Vol. 8, No. 10
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An important and interesting study from the life of Jesus in the New Testament is that of Jesus' attitude toward Scripture. The word "Scripture" is from graphe and is found 51 times in the New Testament. In the Gospels the word Scripture occurs 24 times and all refer to Jesus' attitude toward and use of Scripture. There are also several other words directly related to Jesus and his attitude toward Scripture (i.e., speak, word, law, etc.).
Jesus Believed Scripture Was Authoritative. In that Jesus believed that Scripture came from God that meant the Scripture was authoritative. He recognized Scripture "as the commandments of God" to be obeyed (Matthew 19:17; Mark 1:44; Luke 17:10), rather than to be transgressed by man (Matthew 15:1-9). When a lawyer attempted to trap him, he replied, "What is written in the law? How readest thou?" (Luke 10:26).
There are two phrases that reoccur in the Gospels and used by Jesus: (1) "It is written" occurring 19 times and (2) "have ye not read" occurring five times. When asked questions, Jesus directed the querist to the Scriptures.
Jesus stated, "The scripture cannot be broken" (John 10:35). The word "broken" means not able "to break, annul, cancel" (Abbott-Smith 274) and not "to deprive of authority" (Thayer 385). The quotation of John 10:34-35 is from Psalm 82 in the Septuagint. Jesus claims the Scripture, even the translation from the Hebrew into the Greek Septuagint, was authoritative and therefore could not be canceled or annulled. Jesus believed the Scriptures were authoritative. We can believe no less!
Jesus Believed Scripture Historically Accurate. Jesus often based his teachings and illustrations from the Old Testament. He believed the Old Testament doctrine and history was accurate. It is tragic so many give lip service to the Bible's historical accuracy. The very matters attacked by destructive critics of today, Jesus affirmed as accurate and true.
Jesus affirmed various doctrinal matters, such as, creation by God (Matthew 19:1-9; Mark 10:2-12). Marriage is a divine institution (Matthew 19:1-9). Adam and Eve were the first beings of the human race. Noah lived and there was a universal flood (Matthew 24:37-38). Sodom and Gomorrah existed (Matthew 11:23-24). God gave the Ten Commandments (Matthew 15:4). Jonah was swallowed by a great fish (Matthew 12:39-41). Naaman was cured of his leprosy (Luke 4:27). We can believe no less!
Jesus Knew the Scripture. In the synagogue at Nazareth, Jesus "opened the book [Isaiah], He found the place where it was written" (Luke 4:17). The Old Testament books were in rolls or scrolls. They were both large and cumbersome. They contained no divisions of chapters and verses, as we know. He read from Isaiah 61:1-2 located near the end of the scroll. He found it without difficulty. This is no small thing in itself.
That Jesus knew Scripture is evident from his temptation by Satan. Three times he refers to and quotes Scripture. "It is written" (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10) is found in Deuteronomy 8:3; 6:16; and 6:13. Compare also Luke's account in Luke 4:1-11. We must do no less!
Jesus Respected Scripture. Jesus' respect for Scripture is seen in how he interpreted and applied Scripture. He believed Scripture was divine revelation and the written body of truth. He interpreted Scripture in the normal meaning of words, while allowing for metaphors, similes, parables, etc.
Jesus used, at least, three basic approaches to Scripture: (1) He approached Scripture with the correct attitude. Scripture was to be "heard" (i.e., read, known, and obeyed). "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear" (Mark 4:9). The reason being that one may see, understand and obey. Mark 4:12 states, "Take heed therefore how ye hear." (2) He allowed Scripture to interpret itself. This is evident in his use of the phrase, "it is written" (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10). (3) He often told who wrote the passage, to whom the Scripture was written and why the Scripture was written (Matthew 19:8; Luke 4:16-21; 24:44-48). We must do no less!
Jesus Believed Scripture Was to Be Obeyed. Jesus was the greatest and the wisest person who ever lived. He kept the Law. He was "made under the law" (Gal. 4:4). He lived under the Law by "learning obedience" (Hebrews 5:8-9) and he died fulfilling the Law (Matthew 5:17-18) and removing it at the cross (Colossians 2:14).
His attitude toward God's Word is best expressed in Matthew 5:17-20. A woman in his audience said his mother, who gave him birth and fed him, was "blessed." He replied, "Yea, rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God and keep it" (Luke 11:28). In Mark 3:35, Jesus stated, "For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother." His condemnation of the Pharisees was because of their attitude toward and lack of obedience to the Word of God. He said, "for they say, and do not" (Matthew 23:30).
Jesus equated obedience to Scripture with a life committed to God. This is evident in the often-used phrase, "but the scriptures must be fulfilled" (Mark 14:49). To this end Jesus lived and gave his life. We must do no less!
Abbott-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. 1885. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1956.