DID NOT JESUS SPEAK WORDS NOT RECORDED IN SCRIPTURE?
by Shawn Brasseaux
Recently, while listening to a Roman Catholic radio program, I heard an “apologist” claim, “Sacred Tradition is necessary because John says Jesus taught many things that were not recorded in Scripture.” Of course, he never actually read the verse from John. Whether he did this inadvertently or deliberately, he misquoted the verse. Perhaps he hoped no one would actually look in John, find the verse he was referring to, and read it to see he lied about what it said. The Holy Bible never said what this religious leader claimed it said! But, how many would actually look into the Bible and see if what he said was so, anyway? In this Bible study article, we will examine two of the “pet” passages the Roman Catholic Church uses to defend its “Scripture plus Tradition” position. What the Roman Church says about these passages, and what these passages actually say, are two different things entirely.
Having personally dealt with Roman Catholic “apologists” for many years now, I know they are very desperate for Scriptural justification. They will appeal to any verse—or any piece of a verse—to argue against Bible-quoting Protestants. No matter how greatly they abuse the Bible text, Roman Catholic apologists will never think twice about grabbing verses out of context. Their only goal is to defend their theology and church. Scripture means nothing to them if they cannot use it to teach what they want to teach.
Interestingly, Roman Catholics always enjoy touting: “If it were not for our church, you Protestants would not even have the Bible!” Of course, this is fallacious. Actually, the Bible, having almost no Roman Catholic doctrine in it, is a very poor example of a “Roman Catholic” book. Since the Bible says precious little about Roman Catholic beliefs, Romanists must largely appeal to “Sacred Tradition” as their authority. The “Tradition” portion—the bulk of their doctrine—is not found in the Bible. They quite readily admit it. But, they will go to great lengths to prove that the Bible allows for “Sacred Tradition” to speak where Sacred Scripture is silent. They claim: “John’s Gospel says Jesus taught many things that are not in the Bible. That is why we need Sacred Tradition!” Are they correct? Did John really endorse “Sacred Tradition?”
The Bible says in John 20:30-31: “ And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:  But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” As stated in our opening statements, religionists use this passage to form the following argument: “Jesus spoke more in His earthly ministry than what the Scriptures record.” Is that what these two verses are saying? Of course not! Re-read the verses. Did they say anything about what Jesus spoke and taught? No, but they did mention what Jesus did.
If you have ever read through Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, you noticed that the Gospel Record According to John is tremendously unique. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are very similar to each other. Hence, they are commonly called the “Synoptic Gospels.” In stark contrast, John takes a very different approach to Christ’s earthly ministry. John’s Gospel Record stands by itself. Unlike the so-called “Synoptic Gospels,” John documents just a small portion of Christ’s earthly ministry.
To form John’s Gospel, the Holy Spirit selected eight special miracles—seven of which are found only in John. They are not found in Matthew, Mark, or Luke. These eight special miracles in John’s Gospel are various aspects of what God wants to do for and with the nation Israel. Our King James Bible calls these eight particular miracles “signs” in John 20:30. Of course, Jesus performed more than eight miracles during His earthly ministry. This is all what John 20:30-31 is teaching. The Bible does not say, “And many other *words* truly *spoke* Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book.” That is the way Romanists want the verse to read, but, of course, it is a misreading. The emphasis in John 20:30-31 is on the eight special miracles recorded in John. John did not write about the other miracles featured in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
From the King James Bible, we read John 20:30-31 again: “ And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:  But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” For our Roman Catholic readers, we cite the New American (Catholic) Bible: “30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of (his) disciples that are not written in this book. 31 But these are written that you may (come to) believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.” The Catholic Bible and Protestant Bible are agreed that the emphasis of John 20:30-31 is on what Jesus did (miracles, signs) rather what He spoke and taught!
John 21:25 should be understood likewise: “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.” Once more, the stress is not on what Jesus taught but rather on what He did. Jesus’ miracles found in the book of John are just a portion of all the miracles He performed during those three years. John admitted his book focused on only eight of the miracles Jesus performed. For more information on how the Gospel Record of John is structured, please see our study linked at the end of this article, titled, “Should we use the book of John in evangelism?”
