The Study of Jesus’ Teaching

The more you look at systematic theology the more complicated it gets.  There are hermeneutics, Christologies, eschatologies, and numerous other studies in it that get very involved, to the point it becomes very difficult to weigh all the various nuances.

In contrast to all those intricate topics, in Jesus, as seen in the gospels, we see simple parables, simple teaching, and leading by example in both simple matters and powerful demonstrations of the spirit.

Much of Christian doctrine is rooted in the teaching of Paul, Peter, and John derived in large part from the Epistles.  Paul writes long run-on sentences going to great depths to explain Christianity.   Look at the opening of Romans:

Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,
which he promised afore through his prophets in the holy scriptures,
concerning his Son, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh,
who was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead; even Jesus Christ our Lord,
through whom we received grace and apostleship, unto obedience of faith among all the nations, for his name’s sake;
among whom are ye also called to be Jesus Christ’s:
to all that are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. [Rom 1:1-7]

This is one sentence!  This is not that easy to follow, and this is just the first sentence.

Look at another sentence of Paul, which though wonderful and powerful, is far from simple with clause or phrase after clause or phrase building meaning:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ: even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before him in love: having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved: in whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, making known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he purposed in him unto a dispensation of the fulness of the times, to sum up all things in Christ, the things in the heavens, and the things upon the earth; in him, I say, in whom also we were made a heritage, having been foreordained according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his will; to the end that we should be unto the praise of his glory, we who had before hoped in Christ: in whom ye also, having heard the word of the truth, the gospel of your salvation, – in whom, having also believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is an earnest of our inheritance, unto the redemption of God’s own possession, unto the praise of his glory. [Eph 1:3-14]

In contrast let’s look at what we have of Jesus’ Words.  When Jesus taught, like in the sermon on the Mount, he used analogy after analogy.

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men.
Ye are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid.
Neither do men light a lamp, and put it under the bushel, but on the stand; and it shineth unto all that are in the house.
Even so let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. [Matt 5:13-16]

Instead of analytical thinking, detailed explanations, and elaborate logic, Jesus spoke in common terms to common people.  He told them they were salt.  Just as salt was then and is now known to be essential for health, Jesus was telling them that by being faithful believers they were giving health to those around them.  By telling them that they were the light of the world, he was telling them that they were helping those around them to find their way in this dark and wicked world.  No elaborate treatises, instead simple examples illustrating simple truth.

A lot of what we have of Jesus comes in the form of responses to questions by followers or challenges by opponents. Some of his teaching came in the form of demonstration.  For example in Matthew, Chapter 12, Jesus challenged the Pharisees over whether it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath day.  He then asked them if one of them had an animal that fell into a pit whether they would not lift the animal out.  Then he healed the man with a withered hand on the Sabbath.  This is pretty straightforward teaching that it is definitely okay to heal on the Sabbath day.

As this is the study of Christianity, and not Paulinity, or Augustinity, or Roman Catholicism it is imperative that we focus on and get a good grasp of what Jesus, our master, taught.   Paul, Augustine, and churches like the Roman Catholic Church, mainline Protestant denominations and even your local bible church only serve God’s purpose to the end that they help us understand what Christ, as head of all of us, taught and wants us to know.

I am adding a section to this website dedicated to Jesus, the Christ, focusing on what he taught by word, example, and demonstration of power in the Gospels.

© copyright 2010-20 Mark W Smith, All rights reserved.

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