TBU: The Bible Unpacked: Comprehensive Edition

I.  General

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Chapter 8  Part I

General

God’s word is our window to God. For through it we learn about God and his relationship with us. Moreover, its unique characteristics and functions have the imprint of God.

Note that in the headings of this chapter “word” is generally used to refer to, or at least apply to, God’s written word – the Bible or Scripture. In the verses themselves, more specifically “word” usually refers to either: Scripture itself (as a whole or in particular to God’s laws, promises or prophecies); words that God spoke (many of which have been included in Scripture); or the gospel message (which of course is contained in Scripture).

What God’s Word Comprises

God’s word primarily is Scripture

John 10:35  If he [God] called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken— …  ESV

This speaks of Scripture as “the word of God”.

2Tim 3:16a  Every Scripture passage is inspired by God.  GW

Here Paul is effectively saying that every verse of Scripture comes from God, i.e. Scripture “is God’s Word” (CEV).

God’s word includes his laws

Ps 147:19  [A psalmist, referring to God:] He speaks his word to Jacob, his laws and judicial decisions to Israel.  GW

God’s word includes his covenants

Ex 34:27, 28b  The Lord said to Moses, “Write these words down, because it is on the basis of these words that I am making a covenant with you and with Israel.” 28… He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments.  GNT

This speaks of words of God forming God’s covenant with Israel.

God’s word includes his promises

2Sam 7:28  [David:] Now, O sovereign Lord, you are the true God! May your words prove to be true! You have made this good promise to your servant!  NET

God’s word includes his prophecies

Jer 36:2  [God, to Jeremiah:] Get a scroll. Write on it everything I have told you to say about Israel, Judah, and all the other nations since I began to speak to you in the reign of Josiah until now.  NET

Here Jeremiah is told to write down prophecies spoken by God regarding the future of nations. Daniel 9:2b below tells of the prophecy in God’s word that Israel’s exile would last 70 years.

Dan 9:2b  I, Daniel, noted in the Scripture the total years that were assigned by the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem: 70 years.  ISV

God’s word also includes the gospel, proclaimed by his people

Acts 13:5a  When they [Barnabas and Saul] arrived in Salamis, they began to proclaim the word of God in the Jewish synagogues.  NET

This reference to God’s word is clearly speaking of the gospel message.

Note: Jesus Christ is the Word of God

Rev 19:13  [John, describing a vision of Christ] He is dressed in clothing dipped in blood, and he is called the Word of God.  NET

Jesus Christ is called the “Word of God” in part because much of what God says and does, he says and does through Jesus Christ.

 Questions for Section A

God’s Communication of His Word

God has given his word by the Holy Spirit

2Pet 1:20-21  Above all, you do well if you recognize this: No prophecy of scripture ever comes about by the prophet’s own imagination, 21for no prophecy was ever borne of human impulse; rather, men carried along by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.  NET

God gave his law through Moses

John 1:17  God gave the Law through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.  GNT

God has spoken through prophets

Heb 1:1  In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets many times and in many different ways.  NCV™

God has spoken through visions and dreams

Mic 1:1  During the time that Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah were kings of Judah, the word of the Lord came to Micah, who was from Moresheth. He saw these visions about Samaria and Jerusalem.  NCV™

Job 33:14-16  For God speaks, the first time in one way, the second time in another, though a person does not perceive it. 15In a dream, a night vision, when deep sleep falls on people as they sleep in their beds. 16Then he gives a revelation to people, and terrifies them with warnings, …  NET

God’s word was spoken by Jesus Christ

Luke 5:1  Now Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing around him to hear the word of God.  NET

John 3:34  For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he does not give the Spirit sparingly.  NET

Note that the last clause probably means that God gave to Jesus Christ the Spirit without any limit (cf. CEV, GNT, NCV, NLT).

 Questions for Section B

Characteristics of God’s Word

God’s word is holy, righteous and good

Rom 7:12  So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous, and good.  NET

God’s word is true . . .

Ps 33:4  The words of the Lord are true and all his works are dependable.  GNT

John 17:17  [Jesus, to God:] Set them apart in the truth; your word is truth.  NET

. . . and what God’s word foretells comes true

Lam 2:17  [Jeremiah to Jerusalem’s people:] The Lord has done what he planned; he has fulfilled his promise that he threatened long ago: He has overthrown you without mercy and has enabled the enemy to gloat over you; he has exalted your adversaries’ power.  NET

God’s word is living and active

Heb 4:12a  For the word of God is living and active …  NET

Two reasons for describing God’s word as “living” are that it never ceases to be pertinent and it keeps on influencing and affecting people. The latter reason also shows it to be active.

God’s word is powerful

Heb 4:12  What God has said isn’t only alive and active! It is sharper than any double-edged sword. His word can cut through our spirits and souls and through our joints and marrow, until it discovers the desires and thoughts of our hearts.  CEV

God’s word can penetrate to the very depths of our inner-selves, exposing our thoughts and attitudes for what they really are.

