The Scripture, the Spirit and the Word of God
I will begin this article with a bold statement. The Scripture never uses the term/phrase ‘Scripture’ and ‘Word of God’ interchangeably. Whenever the Scripture uses the term Scripture (graphe, in Greek), it is referring to the holy writings, not spoken word. When the Scripture uses the phrase Word of God, or The Word of the Lord, it is referring to spoken word or to Jesus, the Word proceeding from the Father, that became flesh and blood and even now abides in flesh and bone.
Why then do Christians today and previously use the word/phrase ‘Scripture’ and ‘Word of God’ interchangeably? And what are the conequences of this departure from Scriptural terminology? It is ironic that those that hold up the Bible and proclaim that this is the Word of God are not using the phrase in the way the very book they are holding up uses it.
Is there a difference between authoring a book and making a public declaration? Is there a difference between quoting someone else and speaking for oneself? If I quote someone else and give the proper credits, no one should suppose that I said those words myself, or even agree with them. When I quoted the words, I would usually communicate in some way whether I agreed with the quote or disagreed with the quote, but not necessarily. But we understand that I am the one who chooses what I quote and can spin it either, out of context, or in such way that I can make the point that I am trying to make.
When authoring a book, say a history, for example, I cannot escape from bringing my bias or point of view along with me. If I admit it, perhaps I am being more honest. When I pick and choose historical events, I am editorializing to some extent. No one can escape this, not even God, Himself.
Having said this, it would still be in error to say that a phrase that I am quoting was my phrase, unless I affirm that I was in agreement with that phrase and made that known. Let me give an example. When I was a young boy, JFK said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask rather, what you can do for your country.” If I wrote that in a book or a speech, it would be a lie to say that that sentence was the ‘word of Mark’. Yes, I authored the book, but JFK’s words would not be the “word of Mark”. The quote would be accurate. The quote would record a true historical event. But it would not be my words. And in the book I could either agree, disagree or not comment on the quote. Now, I could agreed with the words and make them my own, so to speak. I could then say them as my own, not as author, but as an affirmer. If I say “the earth is round”, I am making a statement of affirmation. I am not quoting anyone, although someone said it before I did, indeed, before I was born.
When the accuser came before God and God pointed out Job, or when Peter was told by Jesus to get behind Him, we are given the source of the words. Peter’s words were from Satan, not God. When God spoke to the accuser He used His words. When the accuser spoke back to God, the scripture records the word of Satan. This is one of the reasons that the Scripture very carefully makes a difference between the term/phrase “Scripture’ and “Word of God’.
Please do not jump to conclusions about what I am saying, though. We are attempting to look at what the Scripture says and what the Scripture means.
Because I see that the Scriptures do not use the terms interchangably, do not assume that the Scripture does not talk about what it, the Scripture, is and what ‘the Word of God’ is. The Scripture has a lot to say about what the Scripture is. It also has a lot to say about what the “Word of God” is. But the Scripture does not use them interchageably.
It is not my desire to speak about what I believe in this blog. I am sure I will not be able to hide what I believe. But my main focus is to investigate what the Scripture says, first of all, and, secondly, what it means. I am not so naive to think that what I believe will not influence what I think the Scripture says and what it means. It is on this level that I would like feedback.
How does the Scripture use the term “Scripture”. How does the Scripture use the phrase “Word of God”. What does Scripture say is the part the Spirit plays in using the Scripture to ‘communicate’ to us the ‘Word of God’. I put communicate in quotes to let you know that that word has many levels or depths of meaning. It could mean: to have us just hear it; or to have us understand it; or to have us believe and affirm it.
What follows could be considered exhaustive. I plan to explore the following topics. (We are told in Scripture ‘The words of the LORD are pure words; As silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times.’ (Ps. 12:6 NAS). I try to be very particular about the words that I use. I edit and re-edit my articles. It is my effort to convey what I mean by what I write. Whether I succeed, in part, depends upon our common understanding of the words we use. If we are to understand what the Scripture MEANS, we need to know how it defines and uses words. This is not an easy task but, I believe, worth the effort.)
I. What is the Scripture? (as defined by Scripture) Note, I will not keep saying, “as defined by Scripture”. It will be assumed henceforth. It is the presupposition by which I am trying to approach every question in this blog. When I slip, please, kindly bring it to my attention.
II. An analysis of every instance of the phrase ‘Word of God’ in the NT and so demonstrate that it makes no sense to interchange the term ‘Scripture’ with it.
III. Does the Scripture ever present to us what it calls the “Word of God’? If so, in what way does it present it.
IV. What does the Scripture say is the role the Spirit plays in revealing (making known) the Word of God to us?
V. How does the term ‘Gospel’ relate to the term ‘Scripture’ or the phrase “Word of God”.
VI. Do the Old and New Covenants use the term, ‘Scripture’, differently from each other? or the phrase, “Word of God”, differently from each other.