Posted by: Jonathan Stepp | January 8, 2008

The Word, Part 1

In evangelical, protestant Christianity we often call the bible “the word.” But the bible calls Jesus the Word. He is the Christos PantokratorWord in the flesh.

I think it’s an important distinction we need to recapture in the coming neo-reformation. The distinction is this:

The Word in the flesh is personal and relational. He is the union of the Father, Son and Spirit with humanity. He is the revelation of God and the one to be looked to, worshiped, and listened to above everything else. The bible is a book about him.

The Word in the flesh is the one the apostles met and the one they preached. He, and the reconciliation of all things in him, is what Christians believed in for generations before the bible was compiled.

A Christian is not someone who believes what the bible says, he is someone who believes what Jesus says. Millions of Christians have lived and died in their faith without ever reading a bible.

The bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit to help us see Jesus more clearly as the union of God and humanity and the one through whom we have our relationship with our Dad in heaven.

This means that whenever we read the bible we must first know clearly who Jesus is as the incarnate Word of God and all our interpretations of scripture must be faithful to his identity as the one in whom all thing exist (Col. 1:16-17) and through whom all things have been reconciled to God (Col. 1:19-20.)

The picture included with today’s post is a visual representation of this reality. It is the icon Christos Pantokrator. It shows Jesus, fully God (pictured by the red robe) and fully man (the blue robe) seated in glory as the Lord of Hosts. In his hands he holds the bible. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

Notice that he holds the bible, the bible does not hold him.

In this image we see how much greater is the Word of God than the words written about him in the book and how he is the hermeneutical context and interpretive key for scripture.

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Responses

  1. Pastor Jonathan,

    I appreciate some of the statements you have made about the bible. The bible is indeed inspired by the Holy Spirit. As 2 Timothy 3:16 & 17 states. As a whole I believe it to be the revelation of Jesus Christ. I am confused about the distinction you are trying to make. Are you eluding to an idea that some Christians worship the bible? I do not see how anyone could call themselves a Christian that believes in what Jesus says and does not believe the bible. Granted there are some interpretations that get way off track from the original text. But some of them are right on. I would appreciate your dialog.

  2. I’m simply pointing out that Jesus has to be the object of our faith. When we interpret the bible in light of who he is we are less likely to mis-interpret it. Obviously we believe what the bible says but our faith is in Jesus.

  3. Amen. Then we are in agreement. It is truly amazing that even God the Father gives us that faith. It is all about Him.

  4. To this thread about the Word, I would add that usually in the New Testament when reference is made to “the word” the direct reference is to the Apostle’s testimony to the gospel. In short, it is the gospel as word (small “w”) that is “good news” preceisely because it testifies of the Word (capital “W”), who is Jesus.

    Jesus- the incarnate Word of God, is God’s good news for humankind. And Scripture is given to us to tell us through the word (the gospel) about the Word (Jesus).

    Feed on the Word!

  5. Good point! I had forgotten that aspect of it.

  6. Ted;

    That is good news, scripture interprets scripture…The “W”ord is higher than all things, even the name…

  7. […] 8:43 – we misinterpret God’s speech because we don’t hear things through the lens of Who Jesus is as THE […]


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