Jesus’ View of Biblical Inspiration

John 17:17

Alan Lewis
Elon, North Carolina
February 2009

Last week, we looked at what Paul said about the inspiration of the Bible in II Timothy 3:16-17. Tonight, I want to look at what Jesus said about the Bible. What was Jesus’ view of the Bible? We are Christians, followers of Christ. What did Jesus view of the Bible? One of the strongest arguments for the inspiration of the Bible is the testimony of Jesus Christ. This is actually a very important lesson. If you take all of his statements and put them together, we have a very clear picture of what he thought of the Bible. Jesus’ view of the Bible was very conservative – a biblical literalist (practically a fundamentalist). What Jesus said about the Bible is very different from what liberals and higher critics say about the Bible.

What did Jesus say About the Bible?

1. You are a FOOL if you do not believe the Bible (Luke 24:25)

In the context of Luke 24, Jesus had died and several women head to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus. When they get there they find the stone rolled away and two angels talked to them but they do not see Jesus yet. They go back tell the Apostles what happened. The Apostles do not believe them. Peter runs to the tomb and confirms that the tomb is empty. Still there had been no appearance of Jesus. Meanwhile, two people walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus. On the way, they do a lot of talking about what happened in the last three days and even that Sunday morning. Jesus appears in disguise and begins talking to them. He asks them what they are talking about.

When they tell him, how does Jesus respond? Jesus is talking to two OF HIS DISCIPLES who are very sad (24:17) because the one they loved and followed had died and Jesus rebukes them, although they do not know that they are talking to Jesus. He uses some very strong language here. Jesus doesn’t just say that they are wrong in their thinking about him or off base. He calls them fools and he is not speaking to pagan unbelievers but to his own followers. Some Christians are just foolish. Why does he call them fools? Because they didn’t believe all that the prophets had spoken (24:25).

This is quite interesting.  Today, liberals and skeptics would say that you are a fool if you believe the Bible (naïve and not too smart). Jesus says that you are a fool if you DON’T believe the Bible. Now these disciples believed MUCH of what the OT prophets said. The problem is that they didn’t believe ALL that the prophets had said. Jesus expected them to believe it ALL from Genesis to Malachi (every bit). They believed that the coming Messiah who would rule and reign. They just didn’t believe that the coming Messiah would suffer and die.

They believed some of the prophecies, just not all of them. Today, some theologians have the opposite problem. They believe all that the prophets said about the suffering Messiah but they don’t believe that he will return to the earth and rule and reign for a thousand years in the Millennium. Of course, Christians today have an even different problem. The problem of most Christians today is not that they don’t believe what the prophets spoke. They don’t know what the prophets spoke, because they never read the OT Scriptures. Most Christians today do not know the OT very well. They only know the NT and some of them do not even know that very well.

2. God’s Word is TRUTH (John 17:17)

Jesus said that God’s Word is TRUTH (John 17:17). The opposite of truth is error. Many say that the Bible is full of all kinds of errors and contradictions. They would say that there are a lot of things in the bible that are not true. Jesus said that God’s word is truth. Jesus believed that the people in the Bible really lived.

OT Stories Jesus Accepted as Historical

1. Jesus believed Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were real people (John 8:56, 39; Matthew 8:11).

2. Jesus believed David (Matthew 12:3-4) and Solomon (Matthew 12:42; 6:29) were real people.

3. Jesus believed Adam and Eve were real people (Mat. 19:4-6; Mark 10:6-8).

4. Jesus believed Noah was a real person (Matthew 24:37-39).

5. Jesus believed that Moses was a real person (Matthew 8:4).

6. Jesus believed The Flood really took place (Mat. 24:37-39; Luke 17:26-27).

7. Jesus believed in the story about Jonah being swallowed by a whale (Mat. 12:39-41).

8. Jesus believed Sodom and Gomorrah were real cities that were supernaturally destroyed by God (Mat. 10:15; 11:23-24).

9. Jesus believed Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt (Luke 17:32).

10. Jesus believed that God supernaturally gave manna from heaven to Israel (John 6:31, 49, 58).

3. ALL of Scripture is inspired (Matthew 4:4)

If Jesus believed that the Bible is inspired, the next question would be, How much of the Bible is inspired? Jesus said that ALL of it is inspired. He said that EVERY word of Scripture proceeded from the mouth of God (Mat. 4:4). This is consistent with what Paul wrote that “ALL Scripture is inspired” (II Timothy 3:16). On two occasions, Jesus quotes the OT but instead of saying, “Moses says” something, he says, “God says” something (Matthew 19:4-5; Mark 7:9-12). What Moses says, God says. That is inspiration. Liberals believe that the Bible only tells me what Moses said or Isaiah said or Paul said. It only gives us their opinions on things but their opinion may be no better than ours.

