The New Testament Writers

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The New Testament Writers

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It is through these men chosen for a unique role (and capable associates such as Mark and Luke) that God brought about the creation of the 27 books comprising what we call the New Testament. After praying all night to the Father, Jesus initially chose 12 men to help Him lead and build His Church in its early years. Later some of these men, along with Paul (also called to be an apostle), began to write extensively as the Church grew and expanded. These accounts were preserved for later generations in what we call the New Testament. Fundamentally they were apostolic writings.

What is an apostle?

“And when it was day, He [Jesus] called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles” (Luke 6:13 Luke 6:13And when it was day, he called to him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles;
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).

In simple terms an apostle means “one sent,” clearly implying “with a message.” Even Jesus Christ is referred to as “the Apostle” in one biblical passage (Hebrews 3:1 Hebrews 3:1Why, holy brothers, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;
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). Says The New Bible Dictionary : “There are over eighty occurrences of the Greek word apostolos in the New Testament, seven-eighths of them in Luke and Paul. It derives from a very common verb apostello , to send . . .” (p. 48).

What was a major activity of the apostles?

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me [or ‘for Me’] in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8 Acts 1:8But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come on you: and you shall be witnesses to me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and to the uttermost part of the earth.
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).

The 12 apostles gave a powerful firsthand confirmation of Christ’s resurrection and Messiahship in the early years of the Church. Luke included portions of this remarkable witness in the book of Acts. These early eyewitnesses fulfilled a special role. Their written testimony comprises the lion’s share of the 27 inspired documents that constitute the New Testament.

Remember that Jesus Christ had said: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, [which] the Father will send in My name, [it] will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26 John 14:26But 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, whatever I have said to you.
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). He added that this “Spirit of truth . . . will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13 John 16:13However, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.
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). This happened as Christ predicted it would. These inspired truths are preserved for us today in the New Testament.

What was one of the apostle Peter’s major concerns near the end of his life?

“Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease. For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty” (2 Peter 1:15-16 2 Peter 1:15-16 15 Moreover I will endeavor that you may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance. 16 For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
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).

Peter wanted future followers of Christ to have a permanent reminder of the true gospel. This was accomplished by creating a written record of Christ’s life and teachings plus the work of the apostles.

What was one of the chief reasons for John writing his Gospel account?

“And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30-31 John 20:30-31 30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: 31 But these are written, that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you might have life through his name.
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“This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true” (John 21:24 John 21:24This is the disciple which testifies of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.
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).

The book of John (and by extension the entire New Testament) was preserved to give later generations an accurate account of Christ’s Messiahship, His words and deeds, the vital knowledge He wanted passed on to all who would follow Him.

What does Luke say about the origins of true Christianity?

“To Theophilus: Many writers have undertaken to draw up an account of the events that have taken place among us, following the traditions handed down to us by the original eyewitnesses and servants of the gospel. So I in my turn, as one who has investigated the whole course of these events in detail, have decided to write an orderly narrative for you, your excellency, so as to give you the authentic knowledge about the matters of which you have been informed” (Luke 1:1-4 Luke 1:1-4 1 For as much as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, 2 Even as they delivered them to us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; 3 It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you in order, most excellent Theophilus, 4 That you might know the certainty of those things, wherein you have been instructed.
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, Revised English Bible; compare Acts 1:1-2 Acts 1:1-2 1 The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments to the apostles whom he had chosen:
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).

Luke was an exceptional writer and knowledgeable historian. The events of the Bible took place in the real world, and Luke in particular records important details of the apostles’ time that can be verified from secular history.

What does Peter tell us about Paul’s writings?

“. . . As also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him [from God], has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures” (2 Peter 3:15-16 2 Peter 3:15-16 15 And account that the long-suffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given to him has written to you; 16 As also in all his letters, 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, to their own destruction.
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).

The apostle Peter considered some of the letters of the apostle Paul to be Scripture. Clearly, he understood them to have been inspired by God, just as the Old Testament scriptures were also inspired by our Creator.

How are we told to regard the Word of God?

“For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that 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 Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Revelation 22:18-19 Revelation 22:18-19 18 For I testify to every man that hears the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add to these things, God shall add to him the plagues that are written in this book: 19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
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).

God takes His Word seriously, and so should we. It is the very foundation of knowledge and not to be trifled with. In principle, these warnings extend to the rest of the books of the Bible. We should not add to, nor take away from, the words that God inspired to be preserved for all mankind.

On the other hand, do we gain God’s favor if we highly esteem His Word?

“But on this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word” (Isaiah 66:2 Isaiah 66:2For all those things has my hand made, and all those things have been, said the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at my word.
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).

God wants us all to respect the Bible—to learn to live by every word of God (Matthew 4:4 Matthew 4:4But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.
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; Luke 4:4 Luke 4:4And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.
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).