Scripture is Not “God’s Word”
Scripture – graphe – “writings” (occurring 20 times in the NT); in Romans (1:2; 16:26) the Greek word has become a proper noun, “The Holy (hagios) Scriptures.” In 2nd Timothy (3:15), Scripture has another
designation, “sacred (hieros) learning (gramma).” And Scripture is “inspired (theopneustos) by God” – it is God-spirited or God’s breath (2nd Tim. 3:16).
Traditionally, the ancient church understood The Scriptures as THE primary source for understanding and interpreting God’s worldview – “the sacred Scriptures speak for and forth God” ~ Clement of Rome
(AD 96); “a sound mind…that is devoted to… love of truth will eagerly meditate on those things that God has subjected to our knowledge. …Those things fall under our observation and are clearly… set forth on
the sacred Scriptures in clear terms” ~ Irenaeus (AD 180); “[in] the sacred Scriptures… [one] will find worthy exhibitions for his/her faith” ~ Novatian (AD235); “more strength…and the knowledge of the
heart will be increased more and more, as you examine more fully the Scriptures…” ~ Cyprian (AD 250); nothing feeds the soul and enriches the mind as the Holy Scriptures” ~ Theonas of Alexandria (AD 300).
Historically, the ancient church understood The Scriptures as the authority that informs a lifestyle – “the gospel was handed down to us, by the will of God, by those who lived it, in the Scriptures” ~ Irenaeus
(180); “…the tradition from the apostles exists in the church, and is permanent among us, let us revert to the Scriptural proof furnished by those apostles…” – Irenaeus; “faith will lead you, experience will
teach you, and Scripture will train you” ~ Clement of Alexandria (AD 195); “…truth is demonstrated in the Scriptures themselves” ~ Clement of Alexandria; “certainly we use it [the Scriptures] in the discovery
of things” ~ Clement of Alexandria; “in order that we might acquire a more authoritative knowledge of Himself, God has added a written revelation…” ~ Tertullian (AD 197).
The Word of God – “the Logic (logos) of God” (John 1:1-4; Revelation 19:13); God’s Word is personified, Scripture itself points to Christ as “The Word of God.” “Jesus Christ is God’s eternal Word” ~ Ignatius (AD
105); “the Word Himself, who took shape and became man, was called Jesus Christ” ~ Justin Martyr (AD 160); “the Word of God – yes, God Himself…” ~ Irenaeus (180); “No, it’s not a figure of speech! The
Son is the Word!” ~ Hippolytus (205).
In fact, the notion that “the Word of God” is particular words or collections of words is not a new phenomenon – “I wonder at the stupidity of the general run of Christians in this matter. It is nothing but
stupidity…that the Word of God…is the utterance of the Father that has been deposited (as it were) in syllables” ~ Origen (228). “The word of the Lord that came to Hosea…the word that came to Isaiah… people simply look at what the prophet said, as if what they said was “the word of the Lord,” that came to prophets. But what if the Son (the Word) came to Hosea, being sent by the Father” ~ Origen.
The Scriptures contain accounts of the Word of God, but it doesn’t necessarily follow, then, that those same Scriptures are, in fact, the Word of God. Furthermore, while the Scriptures contain accounts of the
word of God, they do not contain all that God is saying (John 21:25).