Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Think Apologetics. Tabernacle of David considers this resource trustworthy and Biblically sound.
How did Jesus view the Scriptures? Obviously, there was no New Testament at the time he walked on the earth. The structure of this argument may be formalized as follows: Read a fuller form from the book In Defense of the Bible: A Comprehensive Apologetic for the Authority of Scripture here:
(1) The New Testament documents are historically reliable evidence
(2) The historical evidence of the New Testament shows that Jesus is God incarnate/the Jewish Messiah. God authenticated Jesus’ teaching/ claim to divinity by His miracles/His messianic speaking authority, His messianic actions, and His resurrection .
(3) Hence, Jesus is God incarnate.
(4) Jesus (i.e., God incarnate) taught that the Old Testament is divinely inspired, and he promised the inspiration of the New Testament through his apostles.
(5) Therefore, the Bible (both Old and New Testaments) is divinely inspired.
In this post, I will expand on #4 and #5 with the help of Daniel L. Akin
“In the greatest sermon ever preached, the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5–7), Jesus spoke on the theme of God’s kingdom. Matthew 5:17–20, in particular, serves as the introduction to the six great antitheses of 5:21–48. They also explain how we can live out the beatitudes (5:3–12) and be the salt of the earth and the light of the world (5:13–16). Matthew 5:17 reveals Jesus’ high view of Scripture: “Don’t assume that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill” (HCSB). Clearly, what is said here pertains to the Old Testament Scriptures. Nevertheless, what Jesus affirmedabout the Old Testament He also promised about the New Testament. Jesus said:
“I still have many things to tell you, but you can’t bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears. He will also declare to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, because He will take from what is Mine and declare it to you. Everything the Father has is Mine. This is why I told you that He takes from what is Mine and will declare it to you” (John 16:12–15 HCSB).
Several points should be made about Jesus’ view and use of Scripture. First, Jesus introduced teachings that were new and striking. Indeed, as John 7:46 states, “No man ever spoke like this!” (HCSB). Some may have concluded that His teaching constituted a decisive break with the Old Testament Scriptures. That is certainly the judgment of some scholars today. “Not so,” says Jesus. “Do not think [or consider] that I came to destroy [annul, abrogate, disintegrate, demolish] the law.” J. A. Alexander noted that the idea is “the destruction of a whole by the complete separation of its parts, as when a house is taken down by being taken to pieces.”7 Jesus said He did not come to tear apart or dismantle the law and prophets (a reference to the OT Scriptures of His day). He did not come to destroy (repeated for emphasis) but to fulfill. Note that the antithesis is not between “abolish” and “keep” but between “abolish” and “fulfill.” The Scriptures find their fulfillment, their intended purpose, in the life and ministry of Messiah Jesus. He is the one to whom they point. He is the one they predict and anticipate.
Second, Jesus provided not only an emphatic denial but also a positive declaration about the purpose for His coming—He came to fulfill the Scriptures. He came, as the Son, to complete what had previously been delivered in bits and pieces by the Old Testament prophets (see Heb 1:1–2). To set Scripture aside was never His agenda. To bring them to fulfillment and fruition was why He came. Don Carson was correct when he said:
Jesus fulfills the entire Old Testament in many ways. Because they point toward him, he has certainly not come to abolish them. Rather, he has come to fulfill them in a rich diversity of ways. . . . Jesus does not conceive of his life and ministry in terms of opposition to the Old Testament, but in terms of bringing to fruition that toward which it points. Thus the law and the prophets, far from being abolished, find their valid continuity in terms of their outworking in Jesus. The detailed prescriptions of the Old Testament may well be superseded, because whatever is prophetic must be in some sense provisional. But whatever is prophetic likewise discovers its legitimate continuity in the happy arrival of that toward which it has pointed.
That our Lord would have affirmed that “all Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation”—which concludes the BF&M (2000) statement on Scripture—can hardly be questioned:
You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me (John 5:39 NKJV).
Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” And beginning at Mos Bes and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the leScriptures the things concerning Himself (Luke 24:25–27 NKJV).
Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures (Luke 24:44–45 NKJV).”-Daniel L. Akin, Jesus, Evangelicals, and the Bible, from Defending the Faith, Engaging the Bible, Essays Honoring Russ L. Bush, pgs 15-16.