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

Don Stewart :: What Was Jesus’ View of the New Testament?

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Question 20

What Was Jesus’ View of the New Testament?

The divine authority of the Old Testament rests upon the words of Jesus. He confirmed that the Hebrew Scripture is God’s Word. On the day of His resurrection, Jesus made the following comment on the Old Testament Scripture:

Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, he explained to them the things concerning himself in all the Scriptures... Now he said to them, “These are my words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” (Luke 24:27,44 TNIV)

There is no doubt about how Jesus viewed the Old Testament or the Hebrew Scriptures; He totally trusted them. Since He trusted the Old Testament, so should we.

We now come to the question of Christ’s view with respect to the New Testament. The divine authority of the New Testament also rests upon the authority of Jesus Christ. We find that He made provision for its writing.

We will discover that He pre-authenticated the New Testament ahead of time. In this way, we can be assured that it too is the Word of God. A number of points need to be made.

  1. Jesus Hand-Picked Certain Disciples to Continue His Teaching

    To begin with, Jesus selected and trained certain disciples that would be the authorized teachers of His New Covenant. He personally chose well the men who would be His disciples and who would pass on His teachings to us—particularly the men whom He chose to record the account of His life and ministry. He gave these men special attention as well as a special commission. We read about Him choosing them in Mark’s gospel:

    And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach. (Mark 3:14 ESV)

    These individuals were specially chosen by Jesus to perform a particular ministry; He did not accept volunteers.

  2. There Was an Old Testament Precedent for Written Scripture

    There was already the precedent of written Scripture (the Old Testament) that would have been available to the disciples. Since God had given a written account of His words and deeds before the time of Jesus, it makes perfect sense that He would continue with a written account of the One to whom the Old Testament looked forward.

  3. Some Permanent Form of Jesus’ Words Was Expected

    Since Jesus’ words were considered by Him to be absolutely authoritative on whatever issue He spoke, there would have been the need to eventually see them in some permanent form. Therefore, there would have been the expectation that His words and deeds would eventually be committed to writing.

  4. There Was Unfinished Revelation

    Jesus also made some special promises to His disciples that deal directly with this issue of the authority of the New Testament. On the night of His betrayal, Jesus plainly said that further revelation was to come. He told His disciples that the revelation that He had given them was unfinished at the time of His death. He said:

    I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. (John 16:12 NASB)

    Therefore, the disciples could expect to receive further revelation from Jesus. More was to be told them about Jesus’ life and ministry.

  5. The Holy Spirit Was Given to Teach the Disciples All Things about Jesus

    Jesus made a promise to His disciples on the night which He was betrayed. John records Him saying:

    But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and will cause you to remember everything I said to you. (John 14:26 NET)

    The Holy Spirit would cause the disciples to remember the things Jesus said and did. He described the Holy Spirit in this manner:

    That helper is the Spirit of Truth. The world cannot accept him, because it doesn’t see or know him. You know him, because he lives with you and will be in you. (John 14:17 God’s Word)

    Jesus promised that after He left this world, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, would come in His place and teach His disciples. We note specifically the promise of Jesus with respect to what the Holy Spirit will do. He will teach them all things and bring back to their remembrance all things that Jesus said and did. What we have is a promise from Jesus to His disciples of a supernatural gift of total recall. Everything that Jesus said and did would be brought back to them in a miraculous way.

    Therefore, we can be assured that the final outcome of their teaching and eventual writing (the New Testament), would be correct in all that it said.

  6. They Will Bear Witness of Jesus

    Jesus chose certain people to receive further revelation and to preach and teach His truth after He left this world. It would be the message of Jesus they would proclaim. John wrote what Jesus said about this:

    When the Advocate comes, whom I will send you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father?he will testify about me, and you also will testify, because you have been with me from the beginning. (John 15:26-27 NET)

    When Saul of Tarsus was converted to the Apostle Paul, the Lord testified to him that He would be with Paul in a unique way. We read in the Book of Acts the commandment of the Lord to a man named Ananias:

    But the Lord said to him, “Go, because this man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before Gentiles and kings and the people of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” So Ananias departed and entered the house, placed his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came here, has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 9:15-17 NET)

    The message of Jesus’ disciples would be Jesus’ message. They had no message apart from Him.

