"And these are the ones who have no portion in the World to Come; he who says, the resurrection of the dead is a teaching which does not derive from Torah, and the Torah (dual Torah) does not come from heaven; and an Epicurean." —Mishnah Tractate Sanh. 10.1
For centuries before Christ the nature of teaching in Israel was of the Oral Law, as an adapting commentary on the Written Law. The Jew believed, as does the Orthodox Jew of today, that two Torahs were delivered to Moses from heaven to give to Israel: the Written Torah (Torah she-bi-Khetav) and Oral Torah (Torah she-be-al-Peh). "Thus all the commandments were given to Moses at Sinai along with their interpretations: what was written down is called the Written Torah, the [accompanying] interpretation is called the Oral Torah." (Commentary of Rabbi Jonah ben Abraham, 1263 C. E., from the Living Talmud, pg. 43.) "Moses received the whole Torah both the written and the oral one." (Machsor vitri, the work of pupils of Rashi, 1040-1105 C.E., from the Living Talmud, pg. 43.) The rabbis had proof text for their belief in the Divine origin of the Oral Law. "And I will give thee the tables of stone, and the law and the commandment, which I have written, that thou mayest teach them." (Ex. 24:12). "Tables of stone," i.e., the Decalogue; "law," i.e., the Pentateuch; "commandment," i.e., the Mishnah1; "which I have written," i.e., the Prophets and Hagiographa; "that thou mayest teach them," i.e., the Gemara2. The verse teaches that a dual Torah was given to Moses on Sinai." (Ber. 5a). Moses was taken to heaven to receive the Dual Torah. "Moses said to Israel: Know you not with what travail I gain the Torah! What toil, what labor, I endure for it's sake. Forty days and forty nights I was with God. I entered among the angels, the Living Creatures, the Seraphim, of whom any one could blast the whole universe in flame. My soul, my blood, I gave for the Torah. As I learnt it in travail, so do you learn it in travail, and as you learn it in travail, so do you teach it in travail." (Sifre Deut., Ha'azinu, sect. 306, folio 131b.)
The dual Torah was a continuous exposition and adaptive commentary to the changing and varying conditions of Israel's religious, political, social, economic, and domestic life. "...it [the Oral Torah] interprets the ordinances of the Written Law, explaining their contents and defining their scope. As such, the Oral Law forms an integral and indispensible part of the Written Law, for without the Oral Law it would be impossible to observe the Written Law." "...the Oral Law adapts and modifies the ordinances of the Written Law to changes in conditions and circumstances-social, domestic and economic. As such the Oral Law serves to transform the Torah from a mere written document liable to become obsolete into a continuous revelation keeping pace with the ages." (The Faith of Judaism, Isidore Epstein, pg. 129-130.) "To the Rabbis, the real Torah was not merely the Written Text of the Five Books of Moses; it also included the meaning enshrined in that Text, as expounded and unfolded by the interpretation of successive generations of Sages who made it's implicit Divine teachings explicit. This Oral Teaching was handed down from the earliest days by word of mouth, until it was codified in the Mishnah." (C. E. 200 A.C.E., Sayings of the Fathers, J. Hertz, pg. 13.) "...for it [Oral Torah] is the commentary on the Written Torah. Indeed, were it not for the interpretations which Moses received from the mouth of the Almighty, we could not know the true meaning of the Written Torah." (Commentary of Simeon ben Zemah Duran, 1361-1444 C. E., The Living Talmud, pg. 43.) The chain of traditional teaching passed on orally from one generation of Rabbis to another, was esteemed as finding in Mosheh Radbenu, "Moses our Teacher" it's starting point. "Moses received the Torah on Sinai, and handed it down to Joshua; Joshua to the elders; the elders to the prophets; and the prophets handed it down to the Men of the Great Assembly." (Aboth 1.1, J. Hertz translation.) With each successive generation of teaching, new laws and interpretations were added to the Oral Law.
