OceanSide church of Christ

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Victor M. Eskew


            “The word ‘Bible’ is not found in either the Old Testament or the New Testament,” he said.  “Therefore, we should not be using that term to describe the Word of God,” he continued.  His statements were undergirded with the exhortation of Peter in I Peter 4:11:  “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God…”  The gentleman was quite adamant in his view.  He actually believed that it was unscriptural to use the word “Bible” in reference to the Scriptures.  Is this individual correct in his assessment?  Should a call be issued to the brotherhood that asks everyone to refrain from using the word “Bible” because it is not found in the Old and New Testaments?

            What this man failed to understand is that not every scriptural concept has a descriptive term placed upon it in the Scriptures.  Let’s give another illustration.  In God’s Word, we read of three beings within the Godhead:  God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  Matthew 3:16-17 presents each being to us.  “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him.  And, lo, a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  The Bible nowhere provides a term to describe this divine threesome.  Thus, the term “trinity” has been devised to provide it with a label.  When individuals hear the word “trinity,” they immediately call to mind “God in three persons.”  Is this term unscriptural?  Should we cease using it because it is not in the Bible? 

            Another example of a word not found in the Bible, but that is used to describe a scriptural concept is the term missionary.  This word is not found in either testament.  It identifies one who is sent on a mission, namely, the mission of saving lost souls.  Jesus commanded us to go into all the world and preach the gospel to the lost (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16).  In order for one to go, he must be sent (Rom. 10:13-17).  What do we call these courageous men and women who dedicate themselves to the mission field (a term not found in the Bible also)?  We call them “missionaries.”  Surely no one believes that this term is unscriptural.

            Scriptural concepts must be identified in some way.  A word, or a label, condenses the concept into a nutshell.  When the word is defined, it is scriptural because it harmonizes with the teachings of God’s Word.  In essence, one is still “speaking as the oracles of God.”  If this cannot be done, then all Bible students will be forced to learn the Hebrew and Greek languages.  These were the original languages of the Bible.  Our English words merely represent the meaning and concepts of the Greek and Hebrew.  The words we use today are not the same words used by Jesus and the apostles.  Does anyone really believe that we must go to such an extreme?

            When words are used in religious conversation, the key is to understand the meaning of the words.  The word “Bible” means “book.”  God’s Word is found in one authoritative volume.  It is the “Book of books.”  The word “Bible” is understood by all.  It does no injustice to the text of God’s Word.  There is no harm in using the word at all.  The same is true of many other words that are used in religious discussions.  As long as the word describes a scriptural concept, it is a scriptural term.  One is speaking “as the oracles of God.”  If not, we will not longer be able to speak of “attending a worship service” and of “hearing a sermon” for neither expression is found in Word of God.