“Jesus answered them, “Isn’t it written in your scripture, I said, you are gods?If He called those whom the word of God came to ‘gods’—and the Scripture cannot be broken— do you say, ‘You are blaspheming’ to the One the Father set apart and sent into the world, because I said: I am the Son of God?If I am not doing My Father’s works, don’t believe Me. But if I am doing them and you don’t believe Me, believe the works. This way you will know and understand that the Father is in Me and I in the Father.”” (John 10:34–38 HCSB)
This passage is one of the best places in the gospel to understand how Jesus (and his opponents!) viewed Scripture. His opponents say that they are going to stone him for making himself equal with God, Jesus comes up with this argument on the spur of the moment. It’s an amazing argument, but our aim isn’t to dissect the argument so much as it is to understand how Christ viewed the Scriptures [which for the Jews were what we understand as the Old Testament].
- Jesus had an intimate knowledge of the Scriptures. He quotes Ps. 82.6 on the spur of the moment to answer the charge that he was blaspheming. Could you do this? Me neither.
- He confronts them with what they consider “Scripture.” Notice how he responds to their charge of blasphemy: “Isn’t it written in your scripture?” So brilliant. He brings up what they consider binding to respond to their own charge. This would be like one candidate in a presidential debate quoting the other candidate’s words and pointing out, “after all, you yourself agree with me.”
- Jesus’ argument rests upon the plural form of one word (gods). Had Ps. 82.6 read “god” instead of “gods,” Jesus argument would not have been valid. We must conclude that Jesus believed that the words of Scripture were accurate down to the form of the noun used, which theologians like to call “plenary inspiration.” For more, read B. B. Warfield and A. A. Hodges’ discussion of inspiration. Here’s the thing, Jesus’ opponents agree with his view of the Scriptures. They never disagree on the accuracy of Scripture when Jesus makes an appeal to it. Both sides agreed that Scripture was trustworthy and final.
- Scripture cannot be broken. Jesus makes an interesting comment on the side here: “And the Scripture cannot be broken.” What does he mean by that? John helps us understand what he means because he uses the word “broken” in a couple of other places.
1. “This is why the Jews began trying all the more to kill Him: Not only was He breaking the Sabbath, but He was even calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.” (John 5:18 HCSB). — The word “breaking” used here is the same Greek word that John uses in John 10.35. Here “breaking” the Sabbath” in the Jews’ view was not obeying what God had commanded in regards to the Sabbath (they were wrong of course, but this is what they believed Jesus had done, been disobedient to God’s command).
2. “If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses won’t be broken, are you angry at Me because I made a man entirely well on the Sabbath?”
(John 7:23 HCSB) — As Jesus points out and as his Jewish opponents agreed, the law of Moses should be obeyed. If it was not obeyed it was considered “broken” or abrogated. This they would not do because it had been given by God and was binding upon them.We can see then that this cryptic statement “Scripture cannot be broken” means that it cannot be disobeyed or abrogated, that it is binding upon them because it came from God. This is how both sides understood the nature of Scripture.
Our view of Scripture then is driven by Christ’s view of Scripture which is revealed quite well in this passage. I will leave it to John Stott to sum up how his view affects our understanding of Scripture:
‘The ultimate issue in the question of authority concerns the Lordship of Christ. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord’, he said, and rightly so, for that is what I am” (John 13:13). If Jesus Christ is truly our teacher and our Lord, we are under both his instruction and his authority. We must therefore bring our mind into subjection to him as our teacher and our will into subjection to him as our Lord. We have no liberty to disagree with him or to disobey him. So we bow to the authority of Scripture because we bow to the authority of Christ.’
Did you catch that? “We bow to the authority of Scripture because we bow to the authority of Christ.”