The Oral Law had superceded the Written Law in authority. Superimposed on the Written Law by generations of Scribal prohibitionary rules (Heb. gezerot "preventive measures"), called "a hedge around the Torah." "Make a hedge about the Torah, refers to the decrees and enactments of the Sages-these keep a man far from transgression, as the Blessed One said, 'Therefore shall ye keep what I have given you to keep (Lev. 18:30),' which the Talmud (Yebamot 21a) interprets to mean; add protection to what I have already given you as protection." (Maimonides from The Living Talmud, pg. 45.) "Surround it (the Torah) with cautionary rules that shall, like a danger signal, halt a man before he gets within breaking distance of the Divine statute itself." (J. Hertz, Sayings of the Fathers, pg. 14.) "To 'make a fence around the Torah' was a corollary of the desire to live by it's precepts. If a person kept too close to it's letter, he might inadvertently be led to transgress it. As a cultivated field had to be hedged 'round to prevent even innocent trespass, so the sacred domain of the Torah must be enclosed by additional precautionary measures for the purpose of avoiding unintentional encroachment." (A. Cohen, Everyman's Talmud, pg. XIX.) The Oral Law, with all it's prohibitions in the religious, civil, domestic, marital, and economic sphere, surrounded the inner core of the Written Word. Thus no one could get close enough to the Word of God to disobey it. Conversely, these preventive measures kept the populace far from obedience to the Torah's commands. In obeying the Oral Law, inevitably one would be in a position of omitting or committing an act of disobedience to the Written Word.
The ever growing mass of scribal interpretations, judicial rulings and commentaries on the Old Testament would present a corpus of scribal memorization that would be a library of traditions which would await a day when they would be codified in writing. "For many centuries this mass of material was never committed to writing. It was lodged in the memories of the scribes, who were the experts in the Law, and passed down by word of mouth from generation to generation of rabbis. Midway through the third Christian century a summary of all this scribal Law was written down. The name of that summary is the Mishnah, (Heb. shanah, "to repeat, oral teaching, what is learned by repetition"), which consists of 63 tractates on various sections of the oral law, and which in English makes a book of almost 800 pages. Not content with this, scribal scholarship embarked on the task of making commentaries on the tractates of the Mishnah. These commentaries are embodied in the Talmuds. There are two Talmuds; the Jerusalem Talmud runs to 12 printed volumes, and the Babylonian Talmud to 60 printed volumes. To put it in a summary way, the law of the Ten Commandments under scribal development had finished up as a library—forever unfinished—of rules and regulations." (William Barclay, The Mind of Jesus, pg. 152.)
A litany of legal custom had replaced faith in God, and only a mechanical learning of God’s Holiness by rote memorization was known. Theory had replaced experiential knowledge of God. Religious verbage, i.e., god-talk, was substituted for an I-Thou encounter with God. "My Lord said: Because that people has approached [Me] with it’s mouth and honored Me with it’s lips, but has kept it’s heart far from Me, and it’s worship of Me has been a commandment of men, learned by rote." (Isa. 29:13, J. P. S. translation.) "And he said to them, ‘Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’" (Mark 7:6-7). The traditional corpus of Oral Law held the people in a cocoon of bondage. This morass of myriad interpretations was an oral commentary on each passage of the Old Testament. Each passage, and at times, each word in a passage, was overlaid with rabbinical legal decisions regarding every detail of life. The nation of Israel was burdened with an unbearable load of traditions that made of none effect the Word of God. "And they tie up heavy loads, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger." (Matt. 24:4).
