WHAT IS GOD’S WORD
Lesson No. 4
(HISTORY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT)
While the Old Testament took over 1500 years to write, The New Testament was written in approximately 60 years. It has been said that:
“The New is in the Old contained, while the Old is by the New explained.”
“The New is in the Old concealed, while the Old is by the New revealed.”
When a comparison is made between the two Testaments we discover some amazing similarities between the first three chapters of Genesis and the last three chapters of Revelation.
OLD TESTAMENT NEW TESTAMENT
First Creation New Creation
Promise of a Redeemer Redemption Perfected
Tree 0f Life – Fruit NOT to be eaten Tree of Life – Fruit to be eaten
The Devil Victorious The Devil Vanquished
Sorrow, Sin, Sickness, “No more death, neither sorrow
Crying, Pain, nor crying, neither shall there
And Death be any pain: . . . . .” (Revelation 21:4)
Man & Woman Men and Women welcomed
Driven Out by GOD as Children!
The Bible clearly reveals that: GOD will Restore All Things – NOT Man!
Who wrote the New Testament? – Only Eight Men:
Luke (Luke & Acts [possibly the only gentile to write Scripture])
John (John, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John & Revelation)
Peter (1 Peter & 2 Peter)
Paul (Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians,
Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians,
1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, and Hebrews.)
THE NEW TESTAMENT = 27 BOOKS
How do we know that the New Testament is God’s word?
The Promise of The Comforter
John And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may
abide with you for ever;
17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither
knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.
19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall
20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.
Jesus’ words will be brought to the disciples remembrance
John Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.
25 These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.
26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
Concluding words in the Matthew’s Gospel – “Go ye therefore and teach . . . . .”
Matthew 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. Teach them what? – His words!
Preservation of The Lord’s Words
Psalms 12:6 The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.
7 Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.
1Peter Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:
25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.
Matthew 24:35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
Mark Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.
Luke Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.
Are Heaven and earth still here? Then that must mean that His words are still here!
His Words are to be our foundation
Matthew Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.
Luke And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:
48 He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.
49 But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.
NO WORD – NO FOUNDATION!
His words are to be the standard by which ALL men shall be judged
John He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.
How can a just God judge a man by His word, if we don’t have it today?
John Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.
It should be obvious from the internal testimony of the Bible that we must have God’s word in the world today. The question is – Where is it and how did God preserve His word in this dispensation of grace?
How did he preserve it in the Old Testament? – Through the Levitical priesthood. How do you suppose He preserved the New Testament? Good Rule: If you can’t find the answer the first time, look again. [1 Corinthians 10:11]
1Peter 2:5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
1Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
John to the seven churches which are in
5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Revelation 5:9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
I believe that God has preserved His word by and through the priesthood of believers [Malachi 2:7]. Do you know of a real honest to goodness Bible believer who would dare to change, alter, add, or subtract from the Holy words of God? I don’t. But remember, ‘professing’’ to be a Bible believer is one thing, being a Bible believer is another!
The New Testament has been and is now preserved through His churches. Spirit filled Christians faithfully copied the Gospels, Epistles, Revelation, etc. NOT ONLY THE SCHOLARS AND PROFESSIONAL SCRIBES! As a matter of fact – God has chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the wise.
1Corinthians Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
1Corinthians For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
How many scribes followed Him? How many lawyers followed Him? How many judges followed Him? How many religious leaders followed Him? How many politicians followed Him? How many governors and kings followed Him? You say: what’s the point? The point is simply this – WHO DID FOLLOW HIM?
This is most important to remember: IF God chose scholars and professional scribes to keep His word then the scholars are right when they say they don’t know where it is. BUT if He chose believers – simple, God fearing, Bible believing Christians to preserve it – brother it’s preserved, and we’ve got it!
Strange isn’t it? Scholars and critics question the ‘scholarship’ or doctrines of the AV-KJB translators, who broke free from the 1,000 year reign of the Roman Catholic Church (known in history as the dark ages). And who either endured harsh persecution personally or had friends or family that had suffered under the heavy hand of the Roman Catholic Church. But these same people who question the AV-KJB translators don’t question the motives or doctrines of the modern translators when it is obvious that within the last 100 years a great apostasy has been taking place within the churches; the ‘Christian’ schools and colleges; and various other ‘Christian’ organizations. Makes you wonder doesn’t it?
THE NEW TESTAMENT CANON
The 4 Gospels reveal the 4-fold ministry of The Lord Jesus Christ as:
MATTHEW MARK LUKE JOHN
The King The Servant The Man God
(Jeremiah 23:5-6) (Zechariah 3:8) (Zechariah 6:12) (Isaiah 4:2)
Outside of the Gospels, the rest of the New Testament is a commentary on: the Lord’s Ministry here on earth (His Life; His Death; His Resurrection); His Ministry since the Resurrection; His relationship to the church and to the believer; and His promised return. The Books of Acts, The Epistles, and Revelation were written to explain why the Lord Jesus Christ came; why He did what He did; and why He is coming back to set up His Kingdom.
