"In the beginning was the Word" - we know that the word was Jesus, before he incarnated - but until just-now, I never understood why he was The Word (that is I never found the explanations adequate, nor did I comprehend what 'word' was here supposed to mean).
From reading Owen Barfield, I realise that to understand words we need to understand concepts; and that concepts change through history. The concept of The Word, as it is used in the King James Bible and the Fourth Gospel, needs to be understood by its usage. So, I did a word search for 'word' and read all the usages in the Fourth Gospel.
From that I realised something of the scope of the term, and that 'word' in the Fourth Gospel meant (in part) something more like knowledge - but an objective knowledge that was permanent.
And from my reading and brooding on Rudolf Steiner's Philosophy of Freedom (1894); I knew what kind of knowledge that needed to be.
The Fourth Gospel tells us that we need to acknowledge that Jesus was the Son of God, sent by the Father. Why did the Father need to send him? The answer is that Jesus was The Word, and he became The Word incarnate; that is, The Word in This World.
Until Jesus was incarnated, Man did not have direct access to The Word - but only by indirect communications; however, by incarnating Jesus gave Man access to The Word - directly, objectively, permanently; if Men recognised Jesus as the Son of God.
Jesus would not have been much use if he was 'a teacher' merely, because a teacher needs to be listened to, heard, understood... and even when correct the understanding may be forgotten or distorted.
What was/ is needed is direct and permanent knowing; and this entails that when two people know something, they must know it direct and unmediated, and it must be exactly the same thing that they know. They must know the true-concept, not merely a copy or version of it...
We might picture this (as a simplified model) in the form that knowledge is located in a realm we can all access, and when someone thinks an objective thought he 'borrows' a thought from this realm, while he is thinking it - after which it returns to the realm to be available for anybody else to think.
This model is merely meant to emphasise that objective knowledge cannot depend on communication, or copying. Objective implies it is shared, public, identical between individuals. It is also necessarily true - which is another meaning of objective.
So, why do we need to acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God? Because he is the only source of direct knowledge; it was incarnated with him - he is the source from-which we may know directly.
It is knowing that Jesus is the Son of God that 'points us at' the source of direct knowledge. (Because Jesus is The Word, we know that The Word is real, we know its location, we know what to do to find it.)
If we do Not acknowledge that Jesus is The Word, then we will 'die in our sins'. This is not meant as a threat, but as a simple fact. Jesus brings us immortality by resurrection; but unless we know and follow Jesus, that resurrection will merely be of our-selves as we-are here-and-now; that is, 'in' our corruption and sins (mixed in with purity and love - the mixture will vary between people).
Our 'heaven' will then be our-selves in a place with similar people to our-selves. Qualitatively, this heaven will be the same kind of place as this earth - but eternally.
But what about Hell? Jesus brought Hell into the world - as many have noticed.
Well, when knowledge is understood as objective and permanent and dwelling-in the soul (this being an implied property of The Word, in the Fourth Gospel); this means that once a person has known Jesus, has known him as the Son of God, this is permanent.
To know Jesus is to be 'born again' as Jesus describes it to Nicodemus. It is permanently to be transformed. We cannot ever be the same as we were before, because (as I said) The Word is objective - it does not depend on memory or attention, it cannot be eroded by disease or death. We cannot un-know that which we know.
This may clarify: To believe 'in' Jesus is to know he is the Son of God; to believe 'on' Jesus is to love, trust and follow him.
Both believing-in and believing-on are choices, they cannot be compelled upon anyone but must be freely chosen. However they are knowledge, as well as choices; and objective knowledge is permanent and cannot be undone.
Furthermore, objective knowledge is public - and our belief in and on Jesus is itself objectively-knowable; it is not private - God knows what we each know.
(Men do not know what other men know, and can indeed lie to themselves about what they themselves know; but the knowledge is objective, permanent. We must learn to distinguish objective knowing from our 'current psychological states'.)
Hell is when somebody knows that Jesus is the Son of God; but does not love him, does not trust him, will not follow him.
More exactly, Hell is an active rejection of what Jesus offered - it is to know and hate Jesus, to regard his promises as lies, to regard his heaven as a Hell...
It is to know and invert the scale of Good and Evil established by the Father and endorsed by the Son. And thus to prefer a life in company with those who think likewise - which is Hell.
In sum; Jesus was The Word - which is approximately objective knowledge.
By being born Jesus brought objective knowledge into this world - and Jesus's primary teaching was simply to 'point at himself', and who he was; and invite us to love him and have faith in him, because he loved us and would die for us.
By bringing objective knowledge into this world, Jesus made it possible to become Sons of God, like himself - on a par with himself. Because such a Son of God must know - merely doing is insufficient. A 'god' must know the truth; and know it explicitly.
But The Word/ objective knowledge - while real and permanent in this world - is a possibility; it is not compelled nor is it coerced. The Word must first be recognised, then embraced - if it is fully to be believed and to be effectual.
The 'system' was established between Jesus and his disciples - in Chapters 13-17 of 'John's' Gospel we can see Jesus describing how this has worked. The disciples have first done what others can now do - they believed in and on Jesus.
From that point, and the coming fo the Holy Ghost; direct and objective knowledge has been available to all - as it never was before that moment; that is available to all if they want it, and when they choose to believe what they find.
But all this is conditional upon having the necessary concepts - the necessary metaophysical understandings and assumptions. Because the wrong ones will block the possibility of knowing.
Modern people absolutely-need to know that knowledge can be direct, objective and permanent - utterly independent of the contingencies of communication, perception, comprehension, brains, biology, age and illness... and indeed independent of death.
Note added: The purpose of a satisfactory explanation of Jesus's incarnation, death and resurrection needs to include both objective and voluntary aspects. There needs to be some understanding of how these events changed objective reality in a permanent fashion (regardless of human knowledge), and also an understanding of how human freedom interacts with that reality.