Equality and Distinction Between “the Word of God” and “the Scriptures” in the Book of Acts (Pt. 1)

“The Word of God” as Equal to, Yet Distinct from, “The Scriptures”

The book of Acts records the earliest days of the Christian church established by the Lord Jesus Christ. After His ascension, the apostles and disciples of Christ sought to fulfill His commission by preaching the Gospel, and teaching all to observe all the things that Christ had taught them.[1]Their ministry, therefore, was to transmit and defend the propositional truths revealed to them by Christ, which we find in the four Gospels, and which they called the Word of God or the Word of the Lord.[2] This Word is equally authoritative, but it is differentiated from Scripture in a number of different places, perhaps most strongly in Acts 17:10-13. Paul’s preaching to the Bereans is not set in opposition to the Scriptures but is, rather, set beside it, as we read in verse 11b: “…they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”

Here we would do well to mark a few things: (i.)what was preached by Paul was the Gospel, seeing as we have established that the phrase “the Word of the Lord” (or “the Word of God”) is, in the book of Acts, synonymous with the Gospel (both in its stricter, proper sense, and in its broader, more inclusive sense); (ii.)the content of this message is differentiated from that which is found in the Old Testament Scriptures; (iii.)the content of the teaching/preaching of Paul is not contradictory to the OT, it is complementary in two respects, viz. (a.)completing OT revelation in the life, death, burial and resurrection of Christ (i.e. the content of the four canonical Gospels), and (b.)fleshing out the details of OT prophecy in light of its fulfillment in Christ; and (iv.)the content of Paul’s teaching/preaching is called “the Word of the Lord” or “the Word of God,” just as the OT is, and is, therefore, implicitly shown to have equal status as the Divinely inspired truth of God.

There is no hierarchy between the OT and the content of the preaching of the apostles, but there is a clear distinction that is maintained which shows us that the two are inseparable from one another, as the OT foretells what would occur, and the teaching/preaching of the apostles explains how those things were accomplished in Christ. Therefore, what we see in the books of Acts in this distinction between the Word of God and the Scriptures is the beginning of the New Testament canon, it would seem, which the Holy Spirit shows us is first contained in the teaching/preaching of the apostles, and is later inscripturated in the 27 books of the New Testament. Christ does the same in Matthew 5:17-18 – where He affirms the nature of the OT Scriptures as inerrant, infallible, unbreakable,[3] etc – and Matthew 24:35 – where He affirms the same things about His own Words,[4] equating His Words with Scripture. The New Testament affirms that all that Christ has commanded (i.e. all that He preached and taught) as well as that which was taught by the apostles and later inscripturated are, in fact, the very To Word of God.

-h.

[Part 2]


Cf. Matthew 28:19-20

[2] Cf. Acts 3:12-26; 4:31; 5:41-42; 6:1-7; 12:24; 13:48-49; 14:5-7; 15:35; 16:10, 30-32; 17:10-13; 18:24-28 & 19:8-10, 19:19-20.

[3] Cf. John 10:35b

[4] These two verses, understood in light of the book of Acts and, especially, the Great Commission, divide God’s revelation to man into two main parts: (i.)the Law (i.e. the Old Testament) and (ii.)the life, death, burial and resurrection of Christ and what doctrines necessarily flow from His them (i.e. the New Testament).

IX. The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.[23]

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6 thoughts on “Equality and Distinction Between “the Word of God” and “the Scriptures” in the Book of Acts (Pt. 1)

  1. Heather says:

    This was an interesting concept, but I think I’m confused, now :)

    Are you saying “Scripture” is the OT and “The Word of God” is what has been recorded in the NT writings?

    Or are you stating that all of the Bible qualifies now as Scripture, but oral or written traditions based on the canonical writings and established by the Church fathers qualify as “The Word of God”?

    Just curious as it wasn’t too long ago that I became aware that Eastern Orthodox faith holds tradition in fairly high regard, as does Roman Catholicism…but neither of those seem to fit the general tone of your posts.

    Like

  2. Hiram says:

    Thanks for stopping by, Heather :)

    I was wondering how the post would come across to others who read it. I wrote the above entry with little time to revise it adequately, so I can understand some of your confusion.

    The gist of what I’m trying to say is this: The New Testament is Scripture and has always been considered Scripture, even when it wasn’t inscripturated. So, the teaching/preaching of the apostles was called “the Word of God”/”the Word of the Lord,” as the Old Testament was/is, before it was written down (presumably). Therefore, the New Testament canon is attested to within the New Testament canon.

    The basic issue I am seeking to address is the idea that somehow the New Testament’s status as Scripture is questionable,by showing from the events following the ascension of our Lord that the “Word of God” was not only the Old Testament but included the New Testament as well, even before it was fully recorded.

    Because the teaching/preaching of the apostles was identified as “the Word of God,” we can say that it too falls under the phrase “All Scripture” in 2 Timothy 3:16. There are some who hold the position that Paul was only saying that the Old Testament was inspired and, therefore, worthy of the title “the Word of God.” Scripture, however, teaches the contrary.

    The Word of God in the book of Acts is the teaching/preaching of the apostles that we find in the New Testament, since their teaching/preaching involved (i.)the biographical details of the life of Christ (i.e. the same material of which the four Gospels are constituted) and (ii.)the inspired exposition of Old Testament texts in their relation to the life of the Lord Jesus and the necessary doctrinal consequences following therefrom (i.e. the same material that we find in the epistles of the apostles).

    I’m still trying to find the right words to express this without it sounding like I’m making a distinction between the essence of the Old Testament and the New Testament (the former being Scripture and the latter being the Word of God), instead of making a distinction between the Old Testament (recognized as the Word of God) and the (proclaimed but not inscripturated) New Testament (also recognized as the Word of God as early as just a short time after the Lord’s ascension).

    Does that help clear things up?

    -h.

    Like

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