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Chapter Four:

 

The New Testament

 

 

 

 

[Page 110]

 

 

 

Inspired Individuals in the First Century Church

 

 

 

A.  The original apostles

 

 

            1.  They were promised guidance in their speaking when they were hauled before religious and political courts because of their preaching

 

 

            (a)  The promise was made by Jesus during His earthly ministry

 

 

            Matthew 10:16-20:  "Behold I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; therefore be shrewd as serpents, and innocent as doves.  But beware of men; for they will deliver you up to the courts, and scourge you in their synagogues; and you shall even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles.  But when they deliver you up, do not become anxious about how or what you will speak; for it shall be given you in that hour what you are to speak.  For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you."

 

 

            (b)  The promise was fulfilled in practice

 

 

            The blessing of the Spirit in connection with a trial for one's faith is mentioned when Peter was being judicially harassed (Acts 4:8):  "Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them. . . ."

           

The martyr Stephen was similarly blessed (Acts 6:10):  "And then were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking."  Acts 7:55:  "But [Page 111]    being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God."

 

 

            (c)  The implication of this inspiration for the written record

 

 

            If it was deemed essential to miraculously provide them with the message to refute their adversaries, could a similar gift have been deemed any less essential when laying down the ordinances governing the community of believers--the writings we call the New Testament?

 

 

            2.  They were promised an accurate recall of all Jesus taught during His earthly ministry

 

           

            John 14:26:  "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all I have said to you."  Hence the accurate apostolic recall of Jesus' teaching was miraculously protected.  If they were assured a total recall of all Jesus said, could a parallel accurate recall of all He did have been denied them?  Especially since the two—teaching and action--were interlocked during His ministry?

            Without this blessing of absolutely accurate recall, they could not have fulfilled Jesus' command to deliver all His earthly message to His disciples (Matthew 28:20):  "Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."  

 

 

            3.  By teaching what Jesus had taught, they were simultaneously presenting God's will for humanity

 

 

            (a)  The doctrine Jesus taught originated with the Father

 

 

            John 7:16:  "Jesus therefore answered them, and said, 'My teaching (doctrine, King James Version; New King James Version) is not Mine, but His who sent Me.' "

 

 

            (b)  The doctrine Jesus taught was exclusively that which His Father wanted Him to teach

 

 

[Page 112]           John 8:28:  "Jesus therefore said, 'When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing of My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.' "

            John 12:49-50:  "For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me commandment, what to say, and what to speak.  And I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me."

            John 14:24:  "He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not mine, but the Father's who sent Me."

 

 

            (c)  Even the "words" selected by Christ were those God wanted used

 

 

            John 3:34:  "For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure."

            John 14:10:  "Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me?  The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works."

            John 17:8:  “For the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me.”

 

           

            (d)  What Jesus taught about the after-life, He spoke by personal observation

 

 

            John 8:38:  "I speak the things which I have seen with My Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father."

 

 

            4.  The apostles were promised a complete revelation of God's will

 

 

            (a)  The promise was made by Jesus during His earthly ministry

 

 

            John 14:26:  "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you."

            John 16:12-15:  "I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.  But when He, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He heard, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.  He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall [Page 113]    disclose it to you.  All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said, that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you."

            In John 16 the Holy Spirit is pictured as the last step in the chain of revelation:  Christ received His teaching from God and the Holy Spirit received His teaching from Christ.  Since all three parties played a role in revelation, some texts refer to only one of these parties (such as God Himself) being involved in revelation.   John 16:12-15, however, provides the overview of the total course of events.   

            Jesus did not give a complete revelation of truth during His personal ministry:  there were "many" things (John 16:12, above) that He wished to share but for which the apostles were not yet psychologically prepared.  Hence for the apostles to teach certain things not dealt with by Jesus should not in any way be surprising.

            Luke implies the reality of post-ascension teaching by Jesus (though He does not record the actual promises quoted above) by saying that the account of Jesus' life in his gospel only concerned what Jesus "began to do and teach until the day He was taken up" (Acts 1:2).  In other words He continued to act and teach even afterwards.  Luke also refers to how Christ "had by the Holy Spirit given order to the apostles" (verse 2).  The promise John records, while Luke only implies; the promise Luke implies, John explicitly records.  As is common in the Bible, the same truth may be expressed in more than one way.

 

 

            (b)  The promise of a complete revelation was fulfilled in the first century

 

 

            2 Peter 1:3:  "Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence."

            Compare 1 John 2:20 and 1 John 2:27.

            Because of their gift of inspiration we can understand why it was safe to entrust them with the power to bind and to loose (Matthew 16:19; 18:18) and why their teaching was authoritative and to be obeyed (2 Peter 3:2; Jude, verse 17). 

 

 

            5.  The apostles taught all that Christ revealed to them:  They did not have one set of doctrines for the novice and a different set for the initiated

 

 

            (a)  They taught all the will of God, holding back nothing

 

 

            This was true in regard to Paul's teaching to the church at Ephesus (Acts 20:26-27):  "Therefore I testify to you this day, that I am innocent of the blood of all men.  For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God."

 

[Page 114]

 

            (b)  This can be seen in the admonition to publicly read the epistles before the entire congregation so that all could hear it

 

 

            Colossians 4:16:  "And when this letter is read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and you, for your part, read my letter that is coming from Laodicea."

            1 Thessalonians 5:27:  "I adjure you by the Lord to have this letter read to all the brethren."

           

 

 

 B.  The apostle Paul

 

 

            1.  By virtue of being an apostle, his teaching was inspired

 

 

            Time and again in his epistles, Paul emphasizes that he is a genuine apostle.  With the admission of the validity of his apostleship automatically came the concession of his authority and inspiration since the three went hand in hand.

 

 

            2.  His teaching was authoritative in all congregations and because of this his epistles were circulated among them

 

 

            See Colossians 4:16 and 1 Thessalonians 5:27, quoted above.

 

 

            3.  A true prophet accepted Paul's teaching as the commandment of the Lord

 

 

            1 Corinthians 14:37:  "If any one thinks he is a prophet or spiritual let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord's commandments."  It was not just what Paul "said" that was the Lord's commandment; it was also what he "wrote."  Hence the written word was just as much revelation from God as the spoken one and both were due identical respect.

 

[Page 115]

 

            4.  Peter counted Paul's writings as "Scripture"

 

 

            2 Peter 3:15-16:  "And regard the patience of our Lord to be salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction."

            Once Paul's genuine apostleship is conceded, this is the approach to his writings that would be naturally expected.

            The text has been seriously misunderstood due to a lack of attention being paid to the exact wording.  Peter only states that "some"--not "all" or “most”--things of Paul are difficult to understand. 

There is a world of difference between what Peter asserts (that "some" is "hard" to understand) and the conviction that "all" is "impossible" to understand.  These two seemingly minor changes totally shift both the thrust and meaning of Peter:  The "impossible" can never be understood; the "hard" can be, though often only with effort.

Furthermore, the difficulty of comprehension did not do away with the obligation to make the effort.  Note that those who obstinately failed to comprehend were headed to "destruction."

  

 

C.  The gift of inspiration existed among certain non-apostles as well

 

 

            1.  The gift of speaking in languages (tongues) unknown to the speaker

 

 

            Acts 2:5-21 contains the longest recorded description of this ability in actual practice.  Although the speakers did not know the tongues they spoke, yet they were able  to give the message in a wide variety of languages (verse 8-11).  How could God inspire men to speak in what was to them unknown tongues without also inspiring the content of what they spoke as well?   Although on the day of Pentecost the gift was restricted to the apostles (the "all" of 2:1 being the apostles of 1:26), the gift of tongues was later shared by others (cf. 2:17-18).       

