Unfiltered Fridays: Everything in the Bible Isn’t about Jesus

If you’ve been a Christian for very long or were raised in a Christian church, chances are that you’ve heard that the Bible is really about Jesus. That cliché has some truth to it, but it’s misleading.

The truth is that there’s a lot in the Bible that isn’t about Jesus. Procedures for diagnosing and treating leprosy (Lev. 13:1–14:57) aren’t about Jesus. Laws forbidding people who’ve had sex or lost blood (Lev. 15) from entering sacred space aren’t about Jesus. The spiritual, social, and moral corruption in the days of the Judges (Judg. 17–21) wasn’t put in the Bible to tell us about Jesus. The Tower of Babel incident (Gen 11:1–9) doesn’t point to Jesus. When Ezra commanded Jews who’d returned from exile to divorce the Gentile women they’d married (Ezra 9–10), he wasn’t foreshadowing anything about Jesus.

The point is straightforward: No Israelite would have thought of a messianic deliverer when reading these or many other passages. No New Testament writer alludes to them and many other portions of Scripture to explain who Jesus was or what he said.

So why is this idea so prevalent?

In my experience, the prevailing motivation seems to be to encourage people to read their Bible. That’s a good incentive. But I’ve also come across other factors, namely that it serves as an excuse to avoid the hard work of figuring out what’s really going on in many passages. People are taught to extrapolate what they read to some point of connection with the life and ministry of Jesus—no matter how foreign to Jesus the passage appears. Imagination isn’t a sound hermeneutic. Not only does it lack boundaries that prevent very flawed interpretations (and even heresies), but it makes Scripture serve our ability to be clever.

Recognizing the inaccuracy of this assumption is important for some simple but important reasons.

First, if we filter passages that aren’t about Jesus through something Jesus did and said, we won’t have any hope of understanding what those passages were actually about. Nothing in Scripture is there accidentally. The Bible is an intelligent creation. Our task as those with a high view of Scripture (not to mention God) is to discern why God wanted a given passage in the Bible in the first place.

blurry bible

Second, the assumption can lead to minimizing or ignoring passages in which we can’t clearly see Jesus. Since Jesus is central to God’s sovereign plan of salvation, passages that don’t add some detail about his teachings or the gospel story are considered peripheral or optional. Why bother spending serious time in a passage that “doesn’t matter” for having eternal life. Giving us the Bible as we have it was a providential, intentional decision on God’s part. We either believe that’s true and act accordingly (i.e., studying the whole counsel of God) or we’ll act as though God’s decision was random and unintelligent.

Third, becoming skilled at seeing Jesus in places where he isn’t can discourage others from Bible study or lead others under one’s spiritual charge to believe we have special (even authoritative) insight. When “Jesus stuff” isn’t obvious in a given passage and we’ve been taught that it’s somehow about him, it’s easy to just give up and let pastors and others tell us what they “see.” People shut off their brains when they are led to believe they can’t think well about Scripture.

The bottom line is that we can talk about the inspiration and authority of the Bible all day long and still fall prey to marginalizing its content with familiar clichés that let us off the hook from doing the hard work of interpretation. While the drama of the biblical epic ultimately leads to Jesus, he isn’t the ultimate focal point of every passage. That’s homiletical flair, not the reality of the text.

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Agree? Disagree? Want to qualify? Sound off in the comments, like and share with your friends, and check by every Friday for more unfiltered insight from Dr. Michael Heiser.

Be sure to check out Dr. Heiser’s Mobile Ed course, OT 291 The Jewish Trinity: How the Old Testament Reveals the Christian Godhead.

