Are the Red Letters Any More Important Than the Black Letters?

If scripture is inspired and from God are the words of Jesus any more or less important than all the rest of the Old and New Testament? And for a related brain teaser – who is speaking in John 3:16? Does John the apostle begin to narrate his own commentary about the events or is Jesus still talking to Niccodemus?

0 Responses to Are the Red Letters Any More Important Than the Black Letters?

  1. Brian says:

    my personal opinion is that john 3:16 is john’s commentary and shouldn’t be in read.

    also
    1 Thess 4:8

  2. i also think john 3:16 is the apostle john’s commentary on the scene.

    i also think we have to create some sort of textual taxonomy. some passages are more central to the biblical message than others. romans, for example, is probably more important than, say, the book of obadiah.

    but are the red letters more important than everything else? more important than genesis 12? more important than exodus 20? more important than psalm 23? more important than romans 6-8? no, i couldn’t go there wholesale.

  3. M. Wright says:

    This passage may be a bit out of context, but it’s still appropriate:

    “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?” (John 5:46-47)

    A longer response is here.

  4. Jordan Powell says:

    So I just taught my first Sunday morning class in a year on John 3 and stuck my foot in my mouth on the 3:16+ passages?

  5. mattdabbs says:

    Jordan,

    Raymond Brown would say yes.

  6. Wes Woodell says:

    Jordan – it probably is John speaking in 3:16ff.

    There’s a tense change in the Greek that would be sort of odd for Jesus to add in the middle of his speech. That tells me that it’s probably not Jesus speaking, rather John narrating.

  7. mattdabbs says:

    Jesus uses the third person to speak of himself in John 17. That is what makes this a little tricky. I don’t have the Greek in front of me and have too much to do today to run it through zhubert real quick but I am thinking the same types of shifts happen in John 17 and it appears Jesus is still praying and not John commenting. I tend to think John 3:16ff is John and not Jesus but if my memory is right you could probably argue from John 17 that Jesus spoke that way on other occasions about himself.

  8. i think it has less to do with the shift in tense and more to do with the way john structures his whole narrative. there are frequently these summaries — brief sermons that encapsulate the major themes — usually looking back to his powerful opening sermon (prologue) and introducing new themes that will shortly follow.

    these short sermons almost always contain the plan of salvation in a single verse. 3:16 is almost assuredly that verse in this summary sermon (3:16-21).

  9. Wes Woodell says:

    Hmm – I wasn’t aware of that in John 17. Interesting.

  10. rogueminister says:

    I would say that the “red letters” have a bit more importance in a sense because they are the lens through which we read the rest of scripture. Maybe, that should be extended to the whole of the gospels because Jesus as the Word embodies and explains the rest of the scriptures. We have to look to HIm for an understanding of any of the other words in the Bible. He is the Logos, the reason, the logic, the meaning of it all.

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