"With the footprints of the Messiah, i.e., 'imminent return,' presumption increases and dearth increases." "And the wisdom of scribes will putrify. And those who fear sin will be rejected. And the truth will be locked away."—Mishnah Tractate Sotah 9:15
The nation of Israel at the time of Jesus believed that the prophetic voice had ceased after the death of the last prophets. "Our rabbis taught: since the death of the last prophets, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi, the Holy Spirit departed from Israel,..." (Tal. of Bab. Sanh. 11a) The living voice of God was silent to the nation as a judgment upon Israel's generational sins (II Chron. 36:15-16, Jer. 5:11-12, 13, 25:3-4, 35:15, 44:4-5). The incessant warnings through the prophets were rejected and the righteous retribution was divine silence. The nation in its distress longed for one word of God, but none was heard. "Behold, days are coming declares the Lord God, when I will send a famine on the land, not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, but rather for hearing the words of the Lord. And people will stagger from sea to sea, and from the North even to the East; they will go to and fro to seek the word of the Lord but they will not find it." (Amos 8:11-12). The word of God that brings the light of revelation to the mind and heart was removed from the nation of Israel. "God has decreed ten grievous famines to take place in the world, to punish the inhabitants of the earth, before the coming of Messiah the King." "...the tenth is yet to come, and it is not a famine of bread or of water, but of hearing the word of prophecy from the mouth of the Lord; and even now this famine is grievous in the land of Israel." (Targum on Ruth 1:1). Into this lacuna of God's silence a litany of oral law would have a regnant authority over the nation. The Torah would be superceded in authority by the myriad interpretations of the Old Testament, known as the oral law. The oral traditions of the rabbis, scribes and pharisees was considered to be of equal origin as the written law given at Sinai. The oral law, was in some instances, valued as having even greater authority than the Old Testament itself. "Know then, that the words of the Scribes are more lovely than the words of the law;..." "...weightier are the words of the elders, than the words of the prophets." (T. Hieros. Beracot. fol. 3.2). "My son attend to the words of the Scribes, more than to the words of the law; for in the words of the law, are affirmatives and negatives; but the words of the Scribes, everyone that transgresses the words of the Scribes, is guilty of death. (T. Bab. Erubim, fol. 21.2). The ministry of Jesus would be inaugurated in a region shrouded in the darkness of ignorance, superstition and spiritual bondage. His authoritative voice of revelation would reverberate in a land that had known the silence of God for over 450 years (Isa. 9:2, Matt. 4:15-16). Into this prison of the "the traditions of the elders" (Matt. 15:2-3, 6, 23:4, Mk. 7:3, 5, 8-9, 13, Gal. 1:14, Col. 2:18, II Thess. 2:15, 3:6) Jesus' words would penetrate with the thunder of divine authority.
"...a prophet possessed by God will suddenly appear and give prophetic oracles."—Philo De Spec. Leg. I.64
It was prophesied of the Messiah that his words would be sovereign in their supreme authority: revelation of God, interpretation of the Torah and condemnatory of the false teachers of Israel. He would speak in a manner superior to all the prophets that preceded him. "The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him. This is according to all that you ask of the Lord your God in Horeb on the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, let me not see this great fire anymore, lest I die.’ And the Lord said to me, ‘They have spoken well. I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I commanded him. And it shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him." (Deut. 18:15-19). Among the contemporaries of Jesus, Deuteronomy 18:15-19 was anticipated as of near fulfillment. (John 1:21, 6:14, 4:25, 7:40.) Acts 3:22 and 7:37 state that the prediction of Deut. 18:15-19 was fulfilled in the prophetic ministry of Jesus. "In days when the restoration of prophesy was viewed as signaling the beginning of the last days, such an acclamation was fraught with eschatological significance." (Richard Longenecker, The Christology of Early Jewish Christianity, p. 35). The Messiah would be the Consummate revealer of God. The defining speech of the Eternal God. "God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world." (Heb. 1:1-2). The phrase used in verse 2, "spoken in His Son," is without a definite article [the] before the word "Son." This is an anarthous noun in the Greek language which emphasizes character, nature and essence. The revelation consisted not merely in what was said, as in the case of the Old Testament prophets, but in who the Son was. This was a Son revelation. Through the totatality of the character and nature of Christ the definitive revelation of God came to man. In the Second Century Gospel of Thomas, Jesus’ words are accorded a higher validation than the prophetic message of old, "His disciples said to him: Twenty-four prophets spoke in Israel, and they all spoke concerning you. He said to them: You have neglected him who is alive before you, and have spoken about the dead." (Logion 52).
"Listen to Me, O islands, and pay attention, you peoples from afar. The Lord called Me from the womb; from the body of My mother He named Me. And He has made My mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of His hand He has concealed Me, and He has also made Me a select arrow, He has hidden Me in His quiver." (Isa. 49:1-2, see Rev. 1:16, 2:12, and 19:15 for a description of the authoritative word of the Exalted Christ and conquering King.). The character of Messiah’s words are pictured and described by Isaiah. His words would be like a two-edged sword, cutting through and piercing into the inner core of man’s heart, laying open his sin. A word so powerful it will conquer all opposition. His message would bring life to the obedient, and death to the disobedient. The piercing incisiveness of the Word that proceeds from Messiah's mouth would penetrate to the deepest recesses of the heart to expose the nature of sin that animates the mind and will to rebel against God. No word of man would be able to counter or deflect the intrusive nature of the Word from Messiah's mouth. "So the doctrines of Christ, the words of his mouth, are compared to bright and sharp arrows, which make cutting work, and give great pain where they come; as they sometimes do like arrows, swiftly, suddenly, and with great force and power..." (John Gill, Notes on Isaiah 49:2). Rabbi Nehemiah commenting on Psalms 149:6 said, "It is a sword which cuts on both sides, that is, a law which gives life in this world and life in the world to come." (Pes. K. 102a-b).
