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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: The Life and Ministry of Jesus Christ

Don Stewart :: Could the Teachings of Jesus Have Come from a Different Source than God?

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Could the Teachings of Jesus Have Come from a Different Source than God?

The Life and Ministry of Jesus Christ – Question 14

Throughout the history of the Christian church there have been those who have tried to explain Jesus’ teachings by attributing them to influences that He, or the early Christians, received.

These include the following:

  1. Jesus went to India, Egypt, or some other country and derived His teachings from religious masters in those countries.
  2. Jesus’ teachings came from the Essene community, a group of ascetic Jews living on the edge of the Dead Sea who copied ancient manuscripts that are now knows as the Dead Sea Scrolls.
  3. Jesus based His teachings on the various “mystery religions” that were popular in the Roman Empire at that time.

We will look at each accusation and see if they have any substance.

Accusation 1: Jesus Went to India to Learn His Teaching

It has been argued that Jesus went to India or Egypt or perhaps some other place to derive His teachings from the various masters. This means that His teachings did not originate with God the Father but rather with religious leaders who were living at the time.

Response

There are a number of problems with this view. First, there is no evidence Jesus ever traveled out of His own land. None. In addition, His teachings bear no resemblance whatsoever with the contemporary teachings of the religions of India, Egypt or any other country. In fact, seemingly everything Jesus taught about God is in direct contradiction to what the religious leaders in these countries taught. Indeed, Jesus spoke like nobody before or since has spoken. Therefore, His words cannot be attributed to other religious leaders at the time.

Accusation 2: Jesus Got His Doctrine from the Essenes

The Essenes were a community of people who lived near the Dead Sea. It has been alleged that John the Baptist derived some of His beliefs from association with the Essenes. Scripture does say that John lived in the desert—the area where the Essenes lived. Luke writes,

As John grew up, God’s Spirit gave him great power. John lived in the desert until the time he was sent to the people of Israel. (Luke 1:80 CEV)

They also supposedly influenced Jesus.

However a comparison between the teachings of the Essenes and that of John show they are contradictory in every main aspect. There is no convincing evidence whatsoever that the Essenes influenced either John the Baptist or Jesus.

Accusation 3: The Mystery Religions Teach the Same Message as Jesus

Both before and after the time of Jesus there were various mystery religions in the Roman Empire. Some of these mystery religions had a concept of a dying/rising redeemer God. It has often been alleged that Christianity is merely another “mystery” religion.

However, many of the mystery religions did not originate until after Christianity. Furthermore, the mystery religions did not deal with flesh and blood characters but rather with mythical individuals. However, Jesus was a historical person. There is really no comparison between them and Christianity.

These Are Representative Theories

These three theories are representative of what has been taught down through the centuries. While the theories are different, they all have one thing in common; they deny Jesus’ teachings were derived from God the Father. If this is true, then Jesus was not the Son of God as the New Testament declares. However, we need to make a number of points about this accusation.

They Lack Convincing Evidence

As we have just seen, each of these theories lack convincing evidence to support their contention that Jesus “borrowed” His teaching. The differences between Jesus’ teaching and these supposed sources are much greater than any superficial similarity. No human source can explain the teachings of Jesus.

Jesus Demonstrated His Power

But there is a greater problem in proposing any of these theories are the real source of Jesus’ teachings. Jesus not only said that His teachings were from God, He demonstrated that He had the authority to make the claims that He did by the miracles which He performed. His miracles have been verified by eyewitness testimony. If He were only another religious leader, then how was He able to perform the miracles that He did, including that of His resurrection from the dead?

Only the Gospels Explain His Miraculous Life

The issue is clear when it comes to determining the source of Jesus’ teaching. An answer needs to be found by taking into consideration His miraculous life. Simplistic parallels that are drawn from other religions at the time do not, in any way, explain His teachings, or how He was able to perform miracles.

Jesus made it clear where his doctrine came from:

Jesus responded to them, “What I teach doesn’t come from me but from the one who sent me. Those who want to follow the will of God will know if what I teach is from God or if I teach my own thoughts.” (John 7:16, 17 God’s Word)

His teaching came from God the Father.

He also said to the people of his day:

He said to them, “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world.” (John 8:23 NRSV)

Jesus’ teaching reflects His origin, heaven. He indeed is Almighty God who became human.

Summary – Question 14
Could the Teachings of Jesus Have Come from a Different Source than God?

People have attempted to attribute Jesus’ teachings to various sources apart from God the Father.

Some say that He went to Egypt or India, or some other country and derived His teachings from the religious leaders there. Other claim John the Baptist and Jesus had contact with the Essenes, the people who composed the Dead Sea Scrolls. Still others claim that Christianity was influenced by the mystery religions in the Roman Empire. Yet when these claims are closely examined we find that there is no evidence for them whatsoever.

Indeed, the teachings of Jesus cannot be attributed to anything else but the supernatural revelation of God. Jesus not only taught like no one else He did things that no one else has done. His miracles testify to the fact that He was the One whom He claimed to be; God the Son.

Consequently to attempt to compare Jesus and His teachings to any human source will meet with failure. His teachings came from above—not from this world.

What Objections Have Been Made to Jesus' Miracles? ← Prior Section
Why Did Jesus Speak in Parables? Next Section →
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