**Since this lesson I have written a 30 page document on the Reliability of Scripture which I used to teach a Deeper Life class in my church – Click Here for Info
WHAT WERE THE NT WRITERS AND JESUS’ VIEW OF SCRIPTURE?
My aim here is to determine how the NT writers and Jesus treated the Scripture they had (the OT).
• In other words, how it informed their lives.
• Obviously, they believed it as Jesus Himself said – John 2:22.
• What I am getting at here is that when we understand the level of reverence and authority they accorded the Bible, we will understand the level of reverence and authority we should accord the Bible.
Some interesting observations before we begin:
• The only books of the NT without any direct quote or allusion to OT texts are Philemon and 2 & 3 John.
• The NT contains roughly 312 direct OT citations and thousands of OT allusions – Walter Kaiser.
• “The NT assumed that the OT WAS RELEVANT to first-century believers” – Walter Kaiser.
o For example, the NT writers “preferred to use the present tense where the OT had used the past tense, and to use the second or first person plural pronouns you, us, or we, where a third person pronoun would have been found in the OT” – Walter Kaiser.
First – NT writers relationship with Scripture:
It informed their theology:
• Romans 9:9–10 (ESV) — 9 For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls.
• Romans 4:2–3 (ESV) — 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”
It informed their painful circumstances:
• Romans 15:4 (ESV) — 4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
It informed their cultural biases:
• Galatians 3:8 (ESV) — 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.”
It informed their view of salvation:
• Romans 10:11–13 (ESV) — 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
It informed their view of the relationship between the OT and NT:
• Acts 24:14 (ESV) — 14 But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets,
It informed their evangelism:
• Romans 10:15 (ESV) — 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
It informed their view of worldly wisdom:
• 1 Corinthians 1:19 (ESV) — 19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
It informed their view of economic issues:
• 1 Corinthians 9:8–10 (ESV) — 8 Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same? 9 For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? 10 Does he not speak entirely for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop.
It informed their view of Jesus:
• Romans 1:1–4 (ESV) — 1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,
It informed their apologetics:
• Acts 18:28 (ESV) — 28 for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.
It informed their view of mans’ condition before God:
• Romans 3:9–12 (ESV) — 9 What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
It informed their decisions (a detailed example):
• Acts 15:12–20 (ESV) — 12 And all the assembly fell silent, and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. 13 After they finished speaking, James replied, “Brothers, listen to me. 14 Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name. 15 And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written, 16 “ ‘After this I will return, and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, 17 that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who makes these things 18 known from of old.’ 19 Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, 20 but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood.
• James, like most Jews at the time (Peter & Paul had a run in on this issue), was at a minimum uneasy with the degree of Gentile inclusion in the Messiah’s restoration of Israel.
• Yet notice he did not say, “I feel Gentiles are unclean and they oppressed us for years (Syrians, Babylonians, Romans), therefore my judgment is they are not worthy of inclusion.
• He put aside any bias and cultural baggage and submitted to the words of the Bible.
• He submitted to it by allowing it to authenticate the truth and not letting his emotional and cultural baggage lead him astray.
With just a handful of verses, we see only a few ways the NT writers let OT Scripture guide them into truth.
• It goes without saying that given the 300+ OT quotes and thousands of OT allusions found in the NT and handful could easily become hundreds.
But, we aren’t done yet.
• We need to look at Jesus relationship with Scripture.
Second – Jesus relationship with Scripture:
As Truth (He believed it):
• The Genesis account of creation (Matt. 19:4-6; Mk. 10:6-8);
• The Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch (Matt. 8:4; Jn. 5:46; 7:19);
• The historicity of Abel (Matt. 23:35; Lk. 11:50-51);
• The historicity of Noah and the Noahic Flood (Matt. 24:37-39; Lk. 17:26-27);
• The historicity of Abraham (Jn. 8:56);
• The historicity of the account of Sodom and Gomorrah (Matt. 10:15; 11:23-24; Lk. 10:12);
• The historicity of Lot and the account of his wife having been turned into a pillar of salt (Lk. 17:28-32);
• The historicity of the account in which Israel was given manna from heaven (Jn. 6:31,49,58);
• The Davidic authorship of some of the Psalms (Matt. 22:43; Mk. 12:36; Lk. 20:42);
• The historicity of the account of Jonah’s having been swallowed by a whale (Matt. 12:39-41; Lk. 11:29-32);
• The unity and single authorship of the book of Isaiah (Matt. 13:14-15; Mk. 7:6; Jn. 12:38-41);
• The Danielic authorship of the book of Daniel (Matt. 24:15);
• The canonicity of the entire Jewish Old Testament, which excluded the Apocrypha (Matt. 23:35; Lk. 11:50-51; 24:44);
• The verbal plenary inspiration of Scripture (Matt. 4:4; 5:17-18);
• The divine preservation of Scripture (Matt. 5:17-18; 24:35; Lk. 16:17; Jn. 10:35);
• The vital importance of studying and knowing Scripture (Jn. 5:39; Matt. 22:29);
• The judgment of all mankind by God’s Word (Jn. 12:47-48).
