If you have ever been part of a Christian community, you have probably heard the phrase “Word of God” with a capital “W.’ In some Christian communities, you may have heard this phrase being used synonymously with the Bible.
But does “Word of God” actually mean the text of the Bible? Or is it something bigger than that?
First, let’s assume the Bible is what’s meant by the “Word of God.” There are over 3,700 Bibles on the market in the United States today, each with different texts included and excluded, and each with varying translations. So which one is the “Word of God”? Which one supposedly contains inerrant truth? Language scholars will tell you that language fails to communicate meaning perfectly, and the reader plays a large role in a text’s understood meaning. So whose meaning or interpretation is the correct “Word of God”?
Answer: all of them and none of them! The “Word of God” goes beyond biblical texts. The “Word of God” is what grows your fingernails. It is what grows newborn babies into adults. It is what brings leaves back each year after they appear to die each winter. The “Word of God” is the very breath we take. The “Word of God” is life itself.
The Gospel of John says: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
So right away we can see that to original Christians, the “Word of God” goes beyond biblical texts. God’s Word was there in the beginning with God. John goes so far as to say that the Word was God. The Bible did not exist in the beginning. The authors of the Bible were not yet born. The “Word of God” predates biblical texts.
So what does “Word of God” mean? The original Gospels were written in Greek. The original Greek word for Word is Logos.
Logos is a noun meaning word, speech, message, argument, book, story, reason, and more. This dictionary definition alone makes it seem like Word is an accurate enough translation. But encyclopedia definitions help us get at the truer essense of a word more than a simple and direct dictionary definition. The encyclopedia definition of Logos shows us more about how the word was being understood in the Greek culture. It comes from Greek philosophy and religion, referring to universal divine entity and reason which is present in all of creation and the cosmos. So it can be understood that what the Gospel writer, John, meant by “Word of God” is that which is present in all of creation. This goes beyond biblical texts.
Let’s still take it a little further. The Aramaic Bible (Aramaic was Jesus’s language) read: In the beginning [of creation] there was the Miltha; and that Milhta was with Allaha; and Allaha was [the embodiment of] that Miltha. (Allaha = God)
So what does Miltha mean? English has translated Miltha as Word, but there is no English translation that captures the true meaning of Miltha. Miltha means an idea, vision, manifestation, and infinite expansion happening simultaneously. It means consciousness and matter. It means all things visible and invisible showing up at the exact same time. (Doesn’t this sound awfully familiar to the Big Bang? It’s almost as if modern science and ancient wisdom revealed in the Bible are telling the same story!) Miltha has no clear distinction between today and tomorrow, between insiders and outsiders. Miltha is accessible to all, in every moment. This is not true of the Bible, though. The Bible is not accessible to all. How lovely to have a creator who wrote their very Word in creation and life itself? We only need to notice it along our journey.
The Bible points to Miltha, Logos, and the Word. But the “Word of God” is bigger than one book and one tradition. The Bible points us to a long tradition of people who witnessed the “Word of God” everywhere, every day. We can witness this, too. We can read creation like a holy book. We can read the “Word of God” the next time we go for a hike in the mountains, have a picnic in the grass, talk with a neighbor, or take our next breath. We can read the “Word of God” when we cut our fingernails that refuse to stop growing.