Jesus believed the Old Testament to be the very words of God and predicted that the New Testament would be likewise. Pause for a moment with me and ponder the implications of that statement. It was this one point probably more than any other that convinced me of the Bible’s validity in being the Word of God. Let’s follow the logic together:
- We have very good reasons to believe that the Bible is a historically accurate document concerning people, places, and the life and works of Jesus.
- If the Bible is historically reliable, then there is strong evidence for believing that Jesus was who He said He was—God’s Son and the Savior of the world.
- Because Jesus is God’s Son, we can have absolute confidence in what He says about the Bible being inspired by God.
Let me put it another way. I’ve had the privilege of serving on three different juries in my lifetime. Some involved very serious crimes, and the decision that we made had great implications for a person’s life. Throughout the trials, experts in ballistics or forensic medicine would give testimony that often shed such light about the facts that our decision regarding guilt or innocence became obvious.
Jesus is the greatest expert witness on the Bible. His view of it carries extraordinary weight because He not only claimed to be the Son of God, He lived a perfect life, died, and rose again. So let’s look at how he viewed the Old Testament and what He would say later alluding to the New Testament.
Jesus had much to say about God’s Word, and the list below provides a great overview of what He believed about the Old Testament’s authority, reliability, and accuracy:
- It was divinely inspired— Matt. 22:31–32; 43.
- It was without error and infallible—John 10:35; 17:17; Matt. 22:29.
- It is the final authority—Matt. 4:4, 7, 10.
- It is historically reliable. Jesus believed in a literal Adam and Eve—Matt. 19:4–5; Noah and the ark and a worldwide flood—Matt. 24:37; the literal life and faith of Abraham—John 8:56; the destruction of Sodom—Luke 17:29, 32; the law as given by Moses—John 7:19; Matt. 19:18; manna given in the wilderness—John 6:31–51; as well as the historical life of David, the queen of Sheba, Solomon, Elijah, and even the story of Jonah and the great fish.
- The Scripture was sufficient for life and faith—Luke 16:31.7
Jesus believed the extent of the Old Testament authority included
- The very words of Scripture—Luke 24:44.
- The specific tenses of verbs—Matt. 22:32.
- The smallest portion of the letters in words were inspired—Matt. 5:17–18.8
The list above of Jesus’ view of the Bible is pretty overwhelming, but I’ve heard people say that we’re not expected to take those statements literally; that it’s not like every word is God’s word, but it just “contains” God’s Word; and that we need to interpret it according to the mores and culture of our day. I would like to suggest that Jesus’ view is just the opposite. On the most important doctrine of His day and of our day—the resurrection—He uses one of the most obscure grammatical issues to make His point:
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. (Matt. 5:17–18)
The smallest stroke and letter in Hebrew is a “yod” and looks like a reverse comma. The Hebrew letters b and d are very common, and only a thin, little stroke makes the difference between them. Jesus meant that every minute detail of God’s Word, even the tiniest stroke, will be fulfilled.
Ingram, Chip. 2017. Why I Believe: Straight Answers to Honest Questions about God, the Bible, and Christianity. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker.
We have just completed a 6-Week Bible Study Lesson Series on Chip Ingram’s book, Why I Believe. It is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions, as well as part of Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription plan. The idea is to invite each participant to purchase their own book and discuss it each week.
Why I Believe, Lesson #1
Chapters 1, 2
Why I Believe in the Resurrection
Did Jesus Really Die?
Why I Believe, Lesson #2
Chapters 3, 4
Why I Believe the Bible
Don’t Take My Word for It
Why I Believe, Lesson #3
Why I Believe in Life After Death
Why I Believe, Lesson #4
Chapters 6, 7
Why I Believe in Life Creation
Science or God?
Why I Believe, Lesson #5
Why I Believe in the God of the Bible
Why I Believe, Lesson #6
How is that Working for You?