POI – Our orthodox view of the above verses is that Jesus is referring to actual historical events and persons and is thereby at once affirming the historicity and truth of the OT while at the same time providing NT insights, warnings or commentary in harmony with the OT.
However, not surprisingly, there is a different view that is growing in popularity in our post-modern world.
• The view is called The Accommodation Theory (attributed to J.S. Semler – 18th century).
• This view holds that the OT events and persons referenced by Jesus and his disciples were probably not historical but allegorical or parable.
• Therefore in using these OT stories, “our Lord and His Apostles accommodated themselves to the prejudices, the errors and the superstitions of their time” – Trinitarian Bible Society.
• The prejudices, errors and superstitions concerned “beliefs about authorship, inspiration, historical accuracy and the basic truthfulness of the Old Testament” – Josh McDowell.
• In other words, Jesus usage of OT references was not a truth or historicity endorsement, but merely a tactic He used to make His points.
• “For example, this theory holds that Jesus did not actually believe that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah (Matthew 11:23, 24), or that the people on the earth at the time of Noah perished in a great flood (Matthew 24:37-39), or that Jonah was really in the belly of the great fish (Matthew 12:39-41). It was not the purpose of Christ, they claim, to teach historical truth or to question it. His purpose was to teach spiritual truth. Therefore, any mention of historical personages or events does not mean that Jesus believed them to be true” – Josh McDowell.
Problems with the Accommodation Theory view:
• Not only did Jesus not accommodate, He in fact corrected wrong views of the OT.
o “He undermined the incorrect views held by those who heard Him. This is obvious, for instance, in His Sermon on the Mount, where in Matthew 5:21-48 He repeatedly challenged the beliefs of His contemporaries and corrected their understanding of the Old Testament” – Gary Habermas.
o This would be Jesus’ “You have heard it said…but I say to you” formula.
• Related to this was Jesus handling of false teachers.
o Jesus labeled them hypocrites, snakes and children of Hell for their mishandling of Scripture.
• The theory “gives a very low view of Christ, Jesus said, “I am the truth” (John 14:6). [If] His life and ministry consisted of telling only half-truths [and] holding back that which He knew was incorrect. This would mean that Jesus allowed the end to justify the means, something that His life and ministry simply did not do. If Jesus did not tell the whole truth, He did not tell the truth at all” – Josh McDowell.
Therefore, given our rejection of the Accommodation Theory and our holding to the orthodox view, Jesus’ use of OT verses demonstrate a relationship between belief in Jesus and belief in the historicity of the OT.
As Authoritative (He obeyed it):
• Luke 4:3–13 (ESV) — 3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” 4 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’ ” 5 And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, 6 and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “ ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’ ” 9 And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written, “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’ 11 and “ ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’ ” 12 And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” 13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.
As Proclaiming His Coming (He was it):
• Luke 4:17–21 (ESV) — 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
• John 6:45 (ESV) — 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me—
• Luke 22:37 (ESV) — 37 For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.”
• Luke 24:27 (ESV) — 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
• John 5:39–40 (ESV) — 39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.
So, what level of reverence and authority did they accord Scripture?
It informed their:
• Suffering & Circumstances
• Cultural biases
• Worldly wisdom
• View of Salvation
• Relationship between OT & NT
• View of Jesus
• Mans’ condition before God
• Jesus believed it
• Jesus obeyed it
• Jesus was its story
“The OT…was the basis for expressing God’s direction and guidance for all of our living. That understanding was shared by the NT, Jesus and the apostles” – Walter Kaiser.
“The point is that the New Testament writers were thoroughly conversant with the OT and felt that they were in direct continuity with it” – Walter Kaiser.
“The point is clear by now: the interweaving of phrases and lines from the Old Testament by the New Testament writers with their own words and literary styles shows how the very fabric of their thought was immersed in the language and teaching of the earlier Testament” – Walter Kaiser.
Of course now our Scripture, given the 27 books of the NT, is even more thorough and relevant.
• But we must ask ourselves, is the very fabric of our thoughts immersed in Scripture?
• This, as we have seen, is the example set for us by our Lord and the NT writers.
• We will deal more with our relationship to Scripture in point 5.
For now, however, we need to explore why we should believe Scripture.
• Clearly, as believers, we have the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit
• But are there even more reasons to believe in the authority Scripture?
We will answer that question in Point IV.