Christ's View of the Bible
- introduced and compiled by Richard Peachey
The Lord Jesus Christ is the one who knows "all things" (Matthew 11:27; John 16:30; 21:17), "in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3). He declared, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away" (Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33). On the night when he was betrayed, he said to his disciples, "You call me Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am" John 13:13). His commands carry all the authority in the universe, and they are what the church is to teach (Matthew 28:18-20). So, if we call ourselves his disciples, shouldn't his view of the Bible be ours also?
This article exhibits all the gospel texts in which Jesus referred to what we now call the "Old Testament," showing his high view of the authority and historical truth of Scripture. Interspersed with the gospel references are selected quotations from various biblical commentators.
Matthew 4:4,7,10 quotes Deuteronomy to counter Satan's temptations ("it is written," 3 times)
"The suggestion that Jesus' use of the Old Testament was of an ad hominem nature breaks down most obviously in the accounts of His temptation. He introduces each of His three answers by the decisive formula 'It is written'. . . . Are we to believe that the opponent here concerned would not have strongly challenged an argument based on a false premise?" — J. W. Wenham
Matthew 5:17-19 re eternal authority of the Law and the Prophets, which will be fulfilled in detail
Matthew 8:4 re offering "the gift Moses commanded"
Matthew 8:11 re historical reality of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
Matthew 9:13 quotes Hosea 6:6 ("go and learn what this means")
Matthew 10:15 re historical reality of Sodom and Gomorrah
Matthew 11:10 quotes Malachi 3:1 ("it is written")
Matthew 11:21-24 re historical reality of Tyre, Sidon, Sodom
Matthew 12:3-7 re David ("haven't you read?"); Sabbath ("haven't you read in the Law?"); quotes Hosea 6:6 ("if you had known what these words mean")
Matthew 12:39-42 re historical reality of Jonah, the great fish, Nineveh, the Queen of the South, Solomon
"Is it possible to understand a reference like this on the non-historic theory of the book of Jonah? The future Judge is speaking words of solemn warning to those who shall hereafter stand convicted at his bar. Intensely real he would make the scene in anticipation to them, as it was real, as if then present, to himself. And yet we are to suppose him to say that imaginary persons who at the imaginary preaching of an imaginary prophet repented in imagination, shall rise up in that day and condemn the actual impenitence of those his actual hearers." — T. T. Perowne
Matthew 13:14f. quotes Isaiah 6:9f. as having been fulfilled
Matthew 15:3-9 quotes Exodus ("command of God," "God said," "word of God") and Isaiah 29:13 ("Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you")
Matthew 19:4-9 quotes Genesis 1:27; 2:24 ("haven't you read?", "the Creator . . . said"); refers to Deuteronomy 24:1 ("Moses permitted"); and urges on the basis of Scripture: "Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." [compare Mark 10:3-9]
"Our Lord honours Holy Scripture by drawing his argument therefrom. He chose specially to set his seal upon a part of the story of creation—that story which modern critics speak of as if it were fable or myth." — Charles Spurgeon
Matthew 19:17-19 quotes some of "the commandments" from Exodus and Leviticus
Matthew 21:13 quotes Isaiah 56:7 ("it is written")
Matthew 21:16 quotes Psalm 8:2 ("have you never read?")
Matthew 21:42 quotes Psalm 118:22f. ("have you never read in the Scriptures?")
Matthew 22:29-32 "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God"; quotes Exodus 3:6 ("have you not read what God said to you?")
Matthew 22:37-40 quotes Deuteronomy and Leviticus — "All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." [compare Luke 10:26-28]
Matthew 22:43-45 quotes Psalm 110:1 ("David, speaking by the Spirit, . . . says")
Matthew 23:35 re historical reality of murders from Abel to Zechariah
Matthew 24:15f. re Daniel's prophecy of "the abomination which causes desolation," which is to be fulfilled
Matthew 24:37-39 re historical reality of Noah, the ark, the flood ("As it was . . . so it will be")
Matthew 26:24 "The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him." [compare Luke 22:22]
Matthew 26:31 quotes Zechariah 13:7 ("it is written") and indicates it is about to be fulfilled
Matthew 26:54 "But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?"
Matthew 26:56 "But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled."
Matthew 27:46 quotes Psalm 22:1 ("Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?")
Mark 2:25f. re David ("have you never read?")
Mark 7:6-13 quotes Isaiah 29:13 ("Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites;" "as it is written") and Exodus ("commands of God," "Moses said," "word of God")
Mark 9:12 "Why then is it written that the Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected? But I tell you, Elijah has come, and they have done to him everything they wished, just as it is written about him."
