Augustine spoke of Latin MSS (copies of scriptures in Latin) that has 'sermo' instead of 'verbum' in John 17:17 and John 1:1 in his Tractate 108:

Finally, He proceeds, and doing so fails not to suggest the same with increasing clearness: Your speech (sermo) is truth. What else did He mean than I am the truth? For the Greek Gospel has λόγος, which is also the word that is found in the passage where it is said, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And that Word at least we know to be the only begotten Son of God, which was made flesh, and dwelt among us. Hence also there might have been put here as it actually has been put in certain copies, Your Word is truth; just as in some copies that other passage is written, In the beginning was the speech. But in the Greek without any variation it is λόγος in both cases. The Father therefore sanctifies in the truth, that is, in His own Word, in His Only begotten, His own heirs and His (the Son's) co-heirs.

Tertullian ( A.D. c. 155 – c. 240) probably quoted John 1:1 with 'sermo' instead of 'verbum' from an Old Latin MSS in his Against Praxeas Chapter 7:

CAP. 7. 1 Tunc igitur etiam ipse sermo speciem et ornatum suum sumit, sonum et vocem, cum dicit deus, Fiat lux. haec est 35 nativitas perfecta sermonis, dum ex deo procedit; conditus ab

eo primum ad cogitatum in nomine sophiae - Dominus condidit me initium viarum; dehinc generatus ad effectum - Cum pararet caelum aderam illi; exinde eum patrem sibi faciens de quo procedendo filius factus est primogenitus, ut ante omnia genitus, et unigenitus, ut solus ex deo genitus, proprie de vulva cordis 5 ipsius secundum quod et pater ipse testatur, Eructavit cor meum sermonem optimum; 2 ad quem deinceps gaudens proinde gaudentem in persona illius, Filius meus es tu, ego hodie genui te, et, Ante luciferum genui te. [3] sic et filius ex sua persona profitetur patrem in nomine sophiae, Dominus condidit me 10 initium viarum in opera sua, ante omnes autem colles generavit me. nam si hic quidem sophia videtur dicere conditam se a domino in opera et vias eius, alibi autem per sermonem ostenditur omnia facta esse et sine illo nihil factum, sicut et rursum, Sermone eius caeli confirmati sunt et spiritu eius omnes vires eorum - 15 utique eo spiritu qui sermoni inerat - apparet unam eandemque vim esse, nunc in nomine sophiae, nunc in appellatione sermonis, quae initium accepit viarum in dei opera, et quae caelum con- firmavit, per quam omnia facta sunt et sine qua nihil factum est. [4] nec diutius de isto, quasi non ipse sit sermo et in sophiae et 20 in rationis et in omnis divini animi et spiritus nomine, qui filius factus est dei, de quo prodeundo generatus est. [5] ergo, inquis, das aliquam substantiam esse sermonem, spirito et sophia et ratione constructam? plane. non vis enim eum substantivum habere in re per substantiae proprietatem, ut res et persona quaedam videri 25 possit et ita capiat secundus a deo constitutus duos efficere, patrem et filium, deum et sermonem : [6] quid est enim, dices, sermo nisi vox et sonus oris, et sicut grammatici tradunt aer offensus intellegibilis auditu, ceterum vacuum nescio quid et inane et incorporale? at ego nihil dico de deo inane et vacuum 30 prodire potuisse, ut non de inani et vacuo prolatum, nec carere substantia quod de tanta substantia processit et tantas substantias fecit; [7] fecit enim et ipse quae facta sunt per illum. quale est ut nihil sit ipse sine quo nihil factum est, ut inanis solida et vacuus plena et incorporalis corporalia sit operatus? nam etsi potest ali- 35 quando quid fieri diversum eius per quod fit, nihil tamen potest fieri per id quod vacuum et inane est. [8] vacua et inanis res est sermo dei qui filius dictus est, qui ipse deus cognominatus est, Et sermo erat apud deum et deus erat sermo? scriptum est, 5 Non sumes nomen dei in vanum. hic certe est qui in effigie dei constitutus non rapinam existimavit esse se aequalem deo. in qua effigie dei? utique in aliqua, non tamen in nulla: quis enim negabit deum corpus esse, etsi deus spiritus est? spiritus enim corpus sui generis in sua effigie. [9] sed et si invisibilia illa, 10 quaecunque sunt, habent apud deum et suum corpus et suam formam per quae sali deo visibilia sunt, quanto magis quod ex ipsius substantia emissum est sine substantia non erit. quae- cunque ergo substantia sermonis fuit, illam dico personam et illi nomen filii vindico, et dam filium agnosco secundum a patre 15 defendo.

What does the Latin word 'sermo' convey that 'verbum' does not in John 17:17 and John 1:1?

  • 2
    Could you please link to the Old Latin you’re referring to? Looking at the editions of Cantabrigiensis I can find online, I find, at John 1:1, page lacunaire dans le Codex Bezae Cantabrigiensis.
    – Susan
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 18:46
  • 1
    I’m confused: Codex Bezae Cantabrigiensis has the Greek of John 1:1 (Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος....) but the facing page (which, by description, is supposed to be the corresponding Latin) starts ut filium suum unigenitum daret ut omnis..... i.e. the middle of John 3:16. However, later in the book (e.g. 5:24), it does indeed use verbum for λόγος, just like the Vulgate. As such, I’m not sure what the question is.
    – Susan
    Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 2:15
  • 2
    @Susan I'm not sure sermo is found in any extant manuscripts. As near as I can tell, it's attestation always seems to trace back to Augustine's Tractate 108 which says "in some copies that other passage is written, 'In the beginning was the speech [=sermo]'". I think it is a mistake to say the Old Latin had sermo; instead it seems to have been a variant reading in the Old Latin.
    – ThaddeusB
    Commented Sep 3, 2015 at 15:03
  • 1
    The questioner has now added a link, but this refers to Erasmus, not Tertullian.
    – fdb
    Commented Sep 4, 2015 at 13:05
  • 1
    This question has been studied before and there is a JSTOR paper on it: rrb3.com/PDF%20files/ArtcileOnVerbumVsSermo_Complete.pdf
    – Ruminator
    Commented Dec 5, 2018 at 22:11

3 Answers 3


According to Wiktionary verbum might mean word, proverb or saying, language, discourse, or expression where sermo might mean a conversation, discussion, a rumor, diction, speech, talk, discourse, or a language, manner of speaking. If I were to place a distinction how an ancient writer might distinguish these it would be to treat sermo as spoken and verbum as written. One speaks (sermo) on the word (verbum) which was written. Obviously one can, and does write what is spoken (which can then be re-spoken), but speaking is always present in sermo and not necessarily so in verbum.

