Saturday, 6 December 2014

Who or what is the Word of God?

He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. – Revelation 19:13

Recently I was reading 1 Peter 2:2 and it dawned on me just how conditioned we have become to reading things into texts which they do not actually say. That particular verse speaks of desiring the pure milk of the word that you may grow thereby which most people have interpreted to say “read your bible”. However the next verse tells us that those who drink this pure milk will taste that the Lord is gracious. Then Paul uses the word scripture in verse 6 when he quotes from Isaiah and the Psalms which should tell us that he is making a clear distinction between the word and scriptures. It got me thinking about how many verses may have been misinterpreted in a similar manner and so I started looking through all the word of God or word of the Lord scriptures (about 500 of them) to see what they actually said.

Why is this important?

                                          image credit facebook/UnboxedFreethinker

I think the quote above puts it well. While I have a deep love for the bible and devote a significant amount of time to studying what it says; it can easily serve as a substitute to true fellowship and intimacy with Christ. One can know the commands and even do a pretty good job adhering to them without ever knowing the one who spoke them. It is similar to what Israel did at Mount Sinai in Exodus 19 and 20 when God invited them to be a kingdom of priests (19:6). There fearful response was to tell Moses that he should rather speak to God on their behalf and they would do whatever he told them. We are comfortable with the list of do and do not’s because they deal with the external, giving us a sense of spirituality without becoming too vulnerable. Let me say it this way rather, knowing scripture is extremely important but knowing God is the non negotiable.

The word or the Word?

Most of the times that we read the phrase ‘the word’ in the bible, it is simply referring to a message from God to someone or to a group of people. There are only a few cases where one could argue that ‘the word’ may be referring to scripture as a whole (possibly 1 Timothy 5:17 and Mark 7:13). So when looking at the phrase one needs to exercise some common sense and look at the context in which it was written to determine what the writer meant. With that in mind, I would like to share some of the scriptures that I came across which perhaps do not say what we always thought they did and in doing so, make a case for ‘the word’ when it is not simply a message, almost always equating to Jesus rather than scripture.

Genesis 15:1 - After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, "Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; Your reward shall be very great."

The word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision. Abram did not receive the bible but a message from a someone.

1 Samuel 15:23 - For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king."

The word of the Lord is often referred to as a ‘he’ in scripture, this is but one example.

Psalm 105:19 - Until the time that his word came to pass, The word of the LORD tested him.

Once again, the word sounds like a person.

John 1:1 - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

This is probably the most famous Jesus equals the word verse but even so, I have had people fight with me arguing that even John 1 refers to the bible. To me that is outright idolatry.

John 1:14 - The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

The Word equals Jesus.

John 17:17 - Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.

The context here is confirmed in verse 19, “For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.” Word equals Christ.

Acts 8:14 - When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria.

Who or what was the word that the Samaritans accepted? Verse 5 in the same chapter tells us, “Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there.”

Acts 11:1 - The apostles and the believers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God.

The word of God that the Gentiles received is described in Acts 10:42-43, “He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."

Acts 13:26 - Men, brothers and children of the lineage of Abraham, and those who worship God with you: To you He has been sent: The Word of Life.

A lot of versions use the phrase “message of salvation” in this verse. However the following verse reveals that Luke was referring to a person;“"For those who live in Jerusalem, and their rulers, recognizing neither Him nor the utterances of the prophets which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled these by condemning Him.”

Hebrews 11:3 - By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.

To state the obvious, the bible is indeed visible and did not create the world.

1 Peter 1:23 - For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.

We are born again through the living Christ. Not through seminaries and verse memory cards.

1 John 1:1 - That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched--this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.

The next two verses reveal just who the Word of life is, “The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

1 John 1:10 - If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

Who is the word who is not in those who claim they have not sinned? According to verse 7, “…if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

1 John 2:14 - I write to you, dear children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

Verse 6 confirms who the word is who abides in us, “whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

1 John 5:7 - For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. 

I shared this only because I was surprised at the amount of verses that confirm Jesus is the Word of God. This list is hardly exhaustive (about 20% of what I found) as I still wanted this to be readable. What can we gain from all of this? Read scripture more carefully, the bible is like a sign post pointing us toward life. Read it, see where it points you and be sure to share its message with others as well. But if we stop there we would be the most foolish of all men. Those who never received the Word that scripture pointed us to all along. 

Related posts
The Deification of the bible
On Biblical inspiration, interpretation and inerrency

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