One often hears that by employing the word "logos" in the prologue to his gospel, the apostle John was making use of Greek philosophy. He was not.
But don't take my word for it; listen to the commentators. I cite here nearly twenty passages from the commentary tradition, copied almost at random as I came to them in my study. The number could easily have been doubled, even tripled. Notice that the list of commentators here presented includes some of the most erudite and accomplished Biblical scholars ever, folks like F. F. Bruce, B. F. Westcott, F. Godet, L. Morris, O. Cullmann, and others.
In other words, the very most one could say about the contention that John employs Greek philosophy in his prologue is that the best scholars generally deny it.
(1.) “There can be little doubt that the roots of the ideas contained in this term [i.e., “logos”] are to be sought in the O. T.” (Ross, p. 135).
(2.) “[Philo’s] misty, vague philosophizing is worlds away from John’s concrete, historical outlook on the personal Logos, who from times eternal was with God and who became flesh in Jesus Christ. The theory that John derived the term Logos from Philo is very wide of the mark; there is no real evidence that John had ever heard of Philo. It is just as wide of the mark to regard John as having derived this term from Greek philosophy” (Ross, 136).
(3.) “But, though [John] would not have been unmindful of the associations aroused by the term, his essential thought does not derive from the Greek background. His Gospel shows little trace of acquaintance with Greek philosophy and less dependence upon it. And the really important thing is that John in his use of Logos is cutting clean across one of the fundamental Greek ideas. The Greeks thought of the gods as detached from the world, as regarding its struggles and heartaches and joys and tears with serene divine lack of feeling. John’s Logos does not show us a God who is serenely detached, but a God who is passionately involved. The Logos speaks of God’s coming where we are, taking our nature upon Himself, entering the worlds’ struggle, and out of this agony winning men’s salvation” (Morris, pp. 116-17).
(4.) “[T]he “Word” irresistibly turns our attention to the repeated “and God said” of the opening chapter of the Bible. The Word is God’s creative Word (v. 3). The atmosphere is unmistakably Hebraic” (Morris, pp. 117-18).
(5.) “[W]e find that in other biblical authors, as well as in John, the word [i.e., “Logos”] is never used to signify the divine Reason or Mind; nor indeed those of any human creature” (Alford, p. 677).
(6.) [Comparing Philo and John] “There is a wide and unmistakable difference between his logos and that of the Apostle” (Alford, p. 679).
(7.) “It would be difficult not to recognize in these first verses an allusion to the beginning of Genesis” (Godet, John, 243).
(8.)“The term 'Word,' no less than the term 'in the beginning,' serves to recall the narrative in Genesis; it alludes to the expression: 'and God said,' repeated eight times . . . All these sayings of God John gathers into one single, living word” (Godet, John, 245).
(9.) Logos as reason “is foreign to the N.T.” (Godet, John, 246).
(10.) “The word 'logos' in John, signifies as in the whole Biblical text, word. In Philo, it signifies, as in the philosophical language of the Greeks, reason. This simple fact reveals a wholly different starting-point in the use which they make of the term. . .
“In Philo, the existence of the Logos is a metaphysical theorem.. God being conceived of as the absolutely indeterminate and impersonal being, there is an impassible gulf between Him and the material, finite, varied world which we behold. To fill this void, Philo needed an intermediate agent, a second God, brought nearer the finite; this is the Logos, the half-personalized divine reason. The existence of the Logos in John is not the result of such a metaphysical necessity. God is in John, as in all the Scriptures, Creator, Master, Father. He acts Himself in the world, He loves it, He gives His Son to it: we shall even see that it is He who serves as intermediate agent between men and the Son (6: 37, 44) . . . in John everything in the relation of the Logos to God is a matter of liberty and of love, while with Philo everything is the result of a logical necessity. . .
“To the view of Philo, as to that of Plato, the principle of evil is matter; the Jewish philosopher nowhere dreams, therefore, of making the Logos descend to earth, and that in bodily form. In John, on the contrary, the supreme fact of history is this: “The Logos was made flesh” (Godet, pp. 287, 288).
(11.) “It is not in Greek philosophical usage, however, that the background of John’s thought and language should be sought . . . The true background of John’s thought and language is found not in Greek philosophy but in Hebrew revelation. The ‘word of God’ in the Old Testament denotes God in action, especially in creation, revelation and deliverance” (Bruce, 29).
(12.) “John’s standpoint is that of the Old Testament and not that of the Stoics nor even of Philo” (Roberston, 3, 4).
(13.) “It constantly happens in the history of thought that the same terms and phrases are used by schools which have no direct affinity, in senses which are essentially distinct, while they have a superficial likeness . . . A new teacher necessarily uses the heritage which he has received from the past in order to make his message understood”(Westcott, p. xv).
(14.) “It is admitted on all hands that [John’s] central affirmation, ‘the Word became flesh," which underlies all he wrote, is absolutely unique. A Greek, an Alexandrine, a Jewish doctor, would have equally refused to admit such a statement as a legitimate deduction from his principles, or as reconcilable with them” (Westcott, xv).
(15.) “Philo and St John, in short, found the same term current, and used it according to their respective apprehensions of the truth. Philo, following the track of Greek philosophy, saw in the Logos the divine Intelligence in relation to the universe: the Evangelist, trusting firmly in the ethical basis of Judaism, sets forth the Logos mainly as the revealer of God to man, through creation, through theophanies, through prophets, through the Incarnation. . . In short the teaching of St John is characteristically Hebraic and not Alexandrine” (Westcott pp. xvi-xvii).
(16.) “We must not overlook the fact that the Gospel of John begins with the same words as the first book of the Old Testament. If we, like the first Christians of the Diaspora, were accustomed to reading the Old Testament in Greek, this would immediately catch our attention” (Cullmann, p. 250).
(17.) “[T]he Gospel of John did not derive from the widely spread Logos idea a doctrine of general, not exclusively Christian, revelation . . . on the contrary it completely subordinated the extra- and pre-Christian Logos to the one revelation of God in Jesus of Nazareth, and in this way, completely re-formed it” (Cullmann, 254).
(18.) “If the author takes over many statements about the Logos from Hellenism as well as from the Old Testament, he does not mean to say thereby that the Greeks, for instance, because they spoke of the Logos, already possessed true knowledge. That would be a modern way of thinking. This is what the evangelist is saying: The Greeks spoke of the Logos without knowing him” (Cullmann, 264).
(19.) “False philosophy was dealing out to the world all kinds of error in regard to God and the modes of the Divine existence. What darkened reason was thus struggling after when ‘the world by wisdom knew not God,’ John was commissioned to set forth, as God’s own revelation of Himself. The Evangelist borrowed none of his doctrines from those systems. But he takes, in this case, a term that had become so universally familiar in the chief philosophies of the world before Christ’s coming, and this Logos that they had spoken of so blindly and ignorantly, he declares unto them” (Jacobus, p. 21).