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In the question Why would God fully become His Word if He could not return to Himself? the author assumes a firm link between the term 'word' in the following passages:

Isaiah 55:10-11 (ESV):

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.

John 1:1,14 (ESV):

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Was Isaiah talking prophetically about the same word that John 1 is talking about?

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  • There are lots of words that appear in different portions of scripture. Some are very particular and technical (e.g. 'Messiah'), but 'word' appears 1441 times in the Tanakh and 331 times in the New Testament - why of all places should anybody suspect a link between Isaiah 55 and John 1? – Steve Taylor Apr 20 at 20:14
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    @SteveTaylor - my question was actually motivated by this other question: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/59227/…, which appears to assume implicitly that the answer to my question is 'yes'. – Spirit Realm Investigator Apr 20 at 20:17
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    Fair enough, I can see why you're asking, and it's sort of the right way to go about challenging assumptions in questions like that without getting drawn into Comment wars - but in fairness your source question is very puzzling and is sort of built on a few undeclared assumptions itself, which I suppose is what you're questioning here! I've edited your question to provide this context and retracted my DV for now. – Steve Taylor Apr 20 at 20:32
  • the short answer to this question is yes, it is the same, in the context of "type and antitype" between old testament and new testament themes. There are a lot of parallels between the two testaments in this way. – Adam Apr 20 at 20:46
  • Of course, why would anyone think otherwise. – user48152 Apr 20 at 20:56
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Isaiah 55:11 (ESV):

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.

LXX:

οὕτως ἔσται τὸ ῥῆμά μου ὃ ἐὰν ἐξέλθῃ ἐκ τοῦ στόματός μου, οὐ μὴ ἀποστραφῇ ἕως ἂν τελεσθῇ ὅσα ἠθέλησα, καὶ εὐοδώσω τὰς ὁδούς σου καὶ τὰ ἐντάλματά μου.

John 1:1

In the beginning was the Word [Λόγος], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Are Isaiah 55:11 and John 1:1,14 talking about the same “word”?

No, one is ῥῆμά and the other is Λόγος.

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We can be sure that John was writing to the Jews, the caretakers of the word of God, the law and the prophets that all looked toward the coming Christ and the unfolding and re-envisioned Holy Days that found their true meaning through the New Covenant and its convenor Jesus through his blood, death and new life as the firstborn from the dead, Col 1.

So we can either follow a Greek or a Hebrew take on John’s prologue. A Greek slant would have a philosophical base, the Hebrew a deep rooted foundation in the previous millennia’s teaching.

Why would we entertain a Greek interpretation when it has no connection with the past. God does nothing that becomes redundant, but is a taste, a shadow of something much grander that was always in His mind, but hidden until the time was right/according to plan.

His teaching in Isaiah then is crucial to understanding the new covenant and the teaching of the NT- especially the core of the plan, the re-envisioned word!

It doesn’t take much imagination to realise that what God wants, God eventually gets. He is so sovereignly above our pay grade, He can arrange the past, present and future to achieve a divinely conceived outcome.

...my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose...

This concept is the foundation for the whole OT. The characters that lived out the stories like David, Joseph, Moses etc, are proof enough that God gets His way, in spite of the opposing forces that might think themselves formidable - like Pharaoh and his army and his pathetic gods.

Why abandon this foundation for another philosophical approach that has no connection with all that has gone before?

John 1 continues this foundation with a new aspect to this ‘word of God’. No longer is it just a word, a decree, a plan, a will of God - it is the same, but now it is a man! Not a dumb robotic man, but a man with his own will who must constantly choose the right words, actions, and decisions. Decisions that would lead unswervingly to his hideous death on a cross!

For brevity, I will leave out explaining unswervingly.

So yes, the word in Isaiah 55 is perfectly analogous with the word in John. It is still God’s word, still His will and purpose, but now in fleshly human form who must function within the spiritual realm opposing evil, not by unalterable decree, but by loving and trusting choice of humility not pride, obedience not resistance.

Notice the parallels with Isaiah 55:6--11 and the words of Jesus, the new Lord.

Seek the LORD while He may be found;
Call upon Him while He is near.
7 Let the wicked abandon his way,
And the unrighteous person his thoughts;
And let him return to the LORD,
And He will have compassion on him,
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.
11 So will My word be which goes out of My mouth;
It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the purpose for which I sent it.

Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. John 12:35

The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!" Mk 1:15

believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved--you and your household." Acts 16:31

1 John 1:1 perfectly explains this logos, which was made manifest in God’s son, Jesus. Further, in this passage, John refrains from confusing the logos and Jesus but carefully linking them appropriately.

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