A brief word at the beginning of each post will help keep the purpose of these posts in mind as this blog goes forward. If you haven’t read the introductory post, I suggest that you take the time to do it before reading on. I am keeping the posts short so that they can be quickly read and digested. It is my hope that you will reflect on these articles and put them to the test. When you encounter something that seems counter to everything you have been taught or know to be true…remember the assignment….smile…be a Berean
In the last post…we looked at what Jesus said in the four gospels about scripture, the law and prophets and, the word of God; Specifically, his definition of the term word of God in Luke 8:11. Let’s move on to how the Book of Acts uses the phrase word of God.
First, the phrase is used in twelve verses. And, when you read the verses in context, in each of them, the phrase only makes sense when the meaning of the phrase is gospel. In other words, if you try to replace the phrase with scripture it does not make sense but, if you replace the phrase with the gospel, it is obvious that gospel was the intended meaning. And yet, to the average evangelical, the first connotative meaning attached to the phrase is scripture. Here are a few examples of the apostolic meaning:
And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. (Act 4:31)
In the above verse, the clause, they spoke the gospel with boldness makes perfect sense but it does not make sense to say that they were speaking the scripture with boldness because all of the Jews spoke the scripture and it did not take boldness to speak the scripture. They memorized scripture from the time that they were small children on.
Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith. (Act 6:7)
In Acts six they were only speaking to Jews because the Gentiles were not included in the evangelizing until Acts chapter 10 so, when you read Acts 6:7, it only makes sense when you see the word of God as the gospel….the gospel spread and the number of disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem …and conversely it would not make sense to say that the scripture spread
Here are all of the scripture passages that have the phrase the word of God in them in the book of Acts: (Act_4:31; Act_6:2; Act_6:7; Act_8:14; Act_11:1; Act_12:24; Act_13:5; Act_13:7; Act_13:44; Act_13:46; Act_17:13; Act_18:11;) In each of them, the only term that makes sense when substituted, is the gospel. Using the word scripture will not work in any of them. Check it out for yourself.
By the same token, the word scripture is used seven times in the book of acts to describe what was written their sacred scripture and, the Law… or, the Law and the Prophets… are mentioned in 20 verses. It is clear that the apostles and, contemporaries of Jesus saw the difference between the scripture and the word of God. As we move forward with this blog, it will become obvious that the first century saints never referred to the scripture as the word of God.
Again you may ask, “so what?”
Well, for one thing, you should ask yourself “why did they make the distinction and how did we end up changing this meaning?” We will provide an answer in the long run as these posts develop but for now, please check out closely what has been written so far. As always, I would love your comments as this goes forward.