84. “Jesus’ Method of Bible Study”

Dr Karl Coke

Jesus is the “Aleph” and the “Tau,” the “Beginning” and the “End.” He is the “First” and the “Last.”1 Therefore, He is the first and the last portions of this article. In the end, He alone is all that matters.

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church: he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”2

Now, that seems to sum it all up!

The “church” spoken of above by Rav Shaul is both Jews and Gentiles who believe and confess that Jesus is God’s “Anointed One” (Christ) sent to redeem mankind. “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ.”3 This assembly of believers is made of Jews and Gentiles. Jesus was with Israel in the wilderness. “This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness.”4 He is and has been present with all believers. “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”5 “And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for his church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.”6

In Christ, “there is neither Greek nor Jew.”7 “His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility”8

Gentiles who believe that Jesus is God’s Messiah owe a debt of gratitude to Jews who believe. The believing Jew has given the world the Bible, One God and the Messiah. As a Gentile believer, I thank everyone from Moses to Malachi for giving me the TaNaK (Old Covenant). This book containing the “good news” has clearly revealed God’s Messiah to me. Now, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will ljve His faith [Habakkuk 2:4].”‘9

I am glad that God had both Jew and Gentile in His heart. He has always wanted them both to be saved. The Lord Himself says of His Messiah, “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth. “10 He also said to Judah about His Messiah, “The scepter will not part from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his.”10

I am one of those Gentiles who has become obedient to God’s King Messiah-the one who hails from the Tribe of Judah! Like the Jew, Solomon (Psalm 91:2), I have confessed with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead. I have seen Jesus my Messiah just like Solomon (Psalm 91:16) and Simeon (Luke 2:30) saw Him before me. Like the Jew, Shimon (Peter) of Galilee, I have been saved by grace. “We (Jews) believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they (Gentiles) are.”12 Like the Jew, Paul from Tarsus, I am justified by faith in God’s sight. “For we (Jews) maintain that a man (Jew or Gentile) is justified by faith apart from observing the law.”13

When Jesus asked me, “Who do you say that I, the Son of Man, am?” I said with Peter, “You are He, the Messiah, the natural born Son of the Living God.” No one says that except God’s Holy Spirit allows him to do so. He revealed Jesus to me and I confessed Him as Lord. Since that day in 1957,1 have been hungry to know more about the One who saved me-God’s Messiah, Jesus ben-Elohim.

Jesus is God’s Living Word, God’s complete Torah. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.”14 “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. “15 “I was appointed from eternity, from the beginning, before the world began…. Then I was the craftsman at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind…. For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the Lord.”16

Since Jesus is God’s Word, special care should be given to all the words spoken as Him. All should study God’s Word precisely as Jesus instructed. Hunger for God’s Word should be matched with a proper interpretation of God’s Word.

Jesus preached the Gospel from the Old Covenant. His method of teaching and preaching reveals the proper way to study God’s Word. “Beginning with Moses (Torah) and all the Prophets (Nevieem), he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures (Ketoveem) concerning himself … Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses (Torah), the Prophets (Nevieem) and the Psalms (Ketoveem). Then he opened their minds so that they could understand the Scriptures.”17

When one wants to understand a passage of Scripture he must first discover the foundational teaching about that subject in the Torah-Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Secondly, this subject must then be found in the Prophets (Joshua to Malachi) to see how they apply the Torah. Thirdly, more information can be found about any Bible subject in the Writings-Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra/Nehemiah and I & II Chronicles. Scripture interprets Scripture. That is how Jesus studied and then taught.

Additionally, one will find more information about the above mentioned passage in the Gospels. Comparisons should be made between the synoptics, Matthew, Mark and Luke with John. Then more information can help clarify this passage from the Acts of the Apostles and their letters (Epistles) to the churches. Finally, more clarity on the subject can be gleaned from the Book of Revelation.

There are four additional insights in the New Covenant suggesting how to better study and understand God’s Word.

1. Illustrations

The Jews in the Diaspora were told in Hebrews chapter 9 that the regulations for worship in the earthly tabernacle of Moses were illustrations for the present time. They were told, “The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed… indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshipper

The Hebrew words translated ”Illustration” in Hebrews 9:9 are Zeh Hu, and literally mean “This (is) He.” Therefore, Old Covenant passages explaining things like “worship” (for example) are the Holy Spirit’s method of revealing what Messiah would be and do. Therefore, one should study the Old Covenant eagerly looking for the “This is He” passages and compare them to the New Covenant passages where Jesus is more fully revealed. To ensure this full revelation of Jesus, He promised His disciples that the Bible’s Author, the Holy Spirit, would “teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. “19

2. Examples

The believers in Corinth were told in I Corinthians chapter 10 that what happened to the Israelis “occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things.”20

The Hebrew word translated example in I Corinthians 10:6 & 11 is the word Moh-Pheyt and means “a sign of a future event…. a sign, a proof as of divine protection, Psal.71:7;… and it is often used of the sign given by a prophet, to cause that which has been predicted or promised to be believed.”21

One should study the Old Covenant looking for signs and “proofs” of what God does for those who obey or disobey Him. In the New Covenant we are asked not to disobey God as did those who are our examples. A great way to study Scriptures is to look for instructions which will prevent us from sinning against Him!

