By Andrew Davis, Senior Pastor
Sometimes people have a tendency to think that prose text in narrative is just the work of the human author, but that only the actual quotations of God or of Christ are truly the words of God. That is perhaps seen in the mentality behind the “red-letter” editions of the Bible, in which the words of Jesus are printed in red, and all the other words are in black.
I’m certain, however, that Jesus would not have supported such a distinction. In his mindset, “All Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Tim 3:16), and even the most obscure parts of a historical narrative are equally the words of God—just as much so as the direct quotations following the formula: “Thus says the Lord …”
This is proven in the teaching of Christ in Matthew 19, where he teaches about divorce. There, the Pharisees come to Jesus to try to trap him with his teaching on divorce. They just want to kill him, and so they try to ensnare him just as John the Baptist was ensnared by preaching against Herod’s divorce and remarriage to Herodias, his brother’s wife.
In that chapter, Jesus makes this clear statement about divorce:
“’Haven’t you read,’ he replied, ‘that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate’” (Matt 19:4–6).
The simple point here is not so much Jesus’ views on divorce—as important as they are. Rather, it is a simple point Christ is making about Scripture. In his answer to the Pharisees, Jesus says the Creator does two things: (1) he makes them male and female; and (2) he makes a vital statement about them: “For this reason man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and the two will become one flesh.” The fact that the Creator does both these things is proven by the words “and said” underlined above.
What makes this important for our study is that, if you go back to Genesis 2:24, the quotation Jesus is citing, it is not ascribed to God the Creator at all. It does not say, “And the Creator said, ‘For this reason …’” It is merely a part of the Old Testament narrative that Moses wrote. But that doesn’t matter! If it is in the Bible, God said it! As Augustine put it, “What Scripture says, God says” (De adulterinis coniugiis ad Pollentium 1b). This means, then, in the mind of Christ, even the smallest narrative passages are the very words of God. And we should think that way about all the words of Scripture as well.
Editor’s note: The previous posts in this series on Christ’s view of the Bible can be found by clicking the following links: (1) What is Christ’s View of the Bible?: An Introduction; (2) Christ Would Rather Die than Disobey Scripture; (3) Christ Taught that He Fulfilled Scripture; (4) Christ Taught the Unbreakable Authority & Permanence of Scripture; (5) Christ Lived Sinlessly Moment by Moment by All Scripture; (6) Christ Staked His Life on the Word of God; (7) Christ Proved His Deity By a Single Word of Scripture; (8) Christ Proved the Resurrection by a Single Verb Tense in Scripture; and (9) Christ Instilled Passion for the Scriptures in His Followers.