Are there reliable sources of Jesus' statements outside the Bible?

Recently I was listening to a sermon in which the preacher said: “Experts are of the opinion that in addition to the statements of Jesus which have been reliably passed down in the Bible, there are further 5-10 sentences which presumably also originate from Jesus (documented outside the Bible)”. And then he mentioned one of them: “You ask me about the end and have not yet understood the beginning”. Unfortunately I didn’t have the opportunity to address the preacher directly.
Now I ask myself:
Are there any extra-biblical quotations from Jesus?
If so, which ones are there and from which sources do they come?


Not to sure where this pastor was coming from but the idea that we only have second hand saying from Jesus is not new. From a practical point of view because we have no letters that were penned by Jesus it makes for a good polemic i.e. how do we know what we read are the words of Jesus. For clarification I have no problem with accepting what I read as the words of Jesus as recorded by the inspiration of God through his chosen human authors. I am going to stick my neck out and say that no one had a problem until the 17th century when we became enlighten.

Historically we have had 3 great attempts at sorting fact from fiction about Jesus who he was what he did and what he said all moving us further and further from the true word of God.
In NT Wright book Jesus and the Victory of God he says this about these attempts.

The ‘Quest’ began as an explicitly anti-theological, anti-Christian, anti-dogmatic movement. Its initial agenda was not to find a Jesus upon whom Christian faith might be based, but to show that the faith of the church (as it was then conceived) could not in fact be based on the real Jesus of Nazareth.

Wright, N. T. (1996). Jesus and the victory of God (p. 17). London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

The most recent Quest is the Jesus seminar, again from Wright’s JVG.

In 1985 Robert W. Funk, then Professor in the University of Montana, founded the ‘Jesus Seminar’, bringing together scholars in North America to discuss sayings of Jesus piece by piece and to vote on their authenticity or otherwise. The agenda and practice of this Seminar contains three important features. First, all relevant Jesus-material is to be included. The net is cast far wider than the canonical gospels, bringing in Thomas and numerous other works, several of them fragmentary. Second, voting takes place in four categories, using coloured beads which symbolize different grades of probability: red means authentic, pink probably authentic, grey probably inauthentic, black definitely inauthentic. Third, the Seminar publishes its results as widely as possible, recognizing that it is not only scholars who may be interested in the results. The eventual product is a multi-coloured edition of the gospels, including Thomas, in which one may see at a glance how the various sayings have been evaluated. The Seminar has produced a new translation which combines colloquial Americanisms with a somewhat pretentious title (‘The Scholars Version’).4 The possibility has also been mentioned of producing a completely revised equivalent of Rudolf Bultmann’s History of the Synoptic Tradition, tracing the development of Jesus-sayings through their various hypothetical stages. There are also plans for a film.

Wright, N. T. (1996). Jesus and the victory of God (pp. 29–30). London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

If you are interested I highly recommend this book.

Again I am going to stick my neck out and say if you are looking for extant non biblical material that would quote Jesus beside the Church Fathers I can’t think of any. Like I say the bible is the best source of Jesus’ teaching and sayings.

Will be interested in other’s comments.


Hi @iDan,

That’s an excellent question. I’m going to approach it from a different angle than @Jimmy_Sellers. For your question seems to appeal to 2 angles here.

  1. Are there any external sources that verified what Jesus said in the Bible?
  2. Did Jesus say anything else, outside of what is recorded in the Bible, that is credible?

So, just a heads up, I’m answering angle no. 2 here.

From what I know, the only extra-biblical sources about Jesus are from the Apocryphal books (hidden/secret, not accepted into the Biblical canon), such as Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Barnabas, Gospel of Mary, Gospel of Judas, Gospel of Peter, Paul’s letter to Laodiceans, and the list goes on. Some were produced by Gnostic authors, some were pseudepigrapha (falsely attributed to authors who didn’t write them), and some others were infancy gospels (legendary accounts about Jesus’ childhood).

They were rejected for many good reasons.

  1. They were written much much later to qualify as credible eyewitness accounts to Jesus.
  2. They didn’t meet the 3 criterias of the canon: apostolicity (comes from the apostle or with his endorsement), orthodoxy (does not contradict what was already known), catholicity (widespread and continuous use).
  3. They were mostly produced by splinter groups.

Even credible historians never view those apocryphal books as credible sources about Jesus. In fact, the objective historians attest to the highly credible Biblical manuscripts that we have today as the best historical documents ever. So, I share the same sentiment with @Jimmy_Sellers, to stick my neck out for the Bible’s reliable historicity and the gospel’s credential as a trustworthy eyewitness testimony, to Jesus’ sayings.

Most of these, I learnt from the RZIM Academy’s Bible Elective. Please enroll for it in, you will love it if you are interested in studying about the Bible. (Note: Not a paid endorsement, LOL)

Some other sources to look up:

Hope that helps. Blessings


Thank you, Jimmy @Jimmy_Sellers, for your detailed answer. This pastor I mentioned has a Baptist background and preaches biblically grounded and centered on Christ. In his opinion, what is handed down in the Bible is sufficient to understand and believe the biblical message. Normally he refers to expert literature, but in this case he did not do so. Hence the question.
However, I have noticed that my question can also be understood differently. Therefore I have added some more information.
Many thanks also for your book tip. That sounds very good and it is certainly worthwhile to do more research.


Excellent points

Thank you, Roy @RoySujanto, for your helpful answer. You analyzed the question well, although I had formulated it ambiguously (see last post). My question was more focused on the first point you mentioned. Your explanations about the Apogryphal books helped me. At first I didn’t even think about these documents. But, as you described it aptly, they are not credible, although they contain stories about Jesus. Also very helpful are the three criteria you have mentioned: apostolicity, orthodoxy and catholicity.
Just as for you, for me personally the testimony of the Bible about Jesus is trustworthy and reliable. Therefore, I will take a closer look at the contents of the Bible Elective. Thank you very much for your recommendation.