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The Bible, the Spirit of Prophecy, and the Church

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    The Living Word of God

    By this expression we mean “Christ the Living Word.” The written scriptures, however, “are quick and powerful”; they are alive; they live and abide forever. But in Christ Jesus our Lord this word is personified.BSPC 66.1

    Among the many names and titles applied to the Savior of mankind, none is more significant or full of meaning than the epithet “the Word.” Jesus is called such several times in the New Testament, and in the main by the beloved apostle. This is seen in his Gospel, his Epistles, and the book of Revelation. Seven times is this so applied, but if we list also the pronouns used in connection with these references—and there are about eighteen instances of their use—they will total fully twenty-five. However, the seven specific references are as follows:BSPC 66.2

    “In the beginning was the Word.” John 1:1.BSPC 66.3

    “The Word was with God.” Verse 1.BSPC 66.4

    “The Word was God.” Verse 1.BSPC 66.5

    “The Word was made flesh.” Verse 14.BSPC 66.6

    “The Word of life.” 1 John 1:1.BSPC 66.7

    “The Father, the Word and the Holy Ghost.” 1 John 5:7.BSPC 66.8

    “His name is called The Word of God.” Revelation 19:13.BSPC 66.9

    There are, of course, other passages where the word is used, and that might with good reason be applied to Christ Jesus the Lord. (See 2 Peter 3:3, 7; Philippians 2:16, et cetera.)BSPC 66.10

    Furthermore, the term “word,” as applied to Deity, was not unknown in Old Testament days. We read concerning Elijah, in 1 Kings 19:7, that the “angel of the Lord” came to him, but later this is referred to as the “word of the Lord” (1 Kings 19:9.) The same thing can be seen in the case of Moses. In Exodus the Divine Record says that the “angel of the Lord appeared unto him” (Exodus 3:2), but Leeser in his notes on this verse remarks:BSPC 66.11

    “The angel who appeared to Moses does not address him: the bodily appearance of the peculiar conflagration, was to arrest his attention; but immediately after, when Moses attempted to inspect it more closely, he is arrested by the Divine word.”BSPC 66.12

    And this “Divine word” was none other than Christ the Lord, for He is “The Word of God” (Revelation 19:13); He is also the “angel of the Lord.”BSPC 66.13

    Let us give closer study to the three uses of the epithet “Word” as applied to Jesus in the first verse of John’s Gospel. There we read, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”BSPC 66.14

    In this verse are emphasized some vital and important truths. Let us observe:BSPC 67.1

    1. The Word Was in the Beginning

    The word “beginning” used here is from the Greek word arche, and although it is rendered in several ways in the New Testament, it is the word that is used in connection with creation. It is found in Hebrews 1:10, where, in reference to Christ the Word, we read, “And, Thou Lord, in the beginning has laid the foundation of the earth.”BSPC 67.2

    And in referring to the first marriage in the Garden of Eden the Saviour remarked, “He which made them at the beginning made them male and female.” Matthew 19:4.BSPC 67.3

    It is reiterated in John’s Gospel, in John 1:2, in the words: “The same was in the beginning with God.”BSPC 67.4

    This expression emphasizes the eternity of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Divine Word of the everlasting God. Not only was He in the beginning; He was from before the beginning of the world. The wise man of ancient days declared, “I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.” Proverbs 8:23.BSPC 67.5

    Leeser’s translation of this text is: “From eternity was I appointed chief, from the beginning, from the earliest times of the earth.”BSPC 67.6

    Furthermore the Septuagint English translation gives: “He established me before time was in the beginning, before he made the earth.”BSPC 67.7

    With this agree the inspired words of the great apostle to the Gentiles when he declared concerning our blessed Lord, “He is before all things.” Colossians 1:17.BSPC 67.8

    2. He Was With God

    The word “with” in the text is of greater significance than what we usually mean when we use this word. The Greek word is pros, and means more than merely, “with,” “by or through,” or even “among.” It signifies, among other things, “before the face of.”BSPC 67.9

