Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The/A Word

Interestingly enough my perspective on the word has changed in the past several years. Early in my faith the word, the bible, was a source of one-off informational phrases I could use for comfort or guidance. Quoting and memorizing scripture was important for me because I needed to use these passages for my benefit or comfort. Pain has been inflicted on too many people by holding to this view of the word as a smorgasbord of movable parts interchangeable at will or as circumstance necessitates. Within Christian denominations these stark differences in interpretation of passages are apparent. Scripture has been treated as if it operates within a vacuum and has automatic application without adaptation to culture, circumstance, or other environmental variables. The reality is that scripture, the word, and prophecy do not exist within a vacuum but were written within certain factors that make its reading and application harder than a simple recipe or mathematic equation. With all the references to this word in scripture, most specifically, the general epistles and revelation, it would behoove one to make an attempt to discover what word these authors were referring to in their writings.

The word used in texts authored by Hebrew writers is dabar, which means speech, words, speaking, or utterance (Blueletterbible.com). The word used in writings authored in Greek is logos and means of speech, a word, uttered by a living voice, embodies a conception or idea (Blueletterbible.com). Utterance, speech, words, and speaking have one thing in common. They rely solely upon a source of speaking or writing. There must be a source or an authority to utter these words. In the days of any of the New Testament writers this word was prophecy. These prophecies are owned and crafted by God the Father. His messages were given directly through men to announce or proclaim to recipients God intended to receive. This prophetic era of time was easily livable because the culture in which these prophecies were written and delivered were Jewish and in agreement upon the power and authority of their God, a monotheistic God. God was an unknown and unseen entity that delivered messages to His people through words or prophecy. These words were recorded by scribes in order for His people to be reminded of them so they would not stray. Israel was even instructed to build altars to their God so they would remember. God is into having His people remember Him and His words. When Jesus entered the human drama he embodied the prophecies that had been proclaimed and recorded. The unseen has now become seen.

The Word is a synonymous name for Jesus. John starts out his account of Jesus’ life and ministry by stating, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1).” This Word is Jesus but is not limited to a name only. This word most often used in the general epistles and John’s revelation are centripetal around what we call Old Testament prophesies. The word as written at the time of authorship is the only word they had at the time, a time predating New Testament canonization. This word is the Jewish scriptures that all Jews receiving these letters would be familiar with and all Gentile followers of Christ would also have fair knowledge of because they are all that was known at the time. They did not have the Bible as we have it today because they were either authors or recipients of letters that we now know as the Bible. Jesus is the cornerstone, much like the word or prophesies are the cornerstone on which all the passages referring to it are built upon.

Integrated views of these texts that refer to the Word reveal that this word is mainly the Old Testament prophecies or their embodiment, Jesus. The conclusion of this word, Revelation, warns that this word is so important that nothing should be added or taken away from it. Failure to obey that will result in punishment and judgment. This staunch warning exposes the most dominant element of the doctrine of Scripture that it is to be viewed and used as a hinge on which life is to be lived and analyzed. God’s prophesy is His word, Him revealing Himself to us, ultimately done through the Christ, Jesus. Since this word is God’s then it is to be held with great reverence and authority. The word should be seen holistically though to avoid erroneous interpretation. Randomly pulling passages out of their original context takes away from their original application and makes it nearly impossible to comprehend the true meaning intended. Seeing this word within the context it was written allows readers observing an ancient drama being played out through recorded words and prophecies a better understanding of timeless principles and messages the Spirit intended to be central to life in and of itself.

Below are the passages of scripture studied and read that refer to the word of God either directly or imply a reference. These passages, from the general epistles and Revelation, combine to offer a simple view of Scripture that is most often overlooked as too simplistic. This view of the word as a harmonious breath from God allows greater understanding of the word as He intended originally:

Hebrews 1:1, Hebrews 2:1, Hebrews 4:12, James 4:5, 1 Peter 1:23-25, 1 Peter 2:2, 2 Peter 1:20-21, 1 John 1:1-4, Revelation 1:1-3, Revelation 1:9, Revelation 19:13, & Revelation 22:19.

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