I’m providing this excellent overview on this particular subject by gotquestions.org because sometimes people can get confused on how both Jesus and the Bible can both be called the Word of God. There are many excellent links available on the Internet on this subject but this one is relatively easy to understand, well balanced and presented very well. I have taken the liberty of highlighting some text in bold for emphasis.
The phrase “word of God” appears often in the Bible and can have a slightly different meaning depending on context and the Hebrew or Greek word used. John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” Here, Word is a title of the Lord Jesus. The term translated “Word” is logos, which basically means “the expression of a thought.” Logos can be thought of as the total message of God to man (Acts 11:1; 1 Thessalonians 2:13). Jesus embodied that total message, and that is why He is called the “Logos,” or “Word,” of God (Colossians 1:19; 2:9).
Logos is also used many times when referring to the written message of God (John 17:17; 1 Timothy 4:5; Revelation 1:2; Colossians 1:25). Hebrews 4:12 says, “The word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Jesus showed a link between the written Word of God and Himself, in that He is the subject of the written Word: “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me” (John 5:39).
Another Greek word used for “word” is rhema. Rhema refers to the actual spoken/written words of God (Hebrews 6:5). When Jesus was being tempted by Satan, He answered, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word [rhema] that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). We are told in Ephesians 6:17 to “take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word [rhema] of God.” Jesus demonstrated we need the actual recorded words of God to overcome Satan’s attacks.
The phrase “word of God” means more than the printed words on a page. God is a communicator and has been speaking into the human realm since the beginning. He speaks through His creation (Psalm 19:1), through ancient prophets (Hosea 12:10; Hebrews 1:1), through the Holy Spirit (John 16:13; Acts 16:6), through Scripture (Hebrews 4:12), and through the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ (John 14:9).
What does John 1:1,14 mean when they declare that Jesus is the Word of God?
The answer to this question is found by first understanding the reason why John wrote his gospel. We find his purpose clearly stated in John 20:30-31. “Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” Once we understand that John’s purpose was to introduce the readers of his gospel to Jesus Christ, establishing Who Jesus is (God in the flesh) and what He did, all with the sole aim of leading them to embrace the saving work of Christ in faith, we will be better able to understand why John introduces Jesus as “The Word” in John 1:1.
By starting out his gospel stating, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” John is introducing Jesus with a word or a term that both his Jewish and Gentile readers would have been familiar with. The Greek word translated “Word” in this passage is Logos, and it was common in both Greek philosophy and Jewish thought of that day. For example, in the Old Testament the “word” of God is often personified as an instrument for the execution of God’s will (Psalm 33:6; 107:20; 119:89; 147:15-18). So, for his Jewish readers, by introducing Jesus as the “Word,” John is in a sense pointing them back to the Old Testament where the Logos or “Word” of God is associated with the personification of God’s revelation. And in Greek philosophy, the term Logos was used to describe the intermediate agency by which God created material things and communicated with them. In the Greek worldview, the Logos was thought of as a bridge between the transcendent God and the material universe. Therefore, for his Greek readers the use of the term Logos would have likely brought forth the idea of a mediating principle between God and the world.
So, essentially, what John is doing by introducing Jesus as the Logos is drawing upon a familiar word and concept that both Jews and Gentiles of his day would have been familiar with and using that as the starting point from which he introduces them to Jesus Christ. But John goes beyond the familiar concept of Logos that his Jewish and Gentile readers would have had and presents Jesus Christ not as a mere mediating principle like the Greeks perceived, but as a personal being, fully divine, yet fully human. Also, Christ was not simply a personification of God’s revelation as the Jews thought, but was indeed God’s perfect revelation of Himself in the flesh, so much so that John would record Jesus’ own words to Philip: “Jesus said unto him, ‘Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how do you say, “Show us the Father”?'” (John 14:9). By using the term Logos or “Word” in John 1:1, John is amplifying and applying a concept with which his audience was familiar and using that to introduce his readers to the true Logos of God in Jesus Christ, the Living Word of God, fully God and yet fully man, who came to reveal God to man and redeem all who believe in Him from their sin.
It’s important to note that we are not saved by believing in the inspiration or inerrancy of the Bible. We are saved by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior from sin (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8–9; Romans 10:9–10). At the same time, though, it is only through the Bible that we learn about Jesus Christ and His death and resurrection on our behalf (2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 5:8). We do not have to believe everything in the Bible in order to be saved—but we do have to believe in Jesus Christ, who is proclaimed by the Bible. We should definitely hold to the Bible as the inerrant Word of God, and we should absolutely believe everything the Bible teaches, but sometimes that comes after salvation, not before.
When people are first saved, they generally know very little about the Bible. Salvation is a process that begins with an understanding of our sinful state, not an understanding of the inerrancy of the Bible. Our consciences tell us that we are not able to stand before a holy God on our own merits. We know that we are not righteous enough to do that, so we turn to Him and accept the sacrifice of His Son on the cross in payment of our sin. We place our full trust in Him. From that point on, we have a completely new nature, pure and undefiled by sin. God’s Holy Spirit lives within our hearts, sealing us for eternity. We go forward from that point, loving and obeying God more and more each day. Part of this “going forward” is feeding daily on His Word to grow and strengthen our walk with Him.