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Michael S. Heiser
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30 comments
  • I will readily admit I am not the most learned of scholars but I do take some exception to the overall point of this article. While I agree “Nothing in Scripture is there accidentally” and Jesus Himself isn’t in every passage I would say that every passage points to the need for Him. You even seem to allude to that in your last paragraph with the statement, “the drama of the biblical epic ultimately leads to Jesus.”
    Furthermore, you say, “passages that don’t add some detail about his teachings or the gospel story are considered peripheral or optional.” However, isn’t part of the gospel story about the fact that man is a sinner? The obvious outcome of that fact is the death, disease, etc. we see all around us. Is it really peripheral or optional to point out the desperate condition man is in and our need for the Lord Jesus Christ?
    I also don’t think it is trying to avoid hard work by seeing Jesus in all of Scripture. Yes we do need to look at the context of each passage, historical, cultural, geographical, etc. At the same time we must look at each passage within the overall context of the gospel message since that is really what it is all about. How can I preach the call to salvation without it? Whereas you don’t see the words of Jesus in text dealing with leprosy and lost blood many of us see the effect of sin’s curse on man and the hope offered from that curse in Christ. We see the deplorable state we are in because of sin. I would strongly disagree with your view that “spiritual, social, and moral corruption in the days of the Judges” aren’t in the Bible to point us to Jesus and tell us about Him. These stories reflect the sinful character of man since the fall and that without Christ we are truly hopeless.
    Maybe this wasn’t your intent but the overall tone of the article implies we can preach on a text without dealing with Jesus, that if we try to tie Jesus to these passages we are in error and leading people away from Him. Using all of Scripture to point others to Christ is certainly not marginalizing text. We must use all of the text to point to the cross.
    I prefer to stay in the mindset encouraged by Spurgeon, “Keep to the cross. Keep to the cross! Always preach up Jesus Christ! Always preach up Jesus Christ! I think no sermon should be without the doctrine of salvation by faith in it. I would not close a single discourse without at least something about believing in Jesus and living.”

    Charles Spurgeon, Galatians, ed. Elliot Ritzema, Spurgeon Commentary Series (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2013).

  • Amen, John, Amen!. You stated eloquently what I was thinking. If a passage doesn’t have to do with Jesus, why preach it? I firmly believe that all sermons should close with an invitation to invite Jesus into your heart. Heiser is implying that some passages aren’t worth preaching. I find this unacceptable to me. As you said, John, even the passages that don’t seem to be about Jesus can point to our need for Him. Michael, consider the following from A.W. Pink, who is commenting on one of the passages you cited, Gen 11:7:

    “…and finally, in the fact that the destruction of his kingdom is described in the words, “Let us go down and there confound their language” (11:7—foreshadowing so marvellously the descent of Christ from Heaven to vanquish His impious Rival, we cannot fail to see that there is here, beneath the historical narrative, something deeper than that which appears on the surface… (
    Arthur Walkington Pink, Gleanings in Genesis, 135.

    So A.W. Pink sees Christ in the the Tower of Babel. You may call that “homiletical flair,” but there is still reality in what he is saying. So back to my point , Michael, if Jesus is not the focal point of every text, are you saying that text shouldn’t be preached? I go to church to hear more than a history lesson. I believe this kind of view is what happens when you spend too much time in academia and begin to “can’t see the forest for the trees.” And I say this being one in academia. Let us not lose sight of who Christ is and the purpose of His Word.

  • It’s difficult to believe that some would read this and conclude it’s saying some passages aren’t worth preaching. It actually says the opposite. The statement “Why bother spending serious time in a passage that “doesn’t matter” for having eternal life” is rhetorical. My point is precisely that all passages matter. I’m not sure what’s unclear about this statement: “We either believe that’s true and act accordingly (i.e., studying the whole counsel of God)…” I ask readers to act accordingly and *study* the whole counsel of God — precisely the opposite of what some of the commenters presumed to see in the piece.

    I would also disagree that all passages show our need of Jesus. Laws about bodily emissions are an example. Sure, we can extrapolate like so: “Those passages show we’re human, and because we’re human we’re sinners, and because we’re sinners we need a savior.” But that misses the point of the essay. Passages about bodily emissions don’t *teach* we need a savior. To say so confuses application with exegesis — which is something I see happen all the time in church, and it’s dangerous. Why? Because application comes from our heads. Exegesis derives from the text. The latter is inspired; the former is not. Teaching and doctrine need to be based on the text, and application clearly distinguished from what resides in the text.

    • Hello,
      I want to offer an opinion on your confusion over why someone would read this piece and conclude that some passages are less important, or at least shouldn’t be preached on.

      From your article, you mentioned 3 reasons assuming the Bible is all about Jesus is a dangerous assumption.

      First, if we filter passages that aren’t about Jesus through something Jesus did and said, we won’t have any hope of understanding what those passages were actually about.

      My question here is if a passage is not about Jesus, then what is the reason it would be deemed “preachable?” If it is simply because it is in the Bible and the whole Bible is designed, to what end is it designed? If the Bible isn’t about Jesus, what is it about?

      Second, the assumption can lead to minimizing or ignoring passages in which we can’t clearly see Jesus. … Why bother spending serious time in a passage that “doesn’t matter” for having eternal life.