 

 

            2.  The gift of prophecy

 

 

            (a)  What the gift involved

 

 

[Page 116]           This was one of the first century gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:10).  In its New Testament usage, prophecy is not limited to prediction but also included teaching in its broadest sense:

            (1)  It involved "edification and exhortation and consolation" (1 Corinthians 14:5).

            (2)  It involved teaching aimed at producing conversion (1 Corinthians 14:24):  "But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted (convinced, New King James Version) by all, he is called to account by all."

            (3)  It involved teaching cultivating Christian spiritual growth (1 Corinthians 14:31):  "For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted."   

 

 

            (b)  The prophetic office in the early church

 

 

            It was a position secondary in authority to the apostles (1 Corinthians 12:28; 14:37).  The Holy Spirit revealed the previously hidden mystery of Christ through them just as through the apostles (Ephesians 3:4-5).

 

 

            (c)  Some examples of non-apostles who possessed this gift

 

 

            (1)  The four daughters of Philip the evangelist (Acts 21:8-9).

            (2)  Agabus:  He prophesied concerning Paul's imprisonment (Acts 21:10-11; note verse 11's explicit reference to the Holy Spirit's role in the revelation).  He also prophesied a famine in the days of Claudius (Acts 11:27-28).

 

 

            3.  The implication for non-apostolic Scripture writing

   

 

            Since the gift of inspiration was not restricted to the apostles, it follows that not every writer had to be an apostle for his writing to be included in the New Testament.  God could just as easily utilize some other inspired individual to write a New Testament epistle or narrative.  This is of importance because even the most conservative writer will usually not deny that there are non-apostolic writings included in the New Testament, though his list will usually be far shorter than more liberal scholars.

 

 

 

[Page 117]

 

 

Summary

 

Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability:                                  672

 

Additional texts                                                                                                        

The original apostles

            They were guided in their speaking before religious/political courts

                        The promise was made by Jesus during His earthly ministry           1     

                        The promise was fulfilled in practice                                                3      

            They were promised an accurate recall of all Jesus taught                           2     

            Teaching what Jesus taught, they simultaneously presented God's will

                        The doctrine Jesus taught originated with the Father                        1     

                        It was exclusively that which His Father wanted Him to teach        3    

                        Even the "words" selected were those God wanted used                  3     

                        Jesus taught about the after-life by personal observation                  1      

            The apostles were promised a complete revelation of God's will

                        The promise was made by Jesus during His earthly ministry            1       

                        The promise was fulfilled in the first century                                    7     

            The apostles openly shared all that Christ revealed to them

                        They taught all the will of God, holding back nothing                       1     

                        Hence the epistles publicly read so all could hear the message         2     

 The apostle Paul

            A true prophet accepted Paul's teaching as the Lord's commandment           1     

            Peter counted Paul's writings as "Scripture"                                                   1      

The gift of inspiration existed among certain non-apostles as well

            The gift of speaking in languages (tongues) unknown to the speaker            2     

            The gift of prophecy

                        What the gift involved                                                                         4       

                        The prophetic office in the early church                                              2   

                        Some examples of non-apostles who possessed this gift                     3       

 

            Total                                                                                                             710

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gospel Accounts

 

 

 

 

 

[Page 118]

 

40.  Matthew

 

 

            There is only minimal internal evidence pointing to the authorship of this book by any specific individual--including the apostle Matthew.  The earliest and only attribution of this book was to that apostle, however, and there is no evidence that it ever circulated under any descriptive label except with him as author.  To assume a non-attributed circulation is to argue from a total lack of evidence and is pure speculation.  (For a discussion of the uniformity of this attribution see 39-33.) 

Indeed, there was no reason for the book to be released anonymously.  Hence the inherent probabilities of the situation argue that the authorship was known at the beginning.  Since Matthew's name is attached to the work by even the earliest post-Biblical writings and since the contents of the work are fully compatible with such an authorship, the inferential evidence is powerful that Matthew was indeed the author.  And if he were an apostle, the repeated pledges of Divine guidance would have been operative in the work he composed. 

            The post-Biblical attributions are met, in part, by asserting that Matthew was the author of the "sayings" (logia) that were one of the major sources for the work.  However we would then have to postulate the unlikely situation of the name of a contributor to a volume being identified as its entire author, while the name of the real author has been forgotten or never known.  

            The only situation in which this seems likely (and even there we are reaching a tad) is if it were, in effect, "commissioned" by Matthew, to be written on the basis of the logia he had earlier compiled.  (This would seemingly require a near-death situation for it to have occurred.)  But if that were the case, would it not rightly still be considered Matthew's work since his material provided the foundation?  In addition would he, as an inspired apostle—if Jesus’ promise was true—have given the task to an uninspired individual to carry out?  Would that not be ludicrous even as idle speculation?

Furthermore, if Matthew had the intellectual skills and ability to compile the sayings of Jesus, there would seem no inherent limitations upon his ultimately expanding those sayings by adding the historical contexts in which they were originally spoken.  Hence there is no necessary incompatibility between Matthew as a sayings collector and as author of a volume setting those statements and lessons in their place within the events of Jesus' life. 

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability:                                  710

 

Additional texts                                                                                                0        

 

            Total                                                                                                           710

 

 

 

 

[Page 119]

 

41.  Mark

 

 

 

A.  Mark was in a position to obtain the true facts of Christ's life

 

 

            John Mark lived in Jerusalem with his mother (Acts 12:12-17).  So centrally involved was that family in the early church that when Peter was imprisoned, a large number of the brethren were gathered there praying for him (verse 12).  Indeed, when he was miraculously released, Peter immediately sought out their home (verse 13) rather than anyone else's.

            Being in the city Jesus died in and knowing Peter and the other apostles and eyewitnesses of Jesus' life on a close basis, he was in a key position to gain a thorough and accurate accounting of Jesus' life.  In addition, he spent time on the road with Peter teaching of Christ (1 Peter 5:13), not to mention his lengthy travels with the apostle Paul as well.   

 

 

B.  The inherent likelihood that Mark possessed a miraculous gift of the Holy Spirit that would have enabled him to pen an inspired work

 

 

            Although many lengthy and thorough examinations of the personal background of Mark and the scenarios of the origin of his gospel account can be found, an explicit discussion of the probability of his inspiration is rarely presented even among those who believe in it.  J. W. McGarvey was an exception when he discussed the matter in these terms,

 

                        In the first place, it was a custom of the apostles to impart spiritual gifts to          prominent men in the churches, and especially to their traveling companions and         fellow-labourers.  Thus Philip, Barnabas, Simeon, Lucius, Mansen, Silas, Judas,    and Timothy, enjoyed miraculous gifts (Acts 8:14-17; 13:1; 15:32; 2 Timothy

1:6); and individuals in the churches in Samaria, Ephesus, Corinth, Rome,

Galatia, etc., enjoyed similar gifts (Acts 8:14-17; 19:6; 1 Corinthians 1:4-7;

Romans 15:14; Galatians 3:5).  Now to assume that Mark, who was, at different

times, and for    many years, a companion and fellow-labourer of two apostles, was

overlooked in   the distribution of these gifts, would be unwarrantable and even

absurd.

                        In the second place, there are evidences that Mark was regarded as

[Page 120]  especially fitted for labors which were usually performed by men

possessed of miraculous gifts.  He was chosen by Paul and Barnabas as their

assistant on their first tour among the Gentiles (Acts 12:25; 13:5); and although,

on their second tour, Paul declined his company, Barnabas still preferred him and

separated from Paul rather than separate from Mark (15:36-39). 

At a later period he was sent by Paul on important missions among the churches (Colossians 4:10); and he was sent for by Paul during the last imprisonment of the latter, because he was profitable to him for the ministry (2 Timothy 4:11) (40-258-259).

