The first person to refer to the writings of the OT and the NT collectively as "the Bible" seems to have been Chrysostom, who lived in the fourth century. There is no passage in the Bible that refers to the Bible as " the word of God ." While the Bible contains passages that refer to "the word of the LORD" and even a few that make reference to "God-breathed" writings (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21), no one can be certain which “word” and/or writings are being referred to here. One cannot properly apply these passages to the Bible as a whole, since that book did not exist when these passages were first spoken and written. Other Scripture passages indicate that “the word of God” is not identical to written documents: "Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens" (Ps. 119:89). "The word of the Lord lasts forever" (1 Pet. 1:25). In light of these and similar passages, the word of God cannot be strictly and unconditionally identified with the Christian Bible per se, since the Bible will not last forever. The biblical phrase “word of God” has at least four meanings: (1) the creative and active word of God (see Gen. 1:1; Ps. 19:1-4; 33:6; 1 Pet. 1:23); (2) the proclaimed word of God (see Am. 1:2; 3:1; 1 Pet. 1:24); (3) the incarnate Word of God (see John 1:1ff., 1:14); and (4) the written word of God (see 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21). The Bible, then, is a witness to the word of God—given in these various ways. Human access to the word of God is normally through the Bible. It points beyond itself to the living word (the Logos ) by which God created the universe, the word proclaimed through the prophets, the Word of God that became incarnate in Jesus the Christ, the Word that is "the same yesterday, today, and even forever" (Heb. 13:8). For Christians the abiding Word that remains sure and certain is Christ. While that living Word is mediated through the Holy Scriptures, which testify to the Word, the original Scriptural texts are not identical to the Word. Bibles wear out; they do not last; they are not eternal. The Word that became incarnate in Jesus is also tied to the prophetic "word of the LORD" that was spoken in and to ancient Israel in its history. This "word of the LORD" is quite varied in
9 content, but it can be summarized in terms of both judgment and grace, of law and promise, of wrath and mercy. On the one hand, the word of the LORD was a prophetic message of judgment against sin and injustice. This message was grounded in the moral vision of the Mosaic Law, summarized most definitively in "the ten words," the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20). On the other hand, the word of the LORD was also a message of blessing, a wonderful promise about the future, an encouraging and forgiving word of hope. This message was grounded in the divine promises to Abram (Gen. 12:3) and David (2 Sam. 7:16), a message about God's mercy and love and of God's future acts of salvation.
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- Summer '14
- Christianity, bible, Christian terms