"The Word" in Acts

In our last discussion, we looked at how the Jews of the Old Testament, especially the Psalmist, viewed the Scriptures as the "Word" of God in written form. This reverence and respect for the Scriptures carried over to believers in the New Testament era. 

In the Acts of the Apostles, two words, "λόγος," [logos] and "ῥῆμα" [rhema], are words that translate into English as the term "word." However, only three times—in Acts 10:37, 11:16, and 28:25—does the word "ῥῆμα" appear. The Greek word ῥῆμα means ".. …an utterance (individual, collective, or speculative). . .used to refer to matter or topic . . ." (Strong's Concordance). Throughout the rest of Acts, Luke uses the term "λόγος." To Luke, the term Greek word "λύγος

referred not only to specific individual words said by  Christians (Acts 8:25, 10:44, 13:5.7) but also to a topic “. . . of discourse doctrine, preaching. . . , speech . . . , tidings . . . ." and even the 'work' the apostles themselves."

For Luke and the other early Christians, ῥῆμα "was usually too restrictive a term to use in speaking of the entirety of God's revelation to humanity. Only the λόγος could indicate the breath of meaning they understood of the Word of God (Acts 6:7).

This perspective of the “λόγος" was a result of the power and life that the early Christians saw demonstrated in and through God's Word. Luke and the other Christians profoundly appreciated the Word of God because of this living power. For them, the Word of God contained, not dead accounts of ancient Hebrew heroes, but the "motive" and "divine Expression" of God (Strong's Concordance) as revealed in the life of Jesus and His bride (Is. 61:10; Rev. 22:17), the Church. "Therefore, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord." (Acts 13:34).

 Like the Psalmist, the early Christians believed God had revealed His will to man through His Word (Acts 2:36-41). This Word, however, consisted not only in the written Law and the Prophets (Acts 13:15) but also in the revelation given by the life, death, and suffering of Jesus Christ and in His teachings (Acts 2:22-40, 10:36). [Remember, the actual writing of the New Testament began around 50 AD]. Therefore, "receiving the Word" involved more than just hearing God's purpose and plan of salvation. The fulness of God's revelation was revealed by Jesus' fulfilling the Old Testament Scripture. Accepting Jesus as their Lord and Savior was a v focus of the Word of God (Acts 10:37; 13:5,46; 14:15; 17:13) and necessary for properly receiving the Word ( Acts 4:4, 8:14;  15:7; 17:11). 

Then they that gladly received his word were baptized;

and the same day . . .  were added. . .  three thousand

souls. [Acts 2:41. See Acts 4:4; 8:14; 11:1; 3:5, 26]. 

The Christians saw this proclamation of the Gospel (Acts 13:49, 15:35, 36; 16:6) as more than just a dutiful retelling of events. The disciples sought God to enable them to speak "the Word" with all boldness (Acts 4:29; see 4:31; 14:3). The disciples spoke confidently, for they believed the words that they said were "the Word of God." They believed that the actual words spoken were the precise words God desired for them to say, for "they testified and preached the Word of the Lord" (Acts 25. See also Acts 26:22-23; Acts. 4:29). The Christians spoke under the direct leading of the Holy Spirit (Mt. 10:18, Lk. 21:15, 1 Co. 2:13, Acts 4:31). It was not their words that they uttered, but God's (Acts 4:29; 4:31; 14:3). 

Since the Holy Spirit gave the disciples the words to speak, the early Christians realized four things:

  • First, the words spoken under the direction of the Holy Spirit gave life to people by bringing them to salvation.
  • This power to bring people back into a relationship with God was supernatural.
  • That this power lay to save came from the Word itself, not from the persuasive abilities of any person.
  • The Word, the revelation of God, was itself alive. 

As Luke later wrote, "… the word of God grew and multipled" (Acts 12:24).

 Although God used men as His vehicles (Acts 6:2), the "ministry of the Word" (Acts 6:4) was not the result of the power or the ministry of any person. The power of the Gospel was the power of God working in the hearts of men (Acts 13:48, 16:32).  God's Word grew as It united the hearts of men with their Lord. "And the Word of God increased; (Acts 6:7, see 19:20).

 The Word manifested Itself in the disciples just as the Word once manifested Itself through Jesus (Jn. 1:14). The early Christians  recognized that the Word empowered men (Acts 14:3) and provided wisdom and direction (Acts 15:35; 18:11). Thus, while the early Christians desired spiritual gifts (1 Co. 14:1), they loved God's Word for

 . . . the Word of His grace, . . . . is able to build You up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified"  (Acts 20:32).  

Thus, the early Christians revered the Word of God. For them, the ministry of the Word was both the highest ambition and responsibility (Acts 6:2) a person could walk in. They understood that "The Word which God sent unto the children of Israel. (Acts 10:36) was for: "whosoever . . . . feareth God" (Acts 13:26). For them, the Word was not a record of past deeds, but a living Gospel of hope and joy. The Word gave direction to their lives (Acts 16:6), blessings (Acts 10:34-44), understanding (Acts 17:11), and the joy of salvation (Acts 16:31-32).


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