Is the Bible the "Word of God"?

People sometimes refer to the Bible as the "Word of God" - but in doing so, are they unwittingly promoting the lie that every word has God's "blessing"?

Does this make them guilty of blasphemy? 

Or to put it another way, since our current English Bibles contain errors - some deliberately inserted by men, some by accident - and we refer to it as "The Word of God", we are in effect saying that the words of men recorded in the Bible, carry the same weight as the words spoken by God and also recorded in the Bible. To me, this is blasphemy defined by WordWeb "Speak of in an irreverent or impious manner". The words spoken by God, should never be brought down to the same level as the words spoken/written by men.

Back to the basics.

Around 1382, John Wycliffe translated the Latin Vulgate into English, and produced the first Bible  in the English language. All 80 books were hand written.

Over time, the 80 books were split into the 66 books that now make up our current English Bibles, and the remaining 14 that are called the Apocrypha.  The name "Bible" - just meaning "books".

While people still argue over who actually wrote each book that collectively have come together to form our Bible, we can all agree that they were written by the hand of men.

The big divide.

On the question of the Bible, as I see it, the Christian world is divided into two main groups.

Group 1.

These are people who believe that even though the actual words were penned onto paper/parchment by men, God inspired each and every word. They take the position that God is speaking to us personally, through every word. To put it another way, group 1 believe that the Bible is the "literal Word of God".

Group 2.

Basically the remainder of people take a more realistic view, and accept that men penned their own words, but do allow for God to have inspired many of them, and was also involved in the making of the judgment about which books remained in the Bible as we know it today, and which ones went into the apocrypha.

However, as I see it, both groups miss the main point.

We need more people to come to see the need for a third group.

Understanding the hierarchy of word importance.

There is no question to a Christian that the Bible contains important words. The problems in understanding start when people give equal weight to every word. We don't do that with other books - so why do people insist on doing it with the Bible?

I think the reason is, that we have been taught to do so through the ages by men, so that the Bible becomes harder to understand. The confusion this causes, then gives room for men to "twist" the meaning in certain places, to suit their own agenda.

To break the hold religious leaders have over their followers, the question we need to answer is - what are the most important words?

That statement implies, that if some words are more important, then others are less important.

Do you know how to assign each word in the Bible to their correct level in the hierarchy of words?

Getting to the heart of the problem.

Men have helped to muddy the water by making some bad translations. For example.

2Ti 3:16 NET.  Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

There is no doubt in my mind that this poorly translated Scripture is the main cause of the beliefs held by Group 1. As it is translated above, people take it to mean that every verse of the Bible has equal weight. This concept ignores the instruction - supported by Christ (Mat 4:4) - that we are to live by the words spoken by God (Deut 8:3).

The word translated "inspired" is Strong #G2415, and can mean "God breathed" (Thayer says - "to breath hard, that is a breeze - blow"), or better still "spoken by God". A better paraphrase of v16 would be something like;

2Ti 3:16  Every verse containing words spoken [or inspired] by God is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

Clarke has a slightly different slant, but still shows that not all Biblical verses are the same.

2Ti 3:16  Every writing divinely inspired, is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

Breaking the concept of every verse has equal weight, starts to put a whole new light on the Bible.

The top of the hierarchy of words in the Bible.

The words spoken by God and recorded by men in the Bible, are the most important words. They are at the top of the hierarchy of words.

Jesus confirmed that this is the case in;

Mat 4:4 NET.  But he answered, "It is written, 'Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.' "

Jesus Christ is pointing us to the "God breathed" words. What more powerful words can there be, than the following words spoken by God?

Exo 20:1-3 NET.  God spoke all these words:  (2)  "I, the LORD, am your God, who brought you from the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery.  (3)  "You shall have no other gods before me ... .

The importance of keeping the Ten Commandments is stressed in the Bible by their being mentioned in over 160 verses. It is the most dominant theme I have found so far in the Bible.

The Ten Commandments are at the pinnacle of the hierarchy of words in the Bible, followed by the instructions given by God Himself.

The next most important words.

The next most important words also come from God, but come to us in a different way.

Jer 6:17 NET.  The LORD said,
    "I appointed prophets as watchmen to warn you, saying:
    'Pay attention to the warning sound of the trumpet!' "
    But they said, "We will not pay attention!"

Neh 9:30 NET.  You prolonged your kindness with them for many years, and you solemnly admonished them by your Spirit through your prophets. ...

God  speaks to us through His prophets. We need to listen to what He has been trying to tell us.

Jesus Christ is also a prophet (Deut 18:18, Luke 13:33) and God said,

Mat 17:5 NET.  While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my one dear Son, in whom I take great delight. Listen to him!"

The words of Jesus are included in the words of a prophet, and come next in importance after the direct words of God.

The third level of importance.

The Apostles were exposed to Jesus's teaching for three and a half years, and then had the help of the Holy Spirit after His departure. We should take on board what they have to say, but never using their words to "change" the words of God.

The fourth level of importance.

I think we can lump together in this group, the remainder of the original Bible (the Bible without errors added). This will include "The Writings" of the Old Testament, the books detailing history, and the books written by people who were not Prophets or Apostles .

When I use the word "Apostle" - I mean its Biblical definition of men personally appointed by Christ - which includes the Apostle Paul. Men calling another man an "apostle" carries no weight  (1 Cor 12:28, Eph 4:11).

The rejects - the words of zero importance.

These are the errors of men - which can include deliberately inserted lies, mistakes in copying, errors in translation, and so on.

We need a clear separation between the "Words of Life" (the words directly spoken by God ), and the "words of men" that detract from God's message to His creation.

The main point in understanding the hierarchy of words in the Bible.

If we are going to uphold the Commandments of God - and especially the First Commandment - then what God says has to be the rock we build on (Mat 7:24,25).

Therefore - and we need to get this point - the word of a prophet (second level of importance) or an Apostle (third level of importance) can not have a higher authority than the words spoken by God.

A simple practical example.

If God says that we are to keep the Sabbath, then we should not use the words of  - say - the  Apostle Paul, to change the Sabbath to Sunday. To do so breaks the letter and the spirit of the First Commandment.

In the same vein, we should not use verses in the "Writings", or verses written by a historian such as Luke, to override the instructions of Jesus Christ.

God does not change. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. We are on dangerous ground when we start "changing" God's direct instructions. It is like saying "what God thinks doesn't matter". If we persist in such behavour, then it is a sure way to end up in the Lake of Fire.

It sounds nice and spiritual - but?

While giving the collection of books we call the Bible today, the title of "The Word of God" sounds good, in reality it is, in some areas, giving support to the lies of Satan and men.

We need to understand how to pick out the more important parts of the Bible to formulate our doctrines, and not fall into the trap of giving equal importance to every word.

Bob Orchard July 2011

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