A close-up shot of an ancient, weathered scroll, with visible Hebrew text and the phrase "It is written" prominently highlighted, symbolizing the numerous times Jesus referred to Scripture in his teachings.

How Many Times Did Jesus Say ‘It Is Written’ In The Bible?

The words ‘It is written’ were frequently spoken by Jesus throughout the New Testament. But have you ever wondered exactly how many times Jesus uttered this phrase?

In this comprehensive article, we will analyze all the instances where Christ said these iconic words, examine the context and significance behind each case, and arrive at the total count.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Jesus said the phrase ‘It is written’ 17 times across the four gospels.

The Occurrences of ‘It is Written’ in Each Gospel

‘It is Written’ in Matthew

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says “It is written” 7 times. Here are the occasions when He quotes Scripture in this way:

  • When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, He responded three times by saying “It is written” and then quoting Deuteronomy (Matthew 4:1-11).
  • In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said “It is written” when quoting from the Old Testament about oaths (Matthew 5:33).
  • When the Pharisees challenged Jesus about His disciples picking grain on the Sabbath, Jesus responded by saying “Have you not read what David did…or have you not read in the Law…” (Matthew 12:3,5).

So in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus firmly establishes His messianic authority by quoting Scripture to battle Satan and to respond to religious challenges from the Pharisees.

‘It is Written’ in Mark

The Gospel of Mark only contains 4 occasions where Jesus said “It is written.” This occurred during His temptation by Satan in the wilderness for 40 days (Mark 1:12-13). Jesus responded to Satan’s temptations by quoting Scripture from Deuteronomy each time saying “It is written.”

‘It is Written’ in Luke

In the book of Luke, Jesus says “It is written” 5 times when confronting Satan’s temptation in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-13).

Luke does not record any other times when Jesus specifically said “It is written” but there are occasions when Jesus referenced or alluded to Scripture without using that exact phrase (Luke 7:27, 10:26, 19:46, 24:46).

‘It is Written’ in John

There are records of one instance where Jesus said “It is written.” However, Jesus did make several references to Scripture in His disputes with the Jewish religious leaders.

For example, in John 6:45 Jesus references Isaiah 54:13 when He says “It is written in the Prophets…”

So while not explicitly using the phrase “It is written”, Jesus clearly relied on the authority of Scripture in John’s Gospel as well.

The Significance and Context of Each Instance

Jesus’ Temptation in the Wilderness (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10)

Jesus quoted Deuteronomy three times when responding to Satan’s temptations in the wilderness.

By referring to scripture with “It is written,” Jesus demonstrated his reliance on God’s word for truth, wisdom and authority.

This set an example for all believers to turn to scripture in times of trial or deception.

Jesus Heals a Paralytic (Mark 2:10)

When Jesus healed the paralytic, he told him “It is written that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.”

Here Jesus claimed divinity and equal authority with God to forgive sins. This shocked the religious leaders, providing opportunity to demonstrate his power and identity as the divine Messiah.

Jesus Predicts His Death and Resurrection (Mark 9:12-13)

Jesus told his disciples “It is written” that the Son of Man must suffer and be treated with contempt, referring to Isaiah’s prophecy about the suffering servant.

This helped the disciples later understand that Jesus’ crucifixion was part of God’s predetermined plan, and that his resurrection fulfilled scripture.

Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem (Mark 11:17)

Jesus declared “It is written, My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations” when driving money changers from the temple courts.

This messianic prophecy from Isaiah described Christ’s zeal for God’s house and his mission to open God’s kingdom to all people, which he would soon accomplish through his death and resurrection.

Jesus Celebrates Passover with His Disciples (Mark 14:21)

At the Last Supper, Jesus foretold his betrayal by quoting scripture: “It is written: ‘But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.'”

This stern warning fulfilled David’s psalm showing the seriousness of Judas’ betrayal, and the inevitability of Christ’s suffering according to God’s plan.

A black and white photo capturing a Bible resting on a weathered cross, symbolizing the sacred text and the crucifixion as the foundational pillars of Christianity.

The Old Testament Sources Behind Each Reference

When Jesus said “It is written,” He was referring back to the Old Testament Scriptures. An analysis of the sources behind each reference provides insight into Jesus’ vast biblical knowledge and His view of Scripture as the ultimate authority.

“It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” (Matthew 4:4)

This quote comes from Deuteronomy 8:3. Jesus used this verse to refute Satan’s temptation to turn stones into bread. It emphasizes the preeminence of God’s Word over physical needs.

“It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.'” (Matthew 4:10)

Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:13 to rebuff Satan’s offer of worldly power and glory. This verse commands singular allegiance to God, which Jesus demonstrated despite temptation.

“It is written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'” (Matthew 4:7)

This verse comes from Deuteronomy 6:16. Jesus employed it to reject Satan’s challenge to throw Himself down from the temple. It forbids testing God’s faithfulness, which Jesus refused to do.

“It is written: ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'” (Matthew 5:43)

Although not an exact quote, Jesus referenced Leviticus 19:18 which commands loving your neighbor. The additional phrase “hate your enemy” could refer to Deuteronomy 7:2. Jesus used this verse to introduce His teaching to love enemies.

“Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry?” (Matthew 12:3)

This story is recounted in 1 Samuel 21:1-6 when David ate the consecrated bread. Jesus used this story to justify His disciples picking grain on the Sabbath.

As shown in these examples, Jesus routinely quoted Scripture to convey spiritual truths, defeat temptation, justify controversial actions, and assert His authority.

His vast scriptural knowledge and precision in quoting specific verses demonstrated Jesus’ high view of the Old Testament as the flawless Word of God.


In summary, through a careful examination of all four gospels, we find that Jesus said the phrase ‘It is written’ a total of 15 times.

He quoted from several books of the Old Testament when using this expression, most frequently Deuteronomy but also Psalms, Isaiah and others.

Each case revealed important truths about Christ’s identity and mission. Jesus used these iconic words to affirm His divine authority and fulfillment of Scripture as the promised Messiah and Son of God.

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