Have you ever been asked “The Word: Jesus, the Bible, or Both?” I don’t know if you have, but I’ve encountered it in the last few months and it was startling to me — not because I’d never thought about it, but because I never thought someone would ever question the idea of Jesus and the Bible as the Word. Well, on social media, I encountered someone who said, “Jesus is the Word, not the Bible.” This puzzled me, but it serves a useful purpose as a question this article will endeavor to answer.
Jesus is called The Word, but the Bible is called The Word as well. The individual on social media who said that “Jesus is the Word, not the Bible” is someone who’s approached the idea of “The Word” differently than you or I have approached it. And, while I believe the answer is a no-brainer, I believe it’s important to study the question biblically because the Word of God (yes, the Bible is called the Word of God) is all about sound doctrine.
This article will cover the question, showing from the Scriptures that both Jesus and the Bible are “The Word of God.”
Our study will start with the New Testament. While we could always demonstrate that Jesus is the Word and then demonstrate the Bible is too, we’ll take a look at what the Bible says in the order it provides the information.
The first evidence of “The Word” that we find concerns the gospel, and Jesus’ words regarding the Parable of the Sower:
18 “Therefore hear the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. 20 But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. 22 Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. 23 But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” (Matthew 13:18-23)
Jesus mentions “Word” here 6 times, but He’s discussing “the word of the kingdom” (Matthew 13:18). This is the good news about the kingdom of God, and, since Jesus is mentioning this in a Parable, we know that the Word of the kingdom is teaching, doctrine, about the kingdom of God. Jesus always taught about the kingdom, so when He used phrases such as “For the kingdom of heaven is like,” followed by an earthly analogy, He was proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. We know this as “the gospel” today, the word “gospel” being euaggelion in the Greek, meaning “good message” (eu is good, aggelion is message) or “good news.” Here are a few examples:
24 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. 26 But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. 27 So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’” (Matthew 13:24-30)
31 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, 32 which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.” (Matthew 13:31-32)
33 Another parable He spoke to them: “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.” (Matthew 13:33)
44 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. (Matthew 13:44)
45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, 46 who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it. (Matthew 13:45-46)
47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, 48 which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, 50 and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 13:47-50)
These examples show “the word of the kingdom” involves content about the kingdom, and Jesus’ analogies were designed to inform the masses about a heavenly kingdom they’d never seen with their own eyes.
In Matthew 13:21, Jesus mentions “tribulation or persecution arises because of the Word.” What does this mean? Where does “the word” refer to tribulation or persecution? We see here that there’s specific content referred to in the Word, the Scriptures. Jesus Himself spoke of tribulation and persecution in the Gospels in Matthew 24-25 when He told them that they would be persecuted, some handed over to prison, and some killed. And then He said, “but the one who endures to the end, the same shall be saved.” There is also Paul’s statement in 2 Timothy 3:12 that “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” In other words, “the Word” being referred to, the Word that says tribulation and persecution will arise for those who are in Christ Jesus, those who are believers, so the Word here is in relation to the saved, those who are disciples of Jesus.
The Word refers to the 66 books of the Bible today; in the days of Jesus, it referred to the Old Testament: the Torah (first five books, also known as the Pentateuch — Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy), as well as Neviim (the Prophets; the word Neviim comes from the Hebrew word navi meaning “prophet”) and the Writings (the Ketuviim) such as the Wisdom Literature (Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Job, Psalms) and the historical books of Joshua, Judges, 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings, and 1-2 Chronicles). In fact, much of the New Testament quotes from the Old Testament, and if Paul upholds the Old Testament (he does), and Peter upholds the Old Testament (he does), then their writings are also deemed authoritative and Scripture. Of course, the New Testament adds the genres of biography (the Gospels are biographies of Jesus, the book of Acts is a biography of the Holy Spirit and the early church) and then apocalyptic literature such as John’s Revelation, where he records his vision from the Lord regarding the end of time, the eternal reign of Christ, God’s battle and victory over evil and Satan, and the marriage supper of the Lamb with His saints, etc.
Matthew shows us that “the Word” refers to the good news of the gospel about the Kingdom of God.
When we encounter Mark’s Gospel, we arrive at the same conclusion as Matthew regarding the Parable of the Sower. The “word” referred to in Mark 4:14-20 referred to that which saves, since the rocky soil believer “receives the Word with joy” but then falls away because of tribulations and persecutions that arise. In other words, “the Word” is that which believers adhere to and heed as instruction for their lives. The Word here is tied to salvation, and only faith in Jesus as evidenced in the Word of God saves (Romans 10:17).