In contrast to the predominant teachings of the scribes and Rabbis of Israel, the Oral Law, Jesus’ words were like lightning bolts from heaven. G. K. Chesterton, the British philosopher, said that if the people of London, who attended church on any given Sunday, heard what Christ really said they would leave the service not with Cheshire cat grins on their faces, but with scowls. In Twentieth-Century American Christendom, we scantly realize the furor that erupted when Jesus spoke, nor the vilification that was directed at him because of what he said. Christ’s words astonished, dumbfounded, amazed, and engendered anger that resulted in the plotting of his death. The condemnatory words of Jesus, like the two-edged sword of Isaiah 49:2, would pierce through and shatter the obfuscating morass of the labyrinth of lies. Jesus said the Word of God was being annulled and invalidated by obscuring it behind a litany of irrational legislation (Matt. 15:6, Mk. 7:13). Jesus dismissed the Oral Law as an insidious impediment to obeying the Word of God. He rejected the claim of the Rabbis to it’s Divine inspiration, being simply the words of man. "He dealt the heaviest blow to traditionalism. Rabbinism stood self-condemned; on it’s own showing, it was to be rejected as incompatible with the Word of God." (Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, book 3, pg. 17.) The condemnatory Words of Christ would sentence him in the eyes of Rabbinic Judaism, to excommunication from the commonwealth of Israel, and forfeiture of the World to Come.
The psuedo-guardians of Israel, the scribes and pharisees, sought continually to murder Christ. It was considered intolerable—his complete eradication of their artificial system of scriptural interpretation, that held the nation in complete bondage. Matt. 12:14, 26:4, Mark 3:1-6, Luke 6:6-11, 22:2, John 5:18, 7:1,19, 8:37, 40, 11:53, 57. Christ had disgraced and dishonored the teaching order of Judaism, "And as He said this, all His opponents were being humiliated; and the entire multitude was rejoicing over all the glorious things being done by Him." (Luke 13:17). "Let those be ashamed and dishonored who seek my life; let those be turned back and humiliated who devise evil against me." (Ps. 35:4). "Let those be ashamed and humiliated together who seek my life to destroy it; let those be turned back and dishonored who delight to injure me." (Ps. 40:14).
Jesus had unlocked the prison of scribal law and lore, and the liberated ones were now able to hear the clear voice of God, the clarion call to see God as He is. "The unfolding of Thy words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple." (Ps. 119:130). "The exposition of Your words gives light,..." (The Targum rendering of Ps. 119:130.) The enlightening words of Christ were as doorways into the eternal. "The result was that when Jesus had finished these words, the multitudes were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes." (Matt. 7:28-29). "And coming to His home town He began teaching them in their synagogue, so that they became astonished, and said, ‘Where did this man get this wisdom, and these miraculous powers?" (Matt. 13:54). "And when the multitudes heard this, they were astonished at His teaching." (Matt. 22:33). "And they were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes." "And they were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves, saying, ‘What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey Him.’" (Mark 1:22, 27). "And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue; and the many listeners were astonished, saying, ‘Where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to Him, and such miracles as these performed by His hands?’" (Mark 6:2). "And the chief priests and the scribes heard this, and began seeking how to destroy Him; for they were afraid of Him, for all the multitude was astonished at His teaching." (Mark 11:18). "And He came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And He was teaching them on the Sabbath; and they were amazed at His teaching, for His message was with authority." (Luke 4:31-32). "The officers answered, ‘Never did a man speak the way this man speaks.’" (John 7:46).