      A Christocentric position here would assume that all passages are about Christ, so I miss how a passage would be skipped over or seen as less important for not seeing Christ in the passage. I respectfully believe that you are assuming your conclusion here. However, it does seem that a perspective where Christ is not all the Bible is about would see some passages as less important than others depending on what one’s opinion is of what is supreme.

      Third, becoming skilled at seeing Jesus in places where he isn’t can discourage others from Bible study or lead others under one’s spiritual charge to believe we have special (even authoritative) insight.

      This does not seem particular to your position. It could very easily be said in the opposite: ‘Becoming skilled at not seeing Jesus in places where he is can discourage others from Bible study….’ Either way, a person could potentially be discouraged where a leader either sees Jesus or not. I’d argue that a Christocentric position is less likely to cause discouragement because it points the hearer to Jesus as the greater One who will come to save us from our sin.

      Thank you for your thought provoking article. While I don’t agree, it is helpful to work through why I don’t agree and thereby sharpen my understanding and faith.

  • Mike,
    I’ve gone back and re-read your post several times. I think I see what you are talking about but honestly it is not clear that your article is what your response says it is. At least two of us took it a different way than you intended and since you wrote, “Agree? Disagree? Want to qualify? Sound off in the comments” we did.

    But, even accepting your point and giving that I may have misunderstood some of your post, I still disagree with your take on the Judges, Tower of Babel, etc. Again, I may be reading you wrong but yes, they do ultimately point to Jesus and our need for Him because they make our sin very clear. The same human condition that was in play during the ANE is still at play today is it not?

  • Mike wrote:

    Procedures for diagnosing and treating leprosy (Lev. 13:1–14:57 [Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)] ) aren’t about Jesus. Laws forbidding people who’ve had sex or lost blood (Lev. 15 [Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)] ) from entering sacred space aren’t about Jesus. The spiritual, social, and moral corruption in the days of the Judges (Judg. 17–21 [Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)] ) wasn’t put in the Bible to tell us about Jesus. The Tower of Babel incident (Gen 11:1–9 [Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)] ) doesn’t point to Jesus. When Ezra commanded Jews who’d returned from exile to divorce the Gentile women they’d married (Ezra 9–10), he wasn’t foreshadowing anything about Jesus.

    This is really a sad commentary about where Evangelical hermeneutics is going. Everyone of these passages directly point to Jesus Christ. To miss this is to miss the entire flow and purpose of the OT. Have you not read Luke 24:27, 44-45 & John 5:46?

    Each of the passages above point to some aspect of Christ:

    The passages about leprosy, forbidding those who have sex or loss of blood (bodily emissions) from entering the temple have to do with uncleanness. Those who were unclean could not enter the holy place. This is what was so tragic about the woman who had a discharge of blood for 12 years (Mark 5:24-34) that she could not approach the temple for worship. Jesus comes to give eschatological cleansing forever in Him. He touches the leper and doesn’t become unclean, but he cleanses the leper. No longer does loss of blood or other bodily emissions keep us from the temple, which is now Christ Himself and all who are in union with Christ, because He has forever cleansed us.

    I don’t see how anyone can miss the moral, social, and spiritual corruption of Judges as pointing to Jesus. Hebrews 9-10 is all about how Christ breaks the perpetual cycle of sin and judgment as He is the once for all sacrifice that puts sin away from us forevermore.

    The tower of Babel incident is what Acts 2 is about when instead of the world being broken up into a multitude of languages, Jesus pours out his Spirit upon the disciples and they speak to all the languages of the known world and each and everyone hears the gospel in their own language. Jesus is reversing the Tower of Babel and bringing people from every tribe, tongue and nation back into one Kingdom, the Kingdom of God.

    Ezra is looking forward to a renewed kingdom where the mix of pagans and God’s people will no longer be a problem because Jesus came to bring an end to the darkness of the pagan world. Right now in the semi-eschatological age (the already), we are exhorted not to marry unbelievers (2 Cor. 6:14), but the Kingdom of God is going to eventually take over the whole creation in a new creation in which unbelievers will be forever exiled from the Kingdom of God so that believers will no longer be threatened by the impurities of unbelieving unions (Rev. 21:27).

    Logos ought to really be ashamed that this blog has been posted on a Christian website. Are we to read the OT as if we were still Jews? Has Christ not come to fill full everything God has written? I could go into much greater detail on each of these passages, but I just touched on the ones that were mentioned to show that Jesus is in every text so that once the veil is lifted (2 Cor. 3:14) He is clearly seen. Moses and Elijah have departed and God has spoken once and for all in His beloved Son, “Listen to Him!” (Luke 9:35).

