The Meanings of the Expression “Word of God”.

It is according to the Divine Revelation the fact that the ancient set of sacred books assembled under the name of “Bible” is the Word of God. The expression is widely used, both by Catholics and Protestants, and at all levels, from the highest ecclesiastical posts, including the language of Theologians, and reaching the catechesis of the humblest members of the communities. The expression, however, does not have only one sense; although there is an analogical unity among all meanings.

Beginning our Seminary of Biblical Themes, it is convenient to discern the main meanings of the word, both in the Bible and in the Church’s current usage.

The expression “Word of God” is more used in the New Testament than in the Old Testament. In the New, it appears about 36 times, whereas in the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament according to the Canon of the Jews and the Protestants) only 4 times.

However, “Word of God” may be the variant of another equivalent expression, which, by its abundant use in the Old Testament, has more weight of importance: it is the expression “Word of the Lord.”

The main Hebrew form of the expression is דְבַר-יְהוָה, which means “Word of Yahweh; But it may also appear in the form of a sentence (grammatical sense: subject + verb): דְבַר יְהוָה, which means “Yahweh spoke.”

In biblical times, Jews had a pious habit, which lasts to this day, to never pronounce God’s proper name, replacing it in prayers and conversations by other terms, such as “Adonai,” which means “my Lord”. Thus, with the Old Testament being translated into Greek, the expression λόγος κυρίου, Logos Küriou, Word of the Lord [sometimes also as ῥῆμα κυρίου, Rema Küriou] made its appearance, thus generating the Latin version Verbum Domini; in English, finally, “Word of the Lord”.

The expression “Word of the Lord” appears 269 times in the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament according to the Jewish and Protestant canon); 43 of them only in the Pentateuch or Torah (the first five books of the Bible following Genesis to Revelation).

by Br. Cristóvão Oliveira, NDS.

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