The Bible is not the Word of God. It never refers to itself as such. According to the New Testament, Jesus is the Word of God. The Word of God is a person, not a collection of texts. The documents that make up the Bible contain words of God and inspired words about God written by people who encountered God in
various ways. The grand mistake made over the last 500 years has been to substitute the text for the Word. This inevitably leads to a well-intentioned Phariseeism, a subtle idolatry. It can also, paradoxically, lead to a reluctance to honestly and rigorously examine the scriptural texts."
The 17th century Quaker theologian Robert Barclay used the analogy of the Living Word (Christ) being the fountain--the source--and the Bible being a stream that flowed out from that fountain. "Nevertheless," Barclay wrote, "because [the Scriptures] are only a declaration of the fountain, and not the fountain itself,
therefore they are not to be esteemed the principal ground of all Truth and knowledge, nor yet the adequate primary rule of faith and manners. Yet because they give a true and faithful testimony of the first foundation, they are and may be esteemed a secondary rule, subordinate to the Spirit, from which they have all their excellency and certainty: for as by the inward testimony of the Spirit we do alone truly know them, so they testify, that the Spirit is that Guide by which the saints are led into all Truth; therefore, according to the Scriptures, the Spirit is the first and principal leader."
As Jenny Duskey points out in her excellent essay below entitled 'Scriptural Evidence that the WORD OF GOD is not the Bible and Concerning what the Word of God is', "Christ's power was not diminished after his resurrection. From the time of the resurrection (Jn. 20:22) or at least from the day of Pentecost, until and including the present time, the Word which is Christ has lived in the hearts of his disciples, who hear him speak, the fulfillment of the prophecy of Jeremiah."
(Jer. 31:33-34) She concludes, "From time immemorial people have tried to fit God into forms that they could touch, hold, study, classify, and finally control. People are still trying to do this by clinging to the unscriptural view that the Word of God is a book."
Scriptural Evidence that the WORD OF GOD is not the Bible
and Concerning what the Word of God is.
by Jenny Duskey
"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the
deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said,
Let there be light: and there was light." (Gen. 1:1-3)
God created the heaven and the earth by speaking, and what
he spoke, as his Spirit moved upon the face of the waters, was his Word. John
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with
God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things
were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made."
(Jn. 1:1- 3)
All things were made by the Word. (See also Ps. 33:6; Col.
1:16; Heb. 11:3; 2 Pet. 3:5-7). They were not made by the scriptures, which
were not there in the beginning but were themselves written later by people.
Moses spoke of the Word of God when he said to the people of
"For this commandment which I command thee this day, it
is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou
shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we
may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say,
Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it and
do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart,
that thou mayest do it." (Deut. 30:11-14)
Moses was not speaking of the scriptures, for even the Old
Testament had not yet been compiled; he did not mean only the words he himself
had just spoken, for he knew that he was soon to die, and that his spoken words
would not long be near the people. He did not even mean the tablets of the
commandments kept in the ark, because stone tablets could not be in the hearts
and mouths of the people. Moses meant the eternal Word of God, through which
all things were created, which had come to him on Mt. Sinai, and which he now
said was in the hearts of all the people of Israel as he urged them to hear it
and do it.
The Word of God, what God speaks, has come to people in
various ways (Heb. 1:1). The Word which was with God in the beginning and by
which all things were created, of which Moses spoke, is the same Word which God
spoke to Abraham, telling him to leave his home, to the other patriarchs, and
to all the prophets, who prophesied only by the Word (Is. 2:1; Jer. 1:2; Ezek.
1:3; Micah 1:1; Hag. 1:1; and others).
"He was in the world, and the world was made by him,
and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God,
even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of
the will of the flesh, nor of the will of men, but of God. And the Word was
made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the
only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." (Jn. 1:10- 14)
This same Word, which was with God from the beginning, which
Moses said was in the heart and mouth of the people of Israel, which was spoken
to the prophets, was made flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. (See also Heb.