Invariably, the reaction of the crowds to the words of Jesus was astonishment. The Greek word used is "ekplessomai" (ek, "out of" + plesso, "to strike"), it signifes to be driven out of one’s senses by a sudden shock. To strike one out of self-possession, to strike with panic, shock, to be dumbstruck. The imperfect tense of the verb used in each case, conveys habitual or repeated action. Each time Jesus spoke and worked miracles of healing and exorcism, this was the nature of the crowd’s reaction. "During that bright summer He had walked along that Lake, and by it’s shore and in the various Synagogues preached His Gospel. And they had been ‘astonished at His doctrine, for His word was with power.’ For the first time they had heard what they felt to be ‘the Word of God,’ and they had learned to love it’s sound." (Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, book 3, pg. 472)
Jesus was described as speaking with authority, not as the scribes and Pharisees (Matt. 7:28-29, Mk. 1:22, 27, Lk. 4:31-32). The word "authority" that is utilized, is the Greek word Exosia, "to be out, out of being, out of one’s substance." The authority that resided in Jesus was not derived from others. He possessed an authority within, not as the Scribes who derived their authority to teach from previous generations of Rabbis. When the Scribes—Rabbis of Israel taught, as is the custom of the Orthodox Rabbi of today, reference is made to a concatenation of past ‘masters of traditions.’ The teaching is based on ancient traditions, espoused by a myriad of Rabbinic authorities. Each teaching was prefaced by referring to this history of tradition. "The multitude were astonished at Christ’s doctrine; for, besides his divine truth, depth, and convincing power, they had not before heard any discoursing with that authority, that he did. The scribes borrowed credit to their doctrine from traditions, and the fathers of them: and no sermon of any scribe had any authority or value, without ‘The Rabbis have a tradition, or the Wise men say;’ or some traditional oracle of that nature." (John Lightfoot, 1602–1675, English Biblical scholar, a Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica, vol. 2, pg. 159.) "That it was said" or "It hath been said" was a familiar form of expression in the Talmud. Constantly referring to the ancients was a gauge of a Rabbi’s expertise in the Oral Law. "In His authority Jesus differs from the 'teachers of the law.' Many of them limited their teaching to the authorities they cited, and a great part of their training centered on memorizing the received traditions. They spoke by the authority of others; Jesus spoke with his own authority." "Jesus' authority is unique, and the crowds recognized it even if they did not always understand it. This same authority is now to be revealed in powerful, liberating miracles, signs of the Kingdom's advance." (D. A. Carson, The Expositor's Bible Commentary, Vol. 8, p. 195-196).
Jesus’ nature of teaching was diametrically opposed to the whole Scribal-Rabbinic order. When he spoke he constantly prefaced his message with the Hebrew word "Amen," also translated in Greek "verily" or "in Truth." In the faith vocabulary of the Old Testament "amen," emunah, and emeth, are the primary words for God's faithfulness, as the presupposition of faith. The Hebrew word amen emphasizes certainty, security, rock-like stability, foundation, pillar, stable, firm, support, and uphold. In the domestic sphere the words "Amen" and "Emeth" were used to describe "pillars of support": II Kings 18:16; "steady hands": Ex. 17:12; "a mother or nurse": Ruth 4:16, Num. 11:12; "a guardian": Esther 2:7, Isa. 60:4; and the "foundation of a family line": I Kings 11:38. Thus the picture conveyed is one of certainty, steadfastness, unwavering, faithfulness, and dependability. God is called the "God of Emeth," Deut. 7:9, 32:4, "That he who blesseth himself in the earth shall bless himself in the God of truth; and he that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth; because the former troubles are forgotten, and because they are hid from mine eyes." (Isa. 65:16). He is the God of faithfulness, truthfulness and dependability, who never wavers. He is a God of eternal integrity, His character is one of complete truthfulness. He never breaks His word or changes His character. Biblical faith is being persuaded and convinced, from knowing God’s nature (Ps. 9:10), of the constancy and truthfulness of God’s total dependability, and trusting in that. Biblical faith is not the result of one's capacity to believe. "Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Amen, and Amen." (Ps. 41:13). From vanishing point in the past, to vanishing point in the future, He is the God of Truth. "Thy lovingkindness (Heb. chesed, "mercy"), O Lord, extends to the heavens, Thy faithfulness (Heb. emunah, "truth") reaches to the skies." (Ps. 36:5). As God’s mercy fills the world, even unto the heavens, his truthfulness reaches unto the sky. The truthfulness of God’s character cannot be measured.