 

 

 

C.  Mark's gospel:  The apostolic memoirs of Peter as preacher?

           

 

            The post-Biblical traditions consistently claim a close relationship between the book of Mark and the preaching of the apostle Peter:  they assert that Mark's gospel represents what Peter preached about the life of Jesus.  If true (and there is no particular reason to doubt it because of the uniformity of the tradition and because of its consistency with the Biblical linkage of Mark and Peter), then Mark's record represents the testimony of the eyewitness Peter.  This certainly argues for the credibility of the volume if not its explicit inspiration. 

            The traditions differ on two points, however:  Peter's attitude and the chronology of the composition of the work.

 

           

            1.  Peter's attitude

 

 

            As to Peter's attitude, was it neutral or reserved or enthusiastic?  There is nothing in human nature, of course, to keep a person's attitude from changing and that at different points his attitudes reflected both.  A certain initial reserve might easily be accountable because Mark was outside the company of Jesus' initial earthly disciples (a touch of wounded pride perhaps?), especially if (as commonly thought today) Mark was the first gospel record to be committed to pen and ink:  Would not that responsibility be something more “properly” left to an eyewitness?

 

 

            2.  The chronology of the writing

 

 

            The traditions also differ as to whether Mark wrote before or after Peter's death.  Of course it may have been begun before Peter's death and completed afterwards or initial notes may have been compiled before and expanded into full gospel form after the apostle’s death (Compare 39-73). 

Another possibility is that there may even have been a Markian initial collection [Page 121]    of just the Lord's sayings which was expanded into a full account only after Peter died.  For that matter, the intervening death of Peter may rest on a misreading of Irenaeus' remark that the gospel was written after Peter's "departure."  Although this is typically read as a euphemism for Peter's death, it could refer to the apostle moving from where Mark was located and the two never meeting again.

            Assuming that a rigid before or after scenario is required, let us consider the alternatives.  If the record was written before Peter's death, "[i]t is highly improbable that [Peter] would have allowed him to undertake such a work without imparting to him the Holy Spirit if he were not already endowed with the requisite gifts" (40-259).  Furthermore, it could not conceivably have gained wide usage without at least the tacit acceptance by Peter.

            If the book was written after the apostle's death, we would expect a decided reluctance to write the account unless Mark were conscious of a gift of inspiration:  Because of their close relationship, whatever he wrote would be looked upon as reflecting what Peter had taught and said.  Whether inspired or not, Mark's gospel had to be faithful to the known version of Christ's life as taught by the apostle or risk rejection by those well acquainted with the first-hand account.

 

           

 

 

Summary

 

Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability:                                  710

 

Additional texts                                                                                              16           

                   

            Total                                                                                                           726

 

 

 

 

 

 

42.  Luke

 

 

 

            Although Acts includes sections in which Luke had been a personal participant, Luke had not been a disciple of Jesus during His earthly ministry.  To write this account, therefore, he consciously set out to tap the knowledge of first hand witnesses to the events, "Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the Word have handed them down to us, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you might know the exact truth about the things you have been taught" (1:1-4).  

[Page 122]           Luke is scrupulously neutral in his description of the earlier written sources, simply labeling them "many."  The distinction he draws between their work and his is in regard to comprehensiveness:  Luke wrote down "everything carefully from the beginning . . . in consecutive order."  This implies that these earlier writings were short, partial narratives of selected incidents and teachings of Jesus.          

            It also implies that Matthew and Mark are not in mind since they also narrate the entire lifespan of Jesus.  Assuming that both were in existence at this stage (and they probably were) why would Luke feel a need for writing his additional account of Jesus' life? 

One explanation is that Luke had a far more comprehensive purpose in mind.  In Acts 1:1-2 he writes, "The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when He was taken up, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom he had chosen."   Luke sees in the missionary work of the apostles and early Christians a continuation of that which Jesus began, that He continued to "do and teach" through them. 

            This had several constructive implications:  For example, the apostles were not radical innovators, but were walking in the footsteps of Jesus' own intentions and purposes in their doctrine and practice.  Furthermore, since Christianity had such deep roots in Judaism, it was worthy of the legal protections applied to Judaism.  Past and present were linked together in an ongoing but essentially consistent whole.  Indeed, if the Messianic claims of Jesus were accepted as valid, then Christianity represented the essence of true Judaism and even more so deserving of legal protection.

            An additional reason for the narrative lay in the appropriateness of a Gentile explaining the gospel to the Gentiles.  Matthew and Mark were Jews and things they looked upon as a matter of course would be less obvious from the perspective of an outsider.  Luke could bridge this potential gap in a way that a Jew might not.  Gentile prejudices (anti-Semitism was epidemic) should not be ignored either:  A Jew might be dismissed as catering to native prejudices; a Gentile could not be dismissed so brusquely.     This also helps explain Luke's emphasis on his own rigorous research.   It is often thought that this research aspect of Luke's endeavor is contradictory to any claim that he was inspired.  Yet a Gentile was hardly likely to accept the claim of inspiration, standing by itself.  He would yield considerably more respect to one's narrative if one were able to rightly claim thorough knowledge of the topic.   

Though writing a gospel could have been accomplished solely through inspiration--without the writer being either an eyewitness or having access to such--the credibility of the gospel was vastly enhanced when the outsider could be assured that independent efforts had been made to ascertain the truth.  This is exactly what Luke did.   Inspiration was never intended as a substitute for evidence but as the guarantee that the evidence was rightly and properly presented. 

 

 

            An explicit Lukian assertion of inspiration?

 

 

            A few commentators and apologists have found Luke's reference to "from the beginning" as a direct assertion of personal inspiration.  G. Campbell Morgan presents the evidence this way,

[Page 123]

 

                        In this connection he [Luke] employed a word which arrests us.  He says           he traced the course of all things anothen.  We have rendered that "from the first," but it also means "from above."  In strict etymology, I think the probability is that          it means "from above."

                        Note one or two occurrences of the same word.  Jesus was talking to    Nicodemus, and said:  "Ye must be born anothen" [John 3:3].  The Revisers have    rendered it, "anew," and "born from above" in the margin.  I am quite sure Jesus    meant, "from above."  Take another illustration.  "The wisdom that cometh down            anothen" [James 3:15, 17].  There it must be "from above."

                        My own view is that when Luke says he traced the course of all things   accurately anothen, he meant from above, and that he was claiming that his             scientific work was under the guidance of heaven itself, that he had not only             brought to bear upon his work his own scientific ability to sift and trace; but he   sought guidance from heaven.  That is how he prepared his material (44-13).

 

            To this list others add these usages of the Greek term (Note 4), "Every perfect gift cometh from above [anothen]" (James 1:17) and, "Thou couldst have no power against me, except it were given thee from above [anothen]" (John 19:11).

            Since this approach is found among few commentators, it is not surprising that few attempt to rebut it.  When observations are made on the disputed word at all they are likely to take the form of arguing that chronological order (rather than Divine revelation) is under discussion.  For example, one close student of Greek word meanings has written,  " 'From the very first.'  Literally, 'from above;' the events being conceived in a descending series" (43-253; others who take that approach include 41-61 and 42-3).

 

 

            Paul's allusion to the inspiration of the book of Luke

 

 

            In 1 Timothy 5:18 Paul writes, "For the Scripture says, 'You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,' and 'The laborer is worthy of his wages.' "

            Note that both passages are labeled as "Scripture," hence inspired.  The first text quoted is Deuteronomy 25:4 and the second is Luke 10:7.  Some attempt to limit "Scripture" to the first, Old Testament citation.  However the grammatical construction of the verse would more naturally make us think that Paul intended the label to describe both.

Even if not, the second remark is introduced as being as reliable and authoritative as that which Scripture states.  So if not Scripture itself, what then that is as reliable as Scripture?  What shall we call it?

