ElShamah - Reason & Science: Defending ID and the Christian Worldview
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ElShamah - Reason & Science: Defending ID and the Christian Worldview

Otangelo Grasso: This is my library, where I collect information and present arguments developed by myself that lead, in my view, to the Christian faith, creationism, and Intelligent Design as the best explanation for the origin of the physical world.


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Are the gospels reliable ?

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1Are the gospels reliable ?  Empty Are the gospels reliable ? Sat 8 Feb 2014 - 14:26

Otangelo


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Are the Bible & the Gospels Reliable?

https://reasonandscience.catsboard.com/t1506-are-the-gospels-reliable

Why I Know The Gospels Were Written Early
https://coldcasechristianity.com/writings/why-i-know-the-gospels-were-written-early-free-bible-insert/

WHEN WERE THE FOUR GOSPELS WRITTEN?
https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/stewart_don/faq/historical-accuracy-of-the-bible/question10-when-were-the-gospels-written.cfm?fbclid=IwAR2Tnvz1DUnuxVnpPZ_Vty7KjXZNTMHXMSLe6YVUoPQmwLLkMD2zPqvSb84

New Evidence the Gospels were Based on Eyewitness Accounts
https://www.bethinking.org/is-the-bible-reliable/new-evidence-the-gospels-were-based-on-eyewitness-accounts?fbclid=IwAR2l4rfx1Q7O5vUNxWvnXufLFfQhpIBKJBUjAlPaMM-x4TBN0ZkrWS2JIYM

Yes, the Bible is reliable. The original writings of the Bible have been lost. But before they were lost, they were copied. These copies were incredibly accurate, very meticulous, and very precise. The people who copied them were extremely dedicated to God and their copying tasks. They took great care when copying the original manuscripts. This copying method is so exact, and so precise, that the New Testament alone is considered to be 99.5% textually pure. This means that of the 6000 Greek copies (the New Testament was written in Greek), and the additional 21,000 copies in other languages, there is only one half of 1% variation. Of this very slight number, the great majority of the variants are easily corrected by comparing them to other copies that don't have the "typos" or by simply reading the context. You should know that copying mistakes occur in such ways as word repetition, spelling, or a single word omission due to the copyist missing something when moving his eyes from one line to another. The variants are very minor. Nothing affects doctrinal truth and the words and deeds of Christ are superbly reliably transmitted to us.

There was a time in my life where I had to step out on my own.

I went to university and found that many of my beliefs had been passed down to me from my parents. I’m very thankful that they had gone out of their way to pour into me and bring me up in an environment of truth, but when I got to college I was up for a bit of a rude awakening. Up until that point I had heard whispers of other worldviews, but had never come face-to-face with anyone that held them until I was out on my own. At this point in my life I had two choices: find the answers or abandon certain fundamental beliefs. I chose the latter, but not in the way you might think. I didn’t outright reject my beliefs on God, I put them on a shelf and walked away for a time.

Now, let’s be honest. I didn’t just walk away due to intellectual reasons, though that played a role in the process and in a way validated my decision. I did it because I wanted to walk away from any moral accountability so that I could sin as much as I wanted without feeling any conviction. Although I thought I wouldn’t feel any conviction, I still did. I did every time I would sin. I suppressed the truth in my unrighteousness in order to believe a lie (Romans 1:18).

It wasn’t until later, after God had saved me, that I began to dig and see if there were sufficient reasons for believing what I believed. I’ll be honest, at the beginning of my search I was afraid. I was afraid that as I dug deeper I would find out that Christianity was a sham and should be rejected outright, but I was pleasantly surprised. As I dug deeper I realized that Christianity was the only worldview that made sense, was intellectually credible, was existentially satisfying, and fully corresponded with reality.

During that search I dug into the reliability of the Scriptures. What I mean by reliability is whether or not there is sufficient documentation that demonstrated their accuracy and their truthfulness. There were four main points to this examination, and here’s what I found:

1. Can the Miracles in the Bible be Believed? One reason that a person may reject the gospels is that their mind is closed to the idea of the miraculous. He might think that supernatural events are contrary to logic. This idea has its roots in the works of the Scottish philosopher David Hume, who wrote, “When we run over libraries, persuaded of these principles, what havoc must we make? If we take in our hand any volume – of divinity or school of metaphysics, for instance – let us ask, does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames, for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.” However, the problem with this position is that it fails its own test. The statement that “only analytic or empirical propositions are meaningful” is not itself analytic (true by definition) or empirical statement. Therefore it is itself meaningless. Therefore, a person ought to be open to at least the possibility of miracles if he is to maintain any intellectual credibility. Many in the gospel stories were down-to-earth people, who were surprised by the supernatural, just as we are. The writers of the gospel didn’t try and polish the fact that it was startling when they saw Jesus walked on water, which if the documents were tampered with one might see.

2. Has the Bible Been Changed in Transmission? Today we have a staggering 24,000 manuscripts (copies of portions) of the New Testament. No other document in antiquity even comes close to this. The nearest is Homer’s Iliad, with 634 manuscripts. Another item of note is that the time span between an event and its recording can cause problems if the time span is too great, which can lead to a puffing up of the facts if you will. To put the New Testament in comparison to other texts: Plato’s Republic has only 7 manuscripts in existence with a timespan of 1,200 years between original and the existing manuscripts, Homer’s Iliad has a timespan of 500 years with only 634 manuscripts, and the New Testament has a timespan of 25 to 50 years with 24,000 manuscripts in existence. As you can see, the gospels have more than enough weight in terms of their reliability in the area of historical attestation with only 1/16th of the variances (which consist of a small handful of single word, spelling, or grammatical issues) even rising above trivialities (Geisler).

3. Is There Any Literature Outside of the Bible That Can Attest to its Truthfulness? There are a number of extrabiblical writings that attest to what we find in the gospels, yet I’ll discuss only two. First, Flavius Josephus, a Jewish historian of the Pharisaic party who lived in Rome, makes mention of many characters, such as Judas, “James the brother of the so-called Christ,” The Herods, Pilate, Felix, Festus, Annas, Caiaphas, Ananias, and others. About the crucifixion he writes,

   And there arose about this time Jesus, a wise man, if indeed we should call him a man; for he was a doer of marvelous deeds, a teacher of men who receive the truth with pleasure. He led away many Jews, and also many of the Greeks. This man was the Christ. And when Pilate had condemned him to the cross on his impeachment by the chief men among us, those who had loved him at first did not cease; for he appeared to them on the third day alive again, the divine prophets having spoken these and thousands of other wonderful things about him; and even now the tribe of Christians, so named after him, have not yet died out.

Tacitus gives testament to Christ’s sentencing by Pontius Pilate,

   Therefore to scotch the rumor, Nero substituted as culprits and punished with the utmost refinements of cruelty, a class of men loathed for their vices whom the crowd styled Christians. Christus, from whom they got their name, had been executed by sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilate when Tiberius was emperor; and the pernicious superstition was checked for a short time, only to break out afresh, not only in Judea, the home of the plague, but in Rome itself.

4. Is the Content Found Within the Gospels True? Just because the information found within a document is well-attested doesn’t mean that its true. Wouldn’t you agree? Some people may say, and I wondered at the beginning of my own investigation, “The stories were all invented by the writers as a deliberate attempt to inspire followers and exonerate the disciples’ decision to follow Jesus. He didn’t ever want to found a religion, but his followers did. There are three ways you can answer this:

   Why would the disciples portray themselves in a bad light (e.g., Peter’s denial or their lack of faith)?
   Why is there so much in the New Testament about the cost of Christianity (surely they would’ve given up after all of their suffering if this was a deception)?
   Why would they be willing to be killed for their teachings (Peter was crucified upside down and Thomas was torn in half)?

John Stott wrote, “If anything is clear from the Gospels and the Acts it is that the apostles were sincere. They may have been deceived, if you like, but they were not deceivers. Hypocrites and martyrs are not made of the same stuff.”
- See more at: http://anchorapologetics.com/2014/02/02/are-the-gospels-reliable/#sthash.15jpy0Uq.dpuf

In the NT, amongst the apostles, there was one that betrayed Jesus, one denied him, and all run away when things got dangerous, but the women were the brave ones. The apostles were hiding, while the women were going to see the tomb of Jesus. Thats all embarrassing. Why would the apostles have invented such stories? Why would they have written that the women were the ones that went and saw the empty tomb, in that culture, where women had inferior value as witnesses ? Even more, Maria Magdalene, who was demon possessed, and healed by Jesus? Would they not have portrayed themselves as the brave ones? The heroes? What about the two prostitutes that are in the blood line of Jesus. Why would that be made up ? Or that even Christs family did not believe that he was the messiah ? Jesus was hung on a tree, but according to the Old Testament, anyone being hund on a tree, was cursed....by God. Why would the NT writers make that up?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gfHZJq-pV8M

THE ARCHKO VOLUME Or, The Archeological Writings of the Sanhedrim & Talmuds of the Jews
https://openlibrary.org/search?q=The+Archko+Volume%3A+Or%2C+The+Archeological+Writings+of+the+Sanhedrim+and&mode=everything

https://books.google.com.br/books?id=1WRTAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA128&lpg=PA128&dq=valleus+paterculus+chapter+viii+pilate&source=bl&ots=qSUlm1YgP7&sig=ACfU3U2ENj3OElsPZX67dygilh9ERuVEpA&hl=en&sa=X&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=Jesus&f=false



http://www.tektonics.org/nthub.php
http://carm.org/is-the-bible-reliable
http://anchorapologetics.com/2014/02/02/are-the-gospels-reliable/



Last edited by Otangelo on Sun 25 Sep 2022 - 3:44; edited 6 times in total

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2Are the gospels reliable ?  Empty Re: Are the gospels reliable ? Fri 21 Jan 2022 - 20:13

Otangelo


Admin

In her excellent book The Eye of the Beholder, Lydia McGrew makes an interesting argument for the reliability of the dialogue recorded in the Gospels. She notes how “Jesus” was the sixth most common name in 1st century Judea, and how this makes sense of an interesting pattern

This doesn’t sound too impressive, until you consider this: disambiguation is almost exclusively used in the Gospels’ dialogue, and isn’t found in the narrative voices of the evangelists. While in the Gospels. Rather than simply referring to our Lord as “Jesus,” people would call Him Jesus “of Nazareth” (Mk. 1:24), “the Galilean” (Matt. 29:69), or “who is called Christ” (Matt. 27:17). When people were speaking about our Lord, they would use a disambiguator to signify which Jesus they were talking about, because so many people bore His name.

This doesn’t sound too impressive, until you consider this: disambiguation is almost exclusively used in the Gospels’ dialogue, and isn’t found in the narrative voices of the evangelists. While characters in the Gospels’ stories refer to Jesus as “Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (Jn. 1:45), the narrative voice will simply refer to Him as “Jesus” or “Jesus Christ,” with no qualification (Jn. 1:43, 47, 50, 2:2-4, etc.) This is one of those minor details that, if  you were inventing fake dialogue, you would almost certainly forget about. You would forget that, while you can simply say “Jesus” and have everyone know who you’re talking about, the actual people interacting with Him in your stories wouldn’t have been able to do this Indeed, just a few decades after the death and resurrection of Jesus, Christians stopped referring to Him with disambiguators. We already see this in the Pauline and Petrine epistles, where we rarely hear about Jesus “of Nazareth,” “the Galilean,” or “the son of Joseph,” and instead more commonly get His theological title, “the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 1:7, Gal. 1:3, 1 Tim. 1:2, Eph. 6:23, 1 Pet. 1:1, 2 Pet. 3:18, etc.) The fact that the title “Jesus Christ” arises so quickly in early Christianity, yet isn’t falsely mixed into Gospel dialogue, is a genuine mark of authenticity.

This is in contrast to known forgeries like the 2nd century “Gospel of Mary.” In this false Gospel, people simply speak of “Mary” with no disambiguators, despite this being one of the most popular female names in first century Judea! Likewise people call Jesus “the Savior,” instead of using His actual name with disambiguation. It’s incredibly unlikely that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John would all have avoided this error, and remembered to insert disambiguation in their fake dialogue to make it seem “more authentic" The simpler explanation is, as usual, the traditional one: the reason the Gospels record disambiguation in their dialogues, is because they record words that were actually spoken by people in 1st century Judea.


Why did Jesus wash the disciples’ feet?
Why did Jesus wash the disciples’ feet? The Gospel of John says that, on the night in which Jesus was betrayed, he did something unusual: He washed the disciples’ feet, and he did so in an extremely deliberate and even formal manner, taking upon himself a servant’s garb and role.

