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If Jesus Was Wrong: The Implications

by Richard Peachey

Some professing Christian writers, in their zeal to defend evolution from the Bible [!], have apparently gone so far as to claim that it was possible for Jesus to be in error. (See, for example, "Was Jesus Wrong? Peter Enns Says, 'Yes'.")

The implications of such a view are as follows:

Jesus, regarded by his followers as the Master Teacher, claimed his teaching was from God. So if he could be wrong, then either (a) his claim, that his teaching was from God, must be false, or (b) God, who gave his teaching to Jesus, must either be (i) wrong himself, or (ii) unable to communicate his truth effectively.

Any one of these possibilities would be intensely destructive to biblical Christian faith.

Here is a listing of biblical texts documenting the claim that Jesus's teaching was from God. (This claim of Jesus shines clearest in John's gospel, but see also the "related concepts" section after these texts.)

John 3:34-35 [John the baptizer, concerning Jesus:] "For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God; to him God gives the Spirit without limit. The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands."

John 5:19-20 "Jesus gave them [his Jewish persecutors] this answer: 'I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these.'"

John 7:15-18 "The Jews were amazed and asked, 'How did this man get such learning without having studied?' Jesus answered, 'My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me. If any one chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.'"

John 8:26-29 [Jesus, to certain Jewish people:] " 'I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is reliable, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.' They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father. So Jesus said, 'When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know who I am and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.'"

John 8:37-40 [Jesus, to certain Jewish people:] " 'I know you are Abraham's descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word. I am telling you what I have seen in the Father's presence, and you do what you have heard from your father.' 'Abraham is our father,' they answered. 'If you were Abraham's children,' said Jesus, 'then you would do the things Abraham did. As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things.'"

John 8:45-47 [Jesus, to certain Jewish people:] " 'Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don't you believe me? He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.'"

John 12:44-50 "Then Jesus cried out, 'When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.'"

John 14:10 [Jesus, to his disciples:] "Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work."

John 14:24 [Jesus, to his disciples:] "He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me."

John 14:26; 16:13-15 [Jesus, to his disciples:] "But the Counselor, 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. . . . But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all 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. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you."

John 15:15 [Jesus, to his disciples:] "I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you."

John 17:6-8,14 [Jesus, in prayer to his Father:] "I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. . . . I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world."

Related Concepts

(1) God commanded people to listen to Jesus

Matthew 17:5 [At the transfiguration:] "While he [Peter] was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!'" [compare Mark 9:7; Luke 9:35]

Acts 3:19-23 [Peter, to a Jewish audience:] "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. For Moses said, 'The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from among his people.'"

(2) Jesus's words have eternal significance

Matthew 24:35 [Jesus, to his disciples:] "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away." [compare Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33]

Mark 8:38 [Jesus, to a Jewish crowd and his disciples:] "If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels." [compare Luke 9:26]

John 8:31,32 "To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, 'If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'"