How Did We Get the New Testament?

“Why would the apostles lie?… If they lied, what was their motive, what did they...
March 10, 2020

“Why would the apostles lie?… If they lied, what was their motive, what did they get out of it? What they go out of it was misunderstanding, rejection, persecution, torture, and martyrdom. Hardly a list of perks!” – Peter Kreeft

Is the New Testament True? 

    • In the last 16 chapters of Acts, there are 84 facts listed by Luke that have been confirmed by historical and archaeological research.
    • Beginning in John 2 through the rest of the book there are 59 facts listed that have been confirmed.
    • Dead Sea Scrolls (1947)

“Even though the two copies of Isaiah discovered in Gum-ran Cave near the Dead Sea in 1947 were a thousand years earlier than the oldest dated manuscript previously known (A.D. 980) they proved to be word for word identical with our standard Hebrew Bible in more than 95 percent of the text. The 5 percent of variation consisted chiefly of obvious slips of the pen and variations in spelling.”

The New Testament writers…

  1. included embarrassing details about themselves.
  2. included embarrassing details and difficult sayings of Jesus.
  3. left in demanding sayings of Jesus.
  4. carefully distinguished Jesus’ words from their own.
  5. include events related to the resurrection that they would not have invented.
  6. Include more than 30 historically confirmed people in their writings.
  7. Include divergent details.
  8. Challenge their readers to check out verifiable facts, even facts about miracles.  
  9. Describe miracles like other historical events: with simple, unembellished accounts.
  10. Abandoned their long-held sacred beliefs and practices, adopted new ones, and did not deny their testimony under persecution or threat of death.

If the Gospel writers had departed from historical fact (either by exaggeration or outright invention), hostile witnesses familiar with the events of Jesus’ life could have and would have exposed them. 

  • Tacitus- Roman historian – 55-120 
  • Suetonius, Roman historian – 120 
  • Josephus – Jewish Historian- 37-97 (was alive with Jesus) 
  • Pliny the Younger – Roman Govener – 112 
  • Lucian- Greek Satirist 

How was the New Testament Put Together? 

  • The New Testament documents were hand-copied and circulated early on. (Col. 4:16, 1 Thess. 5:27, 2 Peter 3:15-16)

New Testament Canon- the early church insisted that recognized books be: 

  • Apostolic: written by or tied closely to an apostle 
  • Catholic: widely, if not universally recognized by the churches.  
  • Orthodox: not in contradiction to any recognized apostolic book or doctrine.

When was the New Testament Put Together? 

  • The 1st canonical list that matches 27 books in the NT is by Athanasius in AD 367.
  • 2 Early church councils (Hippo-393 and Carthage- 397) confirmed the list.

Timeline of the New Testament being put together

  • 45-100- books were written 
  • 100-200 they were collected and read
  • 200-300 they were examined and compared with spurious writings
  • 300-400 Complete agreement was obtained.