If we believe and trust in the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, as taught in the Bible, we are saved. When we trust in Jesus Christ, though, the Holy Spirit will work on our hearts and minds—and will convince us that the Bible is true and is to be believed (2 Timothy 3:16-17). If there are doubts in our minds about the inerrancy of Scripture, the best way to handle that is to ask God to give us assurance about His Word and confidence in His Word. He is more than willing to answer those who seek Him honestly and with their whole hearts (Matthew 7:7-8).
The next important question is, Is the Bible truly the Word of God?
Our answer to this question will not only determine how we view the Bible and its importance to our lives, but also it will ultimately have an eternal impact on us. If the Bible is truly God’s Word, then we should cherish it, study it, obey it, and fully trust it. If the Bible is the Word of God, then to dismiss it is to dismiss God Himself.
The fact that God gave us the Bible is an evidence and illustration of His love for us. The term “revelation” simply means that God communicated to mankind what He is like and how we can have a right relationship with Him. These are things that we could not have known had God not divinely revealed them to us in the Bible. Although God’s revelation of Himself in the Bible was given progressively over approximately 1500 years, it has always contained everything man needs to know about God in order to have a right relationship with Him. If the Bible is truly the Word of God, then it is the final authority for all matters of faith, religious practice, and morals.
The question we must ask ourselves is how can we know that the Bible is the Word of God and not just a good book? What is unique about the Bible that sets it apart from all other religious books ever written? Is there any evidence that the Bible is truly God’s Word? These types of questions must be seriously examined if we are to determine the validity of the Bible’s claim to be the very Word of God, divinely inspired, and totally sufficient for all matters of faith and practice. There can be no doubt that the Bible does claim to be the very Word of God. This is clearly seen in Paul’s commendation to Timothy: “” from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:15-17).
There are both internal and external evidences that the Bible is truly God’s Word. The internal evidences are those things within the Bible that testify of its divine origin. One of the first internal evidences that the Bible is truly God’s Word is seen in its unity. Even though it is really sixty-six individual books, written on three continents, in three different languages, over a period of approximately 1500 years, by more than 40 authors who came from many walks of life, the Bible remains one unified book from beginning to end without contradiction. This unity is unique from all other books and is evidence of the divine origin of the words which God moved men to record.
Another of the internal evidences that indicates the Bible is truly God’s Word is the prophecies contained within its pages. The Bible contains hundreds of detailed prophecies relating to the future of individual nations including Israel, certain cities, and mankind. Other prophecies concern the coming of One who would be the Messiah, the Savior of all who would believe in Him. Unlike the prophecies found in other religious books or those by men such as Nostradamus, biblical prophecies are extremely detailed. There are over three hundred prophecies concerning Jesus Christ in the Old Testament. Not only was it foretold where He would be born and His lineage, but also how He would die and that He would rise again. There simply is no logical way to explain the fulfilled prophecies in the Bible other than by divine origin. There is no other religious book with the extent or type of predictive prophecy that the Bible contains.
A third internal evidence of the divine origin of the Bible is its unique authority and power. While this evidence is more subjective than the first two, it is no less a powerful testimony of the divine origin of the Bible. The Bible’s authority is unlike any other book ever written. This authority and power are best seen in the way countless lives have been transformed by the supernatural power of God’s Word. Drug addicts have been cured by it, homosexuals set free by it, derelicts and deadbeats transformed by it, hardened criminals reformed by it, sinners rebuked by it, and hate turned to love by it. The Bible does possess a dynamic and transforming power that is only possible because it is truly God’s Word.
There are also external evidences that indicate the Bible is truly the Word of God. One is the historicity of the Bible. Because the Bible details historical events, its truthfulness and accuracy are subject to verification like any other historical document. Through both archaeological evidences and other writings, the historical accounts of the Bible have been proven time and time again to be accurate and true. In fact, all the archaeological and manuscript evidence supporting the Bible makes it the best-documented book from the ancient world. The fact that the Bible accurately and truthfully records historically verifiable events is a great indication of its truthfulness when dealing with religious subjects and doctrines and helps substantiate its claim to be the very Word of God.
Another external evidence that the Bible is truly God’s Word is the integrity of its human authors. As mentioned earlier, God used men from many walks of life to record His words. In studying the lives of these men, we find them to be honest and sincere. The fact that they were willing to die often excruciating deaths for what they believed testifies that these ordinary yet honest men truly believed God had spoken to them. The men who wrote the New Testament and many hundreds of other believers (1 Corinthians 15:6) knew the truth of their message because they had seen and spent time with Jesus Christ after He had risen from the dead. Seeing the risen Christ had a tremendous impact on them. They went from hiding in fear to being willing to die for the message God had revealed to them. Their lives and deaths testify to the fact that the Bible truly is God’s Word.
