Bibliology, the study of God’s revelation to man, is our next theological category to consider. What did the Lord Jesus believe about general and special revelation, the canon of Scripture, the truth of God disclosing information about Himself?
We are on a strange quest to ask what the Lord Jesus’ theology was. What did He say and teach about issues such as the nature of God’s Word and man’s response to it? We are using a systematic theology approach, attempting to collect the data in logical categories.
These posts can’t be exhaustive because we have ten areas to cover! We can only hit one or two highlights in each division of theology. We’ve seen (in the first area of prolegomena) that the Lord Jesus put the highest premium on the issue of belief. Belief was such a critical matter to Jesus that He actually allowed His friend Lazarus to die so that others would believe in Him!
Systematic theology divides this topic into two sub-divisions: general revelation (God communicating truth about Himself to all people everywhere) and special revelation (God communicating truth about Himself to a select group). In terms of general revelation (its three avenues being nature, human nature, and human history), we have many references by the Lord to nature as He refers to animals, plants, locations, weather, natural disasters, etc. He used the objects of nature to drive home spiritual points about a relationship with Himself. He made evident the care of God when He said, “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” (Mt 6:28-29).
Perhaps this is why the most frequent analogies Jesus makes to the natural world are from farming, fishing, vineyards and shepherds: human beings working together with nature, transforming the raw materials of nature into food and drink and clothing. The images Jesus uses are dominated by a picture of the environment that shows human beings using, domesticating and cultivating nature for their own use: mustard seed, yeast, bread, sowing and seeds, vineyards and vines, new and old wine, sheep and goats, the good shepherd, the sheepfold, the flock, weeds among the wheat, fishermen, a net full of fish. (https://incommunion.org/2004/12/11/jesus-and-the-natural-world/)
Jesus also appeals to man’s human nature (conscience, for example) as He tells a parable such as the parable of the tenants in Matthew 21 (v. 40- “What will he do to those [wicked] tenants?”). When He is anointed by a sinful woman, Jesus, after telling the story of two debtors’ being forgiven, asks Simon the Pharisee “which of them will love him more?” (Lk. 7:42). The conscience was important to the Lord Jesus — and He appeals to it often.
The Lord also uses human history to speak of God’s actions in His creation. He affirms the historicity of Adam and Eve (Mt. 19), makes reference to the Noahic flood (Mt. 24:37), refers to the real existence of Jonah (Mt. 12:40), and alludes to the history of the Jewish nation (Jn. 8:33).
But what did the Lord Jesus say about special revelation? First of all, there is no question that He affirmed in the strongest terms possible, the divine authority of the Old Testament Scriptures. He affirmed the authority of the Old Testament in His confrontation with Satan (Mt. 4:4), described the imperishable nature of God’s Word (Mt. 5:18), said that the Scripture cannot be broken (Jn. 10:35), appealed to Scripture when confronting false doctrine (Mt. 22:29), said that God’s word is “truth” (Jn. 17:17), declared the historicity of Jonah (Mt. 12:40) and Noah (Mt. 24:37-38) and Adam and Eve (Mt. 19:4-6), saw the creation story as reliable (Mk. 13:19; Mt. 19:4), made reference to the Law and the Prophets as canonical (Mt. 5:17), used Moses and all the prophets to explain the things concerning Himself (Lk. 24:27), and referred to the entire canon by mentioning all the prophets from Abel to Zechariah (Mt. 23:35). Wow. (https://carm.org/what-did-jesus-teach-about-old-testament)
And, in terms of the divine canon (the collection of inspired books making up the Bible), Jesus clearly predicts the coming of the New Testament when He says the following in the Upper Room Discourse (John 14-16):
16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. 25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (Jn. 14)
26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. (Jn. 15)
12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” (Jn. 16)
This “Spirit of truth”, this “Advocate, the Holy Spirit,” “will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” From those words in John 14 we may infer that the Holy Spirit would “carry along” (2 Pe. 1:21) the Apostles and help them remember what Jesus had said to them. It would be their job to record the teachings of Jesus.
This same Spirit, Jesus says, “will testify about me.” (Jn. 15:26). How would the Holy Spirit most likely do that? We suggest it would be by inspiring the New Testament writers in their work.
But Jesus states He had “much more” to say to the disciples. The Spirit to come would “guide [them] into all the truth.” (Jn. 16:13). He would tell them “what is yet to come” (Jn. 16:13). But there is cooperation between the Son and the Spirit. Jesus says, “He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.” (Jn. 16:14). The Spirit “will receive from me what he will make known to you.” (Jn. 16:15)
So, the Lord Jesus had much to say about bibliology. As the Word, He embodied God’s communication to man, as the writer to the Hebrews tells us in his first chapter:
Read over John chapter one and take a few notes on the Lord Jesus as “the Word.” Why would the Creator desire to communicate to His rebellious creation? Feel free to post your Comment below. (to be continued)