JESUS’ USE OF THE BIBLE
TEXT: JOHN 14:6
A. What do people mean by statements like, “That’s just your interpretation”?
1. Many mean: “You have your view and I have mine.”
2. “Who is to say mine is wrong and yours is right?”
3. “We should not condemn each other’s views.”
4. “We should allow one another to hold different views.”
5. “I’m okay, you’re okay.”
B. We live in a “pluralistic society.”
1. “Pluralism” simply means differing, and even conflicting, views are permitted to co-exist.
2. Truth is viewed as subjective and relative by many.
3. This discussion is further muddled because, on any religious moral question, there are knowledgeable, sincere experts on both sides.
4. The general mind set is since truth is elusive, no one should be judgmental
of anyone else; no one should be so arrogant as to insist a particular
view is the only correct one.
C. Without considering the Bible it should be obvious this position is self contradictory and unacceptable.
2. Because those espousing it insist they are right.
3. They are dogmatic in their insistence no one should ever be dogmatic.
4. They hold as certain truth that there are no certain truths.
5. Therefore, they are forced to deny their view to hold their view!
D. Humans reason in religion in a way differing from the way they reason in other areas.
1. For example, when we visit the doctor we tell him our symptoms and expect to be understood.
2. We expect him to gather the data and properly interpret that evidence drawing the correct conclusions about our sickness.
3. He writes a prescription which we take to the pharmacist expecting him to interpret properly.
4. We take the medication home, read the label, fully expecting to understand the directions.
5. We do that all day every day in many areas of life.
E. We give ourselves credit for having the ability to operate sensibly communicating with others intelligibly.
1. We turn around and imply God, who created our minds, is incapable of making His will known in an understandable fashion.
2. When we come to the Bible, we insist we cannot be sure what God’s will is; we can not be dogmatic on doctrine; we must allow differing opinions on what is right and wrong.
3. Who can believe it?
F. God has given man written revelation knowing it can be correctly understood.
1. That means for every word in the Bible, there is a meaning God originally intended to convey.
2. That is what Peter meant when he said, “No prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation” (2 Pet. 1:20).
3. He meant men did not decide what to include in inspired material – God did.
4. God has given every responsible human being the task of discerning that one correct interpretation.
5. There is only one to any given passage – the right one, God’s!
I. JESUS’ OWN METHOD.
A. We call Jesus of Nazareth the Christ and so He is.
B. He is the way and the only way to the Father (Jn 14:6).
C. When you see Him you see the Father (Jn 14:9).
D. If you accept these facts concerning Jesus, you should also accept His approach to the Scriptures.
E. Let’s return to the New Testament and to Jesus Himself.
1. Let us examine the approach Jesus took to interpreting the Bible.
2. Let us discover His attitude toward God’s word.
3. Let us consider how He used the Bible to face those determined to deter Him from doing God’s will.
4. Then let us “go and do likewise.”
a. Let His approach to the Bible be ours.
b. Let His attitude toward it be our attitude.
F. The Lord’s personal interpretative activity can be viewed in terms of:
1. His attitude toward the Bible and
2. His use of the Bible.
II. JESUS’ ATTITUDE TOWARD THE BIBLE.
A. The Lord considered Scripture divinely inspired through human instrumentality.
1. He attributed David’s words in Psalm 110:1 to the Holy Spirit (Mk. 12:36).
a. He treated Daniel’s prophecy in Daniel 9:27 as an inspired prophecy that would surely come to pass (Mt 24:15). “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand).”
b. On the day He visited the synagogue in Nazareth and read aloud from Isaiah 61, He said the passage was being fulfilled in their hearing (Lk 4:21).
c. He held that the Bible’s affirmation Elijah would precede the Messiah’s coming (Mal 4:5) was precisely what had happened (Mk 9:11-13).
2. At His arrest, He asked Peter a question confirming His belief in the
inspiration of the Bible: “but how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled,
that thus it must be?” (Mt 26:54).
a. He attributed the selection of Judas to the fulfillment of
Psalm 41:9 (Jn 13:18).
b. He was so sure of the inspiration of the Old Testament that
at His death He quoted Psalm 22:1 (Matt 27:46). “And about
the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli,
lama sabachthani? That is to say, My God, my God, why
hast thou forsaken me?”
c. Jesus recognized the Bible as originating in God’s mind in
d. To Jesus, the Son of God, the Bible was inspired.
3. Jesus conception of inspiration included what we call “verbal” and
a. That is “…The Biblical writers…were preserved from the
errors that appear in other books and thus the resulting
book, the Bible, is in all its parts the very Word of God, completely
true in what it says regarding matters of fact and
completely authoritative in its commands” (J. Gresham Machen).
b. Jesus consistently demonstrated this understanding of the
nature of Scripture.
(1) He received and used the predictive elements of Old
Testament Scripture and He acknowledged the credibility
of the teaching and historical sections too.
