What Is the Bible In Its Essence?


We may not often think of the word essence in relation to the Bible, but the Word of God does have a particular essence. If we want to grow in Christ, it’s critical for us to know what that essence is.

What does essence mean?

The dictionary defines essence as the indispensable quality of something, the most important ingredient or crucial element of that thing. Something’s essence tells us what it is at the most fundamental level. This is important because what something is determines how we handle it. Thus, knowing the essence of the Bible determines how we handle the Bible.

An example with food

Consider an orange. When we look at an orange, we see its round shape, its orange color, and its smooth texture. All these observations are correct, but if we don’t know the essence of the orange, we might use it for something besides its intended purpose. We might play with it because it looks like a ball, or we might use it as a lovely, orange decoration. But we won’t enjoy the essence of the orange!

However, when we know what the essence of the orange is—its nourishing fruit and juice—we treat it much differently. We no longer want to play with it or put it on a shelf. We want to eat it, or juice it, to enjoy its essence. That’s how we get the full benefit of the orange.

An example with the Bible

What is the Word of God? When we look at its “surface,” what do we see? We may see a compilation of interesting stories, a book of good morals and high ethics, a manual for religious practices, or a reference for doctrinal teaching. But when we handle the Bible as a book of stories or a manual, we don’t get the full benefit from it.

Why not?

All these things are found in the Bible, but they aren’t what the Bible is. To get the benefit God intended from His Word, we need to see the essence, the crucial element, of the Bible.

What is the essence of the Bible?

The answer is found in 2 Timothy 3:16: “All Scripture is God-breathed.”

This verse doesn’t say that all Scripture is God-mandated or even God-given. It says that all Scripture is God-breathed. Note 2 on God-breathed in the New Testament Recovery Version elaborates:

“This indicates that the Scripture, the word of God, is the breathing out of God. God’s speaking is God’s breathing out. Hence, His word is Spirit (John 6:63), or breath. Thus, the Scripture is the embodiment of God as the Spirit. The Spirit is therefore the very essence, the substance, of the Scripture…

Breath and Spirit are the same word in Greek, the original language of the Bible. The essence of the Bible is God’s breath, His Spirit.

Breath, as we know, is necessary for our physical life. Similarly, the Scripture being God-breathed has to do with our spiritual life. John 6:63 says,

“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words which I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.”

It’s not the black and white letters of the Bible that give life; it’s the Spirit, the essence in those words, who gives life. When we know this, we’ll come to the Bible not simply to learn something new, but to touch the life-giving essence, the Spirit, in the Word.

Life and what gives life

Just like with the orange, we can become distracted by the “surface” of the Bible. When this happens, we’re likely to mishandle the Bible, and we miss the life contained in the Word of God.

Yet God desires that we have His life and have it abundantly (John 10:10). So the most important thing for us to get from the Bible, more important than any doctrines, teachings, or stories, is life. God’s breath, God’s Spirit, gives life. Good teachings can’t give us life. Ethics can’t give us life. Only the Spirit can give us life, and this Spirit is the essence of the Bible.

If we see that the Spirit is the essence of the Bible, we’ll change our approach. We’ll come to the Spirit in God’s Word, and the Spirit will give us life. This life will refresh us, enliven us, feed us, and cause us to grow in Christ. This is the key to our spiritual growth.

Find out more about how we can come to the Spirit in God’s Word and get life from reading the Bible in our post, “How to Get Life from Reading the Bible.”

How do you think knowing the essence of the Bible affects your Bible reading? How have you received life from reading the Word of God? Share your experience below.

We love hearing from you, so please share your thoughts and experiences related to the post (blog commenting guidelines).

13 thoughts on “What Is the Bible In Its Essence?

  1. The Spirit brings The Word alive! It is The Spirit that moved and did what Holy Elohim said. It is The Spirit that gives us instructions, counsel, direction. It is by His Spirit saith The Lord that He move!

  2. This is an extremely valuable blog site. Even if you think you know the answer to some of these questions and explanations, the reassurance of reading them is a confirmation of Truths. I look forward to every post. Thank you, and my God be with and bless you always.

  3. I used to read the Bible to “learn about” God. I came to learn the objective facts and details. Then one day, the Word spoke to me. The Word became a Person answering my own personal question. It was like a gentle, warm, loving light shone into my inner being. Then I realized what the Lord meant when He said, “you search the Scriptures… but you won’t come to Me.” When we come to Him in the Scriptures, we can find Him there.

  4. All Scripture is God-breathed (spiritual). It is important to realize that Jesus taught spiritual lessons. Acknowledging this as fact can clarify things, such as what occurred at the ‘Last Supper’. The argument over whether the blood and wine were actually changed into the body and blood of Jesus should be a non-argument: The transformation into the body and blood of Christ was a Spiritual transformation, not a physical one. The bread and wine remain bread and wine physically, but by the Word of God are transformed miraculously into the spiritual body and blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ.

  5. I have to agree with the prophet Jeremiah, “Your words were found and I ate them, and Your word became to me the gladness and joy of my heart.” (Jer. 15:16) When I learned that I could contact God Himself by coming to His word, the Bible became to me the source of my greatest enjoyment.

  6. When I come to the Spirit in God’s Word, the Spirit gives me life. This life refreshes me, enlivens me, and feeds me.

  7. What I’ve learned today on this post wants me to read more and more my beloved Bible, to get deeply submitted to God’s word, to enjoy and live each word written, definitely this post helps me a lot!!!! Blessings.

  8. Also, “Jesus said to them, My food is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work” (John 4:34). This along with other passages like that in James about being “doers of the word and not hearers only” show us the importance of doing what God says. In the same way that only looking at food will not provide nourishment to our bodies, nourishment from the word comes in our obedience to it and not in hearing it alone.

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