4. Scripture CANNOT be broken (John 10:35)

What does that mean? People break the Scriptures every day by not obeying them. People break the Ten Commandments. He criticized the Pharisees for making void or nullifying or canceling the Word of God by their own traditions (Mark 7:13). Some churches today still do this. They put their traditions on an equal par with Scripture or actually put tradition over Scripture and reject Scripture to follow their own tradition.

John 10:35 has nothing to do with obedience. It has to do with accuracy and authority. It means that the Scriptures cannot be proven false. Modern paraphrases read: and the Scripture doesn’t lie” (Message), “If the Scripture which cannot be untrue” (LB), “The Scripture is always true” (NCV) and “We know that what the Scripture says is true forever” (GNB).

5. EVERYTHING in Scripture must be fulfilled (Luke 24:44)

All of the unfulfilled prophecies will one day be fulfilled. He did not just say that EVERYTHING will one day be fulfilled. He said that it MUST be fulfilled. Jesus said that everything will be fulfilled down to the last jot and tittle, to use the KJV language (cf. Matthew 5:18). Matthew 5:18 is a passage which has been misunderstood. First, let me explain what a jot and tittle is. The KJV has Jot, the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew Yod, a letter of the Hebrew alphabet. It is the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet. It looks a like our comma.

A tittle is a decorative mark or accent mark on the edge of the Hebrew Yod. The difference between a lowercase l and a t is a little stroke mark. The difference between an O and a Q is a little mark. Jesus is not talking about inspiration, although it is true that all of the letters were inspired. He is not even talking about preservation of the Scriptures, that all of it will be preserved. The jots and tittles of the Bible actually did pass away.

We do not have any of the original manuscripts of the Bible. We have NONE. They are all gone. We only have copies and copies of copies of manuscripts. He is talking about the reliability of the Bible. All of it will be fulfilled, down to the jot and tittle, the smallest letters of Scripture and the smallest parts of the smallest letters (punctuation or accent marks).

6. God’s Word will NEVER pass away (Matthew 24:35)

Jesus said that God’s Word would NEVER pass away (24:35). In fact the word never in Greek is a double negative for emphasis. Put another way, Scripture is eternal, as the Psalmist says (Psalm 119:89). Heaven and earth will pass away. God’s Word will not. Both Peter and Isaiah say that God’s Word lasts forever (cf. I Peter 1:23, 25; Isaiah 40:8). In contrast to grass, which is temporary, it lasts forever.

What does this mean that Scripture is eternal, that God’s Word lasts forever and will never pass away? One man told me that he believed that he would be taking his Bible to heaven. One man replied to him that, while his Bible was going to heaven, the notes in his margins were staying on earth.

The idea that we will take our Bibles to heaven when we die completely misses the point. Jesus wasn’t saying that the Bible is physically indestructible. Bibles have been burned through out history. When Jesus said, “My word will never pass away,” He meant that everything he said will take place, everything he predicted and promised, down to the last jot and tittle. He wasn’t talking about the physical pages.

7. Ignorance of the Bible leads to ERROR (Matthew 22:29)

Jesus always appealed to the Scriptures as his final authority when arguing with his the religious leaders of the day (Scribes, Pharisees). Jesus argued with his opponents and used the Bible. When they didn’t know the Bible, he said, “You do err not knowing the Scriptures or the power of God” (Mat. 22:29; Mark 12:24). That describes a lot of people today, including some Christians who don’t know the Scriptures.

Jesus said that ignorance of the Scriptures leads to ERROR. When Jesus talked to the Bible scholars of his day, the Scribes and Pharisees, he often said, “Have you never read” or “go and learn what the Scripture means” and he would quote a verse. That used to really irritate them. Jesus told this to the professional Bible scholars who thought they knew everything and they knew nothing.

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