We are used to thinking of the Word of God being ink on a page and think it has always been so. We also quote chapters and verses using phrases like, “The Word of God says….”. This was not the case for our first Jewish Christian relatives in the faith. They would agree this was true of the written Old Testament, but would apply the same to the spoken or oral words of Jesus, Peter, Paul, John etc.
We see this in 1 Peter 1.25. In this verse the Apostle Peter describes the word of God as “standing forever” and he quotes from Isaiah 40. But then the he calls the word spoken to them in Galatia and Bithynia the same, ” this is the word that was preached to you”. So, for the early Christians, the Word of God could be written in the OT or words about Jesus spoken by people under inspiration of the Holy Spirit. In fact, the first Christians heard the Gospel from people first “we speak as men approved by God and entrusted with the Gospel”. 1 Thessalonians 2.4. This indicates why, for most of the First Century, the first church did not have widespread NT texts – the living Apostles were present, and they were most important. So, historically, people came before texts.
If this is the case, how do we use our texts, and the Spirit, to recover a strong and effective faith?