top of page

The Written and Living Word of God

What is the relationship between the “written word” (The Bible) and the “Living Word (Jesus).” This should not be a complicated subject. No one needs to veer off into some strange/odd expositional territory.

Also, there is a tendency today to treat the written word of God as less in some ways, for whatever reason. This should never be done. The Bible itself champions its own virtues and values!

Psalm 138:2

I will worship toward thy holy temple,

And praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth:

For thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.

Neither the written word of God nor the living Word of God should ever be minimized, especially by those who claim to love it!

A simple biblical explanation, offered here, concerning the written and the living Word of God should suffice to help clear any misunderstanding.

For this article I will only offer quotes from various authorities concerning this matter. I simply want you to see what others have said about this subject.

  • Charles Spurgeon -

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”—Hebrews 4:12.

"Those who are fond of a labyrinth of exposition will find a maze perplexing to the last degree if they will read the various commentators and expositors upon this verse. This is the question: By the Word of God, are we here to understand the Incarnate Word, the Divine Logos, who was in the beginning with God; or does the passage relate to this inspired Book, and to the gospel, which is the kernel of it, as it is set forth in the preaching of the truth in the power of the Holy Ghost? You shall find Dr. John Owen, with a very large number of eminent servants of God, defending the first theory, that the Son of God is doubtless here spoken of; and I confess that they seem to me to defend it with arguments which I should not like to controvert. Much more is to be said on this side of the question than I can here bring before you.

"On the other side, we find John Calvin, with an equally grand array of divines, all declaring that it must be the Book that is meant, the gospel, the revelation of God in the Book. Their interpretation of the passage is not to be set aside, and I feel convinced that they all give as good reasons for their interpretation as those who come to the other conclusion.

"Where such Doctors differ, I am not inclined to present any interpretation of my own which can be set in competition with theirs, though I may venture to propound one which comprehends them all, and so comes into conflict with none. It is a happy circumstance if we can see a way to agree with all those who did not themselves agree. But I have been greatly instructed by the mere fact that it should be difficult to know whether in this passage the Holy Ghost is speaking of the Christ of God, or the Book of God. This shows us a great truth, which we might not otherwise have so clearly noted.

"How much that can be said of the Lord Jesus may be also said of the inspired volume! How closely are these two allied! How certainly do those who despise the one reject the other! How intimately are the Word made flesh, and the Word uttered by inspired men, joined together!

"It may be most accurate to interpret this passage as relating both to the Word of God incarnate, and the Word of God inspired. Weave the two into one thought, for God hath joined them together, and you will then see fresh lights and new meanings in the text.

The Word of God, namely, this revelation of himself in Holy Scripture, is all it is here described to be, because Jesus, the incarnate Word of God, is in it. He doth, as it were, incarnate himself as the divine truth in this visible and manifest revelation; and thus it becomes living and powerful, dividing and discerning. As the Christ reveals God, so this Book reveals Christ, and therefore it partakes, as the Word of God, in all the attributes of the Incarnate Word; and we may say many of the same things of the written Word as of the embodied Word; in fact, they are now so linked together that it would be impossible to divide them (1).

  • Irving Jensen The Prophecy and Lamentations of Jeremiah are two of the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament. They are part of the infallibly written Word of God. They are related also to the living Word of God, Jesus Christ, because He is the theme of the Bible’s story. The accompanying tabulation of the common characteristics of the written and living Word of God suggests, among other things, that a Christian application of Old Testament books is unavoidable. (2)


The Word of God


Common Characteristics


2 Tim. 3:16

Divine Origin

John 1:1

Heb. 1:1

Human Nature

Heb. 2:14

Rom. 3:2

Jewish Mediation

Heb. 7:14

Ps. 119:138


Rev. 19:11

John 17:17


John 14:6

John 10:35

Without Error (Sin)

"Utterly Reliable"

