I’ve spent a great deal of time studying this word play between “the Word” as a title of Jesus Christ and “the word” that we can hold in our hands as our Bibles. The phrase “the word of life” can apply to both of them, brethren.
When discussing this topic, it’s most common to go to the gospel of John, but I’d like to start in another one of John’s writings.
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life — the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us (1 John 1:1-2)
John and the Word
The apostle John seemed to have a special relationship with Jesus Christ, and a unique way of expressing it in writing. He describes Jesus as “the Word” here and in John 1:1, 14, and in the opening lines of this epistle he calls Him “the Word of life.” Jesus Himself said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). That’s sort of a nutshell statement that covers the purpose of the Word’s supreme sacrifice.
In Revelation 13:8, John writes about this “Word of life,” Who is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world,” and the very next words in verse 9 are these: “If anyone has an ear, let him hear.” So there is something more to understand about this phrase.
Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. (John 17:24)
I don’t think it’s possible for us to even imagine the magnitude of God’s eternal love for His son, but it was there before Genesis 1:1, before the world was, before mankind was even created. And God the Father sent this beloved “Word of life” for us, and for all mankind because it was the most cherished thing He had ever known in all eternity. God so loved the world, that He gave “the Word of life,” and He made the commitment to do this at the very foundation of the world as we know it, at the same time They committed to “make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (Gen. 126).
If we really want to understand the magnitude and value of Christ’s role as the sacrificial Lamb, we have to understand how highly the Father valued His Son, the Word of life.
Worthy of Life
Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.’”
Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. (Acts 13:46-48)
Notice how important it is to seize every opportunity we’re offered to hear and embrace the word of life. In this example, the Jews were being shown favor by God. His word was offered to them free for the taking – they had “first dibbs,” so-to-speak – and they rejected it by judging themselves “unworthy of eternal life”.
For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. (1 Cor. 11:31)
The word “judge” is translated from diakrino (G12532), which means “to separate thoroughly,” to distinguish ourselves by self correction in the light of God’s word and show that we’re worthy of life (we talked more about this in a previous post. Click to read). Diakrino is derived from the word krino (G2919), which means “to distinguish” or “to try,” and which is the word used in Acts 13:46 and translated “judged” in 1 Corinthians 11:31.
Fellowship With The Word
Let’s go back to 1 John again, and read a bit further.
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life — the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us — that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full. (1 John 1:1-4)
What greater joy could we possibly have than fellowship with the Word of life? When we spend time in Bible study and prayer, we have an opportunity for unique, and joyous fellowship with the Father and His Son because Christ is the Word of life, who teaches us the words written in His Bible.