Mark 10:3-9 refers to Deuteronomy 24:1 ("Moses wrote you this law"); quotes Genesis 1:27; 2:24, and urges on the basis of Scripture: "Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."
Mark 10:19 quotes some of "the commandments" from Exodus
Mark 11:17 quotes Isaiah 56:7 ("is it not written?")
Mark 12:10f. quotes Psalm 118:22f. ("haven't you read this scripture?")
Mark 12:24-27 "Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?"; quotes Exodus 3:6 ("have you not read in the book of Moses, in the account of the bush, how God said to him?") [compare Luke 20:37]
Mark 12:29-31 quotes Deuteronomy and Leviticus — "There is no commandment greater than these."
Mark 12:36f. quotes Psalm 110:1 ("David himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit, declared")
Mark 14:21 "The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him."
Mark 14:27 quotes Zechariah 13:7 ("it is written") and indicates it is about to be fulfilled
Mark 14:49 "But the Scriptures must be fulfilled."
Mark 15:34 quotes Psalm 22:1 ("Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?")
Luke 4:4,8,12 quotes Deuteronomy to counter Satan's temptations ("it is written," twice; "it says")
Luke 4:16-21 quotes Isaiah 61:1f. ("Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.")
Luke 4:25-27 re historical reality of Elijah, widow of Zarephath, Elisha, Naaman the Syrian
Luke 5:14 re offering "the sacrifices that Moses commanded"
Luke 6:3f. re David ("have you never read?")
Luke 7:27 quotes Malachi 3:1 ("it is written")
Luke 10:13f. re historical reality of Tyre and Sidon
Luke 11:29-32 re historical reality of Jonah, Nineveh, the Queen of the South, Solomon
Luke 11:50f. re historical reality of murders from Abel to Zechariah
Luke 13:28 re historical reality of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
Luke 16:17 "It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law."
Luke 16:29-31 "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead."
Luke 17:26-32 re historical reality of Noah, the ark, the flood ("Just as it was . . . so also will it be"); Lot, Sodom, fire and sulfur ("It was the same. . . . It will be just like this")
Luke 18:20 quotes some of "the commandments" from Exodus
Luke 18:31-33 "everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled"
Luke 19:46 quotes Isaiah 56:7 ("it is written")
Luke 20:17 quotes Psalm 118:22 ("what is the meaning of that which is written?")
Luke 20:42-44 quotes Psalm 110:1 ("David himself declares in the Book of Psalms")
Luke 21:22 "For this is the time of punishment in fulfilment of all that has been written."
Luke 22:37 quotes Isaiah 53:12 ("it is written," "what is written," "this must be fulfilled in me")
Luke 24:25-27,32,44-49 re the foolishness of being slow to believe "all that the prophets have spoken" ('Moses and all the prophets,' 'what was said in all the Scriptures,' "everything . . . that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms," 'the Scriptures'). "Did not the Christ have to suffer these things . . .?" ("Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me. . . ."; "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer. . . .")
"For several reasons vv. 25-27 are vitally important. With great clarity they show that the sufferings of Christ, as well as his glory, were predicted in the OT and that all the OT Scriptures are important. They also show that the way the writers of the NT used the OT had its origin, not in their own creativity, but in the postresurrection teachings of Jesus, of which this passage is a paradigm." — Walter Liefeld
John 3:14 re historical reality of Moses and the bronze serpent ("Just as Moses . . . so the Son of Man")
John 5:39f. "These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life."
John 5:46f. "If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?"
John 6:45 quotes Isaiah 54:13 ("it is written in the Prophets")
John 6:49,58 re historical reality of Israelites eating manna in the desert
John 7:19 re historical reality of Moses as lawgiver
John 7:22f. re historical reality of Moses giving circumcision law; patriarchal practice of circumcision
John 7:38 "Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."
John 8:37 re historical reality of Jewish people as Abraham's descendants
John 8:39f.,56,58 re historical reality of Abraham, his faith and his deeds
John 10:34f. quotes Psalm 82:6 ("is it not written in your Law?", "the word of God," "and the Scripture cannot be broken")
" 'The Scripture cannot be broken' (John 10:35). It is unalterable, indestructible in its truth, indifferent to every denial, to human ignorance and criticism, to charges of error, and to subjective attacks. Let us then be instructed and convinced!" — Pierre Marcel
John 13:18 quotes Psalm 41:9 ("this is to fulfill the scripture")
John 15:25 quotes Psalm 69:4 ("this is to fulfill what is written in their Law")
John 17:12 "None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled."
John 17:17 "Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth."
