“Search the Scriptures for in them you think you have eternal life” is not a warning about reading the Bible too much

In our day of blazing biblical illiteracy, there is an interesting phenomena happening: knowing the Scriptures is said to be a flaw!

When a guy insists upon using Scripture to define beliefs, argue doctrine, or otherwise tell right from wrong with the Bible’s authority, they are attacked for not having a relationship with God and settling for the coldness of the letter.

Amazingly, Scripture is used to make the attack against people for using the Scripture too much! Ever heard this one used? “You trust the Bible too much and not Jesus. You’re like the Pharisees who read the scriptures; for in them they think they have eternal life.”

If you’ve never heard this verse used like this, you should talk to Christians more (or not) or Google it and see how many times it is used negatively to tell people they study the Bible too much.

It’s amazing to me because it denies the very words of the verse and further denies the context. Jesus did not fault the Pharisees for studying the Scriptures too much, His point is not “stop searching the Scriptures.”

I know this because the verse says “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life.” Search the Scriptures is a command, it’s not a reprimand. He didn’t say, “stop searching the Scriptures” or “you search the Scriptures too much.” No, the exact opposite, He is commanding them to search them more.

The problem is not that they searched the Scriptures too much, the problem is that they had no faith, which is the root of all the Pharisee’s problems. The Scriptures testify of Christ. He tells them to read Moses because Moses wrote of Him, “But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?”

To use the Bible to prove that a person can read the Bible too much, especially in our day of biblical illiteracy, is plain foolish. It’s the exact opposite of Christ’s point to the Pharisees and makes no sense.

However, for a person who doesn’t know the Scriptures I see why they desire to fault a guy who does. But seriously, if your problem is that people rely on Scripture too much, then don’t use Scripture in your argument. It’s self-defeating.

I have yet to meet one person in my life who has read the Bible too much. Even the Pharisees, who had large portions of it memorized, Jesus tells them to keep searching it. Only a Pharisee would miss this point.

The Bereans, one of the most highly praised groups of people in the book of Acts, were described as people who “searched the scriptures daily.” Trust me, you can’t know the Bible too much.

2 thoughts on ““Search the Scriptures for in them you think you have eternal life” is not a warning about reading the Bible too much”

  1. Jeff,

    It just shows that many Protestants have completely forgotten why they protested in the first place. Why did our martyrs die at the stake for translating the Bible, if they thought there was a danger that we might read it too much??

    On the other side, it was Satan’s plan, through the Catholic church, the “man of sin” that Paul described in 2 Thess. 2, to make the Bible scarce and take it from the common people, so that he could work to replace it with his own traditions and thus effectively cut men off from God.

    In our day, the Bible has been unchained, so Satan finds other ways to set it aside. He introduces false doctrines, or distracts us with the carnival of the world.

    I also think the false teaching that the law of God is bad, but the grace of God is good, leads to this idea that you stated: that too much study of the word is a danger. By separating grace from the law, there is no standard left to judge whether grace is really grace, or just our own imaginations or feelings. The “witness of the law and prophets” (Rom. 3:21) being silenced, the carnal heart is left to it’s own flattery and the flattery of equally misguided friends.

    Since the word of God (which is just an expansion of His law) would condemn this kind of false “grace”, people naturally tend to avoid or minimize the Word. Like king Ahab who blamed Elijah as the “troubler of Israel”, so is the Word seen as troublesome. Or like Micaiah the prophet, of whom the king of Israel said:

    “There is yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may enquire of the Lord: but I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil.” (1 Kings 22:8).

    Oh that pesky Word of God that points out our sins! How we hate it!

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