What is the meaning of the phrase Word of the Lord?
The question that we are concerned with is, “What is the meaning of the phrase, Word of the Lord?” This brief study will explain its meaning in the Old Testament and what it means in the New Testament.
“Word of the Lord” In The Old Testament
The meaning of the phrase “Word of the Lord” is illustrated for us in Genesis 15:1-4. In this passage God is speaking to Abram.
After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying,
“Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you;
Your reward shall be very great.”
Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will You give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “Since You have given no offspring to me, one born in my house is my heir.” Then behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “This man will not be your heir; but one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.” Genesis 15:1-4. (NASB)
Notice that in verse 1 we are explicitly told that the Lord spoke to Abram in a vision. We are also told that when God spoke these words it was called “the word of the Lord.” Verse 4 illustrates the same point.
Some select examples of the Lord speaking to someone and it being called “the word of the Lord” can be found in Deuteronomy 34:4-5; 1 Samuel 3:1-9; 1 Kings 6:11; Isaiah 39:5; Jeremiah 1:4-8; Ezekiel 6:1-7; Hosea 1:1; Joel 1:1; Jonah 1:1; Micah 1:1; Zephaniah 1:1; Haggai 1:1 and Zechariah 1:1. In each one of these passages the Lord speaks directly to a prophet.
“Word of the Lord” In The New Testament
In the New Testament, the phrase “Word of the Lord” did not change its fundamental meaning. It now had an added nuance in understanding. In Luke 22:61-62 the phrase was still used to refer to God and it referred to our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, “Before a rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. Luke 22:61-62 (NASB)
You will notice that Peter remembered Jesus’ comment to Him, that is recorded in Luke 22:34, that he would deny Christ three times. In this instance the phrase “Word of the Lord” referred to the words of Jesus. Acts 11:16 also used the phrase in reference to Jesus’ words.
Beginning in Acts and running through 1 Peter, the phrase frequently had another slight nuance in meaning. It now also referred to the Scriptures because they are the “Word of the Lord.” The Bible does not contain the Word of the Lord; it is the Word of the Lord (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21). 1 Peter 1:23-25 gives us an explicit statement that reveals the Word of the Lord also refers to Scripture.
. . . through the living and enduring word of God.
“ALL FLESH IS LIKE GRASS,
AND ALL ITS GLORY LIKE THE FLOWER OF GRASS.
THE GRASS WITHERS,
AND THE FLOWER FALLS OFF,
BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ENDURES FOREVER.”
And this is the word which was preached to you. 1 Peter 1:23-25 (NASB)
This means that Word of the Lord can be oral or the written record of God’s communication which we call Scripture. Some other passages that reveal “Word of the Lord” refers to Scripture are Acts 12:24; 13:44, 48-49; 15:35-36; 16:32; 19:10, 20;1 Thessalonians 1:8; 4:15 and 2 Thessalonians 3:1). Every time in the New Testament the “Word of the Lord” refers to the authoritative and inspired words of God.
Have you ever wished you could hear the Lord speak? Then open the Bible and read it. It is the Word of the Lord. The Bible is often called the “Word of Truth” (Psalm 119:43; 2 Timothy 2:15). It is also called the “word of God.” When you read the Bible, imagine God or Christ speaking to you. It is the very words of the Lord.
For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe. 1 Thessalonians 2:13 (NASB)
One of the most important “Words from the Lord” is that He calls us to believe in Christ. For He says,
Behold, now is “THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,” behold, now is “THE DAY OF SALVATION” 2 Corinthians 6:2 (NASB)
We encourage you to read “Searching for God” and discover how to become a Christian.
Suggested Links:What does it mean that the Bible is inspired? – Inspiration of Scripture
How did we get the Bible?
Is the Bible the only source for Christian doctrines?
How can the Bible be the Word of God?
Can we add new books to the Bible? – Is the canon of Scripture closed?
How has God revealed Himself? – General and Specific Revelation
What is revelation?
Why should I read the Bible?
Searching for God