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  • wholesale jerseys In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1).
  • Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4).
  • So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17 NASB).
  • Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17).

These are all familiar passages of scripture that demonstrate the importance of “the Word.” Much has been said about the importance and integrity of the Word of God. But what exactly is the Word?

For most of us, when we see the “the Word” we are inclined to think of the Bible. It’s tempting to mentally replace the phrase “the Word” with “the Bible” in all of the verses quoted above. In fact, many of us do this automatically without even thinking about it. When we read about taking up “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” we might imagine carrying a Bible. When we read “faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ,” we might imagine reading the Bible. We naturally interpret “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word…” as meaning that we should live by the Bible. And reading “In the beginning was the Word,” we might imagine the unwritten scriptures already existing before anything else. For many Christians, the Bible is central to their entire thinking about “the Word.”

In the early church, however, few people had access to the scriptures, and even if they did, most people did not know how to read. If faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Bible, it would be impossible for most early Christians to have faith. If man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the Bible, then it would be impossible for all but a few early Christians to live our their faith. And what about John 1:1? Did the Bible really exist at the beginning of time? Or is there more to the word “Word” than just the Bible?

In scripture, “the Word” can take on different meanings depending on which Greek word it is translated from.

Lógos (Strong’s 3056) refers to an overarching plan, purpose, logic, thought, or reasoning. In John 1, “the Word” is translated from Logos. The “Word” here does not refer to the written scriptures, but to the eternal plan of God, existing from the beginning in His divine counsel and foreknowledge (John 1:1) and becoming manifested to us in the person of Jesus Christ: “the Word was made flesh” (John 1:14). John 1:1 is not saying that the Bible existed from the beginning of time. Rather, it means that even from the beginning of time God already had a divine plan and purpose in place for His Messiah and His Kingdom. This divine plan, thought, and idea of God came to fruition in the coming of His Son, Jesus Christ, who is the embodiment (“the Word became flesh”) of God’s plan. Lógos is found not only in John 1, but throughout the New Testament, usually translated “Word,” and referring to God’s eternal plan and purposes.

Graphé (Strong’s 1124), in contrast, refers to the written Word of God, the Bible, and is usually translated as “scriptures.” For example, 2 Timothy 3:16, “All scripture (graphe) is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” In this verse, “scripture” is clearly referring to the written Bible. But elsewhere in scripture, God’s “Word” takes on a larger meaning. Nowhere is this more apparent than where “Word” is translated from the Greek word rhema.

Rhḗma (Strong’s 4487) refers to the spoken word, literally an “utterance,” and is sometimes translated as “saying” or “sayings.” Translated as word, it certainly includes the scriptures, and the rhema of Christ would include all of Christ’s sayings and teachings as recorded in the gospels. However, rhema has a much broader meaning than graphe. While graphe refers only to the written word, rhema may refer to a specific revelation or instruction given through the Spirit.

The Discovery Study Bible notes that rhḗma refers to a word or message that comes from a “living voice” and “is commonly used in the New Testament and the Septuagint for the Lord speaking His dynamic, living word in a believer to inbirth faith. Romans 10:17: ‘So faith proceeds from (spiritual) hearing; moreover this hearing (is consummated) through a rhēma-word from Christ.’ See also Galatians 3:2,5 which refers to ‘the hearing of faith’ – i.e. a spiritual hearing that goes with the divine inbirthing of faith.”

Author Mike Arnold has a great analogy for how logos (the plan), graphe (the written word), and rhema (the spoken word) work together. Imagine an architect endeavoring to design and construct a building. He first imagines it in his mind and mentally plans out what it should look like. He then draws up written blueprints detailing each part of the building. Finally, he discusses the blueprints with those in charge of the actual construction to make sure everyone understands the blueprints and is on the same page regarding which materials and techniques will be used to achieve the desired architecture. This final step is critically important. If the architect simply handed the plans to the builders without any communication at all, the plans would be completely left up to their own interpretation. Give the same blueprint to 100 different construction firms without any other communication, and you could end up with 100 slightly different buildings.

Unfortunately, this often happens in the Christian church. God is building a Kingdom, and His plan for His Kingdom has existed from the beginning of time. He has revealed this plan to us in the written revelation of the Bible, which functions as the blueprint for His Kingdom. But too many Christians assume that the revelation of God stops there. If God cannot communicate with us except through the Bible, then we are left on our own when it comes to interpreting what the Bible means. The result is a thousand different denominations, all interpreting the same Bible in slightly different ways.

But it was never meant to be this way. At the Last Supper, Jesus promised his disciples that, “the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26). Jesus also promised that “when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come” (John 16:13).