Accordingly, since John 17:17 records what Jesus said it would be called a sermo of Jesus, and since John 1:1 is not a record of what Jesus said, it would be considered a sermo of John. That is, sermo reflects the original speaker of the verbum. We can imagine when the Fourth Gospel was first heard, the Prologue would be considered as John's sermo on the verbum of the Gospel.

There is Biblical precedent to illuminate the distinction between the spoken and written word:

8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55) [ESV]

The Word is sent and returns. The example from the natural world is rain and snow. Rain waters the earth when it falls and snow will do the same, but only later after it melts. Thus, the Word is always now and later. At the most basic level the Word is spoken before it is written. Isaiah's work was to deliver "rain" by first telling the people the Word of God and to deliver "snow" by then writing the Word of God.

God's Word as revealed to man is always first a sermo from Him and then a verbum from the writer who is the instrument of preservation.

Therefore, the Word which is God may be an "utterance", but "utterance" alone is never a sufficient understanding of the Word of God which is found in Scripture. As the LORD explains in Isaiah, the Word of God is like rain and snow; both are water and so are the same and their eventual effect on the earth is the same. Nevertheless, one must recognize the Word is never limited to a single expression. Moreover, as snow does not melt all at once, the "snow" effect of the Word of God is always greater and more numerous than the "rain" effect. Hence, God may "utter" something in creation but the effects of that "utterance" have an immediate effect and there are continuing effects apart from, and distinct from, the initial effect.


sermo usually refers to a talk or speech of some kind (e.g. "sermon").

verbum is a transliteration of the ancient Greek word ερω - from which εἴρω and ῥῆμα are derived - and replies to the actual words or expressions that might be used in a sermo.

A fairly exhaustive list of examples for sermo and verbum can be found in the Lewis & Short and/or Lewis lexicons at Perseus.

  • You consulted a lexicon when discussing word meanings; +1 way up! It is annoying that people fail to do so and instead rely on etymology or anecdotal usage!
    – Ruminator
    Commented May 6, 2018 at 9:59
  • My Latin is limited to "E Plurbis Verbum". Can you cite, inline, a few examples of Verbum translating ῥῆμα ? Also, verbum cannot possibly be a transliteration of ερω because that would be "ero".
    – Ruminator
    Commented Dec 5, 2018 at 18:01

As I've pointed out on various occasions, the standard practice of Bible translators into English is to render the Koine λόγος as "word" and that it, in my always humble opinion results in gibberish, or "Biblish". That is, it is phraseology used in Church settings but it isn't English as it is normally spoken/used outside of religious discussions. Translating λόγος into Latin as "verbum" is, in my opinion likewise inane.

The proper translation of λόγος, in my (the correct) opinion is "utterance" and into Latin it should be "sermo". (Sorry, my humility got away from me for a minute there!)

If we employ the Biblish renderings "word" and "verbum" then what is the word or verbum intended? Is it perhaps "Ooooooooom" as in Eastern meditation? A lemma is not intelligible, let alone intelligent. The smallest meaningful unit of speech is a phrase or a sentence.

I feel compelled to present here the BDAG entry for λόγος which shows that usage 2 is irrelevant and usage 3 is circular and thus irrelevant. Only usage 1ⓐ, "of utterance, chiefly oral" in my humble opinion, gets to the point of what John 1:1-3 is saying, given the context:

