last, the best in everything. Jesus Christ, His Spirit, His character, col­ors everything; it is the warp and the woof, the very texture of our entire being."— Testimonies to Ministers, p. 389.

When this has become our experience, a way of life to us, we will, as did Jesus, fairly scintillate the reflection of the Light of the World. Our preaching and teaching, our living and giving, will demonstrate a logos-centered interpretation of the lalia.

Much of the misunderstanding of our message is attributable to our emphasis on the words of the Word, the lalia of the Bible, when our true center of interest and inspiration should be the Word, the Logos. (See Evangelism, pages 184-193.) We are consequently often classed as legalists and literalists.

The Bible, the written Word, is but a symbolic representation of the lalia, the spoken word, which is in turn but a sym­bol of the logos, the idea behind the spoken word. This in turn comes from Christ, ho logos, "The Word." The truth is found only in the complete revelation of the Word who was made flesh and dwelt among us, and this complete revelation includes both the written lalia and the living Logos.

"Lift up Jesus, you that teach the people, lift Him up in sermon, in song, in prayer." —Gospel Workers, p. 160. As we stand be­fore our classes and our congregations, may we ever make the lalia of the Logos valid and vivid and vibrant.


Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

comments powered by Disqus

Instructor in Religion, Madison College

November 1961

Download PDF
Ministry Cover

More Articles In This Issue

Protestant Episcopal Church—Anglican

The American Episcopal church is a self-governing branch of the Anglican Communion. At the 1930 Lambeth Conference it was declared as a "Fellowship within the one, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church ... in communion with the See of Canterbury."

Candles in the Night—No. 4

Quakerism has made distinctive contribu­tions to Christian thought. Its women were spiritually inclined, domestically skilled, and had courage like steel. In fact, the te­nacity of Quaker women made history.

Spiritual Witness in Our Sanitarium

This article will deal with the workers of the Hinsdale Sanitarium and Hos­pital at Hinsdale, Illinois. This institution is bearing strong witness for the truth. It seems appropriate that a report should go out to the readers of the Ministry magazine, giving a brief resume of what is actually being accomplished by way of evangelism.

What Has Happened to the Singing Evangelist?

Why is it on the testimony of administrators and leading evangelists that the number of singing evangelists is constantly dwindling? Is there a reason why each year those who are talented in this line are seeking and accepting other work within the ranks of the organiza­tion? It would be folly for me to think that I have the answer, but I would like to share some of my convictions.

Daniel Eight in the New Testament

***** PERMANENTLY UNPUBLISHED: Ministry Magazine does not want to promote this author's works. *****

It is a significant fact that the only time Christ gave a command to understand a specific Old Testament proph­ecy He placed His finger upon Daniel 8:9-14. Not only so, but the two chief writers of the New Testament, Paul and John, by allusion to this same prophecy re­inforced their Lord's admonition.

Some Books I Can Recommend

Book recommendations from Harold L. Calkins

The Cairo Center

THE story of the Cairo Center is a story of the mirac­ulous love and power of the Lord. Christian leaders of both Orthodox and Protestant denominations have been amazed to learn that Seventh-day Adventists received per­mission to build such an institution on one of the city's main squares.

Dedicating the Church

The dedication of a church is always a most inspirational and joyous hour. Understand­ably, the pastor is eager to de­velop a dignified, meaningful service worthy of the occasion.

Andrews University Extension School at Beirut, Lebanon

Adventist ministers and teachers in the Middle East enjoyed a special em­phasis this summer on the study of evangelistic proce­dures and the Bible in the light of archeology. The ex­perience was one that will long be remembered and appreciated.

View All Issue Contents

Digital delivery

If you're a print subscriber, we'll complement your print copy of Ministry with an electronic version.

Sign up

Recent issues

See All