    I hope the editors of Logos will quickly remove this blog and ask this writer to refrain from removing Jesus from the Scriptures.

  • Great observations! Affirming a high view of Scripture and of God with sound commitment to the sometimes (e.g. many OT texts) very difficult task of correctly interpreting then appropriately applying all Scripture to who and where we are today, is offered in the article.

    If those of us who have the distinct privilege of teaching the Bible from one on one to small groups and classes to the pulpit don’t model a sound hermeneutic, in exegesis and application, we will inadvertently teach others to abuse and thereby dishonor the Scriptures and our Savior.

    I do like the dissenters eagerness to affirm the Scriptures and centrality of Jesus. That being said, I think Dr. Heiser hits the nail on the head!

  • I find these comments difficult to believe as well. It was perfectly clear to me on the first reading that the article is what Dr. Heiser’s comment says it is. Whether or not the article’s argument is valid or not is another matter, but as the article says, “the point is straightforward.”

  • As a dermatologist I have given lectures about Jesus from Leviticus 13 and 14. To conclude that these are not about Jesus is to proclaim our ignorance of Jesus and/or these passages. Just because I am unable to see Jesus in a particular passage does not mean He is not there. Humility is in order when we approach the Bible.

  • There is much that I agree with in this blogpost. I do believe we are to take a high view of Scripture and that God intentionally, purposefully, and intelligently put together Scripture. I also agree that we cannot minimize passages which do not appear to readily point to Christ, and I don’t believe that anyone who holds to a high view of Scripture would want to discourage people from reading and studying the Bible. I wholeheartedly agree with the final paragraph which seems to negate the point being made by this post.
    I think the problem is an issue of not seeing the forest for the trees. I believe that all the Bible is about Jesus Christ (Luke 24:27, 44-47; John 5:39). I believe that everything in the Old Testament points to Jesus. But if we are only looking at the leaves on the tree and not the entire forest we will miss Christ (I am not saying it is not important to focus on the small details). We must look at the Bible as a whole. You point to a section in Leviticus regarding leprosy, those who have had sex, and women who have lost blood. The point of the passage is that they are unclean. They are prohibited from entering into worship. There is now a barrier for them. Of course, leprosy was a death sentence and separated one from the social and religious life of the nation of Israel. In the New Testament we find Jesus healing lepers and a woman with a discharge of blood. What kept them separate from worship is now removed. When you look at the laws in Leviticus which apply to the nation they are designed to prevent access. Jesus has now come to do away with the Levitical system because He is the high priest after the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 7) and supersedes the Levitical priesthood and has done away with all that separates man from God. He is the only way to God. Would a Jew living during the days of Moses have fully understood this? No. But he would understand that there was a lot that separated him from God and that there was a need for someone outside the Levitical system for salvation.
    You point to the tower of Babel. Again, if you look at the broader picture of Scripture it points to Christ. Man lived, wickedly with no regard for the Lord in the days leading up to the flood. After the flood we see that man still has no regard for God. They build a tower thinking they can find heaven and be their own God. God confounds the language. This is judgment. The people are separated. Genesis 11 shows us the effects of the curse. But it also sets the stage for Abraham and shows us that God is busy at the work of reversing the effects of the curse. Again this points to Christ because He is the only one who can unite mankind. In His prayer in John 17 He prays for the unity of all believers (I recognize that we are not united on everything, or I would not be writing this, but we are united on the essentials of the faith). Only Christ can unite all. He came to take away not only the barrier between God and man but also between man and man. We look forward to a time when people from every tribe, kindred, and tongue will be united together singing Worthy is the Lamb (Revelation 5:9-10).
    How about the wickedness recorded at the end of the book of Judges? This is setting the stage of the Davidic king. Because of the situation in Israel the people demand a king like all the other nations. It is a king of the people’s choosing which is a disaster. Later we are introduced to David who is a king of God’s choosing who becomes a type of which Christ is the antitype. I see the story of the corruption during the days of the Judges to tell us something about Christ because it leads us to David. It is a story that reminds us that we do need a king who can reign in righteousness. And at the very least it demonstrates to us that the Jewish people, with all their privileges, desperately needed a Savior.
    The issue of divorce again points us to Christ and it also reminds us that ministry is very messy. What would happen today? Why would a pastor not encourage believing men in his congregation to divorce their unsaved wives? If we examine what Christ has accomplished by breaking down the barrier between Jew and Gentile we find our answer. Peter tells believing wives to witness to their husbands through their conduct (1 Peter 3). Paul says to remain as you are if at all possible (1 Corinthians 7).
    In Bible study or sermon preparation it is important to look at what the specific text says, to understand it the way the original readers or hearers would have understood it. It is important to understand the texts historical and cultural background, but we do not stop there. If we fail to see how a text integrates with the rest of Scripture then we do not understand our text. You write, “People are taught to extrapolate what they read to some point of connection with the life and ministry of Jesus—no matter how foreign to Jesus the passage appears.” I believe the statement is flawed. Not every text will lead us to the life and ministry of Christ, but they will lead us to the atoning work of Christ. I agree with you that the Bible is an intelligent creation, and the more I study Scripture the more amazed I am that 40 different men writing over a period of 1,500 years, with different backgrounds could all come up with the same hero to the story.