λόγος, ου, ὁ (verbal noun of λέγω in the sense ‘pick’; Hom.+).  p 599  
① a communication whereby the mind finds expression, word
ⓐ of utterance, chiefly oral.
α. as expression, word (oratorical ability plus exceptional performance were distinguishing marks in Hellenic society, hence the frequent association of λ. and ἔργον ‘deed’; a sim. formulation as early as Il. 9, 443 μύθων τε ῥητῆρʼ ἔμεναι πρηκτῆρά τε ἔργων; Polystrat. p. 33 μὴ λόγῳ μόνον ἀλλʼ ἔργω; Just., A II, 4, 2 ἢ λόγῳ ἢ ἔργῳ and D. 35, 7 λόγον ἢ πρᾶξιν) δυνατὸς ἐν ἔργῳ κ. λόγῳ, i.e. an exceptional personage Lk 24:19; pl. of Moses Ac 7:22 (the contrast expressed w. a verb Choix 20, 6–8 ποιεῖ ἀγαθὸν ὄτι δύναται καὶ λόγῳ καὶ ἔργῳ of Apollordorus, a benefactor in Cyzicus, a flourishing city in Phrygia; sim. New Docs 7, 233, no. 10, 8f πολιτευόμενος … λόγῳ καὶ ἔργῳ; cp. IKourion 32, 8; without contrast Diod S 13, 101, 3 ἄνδρας λόγῳ δυνατούς; for sim. constructions using λέγω and πράσσω s. Danker, Benefactor 339–43). Cp. Ro 15:18; 2 Cor 10:11; Col 3:17; 2 Th 2:17; Hb 13:21 v.l.; 1J 3:18 (cp. Theognis 1, 87f Diehl3 μή μʼ ἔπεσιν μὲν στέργε κτλ.—For the contrast λόγῳ … ἀληθείᾳ cp. Diod S 13, 4, 1). In contrast to a sinful deed we also have the λόγος ἁμαρτίας sinful word Judaicon 172, 9. W. γνῶσις: ἐν παντὶ λόγῳ κ. πάσῃ γνώσει 1 Cor 1:5. ἰδιώτης τῷ λόγῳ, ἀλλʼ οὐ τῇ γνώσει 2 Cor 11:6. (Opp. δύναμις ‘revelation of power’) 1 Cor 4:19, 20. τὸ εὐαγγέλιον οὐκ ἐγενήθη ἐν λόγῳ μόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐν δυνάμει 1 Th 1:5 (cp. Ar. 13, 7 of mythical accounts οὐδέν εἰσιν εἰ μὴ μόνον λόγοι ‘they’re nothing but words’). W. ἐπιστολή: 2 Th 2:2, 15. W. ἀναστροφή: 1 Ti 4:12; 1 Pt 3:1b. Opp. ‘be silent’: IRo 2:1.—μόνον εἰπὲ λόγῳ just say the word Mt 8:8; cp. Lk 7:7 (Ath. 17, 1 ὡς λόγῳ εἰπεῖν; 29, 2; Phalaris, Ep. 121, 1 λόγῳ λέγειν; cp. schol. on Pla. 341a ἐν λόγῳ μόνον εἰπεῖν). οὐδεὶς ἐδύνατο ἀποκριθῆναι αὐτῷ λόγον no one was able to answer him a (single) word Mt 22:46; cp. 15:23 (cp. TestAbr A 16 p. 98, 11 [Stone p. 44] οὐκ ἀπεκρίθη αὐτῷ λόγον).—The (mighty) word (of one who performs miracles) ἐξέβαλεν τὰ πνεύματα λόγῳ Mt 8:16 (a rare use of λ. as ‘single utterance’, s. L-S-J-M s.v. VII).—διὰ λόγου by word of mouth (opp. ‘by letter’) Ac 15:27.—In the textually uncertain pass. Ac 20:24 the text as it stands in N., οὐδενὸς λόγου (v.l. λόγον) ποιοῦμαι τὴν ψυχὴν τιμίαν, may well mean: I do not consider my life worth a single word (cp. λόγου ἄξιον [ἄξιος 1a] and our ‘worth mention’; s. Conzelmann ad loc.).
β. The expression may take on a variety of formulations or topical nuances: what you say Mt 5:37; statement (PGM 4, 334) Lk 20:20; question (Sext. Emp., Math. 8, 295; 9, 133; Diog. L. 2, 116) ἐρωτήσω ὑμᾶς λόγον I will ask you a question (cp. TestJob 36:5; GrBar 5:1; ApcSed 13:6; Jos., Ant. 12, 99) Mt 21:24; cp. Mk 11:29; Lk 20:3; prayer (PGM 1, 25; 4, 90; 179; 230 al.; 5, 180; 196 al.) Mt 26:44; Mk 14:39. ἡγούμενος τοῦ λ. principal speaker Ac 14:12. W. epexeget. gen. λ. παρακλήσεως 13:15. W. κήρυγμα our manner of presentation and our proclamation 1 Cor 2:4a (but s. comm.). (W. διδασκαλία) preaching 1 Ti 5:17; prophecy (Biogr. p. 364 [Pythia]) J 2:22; 18:32. Command (Aeschyl., Pers. 363) Lk 4:36; 2 Pt 3:5, 7; via a letter 2 Th 3:14. Report, story (X., An. 1, 4, 7; Diod S 3, 40, 9; 19, 110, 1 λ. διαδιδόναι=spread a report; Appian, Iber. 80 §346, Maced. 4 §1 [both=rumor]; Diod S 32, 15, 3 ἦλθεν ὁ λ. ἐπί τινα=the report came to someone; Arrian, Anab. 7, 22, 1 λόγος λέγεται τοιόσδε=a story is told like this, Ind. 9, 2; Diod S 3, 18, 3 λ.=story, account; Jos., Ant. 19, 132; Tat. 27, 2 τοῦ καθʼ Ἡρακλέα λόγου) Mt 28:15; Mk 1:45; Lk 5:15 (λ. περί τινος as X., An. 6, 6, 13; Jos., Ant. 19, 127) 7:17; J 21:23. ἠκούσθη ὁ λόγος εἰς τὰ ὦτα τ. ἐκκλησίας the report came to the ears of the assembly in Jerusalem Ac 11:22. λόγον ἔχειν σοφίας have the appearance of wisdom, pass for wisdom Col 2:23 (cp. Pla., Epinomis 987b ἔχει λόγον; Demosth., C. Lept. 462 [20, 18] λόγον τινʼ ἔχον; but mng. 2f is possible). Proverb (Pla., Phdr. 17, 240c, Symp. 18, 195b, Gorg. 54, 499c, Leg. 6, 5, 757a; Socrat., Ep. 22, 1) J 4:37 (Ps.