The Real Word Of God

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The Real Word Of God

One of the most regrettable facets found in modern Christian Evangelicalism, especially within the realms of American Evangelicalism, is the habit of people referring to the written scripture the Word of God.  It seems that this habit was popularized over times of religious history but really got legs once the Protestant Reformers created the unbiblical and unauthorized couplet known as “sola scriptura,” which is Latin for, “scripture alone.”  What appears to have been somewhat forgotten over time is that the word of God is, frankly, literally, and primarily, the Words God has spoken and not always what has been written or at least all that has been written.  So, while the phrase is slightly nuanced and can be confusing because the terms are used interchangeably, it is worthy of some investigation.

Turning to the writings or the scripture we are almost immediately confronted by an amazing reality – God, creator of heaven and earth and all that in them is, speaks!   It only takes three verses before this fact is made known in Genesis as we read at verse 3 of the first chapter,

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” Genesis 1:3

This idea is fortified in Hebrews 11:3, which read

“Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”

The Gospel of John opens up the truest meaning of the term, the word of God, when it says, 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God.   All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.  John 1:1-3

Revelation also lends a clear assignment of this title to the Lord Yeshua when it says,

And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.  Revelation 19:13

From this understanding, we are able to see that God created all things by literally speaking them into existence and that His Word, holy, incomprehensible, of the Spirit, and full of power and might, became flesh in the human being, Yeshua of Nazareth.  It is in this light, and no other, that the writer of Hebrews, speaking of the Word of God, says that It/He is,

 “quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

While it is appropriate to at times assign the properties of “quick, powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword,” to some of the recorded inspired writings composed under the direction of the Spirit of God, the writings, in and of themselves, can only be said to “include words” that the Living God wanted people to read, hear and consider, but in no way was every word written or recorded (and then compiled into scripture) ever supposed to take preeminence in the lives of individual believers.  But this is exactly what has happened.  And today our world is filled with believers who ignorantly speak of the contents of the Bible as if they are all the very word of God Himself!   The end result is what I see as a form of idolatry or of people almost worshipping the written record we call the Bible instead of seeing it for what it is and what its not.

One of the most oft-quoted passages cited by believers to endorse or support this misguided devotion is found and misinterpreted from 2nd Timothy 3:16 where Paul wrote,

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”

For many, this passage seems to be saying that “every word written and contained in the Bible is given by inspiration of God, and therefore is, the very Word of God itself.”  But the fact of the matter is, our best Greek scholars suggest another interpretation of that passage holds as much water, saying,

So far as the grammatical usage goes, one can render here either “all scripture” or “every scripture.” There is no copula (estin) in the Greek and so one has to insert it either before the kai or after it. If before, as is more natural, then the meaning is: “All scripture (or every scripture) is inspired of God and profitable.” In this form there is a definite assertion of inspiration. That can be true also of the second way, making “inspired of God” descriptive of “every scripture,” and putting estin (is) after kai: “All scripture (or every scripture), inspired of God, is also profitable.”

In other words, using the latter interpretation of 2nd Timothy 3:16 we would read the words as,

“Any scripture (writings) containing the word of God is inspired,” an interpretation that removes Bible readers from, “every word in the Bible is inspired view” (sola scriptura) and into a view that seems to makes much more sense relative to the fact that the word of God is always, God’s words and never what is simply recorded.  How on earth could anyone ever believe that every scripture in the Bible is inspired by God (meaning, every scripture is literally God’s Word) when,

  1. The written words were originally in different ancient languages some of which have been lost.
  2. The written words are not all inspired, as even Paul admitted. (1st Corinthians 7:7; 12,25; 2nd Corinthians 8:8; 11:17)
  3. The written words we have today all have error (including the King James)
  4. The written words can only be interpreted and understood by the Spirit. (1st Corinthians 2:14)

Perhaps most importantly, however, and directly connected to the 4th point above, is how God Himself describes what His New Covenant (Testament) which He said would exist after Yeshua would have the victory over sin, death, Satan and hell.  It’s found in Jeremiah 31:31-34 and repeatedly cited by the writer of Hebrews in the Apostolic Record.  There we read,

Jeremiah 31:31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:  33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. 

Instead of reading the word of God as a reference to the written scripture, I suggest that believers today, taking all of the aforementioned factors into account, begin to read passage in the Apostolic Record that reference “the Word” as references to God’s literal word given spiritually and/or God’s Word made flesh (meaning, it’s a reference to His only begotten Son).  In all of the following verses, the phrase, word of God seems to refer to the message of Christ, and not what was written and certainly not the writings in the Apostolic record which would be available as a collection hundreds of years later. 

Test yourself on the following passages and see if you have the ability to read the phrase in this light.

Mark 7:13 Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.

Luke 3:2 Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.

Luke 5:1 And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret,

 Luke 8:11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God

 Luke 8:21 And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it.

Luke 11:28 But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.

 John 10:35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;

 Acts 4:31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.

 Acts 6:2 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God and serve tables.

Acts 6:7 And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.

Acts 8:14  Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John:

 Acts 11:1 And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.

 Acts 12:24 But the word of God grew and multiplied.

 Acts 13:5 And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister.

 Acts 13:7 Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God.

Acts 13:44 And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.

 Acts 13:46 Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.

 Acts 17:13 But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people.

 Acts 18:11 And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. 

Acts 19:20 So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.

Even the Romans 10:17 passage, which seems to be speaking of the written word might be better understood as Christ Himself, when it says,

“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

In Paul’s letter to 2nd Corinthians 2:17, we know that his reference to the word of God had zero application to what was written but instead to the Good News about Christ which was spoken, when he said

“For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.’ 

 Or 2nd Corinthians 4:2, which is easily interpreted as the literal handling of written words but frankly is speaking of the management of sharing the spoken word, whn it says,

But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. 

Ephesians 6:17says something interesting when Paul writes the following to believers at Ephesus, saying,

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

 The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God?  In the face of this passage, Yeshua’s words ring more clear for us when He said to His disciples in John 6:63,

“It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”

 The writer of Hebrews makes it clear that the word of God in the day of the nascent church/bride was spoken, as he writes,

Hebrews 13:7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation. 

A final point, consider carefully Peter’s words when he wrote,

1st Peter 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

With this principle in mind, we might ask ourselves, in all seriousness the following:

Have the written words in the translated forms of the Bible been in anyway corrupted?  Any reasonable student of scripture has to conclude that in our day it certainly has.  Then we might ask ourselves, “Has anything God has ever said or has His Son ever been corrupted?  And our answer will indicate the biblical reality underscored yet understated,

The Word of God is Spirit, it is eternal, incorruptible, and took on flesh in the person God called His Son.

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