ANSWER: We often refer to the Bible as "the Word," and indeed it is God's Word. We certainly can and should be most thankful that God has given us His word in written form, and that it has been translated from the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek languages in which it was originally written into many present-day languages, including our own English. The Bible is authoritative and complete. "Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven" (Ps. 119:89 NKJV). We are not to add to it or take away from it. But in the beginning of the Gospel of John, it is not the Bible that is in focus. It is a Person, a divine Person, who is being presented. He is called "the Word," and as such, He is the full expression of the mind and heart of God. In the Greek language the word Logos is both a thought or concept and the expression of that thought or concept. So this Person and it is Christ who is here mentioned, not a Book was with God and was Himself God. He was with God in the beginning and all things, absolutely all things, were made by Him. He is the One in whom is life and this life was the light of men.
We repeat, these things are said of a Person, a divine Person, not of a Book, wonderful as this Book may be. Whereas all else had its beginning in time, this One is introduced as already existing in the beginning. He had no beginning. He has always existed, regardless of whether man can comprehend such a thing, or not. These truths stagger the human heart and imagination.
“God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (Jn. 4:23). We humans are tripartite beings, composed of spirit, soul, and body (1 Th. 5:23). For the Word to be able to communicate with man, to be able to be the expression of the mind of God, He had to stoop to become Man. Becoming Man also was necessary for Him to be able to die for us (Heb. 2:9), for death is the separation of the soul and spirit from the body, and One who is purely Spirit would not be able to die. This is why we read, “The Word became flesh.” Only so men would be able to understand “that the worlds were framed by the Word of God” (Heb. 11:3). And only so He would be able to be “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29).
Tremendous truth is expressed in these few succinct sentences at the beginning of John’s gospel. Human words and our English conventions of grammar and capitalization are quite inadequate to convey the full scope of what God is telling us. “The Word” spoken of in this portion is our Lord Jesus Christ who is absolutely and fully God, and who is yet “with God.” Proverbs 8 presents Him as the wisdom of God personified, expanding on this thought that He was “with God.” We humans, beings of flesh and blood, can know God in the Person of Jesus Christ, who is “the Word,” for He “became flesh and dwelt among us.” We might say that in His great grace He stooped to our level; yet while He was true Man, He was still God no less than before. He is God and Man in one living Person, a truth that defies human reasoning and understanding.
The Bible too is God’s Word, that which God has been pleased to communicate to us in writing. It was given to us through the instrumentality of “holy men of God” who “spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:21). It is the wonderful revelation of the mind of God, revealed to us by the Spirit of God, as we find in the second half of 1 Corinthians 2.
There are wonderful parallels between the Lord Jesus as the living Word and the Bible as the written Word of God, but we cannot say that the one becomes the other. The Lord Jesus spoke of Himself as “the Truth” (Jn. 14:6), and that same evening in His prayer to the Father said, “Your word is truth” (Jn. 17:17). In that same verse He prayed, “Sanctify them by Your truth,” and in Ephesians 5:26 we read that He sanctifies and cleanses the Church with the washing of water by the word. The Lord Jesus and the Bible, while both the Word of God, are always clearly differentiated and should not be confounded or confused.
Answer by Eugene P. Vedder, Jr.
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org