16 November 2010

What did Jesus (not) say about... His teaching?

by Dan Phillips

"I think ______...."



Dan Phillips's signature

50 comments:

DJP said...

Read the series explanation here, in the first comment.

Please focus on opening up the implications of this post. If you have suggestions for future posts in this series, please feel free to email me.

JackW said...

John 7:16-18 would be my starting point.

BTW, this sounds like a plug for John Piper’s new book, doesn’t it?

Merlin said...

In a way, He did say what He thought. But he did not leave a legacy of using the words "I think" so that it would be recorded and thought to be the way to handle a problem in theology.

Instead, He said, "It is written." This focuses the person on the Law first, and then demonstrated for those who could see it that the Law, prophets and psalms all pointed the way to Him.

So, even though in a manner of speaking "I think" is equivalent to "It is written" for Jesus, it was demonstrating Himself as having authority in the eyes of Jews in that time to say "It is written" by referring the listener to the existing Law, prophets and psalms.

Tom Chantry said...

If he had, he might have gone on to ask, So what do you think? But he didn't, so there's the end of that method of Bible study.

DJP said...

Great start, guys; thanks.

Let me add a further focusing of the post, before my inexactitude births a bypath.

I am not saying that Jesus never in His life used the equivalent of those words. I see it as a facet of the kenosis (Philippians 2:5ff.) that Jesus did not access His omniscience at every moment. So it's perfectly conceivable that Mary asked Jesus (say), "Do you think there's enough bread for all the guests?", and Jesus could have replied, "Yes, I think so."

My focus in all these is Jesus' recorded teaching in the Gospels, and specifically in this post His teaching (see the title).

lee n. field said...

First thing that comes to mind is "he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. "

Daryl said...

"You have heard it said, but I say..."

"He spoke as one having authority..."

Eric said...

Dan,

One thing I think you might be getting at is that Jesus taught with conviction and surety, stating truths that we can know. Contrast that with the phenomenon where certain Christians or branches of professing Christianity hold doubt, mystery, and ambiguity up as hallmarks of the faith.

Robert said...

When Jesus taught, He never said He thought anything. He declared the truth and separated the truth from the walls of man-made laws and customs that the Pharisees had set up to hide the truth of the law that God handed down to man. He didn't have to "think"; He knew and spoke the truth.

David Regier said...

In John 5:39-40, Jesus corrects the thinking of the Pharisees. They "think", but they don't know, because they refuse the one of whom the Scriptures speak.

Strong Tower said...

Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not have an opinion about these things?

Mark B. Hanson said...

And when Jesus didn't know (e.g. the hour and day of his coming), he didn't guess.

donsands said...

"I think these sayings and teachings of Mine will help you if you only try and do your best. God accepts a person who does his best."

Stan McCullars said...

Related to that, he also did not say:

What this verse means to me...

Eric said...

Stan,

That line is one of my least favorite things heard at "SYI" (share your ignorance) Bible studies.

witness said...

"I think" presupposes that one does not really know... and well... that would be blasphemous if we are talking about God in the flesh.

Pierre Saikaley said...

Jesus did not obfuscate, or hee and haw about matters. He came with all the fullness of the Spirit, as God's Son with authority...he was recognized to have powerful authority merely by his words.

His first recorded words were imperatives "Follow me, Go, Repent, ..." And he prefaced many of his greatest sayings with the words VERILY, VERILY, I SAY TO YOU...

His teaching was perfectly Scriptural, as he himself was submitted to their authority, and yet he used them with perfect knowledge to fulfill prophecy, defeat Satan's trials, and refute his enemies, as well as teach his disciples.

He was the perfect exegete of the meaning of the Scripture because they actually spoke of Him, and he fulfilled their words.Luke 24:25-28

He wasn't just another Jewish commentator adding his own opinions, or arguing his own school of thought and tradition to the myriad opinions of his day.

If this is so, then He is truly the Prophet that God told Moses that Israel, (and by implication all nations) must hear and accept. And if so, he is truly the Son of God, The Truth, His Word, and the one who reveals The Father, in whom we must trust for eternal life.

Stefan said...
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Stefan said...
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stratagem said...

Clever!

Stefan said...
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Stefan said...

(Sorry, I wrote my last few comments as if I had some brilliant insight, when upon closer reading of Pierre's comment, he already wrote the exact same thing.)

But to reiterate...as Pierre already pointed out, Jesus Christ is so much greater than the prophets who came before Him. They preached again and again, "Thus says Yahweh": it was God's authority and not their own behind the words they spoke.