 

 

[Page 124]

 

Summary

 

Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability:                                  726

 

Additional texts                                                                                                2                

 

            Total                                                                                                           728

 

 

 

 

 

43.  John

 

 

A.  The writer's reliability can be seen in that he was an eyewitness to the life of Jesus

 

 

            John 1:14:  "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth."

            John 19:35:  "And he who has seen has borne witness, and his witness is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe."

            John 21:24:  "This is the disciple who bears witness of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his witness is true."

 

 

B.  The writer was one of the twelve original apostles Jesus selected during His earthly ministry

 

 

            1.  The writer of the book was the "disciple whom Jesus loved"

 

 

            John 21:20-24:  "Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; the one who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, 'Lord, who is the one who betrays You?'  Peter therefore seeing him said to Jesus, 'Lord, and what about this man?'  Jesus said to him, 'If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?  You follow Me!'  This saying therefore went out among the brethren that that disciple would not die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but only, 'If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?'  This is the disciple who bears witness of these things; and we know that his witness is true."  Those present were apostles (John 21:1-2) and the fact that he had been at the Last Supper (21:20) also indicates that fact (see below).

 

[Page 125]

 

            2.  The disciple/writer of this book was present when the Lord's Supper was instituted

 

           

            John 21:20 refers to this (quoted above).

 

            John 13:23-26:  "There was reclining at Jesus' breast one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.  Simon Peter therefore gestured to him, and said to him, 'Tell us who it is of whom He is speaking.'  He leaning back thus on Jesus' breast, said to Him, 'Lord, who is it?'  Jesus therefore answered, 'That is the one for whom I shall dip the morsel and give it to him.'  So when He had dipped the morsel, He took and gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot."        

 

 

            3.  Only the twelve apostles were present with Jesus at that point, indicating the writer was an apostle and, hence, inspired

 

 

            Matthew 26:20:  "Now when evening had come, He was reclining at the table with the twelve."

            Mark 14:17:  "And when it was evening He came with the twelve."

            Luke 22:14:  "And when the hour had come He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him."          

 

 

            4.  John 21:24 as evidence of apostolic authorship

 

 

            This text, which has been quoted or referred to more than once above, is central to pinpointing a specific attribution of authorship.  Some have considered it an honest but mistaken later attribution that somehow worked itself into the text.  Since there is no manuscript evidence to support this approach, we must proceed from the assumption that it was in the original text of the verse.

            The actual wording of the verse is, "This is the disciple who bears witness of these things; and we know that his witness is true."  The second half of the verse could be read as making a distinction between the speaker in that half of the verse and the disciple Jesus loved who is the "witness" in the first half.  If there is any validity to this approach then what we have here is one of two things:  either a notation by the man who physically committed John's writing to "paper" as John dictated it or an indication that the writer based his record on John's testimony (much as Mark based his on the preaching of Peter).  In either case, it still asserts a detailed reliance on first-hand apostolic testimony.

Even so, it seems better to read the impersonal nature of the remark as an effort to both assert the author's reliability but in such a way that it would not appear egotistic bragging of an apostle.  The “we” (= “all of us”) would then refer to how “all of us

[Page 126]    apostles” will verify the story is true.  Alternately, “all who know me” recognize that I would tell you only the truth.  The first is a credentials reference; the second a personal integrity allusion.  Being so different from the other gospel narratives, either would be appropriate.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability:                                  728

 

Additional texts                                                                                                        

The writer's reliability can be seen in that he was an eyewitness to Jesus' life         3     

The writer was one of the twelve original apostles Jesus selected during His          5     

      earthly ministry

 

            Total                                                                                                           736

 

 

 

 

 

 

Church History

 

 

 

 

44. Acts

 

 

            Most of what needs to be said about the inspiration of Acts was covered in our discussion of Luke, since the two books were clearly intended to be part of one over-all narrative.  Hence, if one accepts the evidence for Luke having been supernaturally guided in his presentation of Jesus' life, the same line of reasoning impels the identical conclusion in regard to Acts.

            One additional line of reasoning in regard to credibility deserves mention, however.  Luke made no pretense of having been among the body of initial disciples of Jesus.  In contrast, Acts repeatedly stresses events in which Luke was a personal participant or observer.  These "we" sections of Luke are:

            (1)  Acts 16:10-17:  he was present with Paul at Troas, where the apostle received a vision that took them the into Macedonia, beginning at Philippi.

            (2)  Acts 20:5-15:  Picking up again at Philippi (seeming to imply that he had [Page 127]    remained there between the earlier events and these), Luke accompanied him back to Troas and then to several additional stops, culminating where Paul addressed the church leaders from nearby Ephesus.  The wording of verse 36 ("and when [Paul] had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all [rather than, with all of us]") could easily suggest that he may not have been present for the actual address.  (On the other hand, see below.)

            (3)  21:1-18:  Unquestionably the writer continues with Paul when he sailed from Miletus ("when . . . we had departed," verse 1), continuing with him to Caesarea (vs. 8) and Jerusalem (vss. 17-18). 

            (4)  27:1-28:16:  The "we" disappears at Paul's vow and the riot against him in the Jerusalem Temple (Acts 21:26ff.), only to reappear when Paul appeals for a trial before Caesar rather than risk needless death at the hands of his enemies in Jerusalem (27:1).  The last explicit "we" occurs with Paul's arrival in Rome and delivery to the captain of the guard (28:16).

            How much of the intermediary events, between these sections, did Luke observe?  Certainly if he did not observe them, his repeated presence with Paul afterwards provided him a first hand source of reliable description.  On the other hand, some of the absence of "we" references may be due to the fact that the events did not directly concern the author.              For example, the fact that Paul is referred to as praying with the elders from Ephesus (Acts 20:36-38).  As noted above, the lack of a "we"-type reference could indicate the absence of Luke.  On the other hand this likely was strictly between those parties and, even if physically present, he was not a personal participant in the prayer; hence no reference to “we.” 

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability:                                    736

 

Additional texts indicating credibility of the author                                                   4                    

                                                                                                                    

            Total                                                                                                            740

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pauline Epistles

 

 

            Our earlier discussion of Paul's apostleship is of direct relevance to our current topic:  By virtue of his being a true apostle, he automatically had the right to share the [Page 128]    privileges given the other apostles, including that of inspiration.  Hence all references to his apostleship should be interpreted in this light.  In our discussion of his epistles we will be stressing not just these allusions, but others as well that relate to his honesty, authority, and inspiration.

 

 

 

 

45.  Romans

 

 

            1.  The author is Paul, "an apostle" (1:1); hence, by office inspired.

 

            2.  What he writes in this epistle is "the truth" (9:1-2):  "I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart."

 

 

 

Summary

 

Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability:                                    740

 

Additional texts                                                                                                              2              

                                                                                                                                                            Total                                                                                                             742

 

 

 

 

 

 

46.  1 Corinthians

 

 

            1.  The author is Paul "an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God" (1:1).

           

2.  Speaking of his teaching in general (not just that found in this particular letter), Paul asserts that the Holy Spirit so governed his written teaching that even the very words he chose were the most appropriate ones to the task (2:10-13): 

"For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.  For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man, which is in him?  Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God; which things we also speak not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining [Page 129]    spiritual thoughts with spiritual words."

            Paul asserts that "the Spirit supplies the language as well as the substance of revelation" (45-40)  Furthermore, "Just as scholastic training without dictating words and without destroying the individuality of the speaker, nevertheless enables him to clothe his thoughts in words better than he could otherwise have chosen, so the Holy Spirit enabled Paul to give appropriate utterance to the truths already revealed to him by the Spirit" (46-55)

            An effort is made to dilute the power of Paul's affirmation by making the "we" who are inspired all Christians.  However, Paul denied in this very epistle that all Christians possessed such a blessing (12:6-11).  Hence he could hardly be asserting here the very opposite conviction!  Furthermore, the editorial "we" is so commonplace in both our own usage and Paul's, that its presence here is in no way surprising.