During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus … rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” …When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” (John 13.1– 15)

It is certainly possible that Jesus did this on that particular night for no special reason. Perhaps he simply wanted to teach this lesson about mutual service and humility before his death, as he instituted the Lord’s Supper on that same night. Still, one cannot help wondering why he washed their feet and drew the moral from it just then. If we could find an explanation in another Gospel, this would be interesting and satisfying. As it happens, there is such an explanation. Better still, it comes up in a Gospel that does not mention the foot-washing at all, though it is describing the same night:

A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.” (Luke 22.24–27)

Once this piece of information is in place, it is difficult to doubt that this is the explanation for Jesus’ object lesson. Like competitive siblings, the disciples were arguing, not for the first time, about which of them was the greatest—probably about which was to be the most important when he established his kingdom. (Compare Mark 9.34 and Matt 20.21.) In response to their dispute, Jesus rose from supper and served them by washing their feet as a servant would do, then explained to them what they were supposed to understand from what he had done. This coincidence illustrates an important point. While the strength of a coincidence will indeed be greater if an event that prompts a question is highly improbable, it does not follow that a coincidence is valueless if the events involved might have other explanations. In this case, while we could envisage Jesus as washing the disciples’ feet “out of the blue,” simply to teach a lesson, the further information that they had been bickering fits together in such a satisfying way with Jesus’ action that the conclusion that the bickering explains the foot-washing on that particular night is quite well-supported when all data are taken into account. I note, too, that the Gospels of Mark and Matthew already give an example in which Jesus used an object lesson to reprove the disciples for one-upmanship. In Mark 9.33– 37 the disciples have been debating which of them is the greatest. There, Jesus takes a child and places him in the midst of them after telling them that whoever wants to be the first among them must be the servant of all. (Compare Matt 18.1–4.) Alert readers may have noticed that there is also an undesigned coincidence in the opposite direction between the passages in Luke and John concerning the disciples’ dispute and the foot-washing. Luke explains John; John explains Luke. But I will leave a discussion of the way that John explains Luke for the next chapter. This is not the only case where John and Luke fit together in such a way that each explains the other within the space of a few verses. John does not mention the dispute among the disciples. Luke does not mention the foot-washing. Put together, they give us a more complete picture than either gives alone. The fact that each Gospel gives different details is a reason to believe that they represent independent accounts of the same night 

This mention of the dispute on the night of the Last Supper is found only in Luke. It is thus evidence of Luke’s independent access to the events, not only independent of John but also independent of Matthew and Mark. If the author of Luke was indeed a companion of the Apostle Paul, he may, for example, have interviewed a different disciple about the events of that night. That person might have mentioned the dispute but not the footwashing. The author of the Gospel of John apparently remembers the story in his own way and chooses to describe the foot-washing but not the dispute. He doesn’t particularly feel a need to tell why Jesus washed their feet. His interest lies in telling about what Jesus did. Both are accurate, but their emphases are different, and they complement each other. This, again, is a mark of testimony to real events.




Hidden In Plain View: Undesigned Coincidences in the Gospels and Acts
https://3lib.net/book/16749466/4c0b41

https://reasonandscience.catsboard.com

3Are the gospels reliable ?  Empty Re: Are the gospels reliable ? Sun 23 Jan 2022 - 1:45

Otangelo


Admin

Jesus was quoting from the Hebrew Scroll of Isaiah. And it included the phrase “and recovery of sight to the blind” just like the Greek Septuagint. Today’s Hebrew Masoretic text is missing the phrase “and recovery of sight to the blind.”
The Jews removed that phrase because Jesus fulfilled it. No prophet prior to Jesus ever healed the blind. Isaiah 61 says that the Messiah will heal the blind, which is something nobody else had done before him. So the Jewish scribes removed that phrase from the text.
Today’s Hebrew Masoretic text is corrupt. But the Greek Septuagint reflects the original Hebrew that Jesus quoted from.

https://reasonandscience.catsboard.com

Otangelo


Admin

Lydia McGrew: Hidden In Plain View: Undesigned Coincidences in the Gospels and Acts 

https://reasonandscience.catsboard.com/t1506-are-the-gospels-reliable#9181

https://pt.3lib.net/book/17388611/9c15d8

Many episodes in the gospels are described partially by one account, and completed in another. One information sums up the information in one of the other gospels. So they are complementary. That is evidence that the eyewitnesses that wrote the gospels, each of them did remember one part of the event, and summing them up together, we have a more complete picture. If the gospels were invented, then that would hardly be the case. 

in the Gospels How can we know that what the Gospels relate about Jesus of Nazareth is true? They are full of miracles. To some, that seems to show that they evolved as legends based on a historical but merely human figure. How can we know that the Gospels are historically reliable? These and similar questions will bother many thoughtful Christians at some point in their lives.  

The evidence from undesigned coincidences would be difficult to fake, and it would be even more unlikely to come about by sheer chance in non-factual or manipulated stories.  undesigned coincidences create an “Aha!” moment for the person who gets a particular argument. The evidence is a mark of truth. As I discussed in the general introduction, it is the kind of thing that we find in real human testimony and real human events. 

The disciples risked their lives, and actually died as martyrs, to attest that Jesus rose, not in some vague, spiritual sense but in the robust, bodily sense described in the Gospels, that tells us about the truth of those claims.

Many episodes in the gospels are described partially by one account, and completed in another. One information sums up the information in one of the other gospels. So they are complementary. That is evidence that the eyewitnesses that wrote the gospels, each of them did remember one part of the event, and summing them up together, we have a more complete picture. If the gospels were invented, then that would hardly be the case. 

How did John the Baptist know that Jesus was the Son of God? 
The Gospel of John tells the baptism of Jesus in an interesting way—by way of a flashback narrated by John the Baptist. By the time the first scene of the Gospel opens, it appears that the baptism has already taken place. John the Baptist, after pointing Jesus out as the Lamb of God, says this, 

“This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 

And John bore witness: 

“I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.” (John 1.30–34) 

The detail of the Holy Spirit descending like a dove, familiar from Christian art throughout the ages, is also found in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. John the Baptist as quoted in John is explicit: He discovered who Jesus was at the time of his baptism because of a combination of factors— an interior revelation to himself from God and the visible sign of the Spirit descending like a dove. So far, so clear. Those of us who are familiar with the baptismal accounts in Matthew, Mark, and Luke are apt to overlook, however, what John the Baptist leaves unexplained in this account of the baptism. He does not say why he bore witness that Jesus is the Son of God. There is no statement here that John the Baptist received a revelation that the one he was waiting for was the Son of God. One can infer that John knew something “heavy” about the one he foretold from his cryptic reference to him as “being before him,”. But this certainly is not a clear statement that the one to come is the Son of God. In any event, John the Baptist seems to be referring to some further knowledge that he gained at the time of the baptism from something specific that occurred then. He says that he has “seen and borne witness that this is the Son of God.” But why would the sight of the Spirit descending like a dove tell him that? What he recounts as a personal revelation is that the person on whom the Spirit descends is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit. Nothing about being the Son of God. The answer is found in a well-known detail of the baptism of Jesus, but one that is not told in the Gospel of John. Here it is from Matthew:

And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matt 3.16–17)

 Mark 1.11 and Luke 3.22 are similar. Now John’s words are explained: John the Baptist and all who witnessed the scene at the baptism had reason to think that Jesus was the Son of God because a voice from heaven said that he was the Son of God. If we take it that the events recounted in the other Gospels actually occurred, this explains the words of John the Baptist in the Gospel of John. The fit between John the Baptist’s words and the voice from heaven also confirms John. Suppose for a moment that John the evangelist were not giving a reliable, partly independent, factual account of events, including the testimony of John the Baptist. Suppose that, for example, he were putting words in John the Baptist’s mouth, telling about the baptism partly fictionally and partly based on accounts in the earlier Gospels. That hypothesis does not explain the omission of the voice from heaven from John the Baptist’s words in John. If the Gospel author were inventing a speech for John the Baptist based upon other accounts of events, he would at least be expected to make the speech complete, not to write it in a way that raises unnecessary questions. John the Baptist’s account would also be even more dramatic and theologically profound if it included the voice from heaven, and it would have been simple to include the voice in a single additional sentence. John the Baptist could have been made to say, “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. And I heard the mighty voice from heaven that said, ‘This is my beloved Son.’” As discussed in the previous section, the Gospel of John begins by affirming at length and with much theological depth that Jesus is the only Son of the Father (John 1.14). John certainly wishes to teach that Jesus is the Son of God. But in all of this, neither in the preface nor in the narrative account of the words of John the Baptist does he ever mention the voice from heaven. In a fictionalized account, especially one from so theological a writer as John, this is an astonishing omission. In a truthful account, it is not surprising at all. In fact, the hypothesis that provides the best explanation of the coincidence noted in this section (and the one in the previous section) is the most simple-minded, the one that might seem the most naïve—namely, that the author of the Gospel recorded these words and attributed them to John the Baptist because that is the way that John the Baptist actually told the story, and the author of the fourth Gospel knew what he said, perhaps even from hearing it himself. John the Baptist’s words, including their inclusions and omissions, are readily explicable in the context in which they are set. Jesus’ baptism has occurred, we can guess, about six weeks previously. Based on the Synoptic Gospels we can conjecture that Jesus went away to be tempted in the wilderness and has recently returned. John the Baptist sees him upon his return and begins talking about him, either to the crowds or to his own disciples or to both. Like most eyewitnesses, John the Baptist does not tell everything. He selects details. His focus at this point is on his own partial knowledge prior to the baptism and his progressive understanding of who Jesus is. He is telling his audience, perhaps consisting mainly of people who were present at the baptism, how his interior revelations concerning the descent of the Holy Spirit were fulfilled in what he saw at the baptism. He marvels and goes over, again and again, the fact that he did not even know before that Jesus was the one to come. This may have been all the more striking to him if he had known Jesus previously as a kinsman. Now, in light of the knowledge that Jesus is the Son of God, his own earlier words, “He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me” take on a profound meaning, since John the Baptist knows that his cousin is younger than he is by several months. So he repeats that, too, with emphasis, and makes his own avowal, based on what he saw and heard at the baptism, that Jesus is the Son of God. In all that he has to say, he simply happens to leave out the voice from heaven, and that is how his words are reported in the Gospel of John. It should not be assumed that, because the Gospel writer emphasizes certain aspects of the narrative for his own theological purposes, he, therefore, treats John the Baptist as a malleable character into whose mouth he puts his own ideas. Nor is that the picture that emerges from a careful examination of the text.

Why were the water pots empty? 
The account in John of the wedding at Cana where Jesus turns water into wine begins like this: On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. (John 2.1–7) John says that the water jars were there “for the Jewish rites of purification.” But in that case wouldn’t they be expected to be full of water? Empty water jars aren’t very useful for purification rites. John doesn’t bother to give any further explanation of those rites or of the empty jars. He wants to get on with telling his story, and the crucial point for the story is that Jesus told the servants to fill the jars with water. The miracle of water into wine doesn’t come up in any of the other Gospels, so the explanation of the empty water pots is not to be found in another Gospel’s account of the same incident. Both Mark (7.1–5) and Matthew (15.2), however, mention a separate incident in which the Pharisees challenge Jesus because his disciples are insufficiently ritually pure. They do not follow the tradition of the elders; they eat their food with unwashed hands. Mark, apparently with a Gentile audience in mind, goes into detail about the reason for this accusation:

Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” (Mark 7.1–5)

The empty water pots at Cana are now explained. The pots had already served their purpose and had been emptied in the process; the wedding guests had already ritually washed before eating and drinking at the wedding feast. This detail does not, of course, prove that the story of the miracle at Cana is true. It’s important to realize that the argument from undesigned coincidences is a cumulative argument, and I will come back to this point from time to time. What the empty water pots do tell us is that John is telling the story in the way that a truthful witness reports—namely, without stopping to give unnecessary explanations. He is getting on with the story, mentioning or implying details in passing that make sense when they are understood against a backdrop of independent information. That independent information comes here from the Gospel of Mark, written earlier.

“Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood…” 
I have hesitated about including the following coincidence in this book, because the interpretation of the passage in John’s Gospel, not to mention the interpretation of the passages with which I compare it in the Synoptic Gospels, is highly controversial along denominational lines. My intent in this book is that Christians from a variety of denominations will be able to see that these coincidences support the reliability and eyewitness nature of the texts, so I prefer that no item should depend crucially upon an interpretation that is hotly contested among orthodox theologians or is regarded as “belonging” to a particular denomination. But undesigned coincidences are data, and the data in this case reveal a coincidence between John and the Synoptic Gospels, which I present for the reader’s consideration. It will emerge from the discussion that the coincidence is durable in the sense that it supports the reliability of John despite different possible interpretations of the relevant passages. There is a striking similarity between the language Jesus uses concerning eating his flesh and drinking his blood in what is known as the bread of life discourse, found only in John 6, and in the institution of the Lord’s Supper, found in all three of the Synoptic Gospels but not in John.

