Jesus and the Bible
“As long as I believe in Jesus, does it matter what I believe about the Bible?” Many ask this question, even Christians. You cannot separate faith in Jesus from faith in the Bible. The question we need to ask is: “What was Jesus’ attitude toward the Bible?” The Bible Jesus used was our Old Testament. His life and teachings were permeated by it. He referenced it often. By studying the Gospels, we are able to determine Jesus’ attitude toward the Bible.
Jesus believed the Bible was authoritative. He considered the Bible from God and as the “commandments of God” not to be transgressed by the teachings of men (Matthew 15:1-9). When a lawyer tried to trap Him, He asked, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?” (Luke 10:26). He said, “The Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). Broken means “to break, annul, cancel” (Abbott-Smith 274). Thayer says it means unable “to deprive of authority” (385).
Jesus believed the Bible historically accurate. Jesus believed the Old Testament doctrines and history valid. Some of the very matters people attack and reject, Jesus affirmed as accurate and true:
Ø Creation by God (Matthew 19:1-9; Mark 10:2-12).
Ø Marriage a divine institution (Matthew 19:1-9).
Ø Adam and Eve were real people (Matthew 19:1-9).
Ø Noah lived and the flood occurred (Matthew 24:37-38).
Ø Elijah raised the dead (Luke 4:25-26).
Ø Naaman was cured of his leprosy (Luke 4:27).
Jesus knew the Bible. In the synagogue at Nazareth, He “opened the book [Isaiah], He found the place where it was written” (Luke 4:17). He knew the Bible by memory as is evident from His temptation with Satan. Three times He refers to and quotes the Bible. He says, “It is written:” (1) Deuteronomy 8:3 in Matthew 4:4, (2) Deuteronomy 6:16 in Matthew 4:7; and (3) Deuteronomy 6:13 in Matthew 4:10.
Jesus respected the Bible. Jesus’ general respect for the Bible is evident in how He interpreted and applied it. He believed the Bible to be divine revelation and the written (inscripturated) body of truth. He interpreted the Bible with the normal meaning of the words, while He made allowances for metaphors, similes, hyperboles, parables, etc.
Jesus used, at least, three basic approaches to the Bible.
Ø He approached the Bible with a correct attitude and not like many today who reject the Bible as an antiquated book. The Bible is to be heard; i.e. read, known, and obeyed by man. Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Mark 4:9) so that one sees, understands, and obeys (Mark 4:12). Jesus also stated: “Take heed therefore how you hear” (Luke 8:18).
Ø He used the Bible to interpret itself. This is evident by His use of the phrase, “It is written” as used in Matthew 4:4, 7, 10.
Ø He often told who wrote the passage, to whom it was written, and why it was written. Compare the following references: Matthew 19:8; Luke 4:16-21; and Luke 24:44-48.
Jesus believed the Bible was to be obeyed. In Jesus we have the greatest, the wisest, and the most talented person who ever lived. Jesus kept the Law of Moses perfectly. He was “made [born] under the law” (Galatians 4:4) and lived under the Law of Moses by “learning obedience” (Hebrews 5:8-9). He died fulfilling the Law of Moses taking “it out of the way” at the cross (Colossians 2:14).
Jesus’ attitude toward the Bible is expressed when a woman in His audience said His mother, who gave birth to Him and fed Him, was blessed. He replied, “Yes, rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it” (Luke 11:28). In Mark, His attitude toward the Bible was clear, “For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother” (Mark 3:35). Jesus equated obedience to the Bible with a life committed to God. This is seen in His oft used phrase, “but the Scriptures must be fulfilled” (Mark 14:40). To this end Jesus lived and gave His life for us. We must imitate His attitude of the Bible.
Jesus shared the teachings of the Bible with others. Tucked at the close of His statement in Matthew 5:19 are the interesting and revealing words, But whoever does them and teaches them [teachings of the Bible] will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus taught what the Bible said (Luke 24:27) and applied the teachings of the Bible to life (Matthew 19:18-21). When those who taught the Bible wrongly, and it can be and is done, Jesus corrected them of their misunderstanding (Matthew 19:7-8). Repeatedly in the great Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “You have heard that it has been said. . . . But I say to you” (Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28, 31, 33, 38-39, 43-44). We must learn to share the teaching of the Bible, apply the Bible to our self and others, and encourage others to obey.
Jesus taught that His words are the very word of God (Bible). Jesus is deity and the very words He spoke were the words of God. There are a number of arguments setting forth this great affirmation.
John states that Jesus was the true light (John 1:9), and that “truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). Jesus said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Jesus also said, “I am . . . the truth” (John 14:6).
In His prayer to God, Jesus said His apostles “have kept Your [the Father’s] word” (John 17;6) and knew what He taught was given Him of God (John 17:7). He assures God, the Father, that He had given “them the words which You gave Me” (John 17:8) and the apostles “received . . . know . . . believe that You did send Me” (John 17:8). The word which the apostles received from Jesus has its origin with God the Father. The apostles were to teach this word and encourage others to “believe on Me through their word” (John 17:20).
What Jesus taught was the word of God (Bible). It was written by inspired men (2 Peter 1:21). We must have His attitude toward the Bible. Do you? If not, why not?
W. Terry Varner, General Editor
Sufficient Evidence: A Journal of Christian Apologetics
Abbot-Smith, G. A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament. 1921. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1950.
Thayer, Joseph Henry. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. 1901. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1956.