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Don Stewart :: What about Alleged Sayings of Jesus That Are Not Found in the New Testament? (Agrapha)

Don Stewart

There are a number of alleged sayings of Jesus that are not found in the New Testament. These are known as the agrapha (not written).

Jesus Spoke Many Things That Are Not Recorded

The New Testament itself says that Jesus did many things that have not been recorded. John wrote.

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe to that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name (John 20:30,31).

John finished his gospel by saying.

But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written (John 21:25).

The Writers Were Selective In What They Recorded

According to the New Testament the writers were selective about what they wrote concerning Jesus. This means that He said and did many more things than the New Testament records. The question is, "Are any of those sayings or deeds found in other early writings?"

Many Alleged Sayings Of Jesus Do Exist

From sources outside of the New Testament there are a number of sayings that have claimed to come from Jesus. For example, the Gospel of Thomas contains 114 separate sayings that are introduced by the words, "Jesus said." From other early sources we find the same claims of recording authentic sayings of Jesus. Elaborate theories about Jesus have been built upon some of these sayings that are not found in the New Testament.

There Is No Consensus About Which Sayings Are Authentic

While there are a number of Bible scholars who contend that we possess a number of statements from Jesus that are not recorded in the New Testament, there is no consensus on this issue. Some of the statements that are attributed to Jesus may indeed have come from Him while others do not seem to reflect His character and teaching.

We Cannot Say For Certain If Any Sayings Are Authentic

Consequently we cannot be certain that we have any authentic saying of Jesus in writings that are found outside of the New Testament. The best that can be done is to say that some of these sayings may have come from Jesus. We cannot go beyond that. The four gospel writers were eyewitnesses to the life of Christ or they recorded eyewitness testimony. The sources for these other sayings are unknown.

Summary

From the New Testament itself we know that Jesus said and did many things that are not recorded in the Scriptures. This has caused Bible students to examine certain documents that claim to have authentic words of Jesus. These sayings are known as the agrapha - unwritten sayings of Jesus.

Many of these alleged sayings exist. The problem is that there is no consensus as to which sayings, if any, actually came from Jesus. Since we cannot say for certain it is unwise to build any theory about Jesus on these contested sayings.

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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