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If Jesus didn’t believe the Bible was the sole rule of faith, why did he quote it in his disputes with the Jewish leaders?

Full Question

If Jesus didn’t believe the Bible was the sole rule of faith, why did he quote it in his disputes with the Pharisees and the Sadducees?

Answer

The mere quoting of the Bible as authoritative doesn’t imply the quoter thinks only the Bible is authoritative. Catholics, after all, cite Scripture in support of their views, yet this doesn’t mean they believe the Bible to be the sole rule of faith.

The Jews of Jesus’ day quoted the Bible to defend their beliefs, but they also followed their traditions (Mt 15:2). Some were legitimate, some not. Look at Jesus’ attack on one of the illegitimate traditions: the Pharisees’ custom of the Corban (Mt 15:4-9).

His attack is taken by some as a rejection of all tradition and as an affirmation of sola scriptura, but it really shows only that he opposed human traditions which contradicted Scripture, not that he rejected all tradition. You can’t conclude, then, from Jesus’ mere citing of the Bible, that one needs to believe only in the Bible or that the Bible is the sole rule of faith and all tradition must be rejected.

Jesus quoted the Old Testament because it’s the word of God and as such is authoritative for settling the theological questions it addresses. Furthermore, because Scripture was accepted by both Jesus and his opponents, he could appeal to it as common ground between them. Here he followed his usual practice of using what his enemies, in theory at least, would accept as binding.

Consid er his dispute with the Sadducees in Matthew 22:23-33 over the resurrection of the body. The Sadducees, who accepted as inspired only the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament), didn’t believe in the resurrection of the body.

In refuting them, Christ quoted only from the Pentateuch (Ex 3:6), not because he didn’t acknowledge other Old Testament books which explicitly mention the resurrection of the body (such as Daniel 12:2, 13), but because the Sadducees didn’t accept these other books. An appeal to an authority which they didn’t accept would have been useless, so Jesus proved his point by referring to one the Sadducees would affirm.











3 comments

  1. Mike Reply

    Who said Jesus didn’t believe the Bible was the sole rule of faith? Didn’t Our Lord exhort the Word to all? Aren’t the NT epistles filled with references to the Word of God as truth and nothing else?

  2. Joyce Newman Reply

    Good Lord, the Bible didn’t exist when Jesus was alive. What in the heck are you talking about?

  3. Justin Reply

    Joyce is correct. Jesus was a Jew. He quoted the scriptures that were known at that time by those of the Jewish faith. The Bible did not exist.

    To answer this question, however:

    The Bible is NOT the rule of FAITH. Your love for God, your belief in God, your trust that God seeks life for you…is Faith. That is the Rule.

    Jesus quoted the scriptures that we find in the Old Testament. These scriptures existed long before the Bible was written. They existed long before Jesus was a blink in Mary’s eye. They were the laws of the Israelites and eventually Jewish law.

    These scriptures were a banner Christ used to draw us to him. They were the source of sin. Was sin known before they were read? Perhaps so…but only in the hearts of man. There is no redemption offered from this sin in the Old Testament. There were offerings one could give, but we are a “stiff-necked" people who go on sinning every day. Jesus waved these scriptures to us…upholding them all.

    Jesus was the new covenant between God and man. God has presented us a way to gain redemption…but only through Christ Jesus (the flesh of God). Through Faith in the Christ we are made holy before God. The Law…is still the law.

    What was made null-and-void was the sacrificial offerings for sin, and the killing of sinners. He took this away because man is wicked and could not be trusted to use it justly. Christ reserves that ONLY for the sinless…of which there are none but him.

    Blessed and holy is He who created the Way…
    .In Christ our Lord, Jesus
    Amen

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