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” (John 6.53–56)

Compare this passage to, for example, the words of institution in the Gospel of Luke: And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, 

“This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood… .” (Luke 22.19–20)

Mark and Matthew also refer to eating Jesus’ body and drinking his blood in parallel passages (Mark 14.22–24 and Matt 26.26–29). There is a well-known tradition of interpretation that insists that John 6 is absolutely not about Communion in any sense at all but only about believing in Jesus by faith, whether or not in connection with receiving Communion. Perhaps the most famous proponent of this view was Martin Luther,  who insisted that “the sixth chapter of John does not refer at all to the Supper.”  Luther, as it happens, was a sacramentalist, holding to consubstantiation (the view that in some sense the body and blood of Jesus are “in, with, and under” the elements of bread and wine in Communion), but many non-sacramentalists have, quite understandably, adopted Luther’s interpretation of John 6 as having nothing whatsoever to do with Communion. I should admit frankly that this insistence that Jesus’ words in John 6 do not have anything to do with the Lord’s Supper seems to me extreme and implausible. Assuming that Jesus spoke the words in John 6 at all (a point to which I will return shortly), it would seem that such an insistence means that the exact similarity of the wording between the passages is at most the result of Jesus’ general fondness for the metaphor of eating his flesh and  drinking his blood. Moreover, this view would seem to mean that in John 6 the metaphor refers to believing in him by faith at any time and in any context but that in the words of institution it refers more specifically to believing in him and remembering his death when one partakes of Communion. Despite the similarity of wording, the disciples, apparently, were not expected to recognize his words at the institution as connected in any special way to the discourse which made such a stir, recorded in John 6, but were to have understood both teachings merely to use a striking and even disturbing metaphor for faith in Jesus in some context or another. All of this seems to me quite strained, perhaps motivated in part by the idea that Jesus could not have been speaking in John 6 about a rite that he had not yet instituted. My own interpretive conclusions notwithstanding, however, the claim that John 6 is not at all about Communion cannot be entirely set aside, if for no other reason than that (I suspect) a fair number of the readers of this book accept that interpretation. Alternatively, one can hold that Jesus was speaking of the Lord’s Supper in John 6, not in the sense that the crowds were expected to understand this at that time by his teaching, but in the sense that he was alluding cryptically to something that he would make clearer later to those who continued to follow him. This sort of veiled allusion would hardly be uncharacteristic of Jesus’ teaching as we find it elsewhere. For example, his words to Nicodemus about the Holy Spirit in John 3 would not have been clear to Nicodemus at the time but would have become much clearer in the light of Pentecost. The statement, “Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up” recorded in John 2.19 is glossed by John, in hindsight, as referring to the resurrection, but Jesus himself apparently did not explain it at the time. If one takes Jesus to be teaching in John 6 in anticipation of his own later institution of the Lord’s Supper, there is a further division that can be made: One can hold a memorialist view and take it that Jesus was alluding in advance to the Lord’s Supper and that the disciples would have understood only later that he was urging the importance of remembering his death by means of that commanded rite. Or one can hold some version of sacramentalism, whether it be transubstantiation, consubstantiation, or a spiritual Real Presence view. What does all of this have to do with undesigned coincidences? Can one agree that there is an undesigned coincidence between John 6 and the words of institution if one holds Luther’s view on the interpretation of John 6? If one holds that Jesus was foreshadowing the Lord’s Supper in John 6, regardless of whether or not one holds a sacramental view of Communion, one can view the similarity of language (rightly, I believe) as a straightforward, familiar type of undesigned coincidence between the passages. The passage in John 6 raises the question, “Why did Jesus talk to the people about such an odd thing as eating his flesh and drinking his blood?” and this question is answered by the institution of the Lord’s Supper. The institution is recorded only in the Synoptics, and Jesus’ discourse on himself as the bread of life and on the necessity of eating his flesh and drinking his blood is recorded only in John. The answer to the question is that he spoke this way in John 6 in anticipation of instituting the Lord’s Supper at the end of his ministry, expecting his followers to put it all together later if they persevered in discipleship (as contrasted with those who fell away in John 6.66–67). This is the kind of undesigned coincidence we have seen already, in which a question is raised by one Gospel and the answer found only in one or more of the other Gospels. Such a coincidence confirms both accounts by means of the fit between question and answer. But what if one is insistent that John 6 is not about the Lord’s Supper at all? In that case, the following argument still applies: Suppose, hypothetically, that Jesus did not give the bread of life discourse at all. Suppose, for example, that John made it up and inserted it into the Gospel for theological reasons. In that case, where did he get the language about eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking his blood? Even someone who thinks that there is no actual teaching about Communion in the passage should recognize that, if the passage were not genuine, the language put into Jesus’ mouth almost certainly would have been borrowed from the words of institution in the Synoptic Gospels. But in that case, a critic who denies the authenticity of the discourse in John 6 faces a conundrum. Why did John not include the institution of Communion in his own Gospel? Why does he leave the odd and difficult bread of life discourse dangling, using eucharistic-sounding language but without making any connection to the very passage from which he borrowed that language? Indeed, even if John had included the institution of the Lord’s Supper, the connection would be inexplicit, as the two passages would come far apart in the Gospel without any obvious connection. One might have expected even more than mere inclusion of the Lord’s Supper if the bread of life discourse is an invention. Just as John pauses to inform the reader that Jesus spoke of the temple of his body in John 2, one might expect John to pause after noting the disgust and puzzlement of the crowd in John 6 and gloss Jesus’ words as referring to his body given in the Lord’s Supper. 8 That, at any rate, would not be an unreasonable expectation if he had gone to the trouble to invent the discourse. But at least we would expect that he would include the institution of the Lord’s Supper itself. This is all the more likely since the purpose of such an invention of the discourse would presumably be theological, but including the words about eating his flesh and drinking his blood without any connection to the Supper or to any other passage on the same theme does little to serve a theological agenda. Here it should be noted that the argument from undesigned coincidences often gives us evidence that the Gospel writers saw themselves first and foremost as witnesses to the deeds and words of Jesus Christ, not primarily as authors of literary and/or theologically sculpted works. Those two roles are not necessarily in conflict, so long as the author of the literary or theological work is always scrupulous about his role as a witness—for example, so long as he does not ever “make” things happen in a way contrary to the way that, to the best of his knowledge, they actually happened. But it is particularly noticeable that the Gospel authors often seem to write with the lack of affectation that we find in a person whose primary purpose is getting important information out there, getting down what happened, making it available, rather than in one whose primary purpose is to fit together what he writes in a polished manner. The author of the Gospel of John is certainly theological, perhaps more so than any of the other Gospel writers. But again and again we find him including items in his Gospel without their full explanations, apparently just because he wanted his readers to know that they happened. That sort of approach on John’s part is a perfectly good explanation of the presence of the John 6 discourse and the absence of the account of the institution of the Lord’s Supper in John. The fact that we find John apparently doing this type of thing repeatedly argues for the priorities of the witness rather than the priorities of the theologian or literary craftsman, and it fits well with statements within the Gospel itself, most notably John 19.35: “He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe.”

One does not need to hold that Jesus’ words in John 6, taken as genuine, are actually about the Lord’s Supper to see the force of this argument. If John had faked the discourse, it is highly unlikely that he would not include the institution. Since he does not include the institution but does include the discourse, leaving it as a puzzle over which theologians have argued down the ages, the better explanation is that he includes the discourse because it actually happened and because he knows that it actually happened and wants to tell about it. He doesn’t include the Lord’s Supper when he tells about the Last Supper because he has other things he wants to include at that point in his Gospel instead that are not found in the Synoptic Gospels—things like Jesus’ washing the disciples’ feet (John 13), the high priestly prayer (John 17), and several chapters of additional teachings of Jesus found only in John’s account of Jesus’ last night with his disciples. Since his purpose is to be a witness to Jesus more than the crafter of a unified theological and literary work of art, and since he is in all events testifying to what he knows is true, he does not worry about the fact that the bread of life discourse with its surprising language is not particularly connected to anything else in his own Gospel. If you take the discourse in John 6 to be about the Lord’s Supper, you will take the undesigned coincidence to be of one kind: What lies behind both it and the words of institution is the reality that Jesus said both of them and that Jesus wanted in both of them to teach about the Lord’s Supper. On the other hand, if you take the discourse in John 6 to be about believing on Jesus and not about the Lord’s Supper at all, you will take the undesigned coincidence to be of a somewhat different kind: On that view, the coincidence of language is explained by Jesus’ preference for that particular metaphor, which he used in both places as a way of teaching about believing in him in various contexts. For a similar explanation in terms of Jesus’ use of language, see #6, below, on Jesus’ use of the metaphor of “the cup.” In either case, the coincidence supports the reliability of John in his unique material. 

Why did Jesus wash the disciples’ feet? 
The Gospel of John says that, on the night in which Jesus was betrayed, he did something unusual: He washed the disciples’ feet, and he did so in an extremely deliberate and even formal manner, taking upon himself a servant’s garb and role. 

During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus … rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” …When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” (John 13.1– 15)

 It is certainly possible that Jesus did this on that particular night for no special reason. Perhaps he simply wanted to teach this lesson about mutual service and humility before his death, as he instituted the Lord’s Supper on that same night. Still, one cannot help wondering why he washed their feet and drew the moral from it just then. If we could find an explanation in another Gospel, this would be interesting and satisfying. As it happens, there is such an explanation. Better still, it comes up in a Gospel that does not mention the foot-washing at all, though it is describing the same night:

A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.” (Luke 22.24–27)

 Once this piece of information is in place, it is difficult to doubt that this is the explanation for Jesus’ object lesson. Like competitive siblings, the disciples were arguing, not for the first time, about which of them was the greatest—probably about which was to be the most important when he established his kingdom. (Compare Mark 9.34 and Matt 20.21.) In response to their dispute, Jesus rose from supper and served them by washing their feet as a servant would do, then explained to them what they were supposed to understand from what he had done. This coincidence illustrates an important point. While the strength of a coincidence will indeed be greater if an event that prompts a question is highly improbable, it does not follow that a coincidence is valueless if the events involved might have other explanations. In this case, while we could envisage Jesus as washing the disciples’ feet “out of the blue,” simply to teach a lesson, the further information that they had been bickering fits together in such a satisfying way with Jesus’ action that the conclusion that the bickering explains the foot-washing on that particular night is quite well-supported when all data are taken into account. I note, too, that the Gospels of Mark and Matthew already give an example in which Jesus used an object lesson to reprove the disciples for one-upmanship. In Mark 9.33– 37 the disciples have been debating which of them is the greatest. There, Jesus takes a child and places him in the midst of them after telling them that whoever wants to be the first among them must be the servant of all. (Compare Matt 18.1–4.) Alert readers may have noticed that there is also an undesigned coincidence in the opposite direction between the passages in Luke and John concerning the disciples’ dispute and the foot-washing. Luke explains John; John explains Luke. But I will leave a discussion of the way that John explains Luke for the next chapter. This is not the only case where John and Luke fit together in such a way that each explains the other within the space of a few verses. John does not mention the dispute among the disciples. Luke does not mention the foot-washing. Put together, they give us a more complete picture than either gives alone. The fact that each Gospel gives different details is a reason to believe that they represent independent accounts of the same night. This mention of the dispute on the night of the Last Supper is found only in Luke. It is thus evidence of Luke’s independent access to the events, not only independent of John but also independent of Matthew and Mark.11 If the author of Luke was indeed a companion of the Apostle Paul, he may, for example, have interviewed a different disciple about the events of that night. That person might have mentioned the dispute but not the foot-washing. The author of the Gospel of John apparently remembers the story in his own way and chooses to describe the foot-washing but not the dispute. He doesn’t particularly feel a need to tell why Jesus washed their feet. His interest lies in telling about what Jesus did. Both are accurate, but their emphases are different, and they complement each other. This, again, is a mark of testimony to real events.

