by Roy Peachey

One of the most important words for Christians is “word” itself. Or “Word.” The capital letter is important. Why? Because, as St John writes in the bold opening to his Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” The word is not a thing: it is a person. God himself. So why does St John use this word – “Word” – to describe God? To answer that question we need to go back to the very start of the Bible, to the passage that St John is clearly referring to:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.

God’s word has tremendous power. He created everything out of nothing. He spoke and there was light. He spoke and the animals were created. He spoke and Adam was formed in His own image. His Word is not simply a voice echoing in Heaven: he is a person in his own right, the second person of the Trinity, the eternal Son of God.

Now the Trinity is a complicated concept but the key idea to grasp for the moment is that the Word of God became man and “dwelt among us”. It is no surprise, then, that Jesus’ words had great power too, the same power as God the Father demonstrated in creating the world. When Jesus spoke people were healed. He didn’t need to use medicine or magic. His words were enough.

So, the Word of God means God Himself. It means Jesus Christ. But that answer may well raise another question. If the Word of God is God himself then why do we talk about the Bible as the word of God?

The Bible is truly inspired by God – it is vitally important that we read it and learn from it – but the Bible is important because it points us towards the Word of God, towards Christ Himself. In fact, the best way to read the Bible is to do so in the expectation that God will speak to us through it. When we read the Bible we are listening out for Jesus. Jesus, the Word of God, speaks through the words on the page because he wants to enter into a dialogue with us. The relationship is what really matters.

There is one last point to be made about “word.” A couple of years ago I had an interesting chat with some 16-year olds. Many of them thought that there wasn’t good evidence for the truth of Christianity, but that didn’t really matter as long as they had faith, by which they meant a sort of blind belief in God. I tried to explain to them that there is, in fact, plenty of evidence for the truth of Christianity and that faith is not closing your eyes and hoping for the best. In other words, I wanted them to understand that Christianity is a reasonable, rational religion. As Pope Benedict XVI once reminded us, logos, the Greek word St John uses in his Gospel, “means both reason and word”. Our God is a God of reason, not a God who wants blind obedience to stuff we don’t really believe in. He is a God who is reason himself, the Word himself: a God who is always true to his word.

The Creed

The Sacraments



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