(2) Daniel’s historicity (Mk 13:14); Jonah’s fish experience
(Matt 12:40); divine creation of Adam and Eve
(Matt 19:4); the reality of Noah and the flood (Lk
17:26,27); Lot and the destruction of Sodom along
with the fate of his wife (Lk 17:29,32); the widow, famine
and drought of Elijah’s day (Lk 4:25,26); the
leprous Naaman (Lk 4:27) all attest Jesus viewed
Scripture as inspired in all its parts.
c. Old Testament inspiration for Jesus was also verbal.
(1) “…the divine superintendence…extended to the
verbal expression of the thoughts of the sacred writers,
as well as to the thoughts themselves… Hence,
in all the affirmations of Scripture of every kind there
is no more error in the words of the original autographs
than in the thought they were chosen to express”
(Hodge and Warfield).
(2) Jesus clearly embraced this understanding.
(3) He based His powerful defense of the resurrection of
the dead on the tense of the grammar of Exodus 3:6.
(a) If God was the God of Abraham, Isaac and
Jacob at the moment He was speaking to
Moses, though Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
were dead, they must be existing beyond the
grave (Matt 22:32).
(b) The entire argument depends on God having
worded His statement to convey contemporaneity
– continuing existence.
d. When Jesus challenged the Pharisees to clarify the identity
of the Messiah, He focused upon David’s single use of the
term “Lord” in Psalm 110:1 – “If David then call him Lord,
how is he his son?” (Mt 22:45); his whole point depends on
4. Jesus’ allusion to the “jot and tittle” was a tacit statement of belief in
verbal inspiration (Matt 5:18).
a. “This indicates that not only the thought conveyed by
Scripture, but also the individual words themselves, as valid vehicles of those thoughts, are possessed of infallible truth and will surely find their fulfillment and realization” (Archer).
b. The Scriptures not only contain, but are, the word of God,
hence all their elements and affirmations are without error.
c. Jesus considered the Bible to be the plenary, verbally
inspired word of the very God.
B. On the basis of this divine origin, Jesus viewed the Bible as authoritative
and binding on men.
1. When He described Abraham’s talk with the rich man in torment
(hades), He quoted Abraham’s remark, “they have Moses and the
prophets; let them hear them” (Lk 16:29).
2. In doing so He showed high regard for the authority of the Bible as
the ultimate spiritual guide.
3. To Jesus the Bible was the ground of belief.
a. He declared, “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that
the prophets have spoken” (Lk 24:25).
b. He told the Jews, “You search the scriptures because in
them you think you have eternal life…had you believed
Moses, you would have believed in me: for he wrote of me.
But if you believe not his writings how shall you believe my
words?” (Jn 5:39,46,47).
c. Jesus asserted the Old Testament bore authoritative divine
witness to Himself and, in doing this, He bore witness to the
authority to the Bible itself.
4. Perhaps the most striking proof Jesus viewed the Bible as authoritative
is where He ascribes legal authority to all Scripture – a view
held by the people (Jn 12:34).
a. By maintaining the “Scriptures cannot be broken” (Jn 10:34,
35) Jesus was asserting its authority cannot be annulled,
denied or withstood.
b. The Bible’s authority is final and irrevocable.
c. It governs all of life and will be fulfilled come what may.
d. Jesus’ uniform attitude toward the Bible is one of absolute
trust and confidence in its authority.
C. Jesus viewed Scripture as propositional, absolute and objective.
1. Phrases like “it is written,” “God said,” “through the prophets,” and
“Scripture says” show Jesus and His apostles esteemed the Old
Testament as divine and regarded its precepts absolute truth.
2. As a boy of twelve, Jesus’ handling of Scripture as an objective
body of truth was evident when He astounded the doctors of the
law with “his understanding and answers” (Lk 2:47).
a. This characteristic continued all His early life.
b. He contradicted His adversaries by declaring the source of
religious error their ignorance of the Bible (Matt 21:16;
22:29). 22:29, “Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do
err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.”
3. The propositional nature of Scripture is seen in Christ’s frequent
use of isolate Old Testament statements to prove His assertions.
a. He used Psalm 110:1 to prove His lordship (Mk 12:36), “for
David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The Lord said to my
Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy
b. He proved His death and resurrection were imminent by
referring to Psalm 118:22 (Mk 12:10-22; cf. Acts 4:11).
4. Older preachers opposed denominational error by teaching,
defending and debating biblical truth.
a. They fully understood truth is objective – not subjective.
b. In a day when many “scholars” are ridiculing this behavior,
“scholars” should realize older preachers were only emulating
c. No one is a scholar unless he thinks and acts like the Lord.
III. JESUS’ USE OF SCRIPTURE.
A. At least three observations emerge from an examination of the Lord’s
handling of Scripture.
B. He relied on the Bible heavily.
1. Jesus quoted from the Old Testament frequently.
2. He constantly stressed to His disciples the permeation of life by the
written words of God (e.g., Lk 24:27).