    On this we might observe the testimony of H. R. Reynolds:BSPC 67.10

    “And the Word (Logos) was with God.... The preposition is difficult to translate; it is equivalent to ‘was in relation with God,’ ‘stood over against,’ not in space or time, but eternally and constitutionally.... In addition to the idea of proximity, there is that of ‘motion towards.’ ... The personality of the Logos is therefore strongly forced upon us.”—Pulpit Commentary on John 1:1.BSPC 68.1

    3. He Was God

    Here the deity of the divine Son is clearly expressed. The word “God” in the Greek text is without the article, and used in this way it means the divine nature or essence. The stress is upon His essential quality rather than upon His character. Jesus then possesses the same nature, the same attributes, the same divine prerogatives as God the Father. He is, as declared by the same apostle in his epistle, “the true God, and eternal life.” (1 John 5:20.)BSPC 68.2

    The word in the Greek text for “Word” is logos. There are several Greek words that are rendered “Word” in our English New Testament, but two of them are vitally important; they are logos and rhema. The former is used about three hundred times, and rendered “Word” about 215 times. The latter is used on about seventy occasions, and rendered “Word” about fifty-six times. The two words differ considerably in meaning. Rhema denotes that which is spoken, that which is uttered in speech or expressed in writing; logos is the expression of thought, not so much the spoken word as the conception or idea that is conveyed by that word. So Christ is the Word of God.BSPC 68.3

    “As the spoken word reveals the invisible thought, so the Living Word reveals the invisible God.”—The Companion Bible on John 1:1BSPC 68.4

    Apart from the few references to the Old Testament at the beginning of this chapter, what were the ancient records to which John had access? How did he know the truth on this question? How could he sublimate this wonderful revelation of God, that Christ was the eternal “Word” of the ever-living God? Undoubtedly John, like others in the early group of apostles, knew about the Targums of the Old Testament. They were part of their heritage as members of the Jewish congregation. The Targums, or paraphrases of the Old Testament in oral form, had been in use for centuries before the days of the early church. They were regularly referred to in the synagogues, and as a Jew, John must surely have known about them.BSPC 68.5

    On the use of the term “Word” in the Targums, J. W, Ethridge, in the introduction to the Targums of the Pentateuch, the English translation, says:BSPC 69.1

    “Among the momenta of the Targums there is one of such great importance to the Christian theologian, that it would be unpardonable to omit it in these brief notices. I allude to the remarkable use in them of the title, ... ‘MEMRA DA-YEYA, the Word of the Lord.’ The Aramaic term .... Memra, is a noun, composed with the formative M, from the root Emra, ‘to speak.’ In the numerous passages referred to, it is employed with the genitive of the Divine Name.... answering to the New Testament epithet.”—The Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan ben Uzziel on the Pentateuch (1862), vol. 1, p. 14.BSPC 69.2

    The Hebrew word Memra is used in the Targums as applied to the word of God nearly six hundred times, more than three hundred of which are classified as reasonably certain. This figure is based on an article entitled “Philo of Alexandria, and Rabbinic Theology,” Appendix II, in The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, by Alfred Edersheim, volume 2.BSPC 69.3

    In this article he deals with the “Memra or Logos of Onkelos,” and lists the number of times the word is used in the Targums, not only of Onkelos but in the Jerusalem Targum and the Targum of Jonathan ben Uzziel. A study of the paraphrases, or Targums, on the Pentateuch is certainly interesting, illuminating, and instructive. In many places where the word “God” is used they give the epithet “Word”; they give “Word” also for the “angel” of the Lord.BSPC 69.4

    Hence we can see that John, by divine inspiration, gathered up what had been revealed in earlier days, and in a very clear and forceful manner applied this expression to Christ the Lord in the sublime language we find in the opening verses of the Gospel that bears his name.BSPC 69.5

    Mrs. E. G. White comments:BSPC 69.6

    “Christ, the Word, the only begotten of God, was one with the eternal Father,—one in nature, in character, in purpose,—the only being that could enter into all the counsels and purposes of God.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, 34.BSPC 69.7

    Let us then revere the name of Him who enters into the fullest counsels of the Most High, He who is the thought of God made audible, He who is the alpha and the omega, and, thank God, is also the everlasting Word of the eternal God.BSPC 69.8

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