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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: Is the Bible the Authoritative Word of God?

Don Stewart :: Are Some Parts of the Bible More Authoritative than Others?

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Are Some Parts of the Bible More Authoritative than Others?

Is the Bible the Authoritative Word of God – Question 13

A common mistake among Bible believers is to argue for degrees of authority within the various parts of Scripture. While admitting that all Scripture is God-breathed, there are people who would contend that some parts are more authoritative than others. A number of important observations need to be made about this issue.

1. All of Scripture Has God’s Divine Authority Behind It

All of Scripture has the authority of the living God behind it. Therefore, it is wrong to compare the authority of one part of Scripture with another. However, some people will compare the Gospel of John with some of the Old Testament genealogies and conclude that John is more divinely inspired than these genealogies. Or they will make a comparison between some of the statements in the Book of Ecclesiastes and the letter of Paul to the Romans. Then they will claim that Romans is somehow more divinely inspired.

It is a mistake to do this. What we have in John’s gospel and the Book of Romans is a later and fuller revelation of God and His plan. While some of the other parts of Scripture reveal less truth, it is still truth. John’s writings or Paul’s letters are not more divinely inspired than these sections; the revelation is simply more complete. God equally divinely inspires all Scripture – each part consists of God’s truth to humanity.

2. We Must Understand the Progressive Nature of Revelation

What we have in the later works of Scripture is the continuance of God’s revelation to humanity. Consequently, it will be of a more complete character than the earlier works. As God kept revealing His divine truth over the generations, humanity continued to learn more and more things about Him. However, this does not mean that the previously revealed truth was somehow less authoritative or somehow less meaningful.

3. There Were Laws That Have Been Done Away With

For example, there is also the record of laws and practices that have been done away with. The New Testament says of these laws:

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. (Colossians 2:16-17 TNIV)

Believers during the Old Testament period were commanded to obey these regulations. The New Testament believers are not. Consequently, these commands are not binding on believers in this present age. Therefore, when we read about these ceremonial laws today, we are not expected to obey the commands connected with it. This includes such things as observing the Sabbath day and offering animal sacrifices to the Lord. New Testament believers are not commanded to observe these regulations.

4. There Are Commands That No Longer Apply

Not only does the Old Testament contain laws that have been done away with, there are also numerous commands that no longer apply. For example, we read the following command in Leviticus:

When you harvest your crops, do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop. It is the same with your grape crop—do not strip every last bunch of grapes from the vines, and do not pick up the grapes that fall to the ground. Leave them for the poor and the foreigners who live among you, for I, the LORD, am your God. (Leviticus 19:9-11 NLT)

Commands, such as these, have no authority on believers today.

5. Therefore, Not Every Part of Scripture Has the Same Purpose

Thus, all Scripture has been fully authorized by God, but not all Scripture has the same purpose or the same application. The Lord has said of His Word:

In the same way, the promise that I make does not return to me, having accomplished nothing. No, it is realized as I desire and is fulfilled as I intend. (Isaiah 55:11 NET)

Each part of Scripture was written for its own purpose. Therefore, we should not expect to find Christian doctrine in every statement of Scripture. The context must always determine what is being taught.

6. All Scripture Is Divinely Inspired, but Some Parts Are More Important than Others

While all parts of Scripture are divinely authoritative, there are some parts of Scripture that are more important than other parts. Since the New Testament unveils new truth about God and His program for humanity, its teachings are more important than the previous revelation. The coming of Christ, His death and resurrection are more important than certain matters contained in the Old Testament because it more fully reveals the fulfillment of God’s plan to humanity. However, all parts of Scripture carry God’s divine authority.

7. The Old Testament Was Written for Our Instruction: Lessons Can Still Be Learned

The New Testament says that the accounts contained in the Old Testament were written for our instruction. The Apostle Paul wrote the following to the church at Corinth about what was written in the Old Testament Scripture:

These things happened to make them an example for others. These things were written down as a warning for us who are living in the closing days of history. (1 Corinthians 10:11 God’s Word)

The accounts in the Old Testament can be read and studied for our personal benefit. This is true of everything that is contained in its pages. However, since many of the practices are no longer binding, we always need to read the Old Testament in context.

Conclusion: Every Law and Command in Scripture Must Be Studied in Context to See If It Is Still to Be Obeyed

Consequently, it is of the utmost importance that we understand the progressive nature of Scripture. We cannot just turn to a particular verse in the Old Testament, read it, and assume that it is still in force today. The context, as well as the teaching of the New Testament, will inform us whether or not certain commandments and regulations are still binding.

Summary – Question 13
Are Some Parts of the Bible More Authoritative than Others?

God’s authority covers all Scripture, and all of it is important. Everything in the Bible is there for a particular reason. However, some parts are more important than others. The earlier parts in Scripture are not as complete as some of the later parts. This is to be expected because of the progressive nature of revelation. God did not reveal everything at once—rather He revealed His truth in stages. While God has divinely inspired all Scripture, some parts are more relevant than others. Yet all Scripture is God’s authoritative Word and all of it should be diligently studied.

Sometimes the subject matter makes certain parts more identifiable as Scripture. For example, the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount and the letter to the Romans are more easily recognized as divinely inspired than the genealogies in Chronicles or the story of Esther. This, however, does not mean that the less recognizable areas are any less authoritative.

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