  • This kind of reminds of the story of the Evangelical Sunday school teacher talking to their class. “Now come on kids guess what it is, put your hand up when you no the answer”;
    It’s fury and can run and jump really quickly. No response.
    It can climb tree’s jumping from branch to branch. Still no response.
    It eats nuts and sometimes hides them in the ground. Complete silence.
    Come on kids he has a big bushy tail? Not one solitary hand.
    One kid leans over to his friend and whispers, I know the answers Jesus, but I think its a squirrel.

  • Thanks for the article Mike. I think the entire story line of the Bible leads to Jesus and then flows from Jesus and finally finds its fulfillment in the Second Coming and all that follows, and that there are parts of the Bible which point directly to Jesus and so are about him, but I like the point that there are other parts of the Bible which do not fall into this category and that to try and force them to do so is really to read something into the Bible which is not there. I find the Jesus in every passage idea to be unhelpful. Jesus as the story line of the Bible on the other hand is the key which unlocks the whole treasure chest. I am inclined to think that this is what Jesus had in mind in Luke.

  • Mike,
    I appreciate your insights. One of the things I’ve come to in my ministry as a pastor of a small church is that evangelism in not, in large measure to be done on Sunday mornings. One bloggers quoted Spurgeon (one of my heroes) who said, “preach the cross!” Absolutely! But unfortunately, the person in the pew has left the preaching of the cross to the preacher, and not taken it upon himself/herself the privilege and responsibility to do that with his family and friends.

    The point is that, in many places, pastors see themselves (in my view, via not so great training from their seminary professors), as evangelists with pastoral duties. Ephesians 4:11,12 make it clear what a pastor’s divine job description is–equip the saints for the work of ministry. In other words, evangelism is to be done by the people in the pew, precisely because he / she has been trained to do that by the pastor.

    What this means for the pastor is that his ministry is, primarily to be teaching the word of God to the people the Lord has entrusted him with. And that means to model a hermeneutic that is honest with the text. You are absolutely right, Mike. The person who heard Moses teach Leviticus most probably would not have longed for the Messiah when they heard it. And it really is the task of the expositor (i.e., pastor/teacher) accurately teach the whole council of the word of God.

    Pastors are not primarily evangelists. But pastors of some of the largest churches often preach the gospel (and going out on a limb here) of “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life”–without demanding repentance from sin. This “feel good because God loves me” kind of presentation has a tendency to attract and keep the crowds but often keeps people ignorant of the “not so pleasant” things that God speaks of in many overlooked passages. And you are right as well, Mike when you say that people often just leave the thinking to the pastor because the person in the pew can’t see the “Jesus connection” in every passage.

    Thanks again, Mike for your great insights.

  • I’m not so sure I agree with the premise of this piece. If we believe that the purpose of Scripture is to reveal God, and if we believe Messiah IS God, then it follows that all of Scripture is about Him whether directly or indirectly. This includes the purity laws in Torah.
    There is a reason for the purity laws in the totality of God’s plan for redemption. They were necessary in order for God’s LITERAL Presence to well amongst the Israelites. The purity were given to protect the sanctum surrounding the “footstool” of God’s Shekineh (Glory) which resided in the Holy of Holies. (They were also given to protect the Israelites who wished to draw close to God’s Presence within the Temple compounds. If they were violated, this could mean death to the violator). The purity laws that seem odd to us (such as those necessary after an emission of semen, menses, scale disease, even childbirth) all have to do with reminders of the Fall and its consequences. God will not dwell with the effects of Original Sin.
    The point here is that without the cleansing sacrifice of blood, God is unapproachable. The Israelite could not experience the Presence of God on the Temple mount without first purifying himself through animal sacrifice. These sacrifices however only gave the Israelite worshipper temporary access into God’s Presence. They did not provide any guarantee for eternal access/relationship with Him nor did they cleanse ones conscience from moral failure (not even the Day of Atonement could accomplished this).
    The New Covenant of Yeshua’s atonement is the “missing link” that provides eternal redemption, “first to the Jew then to the nations.”
    It’s all about Him!