But 87 times in the Gospels, Jesus Christ is recorded as having said, "I say to you," for He was also speaking on the authority of God—except that He Himself is God.

And of those occurrences, some 72 times, He said either "Truly, I say to you," or "Truly, truly, I say to you." "Truly" in the Greek is "amen," which, based on Strong, can mean "truly," "surely," "verily," or "trustworthily."

So as some obscure English writer once wrote, for a man to have taught such as Jesus Christ taught, which such an audacious claim to His own authority, He must truly have been the Son of God—or a madman, or something worse.

olan strickland said...

What did Jesus (not) say about...His teaching? "I think I chose you because you chose Me."

olan strickland said...

Actually my previous comment was more about what Jesus did not say as opposed to what He did not say about...His teaching.

One more try!

"I think the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life."

Strong Tower said...

Here we go a veriling along our very way, my very is as very as your veriling... yah way

Thinking is but a word, like love... it is like saying what I am here to do...

and speaking of prescriptions- take as many as you think and call me in the morning. I think that's my number...

For Emergencies Dial 484465

Trust In Think

You only need to realize that there is no whoops.

Leaning, leaning. Leaning on transitory arms.

Those foot prints? Those are the times I was thinking.

I think I have plans for you, plans for good and not evil...

Even before Abraham was I am I think, therefore I think I am... And so begins another frustrating episode of Your Guess Is As Good As Mine.

That long and winding road is knottier than I thought.

But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you... Your life shall hang in doubt before you. Night and day you shall be in dread and have no assurance of your life.

DJP said...

Occurs to me I could do three or four full posts on the first two in the series, eh?

(Trying to relate to our Canadian readers there, doncha know?)

(That one was for the Minnesota readers. Je suis Outreach Guy.)

(That one was for... okay, stopping now.)

Frank Turk said...

Have you not read?

Ah, but I say to you ...

Stefan said...

Strong Tower is so right.

The Bible warns us over and over again (including through Jesus!) that an awful, impending judgment is coming, and that the prospectus doesn't look good for any of us. Revelation 6:16 even speaks of fleeing from the wrath of the Lamb!

So if Jesus Christ's words are not the ironclad Truth with a capital "T" (that He is the Son of God, and rest for our souls; that He gave His life as a ransom for many; that whosoever believes in Him will have eternal life), then we are eternally doomed.

BrettR said...

Jesus did not always speak in clarity (parables and quoting from Isaiah 6), he did ask people to withhold information (told the healed not to reveal their healer), and he withdrew to save his own life. Would that be under the same category as ambiguity? I think...
no.

DJP said...

The difference being between internal uncertainty on Jesus' part ("I think") and the misunderstanding or partial understanding of others.

Rachael Starke said...

Wow, Strong Tower. That's just deep into the loopy. Deep.

And given that I'm deep into the loopy myself today (three solid weeks of sick husband and sick kids), it just spoke to me.

I'm not sure what it spoke, exactly.

Which is the point, I think.

donsands said...

"(three solid weeks of sick husband and sick kids)" Rachel

Lord bless Rachel and her family with Your grace and mercy in her time of need. Amen.

one busy mom said...

Very Insightful!

Just to see the difference, I quickly read thru the 1st 7 chapters of John - substituting "ya know, I kinda think" for all the "most assuredly I say to you", & similar phrases. What a DIFFERENCE!

Although it should have, it never really hit me before, the magnitude of the authority that Jesus taught with & the number of times He affirmed that authority.

Susan said...

Haha. I think I get it. Jesus is the only and final authority on all things. He sets the Law and His words are not opinions.

Susan said...

(And I just realized I unwittingly used "I think". Again, Jesus won't do that because He "gets it" all the time...way before we do.) :)

Stefan said...
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Stefan said...

One Busy Mom:

I never saw this until today, either.

And that's a brilliant thought experiment!

"I think that unless one is born again, he might not be able to see the kingdom of God." (Pseudo-John 3:3)

"It seems to me that whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me might have eternal life. He probably won't come into judgment, and has possibly passed from death to life." (Pseudo-John 5:24)

It's tempting to laugh, but it's deadly serious!

God have mercy on us all!

Strong Tower said...

(that He is the Son of God, and rest for our souls)- yes, just as when Jesus said, "Take heart, I have overcome the world." It should calm the waters just to know the sure Word is there in the boat with us. Peace, be still. What a contrast from the unstable man. But alas...