           

3.  Paul's teaching was authoritative in all spiritual areas and not just some (11:2):  "Now I praise you because you remember me in everything, and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you."

           

4.  All true prophets acknowledged Paul's teaching as coming from God (14:37):  "If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord's commandment."  Note that the written revelation is presented as the commandment of God, not just the spoken revelation.  The transition from one form to another in no way altered its supernatural origin and authority.

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability:                                    742

 

Additional texts                                                                                                              4              

                                                                                                                                                            Total                                                                                                             746

 

 

 

 

 

 

47.  2 Corinthians

 

 

            1.  The writer had the gift of inspiration by virtue of being "an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God" (1:1).

           

[Page 130]           2.  God knew that what he wrote was the truth (contextually, in reference to Paul's personal history and attitudes) (11:31):  "The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, He who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying."

           

3.  Christ spoke through him (13:3):  "Since you are seeking for proof of the Christ who speaks in me, who is not weak toward you, but mighty in you."  Apparently some of the Corinthians were doubtful whether Paul would really act against those who refused to repent (as he had threatened to do in 12:19-21) when he returned to Corinth.  They appear to have suspected that he would be too "weak" to do so (13:1-3).  Paul rebukes this misconception by pointing out that Christ also represents the paradox of superficial weakness and yet conquering strength.

            No matter what they may have thought, Paul asserts that it was still "Christ who speaks in me."  If accepted, this claim as pregnant with implication, "Could he conceive of 'the Christ speaking in him' . . . to be in error or to be ignorant?  Certainly Paul's Christ, 'in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge' (Colossians 2:3) and who is Truth Himself, would not be in error" (1-2.13).

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability:                                    746

 

Additional texts                                                                                                              3           

                                                                                                                                                            Total                                                                                                             749

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

48.  Galatians

 

 

            1.  Paul implies his inspiration by asserting that he was "an apostle (not sent from men, nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father . . ."  (1:1).  The genuineness of his apostolic call and authority is the central point in the first two chapters.

           

2.  That what Paul wrote and taught was the absolute truth could be seen in the fact that even if he did alter any of his teaching he would still be under the solemn condemnation of God (1:6-8):  "I am ashamed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you, and want to distort the gospel of Christ.  But even [Page 131]    though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed."

In short, an apostle could not just say or write anything he wished.  Play games with the truth and God would punish—even an apostle.  With this mind frame, would he dare write anything he was in doubt of concerning its acceptability to God?

 

            3.  The doctrine Paul taught, he received from God (1:11-12):  "For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.  For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ."

           

4.  Paul did not misrepresent himself in what he wrote (1:20):  "Now in what I am writing to you, I assure you before God that I am not lying."

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability:                                    749

 

Additional texts                                                                                                              4             

   

            Total                                                                                                              753

 

 

 

 

 

 

49.  Ephesians

 

 

            1.  "Paul [was] an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God" (1:1), with the gift of inspiration that automatically went with that position of leadership.

 

            2.  The message revealed to him, he committed to writing and by consulting it his reader could share his knowledge of Christ (3:3-4):  "That by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief.  And by referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ."

 

 

 

[Page 132]

 

Summary

 

Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability:                                    753

 

Additional texts                                                                                                             2          

 

            Total                                                                                                            755

 

 

 

 

 

 

50.  Philippians

 

 

            1.  Living according to Paul's teaching was the standard for full acceptance of a fellow believer (3:17-18):  "Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.  For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ."

           

2.  Having God's approval hinges on accepting and practicing what Paul taught (4:9):  "The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you."  How could he—in good conscience—have written such unless he was absolutely sure of Divine superintendence over what he wrote?

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability:                                    755

 

Additional texts                                                                                                              2      

                                                                                                                                                Total                                                                                                             757     

 

 

 

 

 

 

51.  Colossians

 

 

            The inspiration and authority of the epistle are established by the fact that it was written by "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God . . ." (1:1).

 

 

[Page 133]

 

 

 

Summary

 

Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability:                                    757

 

Additional texts                                                                                                             1         

                                                                                                                                                            Total                                                                                                            758

 

 

 

 

 

 

52.  1 Thessalonians

 

 

            1.  Miraculous power vindicated to the Thessalonians the message Paul taught among them (1:5):  "For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake."

           

2.  That which Paul taught about the return of Christ was not his personal opinion but the "word" which the "Lord" had provided him (4:15):  "For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep." 

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability:                                    758

 

Additional texts                                                                                                             2           

    

                        Total                                                                                                760

 

 

 

[Page 134]

 

 

53.  2 Thessalonians

 

 

            1.  That which Paul taught was equally authoritative whether delivered in writing or in person (2:15):  "So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us."

           

2.  Accepting what Paul taught as authoritative was to be the standard of determining whether a coreligionist was truely faithful to the Lord:  "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep aloof from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us" (3:6).  "And if anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that man and do not associate with him, so that he may be put to shame" (3:14).  Hence both spoken and written teaching is in his mind.

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability:                                    760

 

Additional texts                                                                                                             3           

 

                        Total                                                                                                763

 

 

 

 

 

.

 

54.  1 Timothy

 

 

            1.  The author belonged to that class of people (apostles; cf. John 16:13-15) who were provided the gift of inspiration by Christ (1:1):  "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God. . . ."

 

            2.  Paul taught "truth" to the Gentiles (2:7):  "And for this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth." 

 

[Page 135]           3.  What Paul wrote was to be the standard of conduct taught to others (4:11):  "Prescribe and teach these things."

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability:                                    763

 

Additional texts                                                                                                              3               

  

                        Total                                                                                                 766

 

 

 

 

 

 

55.  2 Timothy

 

 

            1.  As so common in his epistles, the author begins by reference to the church office that was blessed with inspiration (1:1):  "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God. . . ."

 

            2.  The "words" Paul taught were "sound" and were to be their "standard" (1:13):  "Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus."

 

            3.  Late in the epistle he warns Timothy that those who would lead him away from his (Paul's) teaching were "evil," "imposters," "deceiving," and themselves "deceived" (3:13-14):  "But evil men and imposters will exceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.  You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them."

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability:                                    766

 

Additional texts                                                                                                              3               

                                                                                                                                                            Total                                                                                                             769

 

 

 

[Page 136]

 

 

 

56.  Titus

 

 

            1.  The author calls himself "an apostle of Jesus Christ" (1:1).

 

            2.  The teaching Titus had received from Paul was both "faithful" and "sound" (1:9):  "Holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, that he may be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict."

 

            3.  What Paul taught could be repeated by others with "authority" and the listener

had the moral obligation not to reject it (2:15):  "These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority.  Let no one disregard you."

 

            4.  Paul's teaching remained authoritative even when repeated by another party (3:8):  "This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God may be careful to engage in good deeds.  These things are good and profitable for men." 

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability:                                    769

 

Additional texts                                                                                                              4         

                                                      

                        Total                                                                                                 773

 

 

 

 

 

 

57.  Philemon

 

 

            Paul's authority is affirmed by the assertion that he had the right "to order" Philemon.  However, he passed by this right in order to base his appeal on Philemon's love (verses 8-9).

 

[Page 137]

 

Summary

 

Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability:                                    773

 

Additional texts                                                                                                              1       

                                                                                                                                                            Total                                                                                                             774

 

 

 

 

 

 

Non-Pauline Epistles

 

 

`

 

 

58.  Hebrews

 

 

            There is no explicit claim in the book that the epistle was written by Paul.  The probability of his authorship has been highly questioned since the Reformation, even by believers in a "strong" doctrine of inspiration.