“Shall I not drink the cup?” 
John’s account of Jesus’ arrest says that Simon Peter cut off the ear of one of the high priest’s servants, and this event will play an important role in several of the undesigned coincidences I will be discussing. John says that Jesus rebuked Peter, and so do Matthew and Luke, but the words of rebuke in each Gospel are different. In John, Jesus uses a vivid metaphor for his coming death:

Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?” (John 18.10–11)

This expression, “Shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?” appears in no other Gospel’s account of this event. Even more striking, the Gospel of John never anywhere else portrays Jesus as using the metaphor of the cup to describe his crucifixion. So why does he use it here? The Synoptic Gospels give the answer. In their accounts of Jesus’ agonized prayers to his Father in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Synoptics all show Jesus using this very metaphor.

And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” (Matt 26.39–42)

Luke 22.42 and Mark 14.35–36 are similar.  Though John gives no version of this prayer at all, the Synoptics state that Jesus prayed that night in these very terms, asking that the Father would take from him the necessity of suffering crucifixion, calling it “the cup.” When Judas and the guards came to arrest him, Jesus accepted this as the Father’s decision to give him the cup, as shown by the words in John, “Shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?” Matthew and Mark tell of a different incident, also not recorded in John, in which Jesus used the same metaphor. When the mother of James and John asked that her sons might be allowed to sit on Jesus’ right and left hands when Jesus eventually came into his kingdom, he answered them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” (Mark 10.38), an allusion to his coming death. This makes it clear that this was a metaphor Jesus tended to use, though one would never draw that conclusion from reading John alone. This point strengthens the case for the historicity and eyewitness sources of the Synoptics, on the one hand, and John, on the other. They tell of different incidents in which Jesus used this metaphor of the cup for his death. Moreover, John’s account of Jesus’ specific words to Peter dovetails especially beautifully with the Synoptics’ account of Jesus’ anguished request to the Father on that very night. Yet John, though later than the Synoptic Gospels, made no attempt to include that prayer that the cup might pass, though it would help to explain his own account of what Jesus said when he was arrested. What we have here are different, interlocking details of the night of Jesus’ betrayal and arrest as told truthfully from different perspectives.
 
“Are you the king of the Jews?” 
When John describes the transfer of Jesus as a prisoner from the custody of the Jewish leaders to Pilate, he paints a vivid scene. The Jewish leaders take Jesus to the Praetorium early in the morning and rouse Pilate to judge his case. They refuse to enter the Praetorium lest they be ceremonially defiled, so Pilate (no doubt annoyed by being awakened to deal with a disturbance from his difficult subjects) goes out to them. He asks them what accusation they bring against Jesus, and they answer unhelpfully, “If this man were not doing evil, we would not have delivered him over to you.” (John 18.30) Pilate urges them to judge Jesus according to their own law, since (he suspects) the matter concerns only some violation of Jewish law. They reply, in a frankly bloodthirsty manner, that they are not authorized to put anyone to death, whereupon Pilate reluctantly re-enters the Praetorium and questions Jesus. Not a word is said in the account John gives of an accusation of sedition or any other political accusation against Jesus. But when Pilate confronts Jesus, the first thing he asks is, “Are you the king of the Jews?” (v 33) Why does Pilate ask this, if John’s account tells us all that the Jewish leaders have said against Jesus? Why would Pilate even think that Jesus claimed to be the king of the Jews? 

Luke alone among the Gospels answers this question. Luke tells of the original accusation like this: 

Then the whole company of them arose and brought him before Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.” And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” (Luke 23.1–3) 

So Luke’s sources evidently indicated that the Jewish leaders made an accusation of sedition against Jesus, forcing Pilate to intervene in the case. It is worth emphasizing the uniqueness of Luke in this respect, since both Matthew and Mark do have a generally similar scene in which Jesus is turned over to Pilate and Pilate asks Jesus whether he is the king of the Jews (Mark 15.1–3, Matt 27.11–12). They do not, however, record that the Jewish leaders accused Jesus of sedition when they brought him to Pilate. They merely mention unspecified charges and accusations. Luke is therefore adding details to this part of the story in some way independently of the earlier Gospels, even if we consider him to have been relying in some measure on Mark and/or Matthew. Luke is reporting independently, moreover, not only in whole passages that are unique but even in passages that cover the same events and contain similar wording. A skeptic might try to say that John’s and Luke’s accounts are in contradiction to one another, but there is no reason to think so unless one insists on taking them both to be complete accounts of everything that was said between Pilate and Jesus’ accusers. But why should we think that? Witnesses do not always give complete accounts. Rather, they often give accounts of what struck them or what they consider most interesting to mention at the time. It is entirely possible that the accusers said both what John gives and what Luke gives—that at first they grumbled to Pilate that they would not have brought Jesus if he were not an evildoer but that, upon Pilate’s trying to refuse the case and give it back to them to judge according to Jewish law, they made the incendiary accusation of sedition, which would bring a sentence of death from the Roman authorities if upheld. The fact that Luke does not tell about the initial slight insouciance toward Pilate and that John does not tell about the accusation of sedition shows the independence of the accounts from each other. The fact that the accounts fit together, with Luke explaining John, is both evidence of the truthfulness of the accounts and evidence that the sources of the accounts were very close to the facts.


What happened to Malchus’s ear? 
Let’s return to the incident in John 18 in which Peter cuts off the ear of the high priest’s servant. John alone gives the name of the servant, Malchus. For right now, consider the fact that John does not say anything further about what happened to the servant’s ear. For all one could tell from John (or from Matthew or Mark, for that matter), one might have thought that the servant went away bleeding from the fray and was left without one ear for the rest of his days. This makes the following detail, recounted in John, quite curious. Jesus assures Pilate that his kingdom is not of this world, and he gives the following argument for the unworldly nature of his kingdom: 

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” (John 18.36)

But the careful reader of John knows from a scene earlier in the same chapter that one of Jesus’ servants, Simon Peter, did fight, maiming someone, to prevent Jesus from being delivered over to the Jews. Had Pilate inquired into Jesus’ claim of unworldly peacefulness, wouldn’t Malchus have been produced, bloody and earless, as evidence for the belligerence of Jesus’ disciples and of his movement? Why (based only on John) would Jesus make this argument, knowing that such evidence could be produced against him? Once again, it is the Gospel of Luke that supplies the answer.  Describing the scene in the garden, Luke says,

While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” And when those who were around him saw what would follow, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him. Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders, who had come out against him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.” (Luke 22.47–53) 

Only Luke says that Jesus healed the servant’s ear, though Matthew and Mark also recount that the ear was cut off. Here again, Luke supplies a unique detail within a passage that is in some respects similar to the other Synoptic Gospels. And here, too, this detail is confirmed by an undesigned coincidence. If it is true that Jesus healed the servant’s ear, it explains Jesus’ words to Pilate, though those words are given only in John. Jesus could confidently declare that his kingdom is not of this world and even say that his servants would be fighting if his kingdom were not peaceful. If anyone tried to say that Peter cut off a servant’s ear, the wounded servant himself could not be produced to show this, and an admission that Jesus healed the ear would be further evidence of Jesus’ non-violent intentions, not to mention evidence of his miraculous abilities. This undesigned coincidence thus confirms John’s and Luke’s separate accounts of the events of Jesus’ passion and trial. I note here that the way in which Luke explains John involves a miracle; therefore, this undesigned coincidence is some confirmation of the occurrence of that miracle. As I mentioned in the introduction to Part I, it would be a mistake to think that the accounts of miracles in the Gospels are notably different from the accounts of non-miraculous events. In the previous section I argued that an undesigned coincidence confirms two different accounts of the way in which Jesus was first delivered to Pilate, neither of which is miraculous in any way. Here I am pointing out a coincidence that involves, among other things, Jesus’ healing the servant’s ear, which is a miracle. The coincidence concerning the empty water pots also involved the circumstances surrounding a miracle—turning water into wine at Cana. 

Why is Jesus being so mean? 
John’s Gospel tells about a long encounter between Jesus and his disciples after his resurrection. As John tells it, Jesus meets the disciples by the Sea of Galilee, shares a meal with them, and has an entire conversation with them. There is even more to the story, involving a miraculous catch of fish, but for this undesigned coincidence I want to focus on the conversation between Jesus and the disciples. As they are sitting together after breakfast, Jesus turns to Peter with a question:

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” (John 21.15–17) 

This seems almost cruel of Jesus. No doubt he is alluding to Peter’s denial of him, which is told in John 18.15–27. But why, specifically, does he ask Peter if he loves him more than the other disciples love him? That seems to be what is meant by, “Do you love me more than these?” Peter answers, “Yes, you know that I love you” but does not actually claim to love Jesus more than the other disciples do. Jesus himself has repeatedly urged the disciples not to have a spirit of competition among themselves (for example, in Luke 22.24–26), so why would he encourage Peter to compare his love to the love of the other disciples? Although John does say that Peter asked to go with Jesus and said that he was willing to die for him (John 13.37–38), in response to which Jesus foretold that Peter would deny him, John never portrays Peter as comparing his own love for Jesus with the love of the other disciples. So this detail of Jesus’ post-resurrection probing is unexplained in John. The explanation is found in Matthew and Mark (not in Luke this time). They both say that Peter stated not merely that he was willing to die for Jesus but, further, that even if all the other disciples forsook Jesus (as Jesus foretold), he never would do so: 

Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” (Matt 26.31–35) 

It seems that Jesus singles Peter out for questioning in these terms later not only because he denied him but also because he boasted that his love for Jesus was greater than the other disciples’ love. Mark 14.26–30 is similar to the passage in Matthew. Suppose that Jesus never rose from the dead and that the story of the breakfast by the Sea of Galilee were invented. Why, if that were the case, would the Gospel of John contain this bit of conversation that alludes to an earlier event, though John’s Gospel does not include the earlier story? Such an omission serves no literary purpose. Someone writing a literary work containing back-references and foreshadowings includes all of those aspects in the work. Similarly, if the author of John were careless about historicity and were including a legend that had grown up in some way in the Christian community, it seems that he would be more likely at least to include the story of Peter’s boast which explains this aspect of such a legend. He might even go so far as to make an explicit connection between the two passages. If, on the other hand, the author of John was a disciple and remembered the conversation, his intent in writing was not to produce a literary work or even a connected series of legendary stories. Rather, as a witness, he put down what was said because that was how he remembered it, casually, without bothering about including everything necessary to explain precisely why Jesus said this or that. It’s also interesting that this story is of a lengthy encounter between Jesus and the disciples after the resurrection. It is not a brief vision; it is not ambiguous. It is resolutely physical. Jesus has been cooking fish (John 21.9), and he shares bread and fish with them. He has an entire conversation with a group of his closest friends, covering more than one topic. If this represents accurately what the disciples were claiming happened, then they either lied, had the most improbable, polymodal hallucinations that just happened to fall upon all of them as a group in the same way at the same time, or told the truth. This is not the sort of event that a group of people could be merely mistaken about!

Think what a subtle and almost pointless form of deception it would be for the author of a non-factual book of John to leave out information in his own account, to raise questions by his own somewhat incomplete stories, in order that his stories might appear truthful because a really alert reader might find the explanations in earlier Gospels. That would be an extremely strange form of fakery. Many readers will not notice such coincidences at all. That the author of John was not attempting to fake correspondences between his own book and the earlier Gospels is also shown by the fact that there are, in fact, places where it is necessary to harmonize John with the other Gospels and even where we find apparent contradictions. For example, in John 6.3–5, Jesus goes up onto a mountain apparently before seeing the multitude coming, just before the feeding of the five thousand. But in Mark 6.34, in the account of what is clearly the same event, the Gospel states that Jesus first saw the multitude when disembarking from a boat, which would not be on the top of a mountain. The point here is not that such allegations of contradiction are unanswerable. For example, in this case one should note that Jesus does not feed the crowd immediately when he sees them in Mark 6 and that he is moving about amongst the crowds all day. So he might well have gone higher up the mountain and sat down shortly before the feeding, as recounted in John, meaning that the account in John is simply not exhaustive. The point is that, however one harmonizes the accounts, the Gospel of John definitely does not appear to be the work of someone contriving agreement between his own document and the earlier documents. Very much to the contrary. A skeptic who attempts to explain the undesigned coincidences in which the Synoptic Gospels explain John by hypothesizing a subtle, cunning deception must explain why the same author is so careless about connections with the earlier Gospels that he does not avoid simple, surface-level appearances of contradiction. 

“Many were coming and going” 
The Gospel of Mark introduces the feeding of the five thousand by telling of Jesus’ attempt to get away from the crowds with his disciples after the twelve returned from a preaching mission. 

