How Can Jesus and the Bible Both be the Word of God?

The overarching message finds unity in John 1:1. The truth of God is his word. Jesus is the truth, God, and the Word. All of these descriptors contribute to a whole picture of Christ, which encompasses all of these things and the words themselves.

Contributing Writer
Updated Mar 09, 2021
How Can Jesus and the Bible Both be the Word of God?

When one sees “word” in the Bible, this noun might refer to Scripture as a whole, to a specific idea or statement, or to the person of Jesus. Context is important: Historical, literary, cultural, and also the “close” context, which includes words, ideas, what book we are in, and history.

Close context is “everything we see when we read the page in front of us, both the divine and human aspects of the book,” wrote Jeremy Bouma.

But there are times when “The Word” appears to represent all three meanings above. The words on the page are inspired by God, describe God, and embody him all at the same time.

The Word as Scripture

“Word” in Hebrew is “sepher,” which points to a physical book or document. Jesus read from a scroll at the synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4). Although the writing of Revelation itself is full of literary devices, John sees literal scrolls in his vision.

Romans 15:4 encourages disciples to read the Bible for “whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

Paul and the writer of Hebrews describe literal writing — the Torah, in which God had said: “Man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3).

Jews understood that the Lord’s word was powerful. As the writer of Hebrews explains, the word of God is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12).

Word in Many Roles

In the New Testament, we get a new sense of “word.” “Logos” is Greek for “a word (as embodying an idea), a statement, a speech.” The word “logos” can refer to all of Scripture, but also specific ideas and individual words conveyed through God’s messengers, and even a report or “an accounting.”

“Logos” connects writing with speech in power through Jesus. “Everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on a rock” (Matthew 7:24). “Say the word and my servant will be healed” (Matthew 8:8).

In Matthew 8:26, Jesus “rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.” He who spoke the wind and water into being maintained authority over them. Jairus, the woman with the 12-year-bleed, and the Centurion whose servant was healed — they recognized that a word from Jesus was sufficient to immediately heal or even resurrect.

The Name of Jesus in Isaiah

“Word” describes the embodiment of God’s written and spoken message. At least two uses of “word” in Isaiah could refer to the Messiah as “Word.” “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).

The verb “sent” in Isaiah 55:11 strongly conveys the image of a person being appointed to a task. “I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled” (John 17:12).

In Hebrew, “goes out from my mouth” or “goes forth” is “yatsa,” which can be translated into several words. The ones which are most evocative of Immanuel are “born” and “appeared.”

Isaiah 40:8 declares “the grass withers and the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” Both his law and Jesus are eternal and accomplish God’s purpose.

Jesus the Word and John’s Gospel

John’s imagery leaves no room for doubt: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Later John writes, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (1:14).

John’s vision of Christ in Revelation 19:13 also identifies Jesus, “clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.” Christ spoke, fulfilled, and embodied the Word.

In “John’s Appropriation of Isaiah’s Signs Theology,” Andreas J. Köstenberger explains how the beloved disciple was inspired by Isaiah, referring to many “points of contact” between these two books of the Bible. John’s gospel is both a work of truth and of literary beauty and pleasing unity of form.

According to Köstenberger, Isaiah’s work features similar structural elements. Isaiah shares the message of the Good News, which is coming to Israel; John shares the message made incarnate. Isaiah combines “oracles, prophecies, and reports; but the common theme is the message of salvation.”

The theme of John’s gospel is “that Jesus is the promised Messiah and Son of God” (ESV Study Bible). They are a call and response; a thread running from the Old Testament promise to its fulfillment in the New Testament.

Wayne proposes that John named Jesus Word of God because “what God had to say to us was not only or mainly what Jesus said, but who Jesus was and what he did.” The entire work from Genesis to Revelation is about Jesus.

What was being revealed overtime was finally made manifest in the person of Christ. Jesus did more than speak truth; he is truth: “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).

Jesus’ Word Associations

As Luke Wayne points out, Jesus uses the term “word of God” to mean “Scripture.” Jesus spoke against the way the Pharisees gave priority to “their oral traditions over the biblical writings” saying in Matthew 15:6, “for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God.”

To our modern ears, with the rise of “cancel culture,” making Jesus void sounds like “canceling” him. The Pharisees sought to cancel the influence of Jesus’ message, which undermined their authority. Not only did they wish to void the words he spoke but the man as well.

After all, Pilate and the Roman court had no desire to kill Jesus: Pressure came from the Jewish leaders. “Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds. ‘I find no guilt in this man.’ But they were urgent, saying ‘He stirs up the people’” (Luke 23:4-5).

Even as they rejected the Messiah, the chief priests were acknowledging the power of what he had to say and also the power of the person of Christ.

Even after he had ascended, many religious leaders were afraid of Jesus’ name. They still sought to void his power by arresting and even killing Peter and the apostles.

Gamaliel counseled the priests against execution, although the apostles were beaten and the authorities “charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus,” but “they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus” (Acts 5:40, 42). His very name provoked either great fear or tremendous hope and courage.

The Word Is from God

“So the words ‘in the beginning’ mean: Before there was any created matter, there was the Word, the Son of God.” John is putting the pieces together; connecting the beginning of God’s story with the fulfillment of his plans in Jesus.

Not only is Jesus eternal, present with the Lord before creation, but he is also One with God. Intrinsic to Christian faith is this understanding of the Trinity in which Christ is God and also indwelling believers as the Holy Spirit.

We define God in many ways: As truth, life, light, and so on. These terms also define Jesus. The overarching message finds unity in John 1:1 — the word of God is truth. The truth of God is his word. Jesus is the truth, and God, and the Word.

All of these descriptors contribute to a whole picture of Christ, which encompasses all of these things and the words themselves.

The Trustworthy Promise

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8).

Words can hurt or heal. They are meaningful, but not all words are trustworthy. Fortunately for believers, Scripture is trustworthy because it is affirmed by Jesus. He urged his listeners to hunger more for God’s word than for bread, promising it would satisfy where nothing else could.

For further reading:   

How To Read the Bible in Context

Why Is Reading the Bible in Context Important?

John’s Appropriation of Isaiah’s Signs Theology: Implications for the Structure of John’s Gospel

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

What Does the Phrase ‘In the Beginning Was the Word’ Mean?

Should Christians Follow the Book of the Law Today?

What Does it Mean That the Bible is God-Breathed?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/artisteer

Candice Lucey is a freelance writer from British Columbia, Canada, where she lives with her family. Find out more about her here.


Christianity / Jesus Christ / How Can Jesus and the Bible Both be the Word of God?