1:1- 3.) Jesus taught "as one having authority, and not as the
scribes" (Mt. 7:29), who taught the scriptures. He had in his very person
the authority carried only by the Word of God. When he spoke his teaching was
the Word of God in him, the good news of the Kingdom which God had sent him to
proclaim and which he embodied (Lk. 4:43). When "the people pressed upon
him to hear the word of God" (Lk. 5:1) it was to hear this message he
preached, not just the scriptures, which they could hear read in the synagogues
every sabbath day. The seed which he was sowing and which his disciples are to
sow and which will grow in the hearts of those who keep it is the Word of God
Jesus does not use the phrase "word of God" to
refer to the scriptures. Usually, he says, "as it is written," or an
equivalent phrase, when he is quoting scripture (Mt. 4:1-11; 11:10; 21:13;
26:31; Mk. 7:6; 11:17; 14:27; and others). Sometimes he says as it was
"spoken of by the prophet" (Mt. 24:15; Mk. 13:14), or refers to
"all that the prophets have spoken" (Lk. 24:25). Sometimes he simply
uses the word "scriptures" (Mt. 21:42; 22:29; 26:56; Mk. 12:10, 24;
When Jesus uses the phrase "word of God" to refer
to something in the scriptures, it is clear from the context that he means the
word God spoke to someone, not the entire collection of scriptures. For
example, when he accuses the Pharisees of "making the word of God of none
effect" (Mk. 7:13) the word of God means the specific commandment God
spoke to Moses: "Honour thy father and thy mother," which Jesus has
just quoted. When Jesus says, "Have ye not read that which was spoken to
you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God
of Jacob?" (Mt. 22:31-32) he is referring to the words God spoke to Moses
(Ex. 3:6) and which Moses passed on to the people of Israel and later to the
descendants of his contemporaries in the written account of the incident. He
does not mean that the entire body of the scriptures was spoken by God; over
and over he says that they were written by Moses or by the prophets, as the
case may be (Lk. 5:14; 20:37; 20:42; 24:44; Mt. 8:4; 19:3-9; Jn. 7:22). Even in
the other two accounts of this saying (Lk. 20:27-40; Mk. 12:18-27) Jesus
credits Moses with having written of what God told him.
Jesus warned that the scriptures are not sufficient to
assure the presence of God's Word:
"And The Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne
witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.
And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe
not. Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they
are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have
life." (Jn. 5:37-40)
There is no evidence that after the end of his life in the
flesh Jesus Christ ceased to be the Word of God personified and became instead
merely an interpreter of the scripture, or someone who spoke only through the
apostles and prophets. Hebrews 13:8 states "Jesus Christ the same
yesterday, and to day, and for ever." It is true that Jesus interpreted
the Scriptures to his followers after his resurrection (Lk. 24:27, 45), but he
also spoke to them in other ways. He dealt with their needs on a personal
basis, comforting Mary Magdalene, who was afraid (Mt. 28:10; Jn. 20:15-18),
proving that he was alive to Thomas, who doubted (Jn. 20:26-29), telling Peter
not to be jealous of the beloved disciple who was to live longer (Jn.
21:21-22). He gave a specific commandment to some of his disciples who were
fishing, "Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall
find" (Jn. 21:6). He carried on a rather lengthy conversation with Peter
in which he told him of future events and admonished Peter to follow him (Jn.
21:15-19). He told his disciples, "All power is given unto me in heaven
and in earth" (Mt. 28:18), and he reassured them by saying "I am with
you alway, even unto the end of the world" (Mt. 28:20).
Christ's power was not diminished after his resurrection.
From the time of the resurrection (Jn. 20:22) or at least from the day of
Pentecost, until and including the present time, the Word which is Christ has
lived in the hearts of his disciples, who hear him speak, the fulfillment of
the prophecy of Jeremiah:
"But this shall be the covenant that I will make with
the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in
their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and
they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour,
and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me,
from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will
forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." (Jer.
On the day of Pentecost Peter said:
"But this is that which was spoken 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: And on
my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit;
and they shall prophesy." (Acts 2:16-18)
It is said over and over in the New Testament that the Word
of God lives in God's people. 1 John develops this concept: ". . . and the
word of God abideth in you . . ." 1 Jn. 2:14). "And he that keepeth
his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he
abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us" (1 Jn. 3:24).
"Hereby we know that we dwell in him and he in us, because he hath given
us of his Spirit" (1 Jn. 4:13). The Word of God which lives in Christ's
followers is none other than Christ and his Spirit. Many passages confirm that
Christ lives in Spirit in his disciples (2 Cor. 13:5; 1 Cor. 12:3; Gal. 4:6;
3:27; Eph. 3:17, 20; Phil. 2:13; Col. 3:11).