 

 

            Arguments against Pauline authorship

 

            1.  It would be the only epistle of Paul not having his name explicitly attached.

 

            2.  Hebrews 13:23 has been read to indicate that the author would come with Timothy, rather than Timothy coming with him.  This would seem to classify the author as "inferior" to Timothy (in authority, position, or some other significant manner).  This would hardly be the case with an apostle except, possibly, in the situation where the recipients were well acquainted with Timothy but not with Paul.   (The text can be read in the more neutral sense of the two coming together and the wording accounted for on the grounds that Timothy's availability for the trip was yet uncertain.)

 

            3.  Hebrews 2:3 grounds the necessity for accepting the message about Christ on what eyewitnesses had said rather than on Paul's apostolic authority.  On the other hand, would there be any need for even the mention of Paul's authority if it were not being [Page 138]    challenged?  Furthermore, Paul was acutely aware of the importance of eyewitness testimony.  In First Corinthians 15 he goes on at considerable length giving the repeated eyewitness testimonies of Jesus' resurrection.  His own references to his conversion are themselves eyewitness testimony of what changed him from persecutor into a zealot for the Lord.

 

 

            Arguments for Pauline authorship

 

 

            1.  The time frame fits with the lifetime of Paul:  the Levitical system is presented as the functioning, on-going cultic movement it was during the apostle's lifetime.  This is rebutted by those who cite both Josephus and post-Biblical Christian writers who also used the present tense though describing a sacrificial system by then extinct.  On the other hand,

 

                        [I]t is clear that in some passages at least the writer is appealing to existing         realities, whose actual continuance is essential to his argument.  If, he says, the             Levitical system had really been able to bring perfection, "those sacrifices would surely have ceased to be offered" (10:2f; cf. 10:11, 18).  Had the sacrifices in fact          ceased to be offered, it is hard to credit that these words could have stood without            modification or comment (10-202).

 

            Some have contended that at least limited sacrifice did continue after the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in A.D. 70.  "But even if there were residual attempts to perpetuate the system, it is surely extraordinary that the body-blow that effectively finished it should have left no impact on this epistle" (10-203). 

This would be neutralized, at least in part, on the assumption the Judeo-Christians readers assumed that the temple might ultimately be rebuilt—it had before--and the same arguments would still apply.  And the prophecy of destruction (Matthew 24) dealt with its obliteration and does not touch directly on whether it might ever be reconstructed.

 

            2.  The subject matter indicates an exhaustive knowledge of the Jewish system, a knowledge that Paul's rabbinical-type background amply provided for him.

           

3.  It represents a theme (the removal of the Levitical-priestly system as authority) that Paul touches upon in Galatians and other places where Judaizers attempted to make Gentiles live by the Old Testament regimen.  It develops at great length the kind of assumptions that Paul only briefly develops in these other places.  Indeed, because of his opposition to the Judaizers, it is the kind of epistle we would expect him to write at some point or other.

           

4.  Paul was intellectually qualified for writing the book.  In his day, his skill lay in writing rather than public speaking (2 Corinthians 10:9-10).  Apollos, a widely cited conjectural alternative writer, was renowned as a powerful speaker (Acts 18:24) but we know nought of any particular writing skill.  Nor do we have any written literature from [Page 139]    Apollos or any of the other suggested alternatives with which to compare the vocabulary, style, concepts, etc., of Hebrews.

           

5.  The personal touches in the closing section of chapter 13 show that the authorship was well known at the time of composition.   It is written as if from an authoritative individual and, within the context of that age, such an individual could only have been an apostle or a prophet.

            On balance I favor the Pauline authorship but so many respectable critics argue against it and the evidence is so far from conclusive that it is best, for analysis purposes at least, to class this among the non-Pauline letters of the New Testament.  

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability:                                    774

 

Additional texts                                                                                                              0           

                                                                                                                                                            Total                                                                                                             774

 

 

 

 

 

 

59.  James

 

 

            Internal evidence of an extremely early date for the epistle

 

            1.  There is no hint of Gentiles being in the church or of the controversies raised by the Judaizing element that wished to impose upon such converts circumcision and the other rites of Judaism.

           

2.  There are a minimal number of distinctively "Christian" elements in the epistle.  The emphasis is on moral living, and with only modest exceptions, there is little in the letter that would offend the more orthodox Jew.

           

3.  So early is the epistle that the meeting place of Christians is described as a "synagogue" (James 2:2 in the Greek).  Such usage is improbable at a later date when the breach between Judaism and Christianity was perceived--on both sides--as unbreachable. 

           

4.  The use of Greek as the language of communication is fully consistent with the religious and practical realities of the day.  Greek was the dominant international second [Page 140]     language.  It was the language of the Jewish Diaspora.

At Pentecost (Acts 2) we read of multitudes being converted.  Acts 6:1-6 refers to "Hellenistic Jews" (i.e., Greek-speaking Jews and living in a Greek environment).  As these individuals returned to their respective homelands it was natural to write to them in a language that they were comfortable with.  This does not exclude the possibility that a Hebrew (or, more likely, Aramaic) language version was sent out within the more immediate Palestinian region.  (Just as there is fascinating speculation that Matthew might have been released in Aramaic and Greek language versions.)  

 

 

            James the apostle as possible author

 

 

            It is contended that he died far too early (Acts 12:2) to have written this epistle.  On the other hand, by that time Christianity had spread into Samaria (Acts 8:5-6), Damascus (Acts 9:9), Caesarea (Acts, chapter 10), and throughout Judea and Galilee (Acts 9:31).  Apostolic concern with the new congregations can be seen in Peter's preaching tour through Judea, Galilee, and Samaria (Acts 9:32).  In addition an unknown (but surely substantial) number of Pentecostal converts had returned to their homelands by that date.  In short, there were a sufficient number of disciples in a sufficiently large number of places to make appropriate some form of moral exhortation such as that found in the book of James.

            It has been argued that he would not have known sufficient Greek to have written the epistle.  (This has also been utilized as an objection to the following, alternative possibility as well.)  On the other hand, the commonness of the language as a second tongue should urge caution against absolute generalizations.

             Of perhaps greater relevance is the lack of calling himself an "apostle," as Paul does in all his epistles (except Hebrews, if that be Pauline).  It is probable, however, that Paul's stress on being an "apostle" arose in large part because his critics were attempting to undermine his authority.  Lacking a need to defend himself against hostile critics, would there have been any pressing reason for James to call himself an apostle?

 

 

            James the brother of the Lord as possible author

 

 

            This James was prominent in the Jerusalem Council at which Paul defended his policy and teaching toward the Gentiles (Acts 15:1-31, especially verses 13-21, where he intervenes in favor of Paul's position).  Although non-Biblical writers later claimed he was a "bishop" in Jerusalem, the text itself makes no such assertion.  It reasonably implies that he was a tremendously respected individual, however, and that may or may not depend upon occupying a technically authoritative position.  

            The prime appeal of James the brother of the Lord is that he substantially outlived the other James, but that is a legitimate factor only the later we date the writing of the epistle.  Against his authorship it has been argued that there is something incongruous in an epistle by such a close relative not making any overt mention of Jesus' life.  This is met, in the mind of others, by conceptual parallels between James' teaching and that of Jesus concerning matters of moral behavior.

 

[Page 141]

           

             Pseudonymymity?

 

 

            On balance I consider James the apostle to be the more probable author but no particular view can be decisively asserted.  The least viable option is to claim that the author was guilty of pseudonmyity, hiding his real identity behind a fake alias.  Why invent a fictitious authorship and not make the man's position explicit to reinforce the epistle's "authority"?  Why pick so one relatively obscure as this James?  Where is the theological axe to grind found in so many pseudonymous works of a later age?  The tell tale signs are simply not there.