The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. (Mark 6.30–31) 

One might at first guess that the reference to many “coming and going” is merely another allusion to the fact that Jesus was often pressed and followed by crowds. And indeed, as the passage goes on, Mark does say that the crowds found a way to follow Jesus (vv 34–35). But the phrase “many were coming and going” is slightly odd as a description of Jesus’ popularity alone and suggests that there was some other reason for a general bustle of crowds in their vicinity. But Mark gives no further explanation for the busyness surrounding them. John does, though without any appearance of intending to explain anything at all. John introduces the feeding of the five thousand like this: 

After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. (John 6.1–4) 

John notes that the crowd followed Jesus when he went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, but he does not mention that there were “many coming and going” in the location from which Jesus came. What John does mention in passing is the time of year—namely, just before Passover. 1 Josephus (War of the Jews 6.9.3) tells of an estimate of almost three million Jews in Jerusalem for Passover during the reign of Nero. Josephus also mentions difficulties caused by the Galileans’ habit of passing through Samaria on the way to Jerusalem for festivals (Antiquities 20.6.1). The biblical texts themselves speak often of the practice of traveling to Jerusalem for the festivals. (See, among others, Luke 2.41, John 2.13, John 7.1–8, Acts 2, Acts 20.16.) There is no doubt that Jews would have been on the roads in large numbers when the Passover was coming up. J. J. Blunt conjectures that Jesus was in Capernaum when he and his disciples were first troubled by the crowds, but Mark does not actually say so, and there is no need to assume that he was specifically in Capernaum.2 There was a Roman road that ran over the top and along the western edge of the Sea of Galilee.3 Jesus was evidently on the western side of the Sea of Galilee (see Mark 6:1-6) to begin with and took ship somewhere on that shore to try to get away from the crowds by going to a deserted area on the northeastern side of the Sea of Galilee near Bethsaida (see Luke 9.10, Matt 14.13). The major population centers of Tiberias and Capernaum were both on the west of the Sea, with the road between them, and things would have been busy indeed in that vicinity just before the Passover. But the correspondence here is so indirect that there can be no question that it is undesigned. Mark does not mention the Passover, and John does not mention the general bustle on the western side of the Sea of Galilee. Mark, being earlier, could not have coordinated deliberately with John. John, so far from attempting to coordinate with Mark, actually leaves himself open to the charge of contradicting Mark, as discussed at the end of the previous chapter. It is implausible enough to begin with that the author of John would have planted a hyper-subtle correspondence between his own Gospel and Mark’s by stating that Passover was at hand, without bothering to repeat Mark’s comment about the crowds on the eastern side of the sea. But it passes beyond implausible to bizarre to suggest that he would make so clever a connection while at the same time leaving apparent discrepancies on other matters of detail between his own account and Mark’s. The author of John, imagined as a deceiver, cannot be both extremely subtle and clever and extremely bumbling at the same time! The fact is that John gives the strong impression of writing an independent account of the feeding of the five thousand, so much so that one might even suspect that he had not recently heard or read the account in Mark. The best explanation for this correspondence (and for that matter, for the differences) between Mark’s and John’s account is that both are attempts, by someone close to the facts, to tell a truthful story. It is just so that honest witnesses both casually corroborate and differ from each other.



Lydia McGrew: Hidden In Plain View: Undesigned Coincidences in the Gospels and Acts 2017
https://pt.3lib.net/book/17388611/9c15d8

https://reasonandscience.catsboard.com

5Are the gospels reliable ?  Empty Re: Are the gospels reliable ? Tue 16 Aug 2022 - 7:42

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WHY 1 TIMOTHY WAS WRITTEN NO LATER THAN 55 AD & WHY THAT MATTERS
https://2besure.blogspot.com/2018/10/why-1-timothy-was-written-no-later-than.html

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6Are the gospels reliable ?  Empty APOLOGETICS: WHO WROTE THE GOSPELS? Fri 23 Sep 2022 - 21:32

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APOLOGETICS: WHO WROTE THE GOSPELS?

https://www.timothypauljones.com/apologetics-how-do-we-know-who-wrote-the-gospels-2/

Papias of Hierapolis, born in the first century, writing in the early second century in the region now known as western Turkey: “Mark, having become Peter’s translator, wrote down accurately whatever he remembered. It was not, however, in exact order that he related the sayings or deeds of Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor accompanied him. … He accompanied Peter, who accommodated his instructions to the necessities of his hearers, but with no intention of giving a ordered narrative of the Lord’s sayings. Wherefore Mark made no mistake in writing things as he remembered them. Of one thing he took special care, not to omit anything he had heard, and not to put anything fictitious into the statements. … Matthew put together sayings in the Hebrew language,* and each one translated them as best he could.”  Papias gathered his information about who wrote the Gospels through conversations with eyewitnesses of the life of Jesus; his words were preserved by Eusebius of Caesarea from texts that he possessed in the fourth century.

Irenaeus of Lyon, born in the early second century, writing in the late second century from the region known today as France: “There are four Gospels and only four, neither more nor less. … Christ is at the center of them. John actually speaks of his kingly and glorious sonship to the Father in his opening words: ‘In the beginning was the Word.’ Luke begins with Zechariah offering a sacrifice. Matthew chooses first of all the Lord’s human genealogy. And Mark leads off by calling on the prophetic Spirit which invests humanity from on high. …Matthew issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own language,* while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome, and laying the foundations of the Church. After their departure, Mark, Peter’s follower and translator, handed down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter. Luke also, the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel preached by him. Afterwards, John, the disciple of the Lord, who also had leaned on his chest, published a Gospel during his residence at Ephesus in Asia.”  Irenaeus probably gained at least some of his information through Polycarp of Smyrna, who was born in the first century and martyred in the mid-second century. Polycarp had been a companion of Papias; both Polycarp and Papias knew John the disciple of Jesus.

Muratorian Fragment, late second century, probably from Rome, on who wrote the Gospels According to Luke and John: [First portion of document has not survived] “…at which he was present, so he included them. The third book of the Gospel is according to Luke. Luke, the well-known physician, after the ascension of Christ, when Paul had taken with him as one zealous for the law, composed it in his own name, according to widespread belief. Yet he himself had not seen the Lord in the flesh; and therefore, as he was able to ascertain events, so indeed he begins to tell the story from the birth of John. The fourth of the Gospels is that of John, one of the disciples. To his fellow disciples and overseers, who had been urging him to write, he said, ‘Fast with me from today to the third day, and what will be revealed to each one of us, let us tell one another.’ In the same night it was revealed to Andrew, one of the apostles, that John should write down all things in his own name while all of them should review it. And so, though various elements may be taught in the individual books of the Gospels, nevertheless this makes no difference to the faith of believers, since by the one sovereign Spirit all things have been declared in all of them concerning the birth, the death, the resurrection, his life with his disciples, and his twofold coming; the first in lowliness when he was despised, which has taken place, the second glorious in royal power, which is still in the future.”

The Gospel of Luke
Luke the Physician who wrote the gospel bearing his name and is also clearly the author of the Book of Acts has been hailed as one of the greatest historians of all time due to the empirical evidence of his dates, times, places, and names recorded in his gospel. Luke was a companion of the Apostle Paul and the many references of “we” and “us” in the Book of Acts, plus the introduction in Acts leaves no room for doubt about his authorship of both the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts (Luke 1:1-4; Acts 1:1-2). At one time, both the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts may have been one book separated as chapters might have been. There is no biblical evidence that Luke was ever a disciple of Christ or an apostle but instead, he was a Greek by birth and was a highly educated man who came to saving faith by Paul’s witness (Col 4:11). Luke’s audience may have been the Greeks since he himself was a Greek and that his purpose in writing this gospel was to reveal that Jesus was the Son of God. The Gospel of Luke contains the greatest number of medical references of all the gospels including that of the Birth of Christ, the Passion, and the crucifixion.

Both the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts have been dated somewhere between AD 61-65 since there is no mention of the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and it would have been amazing that there would have been no mention of such an historical event of titanic proportions. Also, the dating seems true since the ending of the Book of Acts shows that Paul was still living at the end (Acts 28:30-31).
https://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/matthew-mark-luke-john-a-look-at-the-gospel-writers/

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F.F.Bruce:  THE NEW TESTAMENT DOCUMENTS Are They Reliable? 2003 

The New Testament Documents: Their Date and Attestation

The New Testament as we know it consists of twenty-seven short Greek writings, commonly called ‘books’, the first five of which are historical in character and are thus of more immediate concern for our present study. Four of these we call the Gospels because each of them narrates the gospel-the good news that God revealed Himself in Jesus  Christ for the redemption of mankind. All four relate the sayings and doings of Christ, but  can scarcely be called biographies in our modern sense of the word, as they deal almost exclusively with the last two or three years of His life, and devote what might seem a disproportionate space to the week immediately preceding His death. They are not intended to be ‘Lives’ of Christ, but rather to present from distinctive points of view, and originally for different publics, the good news concerning Him. The first three Gospels (those according to Matthew, Mark, and Luke), because of certain features which link them together, are commonly called the ‘Synoptic Gospels. The fifth historical writing, the Acts of the Apostles, is actually a continuation of the third Gospel, written by the same author, Luke the physician and companion of the apostle Paul. It gives us an account of the rise of Christianity after the resurrection and ascension of Christ, and of its extension in a westerly direction from Palestine to Rome, within about thirty years of the crucifixion. Of the other writings, twenty-one are letters. Thirteen of these bear the name of Paul, nine of them being addressed to churches and four to individuals.

THEIR DATE AND ATTESTATION 

Another letter, the Epistle to the Hebrews, is anonymous, but was at an early date bound up with the Pauline Epistles, and came to be frequently ascribed to Paul. It was probably written shortly before AD 70 to a community of Jewish Christians in Italy. Of the remaining letters, one bears the name of James, probably the brother of our Lord; one of Jude, who calls himself the brother of James; two of Peter; and there are three which bear no name, but because of their obvious affinities with the fourth Gospel have been known from early days as the Epistles of John. The remaining book is the Apocalypse or book of the Revelation. It belongs to a literary genre which, though strange to our minds, was well known in Jewish and Christian circles in those days, the apocalyptic.’ The Revelation is introduced by seven covering letters, addressed to seven churches in the province of Asia. The author, John by name, was at the time exiled on the island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea and reports a series of visions that symbolically portray the triumph of Christ both in His own passion and in the sufferings of His people at the hand of His enemies and theirs. The book was written in the days of the Flavian emperors (AD 69-96) to encourage hard-pressed Christians with the assurance that, notwithstanding the apparent odds against which they had to contend, their victory was not in doubt; Jesus, not Caesar, had been invested by the Almighty with the sovereignty of the world. Of these twenty-seven books, then, we are chiefly concerned at present with the first five, which are cast in narrative form, though the others, and especially the letters of Paul, are important for our purpose in so far as they contain historical allusions or otherwise throw light on the Gospels and Acts.

What are the dates of these documents? 

The crucifixion of Christ took place, it is generally agreed, about AD 30. According to Luke iii. I, the activity of John the Baptist, which immediately preceded the commencement of our Lord’s public ministry, is dated in ‘the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar’. Now, Tiberius became emperor in August, AD 14, and according to the method of computation current in Syria, which Luke would have followed, his fifteenth year commenced in September or October, AD. The fourth Gospel mentions three Passovers after this time; the third Passover from that date would be the Passover of AD 30, at which it is probable on other grounds that the crucifixion took place. At this time, too, we know from other sources that Pilate was Roman governor of Judaea, Herod Antipas was tetrarch of Galilee, and Caiaphas was Jewish high priest. The New Testament was complete, or substantially complete, about AD 100, the majority of the writings being in existence twenty to forty years before this. In this country a majority of modern scholars fix the dates of the four Gospels as follows: Matthew, c. 85-90; Mark, c. 65; Luke, c. 80-85; John, c. 90-100. I should be inclined to date the first three Gospels rather earlier: Mark shortly after AD 60, Luke between 60 and 70, and Matthew shortly after 70. One criterion which has special weight with me is the relation that these writings appear to bear to the destruction of the city and temple of Jerusalem by the Romans in AD 70. My view of the matter is that Mark and Luke were written before this event, and Matthew not long afterward. But even with the later dates, the situation’ is encouraging from the historian’s point of view, for the first three Gospels were written at a time when man, were alive who could remember the things that Jesus said and did, and some at least would still be alive when the fourth Gospel was written. If it could be determined that the writers of the Gospels used sources of information belonging to an earlier date, then the situation would be still more encouraging. 