The word is said to have powers which clearly belong to
Christ and his Spirit. Paul says to the elders of the church at Ephesus,
"And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace,
which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them
which are sanctified" (Acts 20:32). Paul says to the Colossians, "I
am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me
for you, to fulfil the word of God" (Col. 1:25). He goes on to say that
the word of God is "the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from
generations, but now is made manifest to his saints" (Col. 1:26), and that
this mystery is "Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach"
(Col. 1:27-28). Later in the same letter Paul says "Let the word of Christ
dwell in you richly in all wisdom" (Col. 3:16). To the Ephesians Paul says
"And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is
the word of God" (Eph. 6:17). The letter to the Hebrews says:
"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and
sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul
and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts
and intents of the heart." (Heb. 4:12)
Here the word clearly means Christ, for the next verse says,
"Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all
things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do"
(Heb. 4:13, emphasis mine) and it is Christ, not the scripture, who is a person
to be referred to by the pronouns "him" and "whom." The
book of Hebrews is harsh with those who have fallen into apostasy after having
acknowledged the power of the Word which is Christ:
"For it is impossible for those who were once
enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of
the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the
world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance;
seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open
shame." (Heb. 6:4-6)
James writes of "the engrafted word, which is able to
save your souls" (James 1:21). It is written in the book of 1 Peter,
"Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the
word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever" (1 Peter 1:23; see also
James 1:18). We are born again of the Spirit of Christ, not of the scriptures
In the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the phrase
"word of God" is sometimes used to mean the good news about God's
kingdom which Jesus was sent to preach. In the other New Testament books,
especially Acts, it is used in a similar way, to refer to the same good news
which the disciples were now preaching as they told of the resurrection, as
well as to refer to Christ who was commanding them to preach it. Acts 5 tells
how the disciples were beaten and charged not to speak in the name of Jesus.
Acts 5:42 says "And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased
not to teach and preach Jesus Christ." Then when they were resolving the
problem of how to distribute food to the Grecian widows, they said, "It is
not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables" (Acts
6:2), and "But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the
ministry of the word" (Acts 6:4). In these verses "the word" is
the news of Christ's resurrection. We have just been told that the disciples
"ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ," and it would make no
sense for "the word" to mean the scriptures. Acts 6:7 tells us "And
the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in
Jerusalem greatly." This does not mean that the scriptures increased, but
that many heard and believed the gospel being preached. There are many other
examples: "Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere
preaching the word. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached
Christ unto them" (Acts 8:4-5).
"Now they which were scattered abroad upon to Christ,
many of them believed the word, but the persecution that arose about Stephen
travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to
none but unto the Jews only. And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene,
which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the
Lord Jesus" (Acts 11:19-20). "But the word of God grew and
multiplied" (Acts 12:24). "And when they were at Salamis, they
preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews" (Acts 13:5. In
Acts 13 it is after the customary reading of the law and the prophets, the scripture,
that Paul preached the word of God which the whole city gathered to hear again
the next sabbath (Acts 13:15-16, 44). "So mightily grew the word of God
and prevailed" (Acts 19:20).
In Acts 17:11 a clear distinction is made between the
scriptures and the word of God. The Jews at Berea are said to have received the
word (which Paul and Silas brought them) eagerly, searching the scriptures (the
Old Testament which they had had long before Paul and Silas had come) daily to
see whether or not it testified to the word. Since the scriptures, including
the Old Testament, do testify the word is not identified with the scriptures.
The letters to Timothy were written at a late date. They
give more importance to the scriptures than do earlier New Testament books (2
Tim. 3:15-16). Even in these books and in the similar letter to Titus, however,
the scriptures are not called the Word of God. Given the way the phrase is used
elsewhere in the Bible, there is no reason to assume that the exhortation
"Preach the word" (2 Tim. 4:2), the statement that God "hath in
due times manifested his word through preaching" (Tit. 1:3), and the
description of the bishop as "Holding fast the faithful word as he hath
been taught" (Tit. 1:9) are based on any meaning for "word"
besides Christ and the gospel preached about him by his disciples. Nor is there
any reason to propose a different meaning when Titus is admonished to speak
"the things which become sound doctrine . . . that the word of God be not
blasphemed" (Tit. 2:1, 5).
The book of Revelation continues to use the phrase
"Word of God" in the way that the other New Testament books have used
it. John has been exiled to Patmos because of "the word of God" (Rev.
1:9), that is, for preaching Christ. Later John says of the symbolic figure of
Christ on the white horse, ". . . and his name is called The Word of
God" (Rev. 19:13).
God's Word was, is, and always shall be with God. God
created all things through his Word. His Word was spoken to the patriarchs.
Moses said that the Word of God was in the hearts and mouths of the people of
Israel; this same Word came to the prophets. God sent his Word to earth in the
human form of his Son, Jesus Christ, who preached that Word and personified it,
who lived in the flesh and died on the cross and was raised to life. That same
Word of God now sits on the right hand of God and speaks in the hearts of
Christ's followers and will judge all things. There is no scriptural basis for
the claim that the Bible is the Word of God, for the scriptures do not exalt
themselves, but they testify to Christ. From time immemorial people have tried
to fit God into forms that they could touch, hold, study, classify, and finally
control. People are still trying to do this by clinging to the unscriptural
view that the Word of God is a book.