While Jesus does mention “the Word” in a Parable, He also uses the Parables to link the Word of God to the Kingdom of God:
30 Then He said, “To what shall we liken the kingdom of God? Or with what parable shall we picture it? 31 It is like a mustard seed which, when it is sown on the ground, is smaller than all the seeds on earth; 32 but when it is sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out large branches, so that the birds of the air may nest under its shade.”
33 And with many such parables He spoke the word to them as they were able to hear it. 34 But without a parable He did not speak to them. And when they were alone, He explained all things to His disciples. (Mark 4:30-34)
“He spoke the word” means that He gave the word of God to them, that Jesus said what God had to say on the subject of the Kingdom of God. He tells the disciples, as can be seen in the Gospels, that the masses would not understand it because of Isaiah’s prophecy in the book that bears his name, and His quotation of Isaiah shows that the Old Testament Jewish Scriptures are in mind here. And yet, we know that Jesus’ own words in Parables regarding the Kingdom of Heaven are unique. Although Peter and Paul write in the New Testament regarding godly living, they aren’t given the kind of vision regarding Heaven that Jesus could speak about (because He was God and came down from Heaven), nor could their knowledge match what John was giving regarding the end times and Heaven’s role in the end. We’re seeing that the words of Jesus (what some place in red letters to distinguish them from the words of the disciples, Peter, or John) include His statements in the Parables (yes, the Parables themselves), in addition to His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 (three chapters) where He interprets the law adequately. Here’s an excerpt from those three chapters:
17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. 26 Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.
27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.
31 “Furthermore it has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.
33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one. (Matthew 5:17-37)
Notice that Jesus says “you have heard that it was said,” followed by “but I say to you”? This organization of Jesus’ teaching is deliberate, designed to show Jesus as “the New Moses” in Matthew’s Gospel. From the beginning to the end of Matthew, we see Jesus as the new Moses, the new Moses-like prophet that is here to interpret the law. There’s the Mosaic Law, the Law that Moses teaches the people, but Jesus is here as a prophet who also teaches the law and enhances its understanding in the minds of His hearers. Jesus does this because of the existence of the Pharisees, those who claimed to be religious and were “those who sit in Moses’ seat,” as Jesus referred to them in Matthew 23:2, who placed tradition above the law of God. The Lord Jesus told the crowds to do as the Pharisees said, but not as they did — because they didn’t fulfill the law of God in their deeds and actions.
In Matthew 5:17-20, we see that the Law and the Prophets Jesus fulfilled; He did not do away with the Law, nor did He abolish it, but He came to fulfill it. We are unable to fulfill the Law and keep every portion of it, but Jesus did. And because He did, He places great priority on believers teaching the Law and the Prophets and adhering to them as the words of God Himself (they are the words of God because every word in Scripture comes from the mouth of God). Peter attests to the Prophets’ prophecies as the words of God when he wrote the following:
16 For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” 18 And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.
19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:16-21)
Peter says that the prophetic word was confirmed when God the Father spoke from Heaven and confirmed that Jesus was His Son, the Promised Messiah of the Old Testament Scriptures. Prophecy came about because “holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit,” Peter says, reminding us that the Old Testament prophecies (not just the Messianic ones about Jesus, but all others, too), were from God, and God’s prophets spoke the words of God to the people of God. The prophets were honored in Israel as those who had direct contact with God, and, as His representatives, told the people what to do and handed down sentences and punishments when they didn’t obey God.
We’ve seen Jesus reference the Law and the Prophets of the Old Testament, but this next example shows us that Jesus also puts emphasis on His Words as being part of The Word of God, the Holy Bible:
34 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 37 Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:34-38)
Jesus says that no one should be ashamed “of Me and My words,” a reference to not only the things Jesus says (His teachings, Parables, Sermon on the Mount, etc.) but also Himself (“of Me”). We can see here that this discussion on whether Jesus/Bible/both are “the Word” will be inclusive because, as many believers can guess at this point, both Jesus and the Bible, inclusive of His teaching, preaching, and miracles, as well as the writings of prophets and apostles, constitute The Word of God. Mark 8 is a sneak peek into the final answer, though there are some miles to travel before the conclusion.
Mark 16 is the conclusion of Mark’s Gospel, and in it we see Jesus give final instructions to the disciples before His ascension into glory:
15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
19 So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen. (Mark 16:15-20)
In Mark 16:20, we’re told that the Word was confirmed “through the accompanying signs,” but we must ask, “What word?” The word referred to here is the gospel (Mark 16:15), and the Lord confirmed the gospel through believers with the signs Jesus mentions in verses 17-18: they cast out devils (demon exorcisms), they speak with new tongues, heal the sick through the laying on of hands, and will live even if they drink something lethal.