3. He consistently argued the certainty of the Bible’s fulfillment in the
world (e.g., Lk 24:44-46).
4. He had a sense of the unity of history and a grasp of its wide sweep
(e.g., Lk 11:50,51).
5. It is time we got back to emulating Jesus’ extensive reliance on
C. Jesus demonstrated remarkable rationality in His penetrating use of logic
and sound argumentation.
1. His first recorded responsible activity was a logical dialogue
between Himself at age twelve and Jewish theologians.
2. His logical prowess was apparent to the doctors and His parents
3. Immediately after His baptism Jesus faced Satan in the desert.
a. The devil posed three arguments, urging Christ to act on the
basis of faulty reasoning.
b. Notice carefully the sequence of the disputation with special
attention to the Lord’s use of logic to prevail.
4. Matthew 4:1-11: argument #1:
a. Satan: “If you’re the Christ, then make these stones into
b. Jesus offers authoritative Scripture – Deuteronomy 8:3 – as evidence to contradict Satan’s conclusion: “Man shall not live by bread alone but by God’s words.” c. In other words, satisfying the legitimate need of hunger must ever take precedence over the need to obey God and attend to spiritual needs first.
5. Argument #2:
a. Satan: “If you’re God’s Son, then throw yourself off this
pinnacle.” This time Satan offers Scripture – Psalm 91:11,12
– as evidence to justify his proposal.
b. Jesus counters with additional Scripture – Deuteronomy 6:16
– which demonstrates Satan’s misapplication of Psalm 91 to
the current situation.
(1) “It is again written, “thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy
(2) In other words Psalm 91, though intended to convey
the care and concern God manifests for the faithful,
was not intended to apply to deliberately placing
yourself in danger to force God to come to the rescue.
(3) God will take care of me, yes.
(4) But if I purposely walk in front of a train to see if God
will prevent my injury – I’ll be struck.
(5) The only logical response to this challenge is the one
Jesus gave: “Don’t tempt God! Don’t put Him to the
test since it indicates your own lack of faith.”
6. Argument #3:
a. Satan: “If you fall down and worship me, Then I will give you
all these kingdoms and glory.”
b. Jesus again marshals scriptural proof showing the falsity of
Satan’s position while reaffirming truth.
“Get away from me, Satan! For it is written, ‘Thou shalt
worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”
c. In other words, based on Deuteronomy 6:13, it would be
sinful to worship Satan or anyone else. God, alone, is worthy
7. To summarize this interchange Jesus used direct statements,
accounts of action or examples and implication.
a. His allusion to the behavior of the Israelites, His use of direct
statements from Deuteronomy and His applications to the
situation based on the implication of the passages – all
represent a method of interpretation analogous to the one
generally operative among churches of Christ.
b. Brethren followed this method because Jesus did.
8. These examples are not isolated instances.
9. Jesus was so sensible that when hard-hearted Jews declared Him mad, others countered: “These are not the words of one who has a demon” (Jn 10:21).
a. The Lord consistently provided evidence to substantiate His
claims (Jn 10:24-26,36-38).
b. No honest person can question Jesus’ consistent use of
correct reasoning – logic.
c. He is the master logician who created our minds to operate
D. Jesus made extensive use of implication.
1. Many modern scholars are uncomfortable with Jesus’ use of what
has been called “necessary inference.”
a. Some have called for an abandonment of implication in
interpreting the Bible.
b. This is foolish in light of Jesus’ use of implication.
2. Note a few additional instances of Jesus’ use of implication.
a. In Matthew 4:1-11 every case of the Lord’s use of the Old Testament to counter Satan requires proper reasoning to draw conclusions implied by the Lord’s statements.
b. In Matthew 12:1-9 Jesus implied if the Pharisees accepted
David, who violated Old Testament law, they should have no
problem accepting His disciples who did not violate it.
c. In Matthew 22:41-45 in response to Jesus’ question, the
Pharisees identified the Christ as David’s son, alluding to 2
(1) Jesus cited Psalm 110:1 to encourage the Pharisees
to fit two distinct concepts together by reasoning correctly
about them inferring what they implied.
(2) Psalm 110:1 in its original context refers to supremacy
of the Messiah over the world; But here Jesus focused
on an implication of the passage – that the
Messiah would be both physically descended from
David and yet Lord over David (Matt 1; Lk 3:23-38).
(3) He implied His Jewish hearers were refusing to
recognize His lordship over them.
(4) By rejecting Him, they were rejecting David’s Lord –
the Son of God.
3. Many other examples could be cited.
a. In any case, it is evident Jesus demonstrated several
important interpretative principles in His personal use of the
b. He approached Scripture with the abiding conviction that it is
the authoritative, absolute, propositional, plenary, verbally
inspired word of God.
c. In handling Scripture Jesus heavily relied on extensive
quotation of the Bible, proper reasoning and the use of implication.
A. Let us do as Jesus did.
B. WWJD – What Would Jesus Do?