    • PS: I just read Russell’s comment which I very much agree with.. The only thing I would disagee with in Russell’s comment is where he says that Jesus came to do away with the Levitical Priesthood.
      If you read Jer 33:17-22 the Levitical Priesthood is a covenant which CAN’T be broken.
      I believe rather than the Levitical Priesthood being “abolished”, it has been placed “on hold” until the Millennial Age (as per Ezekiel 40-48). The Levitical Priesthood has a DIFFERENT function (though parallel to in some respects) than the Melchizedekian Priesthood.

  • The issue to me is a faulty hermeneutic in the first place. The so called dietary and medical passages in the Law are about holiness and defilement of holiness. The overall story of Scripture is one of Creation – Fall – Redemption. You may want to pick at details – i.e. Jesus did not exist prior to his birth, which is correct. However, the Son existed from eternity.

    Have we forgotten Colossians 1? 15 iHe is the image of jthe invisible God, kthe firstborn of all creation. 16 For by6 him all things were created, lin heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether mthrones or ndominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created othrough him and for him. 17 And phe is before all things, and in him all things qhold together. 18 And rhe is the head of the body, the church. He is sthe beginning, tthe firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For uin him all the vfullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and wthrough him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, xmaking peace yby the blood of his cross. (The Holy Bible: English Standard Version, (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Col 1:15–20.)

    Theology took a dark turn when it put aside the fact that the Church has existed from the beginning. That Christ is the Head of the Church. To say that the Old Covenant was put on hold is to deny Jesus’s own teaching that the kingdom would be taken from the Jews and given to the World (Gentiles); (Matthew 21:23-46). The destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple are the marks of the end of the Old Covenant. Revelation is the covenant lawsuit God brings against Israel. And ALL things are for him.

    We have left behind Reformed doctrine and a Reformed Hermeneutic. We have left behind that Jesus is the culmination and final expression of the Law of God. We have left behind that the Law of God is eternal and not gone. Jesus has fulfilled it and confirmed it. He has established that it should never pass away.

    So what of the leper in Leviticus. Jesus as dealt with uncleanliness. But the world of man has not. The end of this section of Leviticus is for those who look to the serpent raised in the camp (Jesus, see John 3:14). You cannot say that these Laws are not about Christ, the Son of God who is now and forever the man Jesus.

  • Thank you for this. I have been thinking recently about how to help people in my church (I’m not the pastor, though) deal with the idea that a passage is about what it is about, and that we can connect our understanding of a passage to our understanding of Jesus, but that doesn’t mean the passage is “about” Jesus. We have to understand every passage on its own terms and in its own context if we are to do justice to it, not least as a piece of human communication, but even more so as the written word of God. I am constantly frustrated how people can force any text to fit the Jesus box, rather than let the text speak naturally. It would make just as much sense to say that every passage is about God’s omniscience. With your permission I am going to keep this blog for possible future use with Bible study participants.

  • God bless:

    Interesting article, and I think Dr. Heiser means good.
    Maybe there are important thrusts, themes, interpretations that we are missing as we are conditioned by our particular pre understandings, presuppositions, assumptions, etc. that limit our capacity to perceive fresh insights that God may want to communicate to us in the present time.

    I look at the issue in a different way: Jesus Christ is the Logos made flesh. He is the Living word (Jesus could at an early age talk intelligently about the Scriptures, and baffle the experts of His times, as He was the Logos made flesh).

    It is true that there are many things not clear in the Bible (looked at from our particular contextual understanding), but we must try to put them in right perspective according to the main thrusts of the Bible.

    Example: I find very interesting Dr. Heiser’s insights of the Sons of God (Elohim), and waiting for his book, I expect to find there, their relation to territorial spirits, and ways to strategically wage war against the unholy structures that they erect in particular areas.

    Spiritual Warfare is a main Bible Thrust, and not enough attention is being given to it.
    Unclean spirits are hard at work trying to get humanity to partake in apostasy and get them to worship the unholy trinity.

    Look at all that is happening in the world: corruption, injustice, oppression, iniquity.

