What Did Jesus Think of Scripture?

by Derek Brown

The debate over the inerrancy of Scripture has been raging among evangelicals for nearly six decades. Beginning as early as the late 1950s, there have been professing evangelicals who have shown both subtle and open disdain for the doctrine of inerrancy, claiming the idea that Scripture is completely without error in its original manuscripts is a doctrinal hangover of late-modernism, not the historic teaching of the church or of the Bible. They are wrong on all three accounts, as scores of scholarly monographs, articles, and dissertations have demonstrated. 

Nevertheless, the debate still rages today. Most recently, men like Kenton Sparks and Peter Enns have argued that the Old Testament reflects the mistaken cosmological and scientific viewpoints of its authors. Borrowing from arguments made by evangelical errantists several decades ago, scholars like Sparks and Enns contend that inerrancy applies to the spiritual truth found in the pages of the OT, not its historical, geographical, cosmological, or scientific affirmations.

These scholars, and those who take a similar stance on the Old Testament, are generally unfazed by the fact that such arguments were soundly refuted by a previous generation soon after they emerged. Then and now, however, the best rebuttal to Sparks and Enns (and any other professing evangelical who claims that Scripture contains errors) is to ask what Jesus thought of Scripture. For those who claim to follow Jesus, this should be the benchmark for our understanding of the Bible’s inspiration, inerrancy, and authority.  

So, what did Jesus think of Scripture?

  • He affirmed the historical reality and accuracy of the Old Testament record  (e.g., Abel, Luke 11:51; Noah, Matt 24:37-39; Abraham, John 8:56; Sodom and Gomorrah, Matt 10:15; David, Matt 12:3; Solomon Matt 6:29; Elijah, Luke 4:25; Jonah Matt 12:39-41, etc.)
  • He affirmed the doctrinal and theological significance of the smallest portions of the Old Testament, even basing his arguments on individual letters and tenses of verbs (e.g., Matt 5:17-20; John 10:31-36; Luke 20:37).
  • He appealed to Scripture as the decisive and final arbiter of truth (e.g., Matt 12:3-5; 19:4; Mark 12:10, 26).
  • He affirmed that the Old Testament was God’s Word and fully authoritative (e.g., Matt 15:1-9; 19:3-6; 22:31).
  • He relied exclusively on Scripture to resist temptation (e.g., Matt 4:1-10).
  • He instructed his disciples to believe all of Scripture, thus indicating that all of it was trustworthy (Luke 24:25-26; also 24:44-49).

It is clear, but the way Jesus spoke about and used Scripture in his ministry, that he believed it was the inspired, authoritative, and inerrant word of the living God. It makes sense, then, that he would commission his disciples to write the New Testament and that these Scriptures would retain the same status as the Old Testament texts (see John 14-16). The whole Bible, then, according to your Lord, Creator, and Savior, is God’s Word and without error, fully authoritative and trustworthy. Read it. Believe it. Use it. Obey it. Love it. Enjoy it.   

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