What is the gospel? It is the good news of Jesus Christ (the word gospel in the Greek is euangelion, meaning “good news,”), the message that Jesus came into the world to save sinners. As Paul himself says of the gospel,
13 Now I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that I often planned to come to you (but was hindered until now), that I might have some fruit among you also, just as among the other Gentiles. 14 I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise. 15 So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:13-17)
The gospel is called “the gospel of Christ,” meaning that it is a message about Christ. We know that Jesus is Savior, that Jesus came “to save His people from their sins,” as an angel told Joseph in a dream (Matthew 1:21). Jesus is God’s Son, and God sent His Son into the world to save the world through faith in Jesus (John 3:17).
The “Word” involves the gospel now, the message of salvation, and Mark 16 is confirmation of this.
In Luke 1, we see that Luke is writing to Theophilus, likely a Roman centurion, about the things he has been taught. Theophilus wants Luke to give careful investigation to the teachings of Jesus, and Luke writes as a Gentile to another Gentile to explain the events leading up to Jesus’ birth, after Jesus’ birth, and then through His crucifixion, death, resurrection, and ascension, as well as through the early church and the ministry of the apostle Paul.
The first few verses of Luke 1 mention “the word”:
Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed. (Luke 1:1-4)
“Ministers of the word” and eyewitnesses delivered “the things which have been fulfilled” to Luke and other believers, the writer says, so we take it that the “ministers of the word” refers to the apostles (the eleven disciples of Jesus plus Matthias, chosen to replace Judas). “The word,” then, becomes a reference to the gospel, to the message Jesus gave the disciples when He sent them into the world in The Great Commission (Mark 16:15ff; Matthew 28:18-20).
In Luke 5, the “word” is that which the multitudes long to hear:
So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, 2 and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets. (Luke 5:1-2)
The “word of God” here in context refers to the message from God, the message that Jesus had been sent to earth to deliver, and we know that it included the Parables and the Sermon on the Mount, among others.
Luke 8 brings us face to face with the Parable of the Soils or the Parable of the Sower once more (we’ve already seen the Parable in Matthew 13):
11 “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. 13 But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. 14 Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. 15 But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience. (Luke 8:11-15)
As Jesus says in Luke 8:11, “the seed is the word of God, and in verse 12, Satan snatches the word out of their hearts, “lest they should believe and be saved.” The word is key to belief and salvation, so for Satan to snatch the Word from their hearts is to prevent some hearers from receiving the Word, believing the Word, and confessing Jesus as Lord.
John starts his prologue by defining Jesus as The Word:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’”
16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. (John 1:1-3, 14-18)
John says “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” This one that was with God created the world and is eternal Himself. In John 1:14, we see that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” a reminder that the Word is Jesus Christ. Jesus alone took on flesh and was born of the virgin Mary. So, Jesus is referred to here as “The Word.” The Scriptures aren’t all there is to the Word of God; the Lord Jesus, the one whose words are Scripture (His parables, teachings, sermon, prophecies, etc.), is also The Word. John says it here and in Revelation (we’ll cover it in Revelation when we get there).
24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. (John 5:24)
“Hears My word” and “believes in Him who sent Me” are closely linked together, showing us that the Word of God involves the words of Jesus and requires faith in God (and faith in Jesus).
18 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 He who hates Me hates My Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father. 25 But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’ (John 15:18-25)
In John 15, Jesus reminds the disciples that they are not of this world and that the world will hate them and oppose them because they are not of the world. In verse 24, Jesus says that those who oppose them would have an excuse if He hadn’t done miracles among those who oppose God. And yet, because “they have seen” His works, His miracles, they have no cause or reason to hate Jesus or God the Father. “But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause’” (v.25) is a reference to “the word,” meaning the prophetic Word of God. The word of God as revealed in their law says that Jesus would be hated without a cause. The verse quoted is taken from Psalm 69:4, a Psalm of David:
Save me, O God!
For the waters have come up to my neck.
2 I sink in deep mire,
Where there is no standing;
I have come into deep waters,
Where the floods overflow me.
3 I am weary with my crying;
My throat is dry;
My eyes fail while I wait for my God.
4 Those who hate me without a cause
Are more than the hairs of my head;
They are mighty who would destroy me,
Being my enemies wrongfully;
Though I have stolen nothing,
I still must restore it.(Psalm 69:1-4)
David said that those who hate him without reason were of larger number than the hairs of his head (this means that he had a lot of enemies who hated him without reason). Jesus quotes this passage and says that there would be those who hated Him, Jesus, without cause. What we see with Psalm 69 is that in its immediate context, it is a Psalm of David; in its greater reach, however, it also prophesies the experience of Jesus, the Son of David, on this earth: He would be hated for no reason whatsoever.