A final external evidence that the Bible is truly God’s Word is the indestructibility of the Bible. Because of its importance and its claim to be the very Word of God, the Bible has suffered more vicious attacks and attempts to destroy it than any other book in history. From early Roman Emperors like Diocletian, through communist dictators and on to modern-day atheists and agnostics, the Bible has withstood and outlasted all of its attackers and is still today the most widely published book in the world.
Throughout time, skeptics have regarded the Bible as mythological, but archeology has confirmed it as historical. Opponents have attacked its teaching as primitive and outdated, but its moral and legal concepts and teachings have had a positive influence on societies and cultures throughout the world. It continues to be attacked by pseudo-science, psychology, and political movements, yet it remains just as true and relevant today as it was when it was first written. It is a book that has transformed countless lives and cultures throughout the last 2000 years. No matter how its opponents try to attack, destroy, or discredit it, the Bible remains; its veracity and impact on lives is unmistakable. The accuracy which has been preserved despite every attempt to corrupt, attack, or destroy it is clear testimony to the fact that the Bible is truly God’s Word and is supernaturally protected by Him. It should not surprise us that, no matter how the Bible is attacked, it always comes out unchanged and unscathed. After all, Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Mark 13:31). After looking at the evidence, one can say without a doubt that, yes, the Bible is truly God’s Word.
Very good lesson.:)
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I’ve read this and quite few other opinions on the subject Bruce. But being a fool, I will probably never see it your way. When I’m burning in hell you can yell at me from your heavenly perch and remind me how you tried to warn me.
Not sure what is going on with you today but you certainly don’t seem like your normal self. No one here said you would burn in hell Stephen. Curious what it is in the Bible where God expresses His will about something, that you disagree or have a problem with. If I don’t acknowledge the written word as the Word of God, then I don’t have to answer to it? I know what you reject but I don’t know why. Here’s my email address if you want to go offline: firstname.lastname@example.org
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No worries Bruce. No need for me to engage with people who think I’m a fool. Seems kinda ironic how you and your friends think that your preferred translation of Proverbs 18:2 applies to me, and yet, it’s you all who blog or “express” your opinions on a daily basis.
Take care Bruce
I have never said you were a fool Stephen. As you recall, this exchange all started on my “That Brick Wall” post where you indicated that I had a problem. Your words “You’re problem is that you trust to much in your belief’s of what the bible is and what you believe it says.”. I could have challenged you on that statement right there but I chose not to. This particular post on “the Word” being attributed to both Jesus and the written word (The Bible), was my response to that accusational statement of yours and I did this without implicating you directly. I did that for two reasons. No 1 – the response was obviously too big to be in a” comment” on the other post and No 2 – I did not wish to respond in the same manner that you did with me. When we disagree with someone, we explain why we disagree, we state our case and the best way to do that without causing offence, is to do that impersonally, which I did. Do I wish that one of my readers hadn’t made that assumption about you possibly being a fool, sure I do, accept my apology to you for that. However, considering the anguish I was expressing in the “That Brick Wall” post about some of my loved ones not accepting the Lord, you might want to entertain being a little more sensitive to the subject matter being discussed and if you do have an opinion, express it without being personally accusational in your comments or follow-up comments. You take care too Stephen.
No worries Bruce. I understand full well that you haven’t pondered that it may be you who is the stumbling block. But you’re justified and your holy huddle agrees. I’ve spent enough time with children from fundamentalist parents to know a thing or two about them.
I am not offended you think I’m a fool and don’t care much for your attempt at humility. In my life, I have been called many things and some were merited, but not to worry for Jesus Christ has always been by my side to carry me through. I didn’t need any bible verses or know it all christians to get me through, I had Jesus Christ.
I hope some day you fully grasp this profound Truth that you might experience the peace that surpasses all understanding.
I’m bowing out of this one Stephen.
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Bruce, this is great insight. GotQuestions is a great site and this one is excellent. Thanks for your faithfulness in speaking the truth.
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Likewise Michael! Blessings!
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[…] Bruce at Reasoned Cases for Christ shared this explanation. It is quite long, but very interesting and worth the read. […]
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Good stuff, Bruce. I have been using gotquestions.org for years. Great site. It is part of the Campus Crusade for Christ organization. Global Media Outreach, the online missionary organization that I’ve worked for since 2011, is also a part of the Campus Crusade for Christ.
Hi Bill, I agree, one of the nice things about gotquestions.org is that they have a free app that can load on your ipad or smartphone and provide you with searchable answers even if you are NOT connected to the Internet. carm.org is another good one although you need Internet connectivity with that one. Amazing tools at our disposal today! Grace and blessings!.
Thank you, Bruce. We are blessed when the Holy Spirit speaks directly to each heart (I am humbled that the Lord as the Living Word would speak to me through His written Word.) I am saddened for those who cannot hear or see, but continue to share the Word with all in my path. Blessings.
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