Please do not misunderstand me. No honest person could ever say that Matthew through John contains all the words Jesus spoke in three years. I gladly admit Jesus spoke and taught many things that are not recorded in the Bible. The statements He made “in red” are just a portion of what He spoke during three years. That does not matter because 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and Colossians 1:25 make it clear that, apart from the written Bible text, we need no more revelation from God. The Holy Spirit superintended what was to be included in the canon of Scripture. Even the Roman Catholic Bible has 27 New Testament books (just like the Protestant Bible). If you were looking for everything else Jesus spoke during those three years, you would be foolish to appeal to an organization that hates the words He did speak and record in His Bible! You study history, you study Roman Catholic theology, you speak to Roman seminarians, priests, bishops, et cetera, and you can see just how anti-Bible they really are. They laugh and criticize the Holy Bible. Would God have used these people to preserve His Word for us? (And they claim they are “Bible believers!” Ha!) I have seen non-Christian people treat the Bible with more respect than Roman Catholic priests treat it!
If we respect the words of God’s apostles, then we will accept what the Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16-17: “ All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:  That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” The Bible—the written text, the “Scriptures” (“script”=“writing”)—is all that we need to be “throughly furnished unto all good works.” Even the Roman Catholic Bible teaches that in these verses. Saint Paul argued that if it is not in the Bible, it is not a “good work.” If the Scriptures contain all that we need for a productive Christian life, and they do, then what is the purpose of Sacred Tradition? Church tradition is useless. It will only take away from the Scriptures that are completely sufficient for us.
Also, Paul wrote in Colossians 1:25 that he was made a minister of God to “fulfill [bring to completion] the word of God.” Saint Paul said he gave us the final revelation from God. Once he penned his second letter to young Timothy, Paul died, and the revelation from God was complete (refer to 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Paul died 2,000 years ago. Since his death, the Papacy and other Roman leaders have continually supplemented the Bible with “Sacred Tradition.” Saint Paul said that, once his ministry concluded, there would be no more information from God to mankind. Yet, the Roman Church continually appeals to the “church fathers” for further divine insight, men who lived decades and centuries after Saint Paul died! Why? They have no regard for what God has revealed in the Bible.
Friends, we would have to be willfully deceptive to say that John 20:30-31 and John 21:25 teach there is additional revelation from God apart from the written Word (the Bible). It is most ridiculous! Those verses are talking about what Jesus “did” rather than what He “taught” and “said.” John’s Gospel selected only eight miracles whereas Jesus did many more during His earthly ministry (see Matthew, Mark, and Luke). The purpose of John’s Gospel can be found in our study, “Should we use the book of John in evangelism?,” linked at the end of this article.)
SUPPLEMENTAL: EVEN IF THE BIBLE CRITICS WERE RIGHT….
For sake of argument, let us suppose that God wanted us to follow church tradition to compensate for the fact that not everything Jesus said is recorded in Scripture. How would we know that church tradition would carry just as much weight as Jesus’ written words? Would there not be a risk that church tradition would challenge, and take away, from the written Word of God? Why, of course—and it has! I have spoken to so many people who claim to follow the Bible and “Sacred Tradition,” but when I pressed them about it and asked them to explain themselves, they finally blurted out, “I do not follow the Bible! I do not care what the Bible says! I follow tradition!”
For people who supposedly familiarized themselves with “God’s Word” in catechetical school, for people who supposedly “studied the Bible” for years at seminary, Roman Catholic “apologists” know almost nothing about what the Bible teaches. No, they do not study the Bible. They simply study theology and then pick out Bible verses that even remotely resemble what they learned in school. Instead of getting their theology out of the Bible, they look for their theology in the Bible. If there is no Bible verse that clearly supports their particular denominational doctrine, they will find the Bible verse closest to what they believe and then force the verse to read their way. John 20:30-31 and John 21:25 are just two examples of this. Their handling of the verse may be phrased as,” A better reading is….” If they disagree with the verse, especially in a King James (Protestant) Bible, they say (most conveniently), “What a poor translation!” Well, in the case of John 20:30-31 and John 21:25, their Roman Catholic Bible says just what the Protestant Bible says. What Jesus “did” not what Jesus “taught!”