    What good is to study the Bible passages that do not prepare believers to mature and get ready to successfully wage spiritual war?

    Will it be worth that believers know all about leprosy, burnt offering, urim and tummim, etc, and, in their life many institutions are falling apart, and not bringing glory to God?.

    When our part in the spiritual war for the souls is done primarily, then we can spend all the time in the world studying every little passage in Scripture.

    But what good is it to study non-relevant passages to the war at hand first?

    If spiritual war is not conducted properly and now, maybe the realm of Christian Academia will be dissolved in the near future, who knows.

    A relationship with Jesus Christ is as important as detailed study of the Bible, as without Him, all can be interpreted wrong.

    Just sharing a different perspective, blessings.

  • Disappointed that Logos thought this was worth publishing. Misguidingly simplistic.

  • Sad to see someone writing about the Bible contradicting Jesus. John 5, Luke 24.

    Everything in the Bible points to Jesus one way or another.

  • I am reminded of a point made by the late Catholic scholar John L. McKenzie, probably from back in the ’50’s or ’60’s. He was contrasting historical critical exegesis (what you are proposing in your article) with what is sometimes called “spiritual exegesis.” He said that the problem with “spiritual exegesis” is that it takes a “spiritual man (sic)” to do it. And one does not argue with a spiritual man; one listens humbly!

    Peace!

    Pat Madden

  • I think Grant and Robert Lotzer have stated the case for Christ in all of scripture as well as it can be stated on a short blog. I would simply add that the bible is the self-disclosure of God and that this disclosure is by nature progressive. Different genres communicate that self-disclosure of God more or less quickly. The further we move along in the narrative of scripture the faster and clearer that disclosure becomes (I do not mean to say here that the OT does not reveal God to us clearly or that no where in the OT is God’s nature not overt- Genesis 1:1 and Exodus 3). It is simply that the obscurity of certain law passages or any other text for that matter is due not to the fact that these scriptures do not speak of Jesus but that we are still so early in the story and such large portions of text must often be read and understood in order to get at faithful interpretation. None of things things however preclude us from understanding Jesus as the center of all of scripture and thus of all of history.

    From beginning to end the bible is revealing God’s person and God’s plan, which we know from passages such as John 1 and Colossians 1 find their consummation and communication in Jesus. Passages in parts of our bibles may seem obscure, they may have been written before Jesus was ever even born and His name may not be in a given text but Jesus is always certainly the end of it all and therefore the point.

    Dr. Heiser- thank you for putting this out there for us to discuss. Having a forum like this for real discussion is truly helpful and I pray that you and others will continue to put opinions out that are both debatable and relevant.

    • Thanks for your words of wisdom, Matthew! As I read this conversation, a couple of sayings come to my mind. One is from a Father of the Church, St. Jerome: “Ignorance of the scriptures is ignorance of Christ.”

      The second quote is from Thomas Aquinas, a medieval theologian. He said that in theological conversations one should: “Seldom affirm, never deny, always distinguish.” Seldom affirm: i.e., do not say “My view is the only possible correct view.” Never deny. I.e., “Never deny that a fellow believer has an insight into God’s truth.” Always distinguish. I.e., Always ask, “In what way is this theological assertion correct? and in what way is this theological assertion incomplete or incorrect?”

      To get back to our present issue, I am convinced that the article we are discussing does contain some valid insights: that there are some times when intellectual laziness and lack of curiosity prevent us from using our God-given minds in our study of Scripture, and which result in unhelpful over-simplifications. I am also convinced that there is much truth in the instinct-of-faith that: since God’s Word became incarnate in Christ, there has to be some sort of connection between that “Incarnate Word” and the various passages of the written “Word of God” — even when such a connection might be remote, or far from obvious.