Heb. 4:15

Matt. 5:18


Heb. 1:8

1 Peter 1:24–25


Heb. 13:8

Rom. 1:16*

Power of God

1 Cor. 1:24

2 Peter 1:4


1 Peter 2:7

Heb. 4:12

Sharp Sword

Rev. 19:15

Ps. 119:105


John 8:12

Luke 4:4 (from Deut. 8:3)


John 6:51

Ps. 119:129


Isa. 9:6

1 Cor. 15:2


Heb. 7:25

1 Tim. 4:5


1 Cor. 1:2

1 Peter 1:22


Titus 2:14

Ps. 119:9


1 John 1:7

Ps. 107:20


Matt. 4:24

1 Peter 2:2


John 6:58

John 8:32


Gal. 5:1

Ps. 119:50

Makes Alive

John 5:21

1 Peter 1:23

Begets Sons

1 Peter 1:3

Matt. 5:18

(Ps. 119:89)

Lives Forever

Rev. 1:18

  • R.C. Sproul -

"Authority in Christianity belongs to God in His revelation, which means, on the one hand, Jesus Christ, the living Word, and, on the other hand, Holy Scripture, the written Word. The authority of Christ and that of Scripture are one. By authenticating each other’s authority, Christ and Scripture coalesce into a single fount of authority. The biblically interpreted Christ and the Christ-centered, Christ-proclaiming Bible are from this standpoint one. As from the fact of inspiration, we infer that what Scripture says, God says, so from the revealed relation between Jesus Christ and Scripture we may equally declare that what Scripture says, Christ says. (3)

  • Got Questions Ministries -

"God wants us to forget about this world and all its temporary pleasures and be obedient to His Word. Jesus is the living Word (John 1:1), and the Bible is God’s written Word. Therefore, conforming to the Word of God is conforming to Christ." (4)

  • The Biblical Illustrator -

"The great purpose of the Spirit that of leading readers of the Bible to Christ. The written Word is to tell of the living Word, and would never have been written but for that." (D. G. Watt, M.A.)Intelligent reading of Holy Scripture:—(5)

  • The Bible in the Real World -

“Jesus is the living Word; the Bible is the written Word. Somehow we put a little less power in the written Word when we shouldn’t. These words contain the power to accomplish what they are talking about. The Bible says God’s Word will not return void but will accomplish the purpose for which it was said.” (6)

  • William Hendricks states:

The Spirit of God Bears Witness to His Word and Draws Men to God

"The term “word of God” has deep roots in Old Testament thought. When God spoke it was done (Gen. 1). The Greek term logos (word) also had rich and varied meanings in Greek soil. Perhaps one could best say that “word of God” means the instrument which accomplishes his purpose and will. In this light, Jesus Christ is God’s first and last Word.

"The words and message about Jesus became the word of God which is announced to men. When this message about Jesus the Word was put in written form it became for Christians the word of God, because it effectively tells and expresses God’s intent in Jesus the Word. A threefold use of word is helpful. Jesus is the living Word; proclamation about Jesus is the spoken word; and the New Testament records are the written Word. In New Testament days the Spirit of God was related first and foremost to Jesus, then to the proclamation of the word. The word comes to men today also in written form, and the contemporary church feels that the Spirit bears witness to this written word." (7)

  • Got Questions Ministries

What Is the Rhema Word?

There are two primary Greek words that describe Scripture which are translated “word” in the New Testament. The first, logos, refers principally to the total inspired Word of God and to Jesus, who is the living Word. Logos is found in John 1:1; Luke 8:11; Philippians 2:16; Hebrews 4:12; and other verses. The second Greek word translated “word” is rhema, which refers to the spoken word. Rhema literally means an utterance (individually, collectively or specifically). Examples are found in Luke 1:38; 3:2; 5:5; and Acts 11:16).....

Evangelical Christians, however, have a much different understanding of rhema, believing that it is essentially synonymous with logos. In other words, the specific guidance we receive from the Holy Spirit at any given time can only be discerned by the general principles laid down in the Bible. Where the Bible is silent on specifics—such as where a young person should go to college—then the Christian applies biblical principles (good stewardship of God-given resources, protecting one’s heart and mind from godless influences, etc.) to the situation and thereby arrives at a decision.

