Black, white, and “red” all over

But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16)

Do you remember the old riddle, “What’s black and white and “read” all over?” (ans: newspaper). Of course, the hearer doesn’t recognize the homophone, and is led by the terms “black” and “white” to hear “red” the color, rather than “read” the past tense verb. What does that have to do with the Bible? Stick with me.

Each week as I sit down and pen some reflections for my, “Jesus Said,” column on this site, I choose a text from one of the Gospel accounts – you know, the ones that have red highlights for the words of Jesus. There are numerous words of Jesus highlighted in Acts as well, mostly in chapter 1, but most everything you’ll find highlighted in red is in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

But let me be clear: that does not preclude the possibility of selecting a text from Exodus, or Nehemiah, or Jude, or any other book. Of course, you won’t find any red letters in these books, unless you dropped your favorite red pen, or got a paper cut.

Since Jesus is one of the three who share the divine nature, and since every single word of Scripture comes from the mind of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17), then every word of Scripture is, in effect, his.

When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he asserted that his words came with heavenly authority, and were to be received as such (1 Corinthians 2:13). He said the same to the saints of Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 2:13, interesting chapter and verse correlation there).

Peter claimed that his doctrine was no fable, but rather was the result of being an eyewitness of Christ’s glory. He moreover claimed that no sacred text ever came from man’s heart, but from God’s breath (2 Peter 1:16-21).

We could go on.

Paul said,

Peter said,

Nehemiah said,

Daniel said,

Moses said,

= Jesus said

“Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories” (1 Peter 1:10-11, ESV).

Why does this matter, anyway?

My suspicion is that when Jesus said, “the words that I have spoken” would be our judge (John 12:48), he wasn’t just referring to the ones we’ve chosen to highlight in red.

The Bible is red all over.

4 Replies to “Black, white, and “red” all over”

  1. Great point. It’s something that I’ve tried to help people realize when they try to pit the “black and white” against the “red”, and vice-versa, because of a point they’re trying to make, instead of seeking a conclusion that harmonizes the two.

    Another thought that your article brought to mind was that it would be neat if a “red letter” edition actually highlighted scriptures in the actual Old Testament book(s) that Jesus quoted, or perhaps a different color for scripture that anyone quoted in the New Testament books in the actual Old Testament place that it’s found. I know many newer Bibles help the Old Testament scriptures that get quoted in the New Testament to stand out by italicizing them or structuring them differently, but seeing them in a different color, like the words of Jesus in their Old Testament setting, would be interesting. I also know that there are some Bibles out there that get color-crazy with ever single verse, but that’s a little too distracting for me.

    Good thoughts and well said, Rick.

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