Can the Bible be the Word of God if Jesus is the Word of God?

Luke Wayne
3/20/17

A common notion often brought out to diminish the centrality and authority of the Holy Scriptures is that “The Bible isn’t the word of God. Jesus is the word of God.” Appealing to passages like John 1, which clearly refer to Jesus as "the Word," such people make the irrational leap that the term "word of God" cannot possibly mean anything else in any other context. "Even the Bible says that Jesus is the Word. Therefore the Bible can't be God's word," you will often hear them say. This is a false equivocation that is refuted, ironically, by Jesus Himself.

No Christian would deny that John refers to Jesus as the Word and that his choice of this term has deep biblical and historical roots. This is not, however, the only biblical use of the term "word of God." The book of Acts, for example, frequently utilizes the term "word of God," to refer to the gospel message that the early Christians were proclaiming. We see this in verses like:

"The word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith," (Acts 6:7).

Likewise, the term "word of God" often means the prophetic messages which the Old Testament prophets proclaimed. The Scriptures, of course, are the recording of such prophetic, inspired messages from God, so even this usage is enough to justify calling the Bible God's word:

"But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God," (2 Peter 1:20-21).

And the written Scriptures also refer directly to themselves as "the word" in places such as:

"You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you," (Deuteronomy 4:2).

But it is the words of Jesus that are perhaps the clearest and most direct in calling the Scriptures the very "word of God." Jesus said, for example, in rebuking the Pharisees for elevating their oral traditions over the biblical writings:

"And by this, you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition," (Matthew 15:6, also Mark 7:13).

And quoting from the Scriptures, Jesus would say things like:

"But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God," (Matthew 22:31).

Jesus asks if they have read what was spoken to them by God. He thus puts the written Scriptures forward as the very word of God to the reader. He called them such directly and treated them that way. So yes, the Bible calls Jesus, "the Word." But Jesus also calls the Bible "the Word of God." So the term "word of God," can mean more than one thing and needs to be considered in its context, but the Bible is definitely the authoritative Word of God, breathed out by God Himself, as Paul also explains:

"You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work," (2 Timothy 3:14-17).

Let us be careful not to let equivocations and clever word plays detract from our commitment to the Bible as the God-breathed, authoritative, and sufficient Word of God Himself.