Re: The Word of God and Scripture

From: E.D. Cabanne (
Date: Fri Mar 06 1998 - 05:24:10 EST

> From: clayton stirling bartholomew <>
> To: E.D. Cabanne <>
> Cc: B-Greek <>
> Subject: Re: The Word of God and Scripture
> Date: Monday, March 02, 1998 3:05 AM
> E.D. Cabanne wrote:
> >
> > Is the phrase "the word of God" (with either logos or rhema) clearly
> > unequivocally equated with "scripture" (graphe) anywhere in the Bible?
I am
> > asking a strictly exegetical (distinguished from theological) question
> > here. My own findings indicate that this term is almost always distinct
> > from written scripture. I would be very interested in what everyone has
> > say about this, and look forward to a discussion of scriptures that
> > connect the two and further enlighten me.
> >
> I am not going to get embroiled in what is quite clearly a theological
> squabble in the making. I did however use Accordance to cull up some
> worth evaluation. I will leave that evaluation to someone else. I think
> 15:1-6 (note verse 5) is worth some close scrutiny and also John 10:31-36
> (note verse 35). If you are looking for something like a formula using
> equative verb you are not going to find it.
        Clayton, thank you for your well considered response. I share your concern
to avoid the theological thickets. I definitely don't want to argue
theology either, which is why I stressed the exegetical rather than
theological question. I have waded into a few hundred pages of Barth and
much secondary material. I have I also have checked evangelicals with a
similar bent regarding a diastasis between the Word and Scripture such as
Ramm, Bloesch, Pinnock, Grenz, Tozer. On the other side I have taken
seriously Warfield's apologetics, still alive and kicking after all these
years. I find it is one thing to assert, construct or conclude
theologically that there is (or is not as in Warfield) some kind or another
of a distinguishable meaning, an interval between word and scripture. It is
quite another to show your work and definitively prove it. Theologians may
get the right answers (occasionally by the Grace of God) but they rarely
show their work. I have scoured theological abstracts for studies on this
and found only a few. If you or anyone else finds some, please let me know.

        This is why I raise the exegetical question regarding specifically the
Biblical sense of "the Word of God" and its relation (not exactly equation
as I poorly put it) to scripture. No, I certainly am not looking for an
equative verb. I am looking for a contextual semantic relation of near
synonymity between scripture and scripture's own technical usage of the
phrase "the word of God"; a clear indication that scripture itself refers
to itself in terms of "the word of God": something that might validate all
the glib talk we hear nowadays about the "Word of God" (usually taken to
mean scripture and the Bible, pure and simple without a hint of the nuances
of exegetical considerations).
         I realize that a full theology of Word and Scripture entails more than
this phrase, but I find it unacceptable to jump into constructing, or
defending such a theology without giving this phrase its due attention,
which is something even Warfield (and many of his inerrantist offspring)
amidst lots of talk of rhema, logos or graphe, amazingly ignores. It is
exegetical groundwork that is needed here and B-greek is, it seems to me
an appropriate forum for such considerations.
        The two verses you supplied confirm more than disconfirm my observations.
They are good examples of about the best anyone can come up with; which
frankly isn't much as I see it. Contextually it seems obvious that neither
are directly concerned with this issue. In Matthew 15:6 other versions have
nomon or entolen for logon, which I think fits more with the intended
"meaning" of the context if not with the original "wording". I consider
this verse weaker than the latter.
         Now John 10:35 is a bit stronger and I found one exegetical study that
said this verse is the only place where the Word of God is linked to
written scripture. Perhaps. I would like to hear what other B-greekers have
to say about this. However, so far I don't see it here either.
         I see ho logos tou theou egeneto referring to ekeinous (those) and ous
(whom) and not to he graphe (note the singular). The scripture that cannot
be broken is not so much referring to "the word of God" as it is to nomos,
the torah or law as scripture. The reference to scripture is a rhetorical
usage, even put in parentheses by the NASB. Furthermore, if we translate
eipen as "it" calls rather than "he" calls, as the NAB does, then it is a
bit more clearly the law and not scripture that may be implied. Further, if
we follow the NRSV and avoid both "it" and "he" and just stress "to whom
the word of God came were called" the focus again seems to be not on
scripture or even so much on the word of God, but more to those to whom it
        Of course if we assume that anything God says (in scripture via
inspiration) is his "Word", then in that sense we can easily construe that
it can be implying that the law is the same as the Word of God. But this is
introducing a foreign logic (however appealing to common sense) into the
text. I don't think Luther, for one, would agree with this, considering his
writing about Moses and the Word of God, though this is the kind of
argument Warfield developed.
         In conclusion, I want to say that perhaps the critical key to the
Biblical intention of the phrase the word of God is actually found in the
next word the OT so frequently includes and which your well chosen example
from John also contains: "came", "the Word of God Came".
        This coming, being, presence of God, his power and expression in an
eventful happening is what I think is the critical living charismatic
experiential and spiritual key that is misplaced if not lost today in
facile equations of the word of God with the Bible or scripture. Let us not
forget that this "coming" is linked to the very Name God gave Himself on
Sinai: He is the One Who Comes, Who Is, and Will Be.
        Thanks for your patience, insight and diligence
                                  E.D. Cabanne
> For those who want a theological discussion of this topic I think Karl
> probably devote a few thousand pages to the subject in "Church
> Also Emil Brunner, in the "Divine Human Encounter" has touched on this
> subject. I thoroughly disagree with both of these authors who also
> with each other. And with that I will drop this topic.
> --
> Clayton Stirling Bartholomew
> Three Tree Point
> P.O. Box 255 Seahurst WA 98062

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