In response to detractors in Thessalonica, the apostle Paul affirmed that he did not preach his own opinions but the pure Word of God: "when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh in you that believe" (I Thess. 2:13).
The Word of God mentioned here is not simply the Word of God written (the OT) for Paul tells us that he spoke (4) and "preached" (9) it. Thus the Thessalonians "received the word of God which ye heard of us" (13). The word "us" (13) indicates that not only Paul’s preaching but also that of Timothy and Silvanus (or Silas) (1:1) was the Word of God. In fact, God speaks His Word through all preachers "sent" by Christ who faithfully expound the Scriptures (Rom. 10:14-15). I Thessalonians 2:13 calls preaching "the word of God" twice adding that it is the Word of God "in truth." Thus the Second Helvetic Confession (1566) declares, "The preaching of the Word of God is the Word of God." The Westminster Larger Catechism states, "It is required of those that hear the word preached that they ... receive the truth ... as the word of God" (A 160).
The doctrine that the faithful preaching of the Word of God is the Word of God requires clarification. Does it not confuse preaching and the Bible, some might ask? Indeed, preaching and the Bible need to be distinguished. The Bible is the Word of God written; preaching is the Word of God preached. The Bible is infallible; preaching is fallible. The Bible is the standard for truth; preaching needs to be tested by the standard of Scripture. Preaching is the Word of God in a derivative sense taking its authority from the Bible.
Though the Scriptures are sufficient as God’s written revelation, Christ has instituted the visible church as the pillar and ground of His truth (I Tim. 3:15) to hold it up in the world chiefly by preaching, the proclamation of God’s Word. Faithful preaching opens up, explains and applies the written Word, for as the Westminster Confession states, "The whole counsel of God ... is either expressly set down in scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from scripture" (1:6). As a faithful exposition of the Word of God by a sent and ordained man, preaching is the Word of God. In faithful preaching, God speaks; Christ speaks; the Holy Spirit speaks.
In a synagogue in Thessalonica, for "three sabbath days [Paul] reasoned with [the Jews] out of the scriptures, opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ" (Acts 17:2-3). This preaching "is in truth, the word of God" (I Thess. 2:13).
- Volume: 9
- Issue: 20
Rev. Angust Stewart (Wife: Mary)
Ordained - 2001
Pastorates: Covenant Protestant Reformed Church of Ballymena, Northern Ireland - 2001Website: www.cprf.co.uk/
Address7 Lislunnan Road
State or ProvinceCo.Antrim
Zip CodeBT42 3NR
Telephone(01144) 28 25 891851