In John 17, Jesus’ prayer to God the Father gives much insight on the relationship between Jesus and His Father, but it also shows us that the words God the Father gave Jesus are the words Jesus has given the disciples — and that “His Word” (the word of God the Father and Jesus, God’s Son) will become “their words,” the words of the disciples (apostles):
6 “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. 7 Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. 8 For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.
9 “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. 10 And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. 12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.
20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. (John 17:6-21)
Three times in John 17:6-21, we see the phrase “Your word,” a reference to the words of God the Father. In verse 8, Jesus refers to “the words which You have given me,” which is a reference to the words of God the Father. And then, Jesus mentions “those who will believe in Me through their word,” which indicates that the disciples would have a role in spreading the good news, the gospel, the message of salvation, to the world. “Their word” implies that they would bear a responsibility in making the Word of God their own in that they’d defend it with their lives, and proclaim it until their deaths. Simon Peter, given his surname (“Peter”) by Jesus, was crucified upside down for the gospel, and Judas was killed for the gospel, as well. The disciples were responsible for carrying the Word of God (the words of God, including those of Jesus, His parables, etc.) to the lost and dying world to make disciples and evangelize for the Kingdom of God.
One other thing to note here is that John calls Jesus “the Word” in John 1:1 and says that the Word became flesh in John 1:14. Here in Jesus’ prayer to the Father, we see Jesus state as much when He says,
24 “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. (John 17:24)
Jesus says that the Father “loved Me before the foundation of the world,” so we know that Jesus had to exist before the foundation of the world. Thus, Jesus hints here to His eternality and His eternal relationship with God the Father as God’s Son from eternity. In other words, though Jesus becomes flesh and dwells among us, He has existed forever. His life has no beginning and end, though His earthly years did. Why? Because He’s not only human, but divine. Yes, while The Word of God has existed in some modified form, from the Old Testament Jewish Scriptures of ancient times, and modified to include the words, teachings, and deeds of Jesus in New Testament times alongside of the writings of the apostles Paul, Peter, and John, The Word, Jesus Christ Himself, has always existed. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8), and His Word, The Word of God, shall stand forever (Isaiah 40:8; 1 Peter 1:24).
Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, 2 being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3 And they laid hands on them, and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. 4 However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand. (Acts 4:1-4)
Peter is the one speaking here in Acts 4, but notice that he is speaking “the word” (v.4), because it is the word in which those who hear Peter believe and are saved. Even though Peter is speaking, the Word Peter proclaims is the Word of God, not his own word of his own devising. The Word doesn’t belong to him in the sense that it is his own message; rather, it is “his word” because he is speaking it, but objectively, The Word belongs to God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit (who is proclaimed in Scripture to be the Author of Scripture, see 2 Peter 1:21).
Later in the chapter, when Peter and John are freed from prison and meet up with the remainder of the believers, they pray to the Lord and proclaim the gospel to be the Word of God:
23 And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. 24 So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, 25 who by the mouth of Your servant David have said:
‘Why did the nations rage,
And the people plot vain things?
26 The kings of the earth took their stand,
And the rulers were gathered together
Against the Lord and against His Christ.’
27 “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together 28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. 29 Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”
31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:23-31)
In Acts 4:29, the believers in the house prayed for the disciples to “speak Your word,” a reference to God, that the Word of God belongs to God, that the message of salvation is God’s. In verse 31, they spoke “the Word of God” with boldness, once again referencing that the message they proclaimed wasn’t their own, but God’s.
In Acts 6, the Word of God becomes the center of attention, as it is the Word of God that causes the apostles to call for the selection of deacons to meet the needs of the Jewish and Gentile widows in the daily administration so that the disciples could devote themselves to their God-ordained calling:
Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. 2 Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. 3 Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; 4 but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, 6 whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them.
7 Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith. (Acts 6:1-7)
In verses 2 and 7, we see reference to “the word of God,” which reminds us that Jesus called the Scriptures “the word” in His parables and teachings. The apostles said of themselves that they were active in “the ministry of the word,” again reminding us that it is not “a word” but “the word”. It is the definitive word of God from God Himself.
Acts 8 is one of those chapters where we see the Word of God proclaimed from city to city, with signs and wonders following (as Jesus says in Mark 16:15-16):
Now Saul was consenting to his death.
At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.
3 As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.
4 Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. 5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. 6 And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. 7 For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. 8 And there was great joy in that city. (Acts 8:1-8)
In Acts 8, we read that Saul of Tarsus, who later becomes Paul, was one who scattered and persecuted the Jewish believers in Judea and Samaria (the Samaritans were half-Jew and half-Gentile). Here in Acts 8, Saul succeeds in scattering the believers, but he doesn’t silence them from preaching the Word of God: “therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.” Despite their circumstances, despite their persecution and struggle against the “powers that be,” the saints of God didn’t stop proclaiming the message of Jesus. This should be an encouragement to us, that no matter our circumstances, no matter our trials and tribulations, we can still “preach the Word” by proclaiming it in our discussions with unbelievers (neighbors, acquaintances, etc.), or by preaching the gospel even in dire circumstances (as the apostles did when they were released from prison). The Word of God is called “the word” here, but we know the message being proclaimed here. These are believers.