Jesus knew that his time had come and he would soon face death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven. He knew that he would soon leave the earth to sit down at the right hand of God, and he would no longer be physically present to speak to his disciples in person. Yet the teaching that he needed to communicate to them was sadly incomplete. “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now,” he told his disciples in John 16:12. And John 21:25 tells us that the Bible records only a tiny fraction of Christ’s ministry: “there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.”

God is the Architect, and in the scriptures He has given us His Kingdom blueprint. But he has not left us on our own when it comes to interpreting that blueprint. God has graciously given us the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth and help us to correctly understand and apply the truths of scripture.

The Bible is the Word of God, but God’s revelation doesn’t stop there. We must also receive revelation by means of the Holy Spirit working in our lives. This is rhema revelation – God speaking to us through the Spirit – in contrast to graphe, the written word.

Consider when God spoke to Samuel in 1 Samuel 3, calling out to him, “Samuel! Samuel!” Verse 1 tells us that “the word of Yahweh was rare in those days.” This does not mean that there was a shortage of scrolls. It means that the spokenrevelation of God was rare.

In the Old Testament, it was rare when God would pour out His Spirit on someone that they may prophesy, or when God would reveal Himself in a dream or vision. But today, in the post-Pentecost age, God has graciously poured out His Spirit on all who believe. At the day of Pentecost, Peter quoted what had been prophesied by the prophet Joel, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams” (Acts 2:17, Joel 2:28).

Looking back at the verses quoted at the beginning of this post, a proper understanding of the Greek reveals a new and deeper level of meaning. Consider Matthew 4:4, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” The phrase “every word” is not limited to the Bible, but also includes the words of revelation that God speaks to us through the Spirit. The Greek word used here is not graphe, but rhema, meaning the spoken revelation of God.

In context, Satan was tempting Jesus in the wilderness to turn stones into bread. It is often assumed that Satan was tempting Jesus to sin. But nowhere in the Bible does it say it is wrong to turn stones into bread and eat them. If Jesus had done this, he would not have violated any commandment written in the Bible. Christ’s answer to Satan, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every rhema that proceedeth out of the mouth of God,” is essentially saying that the spiritual revelation of God – his daily instruction in our lives through the Holy Spirit – is more important than physical food, and God had not yet instructed Christ to eat. Although he was extremely hungry, Jesus remained completely obedient to God’s spiritual revelation. He walked in perfect fellowship with his Father and followed the Father’s instructions every step of the way. Nowhere is this more apparent than John 5:19, “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.”

Of all the pieces of the “armor of God” described in Ephesians 6, only one piece is an offensive weapon. It’s “the sword of the Spirit, which is the rhema of God” (Ephesians 6:17). Following the instructions that God speaks (rhema) to us through the Holy Spirit will always defeat the devil in any situation. This is what Jesus did when he was tempted in the wilderness. He remained perfectly obedient to God’s revelation and was therefore able to resist the devil. 1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” And Hebrews 2:18 promises us that Jesus Christ “is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted” through the Holy Spirit.

Romans 10:17 tells us that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (NASB). The Greek word for “word” in this verse is rhema – spoken revelation, the “utterance” of God. While the Bible is certainly revelation of God, the Greek in this verse does not limit “the word of God” only to the written scriptures. If that were the intent, the writer could have used graphe (the written word) instead.

Consider that few people in the ancient world could read or had access to the scriptures. And yet God revealed himself to many people in mighty ways, causing faith to come by revelation. And ironically, many of the highly educated Pharisees who read and studied the scriptures did not have genuine faith!

An important lesson we can learn from this is that there is a difference between knowing about God, and knowing God. The Pharisees had great intellectual knowledge about God and the scriptures. They knew all of the written laws and prided themselves in what they believed to be their superior understanding of and handling of the scriptures. And yet, bogged down by legalism and concerned only with the outward appearance of things, they lacked any real relationship with God. Jesus saw right through their false religion, saying to them: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess” (Matthew 23:25).

If there’s one thing we can learn from an understanding of rhema, it’s that God desires relationship. Because of what Jesus Christ accomplished for us on the cross, a relationship with God is now possible, and God has poured out His Holy Spirit so we may commune with Him and receive His daily revelation in our lives.

A relationship with God must begin with faith in Jesus Christ. If we want to know who God is, we must start by looking to Jesus Christ, because God is most fully revealed in His Son. Hebrews 1:3 tells us, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word (rhema). After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” Jesus says: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me” (John 14:6). A relationship with God is only possible through Jesus Christ!

Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine…. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:14,27). Have you heard the voice of the Good Shepherd in your life? Do you know him personally, or do you merely know about him? Do you have a relationship with him, and do you have a relationship with God through him?

