The Christian’s View of Scripture
by Kevin DeYoung
Jesus’ offhanded comment about Scripture in John 10:35 is one of the most important things he ever said.
And one of the most confusing. It helps to know the context.
The Jews were looking to stone Jesus (v. 31) because he, as a man, dared to make himself equal to God (v. 33). In response to this charge, Jesus quotes from Psalm 82. He appeals to Scripture (“law” in this case being interchangeable with “Scripture”) to defend himself against the charge of blasphemy. The Jews were upset that he referred to himself as the “Son of God,” so Jesus reminds them that in their Scriptures the word “gods” (elohim) was used in reference to wicked kings (or judges, or magistrates, or some governing authority). The use of “gods” in Psalm 82:6 seems troubling to us, but the Psalmist, who is speaking for God at this point, is probably using a bit of sarcasm: “Look, I know you are so important that you are gods among men, but you will die like all other men.” Jesus isn’t trying to prove his divinity from this curious reference in Psalm 82. He’s trying to puncture their pretensions. He says, in effect, “You are so hung up on the word ‘God,’ but right here in the Scriptures these men were called ‘gods.’ You’ll have to do better than to prosecute me on such flimsy evidence.”
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The part of the argument I want us to notice is Jesus’ rather casual comment that “Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). Here’s Jesus defending himself from the Bible, and he’s not making his point from the Torah or from one of the lofty passages in Isaiah. He’s making his case from one word in an obscure Psalm. And he doesn’t have to prove to anyone that Psalm 82 is authoritative. Jesus doesn’t try to convince his opponents that “Scripture cannot be broken.” He merely asserts the truth as a common ground they can all agree on. Down to the individual words and the least heralded passages, anything from Scripture possessed, for Jesus, unquestioned authority. “According to His infallible estimate,” Robert Watts once remarked about Jesus, “it was sufficient proof of the infallibility of any sentence or phrase of a clause, to show that it constituted a portion of what the Jews called ‘the Scripture.’”
The word for “broken” (luo) in verse 35 means to loose, release, dismiss, or dissolve. It carries here the sense of breaking, nullifying, or invalidating. It’s Jesus way of affirming that no word of Scripture can be falsified. No promise or threat can fall short of fulfillment. No statement can be found guilty of error. For Jesus—just as for his Jewish audience—he believed Scripture was the word of God, and as such, it would be gross impiety to think that any word spoken by God, or committed to writing by God, might be an errant word, a wrong word, or a broken word.
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