Why do Christians consider mere words written by men to be the “words of God”?
The short answer is: They don’t.
In fact, there’s a Bible verse that addresses this very question.
1 Thessalonians 2:13 – And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.
So why are so many people confused about this?
It’s helpful to review a bit about the nature of the Bible and how it was “canonized” (that word means “recognized as the Word of God”) in order to understand why that misperception is so prevalent.
The foundation of the written words of God (“the Bible”) is the Ten Commandments. Those words were heard by 2 million people at once and written with the very finger of God Himself on stone tablets. Those “ear-witnesses” (the people who heard God speak the Ten Commandments) also saw a simultaneous cataclysmic event (a huge mountain shaking, lightning, fire, etc). Because of this event, Moses was received as a prophet of God, and the five books that he wrote (called the Torah, or the Pentateuch: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy) became the first five books of the Bible. This is how the Bible itself describes it:
Deuteronomy 4:12-14 – Then the LORD spoke to you out of the midst of the fire. You heard the sound of the words… and he declared to you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, that is, the Ten Commandments, and he wrote them on two tablets of stone. And the LORD commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and rules, that you might do them in the land that you are going over to possess.
So, those original words were never considered to be the “mere words written by men”. 2 million eyewitnesses KNEW they were the words of God. But more importantly, none of the books in the Bible have ever been considered to be “mere words of men”. They were believed to be “breathed out by God”, the product of men “being led by the Holy Spirit of God”.
2 Timothy 3:16 – All Scripture is God-breathed…
2 Peter 1:21 – No prophecy [Scripture] was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
Many people think that the various books got selected to be “in the Bible” by some human council or church vote. This reveals a common incorrect assumption. The Bible wasn’t later compiled as an anthology of ancient writings to have divine authority. All of those books were considered to be the “word of God” the moment they were written.
The law of gravity can serve as a helpful – albeit imperfect – example. If you were asked what human scientific convocation established gravity to be in effect across the universe you’d say “None”, right? Gravity wasn’t created by the authority of men, it was established as its own absolute truth by God from the moment He created it, and only later RECOGNIZED by people as they studied it and applied its influence for productivity. It’s a similar thing with the Bible. The books we now call “The Bible” were the words of God the moment they were written, and only later universally RECOGNIZED by the people of God who received them as the words of God. This process was repeatedly confirmed by the people of God for centuries.
One final point is useful to consider. Christians view the Word of God as THE ultimate authority. Higher than governments, higher than church leaders, higher than the church itself. It may seem counter-intuitive at first, but if people had the authority to decide what was the Word of God (which is the ultimate authority), then that means they would have even greater authority than God’s Word itself. Something to think about.