3. Testimony

One feast day, Jesus was in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate pool called in Aramaic “Bethesda.” On that Sabbath day, He healed a man who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. This caused some Jews to question Jesus. In John 5:27 Jesus responded to them by claiming to be “The Son of Man,” a Jewish Messianic title. This led these Jews to question Jesus about any testimony which would indicate who He was. Jesus told these Jews in John chapter 5 that the Scriptures testified of Him. Speaking of the Old Covenant, He said, “These are the Scriptures that testify about me.”22

The Hebrew word translated “testify” in John 5:39 is the word Moh-Ey-Deem and specifically means “set times.” It is used in John 5:39 in its plural form. This is the exact word used by God in Leviticus 23:2 where He speaks of His Feasts being His “set times” (“appointed feasts” in NIV). Studying the Scriptures looking for passages that clearly reveal the Messiah’s appearing in ways and times set by God is thrilling. In this manner of study one discovers abundant testimony describing the appearances of Messiah.

4. Shadows

The believers in Colossae were told in Colossians chapter 2 that the Jewish regulations were a shadow of the reality of Messiah. No one is to be judged on how they keep these regulations because “they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.”23

The Hebrew word translated “shadow” in Colossians 2:17 is the word Tzeh-Lehm and comes from the root meaning of “being shady.” “It is meta. used of anything vain, Psal. 73:20.”24 It is best used for the word “image” as is the case found in Genesis 1:26-27.

A good question to be asked when studying the Old Covenant is: “Who is casting this shadow?” The Old Covenant is filled with passages where the “shadows” of the Messiah are fully cast. These Messianic “shadows” are cast upon the Old Covenant from a pre-creation existence of the Messiah. God is Light. Jesus is the one casting the “shadows” The Old Covenant is the landscape upon which these “shadows” are cast. You will find His “shadows” there!

When the Bible is studied through “illustrations,” “examples,” “testimony” and “shadows,” Jesus the Messiah is revealed. Since Jesus is the Word it stands to reason that the Word should reveal Him. Therefore, studying the Bible should have the purpose of discovering undeniable testimony about Jesus (John 5:39). “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”25

Also, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”26

“This is what the Lord says-your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea.”27

“The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.”28

Studying Scripture by “illustrations,” “examples,” “testimony” and “shadows” forms a study grouping of four methods. This manner of study opens the idea of possibly why The Apostle Paul told a young minister, Timothy, the four benefits of Scriptural study. He said in II Timothy 3:14-17, “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you have learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for [1] teaching, [2] rebuking, [3] correcting and [4] training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

These four categories are clearly evident in the life of Abraham 400 years before Moses. God said, “Abraham obeyed me and kept my requirements, my commands, my decrees and my laws.”29

One final study insight. “We have the word of the prophets made more certain” (II Peter 1:19). The context of this phrase is about God’s light shining down upon Jesus when He declared, “This is My Son.” It is also the context of proper biblical interpretation.

Jesus Christ pre-existed creation. God, the Father, is light. God as light shined upon Jesus at the dawn of creation. The Light cast a shadow of Jesus Christ upon the landscape of the Old Covenant.

Jesus the Messiah’s shadow is everywhere in the Torah, Prophets and the Writings.

When the Gospels were written, Jesus had been born, lived, ministered, died, resurrected and ascended. All of these physical events were real, not shadows. These real events made the word of the Old Covenant prophets more certain. He Who had caused the “shadows” is now revealed in full light. The Gospels are “high noon.”

The Gospels reveal Jesus as the Messiah in full light. In the Gospels, the Light from the dawn of creation’s horizon has now reached “high noon.” The Gospels reveal Jesus as Messiah from directly overhead. The Light is shining directly down upon Jesus when His Father claims Him as His Son. When the sun is directly overhead, all objects lose their shadows. “High noon” sunshine casts no shadows. Jesus and His Messianic shadows in the Old Covenant become one and the same in the Gospels.

Peter said in II Peter 1:16-21, “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I love: with him I am well pleased.’ We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you would do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

1. Revelation 22:13 NIV
2. Colossians 1:15-19 NIV
3. 11 Corinthians 5:19 NIV
4. Acts 7:38 KJV
5. Matthew 18:20 NIV
6. Ephesians 1:22-23 NIV
7. Colossians 3:11 KJV
8. Ephesians 2:15b-17 NIV
9. Romans 1:16-19 NIV
10. Isaiah 49:6 NIV
11. Genesis 49:10 NIV
12. Acts 15:11 NIV
13. Romans 3:28 NIV
14. John 1:1-2 NIV
15. Colossians 1:17 NIV
16. Proverbs 8:23,30-31,35 NIV
17. Luke 24:27, 44b-45 NIV
18. Hebrews 9:8-9 NIV
19. John 14:26 NIV
20. I Corinthians 10:6 NIV
21. Gesenius Heb. Lexicon, p.458
22. John 5:39 NIV
23. Colossians 2:23
24. Gesenius Heb. Lexicon, p.710
25. Revelation 19:10 NIV
26. II Peter 1:3-4 NIV
27. Isaiah 48:17 NIV
28. Isaiah 50:4 NIV
29. Genesis 26:5 NIV

(This article was first published on the Tishrei Web site “familyrestorationmagazine”)