And we see this when we get to Acts 8:5, when Philip goes to Samaria and “preached Christ” to the Samaritans. What does it mean that he “preached Christ”? It means that he preached the Word of God, that he preached the message about Jesus: His life, death, and resurrection, that He came to save sinners, that His coming was the plan of God the Father and that, by being obedient to the Father, Jesus brought about salvation for the world.
In Acts 10, we see Peter preaching Christ to Cornelius and his family:
34 Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. 35 But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. 36 The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all— 37 that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. 39 And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. 40 Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, 41 not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. 42 And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. 43 To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”
44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. 45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. (Acts 10:34-36)
In Acts 10:44 above, we read that “the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word,” with “the word” referring to the message that Peter preaches. What is the content of that message? Jesus of Nazareth, his anointing, his ministry of miracles (healing the sick, raising the dead, giving sight to the blind, helping the lame to leap and the mute to speak, casting out demons, etc., Acts 10:38), His death by hanging (v.39), His resurrection three days after His death and the testimony thereof by witnesses (v.40). The message of Jesus, who He was, what He did, and His death and resurrection is the content of the message: as Peter says in his sermon, “And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead” (v.42). This message is called “the word of God” in Acts 11:1.
This is the gospel. This is the Word of God. And this message is all about Christ, His power to defeat death, Hell, and the grave (the grave could not hold Him), and the salvation He gives to all who believe in Him.
12 For we do not commend ourselves again to you, but give you opportunity to boast on our behalf, that you may have an answer for those who boast in appearance and not in heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; or if we are of sound mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.
16 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:12-21)
The “ministry of reconciliation” Paul says that he and others have been given is “that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them,” which is the content of the gospel message. In verse 20, he pleads with the Corinthians to be reconciled to God, to come to God and be restored in man’s original, upright relationship with God.
13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, (Ephesians 1:13)
Paul tells the Ephesians that they were saved by hearing “the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.” The good news of the gospel is also called “the word of truth,” which reflects Jesus’ words to God the Father in His prayer in John 17 that “Your word is truth” (John 17:17). The word of God is what the Ephesians believers (and all believers, past and present) need for salvation; they can’t be saved without it. And, as we’ve seen in previous passages, this Word of God contains the person of Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection and His plan to save sinners. Yes, the Word of God is about The Word (Jesus), who is the Creator of the world and has existed forever alongside of God the Father.
The word of God is not only the gospel message, the teachings and life of Jesus, and the Old Testament Scriptures, but it is also a weapon the believer must yield in fighting the good fight of faith in the Christian life:
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— 19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. (Ephesians 6:10-20)
The word of God is called “the Sword of the Spirit” here in Ephesians 6:17, which we know means that the Bible, the Word of God, the message about God, His work, His Son, His plan in salvation, and His end preparations for those who love Him, is authored by the Holy Spirit. I’ve continued to use the verse of 2 Peter 1:21 to talk about how prophecy came about by men who were “moved by the Holy Spirit,” but here we see Paul give the Spirit authorial attribution for the Scriptures.
The Word of God, the Holy Scriptures, have been given to believers by which to fight against Satan, his demons, and his spiritual warfare tactics.
3 We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; 5 because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, (Colossians 1:3-5)
The Colossians had heard about eternal life in heaven in “the word of the truth of the gospel.” The gospel is called the Word of Truth, as we’ve seen Jesus say to God the Father in His prayer in John 17:17, but now we see that “the word of truth” is applied to the gospel — the good news of Jesus Christ, the message of reconciliation, all those terms we’ve seen in the New Testament up to Colossians.
24 I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, 26 the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. 27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. 29 To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily. (Colossians 1:24-29)
What is “the word of God,” “the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations”? It is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Salvation comes through none other but Jesus Christ. In verse 28, Paul says “Him we preach.” These three words say it all. We preach the gospel, we preach the Word of Truth, the Word of God, but the Word of God is about The Word of God — Jesus Himself. The individual above in our social media example who said that “Jesus is the Word, not the Bible” didn’t read these verses very well. The Word of God is about Jesus; if the Bible isn’t the Word of God, then why is it about Jesus? Why is it authored by the Holy Spirit, with the gospel message being about Christ and how He came to save us all by dying for our sins and rising for our justification?
