Speaking of the logos as a person was quite common amongst the Jews- and they in no way understood that God could have any other god in existence or equal with Him. One of the most thorough surveys of the logos theme concludes: "It is an error to see in such personifications an approach to personalisation. Nowhere either in the Bible or in the extra-canonical literaure of the Jews is the word of God a personal agent" (1). It was the apostate Jew Philo who began to speak of the logos as "the second God, who is his logos... God's firstborn, the logos" (2). And it was this interpretation which obviously came to influence Christians desperate for justification of their idea of a Divine Jesus; but such justification is simply not to be found in God's word. All talk of a "second God" is utterly unBiblical.
However, whilst in a sense the logos was God's word, plan and intent personified, it became actual flesh / concrete reality in the person of Jesus. That God created and accomplished the physical creation by His word was an obvious Old Testament doctrine (Is. 55:11). By the time John was writing his Gospel [somewhat later than the others], the idea of believers being a new creation in Christ would have been developed in the early ecclesia (2 Cor. 5:17 etc.). The Greek translated “made by…” occurs often in John’s Gospel. It clearly describes how the Gospel of the Lord Jesus ‘made’ new men and women; lives were transformed into something new. The phrase is used in the immediate context of John 1: “to become [‘be made’] the sons of God” (1:12), in that grace and truth came [‘were made’] by Jesus (1:17). “All things” therefore refers to the “all things” of the new creation. Note how Jesus came unto “his own things” (1:11 N.I.V.), i.e. to the Jewish people. “All things” which were made by him therefore comfortably refers to the “all things” of the new creation- which is just how Paul uses the phrase (Eph. 1:10,22; 4:10; Col. 1:16-20). Quite simply all of us, in “all things” of our spiritual experience, owe them all to God’s word of promise and it’s fulfilment in Christ. This is how totally central are the promises to Abraham! “All things were made by him”!
Consider other occurrences of “made by” in John’s Gospel:
4:14 The water of the life of Jesus shall be [‘made’] in the believer “a well of water springing up into everlasting life”
5:9,14 the lame man “was made” whole
10:16 the believers shall be made (RV ‘shall become’) one flock
12:36 may be [‘made’], RV ‘become’, “the children of light”
15:8 So shall ye be [‘made’] my disciples
16:20 Your sorrow shall be turned [‘made’] into joy.
"Apart from him not a thing came to be" (Jn. 1:3) is a phrase repeated by the Lord Jesus in Jn. 15:5, where He says that " apart from me" we can bring forth no spiritual fruit. The things that came into being in Jn. 1:3 would therefore appear to be the things of the new life enabled and empowered in Christ. In this sense Jesus can be described as the creator of a “new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17). But in practice, it is the word of the Gospel, the message of Jesus, which brings this about in the lives of those who hear and respond to it. We are born again by the word , the “seed” of the living God (1 Pet. 1:23 RV mg.). In this arresting, shocking analogy, the “word” of the Gospel, the word which was made flesh in the person of Jesus, is likened to the seed or sperm of God. We were begotten again by “the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creations” (James 1:18). In God’s word, in all that is revealed in it of the person of our Lord Jesus, we come face to face with the imperative which there is in what we know of Him to be like Him. In this feature of God’s word, as it is in the Bible record and therefore and thereby as it is in and of His Son, we have the ultimate creative power, the dynamism so desperately needed by humanity, to transform our otherwise shapeless and formless lives. And in a multitude of lives, “All things were made by him”.
As the Lord Jesus was sent into this world, so are we. We evidently didn’t personally ‘pre-exist’; and so we cannot reason that He did because He was sent by the Father. ‘Sending’ in Scripture can refer to being commissioned to speak forth God’s word (Is. 48:16; Jer. 7:25; Ez. 3:4,5; Zech. 2:8-11). Thus God is often described as sending forth His prophets. We too must allow ourselves to be sent forth as our Lord was, making the word of the Gospel flesh in us as it was in Him. For like Him, we personally are the message which we preach. The word of God / the Gospel is as seed (1 Pet. 1:23); and yet we believers end our probations as seed falling into the ground, which then rises again in resurrection to be given a body and to eternally grow into the unique type of person which we are now developing (1 Cor. 15:38). The good seed which is sown is interpreted by the Lord both as the word of God (Lk. 8:11), and as “the children of the Kingdom” (Mt. 13:38). This means that the word of the Gospel becomes flesh in us as it did in our Lord. The word of the Gospel is not, therefore, merely dry theoretical propositions; it elicits a life and a person. We will be changed; not just physically, but we will each be given our own, unique ‘body’, as Paul puts it. There will be eternal continuity between who we now become, and who we grow into throughout eternity. This is the amazing power of the word of the Gospel; for this is the seed, which transforms the essential you and me into a seed which will rise up to great things in God’s future Kingdom. In all this, the Lord was and is our pattern. “All things were made by him”.
(1) G.F. Moore, Judaism In The First Centuries Of The Christian Era (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1927) Vol. 1 p. 415.
(2) References in James Dunn, Christology In The Making (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1980) p. 221.