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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: Answering Bible Difficulties

Don Stewart :: Did Jesus Believe the Scriptures Were Without Error?

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Question 32

Did Jesus Believe the Scriptures Were Without Error?

It is important that we look at the way in which the Lord Jesus Christ regarded Scripture. Jesus not only claimed to be God the Son, He demonstrated that His claims were true. Consequently, He speaks with final authority on every issue. Therefore, we should seek to discover His attitude toward the Scripture.

What Jesus Taught about Scripture

When we examine the way Jesus viewed Scripture, we can see that He trusted it totally—believing it to be without error.

The following points need to be observed:

  • All Scripture Was Divinely Inspired

    Jesus believed that the Scripture, in its entirety, is God-breathed. When confronted with the temptation of the devil He said the following:

    It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ (Matthew 4:4 ESV)

    Jesus believed in the full authority of Scripture. Humans are to live by every word that comes from the mouth of God. All parts, and every word, were considered important to Jesus. In another place, He said:

    Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have not come to abolish but to fulfill. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth pass away not the smallest letter or stroke of a letter will pass from the law until everything takes place. (Matthew 5:17-18 NET)

    Jesus accepted the totality of Scripture as being divinely inspired of God. No exceptions.

  • The Old Testament Is Historically Accurate

    Jesus spoke of the Old Testament in terms of actual history. He believed that the people mentioned actually existed and the events recorded truly occurred. These include: Adam and Eve (Matthew 19), Jonah and the great sea monster (Matthew 12), and Noah and the Flood (Matthew 24). There is not the slightest hint that Jesus cast doubt on any of the stories contained in the Old Testament.

  • The Bible Is a Unity

    Jesus also testified the Scriptures were a unity—one unfolding complete story. On the day of His resurrection, we read about what Jesus said to two of His disciples traveling with Him on the road to Emmaus:

    He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” (Luke 24:44 TNIV)

    Jesus said that the Scripture cannot be broken:

    If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken). (John 10:35 NASB)

    Jesus said that the entire Old Testament witnesses to His Person and work. We read in Luke:

    Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things written about himself in all the scriptures. (Luke 24:27 NET)

    To Jesus, the Old Testament was a unity; all of it needed to be examined.

  • Jesus Said the Scripture Must Be Fulfilled

    Because the Bible is God’s divinely inspired Word, everything that it says must be fulfilled. Jesus said to those who arrested Him:

    But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so? (Matthew 26:54 ESV)

    It was absolutely necessary for the Scripture to be fulfilled.

  • He Said God’s Word Is True

    Jesus said that God’s Word is also without error. John recorded Jesus praying the following to God the Father:

    Set them apart in the truth; your word is truth. (John 17:17 NET)

    Jesus accepted the truthfulness of God’s Word.

  • The Scriptures Are Sufficient for Salvation

    The truth of the Scripture is sufficient for the salvation of the people. In the story Jesus told of the rich man and Lazarus, the Lord made it clear that the Scriptures contained sufficient information for a person to be saved:

    And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. (Luke 16:31 KJV)

    The New English Translation translates it this way:

    “He replied to him, ‘If they do not respond to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’” (Luke 16:31 NET)

    According to Jesus, the Scripture provided enough information for a person to make a decision for or against Christ.

  • Jesus Appealed to Scripture to Defend His Actions

    We find that Jesus appealed to Scripture to defend His actions. He said that His arrest was a fulfillment of Scripture:

    At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But all this has taken place, so that the scriptures of the prophets may be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled. (Matthew 26:55-56 NRSV)

    When Jesus cleansed the temple, He appealed to Scripture to explain His actions. In Mark’s gospel we read:

    Then they came to Jerusalem. Jesus entered the temple area and began to drive out those who were selling and buying in the temple courts. He turned over the tables of the moneychangers and the chairs of those selling doves, and he would not permit anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. Then he began to teach them and said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have turned it into a den of robbers!” (Mark 11:15-17 NET)

    From these passages, we can see that Jesus gave the Old Testament His full approval. It is clear from Jesus’ statements that He believed the Bible to be without error.

    Therefore, it is clear that Jesus accepted the view that the Old Testament was without error. To Him, the Old Testament was authoritative, the God of the Old Testament was the living God, and the teaching contained in the Old Testament was the teaching of the living God. In other words, what the Scripture said, God said. This was Jesus’ view.

