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Bridgeway Bible Dictionary

Word

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To the Israelites of Old Testament times, God’s word was not simply something written down or spoken out, but something active. It had within it the power of God, so that when God expressed his will, that will was carried out. When God said, ‘Let there be light’, there was light (Genesis 1:3). Through the active word of God, the universe was created (Genesis 1:3; Genesis 1:6; Genesis 1:9; Genesis 1:14; Genesis 1:20; Genesis 1:24; Genesis 1:26; Hebrews 11:3; 2 Peter 3:5). God’s word could not fail. Whatever it said would happen had to happen (Isaiah 55:10-11). God’s word had such life and power that people often thought of it almost as if it was a person – the living agent or messenger of God (Psalms 33:6; Psalms 107:20; Psalms 147:15; Psalms 147:18).

Jesus the Word

In the New Testament Jesus is called the Word (Greek: logos) (1 John 1:1-3). Greek philosophers of the first century used logos in reference to what they believed to be the principle of reason in the universe, but this is not necessarily the way the Bible uses the word. The word logos as used in the New Testament may contain some reference to the Greek ideas, but it is better understood in relation to the Old Testament meaning of ‘word’.

The Word of God is the living and active agent of God. It existed before creation and was the means by which God created. The New Testament shows that this Word is more than merely likened to a person, it is a person; no longer ‘it’, but ‘he’. He is not only with God, he is God. This Word is Jesus Christ, who came into the world as a human being. He is the living Word, the living expression of God. His words and deeds are the words and deeds of God (John 1:1-4; John 1:14; cf. Genesis 1:1; Genesis 1:3; Colossians 1:15-17; Hebrews 1:1-3; Revelation 19:13; Revelation 19:16). (For details see JESUS CHRIST; SON OF GOD.)

The written and spoken Word

Because God has spoken to the world through Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ is the Word. Similarly, because he has spoken through the Scriptures, the Scriptures are the Word (Psalms 119:105; Matthew 15:6; John 10:35). When, however, the Bible writers speak of the written or spoken Word of God, they are usually referring not to a one-volume book such as our Bible, but to the Word of God as announced or preached by God’s representatives. (For details of the Bible as the Word of God see INSPIRATION; SCRIPTURES.)

Prophets, for example, were God’s spokesmen, and their announcements were the authoritative Word of God for his people (Isaiah 1:2-4; Isaiah 1:18; Jeremiah 23:22; Ezekiel 1:3; Hosea 4:1; Joel 1:1; Amos 1:3; Hebrews 1:1-2; see PROPHECY). Likewise the preaching of the gospel by the New Testament apostles was the proclamation of the Word of God (Acts 4:31; Acts 13:44; Ephesians 1:13; Colossians 1:5-6; 1 Peter 1:23; 1 Peter 1:25; see GOSPEL; PREACHING). The instruction in Christian doctrine that followed was the teaching of the Word of God (Acts 18:11; Colossians 3:16; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; Hebrews 13:7; see TEACHER).

This spoken Word became also the written Word and, like the personal Word Jesus, was living and active. It is still living and active today, and does God’s work in the hearts and lives of those who hear it or read it (Hebrews 4:12).


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Bibliography Information
Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Word'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/bbd/w/word.html. 2004.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, October 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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