part of the what is truth? series

You’ve probably seen the red-letter Bible — in fact, you probably own one. These Bibles place all of Jesus’ words in prominent red letters in order to stand out from all the other recorded words in Scripture. This is obviously a man-made introduction to Scripture, along with the chapter/verse breaks and chapter/paragraph headings.

Jesus was the Son of God. It’s understandable that reading Jesus’ words – what our Savior actually said – might garner special attention or cause one to sit up and take notice. However, maybe it was for that very reason that Jesus never wrote anything down? That is an interesting fact. Imagine the homage that might be paid to a Gospel or Epistle written in Jesus’ own hand?

There could be some other unintended consequences with emphasis on Jesus’ words as in the Red Letter Bible. A few of these are called out in this external post, “The Problem with Red Letter Bibles” from the Gentleman Theologian. For example, creating a canon within a canon.

How Scripture answers "Are Jesus’ words (Red Letter Bible) more important than other Scripture?"

The words of Scripture are in fact the words of God – all of them, regardless of who spoke them1,4,6. It’s not that Jesus or the apostles were speaking/teaching something different from person to person, but that they all were united in, and messengers of, the words of God (and it was the same with the prophets — speaking God’s literal word). All disciples, regardless of who taught them2,3,4,5, are to continue in God’s word. Jesus Himself5 removes any doubt that we are to give special “weight” to who spoke them.

Yes
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No

1

For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.

God gave words to Jesus who in turn gave them to his disciples. They received them, resulting in them knowing “truth” and believing “that you sent me.”

Jesus’ prayer in his final hours on earth, sometimes referred to as the “High Priestly Prayer.” He further states, “I have given them your word” (vs 14) and transitions from praying specifically for the apostles to praying for all believers, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word”. (vs 20)

How does it apply here?

Jesus Himself acknowledges that the words He spoke were from God. He was, in a sense, the conduit and passed the words on to the apostles.

2

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Christians were devoted to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship (collective) activities of breaking bread and prayer.

Immediately following the mass conversion (3,000) on the Day of Pentecost, the saints began meeting together and established what became known as the church in Jerusalem (Acts 8:1, 11:22).

How does it apply here?

Jesus having ascended at this point, it’s interesting that “Jesus’ words” or “Jesus’ teaching” isn’t emphasized by the author, Luke. Instead, he calls it the “apostles’ teaching”. This is especially poignant since Jesus’ ascension was “not many days” prior (Acts 1:5) and his absence still very much felt by the disciples.

3

So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.

Therefore brethren, remember and continue in the traditions (teachings) of the apostles (“us”), whether what we spoke or sent by letter.

Paul’s second letter to the church in Thessalonica where he is warning them about coming destructive forces to the faithful and letters that even seem like they may have come from the apostles (vs 2).  At issue here is the false teaching that Jesus has already come (vs 2).  Those that succumb to such teaching are possibly even helped by God who “sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false,” (vs 11) because they take “pleasure in unrighteousness” (vs 13).

How does it apply here?

Paul refers to the things they had been taught as from the apostles.

4

For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, I follow Paul, or I follow Apollos, or I follow Cephas, or I follow Christ. Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

I [Paul] have heard from Chloe’s people that quarrels are happening based on individuals claiming allegiance to Paul, Apollos, Peter or Christ. But Christ is not/should not be divided in this way. Christ was crucified. They are baptized into Christ.

Paul is writing to the church in Corinth dealing with several serious issues throughout the letter, but here dealing with divisions among them.

How does it apply here?

Paul is rebuking those that elevate any preacher/teacher of the gospel above another, even listing Christ. Obviously, Jesus Christ is who they all followed and taught, but the message was one.

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