Not until God called the Apostle Paul and revealed His perfect will to him, did men know the full meaning of the Lord’s Death, His Shed Blood, and His Resurrection (Known as The Atonement).
The 27 Books that make up the New Testament Canon are Scripture, written in accordance with the Lord’s promise in John 16:12-13.
John I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.
13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
I believe that The New Testament is the fulfillment of that promise.
THE FORMATION OF THE NEW TESTAMENT CANON
After the Books were written the next obvious step was to gather them together into one volume. The Epistles of Paul are recognized as Scripture by the Apostle Peter just prior to Peter’s death:
2Peter Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.
15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
Since the Apostle John was the last inspired writer of Scripture, any information about the formation of the New Testament Canon following his death must come from ‘church history’. The following information has been gleaned from these church histories: Philip Schaff’s, 8 Volumes; Kenneth La Tourette’s, 12 Volumes; Eardmen’s, 8 Volumes (varied authors); Cunningham’s, Presbyterian, 2 Volumes; and Ruckman’s, Baptist, 2 Volumes.
By 170 A.D. the four Gospels are universally recognized and accepted by the churches as being genuine Scripture. Sometime before 200 A.D. the Book of Acts; all of Paul’s Epistles; 1 Peter; and 1 John have universal acceptance. By 300 A.D. 2 & 3 John; 2 Peter; Hebrews; James; Jude; and Revelation have been added to the list of Books that the Christian churches recognized and accepted as being genuine Scripture, a total of 27 Books which completed the New Testament Canon.
Although it took only 60 years to write the New Testament, it took quite a lot longer for the Canon to form, and the method for forming the New Testament Canon was unique. Through the leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit, born again believers were guided into choosing which books were inspired and which ones were not (there were as many or more ‘false’ books as there were genuine). The fact is - the New Testament Canon was not ‘settled’ in the Apostles time!
Isn’t it strange? Most Christians accept the New Testament Canon without question, and yet today many Christians can’t accept the idea that not only did God guide the early churches into choosing the right Books, but also God used those early believers to preserve the true text of those Books! And yet, if those early believers can’t be trusted in the preservation of the true text, who’s to say they were right about the New Testament Canon? Do you see what unbelief does?
God has left us in the peculiar position of having to trust Him for a genuine New Testament Canon and the purity of the text of that Canon. Did He, or did He not guide His people into choosing the right Books and the true text? If He did guide them then we have God’s Holy word today. If He didn’t, then it’s anybody’s (especially the ‘scholars’) guess as to what it is or where it is.
And just as in the Old Testament the Levites (Priesthood) kept and copied the Scriptures (The Old Testament), so in the church the Holy Spirit guided believer-priests into not only recognizing what was God’s Holy word (The New Testament), but also into copying and preserving it.
The Holy Spirit’s guidance in this matter was both positive (choosing the genuine books and the true text of the New Testament) and negative (rejection of false books and false readings of the text). The following are just some of the more than 26 “better known” false books (known as the Pseudepigraphical Books): The Book of Enoch; The Shepherd of Hermas; The Teachings of the 12 Apostles; The Apocalypse of Peter; The Epistle of Barnabas; and many more!
Did you notice the difference between how God chose to preserve the Old Testament and the New Testament? Although in both instances God used His people to accomplish His purpose, He did it in a different way. The Old Testament way was strict, formal, legalistic and by commandment (typical of the Age of The Law). The New Testament way was by faith, spiritual, inward, informal, and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit in accordance with God’s will (typical of the Age of Grace).
A few more comments on the preservation of the New Testament:
#1. Many copies made by believers and faithful scribes.
#2. These trustworthy copies read and re-read by born again believers – many
copies in use (just like today).
#3. Untrustworthy copies not read or used that much (just like today).
#4. Not many untrustworthy copies in existence since there was very little
demand for them and because of the little use they got. (That’s why when found, the perverted copies are in such good physical shape – they weren’t used! Have you ever seen a real Bible believer’s Bible?)
The preservation of the New Testament was not due to decisions of some organization, council, or committee. God has preserved the New Testament in a way that is free from the Old Testament way of Bondage. He accomplished the preservation of His word through the guidance of the Holy Spirit operating in the hearts of the believers and leading them, by common consent, in choosing the New Testament Canon and rejecting false books. The Holy Spirit also guided those same believers into receiving and accepting genuine readings of the true text and rejecting false and heretical readings. And finally, as has been true down through the centuries of all believers that love God’s words, the early believers faithfully copied and preserved the One True Text mindful of God’s warnings about adding or subtracting or changing His words.