-Callisth. 1, 13, 7 ἀληθῶς ἐν τούτῳ ὁ λ. foll. by a proverb). Proclamation, instruction, teaching, message Lk 4:32; 10:39; J 4:41; 17:20; Ac 2:41; 4:4; 10:44; 20:7; 1 Cor 1:17; 2:1. In Ac18:15 ζητήματα περὶ λόγου καὶ ὀνομάτων καὶ νόμου the sense appears to be someth. like this: controversial issues involving disputes about words and your way of life with λ. prob. referring to the presentation of controversial subjects, which in turn arouses heated ζητήματα debates. λόγος σοφίας proclamation of wisdom, speaking wisely 1 Cor 12:8a (Ps.-Phoc. 129 τῆς θεοπνεύστου σοφίης λ.); corresp. λ. γνώσεως vs. 8b. Cp. 14:9; 15:2; 2 Cor 1:18; 6:7; 10:10. λ. μαρτυρίας word of witness Rv 12:11. ὁ κατὰ τ. διδαχὴν πιστὸς λ. the message of faith, corresponding to the teaching Tit 1:9; the opp. 2 Ti 2:17. A speech (Aristot. p. 14b, 2; Diod S 40, 5a) διὰ λόγου πολλοῦ in a long speech Ac 15:32; cp. 20:2. λ. κολακείας flattering speech 1 Th 2:5. Speaking gener. 2 Cor 8:7; Eph 6:19; Col 4:6; D 2:5. ἐν λόγῳ πταίειν make a mistake in what one says Js 3:2.—Of God’s word, command, commission (LXX; ParJer 5:19 κατηχῆσαι αὐτοὺς τὸν λόγον; SyrBar 13:2; ApcSed 14:10; Just., D. 84, 2; Ael. Aristid. hears a ἱερὸς λ. at night fr. a god: 28, 116 K.=49, p. 529 D.; Sextus 24) ἠκυρώσατε τ. λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ Mt 15:6 (v.l. νόμον, ἐντολήν); cp. Mk 7:13.—J 5:38; 8:55; 10:35; Ro 3:4 (Ps 50:6). Of God’s promise Ro 9:6, 9 (but these two vss., and Gal 5:14 below, prob. fit better under 2a), 28 (Is 10:22f). Cp. Hb 2:2; 4:2 (s. ἀκοή 4b); 7:28; 12:19. For B 15:1 see 1aδ. The whole law (as the expr. εἴ τι ἑτέρα ἐντολή indicates not limited to a narrow list of commandments), acc. to Ro 13:9. In what is prob. a play on words (s. 2a and b), Gal 5:14 (s. 2a below) is summed up in the λόγος as expressed in Lev 19:18.—That which God has created ἁγιάζεται διὰ λόγου θεοῦ 1 Ti 4:5; in line w. the context, this hardly refers to God’s creative word (so SibOr 3, 20; PtK 2; πάντα γὰρ λόγῳ ποιήσας ὁ θεός Theoph. Ant. 2, 18 [144, 8]), but to table prayers which use biblical expressions. The divine word as judge of thoughts Hb 4:12. τελεσθήσονται οἱ λ. τοῦ θεοῦ Ac 17:17; cp. 19:9.—Of the divine revelation through Christ and his messengers (Just., A I, 61, 9 λόγον … παρὰ τῶν ἀποστόλων ἐμάθομεν τοῦτον) θεὸς ἐφανέρωσεν τὸν λ. αὐτοῦ ἐν κηρύγματι Tit 1:3. δέδωκα αὐτοῖς τὸν λ. σου J 17:14; cp. vss. 6, 17; 1J 1:10; 2:14. ἵνα μὴ ὁ λ. τοῦ θεοῦ βλασφημῆται Tit 2:5. The apostles and other preachers, w. ref. to the λόγος of God, are said to: λαλεῖν Ac 4:29, 31; 13:46; Phil 1:14; Hb 13:7; καταγγέλλειν Ac 13:5; 17:13; διδάσκειν 18:11; μαρτυρεῖν Rv 1:2. Of their hearers it is said: τὸν λ. τοῦ θεοῦ ἀκούειν Ac 13:7; δέχεσθαι 8:14; 11:1. Of the λ. τοῦ θεοῦ itself we read: ηὔξανεν Ac 6:7; 12:24; 19:20; οὐ δέδεται 2 Ti 2:9. In these places and many others ὁ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ is simply the Christian message, the gospel: Lk 5:1; 8:11, 21; 11:28 (Simplicius in Epict. p. 1, 20 μὴ μόνον ἀκουόντων ἀλλὰ πασχόντων καὶ ὑπὸ τῶν λόγων=let the message have its effect on oneself); Ac 6:2 (s. καταλείπω 7c; for prob. commercial metaph. s. 2a below); 13:44 v.l. (for κυρίου); 16:32 v.l.; 1 Cor 14:36; 2 Cor 2:17; 4:2; Col 1:25; 1 Pt 1:23; Rv 1:9; 6:9; 20:4; IPhld 11:1. Cp. 1 Th 2:13ab; 1J 2:5.—Since this ‘divine word’ is brought to humanity through Christ, his word can be used in the same sense: ὁ λόγος μου J 5:24; cp. 8:31, 37, 43, 51f; 12:48; 14:23f; 15:3, 20b; Rv 3:8. ὁ λόγος τοῦ Χριστοῦ Col 3:16; cp. Hb 6:1. ὁ λ. τοῦ κυρίου Ac 8:25; 12:24 v.l.; 13:44, 48f; 14:25 v.l.; 15:35, 36; 16:32 (cp. λ. θεοῦ); 19:10; 1 Th 1:8; 2 Th 3:1. Pl. Mk 8:38 (Lk 9:26); 1 Ti 6:3; cp. Lk 24:44;   p 600  s. also 1aδ.—Or it is called simply ὁ λόγος=the ‘Word’, for no misunderstanding would be possible among Christians: Mt 13:20–23; Mk 2:2; 4:14–20, 33; 8:32 (s. 1aε below); 16:20; Lk 1:2; 8:12f, 15; Ac 6:4; 8:4; 10:36 (on the syntax s. FNeirynck, ETL 60, ’84, 118–23); 11:19; 14:25 (cp. λ. κυρίου above); 16:6; 17:11; 18:5; Gal 6:6; Phil 1:14; Col 4:3; 1 Th 1:6; 2 Ti 4:2; Js 1:21ff; 1 Pt 2:8; 3:1; 1J 2:7; AcPl Ha 7, 6 (so also Mel., HE 4, 26, 13; Ath. 2, 3).