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability:                                    774

 

Additional texts                                                                                                              0      

 

                        Total                                                                                                 774

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

60.  1 Peter

 

 

            1.  The author identifies himself as "Peter an apostle"  (1:1).  In addition to being blessed with inspiration by virtue of his church office, Peter (Matthew 16:19)--like the other apostles (Matthew 18:18)--had the power to bind and loose.  Indeed, without inspiration being granted, that power could easily have been abused.

           

2.  The writer identifies himself as an eyewitness of Jesus' death: "I . . . [a] witness of the sufferings of Christ" (5:1).

           

First Peter has no theological axe to grind.  He does not hurl anathemas to gain allegiance to his view nor does he emphasize his apostolic authority to get his views [Page 142]    accepted.  In 5:1-4 the author stresses the humility with which one should undertake church leadership.  He writes, furthermore, as if personally well known to the recipients of his epistle.  These phenomena, individually and even more so collectively, argue against this being a pseudonymous epistle wrongly attributed to the apostle Peter.    

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability:                                      774

 

Additional texts                                                                                                                2               

                                                                                                                                                            Total                                                                                                               776

 

 

 

 

 

61.  2 Peter

 

 

            1.  The author is identified as "Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ . . ." (1:1).  In the final chapter of the book the writer again identifies himself as an apostle (3:1-2).

           

2.  The message that had been shared with his readers was "the prophetic word made more sure" (1:19).

           

3.  The author identifies himself as an eyewitness of the Transfiguration (1:16-18):  "For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.  For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, 'This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased'--and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain."

 

 

            Pseudonymous authorship theory and the relationship to Jude

 

 

            Opposition to the apostolicity of 2 Peter is far more pronounced than for 1 Peter.  Stress is placed on the Greek of the first epistle being far superior to that of the second--an unexpected phenomena if both originate from the same individual.  This could be explained through the use of a different amanuensis (a weak response, in my judgement) [Page 143]    or declining mental abilities due to advancing age or adversity—in particular mistreatment and abusive conditions during a confinement leading to his execution. 

(Inspiration worked within the writer’s capacity to assure absolute accuracy and did not bestow greater intellectual ability.  As can be seen in the stylistic differences in the New Testament’s component parts.)   

            Another explanation would call for the reinterpretation of the relationship between 2 Peter and Jude.  If Jude (which reflects so much of the argumentation of 2 Peter) was written as a stop-gap measure at Peter's encouragement, then our so-called Second Peter could in 3:1 refer to Jude rather than, as normally understood, our First Peter as the earlier letter.  Indeed, so long as Jude was written at Peter’s request, Jude could be the “earlier” epistle regardless of whether First Peter was written earlier or later for it would alter what document he actually has in mind. 

Certainly there is some kind of significant relationship between Second Peter and Jude.  Since it seems inherently improbable that the shorter writer (Jude) would borrow from the longer (2 Peter), 2 Peter would be more likely to be the borrower of the two—or Peter being the one who commissioned its writing as a stop gap measure and whose teaching language Jude naturally echoes. 

On the other hand, the actual wordage shared in common is limited and there is no way to clearly answer who relied on whom--if either (see Note 5).  It could be that the two wrote at approximately the same time, from a similar perspective, and to a similar or identical audience.  But if that be the case the chance of 2 Peter being a "follow up" to the earlier epistle is, proportionately increased.

            No approach we take to explain the relationship of these two writings requires the rejection of the apostolicity of 2 Peter, however.  Some have introduced the reference to the Transfiguration as an argument against the apostolic origin of the work.  Oddly, the genuineness of First Peter has been criticized for a lack of such references to Christ's life!

            A key argument against pseudonymity is the author's admission that he did not fully understand all that Paul wrote while simultaneously granting his writings the status of Scripture (2 Peter 3:14-16).  Would a pseudepigraphist have taken this approach?  It has rightly been argued,

           

                        The history or Jewish and early Christian pseudepigraphy shows a marked         tendency towards the enhancement of heroes and there is no parallel case in

which the putative author is made to detract from his own reputation.  Rather than          pointing to a later origin, this self-candour of Peter's is a factor in favor of      authenticity.  It is surely not very surprising that Peter, or any other original             apostles for that matter, found Paul difficult.  Has anyone ever found him easy?

(39-834).

 

 

[Page 144]

 

Summary

 

Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability:                                     776

 

Additional texts                                                                                                               4                 

                                                                                                                                                            Total                                                                                                              780

 

 

 

 

 

62.  1 John

 

 

            1.  The author was an eyewitness of Jesus' life (1:1):  "What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our eyes handled, concerning the Word of Life."

           

2.  Those who had the true knowledge of God accepted John's teaching (4:6):  "We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us.  By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error."  In an age in which inspiration was available, it would be difficult to imagine anyone making such a blanket statement claiming authority unless he were purporting to be either an apostle or a prophet. 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability:                                    780

 

Additional texts                                                                                                              2        

                                                                                                                                                            Total                                                                                                             782

 

 

 

 

 

 

63.  2 John

 

 

            1.   The author insisted on strictly dwelling within the confines of the doctrine of Christ (verse 9).

 

[Page 145]           2.  The "commandment" he urges on his reader is not a new one but one that Christians had received long before:  that they love each other (verse 5).

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability:                                    782

 

Additional texts                                                                                                              2        

                                                                                                                                                            Total                                                                                                             784

 

 

 

 

 

 

64.  3 John

 

 

 

            He had the authority to decide who was in the right and who was in the wrong in disputes within a local congregation (verse 9)—even though he was not present and not a member.  Who, except for an apostle or prophet, would likely qualify for such authority?

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability:                                    784

 

Additional texts                                                                                                              1       

     

                        Total                                                                                                 785

 

 

 

 

 

 

65.  Jude

 

 

[Page 146]           1.  The writer only identifies himself as a servant of Christ and "brother of James" (verse 1).  This is commonly taken to mean that he was the brother of the author of the book of James.

 

            2.  The distinctively Jewish flavor of the book (and its early date) can be seen in the references to Enoch (verses 14-16) and the disputation over the body of Moses (verse 9), references that would have been readily recognized by many Jews but far less likely to have been recognized by Gentiles or proselytes to Judaism.

 

            3.  The writer seems to distinguish himself from the apostles (verse 17).  On the other hand, an apostle might well word a statement this way if he were observing the fulfillment of a well known apostolic prediction from a number of years previously.

           

4.  His purpose in writing was not to expound anything new but to uphold that "faith" (body of doctrine) which was "once for all delivered to the saints" (verse 3), i.e., permanently authoritative over God's people.

 

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability:                                    785

 

Additional texts                                                                                                              1                

                                                                                                                                                            Total                                                                                                            786

 

 

 

 

 

Prophecy

 

 

 

 

 

66.  Revelation

 

 

            1.  This revelation was given by an angel who bore the message Christ had received from His Father (1:1; cf. John 15:13-15):  "The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must shortly take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John."

 

[Page 147]           2.  An angelic speaker calls the author a prophet (22:9):  "And he said to me, 'Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book, worship God.' "

 

            3.  The contents of the book came from Christ for Christ warned that tampering with its contents would assure the wrath of God (22:18-20):  "I testify to everyone who hears the word of the prophecy of this book:  if anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.  He who testifies to these things, says, 'Yes, I am coming quickly.'  Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus."

           

 

 

 

Summary

 

Earlier texts affirming Biblical inspiration and reliability:                                    786

 

Additional texts                                                                                                              3        

                                                                                                                                                            Total                                                                                                             789

 

 

 

 

 

Afterword

 

           

            What do we do with this vast array of data?

            At the very minimum it sets the boundary lines within which any discussion of Biblical inspiration must be presented:  The claims are not occasional but at the very core of hundreds of texts throughout the component parts.  The quiet presentation of Old Testament events as if they are true history--rather than mythological lessons "incarnated" in non-existent ancients to make moral points--is likewise pervasive. 