In the time of Jesus "amen" was used exclusively as a word of assent, a confirmatory oath, a concurrence after a prayer, praise or words spoken by another. "We affirm it, we assent to this, we pledge ourselves to this." (Talmud of Jerusalem, tractate Kiddushin, folio 60.4; Talmud of Babylon, tractate Shebuot, folio 36.1; Mishnah, tractate Baba Qamma, 9. sect. 7-8.; Tobit 8:7,ff; Jeremiah 28:6.) When Jesus spoke he repeatedly prefaced his teaching by "amen", translated frequently in the KJV, "Verily, verily," Matt. 5:18, 26, 6:2, 5, 16, John 1:51, 3:3, 5:11, 6:25, 26. This was an asseveration that no mortal could ever make. It was a promise that He would stand behind all his words as their perfect guarantor. Each word would be completely fulfilled, they were ultimate reality. He was speaking as the God of the Old Testament. The faithful, truthful, dependable God of all eternity. It was a Divine oath! This was a Divine asseveration.
"Jesus' authority derived from the fact that God had commissioned Him to act with His own authority in the world as Savior and Judge of men."—I. Howard Marshall, The Work of Christ, p. 30
The prophets spoke in the manner of "Thus sayeth the Lord," the scribes and pharisees in the manner of "So and so says this." But "I say unto you," was the modality of Jesus’ teaching, Matt. 5:28, 32, 34, 39, 44. His message is grounded in his own authority. "...the authority of Jesus Christ in teaching is a measure higher than that of the prophets. It must also be attributed to the works that he did. He taught with immediate, underived authority." "He speaks with the same authority as the One who originally gave the law (Mark 2:28, Luke 6:5)." (Bernard Ramm, An Evangelical Christology, pg. 42, 43) Jesus calls himself the "Amen," in his address to the Church in Laodicea, Rev. 3:14. The One who is rock-like in character, steadfast, dependable, faithful, truthful—the God of Isaiah 65:16. No Rabbi in the history of Israel ever spoke in this manner. "Nor did it become any mortal man to speak ‘Amen’ in the beginning of a sentence in the same manner as our Savior did." (John Lightfoot, a commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica, vol. 3, pg. 247-248.) "Jesus’ use of the word ("Amen") to introduce the statement is without parallel in Rabbinic usage. Jesus used the expression as an equivalent of an oath, paralleling the Old Testament expression ‘As I live, sayeth the Lord.’ The scribes stood apart from their teachings; their teachings were greater than their persons. They were vehicles of tradition. But Jesus’ words are inseparable from his person. He himself is the message he proclaims." (G. E. Ladd, The Presence of the Future, pg. 167.) "Yet He was more than a prophet, for in opposition to the ossified religion and anthropocentric morality of His contemporaries He did not set the ‘Thus sayeth the Lord’ of the prophet, but His own ‘I say unto you,’ which made it plain to His listeners that He was associating Himself directly with God, not as a mouthpiece, but as the responsible Bearer of His Will who is one with Him." (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, vol. 2, pg. 156.) "There was no appeal to human authority, other than that of the conscience; no subtle, logical distinctions, legal niceties, nor clever sayings. Clear, limpid, and crystalline, flowed His words from out the spring of the Divine Life that was in Him." (Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, book 3, pg. 479.) The words of Jesus were the speech of God breaking into the mundanity of religious babble.
"Without Jesus Christ the world could not continue; for it must needs be destroyed or become a very hell."—Pascal, Pensees 12
In Matthew 24:35, Jesus declares his words are as permanent and immutable as the Torah. His words will outlast the present structure of the universe: "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away." (Matt. 24:35). When the whole structure of the universe is replaced (Isa. 65:17, Rev. 21:1) his words will endure. They have an authority and eternal validity as only God’s word can have, Ps. 119:89-90, Isa. 40:6-8. Only God can make this supreme declaration. The words of Christ are not an enshrined record in the flow of history, as if he were another great prophet, philosopher, or sage. Christ's words are the very root of all life, it’s coherence and solitary foundation. No mortal can speak in such transcendent language. Only a megalomaniac or the mentally-deranged would venture into such a sacrosanct domain. Jesus, without hesitation, declares his words are the eternal words of God, words that find origin in His nature alone. "The authority and eternal validity of Jesus' words are nothing less than the authority and eternal validity of God's words." (D. A. Carson, Expositor's Bible Commentary, Vol. 8, p. 507) Just one word from Messiah can infuse and quicken with life those who are sleeping the sleep of death. As God once spoke by Divine fiat and brought forth worlds out of vacuity, so can Messiah's word bring forth out of death's separation from God, a life resurrected in the image and likeness of God.
"...Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life."—John 6:68
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