The date of the writing of Acts will depend on the date we affix to the third Gospel, for both are parts of one historical work, and the second part appears to have been written soon after the first. There are strong arguments for dating the twofold work not long after Paul’s two years’ detention in Rome (AD 60-62)Some scholars, however, consider that the ‘former treatise’ to which Acts originally formed the sequel was not our present Gospel of Luke but an earlier draft, sometimes called ‘ProtoLuke’; this enables them to date Acts in the sixties, while holding that the Gospel of Luke in its final form was rather later. The dates of the thirteen Pauline Epistles can be fixed partly by internal and partly by external evidence. The day has gone by when the authenticity of these letters could be denied wholesale. There are some writers today who would reject Ephesians; fewer would reject 2 Thessalonians; more would deny that the Pastoral Epistles (I and ~ Timothy and Titus) came in their present form from the hand of Paul.’ I accept them all as Pauline, but the remaining eight letters would by themselves be sufficient for our purpose, and it is from these that the main arguments are drawn in our later chapter on ‘The Importance of Paul’s Evidence’. Ten of the letters which bear Paul’s name belong to the period before the end of his Roman imprisonment. These ten, in order of writing, maybe dated as follows: Galatians, 48; I and 2 Thessalonians, 50; Philippians, 54; I and 2 Corinthians, 54-56; Romans, 57; Colossians, Philemon, and Ephesians, c. 60. The Pastoral Epistles, in their diction and historical atmosphere, contain signs of later date than the other Pauline Epistles, but this presents less difficulty to those who believe in a second imprisonment of Paul at Rome about the year 64, which was ended by his execution.’ The Pastoral Epistle can then be dated c. 63-64, and the changed state of affairs in the Pauline churches to which they bear witness will have been due in part to the opportunity which Paul’s earlier Roman imprisonment afforded to his opponents m these churches. At any rate, the time elapsing between the evangelic events and the writing of most of the New Testament books was, from the standpoint of historical research, satisfactorily short. For assessing the trustworthiness of ancient historical writings, one of the most important questions is: How soon after the events took place were they recorded ?

What is the evidence for their early existence? 

About the middle of the last century it was confidently asserted by a very influential school of thought that some of the most important books of the New Testament, including the Gospels and the Acts, did not exist before the thirties of the second century AD. This conclusion was the result not so much of historical evidence as of philosophical presuppositions. Even then there was sufficient historical evidence to show how unfounded these theories were, as Lightfoot, Tischendorf, Tregelles, and others demonstrated in their writings; but the amount of such evidence available in our own day is so much greater and more conclusive that the first-century date for most of the New Testament writings cannot reasonably be denied, no matter what our philosophical presuppositions may be. The evidence for our New Testament writings is ever so much greater than the evidence for many writings of classical authors, the authenticity of which no one dreams of questioning. And if the New Testament were a collection of secular writings, their authenticity would generally be regarded as beyond all doubt. It is a curious fact that historians have often been much readier to trust the New Testament records than have many theologians. Somehow or other, there are people who regard a ‘sacred book’ as ipso facto under suspicion and demand much more corroborative evidence for such a work than they would for an ordinary secular or pagan writing. From the viewpoint of the historian, the same standards must be applied to both. But we do not quarrel with those who want more evidence for the New Testament than for other writings; firstly, because the universal claims which the New Testament makes upon mankind are so absolute, and the character and works of its chief Figure so unparalleled, that we want to be as sure of its truth as we possibly can; and secondly, because in point of fact there is much more evidence for the New Testament than for other ancient writings of comparable date. There are in existence about 5,000 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament in whole or in part. The best and most important of these go back to somewhere about AD 350, the two most important being the Codex Vaticanus, the chief treasure of the Vatican Library in Rome, and the wellknown Codex Sinaiticus, which the British Government purchased from the Soviet Government for £100,000 on Christmas Day, 1933, and which is now the chief treasure of the British Museum. 

Two other important early MSS in this country are the Codex Alexandrinus, also in the British Museum, written in the fifth century, and the Codex Bezae: in Cambridge University Library, written in the fifth or sixth century, and containing the Gospels and Acts in both Greek and Latin. Perhaps we can appreciate how wealthy the New Testament is in manuscript attestation if we compare the textual material for other ancient historical works. For Caesar’s Gallic War (composed between 58 and 50 BC) there are several extant MSS, but only nine or ten are good, and the oldest is some goo years later than Caesar’s day. Of the 142 books of the Roman History of Livy (59 BC-AD 17) only thirty-five survive; these are known to us from not more than twenty MSS of any consequence, only one of which, and that containing fragments of Books iii-vi, is as old as the fourth century. Of the fourteen books of the Histories of Tacitus (c. AD 100) only four and a half survive; of the sixteen books of his Annals, ten survive in full and two in part. The text of these extant portions of has two great historical works depends entirely on two MSS, one of the ninth century and one of the eleventh. The extant MSS of his minor works (Dialogue dc Oratoribus, Agricola, Germania) all descend from a codex of the tenth century The History of Thucydides (c. 460-400 BC) is known to us from eight MSS, the earliest belonging to c. AD 900, and a few papyrus scraps, belonging to about the beginning of the Christian era The same is true of the History of Herodotus (c. 488-428 BC). Yet no classical scholar would listen to an argument that the authenticity of Herodotus or Thucydides is in doubt because the earliest MSS of their works which are of any use to us are over 1,300 years later than the originals. But how different is the situation of the New Testament in this respect! In addition to the two excellent MSS of the fourth century mentioned above, which are the earliest of some thousands known to us, considerable fragments remain of papyrus copies of books of the New Testament dated from 100 to 200 years earlier still. The Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri, the existence of which was made public in 1931, consist of portions of eleven papyrus codices, three of which contained most of the New Testament writings. One of these, containing the four Gospels with Acts, belongs to the first half of the third century; another, containing Paul’s letters to churches and the Epistle to the Hebrews, was copied at the beginning of the third century; the third, containing Revelation, belongs to the second half of the same century.

A more recent discovery consists of some papyrus fragments dated by papyrological experts not later than AD 150, published in Fragments of an Unknown Gospel and other Early Christian Papyri, by H. I. Bell and T. C. Skeat (1935). These fragments contain what has been thought by some to be portions of a fifth Gospel having strong affinities with the canonical four; but much more probable is the view expressed in The Times Literary Supplement for 25 April 1935, ‘that these fragments were written by someone who had the four Gospels before him and knew them well; that they did not profess to be an independent Gospel; but were paraphrases of the stories and other matter in the Gospels designed for explanation and instruction, a manual to teach people the Gospel stories’. Earlier still is a fragment of a papyrus codex containing John xviii. 31-33, 37 f, now in the John Rylands Library, Manchester, dated on palaeographical grounds around AD 130, showing that the latest of the four Gospels, which was written, according to tradition, at Ephesus between AD 90 and 100, was circulating in Egypt within about forty years of its composition (if, as is most likely, this papyrus originated in Egypt, where it was acquired in 1917). It must be regarded as being, by half a century, the earliest extant fragment of the New Testament. A more recently discovered papyrus manuscript of the same Gospel, while not so early as the Rylands papyrus, is incomparably better preserved; this is the Papyrus Bodmer II, whose discovery was announced by the Bodmer Library of Geneva in 1956; 

Are the gospels reliable ?  Papyru10
Wikipedia: The Bodmer Papyri are a group of twenty-two papyri discovered in Egypt in 1952. They are named after Martin Bodmer, who purchased them. The papyri contain segments from the Old and New Testaments, early Christian literature, Homer, and Menander. The oldest, P66 dates to c. 200 AD. Most of the papyri are kept at the Bodmer Library, in Cologny, Switzerland outside Geneva.

it was written about AD 200, and contains the first fourteen chapters of the Gospel of John with but one lacuna (of twenty-two verses), and considerable portions of the last seven chapters.’ Attestation of another kind is provided by allusions to and quotations from the New Testament books in other early writings. The authors known as the Apostolic Fathers wrote chiefly between AD 90 and 160, and in their works, we find evidence for their acquaintance with most of the books of the New Testament. In three works whose date is probably round about AD100-the Epistle of Barnabas’, written perhaps in Alexandria; the Didache, or ‘Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, produced somewhere in Syria or Palestine; and the letter sent to the Corinthian church by Clement, bishop of Rome, about AD 96-- find fairly certain quotations from the common tradition of the Synoptic Gospels, from Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, Titus, Hebrews, 1 Peter, and possible quotations from other books of the New Testament. In the letters written by Ignatius, bishop of . Antioch, as he journeyed to his martyrdom in Rome in AD 115, there are reasonably identifiable quotations from Matthew, John, Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, 1 and Timothy, Titus, and possible allusions to Mark, Luke, Acts, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians, Philemon, Hebrews, and 1 Peter. His younger contemporary, Polycarp, in a letter to the Philippians (c. 120) quotes from the common tradition of the Synoptic Gospels, from Acts, Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Hebrews, I Peter, and I John. And so we might go on through the writers of the second century, amassing increasing evidence of their familiarity with and recognition of the authority of the New Testament writings. So far as the Apostolic Fathers are concerned, the evidence is collected and weighed in a work called The New Testament in the Apostolic Fathers, recording the findings of a committee of the Oxford Society of Historical Theology in 1905.

Nor is it only in orthodox Christian writers that we find evidence of this sort. It is evident from the recently discovered writings of the Gnostic school of Valentinus that before the middle of the second century most of the New Testament books were as well known and as fully venerated in that heretical circle as they were in the Catholic Church.’ The study of the kind of attestation found in MSS and quotations in later writers’ is connected with the approach known as Textual Criticism.’ This is a most important and fascinating branch of study, its object being to determine as exactly as possible from the available evidence the original words of the documents in question. It is easily proved by experiment that it is difficult to copy out a passage of any considerable length without making one or two dips at least. When we have documents like our New Testament writings copied and recopied thousands of times, the scope for copyists’ errors is so enormously increased that it is surprising there are no more than there actually are. Fortunately, if the great number of MSS increases the number of scribal errors, it increases proportionately the means of correcting such errors, so that the margin of doubt left in the process of recovering the exact original wording is not so large as might be feared; it is in truth remarkably small. The variant readings about which any doubt remain’ among textual critics of the New Testament affect no material question of historic fact or of Christian faith and practice To sum up, we may quote the verdict of the late Sir Frederic Kenyon, a scholar whose authority to make pronouncements on ancient MSS was second to none:

‘The interval then between the data of original. composition and the earliest extant evidence become so small to be in fact negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt that the Scripture have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed. Both the authenticity and the general integrity of the books of the New Testament may be regarded as finally established.’ 

The Canon of the New Testament 

Even when we have come to a conclusion about the date and origin of the individual books of the New Testament, another question remains to be answered. How did the New Testament itself as a collection of writings come into being? Who collected the writings, and on what principles? What circumstances led to the fixing of a list, or canon, of authoritative books? The historic Christian belief is that the Holy Spirit, who controlled the writing of the individual books, also controlled their selection and collection, thus continuing to fulfill our Lord’s promise that He would guide His disciples into all the truth. This, however, is something that is to be discerned by spiritual insight and not by historical research. Our object is to find out what historical research reveals about the origin of the New Testament canon. Some will tell us that we receive the twenty-seven books of the New Testament on the authority of the Church; but even if we do, how did the Church come to recognize these twenty-seven and no others as worthy of being placed on a level of inspiration and authority with the Old Testament canon?

The matter is oversimplified in Article VI of the Thirty Nine Articles when it says: ‘In the name of the holy Scripture we do understand those canonical Books of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church.’ For, leaving on one side the question of the Old Testament canon, it is not quite accurate to say that there her never been any doubt in the Church of any of our New Testament book’. A few of the shorter Epistles (e.g. g Peter, 2 and 3 John, James, Jude) and the Revelation were much longer in being accepted in some parts than in others; while elsewhere books which we do not now include in the New Testament were received as canonical. Thus the Codex Sinaiticus included the ‘Epistle of Barnabas’ and the Shepherd of Hermas, a Roman work of about AD ll0 or earlier, while the Codex Alexandrinus included the writings known as the First and Second Epistles of Clement; and the inclusion of these works alongside the biblical writings probably indicates that they were accorded some degree of canonical status. The earliest list of New Testament books of which we have definite knowledge was drawn up at Rome by the heretic Marcion about ‘40. Marcion distinguished the inferior Creator God of the Old Testament from the God and Father revealed in Christ, and believed that the Church ought to jettison all that appertained to the former. This ‘theological anti-Semitism’ involved the rejecting not only of the entire Old Testament but also of those parts of the New Testament which seemed to him to be infected with Judaism. So Marcion’s canon consisted of two parts: (a) an expurgated edition of the third Gospel, which is the least Jewish of the Gospels, being written by the Gentile Luke; and (b) ten of the Pauline Epistles (the three ‘Pastoral Epistles’ being omitted). Marcion’s list, however, does not represent the current verdict of the Church but a deliberate aberration from it. Another early list, also of Roman provenance, dated about the end of the second century, is that commonly called the ‘Muratorian Fragment’, because it was first published in Italy in 1740 by the antiquarian Cardinal L. A. Muratori. It is unfortunately mutilated at the beginning, but it evidently mentioned Matthew and Mark, because it refers to Luke as the third Gospel; then It mentions John, Acts, Paul’s nine letters to churches and four to individuals (Philemon, Titus, I and 2 Timothy),’ Jude, two Epistles of John, and the Apocalypse of John and that of Peter.’ The Shepherd of Hermas is mentioned as worthy to be read (i.e. in church) but not to be included in the number of prophetic or apostolic writings.