"He on whom the salvation of men depends, taught with the greatest of force the full inspiration of extant Scripture. He regarded God as its true Author, and bowed to its divine authority. Jesus constituted Christianity a religion of biblical authority; for although He showed tremendous freedom from human convention and tradition, and claimed divine inspiration for His own teachings, yet He bowed to the voice of His Father speaking in the Scriptures. His arguments were clinched by a text, His foes were rebuked for not knowing the Scriptures better, Satan himself was rebuffed by a simple appeal to the written Word of God, His ministry was governed down to the smallest detail by what Scripture predicted the Messiah would be and do. . . . Indeed, biblical critics whose views are anything but evangelical, freely admit that Jesus believed in the inerrancy of Scripture. . . . If Christ was in error in a matter so central to His message, His divine authority is plainly discredited. . . . Where Christ is Lord and Saviour, the matter of authority is settled: Scripture is divinely authored and absolutely trustworthy." — Clark Pinnock
"The notion that our Lord was fully aware that the view of Holy Scripture current in His day was erroneous, and that He deliberately accommodated His teaching to the beliefs of His hearers, will not square with the facts. His use of the Old Testament seems altogether too insistent, positive, and absolute. He unequivocally maintained that 'the Scripture cannot be broken' (John 10:35); 'Not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law . . .' (Matt. 5:18); 'It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law' (Luke 16:17). . . . It was no mere debating point that made Him say to the Sadducees, 'You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God' (Matt. 22:29). . . .
The evidence is abundantly clear:
To Christ the Old Testament was true, authoritative, inspired.
To Him the God of the Old Testament was the one living God, and the teaching of the Old Testament was the teaching of this living God.
To Him what Scripture said, God said." — J. W. Wenham
[Regarding the "accommodation" idea, Tim Chaffey and Roger Patterson capably defuse the idea that Jesus did not mean what he said, or that he actually was in error: <http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2012/01/30/peter-enns-jesus-was-wrong#>. See also: "If Jesus Was Wrong: The Implications" <http://www.creationbc.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=172&Itemid=62>]
As I was reading my new ESV (English Standard Version) Study Bible, I was pleased to come across an article supporting what I have written above. The author is Erik Thoennes of Biola University. Here's what he wrote:
Jesus’ View of Scripture
The most convincing reason to believe that the Bible is inspired, inerrant, clear, and sufficient is because this is what Jesus believed. His teaching assumed that the OT was the authoritative Word of his Father: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished” (Matt. 5:17–18). Jesus referred to dozens of OT persons and events and always treated OT history as historically accurate. He quoted from Genesis as his Father’s Word when he said, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matt. 19:4–6). Jesus not only assumed that the creation story was true, he also freely quoted words from the OT narrator as words that God himself “said.” It is not uncommon for Jesus’ theological arguments to depend on the truthfulness of the OT account (Matt. 5:12; 11:23–24; 12:41–42; 24:37–39; Luke 4:25–27; 11:50–51; John 8:56–58). Jesus’ view of the OT as the Word of God aligns with the way the OT regularly speaks of itself.
Jesus saw his entire life as a fulfillment of Scripture (Matt. 26:54; Mark 8:31). Throughout his life, Jesus used Scripture to resist temptation (Matt. 4:1–11) and to settle disputes (Matt. 19:1–12; 22:39; 27:46; Mark 7:1–13; Luke 10:25–26). At the end of his life, Jesus died quoting Scripture (cf. Matt. 27:46 with Ps. 22:1). On his resurrection day he explained Scripture at length on the Emmaus road and to his disciples in Jerusalem (Luke 24:13–17, 44–47).
Conscious of his identity as God the Son, Jesus saw his teaching as no less divinely inspired than the OT. Jesus taught with an authority that distinguished him from other teachers of the law. He interpreted the law on his own authority rather than depending on rabbinic sources (Matt. 5:21–48). He described his teaching and the law as sharing the same permanence: “heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Matt. 24:35, cf. Matt. 5:17–18; John 14:10, 24). Jesus viewed both the OT and his own teaching as the Word of God. The NT apostolic witness was a result of Jesus giving his disciples authority and power through the Holy Spirit to impart spiritual truths in writing no less than by word of mouth (Mark 3:13–19; John 16:12–14; Acts 26:16–18; 1 Cor. 2:12–13).
Jesus took Scripture to be the authoritative Word of God upon which he based his entire life. Those who follow Christ are called to treat Scripture (OT and NT together) in the same way. For Christians, the Bible is a source of great delight and joy. God is to be diligently sought in his Word (1 Pet. 2:2). The Word of God is a precious treasure that deserves to be studied, meditated upon, and obeyed:
My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God (Prov. 2:1–5).