God’s word is everlasting

1Pet 1:24-25  For all flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of the grass; the grass withers and the flower falls off, 25but the word of the Lord endures forever. And this is the word that was proclaimed to you.  NET

Note: God’s word surpasses everything of this world

Ps 138:2  [David, to God:] I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.  ESV

 Questions for Section C

Functions of God’s Word (I): General

Note the introductory comment on Key Old Testament Covenants.

God’s word makes known his commands

Isa 1:10  [Isaiah, to Jerusalem’s people:] Hear the word of the Lord, You rulers of Sodom; Give ear to the law of our God, You people of Gomorrah: …  NKJV

The proclamation of God’s word makes known his law with its commands, as God’s law/commands are a key component of his word.

God’s word makes known his plans

Isa 38:4-6  Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah: 5“Go and say to Hezekiah, Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will add fifteen years to your life. 6I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria, and will defend this city.  ESV

God’s word plays a role in salvation

1Cor 15:1-2  [Paul, to the Corinthian believers:] Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel that I preached to you, that you received and on which you stand, 2and by which you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message I preached to you – unless you believed in vain.  NET

2Tim 3:15  [Paul, to Timothy:] From infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures that are able to give you the wisdom you need for salvation through faith in the Messiah Jesus.  ISV

God’s word plays a role in sanctification

John 17:17  [Jesus, to God:] Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.  NKJV

Here Jesus effectively prays that God would sanctify his people by his word. Note that sanctification refers to the process in which believers are made holy. This is primarily achieved through Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death. Additionally, believers are continually being transformed by God, becoming more like Jesus Christ and increasingly devoid of sin.

God’s word helps people avoid sin

Ps 119:9, 11  [A psalmist, to God:] How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.11I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.  ESV

God’s word helps people learn to fear God

Deut 31:13  [Moses, to the Israelites:] Their children, who don’t know these teachings, must hear them and learn to fear the Lord your God as long as you live in the land that you are going to take possession of when you cross the Jordan River.  GW

God’s word encourages people

Rom 15:4  [Paul, to believers:] 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.  ESV

Note: God acts by his word

Ps 147:15-18  He sends out his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly. 16He gives snow like wool; he scatters hoarfrost like ashes. 17He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs; who can stand before his cold? 18He sends out his word, and melts them; he makes his wind blow and the waters flow.  ESV

Isa 55:11  [God:] My word, which comes from my mouth, is like the rain and snow. It will not come back to me without results. It will accomplish whatever I want and achieve whatever I send it to do.  GW

The references to God’s “word” in the above verses are essentially speaking of his command. These verses imply that God merely needs to command things to be done for them to happen.

 Questions for Section D

Functions of God’s Word (II): Blessings

Life . . .

Deut 8:3  [Moses, to the Israelites:] And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.  ESV

The supernatural provision of manna by God through his command or word, demonstrated that it is God’s word which is the ultimate source of life’s sustenance – a truth with application to both physical and spiritual life.

. . . notably, spiritual and eternal life

John 6:63, 68  [Jesus:] The Spirit is the one who gives life; human nature is of no help! The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.68Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life.  NET

In v. 63b Jesus appears to be saying that his words are spiritual, producing spiritual or eternal life. Jesus seems to be implying that it is by the Holy Spirit (v. 63a) that his words produce this life.

Light

Ps 119:105  [A psalmist, to God:] Your word is a lamp to walk by, and a light to illumine my path.  NET

God’s word gives “light” in that it gives insight, as reflected in the following pair of subsections. Also bear in mind that God’s word also gives “light” in the sense that it leads to well-being or salvation, turning the darkness of one’s circumstances to light.

Knowledge

Isa 51:7a  [God:] Listen to me, you who know what is right, you people who are aware of my law!  NET

God’s word, here in particular his law, gives knowledge of what is right.

Wisdom

Ps 119:98-100, 104  [A psalmist, to God:] Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies, for I am always aware of them. 99I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your rules. 100I am more discerning than those older than I, for I observe your precepts.104Your precepts give me discernment. Therefore I hate all deceitful actions.  NET

Hope

Ps 119:49  [A psalmist, to God:] Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope.  NET

God had given the psalmist hope by his word, or promise (cf. AMP, CEV, GNT, NCV, NLT).

Joy

Ps 19:8a  The Lord’s precepts are fair and make one joyful.  NET

Freedom

Ps 119:45  [A psalmist, to God:] I have gained perfect freedom by following your teachings, …  CEV

The psalmist had freedom from things that ordinarily confine or burden a person. Possibly sin and its effects are in view (cf. John 8:31-32 ), but in the context it is more likely the burdens and oppression that hard times often bring.

John 8:31-32  Then Jesus said to those Judeans who had believed him, “If you continue to follow my teaching, you are really my disciples 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  NET

This is probably primarily referring to freedom from sin, but freedom from bondage to the law may also be in view.

Note: Rejecting God’s word brings his judgment

Jer 6:19  [God:] Hear, O earth; behold, I am bringing disaster upon this people, the fruit of their devices, because they have not paid attention to my words; and as for my law, they have rejected it.  ESV

John 12:48  [Jesus:] The one who rejects me and does not accept my words has a judge; the word I have spoken will judge him at the last day.  NET

 Questions for Section E

Pray for persecuted Christians