If you flip through the gospels in most modern translations of the Bible (All English Bibles are translations of the original Hebrew and Greek scriptures), you will find some letters in red and others in black. These red letters represent the words that Jesus spoke during His earthly ministry, and were first printed in red about 100 years ago. Before then, all the words were black, (or you could say all the words were “red”).
Today some people believe and argue that the “red letters” in the Bible carry more weight and authority because they are from the lips of Jesus Himself, while the black letters can be dismissed or ignored because they are not from the lips of Jesus. This is a grave misunderstanding of the scriptures, because in reality every letter in the Bible could be colored in red, because every letter from Genesis to Revelation is from Jesus, who is both God and Lord.
The Red Letter Old Testament
God spoke His words through the prophets in the OT.
“Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.” (Jeremiah 1:9)
Jesus confirms the OT as scripture.
“Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures…” (Luke 24:44-45)
The Red Letter New Testament
Jesus told His disciples His teaching would continue with them through the person of the Holy Spirit.
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (John 14:26)
Peter understood Paul’s letters to be red letter scripture.
2 Peter 3:15 -16 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.
Here we see Paul writing according to the wisdom given him, meaning his writing is coming from the Lord, not himself alone, and people were twisting his writings just as they were “the other scriptures”. So according to Peter, Paul’s writings are scripture from God, just as the OT scripture is from God.
Paul quotes both OT and NT as Scripture from God.
1 Timothy 5:18 “For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” (Deut. 25:4) and, “The laborer deserves his wages” (Luke 10:7).
My goal is this post is to show that the whole Bible is God-breathed scripture, not just the red letters that Jesus spoke while He walked on earth. It’s very popular today to hear statements like, “Well Jesus Himself never spoke about that topic”, therefore we can ignore other black verses that do. The truth is, every word Paul wrote in his letters to the churches, are words from Jesus that carry the same weight as if Jesus spoke them Himself, in red.
So on culturally sensitive issues like homosexuality, it’s wrong to say Jesus has no opinion on the matter. So what is Jesus’ opinion on homosexuality? Try doing a word search in your bible, and all the black letters from Moses to Paul on the topic, you can color them red if you want, because that’s Jesus speaking His words through them.
Those black words are His red words as well.
So how did the writers of scripture write their words, and God’s words at the same time? We’ll leave that till next Friday.
Until then, read your bible. And yes, the black letters too.