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My wife and I have had some discussions on Jesus’ use of scripture in the past few weeks. So we started our own Bible study and decided to explore His use of scripture, and if He ever referenced the Old Testament. What we found came as quite a surprise, a pleasant one. Not only did Jesus use scripture, he referenced it in a number of different ways. Let me share a few with you.

It is written, have you not read, and you have heard it said:

In Matthew 4:4 and in Luke 4:4, Jesus was referencing Deuteronomy 8:3: But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’”

Again in Matthew 4:7 and in Luke 4:12, Jesus said to Satan, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” This is referencing Deuteronomy 6:16.

Ending the exchange between Satan and Jesus,in Matthew 4:10 and Luke 4:8 you will find: Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’ ” Deuteronomy 6:13 and Deuteronomy 10:20. These are three examples from Matthew and Luke where Jesus was referencing the Old Testament.

In Chapter 19 of Matthew, the Pharisees asked Jesus if it was lawful for a man to divorce his wife. This was a test by the Pharisees as they were hoping to trap him. It was also a dangerous question because the answer John the Baptist gave resulted in his being imprisoned and eventually beheaded. Jesus answered by referencing Genesis 2:24 “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ “and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?” So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” The same account can be found in Mark 10:6-8.

In chapter 5 of Matthew, arguably one of the most read chapters of the Bible, Jesus said in verse 27, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ ” He was referencing Exodus 20:14 and Deuteronomy 5:18.

Eleven verses later Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’” Referencing Exodus 21:24, Leviticus 24:20, and Deuteronomy 19:21.

In Mark 7:8-13, Jesus is debating again with Jewish leaders and scribes when they questioned Him about his disciples eating bread with unwashed hands. In his reply, not only does He reference Exodus 20:12 and Deuteronomy 5:16, His response suggests that they, (Pharisees and scribes), invalidate the word of God (Old Testament) which has been handed down.

Gary Habermas wrote, “So we have seen that Jesus based arguments on specific words of the Old Testament text. He indicated His trust of even the letters themselves, in that not even a portion could fail. Both the whole, as well as the individual sections, received His positive endorsements, as well. Jesus referred to the Old Testament not simply as a time-honored human document. Rather, He called it the very command and words of God. True, humans like Moses and David penned the text, but God still spoke through them. In citing the Scriptures, Jesus believed that He was reporting the very message of God. The Word of God was the expression of God’s truth. Seen from various angles, this is indeed a high view of inspiration. We conclude that Jesus definitely accepted the inspiration of the Old Testament. It is very difficult to do otherwise.” 1

German scholar Rainer Riesner researched the educational methods and practices in ancient Israel. He listed six good reasons we could consider the words of Jesus were carefully and accurately preserved without having memorized His sayings word for word. The first was, “Jesus followed the practice of Old Testament prophets by proclaiming the Word of the Lord with the kind of authority that would have commanded respect and concern to safeguard that which was perceived as revelation from God. Just as many parts of Old Testament prophecy are considered by even fairly skeptical scholars to have been quite well preserved, so Jesus’ words should be considered in the same light.” 2

The Son of Man

In all four Gospels, Jesus referred to himself as ‘the Son of Man’. In Matthew alone, Jesus applies this title to Himself nearly 30 times. Matthew 8:20, Matthew 9:6, Matthew 10:23, Matthew 11:19, Matthew 12:8, Matthew 12:32, and Matthew 12:40, are just a few examples. In Mark we find it 13 times, in Luke 25 times, and finally in John 13 times. The title ‘Son of Man’ originated in a vision given to the prophet Daniel by God. Daniel 7:13.3

In Chapter 14 of Mark, Jesus is on trial and the Chief priests, elders, and scribes gathered to condemn him. After listening to false witnesses, the high priest Caiaphas asked him if He was the Christ. Jesus answered in John 14:62, “I am; and you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” Again a reference to Daniel 7:13 and to Psalm 110:1.

The New King James Bible study notes explains Daniel 7:13 this way: “Son of Man is Semitic for ‘human being.’ Daniel saw One like the ‘Son of Man,’ indicating that He is not a man in the strict sense, but rather the perfect representation of humanity. Jewish and Christian expositors have identified this individual as the Messiah.”4

Jesus used Old Testament scripture extensively throughout His ministry. Craig Blomberg wrote“…consider, for example, the first impassioned accounts from Jewish sources of the Nazi holocaust that turned out to be more accurate than the reports of ‘objective’ news media…Jews, understandably committed to preventing atrocities against their people, have more reason to chronicle carefully past attempts at genocide. Christians, believing God to have acted uniquely in the person and ministry of Jesus for the salvation of the world, had to depict at least the main contours of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection accurately in order to prove persuasive.”5


1. Habermas, Gary. “Jesus and the Inspiration of Scripture” Dr. Gary Habermas, January 2002. Web. 11 November 2015.
2. Ibid.
3. “Jesus’ Use of Scripture.” Confidence in the Word., n.d.Web. 5 December 2015
4. “New King James Bible Study Notes.” Bible Study Tools. 2014. Web. 5 December 2015
5. Blomberg, Craig L. The Historical Reliability of the Gospels. Downers Grove: IVP Academic 2007. Print.



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Did Jesus use Scripture? by James Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
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