I’ve got a Greek exam tomorrow, and the passage I’m studying tonight is Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. I couldn’t help but stop to ponder a few things when I got to these verses:
For truly I say to all of you, until heaven and earth pass away, one iota or one dot will not pass away from the Law, until all has come about.
A couple brief points worth noting here. (1) Jesus uses a cool little word play, ‘pass away’, that is often missed in English translations. (2) Jesus uses a really strong negation to indicate that not a single dot on an ‘i’ or cross on a ‘t’ could pass from Scripture until all heaven and earth are done away with.
So what? Well, I got to thinking this: For those who are willing to accept the basic tenets of verbal plenary inspiration and sola Scriptura these verse indicate that the Word of God is perfect, and sufficient for the needs of humanity until the end of the earth.
These verses will do little, however, to convince someone who is not already persuaded of this position. They will simply make snide remarks about the ‘Matthean community’ which produced this text. Some comments might be made about the Matthean variation from Q here or some Jew-pleasing in this Jew-oriented apologetic book. Either way, they will be unconvinced.
That’s fine, I suppose. They see it as circular logic to argue from Scripture that Scripture is authoritative, sufficient, God-breathed, etc. If that’s the line you want to take, fine, but please realize that the beginning and end of this view is subjectivism, if you want to find any good in the Bible at all.
How’s that, you ask? Well, as long as Jesus is talking about social justice or moral virtues most people are fine with him. When he’s speaking up for women and including them in his ministry people today love him.
When he talks about the need for perfect righteousness, or the reality of hell, they hate him. They say he’s been tampered with, adulterated, his words have been changed by the corrupt church seeking to suppress the historical Jesus who was just too much of a rebel for us to handle.
Hoogly. You can say that only if you take the texts that you want to take and reject the ones you want to reject. You can cite all kinds of Gnostic nonsense, text-critical trash, or church conspiracy claptrap, but in reality all you’ve done is import your own desires for what you want Jesus to be on to the text, and then let than determine which texts are ‘authentic.’
The only people who have any hope of discovering Jesus for who he said he was are those who accept Sola Scriptura. Why? Because then it’s not me deciding what issues I really believe Jesus would speak on, or what he would really say about them. I have to let the text speak. I have to honestly do business with the text that exists and somehow let that form my understanding of who Jesus is.
I start with the Bible and end with the Bible. I let it shape and conform my mind’s image of Jesus. To pick and choose verses and chapters from the gospels and the NT epistles which I will adhere to is to conform the Bible to my understanding.
Even worse, it’s to make my God in my own image.
It’s ultimately subjective.