If not, I encourage you to accept Jesus Christ into your heart and ask God to make his revelation a living reality in your life.

14 Responses to “The Word: More Than Just the Bible”

  1. on 27 May 2013 at 12:12 pmJas

    Matt
    I agree The Word is more than just the bible and is a promise to those who enter The Covenant by having it written in their minds and hearts. God has in the past given us commandments,patterns and signs to guide us and keep us which was given as HIS WORD which most claim were done away with but in actuality only the Aaronic Covenant which provided for atonement and the teaching of God’s Law. But Jesus mediated a better Covenant for atonement by offering a better sacrifice ending the former order of priesthood which was faulty and could not make someone perfect.
    If the spirit that guides you teaches the commandments, patterns and signs no longer identify God’s people then you might want to question its origin .

  2. on 27 May 2013 at 10:23 pmXavier

    “Jesus’ story, indeed the story of the Bible as a whole, is nothing but a royal, Davidic, Messianic story. It is spiritual politics from start to finish. The Devil has really only one trick, and that is to separate Jesus from his teachings.

    You can preach “Jesus” endlessly but is this really Jesus if he is divorced from his own teachings/Gospel?

    I think if we reread the New Testament with this in mind, we find so much of the writing there dedicated to saying, “you must hold on to the Word, and by Word is meant the Gospel of the Kingdom” (Matt. 13:19). “Word” in the Bible is not just a synonym for the Bible. It means the saving Gospel, the heart of the Bible. The “word” is to the Scripture as the “core” is to the apple or the bull’s eye to the target. Satan is a master of getting rid of the essential information.

    Muddle the language and you have everything confused.

    While the public knows only that “the Bible is the word of God,” Jesus said “the seed is the word of God” (Luke 8:11). The NT generally calls the Bible “the Scriptures.””
    http://focusonthekingdom.org/articles/royal.htm

  3. on 27 May 2013 at 10:49 pmJas

    Xavier
    Anything revealed by God is the Word ,whether it be through Moses,The Prophets ,The NT or even from those who truly had the HS . We know from Heb 4 that the Gospel was preached before Jesus as well by and after him.
    When it is said people accepted the Word of God it was the OT scriptures and the account and testimony of Jesus. Almost every Prophet Preached the Kingdom that God promised Abraham.

  4. on 28 May 2013 at 7:33 amXavier

    “In Luke we have an important preliminary declaration implied here also: The seed is the word of God, the word preached and written. The similitude in this parable is alluded to in 1 Pet. 1:23 and James 1:21.” Henry Alford, Commentary on the Greek NT.

    “In the prophets the “word” is invariably used of the message which God revealed to the prophet that he might declare it in His name…(cp. Luke 3:2). The word (rhema) came to John the Baptist…At a very early date, if not at the very beginning of the church, logos was used par excellence to designate the special revelation of grace given in and by Jesus Christ (Luke 1:2; Acts 4:4, etc.). Our Lord appears so to have described his message (Matt. 13:20; Mark 4:14)…Mark summarizes the teaching of Jesus as the word (Mark 2:2)

    By describing the Gospel in this way the speakers or writers meant to imply that it was the perfect and authoritative word which was to supersede all other words which God had spoken to men. In relation to its origin it is the word of God (Luke 8:11; Acts 4:31; I Cor. 14:36; Heb 4:12; I Pet 1:23). In respect of its method of communication it is the word of hearing (I Thess. 2:13; Heb 4:2). As to its nature [and content] it is the word of the Kingdom (Matt. 13:19), of Truth (II Tim 2:15), of life (Phil 2:16). It is pre-eminently the word of salvation (Acts 13:26); of reconciliation (II Cor 5:19), of the cross (I Cor. 1:18).” WORD (Hastings Dictionary of the Bible, 5 Vols.)

    “What characterizes the use of logos in the NT is not some new meaning for the word beyond what is found in the Septuagint but its reference to the divine revelation of God, specifically the divine revelation of God through Jesus Christ and his messengers.

    In many cases the “word of God” is simply the Christian message, the gospel. The apostles and preachers are said to “speak the word of God” (Acts 4:31), to “proclaim the word of God” (Acts 13:5), or to “teach the word of God”(Acts 18:11). Because it is the word of God, it is also efficacious (Heb. 4:12; 1 Thess. 2:13), to be received (1 Thess. 1:16; Acts 8:14; 11:1) and to be acted on (Jas. 1:21).

    Since this word of revelation is brought by Christ, the “word of the Lord,” “the word of Christ,” or the “words” of Jesus can be used in the same sense as the “word of God” (John 5:24; 12:48; 18:32; Acts 8:25; 12:24; 13:44, 48-49; Col. 3:16).” Anchor Bible, vol. 4, “Logos”.