The test of the authenticity of a rhema from God is how it compares to the whole of Scripture. Orthodoxy says that God will not speak a word that contradicts His written Word, the Scriptures, so there is a built-in safeguard to prevent misinterpretation. The obvious danger is that one who is not familiar with the logos can misinterpret or misunderstand what he or she perceives to be a rhema. (8)

  • The Companion Bible -

The Bible claims to be the Word of God, coming from Himself as His revelation to man. If these claims be not true, then the Bible cannot be even “a good book”. In this respect “the living Word” is like the written Word; for, if the claims of the Lord Jesus to be God were not true, He could not be even “a good man”. As to those claims, man can believe them, or leave them. In the former case, he goes to the Word of God, and is overwhelmed with evidences of its truth; in the latter case, he abandons Divine revelation for man’s imagination. (9)

Concerning Psalm 119:89 I would like to offer a few commentary statements as well. The Word of God is eternal. His written word was not an afterthought. His word is the essential expression of himself and is as eternal and stable as He is.

Psalm 119:89


89  For ever, O Lord,

Thy word is settled in heaven.

  • Commenatary on the Old Testament

Ps. 119:89–96. The eightfold Lamed. Eternal and imperishable in the constant verifying of itself is the vigorous and consolatory word of God, to which the poet will ever cling. It has heaven as its standing-place, and therefore it also has the qualities of heaven, and before all others, heaven-like stability. (10)

  • Augustine of Hippo

89. The man who speaketh in this Psalm, as if he were tired of human mutability, whence this life is full of temptations, among his tribulations, on account of which he had above said, “The wicked have persecuted me;”1 and, “They have almost made an end of me upon earth”2 (ver. 89); burning with longings for the heavenly Jerusalem; looked up to the realms above, and said, “O Lord, Thy word endureth for ever in heaven;” that is, among Thy Angels who serve everlastingly in Thine armies, without desertion.1  (11)

  • Matthew Henry - Verses 89–91

Here, 1. The psalmist acknowledges the unchangeableness of the word of God and of all his counsels: “For ever, O Lord! thy word is settled. Thou art for ever thyself (so some read it); thou art the same, and with thee there is no variableness, and this is a proof of it. Thy word, by which the heavens were made, is settled there in the abiding products of it;” or the settling of God’s word in heaven is opposed to the changes and revolutions that are here upon earth. All flesh is grass; but the word of the Lord endures for ever. It is settled in heaven, that is, in the secret counsel of God, which is hidden in himself and is far above out of our sight, and is immovable, as mountains of brass. And his revealed will is as firm as his secret will; as he will fulfil the thoughts of his heart, so no word of his shall fall to the ground; (12)

  • Motyer -

trustworthy word remains our rule for the present (83, 87, 88) and our hope for the future (81–82).

89–96 Lamedh. Word without end. The Hebrew word ‘for ever’, occurring as eternal (89) and as never (93), divides the section into two parts: the Lord’s word and commitment to the word are alike ‘for ever’. Thought moves from the word in heaven (89) to the word personally enjoyed (92), and then from the word personally enjoyed (93) to the word in its own boundless nature (96). Your word (89), expressing as it does the nature and the will of the Lord, is the fixed point of heaven. But the Lord is the same on earth (90). His faithfulness, unvarying consistency, remains, undergirding successive generations of people and giving stability to the earth they inhabit (13)

  • Fausett -

89. For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven. The Hebrew accent, Athnach, recommends rather the division of the verse into two members, “For ever (thou art), O Lord: thy word is settled in heaven.” Thus the first clause of this verse answers to the first of v. 90, “Thy faithfulness is unto all generations;” as the second answers to the second of v. 90, “thou hast established the earth (answering to “in heaven” here), and it abideth.” “Thy word is settled in heaven”—i. e., is as unchangeable as the heaven itself is by thy appointment (Ps. 89:2). It is there perfectly known and established, whereas all earthly things are liable to fluctuation and revolution. 90. Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: thou hast established the earth, and it abideth—by the power of “thy Word,” which “is settled in heaven.” Thy Word at creation spake the earth into existence (Ps. 33:9), the same Word maintains and causes it to abide. Though “one generation passeth away, and another cometh,” yet, “the earth abideth for ever” (Eccl. 1:4). (14)

  • Matthew Poole

  • ל lamed.

