I have noticed there are some that distinguish between the designation 'scripture' as only referring to the Old Testament and 'word of God' as some or all of the New Testament. This seems strange to me but in any case regardless of the possible distinctions between 'the word of God' and the designation 'scripture' is there any difference in the authority of each term?

I assume 'if they have equal authority' then any minor differences that may be implied in the 'terms' are inconsequential as they only denote aspects of the same thing. Here we find Paul taking about his message as 'the word of God':

And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe. (1 Thessalonians 2:13, NIV)

Is the 'word of God' in the New Testament equal in authority to the designation 'scripture'?


2 Answers 2


Warning: Catholic Answer in which I reinterpret what you say about "Word of God" as "things asserted by the Holy Spirit", I think these are equivalent but you may not. This disclaimer might actually be the whole answer to the question, but read on if you dare.

One of awesome and useful documents from 2nd Vatican Council stated:

Therefore, since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation. Therefore "all Scripture is divinely inspired and has its use for teaching the truth and refuting error, for reformation of manners and discipline in right living, so that the man who belongs to God may be efficient and equipped for good work of every kind"

Dei Verbum Ch 3. Paragraph 11

I bolded the word asserted because that's a really, terribly important point. It's not every participle that is the truth that men live on when bread is found to be insufficient. It's the things that the Holy Spirit is trying to tell us through scripture that are the inspired parts. Like, when people to Jesus or Job and told them that a man or his parents must have done something wrong to put him in the place he is. That's not "asserted" by the Holy Spirit in any way.

Furthermore, the Holy Spirit also is the Interpreter of the Sacred Scripture

Read the Scripture within "the living Tradition of the whole Church". According to a saying of the Fathers, Sacred Scripture is written principally in the Church's heart rather than in documents and records, for the Church carries in her Tradition the living memorial of God's Word, and it is the Holy Spirit who gives her the spiritual interpretation of the Scripture (". . . according to the spiritual meaning which the Spirit grants to the Church").

CCC 113

It might be fair to call "the Word of God" as subset of Sacred Scripture because only the good stuff is what is "asserted". But it also might be fair to call Sacred Scripture a subset of the Word of God. Because the good stuff contained in scripture is infinitely deep; It's like Chesterton's porch with an unbelievably gigantic living room or Lewis's tiny gate that keeps on taking you further up and further in.

  • Personally I see no difference and I would not expect a Catholic answer different than a Protestant. I think your answer would be stronger not to add the warning where both denominations are expected to be in agreement.
    – Mike
    Commented Mar 24, 2013 at 5:03
  • @Mike, Protestants don't interpret scripture in the context of a larger thing known as Sacred Tradition (which you'd read all about in the sources I linked to but were off topic for this discussion). I like to add a warning just to be up front about the reason I'm using Catholic texts as my primary sources so as not to appear to be proselytizing via subterfuge (or just spreading propaganda).
    – Peter Turner
    Commented Mar 24, 2013 at 5:10
  • Thanks for clarifying. I did not realize you inserted tradition in there. You should keep the warning up. My apologizes. I tried to reverse my +1 on account of the scared tradition thing but I guess its too late. Oh well still thanks for posting.
    – Mike
    Commented Mar 24, 2013 at 7:10

From the Word of Faith perspective:

2Ti 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 2Ti 3:17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

All scripture is Holy and God has something for us to learn from every single verse however not all scripture is God directly speaking to us. It's all profitable as 2nd Timothy says but how it is profitable depends largely on the user and interpreter. God and those used by God are not the only people who speak in the scripture. The devil, wicked and confused people also speak quite frequently. This is one of the reason why you can not build sound New Testament doctrines on single scriptures from the Old Testament. The Old Testament is very context specific most of the New Testament is less so.

Num 31:17 Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.

Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

For instance Numbers 31:17 is a scripture and it is profitable but by itself it is not God's word for any situation. There are other verses which can stand alone. These verses convey exact thoughts from God which by them-self have the power to change our life like John 3:16 which convey's a central part of the gospel enough to get any man woman or child into the Kingdom of God.

God's word is any scripture where God is (rightly divided) speaking to you.

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