—Somet. the ‘Word’ is more closely defined by a gen.: ὁ λ. τῆς βασιλείας the word of the reign/rule (of God) Mt 13:19. τῆς σωτηρίας Ac 13:26. τῆς καταλλαγῆς 2 Cor 5:19. τοῦ σταυροῦ 1 Cor 1:18. δικαιοσύνης (q.v. 3a) Hb 5:13. ζωῆς Phil 2:16. (τῆς) ἀληθείας (Theoph. Ant. 3, 4 [p. 212, 2]; cp. περὶ ἀληθείας Hippol., Ref. 10, 6, 1) Eph 1:13; Col 1:5; 2 Ti 2:15; Js 1:18; AcPl Ha 8, 8 (Just., D. 121, 2). τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ (=τοῦ κυρίου) Ac 14:3; 20:32. (Differently the pl. οἱ λόγοι τ. χάριτος gracious words Lk 4:22; cp. Marcellinus, Vi. Thu. 57 Hude λόγοι εἰρωνείας.) ὁ λ. τοῦ εὐαγγελίου Ac 15:7; ὁ τοῦ Χριστιανισμοῦ λ. MPol 10:1. In Rv 3:10 the gospel is described by the ‘One who has the key of David’ as ὁ λ. τῆς ὑπομονῆς μου my word of endurance (W-S. §30, 12c). λ. τῶν ὑ[πο]μονῶν AcPl Ha 6, 11. παρελάβετε τὸν λ. ὅτι AcPl Ha 8, 25.—The pastoral letters favor the expr. πιστὸς ὁ λόγος (sc. ἐστίν, and s. πιστός 1b) 1 Ti 1:15; 3:1; 4:9; 2 Ti 2:11; Tit 3:8; cp. Rv 21:5; 22:6. λ. ὑγιής sound preaching Tit 2:8; cp. the pl. ὑγιαίνοντες λόγοι 2 Ti 1:13 (on medicinal use of words for the mind or soul s. VLeinieks, The City of Dionysos ’96, 115–22, on Eur.).—The pl. is also used gener. of Christian teachings, the words of the gospel Lk 1:4 (s. κατηχέω 2a); 1 Th 4:18. οἱ λ. τῆς πίστεως 1 Ti 4:6. On λόγοι κυριακοί for λόγια κυριακά in the title of the Papias document s. ἐξήγησις 2.—JSchniewind, Die Begriffe Wort und Evangelium bei Pls, diss. Bonn 1910; RAsting (εὐαγγέλιον, end).
γ. of an individual declaration or remark: assertion, declaration, speech ἀκούσαντες τὸν λ. when they heard the statement Mt 15:12; cp. 19:11, 22; 22:15; Mk 5:36. διὰ τοῦτον τὸν λ. because of this statement of yours 7:29 (TestAbr A 15 p. 95, 29 [Stone p. 38] τὸν λ. τοῦτον; ApcMos 25 εἰς τὸν λόγον σου κρινῶ σε). Cp. 10:22; 12:13; Lk 1:29; 22:61 v.l. (for ῥήματος); J 4:39, 50; 6:60; 7:36, 40 v.l.; 15:20a; 18:9; 19:8; Ac 6:5; 7:29; 20:38; 22:22; 1 Th 4:15. ὃς ἐὰν εἴπῃ λόγον κατὰ τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου whoever utters a (defamatory) word against the Son of Humanity Mt 12:32 (λ. εἰπεῖν κατά τινος as Jos., Ant. 15, 81); cp. Lk 12:10. λόγος σαπρός unwholesome talk Eph 4:29. λόγον ποιεῖσθαι make a speech Ac 11:2 D (cp. Hyperid. 3, 20; Jos., Ant. 11, 86).
δ. the pl. (οἱ) λόγοι is used, on the one hand, of words uttered on various occasions, of speeches or instruction given here and there by humans or transcendent beings (TestAbr A 14 p. 94, 19 [Stone p. 36]; Jos., Ant. 4, 264; Just., D. 100, 3) ἐκ τῶν λόγων σου δικαιωθήσῃ (καταδικασθήσῃ) Mt 12:37ab; 24:35; Mk 13:31; Lk 21:33; Ac 2:40; 7:22 (ἐν λόγοις καὶ ἔργοις αὐτοῦ. On the word-deed pair cp. Dio Chrys. 4, 6 the λόγοι and ἔργα of Diogenes; s. α above). οἱ δέκα λόγοι the ten commandments (Ex 34:28; Dt 10:4; Philo, Rer. Div. Her. 168, Decal. 32; Jos., Ant. 3, 138; cp. 91f; Did., Gen. 36, 10) B 15:1. Ac 15:24; 20:35; 1 Cor 2:4b, 13; 14:19ab; κενοὶ λ. Eph 5:6; AcPl Ox 6, 13 (cp. Aa 1, 241, 14); Dg 8:2; πλαστοὶ λ. 2 Pt 2:3. λ. πονηροί 3J 10.—Also of words and exprs. that form a unity, whether it be connected discourse (Jos., Ant. 15, 126; Just., A II, 12, 6, D. 11, 5; 81, 3 al.), a conversation, or parts of one and the same teaching, or expositions on the same subject (Diod S 16, 2, 3 μετέσχε τῶν Πυθαγορίων λόγων; Dio Chrys. 37 [54], 1; Ael. Aristid. 50, 55 K.=26 p. 519 D.: οἱ Πλάτωνος λόγοι; PsSol 17:43 [words of the Messiah]; AscIs 3:12 οἱ λόγοι τοῦ Βελχειρά) πᾶς ὅστις ἀκούει μου τοὺς λόγους τούτους Mt 7:24; cp. vss. 26, 28; 10:14; 19:1; 26:1; Mk 10:24; Lk 1:20; 6:47; 9:28, 44. ἐπηρώτα αὐτὸν ἐν λόγοις ἱκανοῖς he questioned him at some length 23:9. τίνες οἱ λ. οὗτοι οὓς ἀντιβάλλετε; what is this conversation that you are holding? 24:17; J 7:40 (s. γ); 10:19; J 14:24a; 19:13; Ac 2:22; 5:5, 24; 16:36; 2 Ti 4:15; 1 Cl 13:1; 46:7. λόγοις φθοριμαίοις AcPlCor 1:2.
