What Did Jesus Teach about the Bible?
by David Roach
It’s relatively common to encounter professed Christians who say they love the Bible but don’t think it’s entirely true. This has occurred famously in church history, as when Karl Barth wrote that “arithmetical errors, whimsies and impossibilities may have crept in” to the Bible and that the authors of Scripture were “guilty of error in their spoken and written word.” But such dismissal of the Bible occurs among believers today too, as when someone told me at a recent church function that belief in the Bible’s complete truthfulness is not regarded as a “serious academic position” at the Christian college where he works.
In response to such claims (as American theologian Carl Henry reminded us), it’s worth taking a look at what Jesus taught about the Bible. First, He said nothing could invalidate the truth of the Old Testament. Most of the time the Greek verb luo means “to free” or “to loose.” But four times in the Gospels, Jesus used it to reference the Old Testament, giving it the more technical meaning “to invalidate.” For example, He said that “whoever relaxes (or invalidates) one of the least of these commandments and teaches other to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:19). For Jesus, no one had the right to say the Old Testament was in error.
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Jesus also said Old Testament Scripture was more authoritative than any religious tradition, as when He told the Pharisees in Mark 7:9, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition.” And in the Sermon on the Mount, He elevated Scripture above Jewish traditions on matters like adultery and divorce.
But Jesus didn’t only hold up the Old Testament as truthful and authoritative; He claimed that His own teaching was as authoritative as the Old Testament…
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