            One can easily understand challenging this or that event as recorded in the Torah or prophets.  All of us have encountered one or more incidents that perplex us as to how they could have occurred and the length of this mental list (if we keep one) will vary from individual to individual. 

Significantly, however, the more "liberal" one is in rejecting these internal claims, the longer the list.  Hence the perception of a problem often grows out of one's theological presumptions rather than anything in the text itself--a point not without significance in how the subject should be treated.  

[Page 148]           Yet the root problem lies far deeper than in the acceptance or rejection of the historical reality of some particular incident.  It lies in whether the Scriptures are, at heart, a thoroughly reliable source of supernaturally provided information to the human race--a claim repeated many hundreds of times throughout--or whether it is the result of well meaning but still pious fraud by ancient Jews and Christians.

            I, for one, accept what the Bible claims for itself and deal with the individual "problem" texts on a case by case basis.

            Others may choose to reject this self-characterization of the Biblical text.

            But in doing so, one is not rejecting the peripheral and the marginal.  One is rejecting the very heart of the Bible'e self-portrait.  Can one, in any truely Biblical sense, be a "believer" in the Bible if one does?   It would be rather like claiming to be an "American" while burning the flag and swearing ideological loyalty to some foreign power seeking its destruction.  Intellectual schizophrenia at its worst.

 

                                                Roland Worth, Jr.

 

 

 

Notes

 

 

Note 1:  Hence Glaussen argues that since Jesus attributes to scripture’s “smallest words such an authority, that one is compelled to rank Him among the most ardent partisans of verbal inspiration . . .” (22-102).

 

            Note 2:  G. L. Archer points out that the Hebrew “can also mean ‘I became king over Israel’—a perfectly natural explanation for an elderly king to give when recollecting the commencement of his reign” (36-187).

 

            Note 3:  Edwin M. Yamauchi has written (38-1609-1610),

           

The earliest literature—that of the Sumerians—has given us some love songs (from c. 1750 B.C.) associated with the Tammuz cult which present some striking parallels. . . .  One of the objections to the two-character view was that it made Solomon both a king and a shepherd,  It is noteworthy that in these songs Dumuzi, the king of Erech who was later deified, is also addressed as a shepherd. 

W. G. Lambert recently pieced together fragments of Akkadian love songs (from c. 1000 B.C.) which were used in the Tammuz cult.  In comparing them with the Song (of Solomon) he remarks:  “Both are love poetry with no apparent sequence or development.  In both there is a frequent change of speaker, and at times narrative or monologue occurs.  In both the scene changes, and the lovers appear to have left their metropolitan environment.”

 

[Page 149]

            Note 4:  These texts I discovered in a later revision—from original typed form into computer preserved form--but never wrote down the source.

                       

            Note 5:  "Out of the parallel passages comprising 2 Peter 1:2, 12, 2:1-4, 6, 10-12, 15-18, 3:2-3 and Jude 2, 4-13, 17, 18 the former contain 297 words and the latter 256 words but they share only 78 in common.  This means that if 2 Peter is the borrowers he has changed 70% of Jude's language and added more of his own.  Whereas if Jude borrowed from 2 Peter, the percentage of alteration is slightly higher, combined with a reduction in quantity" (39-926-927).

 

           

 

 

 

 

Sources Utilized /

Number Code

 

 

The numbering of sources is taken from the original, much longer manuscript that included a defense of the principle of Biblical inspiration.  In presenting a summation of the strictly textual evidence that can be introduced in its defense, we have set that other material aside for release (and possible expansion) at a future date.  Yes, this is an “illogical” way to handle the material but the separation into two parts allows one to approach the issue from two significantly different directions and the part included here is probably the one of most direct and immediate benefit to readers.

 

 

 

1          =          Edwin A. Blum, “The Apostles’ View of Scripture.”  In Norman L. Geisler, editor, Summit Papers:  International Council on Inerrancy.  Meeting at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare, October 26-28, 1978.  Published by the Council in spiral binding.

 

6          =          Norman L. Geisler and William E. Nix, A General introduction to the Bible.  Chicago:  Moody Press, 1968.

 

10        =          John A. T. Robinson, Redating the New Testament.  Philadelphia:  Westminister Press, 1976.

 

[Sources 11-14 not used in this revision.]

 

15        =          Gleason L. Archer.  A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, Revised Edition.  Chicago, Illinois  Moody Press, 1974.

 

[Sources 16-17 not used in this revision]

 

18        =          Benjamin B. Warfield, Revelation and Inspiration.

 

[Page 150]    19     =          John Murray, New International Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, Volume 1:  Romans 1-8.  Grand Rapids, Michigan:  Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1959.

 

20        =         W. E. Vine, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words.

 

21        =          Robert C. Welch, Obedience of Faith:  A Commentary on Romans.  Erlanger, Kentucky:  Faith and Facts Press, 1975.

 

22        =          L. Glaussen, Theopneustia:  The Plenary Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, Revised Edition, translated by David Scott.  The Bible Institute Colportage Association, n.d..

 

23        =          Richard Glover, A Teacher’s Commentary on the Gospel of Saint Matthew.  Grand Rapids, Michigan:  Zondervan Publishing House, 1956 edition.

 

24        =          Dr. MacEvilly, An Exposition of the Gospels, Second Edition.  Dublin, Ireland:  M. H. Bill & Son, 1883.  

 

25        =          William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary on John, Volume 2.  Grand Rapids, Michigan:  Baker Book House, 1954.

 

26        =          Leon Morris, New International Commentary on the Gospel to St. John.  Grand Rapids, Michigan:  Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan:  1971.

 

27        =          J. H. Jowett, Epistles of St. Peter, Second Edition.  London:  Hodder and Stoughton, MCMVI.

 

28        =          H. Wolf, “1 and 2 Samuel,” in Merrill G. Tenney, General Editor, The Zondervan Pictorail Encyclopedia of the Bible, Volume 5.  Grand Rapids, Michigan:  Zondervan Publishing House, 1975.     

 

29        =          J. Barton Payne, “Chronicles, Books of,” Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia, Volume 1.

 

30        =          Kyle M. Yates, Jr., “Nehemiah, Book of,” Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia, Volume 2.

 

31        =          J. S. Wright, “Esther, Book of,” Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia, Volume 2.

 

32        =          Robert D. Dempsey, “Esther, Book of,” Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia, Volume 2.

 

33        =          Ralph L. Smith, “Psalms, Book of,” Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia, Volume 2.

 

[Page 151]    34      =          J. B. Payne, “Psalms, Book of,” Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia, Volume 4.  

 

35        =          A. K. Helmbold, “PProverbs, Book of,” Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia, Volume 4.

 

36        =          G. L. Archer, “Ecclesiastes,” Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia, Volume 2.

 

37        =          R. K. Harrison, “Song of Solomon,” Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia, Volume 5.

 

38        =          Edwin M. Yamauchi, “Solomon, Song of,” Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia, Volume 2.

 

39        =          Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction, Third Edition (Revised).  Downers Grove, Illinois, 1970,

 

40        =          J. W. McGarvey, New Testament Commentary on Matthew and Mark.  Originally published 1875.  Reprint edition:  Gospel Light Publishing Company,

 

[Sources 41-42 not used in this revision.]

 

43        =          Marin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, Volume 1.  New York:  Charles Scribners Sons, 1887; 1911 reprint.

 

44        =          G. Campbell Morgan, Luke.  New York:  Fleming H. Revell Company, MCMXXXI.

 

45        =          F. F. Bruce, New Century Bible Commentary on First and Second Corinthians.  Greenwood, S.C.:  Attic Press, Inc., 1971; 1976 reprint.

 

46        =          Joseph Agar Beet, A Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistles to the Corinthians, 6th Edition.  New York:  Thomas Whitaker, 1882.