Q. I am not questioning whether the New Testament is God’s word, but I find it interesting that there is no place in Scripture that the Lord gives instruction to write the New Testament. On what basis were the books that were included determined to be God’s word? I don’t want to blindly accept this, and have often wondered about it. I do accept the New Testament as the Word of God but I want to know why it is acceptable to God. Thanks for your input.
A. It’s true that the Lord never specifically commanded His disciples to write the gospels. But in John 14:26 He said the the Holy Spirit would remind them of everything He had said to them. It was this supernatural memory that enabled them to recall and write word for word conversations.
The Gospels were written between 50-70 AD, during a time when there were many eyewitnesses who could have disputed their accuracy. There’s no record of anyone alive at the time questioning their accuracy.
About 150 years ago, A Russian immigrant named Ivan Panin began studying the way the Bible was written. He spent over 50 years documenting the numerical properties of words and phrases in the Gospels compiling 43,000 hand written pages in the process. His work demonstrated conclusively that they had to be of supernatural origin.
Paul was forced to write letters to the church because of his periods of incarceration. Paul’s letters were written during the same span of time, and John’s letters including The Revelation, came around 90-95 AD. All of these letters enjoyed a wide circulation through out the Church then as they do now. If someone began passing out a counterfeit New Testament today it wouldn’t take long for us to find out. All we’d have to do is compare it with a legitimate copy. It was the same then.
There are 5,686 Greek manuscripts in existence today for the New Testament, thousands more than for any other ancient text. Because the copies are so numerous, they can be cross checked for accuracy. This process has determined that the internal consistency of New Testament documents is about 99.5% textually pure. In addition there are over 19,000 copies in the Syriac, Latin, Coptic, and Aramaic languages. The total supporting New Testament manuscript base is over 24,000.
Books that were left out didn’t meet the criteria for inclusion. It consisted of three major points:
1. Were the authors either eyewitnesses to the events they wrote about or at least directly taught about them by the Apostles?
2. Was each book’s teachings consistent with church practice and tradition?
3. Was each book already in general use by the church, and accepted as the Divine Word of God?
In summary there’s substantial evidence supporting both the accuracy and supernatural origin of the New Testament.