What happens when you unhook the red and black letter words in the Bible?

Some Bibles have the words of Jesus in the Gospels in red.  So some claim that the ‘words in red’ are more important than the rest of the Bible.  The question is how do we handle the ‘red superior/black inferior’ doctrine?  

# Do Jesus’ words have more authority?

  • In Matthew 19:5 Jesus said, ‘…have you not read that He who made them….’   This is a ‘red letter’ important saying of Jesus.  Yet Jesus quoted a ‘black letter’ saying from Genesis 2:24, written by Moses.  So do we pronounce those specific words also ‘red letter?’ 
  • When Satan confronted Jesus after His forty day fast, all Jesus’ ‘red letter’ words were from Deuteronomy 6 and 8.  Should those black letters then also be red?  Do they carry higher authority? 
  • Jesus uttered another red letter saying in Matthew 9:13.  Yet He quoted Hosea 6:6, a black letter verse. 
  • The same happens when Jesus quotes Micah 7:6 in Matthew 10:36, and Malachi 3:1 in Matthew 11:10 

#  The significance of those examples

  • Jesus’ words were written down by the four Gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  Were they more inspired than those of, for instance, Moses, writer of Genesis? 
  • Remember all 66 books were inspired by the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit according to 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21; 2 Peter 3:16; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Corinthians 2:9-13

#  Is there a scale of importance in the Bible writings?

  • Is, ‘This is what the Lord says’ (mainly Old Testament); Jesus’ personal words in the four Gospels; or the letters of Paul, Peter, John, James and others, equally important or not? 
  • If somebody claims that Jesus’ words have more authority, then he or she has to prove that the four Gospel writers were more inspired than either Moses, Paul or the others.  
  • We cannot do that, since it is clear from the examples that there is no inspirational difference between what Moses, or Matthew or Paul wrote.  There is no evidence at all that one writer was more inspired than the others.  One Holy Spirit was at work in all the writers.


Scripture comes from God.  There is no order of ‘importance.’  Do not be misled by those who claim that the ‘red letters’ are of more value than the ‘black letters.’

The New Testament glorifies Jesus

Do not let the Ehrman Inquisition group or anybody else deceive you by fine sounding arguments. With the Holy Spirit we can study Scripture and have confidence in God’s words.

Many ‘theologians,’ ‘scholars’ and ‘teachers of the law’ try their best to convince followers of Jesus that the human writers of the New Testament are suspect.  The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit inspired the writers.  So how do we answer these educated people (it is very import that we don’t lose our precious faith because we believe the scholars’ criticism)?

#  Let us look at one of the ‘Golden Standards’ of Scripture. 

Jesus went with His disciples to the region of Caesarea Philippi, and asked them, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ 1  Peter’s answer was, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ 2  Jesus clarified a very important principle when He said, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by My Father in heaven.’ 3

#  What does Jesus’ answer tell us?

The Holy Spirit helped Peter to understand Jesus’ identity.  Paul confirms this in 1 Corinthians 12:3, “Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Holy Spirit says, ‘Jesus be cursed,’ and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.”

#  The Bible tells us how to judge its human writers.

All we need to do if we want to know if the New Testament is from God, is to ask ourselves whether the human writers were inspired by the Holy Spirit or not?  If they were inspired, they will affirm that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.  Jesus will be addressed or referred to as ‘Christ, Messiah, Anointed.’  The only letter that does not mention Christ specifically, is 3 John. Yet the letter mentions truth 7 times in 14 sentences and Christ represents truth.  So we don’t need to reject 3 John.

#  26 books identify Jesus Christ as the Son of God.

What does that tell us?  It is not the human writers who are important.  The one who is important is Jesus and everything the Holy Spirit reveals about Him.  We judge Scripture not by the human authors, but by its internal testimony.


#  The test: does the letter affirm that Jesus is the Christ?

Only if the writers were filled with the Holy Spirit were they able to affirm that Jesus is the Christ (1 Corinthians 12:3).  There is no command in the New Testament to judge a book by its human author.  For example, the author of Hebrews, a thoroughly Christ centred book, is never identified.


Do not let the Ehrman Inquisition group or anybody else deceive you by fine sounding arguments. With the Holy Spirit we can study Scripture and have confidence in God’s words.


  1. Matthew 16:13
  2. Matthew 16:16
  3. Matthew 16:18
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