  7. They Would Have the Same Authority as Jesus

    Since Jesus knew beforehand that they would be writing Holy Scripture, He gave His disciples the same authority as He had. Jesus had previously given His disciples the authority when He had sent them out to the people of Israel. We read about this in Matthew. Jesus said:

    And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town. (Matthew 10:14-15 ESV)

    Accepting Jesus’ disciples was the same as accepting Him. John records Jesus saying:

    “I tell you the solemn truth, whoever accepts the one I send accepts me, and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.” (John 13:20 NET)

    Jesus assured His disciples that those whom He had sent into the world had His authority behind them. Luke records His words as follows:

    Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me. (Luke 10:16 NRSV)

    On another occasion, Jesus prayed to the Father about those who would believe through the message of the disciples. On the night of His betrayal, He said:

    I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in Me through their message. May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You. May they also be one in Us, so the world may believe You sent Me. (John 17:20-21 HCSB)

    The message of Jesus would now be given through His disciples. They were to tell the entire world the good news of Jesus.

    Matthew’s gospel ends with this command:

    Then Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 NET)

    They were to go out to the entire world and make disciples.

    In doing so, they would be empowered by the Holy Spirit. Before He ascended into heaven, Jesus made the following promise to His disciples:

    But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. (Acts 1:8 NKJV)

    Both before and after His resurrection, Jesus’ disciples would have His unique authority. They were to use this authority to preach His message to the ends of the earth.

  8. They Would Be Guided into All Truth

    There is another promise from Jesus that was given to His disciples. The Holy Spirit would guide them into all things truthful. He said:

    However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. “He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:13-14 NKJV)

    It will be into “all truth” that the Holy Spirit of God will “guide” Jesus’ handpicked disciples. This was His promise to them.

  9. The Apostles Became Authoritative Teachers of God’s Truth

    Jesus is called “Rabbi” some fifteen times in the gospels. On other occasions, He is called “Teacher.” In Jesus’ day, the rabbi’s were thought of as those who faithfully passed along God’s truth. Their disciples were to memorize their teachings.

    The apostles themselves preached and taught Jesus’ message; it was not their message. The church followed the example of Jesus by continuing in the teachings of the apostles which was the teachings of Jesus. We read in the Book of Acts:

    And they [Jesus’ disciples] devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. (Acts 2:42 ESV)

    Jesus’ teachings continued through His followers.

    As the Father had sent Jesus, Jesus sent His apostles. The purpose was to proclaim His Word in an authoritative way. We read in John’s gospel:

    Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” (John 20:21 ESV)

    Therefore, the apostles themselves became authoritative teachers of God’s truth.

Conclusion: We Should Have Confidence in the New Testament Because of Jesus

Because Jesus hand-picked and trained certain disciples and made promises to them about the authority they would receive, we can be confident that the end result of their teaching, the New Testament, has His authority behind it. Therefore, we can read and study it with the utmost confidence.

Summary - Question 20
What Was Jesus’ View of The New Testament?

Jesus believed the Old Testament was God’s authoritative Word. In the same manner, He authorized the divine status of the New Testament ahead of time.

Jesus made the following promises to His disciples while He was still here on earth. First, He said that He was going to leave His disciples. He told them that He had much more to say to them, but it will come at a later date. Although He is going away, He will not leave them without a Teacher or Helper. He will send them the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will remind them of all things that Jesus both said and did. This contains a promise of total recall of all the words and deeds of Jesus that they personally experienced.

Both the Holy Spirit and the disciples will testify about Jesus. These specific disciples will testify about Jesus because they had been with Him from the beginning of His ministry. In addition, the Holy Spirit will guide these disciples into “all truth” when they preach the message about Jesus.

The words of these handpicked disciples will have the same authority as Jesus. This will continue when the preaching and teaching of the disciples is recorded in a more permanent form (the New Testament).

Thus, in a sense, Jesus authenticated the New Testament ahead of time by the various promises that He gave to His disciples. Therefore, we can have confidence in what the New Testament says because our confidence is based upon the promises of Jesus.

How Did Jesus View His Own Teaching? ← Prior Section
Why Are the Writings of the Apostle Paul Considered to Be Divinely Authoritative? Next Section →
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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