QuoteUnquote

For this post I chose Enoch as a notable example. It could just as well be titled “Quoting from Noah,” for another example, or Abel. We confidently know from Scripture that Enoch was a righteous man (Hebrews 11:5) and that he was a prophet (Jude 1:14). So, like Noah (2 Peter 2:15), and Abel (Luke 11:50-51), Enoch was a preacher of righteousness. However, we do not always know when some portion of Scripture is quoting something taught by Enoch, or some other patriarch of antiquity. A quote from Enoch is mentioned once in Jude, but we cannot know if other biblical teachings are quoted from Enoch, since we are not always told the source.

There are some who make note that Paul quotes Eliphaz, one of Job’s three friends, as a Scriptural source. Let’s examine this idea. The final eight words in 1 Corinthians 3:19, that Paul quotes, matches the first part of the verse in Job 5:13 verbatim. When we look back to Job chapter four, we can see that the person who is talking, in chapters four and five, is Eliphaz.

It is good to point out that, though the English translation is word-for-word the same, the words of Eliphaz are recorded in the Bible in Hebrew, and the words of Paul are in Greek. So, it is not technically a word-for-word quote, though they do have the same essential meaning.

Paul does say, “it is written,” but who is he quoting? He doesn’t say who he is quoting, so we do not know with certainty. We just know that the source is authoritative.

If I quote Emerson saying “For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness,” then a few years later John Maxwell uses that same quote, is Mr. Maxwell quoting me or Emerson? Of course, he is quoting Emerson. So, when Paul says the same short phrase as Eliphaz, that does not mean Paul was quoting Eliphaz. What if they were both quoting Enoch, for example? The reason this is important is because some would use this quote as a justification for themselves quoting from the arguments between Job and his three friends as the basis for doctrine. God takes exception with this, since He calls Job’s three friends’ arguments “folly” so grave as to be repented of with sacrifices (Job 42:8).

Rat poison is over 99% good food for rats. When God condemned the arguments of Job’s three friends as folly, that does not mean every word they said was utter foolishness. In fact, if they were babbling buffoons, then people would take them for jesters, rather than teachers, so their foolishness would be somewhat harmless. They would not be worthy of such direct attention from God’s judgement. It is the hidden error, among the mostly good teaching, it is the sophistry, that is profoundly harmful. Please see the series of posts that expand on the careful interpretation for separating the folly from the wisdom in the book of Job.

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