The first steps in the formation of a canon of authoritative Christian books, worthy to stand beside the Old Testament canon, which was the Bible of our Lord and His apostles, appear to have been taken about the beginning of the second century, when there is evidence for the circulation of two collections of Christian writings in the Church. At a very early date, it appears that the four Gospels were united in one collection. They must have been brought together very soon after the writing of the Gospel according to John. This fourfold collection was known originally as ‘The Gospel’ in the singular, not ‘The Gospels’ in the plural; there was only one Gospel, narrated in four records, distinguished as ‘according to Matthew’, ‘according to Mark’, and so on. About AD 115 Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, refers to ‘The Gospel’ as an authoritative writing, and as he knew more than one of the four ‘Gospels’ it may well be that by ‘The Gospel’ sans phrase he means the fourfold collection which went by that name. About AD 170 an Assyrian Christian names Tatian turned the fourfold Gospel into a continuous narrative or ‘Harmony of the Gospels’, which for long was the favorite if not the official form of the fourfold Gospel in the Assyrian Church. It was distinct from the four Gospels in the Old Syriac version.’ It is not certain whether Tatian originally composed his Harmony, usually known as the Diatessaron, m Greek or in Syriac; but as it seems to have been compiled at Rome its original language was probably Greek, and a fragment of Tatian’s Diatessaron in Greek was discovered m the year 1933 at Dura Europos on the Euphrates. At any rate, it was given to the Assyrian Christians in a Syriac form when Tatian returned home from Rome, and this Syriac Diatessaron remained the ‘Authorised Version’ of the Gospels for them until it was replaced by the Peshitta or ‘simple’ version in the fifth century. By the time of Irenaeus us, who, though a native of Asia Minor, was bishop of Lyons in Gaul about AD 180, the idea of a fourfold Gospel had become so axiomatic in the Church at large that he can refer to it as an established and recognized fact as obvious as the four cardinal points of the compass or the four winds.

When the four Gospels were gathered together in one volume, it meant the severance of the two parts of Luke’s history. When Luke and Acts were thus separated one or two modifications were apparently introduced into the text at the end of Luke and the beginning of Acts. Originally Luke seems to have left all mention of the ascension to his second treatise; now the words ‘and was carried up into heaven’ were added in Luke xxiv. 51, to round off the narrative, and in consequence ‘was taken up was added in Acts i. 2. Thus the inconcinnities that some have detected between the accounts of the ascension in Luke and Acts are most likely due to these adjustments made when the two books were separated from each other.. Acts, however, naturally shared the authority and prestige of the third Gospel, being the work of the same author, and was apparently received as canonical by all except Marcion and his followers. Indeed, Acts occupied a very important place in the New Testament canon, being the pivotal book of the New Testament, as Harnack called it, since it links the Gospels with the Epistles, and, by its record of the conversion, call, and missionary service of Paul, showed clearly how real an apostolic authority lay behind the Pauline Epistles. The corpus Paulinum, or collection of Paul’s writings, was brought together about the same time as the collecting of the fourfold Gospel. As the Gospel collection was designated by the Greek word Euangelion, so the Pauline collection was designated by the one word Apostolos, each letter being distinguished as ‘To the Romans’, ‘First to the Corinthians’, and so on. Before long, the anonymous Epistle to the Hebrews was bound up with the Pauline writings. Acts, as a matter of convenience, came to be bound up with the ‘General Epistles’ (those of Peter, James, John, and Jude).

The only books about which there was any substantial doubt after the middle of the second century were some of those which come at the end of our New Testament. Origen (185-254) mentions the four Gospels, the Acts, the thirteen Paulines, I Peter, 1 John, and Revelation as acknowledged by all; he says that Hebrews, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, James,  and Jude, with the ‘Epistle of Barnabas’, the Shepherd of Hermas, the Didache, and the ‘Gospel according to the Hebrews’, were disputed by some. Eusebius (c. 265-340) mentions as generally acknowledged all the books of our New Testament except James, Jude, Peter, 2 and 3 John, which were disputed by some, but recognized by the majority.’ Athanasius in 367 lays down the twenty-seven books of our New Testament as alone canonical; shortly afterward Jerome and Augustine followed his example in the West. The process farther east took a little longer; it was not until c. 508 that 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, Jude, and Revelation were included in a version of the Syriac Bible in addition to the other twenty-two books. For various reasons it was necessary for the Church to know exactly what books were divinely authoritative. The Gospels, recording ‘all that Jesus began both to do and to teach’, could not be regarded as one whit lower in authority than the Old Testament books. And the teaching of the apostles in the Acts and Epistles was regarded as vested with His authority. It was natural, then, to accord to the apostolic writings of the new covenant the same degree of homage as was already paid to the prophetic writings of the old. Thus Justin Martyr, about AD 150, classes the ‘Memoirs of the Apostles along with the writings of the prophets, saying that both were read in meetings of Christians (Apol i. 67). For the Church did not, in spite of the breach with Judaism, repudiate the authority of the Old Testament, but, following the example of Christ and His apostles, received it as the Word of God. Indeed, so much did they make the Septuagint their own that, although it was originally a translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek for Greek-speaking Jews before the time of Christ, the Jews left the Septuagint to the Christians, and a fresh Greek version of the Old Testament was made for Greek speaking Jews.

It was specially important to determine which books might be used for the establishment of Christian doctrine, and which might most confidently be appealed to in disputes with heretics In particular when Marcion drew up his canon about AD 140, it was necessary for the orthodox churches to know exactly what the true canon was, and this helped to speed up a process which had already begun. It is wrong, however, to talk or write as if the Church first began to draw up a canon after Marcion had published his. Other circumstances which demanded a clear definition of those books which possessed divine authority were the necessity of deciding which books should be read in church services (though certain books might be suitable for this purpose which could not be used to settle doctrinal questions), and the necessity of knowing which books might and might not be handed over on demand to the imperial police in times of persecution without incurring the guilt of sacrilege. One thing must be emphatically stated. The New Testament books did not become authoritative for the Church because they were formally included in a canonical list; on the contrary, the Church included them in her canon because she already regarded them as divinely inspired, recognizing their innate worth and generally apostolic authority, direct or indirect. The first ecclesiastical councils to classify the canonical books were both held in North Africa-at Hippo Regius in 393 and at Carthage in 397-but what these councils did was not to impose something new upon the Christian communities but to codify what was already the general practice of those communities. There are many theological questions arising out of the history of the canon which we cannot go into here; but for a practical demonstration that the Church made the right choice one need only compare the books of our New Testament with the various early documents collected by M. R. James in his Apocryphal New Testament (1924), or even with the writings of the Apostolic Fathers, to realize the superiority of our New Testament books to these others.’ A word may be added about the ‘Gospel according to the Hebrews’ which, as was mentioned above, Origen listed as one of the books which in his day were disputed by some. This work, which circulated in Transjordan and Egypt among the Jewish Christian groups called Ebionites, bore some affinity to the canonical Gospel of Matthew. Perhaps it was an independent expansion of an Aramaic document related to our canonical Matthew it was known to some of the early Christian Fathers in a Greek version. Jerome (347-420) identified this ‘Gospel according to the Hebrews’ with one which he found in Syria, called the Gospel of the Nazarene, and which he mistakenly thought at first was the Hebrew (or Aramaic) original of Matthew. It is possible that he was also mistaken in identifying it with the gospel according to the Hebrews; the Nazarene Gospel found by Jerome (and translated by him into Greek and Latin) may simply have been an Aramaic translation of the canonical creek Matthew. In any case, the Gospel according to the Hebrews and the Gospel of the Nazarenes’ both had some relation to Matthew, and they are to be distinguished from the multitude of apocryphal Gospels which were also current in those days, and which have no bearing on our present historical study. These, like several books of apocryphal ‘Act’, and similar writings, are almost entirely pure romances. One of the books of apocryphal Acts, however, the ‘Acts of Paul’, while admittedly a romance of the second century,’ is interesting because of a pen-portrait of Paul which it contain’, and which, because of its vigorous and unconventional character, was thought by Sir William Ramsay to embody a tradition of the apostle’. appearance preserved in Asia Minor. Paul is described as ‘a man small in size, with meeting eyebrows, with a rather large nose, bald-headed, bowlegged, strongly built, full of grace, for at times he looked like a man, and at times he had the face of an angel’.



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The Gospels 

The Synoptic Gospels We now come to a more detailed examination of the Gospels. We have already indicated some of the evidence for their date and early attestation; we must now see what can be said about their origin and trustworthiness. The study of Gospel origins has been pursued with an unflagging eagerness almost from the beginning of Christianity itself. Early in the second century, we find Papias, bishop of Hierapolis in Asia Minor, gathering information on this and kindred subjects from Christians of an earlier generation than his own, men who had conversed with the apostles themselves. About AD 130-140 Papias wrote a work in five books (now lost except for a few fragments quoted by other writers), entitled An Exposition of the Oracles of the Lord, in the preface to which he says:

‘But I will not hesitate to set down for you alongside my interpretations all that I ever learned well from the elder and remembered well, guaranteeing their truth. For I did not, like the majority, rejoice in those who say most, but in those who teach the truth; nor in those who record the commandments of others, but in those who relate the commandments given by the Lord to faith, and proceeding from Him who is the truth. Also, if ever a person came my way who had been a companion of the elders, I would inquire about the saying of the elders-what was said by Andrew, or by Peter, or by Philip, or by Thomas or James, or by John or Matthew or any other of the Lord’s disciples; and’ what things Aristion and the elder John, the disciple of the Lord, say. For I did not suppose that what I could get from books was of such great value to me as the utterance’ of a living and abiding voice.”

Among the many things he learned from these elders and their associates was some information about the origins of the Gospels. And from his days to our own men have pursued much the same quest, attempting not only to find out as much as possible from external and internal evidence about the writing of the Gospels but trying also to get behind them to find out what they can about the sources which may lie behind the Gospels as they have come down to us. Of the fascination of this study, ‘Source Criticism’ as it is called, there can be no doubt. But the quest for Gospel sources and their hypothetical reconstruction may prove so engrossing that the student is apt to forget that the actual Gospels which have come down to us as literary units from the first century are necessarily more important than the putative documents which may be divined as their sources, if only because the latter have disappeared if they ever existed, while the former have remained to our own day. And we must also remember that Source Criticism, interesting as it is, must necessarily lead to much less assured results than Textual Criticism because it has to admit a much larger speculative element. But provided that we bear in mind the limitations of this kind of literary criticism, there is considerable value in an inquiry into the sources of our Gospels. If the dates suggested for their composition are anything like correct, then no very long space of time separated the recording of the evangelic events from the events themselves. If, however, it can be shown with reasonable probability that these records themselves depend in whole or in part on still earlier documents then the case for the trustworthiness of the gospel narrative is all the stronger. Certain conclusions may be reached by a comparative study of the Gospels themselves. We are not long before we see that the Gospels fall naturally into two groups, the first three on one side, and the fourth Gospel by itself on the other. We shall revert to the problem of the fourth Gospel later, but for the present, we must look at the other three, which are called the ‘Synoptic’ Gospels because they lent themselves to a synoptic arrangement, a form in which the three may be studied together.’ It requires no very detailed study to discover that these three have a considerable amount of material in common. We find, for example, that the substance of 606 out of the 661 verses of Mark appears in Matthew, and that some 350 of Mark’s verses reappear with little material change in Luke. Or, to put it another way, out of the 1,068 verses of Matthew, about 500 contain material also found in Mark; of the 1,149 verses of Luke, about 350 are paralleled in Mark. Altogether, there are only 31 verses in Mark which have no parallel either in Matthew or Luke. When we compare Matthew and Luke by themselves, we find that these two have about 250 verses containing common material not paralleled in Mark. This common material is cast in language which is sometimes practically identical in Matthew and Luke and sometimes shows considerable divergence. We are then left with some 300 verses in Matthew containing narratives and discourses peculiar to that Gospel, and about 550 verses in Luke containing matter not found in the other Gospels.