2 Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; 3 meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, 4 that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak. (Colossians 4:2-4)
“The word” is connected to “the mystery of Christ,” so that sums up what the word is about: Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior, the one who was born of the virgin Mary, went about healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out demons, and doing all sorts of miracles, but who was then falsely accused, convicted, sentenced to death by execution, died on Friday afternoon, rose on Sunday morning, poured the Holy Spirit on the eleven disciples, then ascended back into glory. Christ was a mystery in ages past:
10 Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, 11 searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. 12 To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into. (1 Peter 1:10-12)
The prophets of the Old Testament knew that Christ would come, that the Messiah would suffer, die for sin, and rise for our justification and salvation, but they didn’t know how it would come about (except that, as Isaiah 7:14 says, Immanuel, God with us, would be born of a virgin), but Peter says that now it has been revealed to the world in Christ — and believers in the New Testament era can be saved by the message of the One who came to earth and told us about Himself, His Father, and His Kingdom.
13 For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe. 14 For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans, 15 who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men, 16 forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the measure of their sins; but wrath has come upon them to the uttermost. (1 Thessalonians 2:13-16)
Paul distinguishes between “the word of men” and “the word of God,” and he tells the Thessalonians that they gave the proper response to the Word of God: they believed it, they accepted it, they started to live out the commandments of the Holy Scriptures and the gospel message. In verse 14, they “became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus” and “suffered the same things” from their own countrymen, the Jews, who “killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets and have persecuted us” (v.15). In other words, when they received the Word of God as authoritative in their lives, they started living it out. Their failure to treat the Word as the word of men shows that the words of men will never match or equal the Word of God.
Remember the claim above, the false teaching that says “Jesus is the Word, not the Bible”? 1 Thessalonians 2:13 shows that the Word of God is not “the word of men,” and it shouldn’t be treated as such. To treat the Bible that has recorded God’s law and God’s expectations as “the word of men” is to elevate it no higher than the tabloids or Reader’s Digest. God’s Word is not just a magazine or a random book that you can pick up and seek out for entertainment and cheap thrills. God’s Word is authoritative, it is the very words of God Himself, and it should be treated in the same way that one treats God: it should be adhered to, listened to, accepted, revered, and read daily. It is the law of God, and to fail to read it is to fail to live it. One cannot attempt to create a break between God’s Word and God Himself in the person of Jesus, and then wonder why people would rather chase the person of Jesus than read His Word. This is such a divorced, disjointed way to live the Christian life. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that those who are so busy pursuing Jesus that they don’t have time to stand under and be taught by His Word are not disciples at all.
Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, 3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; 5 for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. (1 Timothy 4:1-5)
Here we see apostasy at work, a decline in the Christian faith, that some former believers will leave the faith and “give heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.” This alerts us that it is often false doctrine that leads believers away from Christianity and down the apostate rabbit hole. In the case of 1 Timothy 4, we see that the demon doctrine consists of forbidding people to marry, and telling people to abstain from foods that are blessed by God and worthy of reception. It’s likely the case that the foods to abstain from were meat (though this is speculation), and the forbidden nature of marriage in this demon doctrine is another example of teaching gone wrong. Paul says in 1 Timothy 4:5 that “the word of God” and prayer bless what good gifts God has given. Marriage and foods are gifts from God and worthy of reception with a heart of thanksgiving. And these good gifts were being declared forbidden by this false doctrine that had moved some to abandon the Christian faith. Paul says that “the Spirit expressly says” that some will depart from the Christian faith in the end (1 Timothy 4:1), so those who say that believers have eternal security and can never fall away from the faith need to re-examine their theology in light of 1 Timothy 4:1.
12 Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 13 Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. (1 Timothy 4:12-13)
Here in the same chapter as the discussion on false doctrine, Paul gives Timothy advice about how to live godly in the midst of the chaos going on in the church at Ephesus. He tells him to “give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine,” with the words “Till I come” before it. What will Timothy read, and how can he give attention to “exhortation” and “doctrine”? There must be some written text in order for Timothy to read something. Thus, we know that “the word of God” mentioned in 1 Timothy 4:5 is the same Word of God Paul is talking about here. Paul told Timothy to stay behind in Ephesus to put down false teaching and to stop false teachers from spewing the toxic, lethal doctrine (see 1 Timothy 1:3-4), but here, he’s telling Timothy to continue in the reading and exhortation of the Word of God until he, Paul, returns to Ephesus. In other words, in the face of false doctrine, the men and women in church leadership should combat it with biblical doctrine, that which is true to God’s Word.
What we see here is that the Word of God is not just the spoken words of Jesus, or the message about Christ in salvation, but the written Scriptures that stretch from the Torah, prophets, and Wisdom Literature, forward to the writings of Paul, Peter, and John, alongside of the four Gospels. Thus, Jesus is not the only “Word of God” the Bible mentions; the Bible itself is the Word of God, and seeing that it is the transcription of what God has spoken, we’d expect it to accurately reflect God (and it does).
