Who, or what, is God’s Word? Today, Barry Cooper explains why both Jesus and the Bible are called the “Word” of God.
Scripture speaks of “the Word of God,” meaning “the things God has said.” But Scripture also uses the phrase “the Word of God” as a name. Specifically, as a name for Jesus Christ.
Just listen to the way John’s gospel begins:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. . . .
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Who is “the Word” here? It’s Jesus Christ. Apparently, God’s Word is not just an “it.” It’s also a “He.”
Now why is Jesus described in this way?
Well, you and I reveal ourselves through our words. Although technically it might be possible for me to be the presenter of this program without actually using words—come to think of it, you might actually prefer it—what you can know about me apart from my words is limited. Especially given that you can’t see me. Words disclose our thoughts, our intentions, our character.
You and I are like this because the One who created us is like this. He, too, reveals Himself with words.
But most of all, He reveals Himself with “the Word,” Jesus Christ.
The writer of Hebrews puts it this way:
“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.“
Notice that stunning phrase: Jesus is “the exact imprint” of God’s nature. As another Bible writer puts it, “in him [Jesus] all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.” Jesus Himself says the same: “Whatever the Father does . . . the Son does likewise.”
That’s why Jesus is described as the Word. He is the Word because He is the definitive revealing of who God is and what God is like. When we look at Jesus—all that He said and did—most of the guessing games about God tail off into silence.
Just to be clear, God is not two-faced. He doesn’t say one thing in Scripture and then another thing in Jesus. The two are inseparably connected. God makes Himself known through Jesus, who is Himself revealed in the Bible.
In fact, Jesus Himself repeatedly points to Scripture: the Word points to the Word. At the same time, Scripture points to Jesus: again, the Word points to the Word.
Jesus Himself is explicit about this when He says, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me” (John 5:39). That’s why He lambastes the Bible scholars of His day: they spend their lives studying the Scriptures, but they won’t allow the Scriptures to lead them to the One person the Scriptures constantly speak of. They want the Word, but they do not want the Word, Jesus Christ.
It seems to me that in our time, religious or “spiritual” people frequently make the reverse mistake. We want the Word (Jesus), but we do not want the Word (Scripture). I remember once appearing on a Christian TV program where the host closed the show by saying, “Remember, being a Christian is not about knowing a book. It’s about knowing a person.”
That would be like me saying that being your friend is not about knowing what you’ve said, it’s about knowing you. But how would I know you if I chose to ignore what you said?
All that to say, we can’t know the Word—Jesus—without the Word—Scripture.