As you and I study the Bible, in order to understand its meaning, there are a number of helpful questions that we ought to ask ourselves. That which I read in a particular verse, who said it? To whom is the message spoken? What law of God was in effect at the time? What special circumstances existed, if any? What is there in the context that might help explain the meaning of a word or statement? Such questions can be of great value as we seek to comprehend the Bible. In this study, we want to look at one essential question which we need to ask as we read any Bible verse: Who is speaking? Consider some possibilities.
(1) Is the Lord the one who is speaking? After the end of the great flood, someone told Noah and his family that it was acceptable to eat every moving thing, but not blood. That same someone also told them that it was wrong to shed human blood since man is made in the image of God. Who said all of those things? God did (Genesis 9:1-6). In the New Testament we read, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). Who said that? Jesus did. That makes a difference!
(2) Is the devil the one who is doing the talking? All Scripture is inspired (2 Timothy 3:16), so it was revealed from the mind of God. But, not everything that is recorded in the Bible is something that God Himself said. In some cases, the Bible records what Satan said. For instance, in a discussion about the righteous man Job, someone said, “But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face” (Job 1:11). Those were the words of the devil, who is a liar (John 8:44).
(3) Is the speaker an inspired person? When Peter informed the Jews on the Day of Pentecost that God had made Jesus, whom they crucified, both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36), was he inspired? Sure he was. Since Peter’s message was guided by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 10:18-20), what he said was accurate. When Peter went on to tell his listeners to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins, he was inspired when he said those words, too. Thus, when about 3000 people received what Peter said (Acts 2:41), they were accepting a divine message.
(4) Is it an uninspired person that is talking? “Did you know that the Bible says that there is no God?” Wait a minute. Who says that there is no God? Answer: the fool does (Psalm 14:1). Consider a second example. John 9 records Jesus’ healing of a blind man in Jerusalem. After he was healed of his blindness, some of the Jewish leaders made this statement to him: “Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner” (John 9:24). The one whom they were describing as “a sinner” was Jesus! Jesus lived His entire life “without sin” (Hebrews 4:15), so although the words of the Jewish leaders about Jesus are accurately recorded in the text of the Bible, what they said was not truthful. Uninspired men sometimes get things wrong.
(5) Is the speaker an enemy of the Lord, and thus one that has built-in animosity toward Him? In one instance, Jesus forgave the sins of a man whom He healed that had been sick with palsy. After He pronounced the man’s sins forgiven, someone said, “Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only?” (Mark 2:7). Who asked those two questions? “Certain of the scribes” did (2:6). One of their conclusions was correct: only God can forgive sins. However, their other declaration was blatantly false. To accuse Jesus of speaking blasphemies was blasphemy! Yet, we would expect such from our Lord’s adversaries.
(6) Is the one who is speaking what we might call a “neutral” person? A “neutral” person would be one that neither opposed nor supported our Lord. For example, it is written that one man told Jesus, “Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him” (John 3:2). Who said that? Nicodemus, whom the Bible identifies as a Pharisee and ruler of the Jews. At the time that he admitted Jesus’ miracles and concluded that such miracles proved that He was from God, Nicodemus was not an open supporter of the Christ. Such words from a neutral witness were an honest, powerful testimony about Jesus’ true identify.
In our day-to-day conversations with others, it is not uncommon for us to ask, “Who said that?” or “Who told you that?” In the same way, it just makes good sense to ask a similar question when we read any Bible text: “What I am reading here – who said it?” Making such an inquiry is essential to making proper conclusions and taking appropriate actions.
— Roger D. Campbell
TRUTH is published monthly by the Klang church of Christ in order to help educate, edify, encourage, and equip the saints of God.