Rachel, Stefan hit it, you looped it, if you're understanding that in this malaise of life there is one sound, sure voice. In that strong tower we can run and find safety and all that connotes, peace, security, rest, wholeness. The opposite is not having the assurance that God is in control. What a curse when we do not see that we live by every word that procedes out of God's mouth. The Word is not just an opinion of food, it is food. What a mess our thinking, our peace and hope, become when the Word is just one more voice vying for our attention. In any case, what I wrote was meant to be helter skelter for that very reason. May God bless yours with health and peace and rest.

one busy mom- authority is a major issue. We might be able to agree with what a particular text says, but it is one thing to agree that the texts says it, it is another to agree that the text means it (that is, insists upon it), cuz frankly, we don't always agree on what it means. What we need is definition not if I only had a brain answers. Scripture is filled with references about vision, sight, seeing more than men who look like trees. That is what it promises, to give sight to the blind. It is the difference between being told that there are stars and looking up on a clear Rocky Mountain winter's night. It is the difference between asking for an answer doubting, and asking for one in full assurance of faith.

Lesson well spent, Dan.

Steve B said...

The sad thing is, you can probably hear Stefan's quotes in far too many "emergent" churches these days.

Far too many modern preachers who are reluctant to treat Jesus' words and teachings as authoritative. They'd rather provide His "insights" as thoughts to ponder in living a fuller life. Or something.

I love that you can make such a telling point with just two words.

CGrim said...

We should be cautious to remember that changing our own statements from "I think this is how it is" to "This is how it is" doesn't make them any more correct, although we should still seek to make statements based on Scriptural authority, not our wishful thinking or human speculation.

Robert said...

I once remarked that in the Sermon on the Mount, we see God in the flesh giving the law to His people once again (just like with Moses at Mt. Sinai). The difference being, that as the God-man, He lived the perfect obedience to the law that we needed, and we must believe that He has done so and live according to grace and not the law.

word verification - tingli...seems more appropriate for a post on da gifts!

Eric said...

I came across an example of the type of thinking that Dan is critiquing here. In a Christian Post article about a "Global Faith Forum", Pastor Bob Roberts is quoted as saying this:

"He (Jesus) shared his views, but he did life with people and shared it along the way."

Jesus "shared his views"?? I think not.

DJP said...

Bingo. Thanks, Eric.

Unless you want to say "shared His inerrant, God-breathed, morally-binding and unassailably-true views."

Jim Pemberton said...

"Verily verily"

I hate when they translate this, "Truly I say to you..."

It means the same thing as "Amen" except he starts a statement with it. We use it to end a prayer as we agree with truth that already exists outside of our interaction with it or assent to it. Jesus starts statements with this because He establishes Truth. He needs not assent to nor interact with Truth because He is Truth.

mennoknight said...

Just wondering here...

If Jesus is God and basically reality is that which corresponds to God (I don't really know how else to say it), then Christ saying "I think" or saying "I SAY TO YOU" or even quoting a prophet directly would be identical statements, right?

If Christ says "I think", that's equally as authoritative as the "let there be light", since Christ's thoughts and words are the thoughts and words that created and sustain reality itself.

I get the thrust of the post though...Jesus never spoke with uncertainty.

I'm just wondering if, being Jesus, he could use uncertain language ("it seems to me that that", "I imagine that", "I feel that") with complete and total authority, and with no actual uncertainty whatsoever.

That's my $.02 for all y'all.

Steve B said...

Meno -

Jesus spoke as one speaking for the Father. He spoke with the authority of God, to those who had not yet come to see him as divine.

For Jesus to speak to the crowds with an "I think" or "Perhaps" kind of presentation, would give them more of the "food for thought" rather than "thus sayeth the Lord!"

By speaking with authority, by stating things without reservation or caveat, He made it a "take or leave it" proposition with no room for middle ground or half measures.

Steve B said...

If Jesus blogged, he would NOT end his posts with "IMHO."

DJP said...

Steve, LOL.

MK, clever question, but I think you get the point. We use it as the language of uncertainty, or even (at worst) faux humility, and Jesus never did either in His teaching.

IOW, as the title says: Jesus didn't say "I think" about His teaching.

Robert said...

I would take that even further by saying that when we repeat Jesus' words, we shouldn't say IMHO because that is faux humility. That is where many "church" movements wind up straying from the clear truth Of Jesus' teaching. It is like they forget that He also said that not a single jot or tittle of the law will be done away with.

Now when we try to make assumptions based off of His teaching, then we get into the arena of "I think".

Joshua Cookingham said...

Can't.....
Resist.....
ARGH!

"I think....THEREFORE I AM!"

Sorry, sorry.

But in all seriousness:
"Before Abraham was, I AM."
John 5:85