The Reliability of Scripture- Part 2

In this second part of the topic “The Reliability of Scripture” we entertain the question “What about the New Testament?” is it reliable as the Word of God or is it simply a collection of writings portraying the opinions of fallible Jewish men who had their own biases to contend with.

Most of the New Testament  books were  written by the disciples of Jesus such as Matthew, John and Peter but a large portion of the New Testament (approximately 1/2  of the books) was written by the Apostle Paul or by his companion (Luke through dictation).  Because of this fact, we will first focus upon the Paul’s writings since they were extensively circulated throughout the early church and had a tremendous effect upon the development of the Judo-Christian philosophy that dominated much of the western culture for centuries.

Before coming to a final and informed opinion about the writings of the Apostle Paul it would seem prudent to answer these four questions:

1) “Just where did Paul get his information?”

2)  “What did Paul think about his own writings?”

3) “What did the early churches think of Paul’s writings?”

4) “What did the other apostles think of Paul’s writings?”

These four questions are critical to our understanding of the authority of the New Testament as the “Word of God” being equitable to the scriptures of the Old Testament.

1) “Where did Paul get his information”

Upon his conversion Paul did not confer or consult with any man. Instead he traveled to Arabia.  It is believed that during this stay he was taught by revelation directly by Jesus Christ.  He communicates this through his letters to the churches.

Galations 1:15

15 But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased 16 to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus.”

Galations 1:11

11 For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”

So Paul informs us that the gospel that he communicates by letter is not something passed on to him from the other apostles or other men but rather a direct communication by revelation through Jesus Christ.

2) What did the Apostle Paul think about his own writings?

As to those who claimed to be somebody or thought themselves to be spiritual or above his authority, the Apostle Paul wrote:

I Cor 14:37

37 If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment.

The apostle did not view his writings as his own. He viewed them as the Lord’s commandments having all the weight of heaven itself.

3) “What did the early churches think of Paul’s writings?”

Did the early churches view Paul’s writings as just the opinions of a man?  Did they view Paul’s letters as fallible human opinions? Or did they receive his writings and his words as “The Word of God”? and did the apostle Paul want them to receive his writings as “The Word of God”?

I Thess 2:13

13For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the Word of God

The word of men and the Word of God are in contradistinction, that is,  …… opposed to each other.  Further, the apostle praises them for receiving his writings in this way.  This confirms what he thought of his own writings and confirms what the churches thought of Paul’s epistles…. they were received as the Word of God.

4) “What did the other apostles think about Paul’s writings?”

Did the other apostles receive Paul’s writings as scripture i.e. as the Word of God?  Did they elevate his writings to this high regard or did they relegate them to the “opinions of Paul” ?

II Pet 3:16

15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you,  16  as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. ”

It is clear that Peter (known as the Apostle to the Jews) regarded Paul’s  writings (the Apostle to the Gentiles) as among “the rest of the Scriptures”.   To emphasize how important his writings were Peter indicates that those opposing the scriptures wrestle with them to their own destruction…… not writings to be taken lightly.

Conclusion:

It is clear from these quotations that the writings of Paul were unanimously regarded  as the Word of God having all the authority of the “other” scriptures.  This was endorsed by the Apostle Paul himself, by the Apostle of the Jews (Peter), and by the churches at large.  Can we take his writings as just the “word of men”?  Can we relegate them to some middle ground as a combination of the Word of God and the word of men at the same time?  Is this option even given to us? Or do we acquiesce and take sides with the early church fathers, the churches of the first century, and the apostles themselves and accept his writings as the Word of God?

 

Published by tranquills0

Teacher 32 years district 18-26 General Contractor 1 year 4 Years construction crew - 11 houses

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