89 For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven.

Although many things happen upon earth which seem contrary to thy word, and at which men take occasion to question the truth of thy word, yet in heaven it is sure and certainly true. In heaven; either, 1. With thee in thy heavenly habitation, or in thy breast; as thy nature is unchangeable, so thy word is infallible. Or rather, 2. In the heavenly bodies, which are not subject to those changes and decays which are in this lower world, but constantly continue the same in their substance, and order, and courses, and this by virtue of that word of God by which they were made and established in this manner; and therefore God’s word delivered to his people upon earth, which is of the same nature, must needs be of equal certainty and stability. This sense best suits with the following verses, and with other scriptures, wherein the certainty of God’s word is set forth by comparing it with the stability of the heaven and the earth, as Matt. 5:18, and elsewhere. (15)

l Ps. 89:2. Matt. 24:34, 35. 1 Pet. 1:25.

Psalm 119:89


89  For ever, O Lord,

Thy word is settled in heaven.

  1. Forever -

2. Settled -

Rest confident in the Word of God

Isaiah 40:8

8  The grass withereth, the flower fadeth:

But the word of our God shall stand for ever.

1 Peter 1:25

25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

Matthew 24:35

35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

Psalm 119:152

152  Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old

That thou hast founded them for ever.

Psalm 119:160

160  Thy word is true from the beginning:

And every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.

Luke 21:33

33 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.



(1) C. H. Spurgeon, “The Word a Sword,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 34 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1888), 109–110.

(2) Tabulation is by Norman Geisler, Christ: The Theme of the Bible, p. 112. Used by permission.

* Some of these verses refer to the spoken word of God which later became the written Word of God.

Irving L. Jensen, Jermiah and Lamentations, Everyman’s Bible Commentary (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1974), 150–152

(3) R. C. Sproul, Can I Trust the Bible?, vol. 2, The Crucial Questions Series (Lake Mary, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing, 2009), xxiv-xxv.

(4) Got Questions Ministries, Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2002–2013).

(6) Don Moen: The Harmonic Life,” in The Bible in the Real World: 31 Inspiring Interviews, ed. Rebecca Van Noord, Jessi Strong, and John D. Barry, Bible Study Magazine (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014).

(7) William L. Hendricks, “The Theology of the New Testament,” in Matthew–Mark, ed. Clifton J. Allen, Broadman Bible Commentary (Broadman Press, 1969), 39–40.

(8) Got Questions Ministries, Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2002–2013).

(10) Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 5 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), 743–744.

(11) 1 Ps. 119:86. 2 Ps. 119:87.

Augustine of Hippo, “Expositions on the Book of Psalms,” in Saint Augustin: Expositions on the Book of Psalms, ed. Philip Schaff, trans. A. Cleveland Coxe, vol. 8, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1888), 575.

(13) J. A. Motyer, “The Psalms,” in New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, ed. D. A. Carson et al., 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 569.

(14) A. R. Fausset, A Commentary, Critical, Experimental, and Practical, on the Old and New Testaments: Job–Isaiah, vol. III (London; Glasgow: William Collins, Sons, & Company, Limited, n.d.), 368.

(15) Matthew Poole, Annotations upon the Holy Bible, vol. 2 (New York: Robert Carter and Brothers, 1853), 187.

8 views0 comments


Obtuvo 0 de 5 estrellas.
Aún no hay calificaciones

Agrega una calificación
bottom of page