Not every verse in the Old Testament is the Word of God - Jesus

Through the Holy Spirit, God can speak to us through the Old Testament (and the New Testament). You cannot however quote a verse from the Old Testament (and even parts of the New Testament) as 'This is what God says'. Not every verse in the Bible is the 'Word of God' (as in God's direct words or will). Jesus made this clear to us.

I have written an article about this before - Is the Bible the Word of God. It is a very important and difficult topic that requires a book and not a single article to explain. So I have decided to write several articles on this topic starting with what Jesus believed about the Old Testament (we can't look at what He believed about the New Testament as it was not written yet).

Why is it important how we understand the Bible?

You know the song - 'By the rivers of Babylon ...' - nice song - but it is not finished. The song was taken from Psalm 137. The Psalm ends with 'Blessed shall be he who takes and dashes your little ones against the rocks!'.

People trying to explain the verse will say that you have to understand that the Israelites were very badly oppressed. That does not matter - fighting against an enemy and killing if need be is one thing - killing innocent little babies is something completely different.

If you want to believe every single verse in the Bible is the 'Word of God' - if you want to believe it is infallible and inerrant - then how do you explain this verse (just one of many problem verses in the Bible).

My God did not say you shall be blessed if you take a baby and bash his head against a rock!!

Just like I believe that it is not the 'words of God' that a woman is less than a man and should be subject to him (Jesus never said that) - just as I believe that God does not hate someone that is a gay or a lesbian or expect them to change (again, Jesus never said that) - the list goes on.

The idea that the books in the Bible is the 'Word of God' came 200-300 years after Jesus left. How the books of the Bible were chosen and why it was decided that these books are the 'Word of God' had to do with 'early church fathers' and a ruler (Constantine) that wanted to create a religion that could be used to control people - but that is another story (article).

For this article I want to focus on what Jesus believed about the Old Testament.

Jesus did not believe everything in the Old Testament was the 'Word of God'

The Old Testament is very important. It contains prophesies about Jesus and knowledge about God. Jesus often referred to the Old Testament - so it must be important. It was however not His only source of knowledge about God:
  • Jesus also referred to nature - In Matthew 6 Jesus tells us to look at nature to learn from God (the birds and flowers). We should look at creation to learn more about God. Science is a part of creation. We should not 'fight' the discoveries of science but embrace it - see 'Creation vs Evolution'.
  • Jesus often looked at people and used them to teach others about God - think of the good Samaritan for example.
We will see that not everything in the Bible is the Word of God but the Word of God is also not limited to the Bible - for more on this see Knowledge of God Beyond The Bible.

I do believe that the Old Testament does 'contain' the Word of God. God can use it to 'talk' to us - but it is only through the Holy Spirit that parts of it can become the 'Word of God'. Not every single verse in the Old Testament can be quoted as the 'Word of God'.

Jesus only once referred to the Old Testament as the 'Word of God' - Matthew 15:6, Mark 7:13 (both verses is about the same incident). The 'scripture' that Jesus was referring to is one of the Ten Commandments - honour your parents. 

The rest of the time that Jesus referred to the Old Testament He referred to it as 'scripture' or 'Moses said' and sometimes the 'commandments of God'. A lot of times it was to teach people what God wanted but there are other times when it was clear that Jesus did not believe it was 'God's Words'. Lets take a look at a couple of examples...

Jesus draws a line through the Inerrant and Infallible Word of God

In Deuteronomy 24:1-4 we read that a man can write a woman a 'bill of divorce' if the husband no longer finds favor in her. Jesus however says in Matthew 19:7-9 that it is not something God wanted (Matthew 19:7-9). Jesus is referring to Old Testament verses in the Bible and saying 'it is not something that God wanted'!

The idea that the Bible (from Genesis to Revelation) is the infallible, inerrant Word of God came from men - not God.

How can you believe that every verse in the Bible is the Word of God - that it is infallible and inerrant - when that Bible teach us about Jesus and Jesus took a verse in the Bible and said that is not what God said or wanted.


When we look at circumcision it looks like it was a command that came directly from God:
Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. - Genesis 17:9-11.
It clearly says 'Then God said' - however, Jesus clearly says that the idea of circumcision came from men and not God. 
Moses gave you circumcision (it is, of course, not from Moses, but from the patriarchs), and you circumcise a man on the sabbath. - John 7:22 (NRSV)
In the Gospel of Thomas Jesus made His opinion about circumcision clear:
His disciples said to him, "Is circumcision useful or not?"
He said to them, "If it were useful, their father would produce children already circumcised from their mother. Rather, the true circumcision in spirit has become profitable in every respect." - Gospel of Thomas, saying 53 
Jesus did not think circumcision was useful and clearly says in the Bible it was instituted by men, not God.

The issue here is not about circumcision (Christians don't practice circumcision) - the issue is that just because an author of a book in the Bible wrote that 'God said' does not mean that He really did.

The Creation Story

God is the Creator of the universe - I believe that. He however did not create it in the way it was described in Genesis. It did not take six days or followed that order - read Creation vs Evolution.

Jesus also did not believe the creation story as it was written in Genesis.

In Genesis 2:2 is clearly states that God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh day. That is not really what happened.

Jesus 'worked' on the Sabbath and when the Jews were giving Him a hard time because of that, He said the following in His defense:
For this reason the Jews began to persecute Jesus continually because He was doing these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now [He has never ceased working], and I too am working - John 5:16-17.
Jesus said that God never rested on the 7th day.

Of course you will try and find an explanation for what Jesus said - what Jesus is saying is going against everything you have been taught as a child.

The list goes on ...

In Exodus 20:1 it starts with 'Then God spoke all these words' and then follows a list of commandments. In Exodus 21:1 it continues with 'now these are the ordinances you shall set before the Israelites' - clearly according to Exodus these are 'God's words'.

In Exodus Exodus 21:24, ( also in Leviticus 24:20, Deuteronomy 19:21) 'God's words' is 'an eye for an eye'.

Then Jesus comes ...
You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also - Matthew 5:38-39 (NRSV)
Jesus changed the rule. Did God change His mind? 
God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. - Numbers 23:19
If God did not change His mind it could only mean that He never said an 'eye for an eye' in the first place.

Jesus said 'you heard it was said' and not 'God said'. Jesus did not believe this rule was from God even though Moses wrote 'God said'. It was what they believed God has said but they were wrong.

This is just an example - there are many more.

Is your name written in the dust?

One final example:
At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”  - John 8:2-6
The teachers of the law was referring to Old Testament scripture:
If a man is caught lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die ... you shall bring both of them to the gate of that town and stone them to death ... - Deuteronomy 22:22-24 
What did Jesus think about the people quoting Old Testament scripture and telling others what to do?You know how that story ended. Jesus started writing in the dust with His fingers and told the accusers that the one without sin should throw the first stone - they all left.

No one know what Jesus wrote in the sand but there is an interesting possibility. Jesus was 'referring' to Jeremiah 17:13
Lord, you are the hope of Israel; all who forsake you will be put to shame. Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the Lord, the spring of living water. - Jeremiah 17:13 
Just in the previous chapter Jesus said that those who follow Him will experience springs of living water (John 7:38).

By throwing scriptures at people - telling others how they should live or how wrong they are - judging people - are you missing Jesus and risk being written in dust?

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