      Peace to all!
      Pat

  • While I agree everything that the bible doesn’t point to Jesus literally it doesn’t mean you can’t point it to Jesus practically – Jesus told the men on the road to Emmaus – Luke 24:25–27 Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
    Then he showed up to the disciples Luke 24:44 Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” Finally the author in Hebrews quotes from the Psalms. Heb 10:5-7 Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure.Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come— In the volume of the book it is written of Me— To do Your will, O God.’ ”
    Now I realize the context is the Old Covenant and New Covenant but how do we deny the passage says “in the volume of the book?” To me it’s pretty clear that Jesus being the “word of God” incarnate means the entire volume is about him. Certainly not walking around in a robe and sandals but his character can be seen or lack thereof. Now, let me clear, It’s important that every passage is explained for what it says from history to manners and customs – I have heard some bizarre eisegesis before about passages especially the Televangelists but at the end of the day the saints need to hear the good news of Jesus in practical application not just a history lesson or how rituals were performed. The Christians are in church to hear good news not just good views. They need to be taught not preached at but I truly believe the gospel or the antithesis of it can be found throughout the entire bible and that’s what frees the saints to read Leviticus, Song of Solomon or Jeremiah etc..with that filter in mind. I agree, it’s important to know the background, to teach it but then “rightly divide it” which is why the bible was given to us to be a lamp for our feet and a light to our path. Its pages reveal where we are at in Jesus and how we walk in the light as He is in the light. I do not believe it is disingenuous to teach people how we can find Jesus all over scripture because I have done it myself as a pastor without needing to twist it to fit my thoughts. However when I run across Scripture that is seemingly “Christless”such as the story of Absalom, it may be the whole point of the story. Absalom teaches us what “not” to be as believers -He is the antithesis of Jesus’ character – David his father however teaches us how to handle such opposition. A picture of the believer who loves God even though he has blown it – who can’t relate to that? – While I understand what you’re saying I am convinced the word is meant to point out who Jesus is or who He isn’t. I know some passages focus on character, victories, triumphs, rituals, even the erecting of the tabernacle but even in those Jesus is everywhere. In the volume of the book!

  • The main character in a book or movie isn’t necessarily in every scene. Yet the audience still knows who the story is ultimately about.

    Everything relates to Christ in some way or another. And if we are going to interpret a text in light of its fullest meaning and significance, we will have to consider its relationship to Christ.

  • Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Many of the other commenters have stated very clearly that the OT points to Jesus and that’s that. While I get Logos caters to many different denominations… I would call for this blog to be removed immediately. Let’s say its just a matter of disagreement… he’s giving a bit of a scholarly browbeating to those that he is in disagreement with and as a paying customer that sees Jesus on every page like many of the authors of the books you sell me at inflated prices see the same way, I am not a big fan of the staff members of companies I give money to insulting me for learning from the very tools they have sold to me.

    According to wikipedia, which I know isn’t the most credible place in the world…. this author got his degree from Bob Jones and then in the secular field. Is the author a scholar? Is he a preacher? Unless I get some further clarification on this man’s view of the scriptures and how Jesus relates to it all, I would also demand that he not teach anyone else anything.

    Where is his church membership held? I don’t want to read Biblical things into church membership and have my hand slapped, but I wonder if there is a church that has set him apart as a pastor or elder?

    Logos I hope someone is reading this because I have paid an enormous amount of money to you people over the years, but to have a guy take a swipe at my Christocentric view of the scriptures the very same day I had a $100 dollar set of OT Christology books to my Logos account… I just don’t quite understand how this would be a good idea.

    Many people will nuance their answers differently.. and that’s fine… but shame on Logos as a company for letting on of their employees go against the grain of many of their clients.

    I will not purchase anything else until I can know if you all will be pushing some kind of “christ is not the central message of the entirety of scripture” thing.

    Shame on you guys for allowing this to be part of something you encourage your staff to write.

    Just to be clear…. this blog post should come down. If it won’t come down someone should be allowed to refute and give the other side and get the same push for folks to take notice. I will gladly take a moment to lay out biblically why Jesus is the main trust even when it might not initially seem so.

    Disappointed in logos.

    Brian

  • Brian, you are way too sensitive. Mike obviously believes Jesus is our route to salvation, he’s just saying that not every word in the Bible is about Jesus. But you are like the Pharisees and want to stone Mike for not believing EXACTLY what you believe you learned and think you know. Kinda like the ones that stoned Stephen.

  • Good intentions-bad execution. Thought it was bad not actually appealing to scriptures like the one Paul wrote to Timothy. Even though we know this applies to all the NT and OT-clearly the OT would be in view when Paul wrote this. The intentions were good-to encourage all of us to consider oft ignored OT passages because we might not always see the spiritual significance to our lives today. Execution seems poor as Christ is the Alpha and omega and there from Gen One unto Rev 22. Just don’t see an either/or distinction. Just seems like it comes off as offensive when I recognize the author is trying to shock people to understand all scripture is important-even if it don’t seem to have Christ in view.

    15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

    16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

    17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

    The Holy Bible: King James Version. (1995). (electronic ed. of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version., 2 Ti 3:15–2 Ti 4). Bellingham WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

Written by Michael S. Heiser
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