ε. the subject under discussion, matter, thing gener. (Theognis 1055 Diehl; Hdt. 8, 65 μηδενὶ ἄλλῳ τὸν λόγον τοῦτον εἴπῃς. Cp. Hebr. דָּבָר) τὸν λ. ἐκράτησαν they took up the subject Mk 9:10; cp. Mt. 21:24 (s. 1aβ beg.). οὐκ ἔστιν σοι μερὶς ἐν τῷ λόγῳ τούτῳ you have no share in this matter Ac 8:21. ἰδεῖν περὶ τ. λόγου τούτου look into this matter 15:6. ἔχειν πρός τινα λόγον have a complaint against someone (cp. Demosth. 35, 55 ἐμοὶ πρὸς τούτους ὁ λόγος; PIand 16, 3 δίκαιον λόγον ἔχει πρὸς σέ) 19:38. παρεκτὸς λόγου πορνείας Mt 5:32; 19:9 v.l. (2d is also prob.).—Perh. also Mk 8:32 he discussed the subject quite freely (but s. 1aβ above).
ⓑ of literary or oratorical productions: of the separate books of a work (Hdt. 5, 36 ἐν τῷ πρώτῳ τ. λόγων; Pla., Parmen. 2, 127d ὁ πρῶτος λόγος; Philo, Omn. Prob. Lib. 1 ὁ μὲν πρότερος λόγος ἦν ἡμῖν, ὦ Θεόδοτε, περὶ τοῦ … ) treatise Ac 1:1 (s. on the prologue to Ac: AHilgenfeld, ZWT 41, 1898, 619ff; AGercke, Her 29, 1894, 373ff; RLaqueur, Her 46, 1911, 161ff; Norden, Agn. Th. 311ff; JCreed, JTS 35, ’34, 176–82; Goodsp., Probs. 119–21). Παπίας … πέντε λόγους κυριακῶν λογίων ἔγραψεν Papias (11:1; cp. 3:1 e; 11:2; 12:2).—περὶ οὗ πολὺς ἡμῖν ὁ λόγος about this we have much to say Hb 5:11. Hb is described as ὁ λ. τῆς παρακλήσεως a word of exhortation (in literary form) 13:22. Of writings that are part of Holy Scripture ὁ λ. Ἠσαΐου J 12:38. ὁ λ. ὁ ἐν τῷ νόμῳ γεγραμμένος 15:25; ὁ προφητικὸς λ. 2 Pt 1:19; 2 Cl 11:2 (quot. of unknown orig.); AcPl Ha 8, 27//BMM recto 35 (Just., D. 77, 2 al.). ὁ ἅγιος λ. the holy word 1 Cl 56:3. ὁ λ. ὁ γεγραμμένος 1 Cor 15:54 (Is 25:8 and Hos 13:14 follow). Pl. οἱ λόγοι τ. προφητῶν Ac 15:15. ὡς γέγραπται ἐν βίβλῳ λόγων Ἠσαΐου Lk 3:4 (Pla., 7th Epistle 335a πείθεσθαι ἀεὶ χρὴ τοῖς παλαιοῖς καὶ ἱεροῖς λόγοις; TestJob 1:1 βίβλος λόγων Ἰώβ; ParJer 9:32 v.l. τὰ λοιπὰ τῶν λόγων Ἱερεμίου; ApcEsdr 1:1 καὶ ἀποκάλυψις τοῦ … Ἐσδράμ; ApcSed prol.; Just., D. 72, 3f).—Of the content of Rv: ὁ ἀναγινώσκων τ. λόγους τῆς προφητείας 1:3. οἱ λόγοι (τ. προφητείας) τ. βιβλίου τούτου 22:7, 9f, 18f.
② computation, reckoning
ⓐ a formal accounting, esp. of one’s actions, and freq. with fig. extension of commercial terminology account, accounts, reckoning λόγον δοῦναι (Hdt. 8, 100; X., Cyr. 1, 4, 3; Diod S 3, 46, 4; SIG 1099, 16; BGU 164, 21; Jos., Ant. 16, 120; Just., D. 115, 6) give account, make an accounting ἕκαστος περὶ ἑαυτοῦ λόγον δώσει τ. θεῷ Ro 14:12. Also λ. ἀποδοῦναι abs. (Just., D. 116, 1 al.; Diod S 16, 56, 4; 19, 9, 4) Hb 13:17. τινί to someone (Diod S 16, 27, 4; Plut., Alcib. 7, 3; Chariton 7, 6, 2; SIG 631, 13 τᾷ πόλει; 2 Ch 34:28; Da 6:3 Theod.; Jos., Bell. 1, 209) τῷ ἑτοίμως ἔχοντι κρῖναι 1 Pt 4:5. τινὸς of someth. (SIG 1044, 46; 1105, 10 τοῦ ἀναλώματος; Jos., Ant. 19, 307) Lk 16:2 (here λ. w. the art.; on the subject of undergoing an audit cp. Aeschin. 3, 22). Likew. περί τινος (Diod S 18, 60, 2 δοὺς αὑτῷ περὶ τούτων λόγον=taking account [considering] with himself; BGU 98, 25 περὶ τούτου) Mt 12:36; Ac 19:40. ὑπέρ τινος concerning someone Hv 3, 9, 10.—αἰτεῖν τινα λόγον περί τινος call someone to account for someth. 1 Pt 3:15 (cp. Pla., Pol. 285e; Dio Chrys. 20 [37], 30; Apc4Esdr Fgm. b ἕκαστος ὑπὸ τοῦ οἰκείου ἔργου τὸν λόγον ἀπαιτηθήσεται; Just., A I, 17, 4. For another perspective s. d below.).—Of banking   p 601  responsibility ὁ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ (PStras 72, 10 [III A.D.] ὁ τῶν θεῶν λ.; PHerm 108 [III A.D.] λ. τοῦ Σαραπείου) in wordplay Ac 6:2 (w. τράπεζα q.v. 1c); s. also 1aβ.—Of a ledger heading (POxy 1333 [II/III A.D.] δὸς αὐτῳ λόγῳ θεωρικῶν=credit him under ‘festivals’; for others s. Preisig., Wörterbuch s.v. λ. 14; s. also Fachwörter 119) Ro 9:6 (the point is that God’s ‘list’ of Israelites is accurate; on ἐκπίπτω in the sense ‘is not deficient’ s. s.v. 4); vs. 9 (the ‘count’ is subsumed by metonymy in divine promise); Gal 5:14 (all moral obligations come under one ‘entry’: ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself’; for commercial association of ἀναλίσκω vs. 15, which rounds out the wordplay, s. s.v.). The contexts of these three passages suggest strong probability for commercial associations; for another view s. 1aβ.
