Sunday, April 8, 2018

The New Testament Writers Were Concerned About Truth: An Argument from Omission

The only concern of the writers of the New Testament was accurately recording the history of Jesus and presenting the truth of the gospel. A few of the common reasons given to show that they were concerned about representing Jesus accurately are: The inclusion of embarrassing details about themselves and Jesus, the inclusion of the demanding and difficult sayings of Jesus, the inclusion of historically verifiable names and locations (over 30 of which have been confirmed), and the matter of fact way that they describe miracles just like they would describe any other historical event; without embellishment or exaggeration.[1]

The apostles were not driven by the pursuit of power.  Being a leader within the Christian community was a liability; not an asset.  The nonbiblical histories and writings related to the lives and ministries of the twelve apostles consistently proclaimed that the apostles were persecuted and eventually martyred for their testimony.[2]

Two portions of Luke’s gospel also illustrate this point.  Luke 9 (as well as Matthew 10 & Mark 6) records Jesus sending out the twelve apostles, as well as their return. Luke 10 does the same with the sending and return of the 72.  In all cases the New Testament writers leave out any specific stories of what theydid on their journeys; focusing instead on what Jesus taught them.  

Luke records that Jesus gave the disciples power and authority over all demons and diseases and told them to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. Luke also writes what Jesus told the disciples to take with them, where to stay, and what to do if a particular town did not believe them. When the disciples return, Luke simply states that they told Jesus what they did. Nothing is said about who did what, how many demons were cast out, or what diseases where healed.  If the writers were concerned about gaining power, they would have written about all the incredible things they accomplished on their time away from Jesus.

Matthew adds a few more specifics to the instructions Jesus gave before the twelve left including the warnings about being persecuted, but Matthew also leaves out any mention of what the apostles did on their journeys.  Mark adds the simple statement that the disciples “cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.”[3]

If the apostles were concerned about gaining power and prestige in a new “invented” religion, they would have reported what they did on their journey to show how spiritual they were.  Mark (traditionally the scribe writing for the apostle Peter) should have listed all the great and wonderful things that Peter did, Matthew should have written about all the demons he cast out, and Luke (traditionally one of the 72) should have listed all the diseases he cured when he went out with the 72.  Because none of them did this (and instead included embarrassing details about themselves and Jesus) we can have confidence that they were concerned with reporting the truth about Jesus and not concerned with their power and reputation.

Luke 10 even records a rebuke from Jesus to the 72 about thinking that what they were doing is something they should boast about.
The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.[4]

The writers of the New Testament documents were concerned with accurately representing the history and teachings of Jesus.  They were not concerned with gaining prestige or power.  Check out these other blogs (listed below) that discuss the historicity and accuracy of the New Testament documents.

Argument for New Testament Reliability

[1]Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, Crossway Books, 2004
[2]J. Warner Wallace, Cold-Case Christianity, David C Cook, 2013, page 245-246
[3]Mark 6:13 ESV
[4]Luke 10: 17-20 ESV

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Jesus of Testimony

Excellent documentary on the historicity of Jesus, the New Testament documents, miracles, the Resurrection, and the reason that Jesus came.  Very well done!