An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Word of God, The

This phrase can indicate the effective and creative verbal expression of God's power; or the Holy Scriptures that were written under God's inspiration; or Jesus Christ, the Logos, the eternal Son of God, the Word made flesh (Jn 1:1-14). The power of God's creative word is shown in Genesis (1:3) when God said “'let there be light'; and there was light.” The heavens and all the heavenly hosts were made by the word of God (Ps 33:6). God's word is also communicated in the OT through the law and the prophets. The decalogue is literally the ten words of God, and the law is identified with the word of God in the OT (see Dt 4:13, 5:6-21; Ex 20:2-17, 34:28). The prophets proclaimed the word of God with power, making known God's righteous will. The word of God was like fire (Jer 20:9, 23:29), and effective (Is 55:11). As stated in Hebrews (4:12), “the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” As the word of God conveyed revelation, the term also was applied to the gospel of Jesus (see Lk 5:1, 8:1, 11:28, Jn 3:34) and the gospel as preached by the apostles (see Acts 4:31; 13:44, 48; 16:32). The scriptures were inspired by God (see 2 Tm 3:16, 2 Pt 1:21), and are termed the word of God. The Catechism notes that we call the scriptures the Word of God “because God inspired their human authors and because God still speaks to us through the Bible” (BCP, p. 853). After the lessons at Morning and Evening Prayer and at the eucharist, the reader may say, “The Word of the Lord” (see BCP, pp. 84, 119, 357). A literalistic view holds that the Bible contains God's actual words which were dictated to inspired scribes who put the words on paper. Few Anglicans would endorse this literalistic view. Others have suggested that the authors or editors of biblical material communicated their faith in their own words after being inspired by God. The ultimate expression of God's word was not in law, prophecy, or scripture, but in Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word of God. See Scripture; see Logos.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.