  • The Importance of Jesus’ Testimony

    The testimony of Jesus is vital because the Bible pictures Him as acting for God the Father. Jesus exercises all the authority of God. God the Father validated Jesus as His own divine Son by the resurrection from the dead. Paul said:

    While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead. (Acts 17:30-31 NRSV)

    Paul also wrote to the church at Rome that Jesus was appointed to be the Son of God in power by His resurrection from the dead:

    From Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God. This gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, concerning his Son who was a descendant of David with reference to the flesh, who was appointed the Son-of-God-in-power according to the Holy Spirit by the resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 1:1-4 NET)

    Jesus said all authority in heaven and earth has been given to Him. Matthew’s gospel closes with these words of Jesus:

    And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” Amen. (Matthew 28:18-20 NKJV)

    These facts make Jesus’ testimony absolutely crucial. Whatever He says is the final word.

  • Jesus and Truth: He Is the Standard of Truth

    Jesus Christ declared that He is the Truth. In one of His most famous statements, Jesus declared Himself to be “the Truth.”

    I am the way, the truth, and the life. (John 14:6 KJV)

    This claim meant far more than the fact that He was a truthful person. He declares Himself to be the Truth in the sense that He is standard of truth.

    In the Book of Revelation, John called Him the faithful witness:

    From John, to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace and peace to you from “he who is,” and who was, and who is coming, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ—the faithful witness, the firstborn from among the dead, the ruler over the kings of the earth. To the one who loves us and has set us free from our sins at the cost of his own blood. (Revelation 1:4-5 NET)

    John also wrote in the Book of Revelation that Jesus is the “faithful and true witness.”

    To the angel of the church in Laodicea write the following: “This is the solemn pronouncement of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the originator of God’s creation.” (Revelation 3:14 NET)

    Jesus said that He had come into the world to testify to the truth:

    Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” (John 18:37 NASB)

    Jesus did not merely come to testify to the meaning of truth — He is Truth. Therefore, whatever He says about any subject is the final word on that matter.

We Have Three Choices with Respect to Jesus’ Testimony

Since Jesus demonstrated total trust in the Scriptures, we have three different ways in which we can look at the issue. He was either deceived, ignorant, or He was telling the truth.

  1. Jesus Was a Deceiver

    If Jesus knew the Scriptures contained errors, but taught the people that they were error-free, then He was a deceiver. This would make Jesus guilty of lying.

    Whatever His motive may have been, it would prove that we could neither trust Him, nor the Scriptures. However, there is no evidence that Jesus ever lied about anything.

  2. Jesus Was Ignorant

    If the Bible contains factual errors of which Jesus did not know, then it affects the way we view Him. If He were ignorant of this fact, then it is possible that He was ignorant of other facts.

    Logically, if the Bible is not inerrant and Jesus thought it was, then He cannot be the One whom He claimed to be—God the Son. If we cannot trust Him on this subject, then we cannot trust Him on any subject.

  3. The Bible Is Inerrant

    The only alternative that fits the facts is that Jesus taught the inerrancy of the Bible because He knew it was true. As the Son of God and the risen Savior, Jesus has demonstrated that He has the authority to make such statements. His Word on the subject is final. If Jesus viewed the Scriptures as being error-free, then the Scriptures are error free. End of story.

Christians Should Have the Same View on Inerrancy as Jesus

For the believer, the view of Jesus toward the Scripture is the Christian view. Thus, if Christians are to be consistent, they will approach the Bible in the same manner as our Lord—believing it to be error-free.

Any person who claims Jesus is their Lord, yet rejects His testimony about the nature of Scripture, is not submitting to His Lordship.

Jesus told believers to learn from Him. We read the following in Matthew:

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:29 NRSV)

In another place, He said the following about Himself:

You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. (John 13:13 NRSV)

This being the case, in what sense can we call Him Teacher and Lord if we do not adopt His view of Scripture?

Jesus also asked His followers the following question:

But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say? (Luke 6:46 NKJV)

This is a good question. Those who claim to follow Him as Lord should take seriously His view of Scripture. His attitude should be our attitude.

Summary - Question 32
Did Jesus Believe the Scriptures Were Without Error?

The position of Jesus with respect to errors in the Bible is clear—He believed the Scripture was error-free. This can be found in the fact that He considered every Word to be trustworthy, believed the entire Old Testament was historically accurate, taught that the Scriptures were a unity, argued that everything written must be fulfilled, and believed that it contained enough information sufficient for salvation. He also quoted the Scriptures to defend His actions. Jesus Christ totally trusted the Scripture and so should we.

We cannot reject the attitude of Jesus without undermining His entire authority. Either He knew what He was talking about, or He did not. If He did not, then He was either a willful deceiver, or He was ignorant.

The only other choice is that the Bible is inerrant, like Jesus believed. This is the biblical position and this is where all the evidence leads us.

Since All Bible Translations Are Imperfect, How Can We Speak of an Inerrant Bible? ← Prior Section
Books that Don’t Belong in the New Testament 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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