    “”The gospel” is shorthand for the gospel of the Kingdom of God (cp. 1:14, 15). The negative side of the gospel is the coming judgment of God. Hence repentance is required. Hence the gospel is not always welcome, especially to those who have no desire for the human situation to change. The disciples may therefore expect serious opposition.” Mark 13:10, Word Bible Commentary.

  5. on 28 May 2013 at 9:11 amJas

    “By describing the Gospel in this way the speakers or writers meant to imply that it was the perfect and authoritative word which was to supersede all other words which God had spoken to men.”

    Xavier
    God never changes. God’s Word is every Word as Jesus explains to satan. Hebrews 4 makes it clear that the GOSPEL was preached even in Joshua’s day.

  6. on 28 May 2013 at 9:48 amXavier

    “How then can we escape if we take no notice of an offer of salvation so important that God announced it first through the lord himself? Those who heard him confirmed it to us.” (Heb. 2:3; cf. Matt. 4:17, 23; Luke 4:43).

  7. on 28 May 2013 at 9:57 amJas

    Xavier
    We escape it through repentance and atonement just as the elect of Israel did in OT. Maybe you dont understand that no matter how evil the nation of Israel and Judah became there was always an elect. In Elijah’s Day God says there was 7000. I am not sure what you are trying to escape?

  8. on 28 May 2013 at 10:35 amJas

    ” God announced it first through the lord himself”

    Xavier
    That is an impossible translation
    “which in the beginning was spoken through the Lord to those that heard, confirmed to us ”
    This verse is speaking of when God gave the Commandments which is the first place God’s promises mercy which this message was confirmed to them by the written Word and Jesus

  9. on 01 Jun 2013 at 9:49 pmTim (aka Antioch)

    Good article, Matt. While I agree the word is more than the bible, I think there is another common assumption: Word = Jesus. The article serves as a refutation of that as well.

  10. on 02 Jun 2013 at 1:18 pmJas

    Did the Bible really exist at the beginning of time?

    Matt
    Actually it did since the first Word is recorded in the bible. Just because it was not in written form doesnt mean it didnt exist.
    As far as the personification of the Word there were many that could be called The Word in the philosophy of 2nd temple judaism.
    All righteous Kings,Prophets and Priest were called the Word.
    Plato and Philo actually equated The Word as the Only Begotten of the Most High long before Jesus.

  11. on 03 Jun 2013 at 1:59 amTim (aka Antioch)

    Jas,

    Do you see John’s audience as primarily Greeks or Jews (for his gospel)? Meaning, when John referred to logos, would his audience taken it to be a Jewish understanding or a Greek understanding, or was there a difference then?

  12. on 03 Jun 2013 at 8:31 amJas

    Tim
    Actually I have doubts that John even wrote it but I see the audience as Greeks.While Philo was very popular amongst Jews in Alexandria who spoke greek I rather doubt the common Jew had even heard of him or Plato. According to Josephus almost all the Jews could not or would not speak greek .He also says he barely could put together the words in greek to surrender during the war.

  13. on 08 Sep 2013 at 11:05 pmAllen

    I have a question regarding the bible and this is the only place I found would make sense to post.

    I get this question from a lot of people and I don’t know how to answer it.
    They ask: who put the bible together? why are only those books included? How can we be sure its the word of God? How can we be sure its what God wanted us to know without the meddling of man in it and changing it through all this time?

    they ask for this guarantee…but I don’t know how to answer….

  14. on 09 Sep 2013 at 9:39 pmJas

    Allen
    As far as the OT I would say that for the most part it has been preserved and very well chosen with the exception maybe 2nd Isaiah Chapters 39-55 and the 2nd temple prophets.
    Matthew was originally written in Hebrew which the church fathers quote, Luke was delivered to Rome by Marcion and several of Paul letters which more than likely was in Aramaic ,Mark was a written request of a sermon Peter preached in Rome very early in his ministry and was probably in greek or latin and John was compiled from the Memories of the Apostles and more than likely was expanded by Justin Martyr or his school. Hebrews and Revelation were written in Hebrew but were translated very well.
    Pre 2nd temple writings were chosen and accepted very soon after each were written ,2nd temple writings were canonized about 4 century BC, Matthews gospel was accepted by the first christians in Jerusalem and copies reached as far as India mid to late 1st century, Lukes was known as the Gospel of the Lord and was acccepted early to mid 2nd century by Rome and Mark’s was accepted and being preached in Roman territories mid 1st.
    To be certain we need to approach every passage one at a time the way the Bereans did, Test Test and Test

  

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