ⓑ settlement (of an account) (εἰς λόγον commercial t.t. ‘in settlement of an account’ POxy 275, 19; 21) εἰς λόγον δόσεως κ. λήμψεως in settlement of a mutual account (lit., ‘of giving and receiving’, ‘of debit and credit’) Phil 4:15 (cp. Plut., Mor. 11b λόγον δοῦναι καὶ λαβεῖν; a parallel formulation POxy 1134,10 [421 A.D.] λ. λήμματος καὶ ἐξοδιασμοῦ=ledger of income and expenditures); for the linked accounting terms δόσις and λήμψις s. PCairMasp 151, 208 [VI A.D.]. The same ideas are in the background of εἰς λόγον ὑμῶν credited to your account vs 17.—συναίρειν λόγον settle accounts (BGU 775, 18f. The mid. in the same mng. PFay109, 6 [I A.D.]; POxy 113, 27f.—Dssm., LO 94 [LAE 118f]) μετά τινος Mt 18:23; 25:19.
ⓒ reflection, respect, regard εἰς λόγον τινός with regard to, for the sake of (Thu. 3, 46, 4; Demosth. 19, 142 εἰς ἀρετῆς λόγον; Polyb. 11, 28, 8; Ath. 31, 1; Ael. Aristid. 39 p. 743 D.: εἰς δεινότητος λ.) εἰς λ. τιμῆς IPhld 11:2. εἰς λ. θεοῦ ISm 10:1.
ⓓ reason for or cause of someth., reason, ground, motive (Just., D. 94, 3 δότε μοι λόγον, ὅτου χάριν … ; Ath. 30, 3 τὶς γὰρ … λόγος; Dio Chrys. 64 [14], 18 ἐκ τούτου τ. λόγου; Appian, Hann. 29 §126 τῷ αὐτῷ λόγῳ; Iambl., Vi. Pyth. 28, 155) τίνι λόγω; for what reason? Ac 10:29 (cp. Pla., Gorg. 512c τίνι δικαίῳ λ.; Appian, Mithrid. 57 §232 τίνι λόγῳ;). λόγον περὶ τῆς ἐν ὑμῖν ἐλπίδος 1 Pt 3:15 (but s. a above); κατὰ λόγον Ac 18:14 (s. κατά B 5bβ). παρεκτὸς λόγου πορνείας Mt 5:32; 19:9 v.l. (though 1aε is also poss.).
ⓔ πρὸς ὃν ἡμῖν ὁ λόγος (ἐστίν) with whom we have to do (i.e. to reckon) (Dio Chrys. 31, 123; other exx. in FBleek, Hb II/1, 1836, 590ff), in his capacity as judge (Libanius, Legat. Ulixis [=Declamatio IV] 2 F. τοῖς δὲ ἀδίκως ἀποκτενοῦσι καὶ πρὸς θεοὺς καὶ πρὸς ἀνθρώπους ὁ λόγος γίγνεται) Hb 4:13. οὐ πρὸς σάρκα ὁ λόγος, ἀλλὰ πρὸς θεόν he has to do not with flesh, but with God IMg 3:2.
ⓕ In Col 2:23 (s. 1aβ) λόγον μὲν ἔχοντα σοφίας may=make a case for wisdom (cp. λόγος ἡμῖν οὐδείς Plut., Mor. 870b).
③ the independent personified expression of God, the Logos. Our lit. shows traces of a way of thinking that was widespread in contemporary syncretism, as well as in Jewish wisdom lit. and Philo, the most prominent feature of which is the concept of the Logos, the independent, personified ‘Word’ (of God): GJs 11:2 (word of the angel to Mary) συνλήμψῃ ἐκ Λόγου αὐτοῦ (sc. τοῦ πάντων Δεσπότου). J 1:1abc, 14 (cp. Just., A I, 23, 2; Mel., P. 9, 61 and oft. by all apolog., exc.. Ar.). It is the distinctive teaching of the Fourth Gospel that this divine ‘Word’ took on human form in a historical person, that is, in Jesus (s. RSeeberg, Festgabe für AvHarnack ’21, 263–81.—Λόγος w. ζωή in gnostic speculation: Iren.1, 1, 1 [Harv. 1, 10, 4]; Aelian, VH 4, 20 ἐκάλουν τὸν Πρωταγόραν Λόγον. Similarly Favorinus [II A.D.]: Vorsokr. 80 A 1 ln. 22 [in Diog. L. 9, 50] of Democritus: ἐκαλεῖτο Σοφία. Equating a divinity with an abstraction that she personifies: Artem. 5, 18 φρόνησις εἶναι νομίζεται ἡ θεός [Athena]). Cp. 1J 1:1; Rv 19:13. εἷς θεός ἐστιν, ὁ φανερώσας ἑαυτὸν διὰ Ἰ. Χριστοῦ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ, ὅς ἐστιν αὐτοῦ λόγος, ἀπὸ σιγῆς προελθών there is one God, who has revealed himself through Jesus Christ his Son, who is his ‘Word’ proceeding from silence (i.e., without an oral pronouncement: in a transcendent manner) IMg 8:2 (s. σιγή). The Lord as νόμος κ. λόγος PtK 1. Cp. Dg 11:2, 3, 7, 8; 12:9.—HClavier, TManson memorial vol., ’59, 81–93: the Alexandrian eternal λόγος is also implied in Hb 4:12; 13:7.—S. also the ‘Comma Johanneum’ (to the bibliography in RGG3 I, ’54 [HGreeven] add AJülicher, GGA 1905, 930–35; AvHarnack, SBBerlAk 1915, 572f [=Studien I ’31, 151f]; MMeinertz, Einl. in d. NT4 ’33, 309–11; AGreiff, TQ 114, ’33, 465–80; CDodd, The Joh. Epistles ’46; WThiele, ZNW 50, ’59, 61–73) ὁ πατήρ, ὁ λόγος καὶ τὸ ἅγιον πνεῦμα 1J 5:7 v.l. (s. N. app.; Borger, TRu 52, ’87, 57f). (Such interpolations were not unheard of. According to Diog. L. 1, 48 some people maintain that Solon inserted the verse mentioning the Athenians after Il. 2, 557.