16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
In 2 Timothy 3:16, we read that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God.” This deserves some unpacking.
The word “Scripture” here is the Greek word graphe, meaning “writing,” so the phrase reads in the Greek that “all writing” is God-breathed. The word for “inspiration of God” in the Greek is theopneustos, a compound Greek adjective meaning “breathed” (pneustos, from pneuma meaning “spirit” or “breath”) and “God” (theo from theos). Thus, the word for “inspiration of God” is “God-breathed,” an adjective that shows us that Scripture is the breathed-out words of God, that God “breathed” out Scripture because it is the word of God consisting of many words of God. That is, Scripture is written but it was first spoken by God, then written down by men moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21).
The phrase “all writing” here begs the question: How does “writing” become “Scripture” here? Well, it’s due to context: in 2 Timothy 3, Paul refers to the Holy Scriptures when discussing Timothy’s background as (Greek) hiera grammata, a phrase referring to “holy writings.” These aren’t just any writings, but holy writings, those writings considered sacred by the believing community. This is what he means by Scripture: all holy writings have been breathed out by God. God’s very words are recorded in a text that some call Holy Writ, but others call the Scriptures and the Holy Bible. It is called “Holy” because it contains these “holy writings” of which Paul speaks in 2 Timothy 3:16.
When someone says, as the individual on social media, that Jesus is the Word of God but the Bible isn’t, he or she is saying that there’s a difference in how we should respond to Jesus versus the Bible. The Bible is God’s very own spoken word, the words of God that God “breathed out” when He spoke them and men wrote them. If we can’t trust the Word of God, why trust Jesus, God the Father, or God the Holy Spirit?
6 Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, 7 again He designates a certain day, saying in David, “Today,” after such a long time, as it has been said:
“Today, if you will hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts.”
8 For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. 9 There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. 10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.
11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:6-13)
The Word of God is discussed as “the gospel preached” to Israel in the wilderness, but what is our “word of God” today? The Word of God today is also preached, but we have a written text. When Paul writes to the Hebrew Christians that the Word of God “is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12), he’s saying that the Bible, like God, exposes everything about mankind: “all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” In the same way that we’re naked before God the Father and naked before Jesus, we’re naked before the Scriptures in the same way. The Holy Scriptures take on the same characteristics as that of God the Father, Jesus the Son, and God the Holy Spirit in the text because the Scriptures teach us that the Lord knows everything about man and that there is no human that the Bible doesn’t expose, whose sins the Scriptures do not uncover.
In the context of the passage here in Hebrews 4:12, we’re charged to ask ourselves, “what is the Word mentioned here?” The answer is that “the Word” mentioned here refers to verse 7, the words of David that are now known as words from Psalm 95. Thus, the Word of God here in Hebrews at least refers to the Davidic Psalm of Psalm 95 (though there’s more to the Word than just one chapter of Psalms). Paul validates Psalm 95 and reminds us that the Word of God included the Psalms, as Jesus Himself does in Luke 24:44.
22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, 23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, 24 because
“All flesh is as grass,
And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass.
The grass withers,
And its flower falls away,
25 But the word of the Lord endures forever.” (1 Peter 1:22-23)
In 1 Peter 1:23, Peter says “the word of God which lives and abides forever,” showing the eternality of the Word of God. The believers to which Peter writes have been born of “incorruptible” seed, a word that is used in Scripture to describe God Himself (Romans 1:23). This is confirmation that the Bible and God are given the same terms which means that they are inextricably linked. One cannot elevate God above His Word (the Bible), then claim the Bible has divine authority. In 1 Peter 1:25, Peter quotes from Isaiah 40:6-8, and the phrase “endures forever” is used in Scripture to describe the mercy of God (1 Chronicles 16:34, 41; 2 Chronicles 5:13; 7:3, 6; 20:21; Ezra 3:11; Psalm 106:1; 107:1) as well as God’s righteous character and judgments (Psalm 112:3, 9; 119:160; 2 Corinthians 9:9), and His name (Psalm 135:13). Thus, God’s character remains and His Word in the Holy Scriptures, that tell us what God has said (which reflects His character and nature), endures forever. God has always existed and thus, His words have always existed, even though they were etched in tablets of stone at Mount Sinai and were later dictated onto papyrus scrolls and retained for posterity. How has God’s Word existed before dictation? The laws God gave are born out of the character of God. God’s law existed in the Garden of Eden when Adam disobeyed the divine commandment to not eat the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3), and Paul says that death reigns from Adam to Moses, even though there was no physical law in effect written on stone (Romans 5:12-14). God’s law transcends the existence of written documents, and the same can be said for Scripture despite its transcription on physical documents for the convenience of mankind to know, remember, and meditate on what God has said and who He is.
