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What "Word of God" Means

Some Christians–this seems to be especially true with respect to Evangelicals and Fundamentalists–think the phrase “word of God” in Scripture always refers to the Bible. Often it does, but often it doesn’t. In many places it refers to Jesus, to oral prophecy, or to the oral preaching of the gospel. Here are a few representative examples. 

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and return not thither but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Is. 55:10-11).

“[T]he word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness; and he went into all the region about the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Luke 3:2-3).

“[Jesus] was preaching in the synagogues of Judea. While the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret” (Luke 4:44; 5:1). 

“Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard; . . . the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy; but these have no root, they believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. And as for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bring forth fruit with patience” (Luke 8:11-15). 

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:1, 14). 

“And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31). 

“[W]hen you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers” (1 Thess. 2:13). 

“Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, that no one fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before him no creature is hidden, but all are open and laid bare to the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (Heb. 4:11-13). 

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen. For by it the men of old received divine approval. By faith we understand that the world was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made out of things which do not appear” (Heb. 11:3).

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