—τῆς τριάδος, τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ τοῦ λόγου αὐτοῦ καὶ τῆς σοφίας αὐτοῦ Theoph. Ant. 2, 15 [p. 138, 19].)—On the Logos: EZeller, D. Philosophie der Griechen III 24 1903, 417–34; MHeinze, D. Lehre v. Logos in d. griech. Philosophie 1872; PWendland, Philo u. d. kynisch-stoische Diatribe (Beiträge z. Gesch. der griech. Philosophie u. Religion by Wendl. and OKern 1895, 1–75); AAall, Gesch. d. Logosidee 1896, 1899; MPohlenz, D. Stoa ’48f, I 482; 490 (index); LDürr, D. Wertung des göttl. Wortes im AT u. im ant. Orient ’38 (§9 of the Joh. Logos); EBréhier, Les idées philosophiques et religieuses de Philon d’Alexandrie 1907, 83–111; (2 ’25); JLebreton, Les théories du Logos au début de l’ère chrétienne 1907; ESchwartz, NGG 1908, 537–56; GVos, The Range of the Logos-Title in the Prologue of the Fourth Gospel: PTR 11, 1913, 365–419; 557–602; RHarris, The Origin of the Prologue to St. John’s Gospel 1917, Athena, Sophia and the Logos: BJRL 7, 1, 1922 p. 56–72; M-JLagrange, Vers le Logos de S. Jean: RB 32, 1923, 161–84, Le Logos de Philon: ibid. 321–71; HLeisegang, Logos: Pauly-W. XIII 1926, 1035–81; TGlasson, Heraclitus’ Alleged Logos Doctr., JTS 3, ’52, 231–38.—NWeinstein, Z. Genesis d. Agada 1901, 29–90; Billerb. II 302–33.—Rtzst., Zwei religionsgeschichtl. Fragen 1901, 47–132, Mysterienrel.3 1927, 428 index; WBousset, Kyrios Christos2 1921, 304ff; 316f; JKroll, D. Lehren d. Hermes Trismegistos1914, 418 index.—RBultmann, D. religionsgesch. Hintergrund des Prol. z. Joh.: HGunkel Festschr., 1923, II 1–26, Comm. ’41, 5ff; AAlexander, The Johannine Doctrine of the Logos: ET 36, 1925, 394–99; 467–72; (Rtzst. and) HSchaeder, Studien z. antiken Synkretismus 1926, 306–37; 350; GAvdBerghvanEysinga, In den beginne was de Logos: NThT 23, ’34, 105–23; JDillersberger, Das Wort von Logos ’35; RBury, The 4th Gosp. and the Logos-Doctrine ’40; EMay, CBQ 8, ’46, 438–47; GKnight, From Moses to Paul ’49, 120–29. TW IV 76–89; 126–40 (on this s. SLyonnet, Biblica 26, ’45, 126–31); CStange, ZST 21, ’50, 120–41; MBoismard, Le Prologue de St. Jean ’53; HLangkammer, BZ 9, ’65, 91–94; HRinggren, Word and Wisdom [hypostatization in Near East] ’47; WEltester, Haenchen Festschr., ’64, 109–34; HWeiss, Untersuchungen zur Kosmologie etc., TU 97, ’66, 216–82; MRissi, Die Logoslieder im Prolog des vierten Evangeliums, TZ 31, ’75, 321–36; HLausberg, NAWG, Ph. ’87, 1 pp. 1–7.—B. 1262. DELG s.v. λέγω B 1. M-M. EDNT. TW.
λόγχη, ης, ἡ (Pind., Hdt. et al.; ins, pap, LXX; Jos., Bell. 3, 95, Ant. 16, 315; SibOr 3, 688; loanw. in rabb.) spear, lance Mt 27:49 v.l. (HVogels, BZ 10, 1912, 396–405); J 19:34. In the latter pass. the mng. spear-point (Hdt. 1, 52; X., An. 4, 7, 16;   p 602  SIG 1168, 95; 1169, 65) is also prob.—B. 1390. DELG. M-M. TW.

Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., pp. 598–602). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 

It is not by a particular lemma or by a message that God created the sky-land biodome of Genesis 1 but rather by speech/utterance:

Gen 1:3  And God said, "Let there be light": and there was light.

That is John's point, that without speaking/uttering God didn't make anything. Each thing made was made by divine fiat:

And "sermo" captures that clearly while "verbum" is unintelligible nonsense.

In John 17:17 the word "sermo" may or may not have the identical usage as John 1:1. The sense in English seems to be "message". In English "utterance" is rarely used but it is more precise than "message" in this case so that is a judgment call.


Since posting this I have discovered that sermo vs verbum has been an issue from the beginning as seen in this paper at JSTOR.

I also raised this issue on the Biblical Greek forum.


I just stumbled upon this extremely relevant and informative article. It is a must read!

  • 1
    You stumbled upon Wikipedia? Commented Nov 28, 2020 at 3:51
  • LOL. I guess that makes me an internet insider, now!
    – Ruminator
    Commented Nov 28, 2020 at 4:14

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