14 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; 15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. (2 Peter 3:14-16)
Peter mentions here that Paul “has written” to the congregation to which Peter writes about the coming of the Lord. “As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things,” tells us that Paul has written letters that have been read and accepted as spiritually authoritative by the congregation. The Pauline epistles from Scripture are the books of Romans, 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, Hebrews, and the Pastoral Epistles of 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus. Peter says that these letters of Paul, these 13 books of Scripture, were being twisted by false teachers “as they do also the rest of the Scriptures” (2 Peter 3:16). The Greek phrase here for “rest of the Scriptures” is τὰς λοιπὰς γραφὰς, a phrase meaning “the remainder of the writings.”
The word for “writings,” Greek graphas, shows that there are texts of writings about God and Christian living that have been accepted by the Christian community at this point, and that Paul’s epistles are among the list of accepted writings with regard to Jesus Christ and the gospel.
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— 2 the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things we write to you that your joy may be full. (1 John 1:1-4)
Jesus is called in 1 John 1:1 “the Word of life,” a description used of the Bible as well (Philippians 2:16). Here once again, we see the Lord Jesus and the Holy Scriptures given the same description to show that the Bible is also elevated alongside of Jesus as a source of divine authority for godly living.
Jesus is once again called The Word in 1 John 5:7 —
7 For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. (1 John 5:7)
John writes of the Trinity here, and since we have “the Father” and “the Holy Spirit” in clear language, we know that “the Word” refers to Jesus Christ, God’s Son.
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, 2 who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw. 3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near. (Revelation 1:1-3)
John “bore witness to the word of God,” the Word of God being Holy Scripture, the book of Revelation, a book where John saw a vision of the future and of the end of time. Revelation in the Greek refers to an “unveiling,” and here we see God unveils to John what the end will be. The Lord peers back the curtain of time to show John what will take place and to give comfort to the seven churches of Asia Minor — that their persecution and suffering won’t last forever; God will overcome evil, Satan, and his demons, and His people will reign with Him forever.
11 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. 15 Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:
KING OF KINGS AND
LORD OF LORDS.
In Revelation 19, we see Jesus emerge. The rider on the white horse is called “Faithful” and “True,” and we know that Jesus said of Himself in John 14:6 that He is The Truth. He has many crowns on here, a reminder that He is King. His robe is dipped in blood, a sign that blood has been shed. This rider of the white horse is called “the Word of God,” and it is here that we see Jesus emerge as the person on the white horse. John calls Jesus “The Word of God” in John 1:1, so it’s not a surprise that John would label Jesus the same here in Revelation 19. His robe and His thigh have the name “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (Revelation 19:16), and this can only refer to Jesus Christ. He was indeed the King of the Jews, but He is also the King of Kings because His Kingdom is not of this world. His Kingdom is eternal. He is the Lord of Lords because He is the One above them all, the One who was not only born in a manger but is also the Creator and Sustainer of all that is on earth.
We’ve reached the end of our study, and it will behoove us to do some quick recap of what we’ve contemplated here.
We’ve been studying the false teaching that says Jesus is the Word, not the Bible. As we’ve seen, Jesus is called “The Word of God,” and the Bible is called the same as well. And in the same way that Jesus is called eternal, and His righteousness, mercy, and truth reigns forever, the Bible, the Holy Scriptures, will endure forever (the words of God, whether they remain on scrolls or not, will endure forever). As long as God stands (and He will never cease to exist), so will His Word.
To conclude our discussion, let’s consider one more passage of instruction, this time from the Person called The Word, our Lord Jesus Christ Himself:
46 “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say? 47 Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: 48 He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. 49 But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.” (Luke 6:46-49)
As a final thought regarding Jesus and the Bible, we can see that the Bible contains the very words God has spoken through history and through His Son, Jesus Christ, and Jesus says that one cannot call Him “Lord” but “not do the things which I say” (Luke 6:46). Thus, keeping the words of Holy Scripture is a sign that one truly honors the Lord, that one is a disciple of Jesus Christ. To teach that “Jesus is the Word, not the Bible” is to separate Jesus and the Bible to such an extent where the church makes Christians who love Jesus but do not love the Bible, to create believers who believe in Jesus but not the Bible, to create believers who pursue Jesus but not the Bible. And yet, if one does not follow Jesus’ words found in the Bible, then one does not follow Jesus. You cannot follow Jesus without knowing His expectations and demands from His Word, the Holy Book of holy writings that contains His standard.
The best way to demonstrate one’s belief in Jesus is to obey His Word contained in Holy Writ. To do otherwise is to believe otherwise.