These are facts that are easily ascertained; speculation enters when we try to explain them. Sometimes the material common to two or more of the Synoptists is so verbally identical that the identity can hardly be accidental. In this country the explanation commonly given last century was that the identity or similarity of language was due to the fact that the evangelists reproduced the language of the primitive oral gospel which was proclaimed in the early days of the Church. This is the view put forward, for example, in Alford’s Greek Testament and in Westcott’s Introduction to the Study of the Gospels. This theory later fell into disfavor, as it was realized that many of the phenomena could be more adequately explained by postulating documentary sources; but there was and is a great deal to be said for it, and it has reappeared in our own day the somewhat different form m the approach known as Form Criticism. Form Criticism aims at recovering the oral ‘forms’ or ‘patterns’ or ‘moulds’ in which the apostolic preaching and teaching were originally cast, even before the circulation of such documentary sources as may lie behind our Gospels. This method of approach has become popular since 1918, and its value has been exaggerated m some quarters, but one or two conclusions of importance emerge from it. One is that the hypothesis of documentary sources by itself is as inadequate to account for all the facts as was the ‘oral theory’ in the form propounded by Alford and Westcott; indeed, much of the recent popularity of Form Criticism may be due to dissatisfaction with the meagre results of a century’s diligent pursuit of Source Criticism. Another important point that is emphasized by Form Criticism is the universal tendency in ancient times to stereotype the ‘forms’ in which religious preaching and teaching were east. This tendency can be widely traced in the ancient Gentile and Jewish world, and it is also manifest in our gospel material. In the days of the apostles, there was a largely stereotyped preaching of the deeds and words of Jesus, originally in Aramaic but soon in Greek as well; and this preaching or oral tradition lies behind our Synoptic Gospels and their documentary sources. We do not like stereotyped oral or literary styles; we prefer variety. But there are occasions on which a stereotyped style is insisted upon even in modern life. When, for example, a police officer gives evidence in court, he does not adorn his narrative with the graces of oratory, but adheres as closely as he can to a prescribed and stereotyped ‘form’. The object of this is that the evidence he give’ may conform as closely as possible to the actual course of events which he describes. What his narrative lacks in artistic finish, it gains in accuracy. The stereotyped style of many of the Gospel narratives and discourses serves the same end; it is a guarantee of their substantial accuracy. It frequently happens that, because of this preservation of a definite ‘form’, the reports of similar incidents or similar sayings will be given in much the same language and constructed on much the same framework. But we must not infer from this similarity of language and framework that two similar narratives are duplicate accounts of one and the same event, or that two similar parables (e.g. the wedding feast of Matthew xxii. 2 ff. and the great supper of Luke xiv. 16 ff.) are necessarily variant versions of one and the same parable, any more than we should conclude that, because a police officer describes two street accidents in almost identical language, he is really giving two variant accounts of one and the same street accident.

But perhaps the most important result to which Form Criticism points is that, no matter how far back we may press our research into the roots of the gospel story, no matter how we classify the gospel material, we never arrive at a nonsupernatural Jesus. The classification of our gospel material according to ‘form’ is by no means the most convenient or illuminating classification, but it adds a new method of grouping the material to others already known, and we are then able to see that this fresh classification yields the same result as the others, the classifications, e.g., by source or by subject matter. All parts of the gospel record are shown by these various groupings to be pervaded by a consistent picture. Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God; all agree in emphasizing the messianic significance of all that He said and did, and we can find no alternative picture, no matter how thoroughly we scrutinize and analyze successive strata of the Gospels. 

 Thus Form Criticism has added its contribution to the overthrow of the hope once fondly held that by getting back to the most primitive stage of gospel tradition we might recover a purely human Jesus, who simply taught the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. The Gospel of Mark, because it was shorter than the others, and contained little that could not be found in them, was unduly neglected in ancient times. Augustine, for example, says that Mark seems to have followed Matthew ‘as his lackey and abbreviator, so to speak.’ But anyone who studies a synopsis of the Gospels where the common material is arranged in parallel columns will see that for the most part it is Matthew and not Mark who abridges. Mark, of course, omits more than half the material which appears in Matthew; but for the material which they have in common Mark is usually fuller than Matthew. A closer study of the linguistic and literary details of the Gospels in more recent times has led many scholars to the conclusion that Mark was actually the oldest of our Synoptic Gospels in their final form, and that it was a source of both Matthew and Luke. This ‘Markan hypothesis’ as it is called, was adumbrated in the eighteenth century, but we, first set on a stable basis by Carl Lachmann in 1835, when he showed that the common order of the three Synoptists is the order of Mark since Mark and Matthew sometimes agree in order against Luke, and Mark and Luke still more frequently against Matthew, while Matthew and Luke never agree in order against Mark. Mark thus seems in this respect to be the norm from which the other two occasionally deviate. To this must be added the fact that most of the Markan subject matter reappears in Matthew and Luke, with a considerable part of the actual language of Mark preserved, and that on grounds of literary criticism the differences in the presentation of common material between Mark on the one hand and Matthew and Luke on the other seem to be more easily accounted for by the priority of Mark than by the priority of Matthew or Luke. But while the Markan hypothesis is still the remnant hypothesis, it has been assailed by writers of great scholarship and ability. Thus the Great German scholar Theodor von Zahn held that Matthew first composed his Gospel in Aramaic, that our Greek Mark was then composed in partial dependence on the Aramaic Matthew, and that the Aramaic Matthew was then turned into Greek with the aid of the Greek Mark. Less complicated than Zahn’s account is the view expressed by the Roman Catholic writers Dom John Chapman, Matthew, Mark and Luke (1937), and Dom B. C. Butler, The Originality of St. Matthew’s Gospel (1951), which turns the Markan hypothesis on its head and argues for the dependence of the Greek Mark and Luke on the Greek Matthew

The strength of the Markan hypothesis cannot be conveyed in a sentence or two; the evidence is cumulative, and can best be appreciated by studying a good synopsis (preferably Greek, but much of the evidence is apparent even in an up-to-date English translation), where the three Gospels have their parallel passages arranged alongside each other in a form free from prejudice in favor of any one hypothesis. Along with such a synopsis, Greek students should examine the linguistic data as marshaled by Sir John Hawkins in his Hora Synoptica (2nd edition, 1909). It is not so surprising as might at first appear to find Mark, or something very like it, used as a source by the other two Synoptists, when we consider what Mark really is. Eusebius, in his Ecclesiastical History (iii. 39), preserves for us a few sentences in which Papias tells us the account of the origin of this Gospel which he received from one whom he refers to as ‘the Elder’:

‘Mark, having been the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately all that he [Peter] mentioned, whether sayings or doings of Christ; not, however, in order. For he was neither a hearer nor a companion of the Lord; but afterwards, as I said, he accompanied Peter, who adapted his teachings as necessity required, not as though he were making a compilation of the sayings of the Lord. So then Mark made no mistake, writing down in this way some things as he [Peter] mentioned them; for he paid attention to this one thing, not to omit anything that he had heard, nor to include any false statement among them.’

This account has received illumination from a new angle in recent years. Some Form Critics, attempting to get behind the second Gospel, have envisaged it as consisting amply of independent stories and sayings which had been transmitted orally in the primitive Church, joined together by a sort of editorial cement in the form of generalizing summaries that have no historical value. But an examination of these ‘generalizing summaries’ reveals that, far from being editorial inventions, they may be put together to form a consecutive outline of the gospel narrative.’ Now, in some of the early summaries of the Christian preaching or ‘Kerygma’ in Acts, we find similar outlines or partial outlines of the gospel story.’ These outlines in the Acts and Epistles cover the period from the preaching of John the Baptist to the resurrection of Christ, with more detailed emphasis on the passion story. But this is exactly the scope of the second Gospel, where, however, the outline is filled in with illustrative incidents in the life of Christ such as would naturally be used in preaching. It appears, then, that Mark is, generally speaking, a statement of the gospel story as it was related in the earliest days of the Church, and, in view of Papias’ description of Mark as Peter’s interpreter, it is noteworthy that Peter is the chief preacher of the gospel in the early chapters of Acts. Further confirmation of the Petrine authority behind Mark was supplied in a series of acute linguistic studies by C. H. Turner, entitled ‘Marcan Usage’, in the journal of Theological Studies for 1924 and 1925, showing, among other things, how Mark’s use of pronouns in narratives involving Peter seems time after time to reflect a reminiscence by that apostle in the first person. The reader can receive from such passages ‘a vivid impression of the testimony that lies behind the Gospel: thus in i. 29, “we came into our house with James and John, and my wife’s mother was ill in bed with a fever, and at once we tell him about her” .

There is, to be sure, much more in Mark’s Gospel than Peter’s account of the ministry of Jesus. Mark probably includes some reminiscences of his own. He was in all probability the young man who had a narrow escape when Jesus was arrested (Mk. xiv. 51 f.), and for some of the details of the passion narrative he may have drawn upon his own recollection of what he had seen on that occasion. There is a tradition that his parents’ house (cf. Acts X11. 12) was the one in which the Last Supper was held. 

The view that Mark underlies the other Synoptic Gospels is not so very different in essence from the older view that the common element in the three is the oral preaching current in the early Church; Mark is, by and large, that oral preaching written down. But the form in which the oral preaching underlies Matthew and Luke is the form given to it by Mark, who not only acted as Peter’s interpreter (presumably translating Peter’s Galilean Aramaic into Greek), but incorporated in his Gospel the substance of the preaching as he heard it from Peter’s lips. There is no lack of evidence in his Gospel that much of the material originally existed in Aramaic; his Greek in places preserves the Aramaic idiom quite unmistakably. Mark’s Gospel appears to have been written in the first instance for the Christian community of Rome, in the early sixties of the first century, but it quickly enjoyed a very wide circulation throughout the Church.


The gospel as preached in those early days emphasized what Jesus did rather than what He said. The proclamation which led to the conversion of Jews and Gentiles was the good news that by His death and triumph He had procured remission of sins and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers But when they became Christians they had much more to learn, and in particular the teaching of Jesus. Now it is striking that the greater part of the non-Markan material common to Matthew and Luke consists of sayings of Jesus. This has led to the conjecture of another early document on which both Matthew and Luke drew for their common nonMarkan material, the document usually referred to as ‘Q’, and envisaged as a collection of sayings of Jesus.’ Whatever may be the truth about such a document, it will be convenient to use ‘Q’ as a symbol denoting this non-Markan material common to Matthew and Luke. There is evidence in the Greek of this ‘Q’ material that it has been translated from Aramaic, and possibly from an Aramaic document, not merely from an Aramaic oral tradition. Aramaic is known to have been the common language of Palatine, and especially of Galilee, in the time of Christ, and was in all probability the language which He and His apostles habitually spoke. The New Testament writers usually call it ‘Hebrew’, thus not distinguishing in name between it and its sister language in which most of the Old Testament was written. Now, we have evidence of an early Aramaic document in another fragment of Papias: ‘Matthew compiled the Logia in the “Hebrew” speech [i.e.Aramaic], and everyone translated them as best he could.’ Various suggestions have been made as to the meaning of the term ‘Logia’, which literally means ‘oracles’; but the most probable explanation is that it refers to a collection of our Lord’s sayings. It is used in the New Testament of the oracles communicated through the Old Testament prophets, and Jesus was regarded by His followers as ‘a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people.’ Now, when an attempt is made to isolate the document underlying the ‘Q’ material in Matthew and Luke, it appears to have been constructed very much on the lines of one of the prophetical books of the Old Testament. These books commonly contain an account of the prophet’s call to his distinctive ministry, with a record of his oracles set in a narrative framework, but no mention of the prophet’s death. So this document, when reconstructed on the evidence provided by Matthew and Luke’s Gospels, is seen, to begin with, an account of Jesus’ baptism by John and His temptation in the wilderness, which formed the prelude to His Galilean ministry, followed by groups of His sayings set in a minimum of narrative framework, but it evidently did not tell the story of His passion. His teaching is set forth in four main groupings, which may be entitled: 

(a) Jesus and John the Baptist; 
(b) Jesus and His disciples; 
(c) Jesus and His opponents; 
(d) Jesus and the future.’ 

It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Papias was referring to just such a work as this when he said that Matthew compiled the Logia. His further statement, that the Logia were compiled in the ‘Hebrew speech’, accords with the internal evidence that an Aramaic substratum underlies the ‘Q’ material in Matthew and Luke. And when he adds that every man translated these Logia as best he could, this suggests that several Greek versions of them were current, which partly explains some of the differences in the sayings of Jesus common to the first and third Gospels; for in many places where the Greek of these Gospels differs, it can be shown that one and the same Aramaic original underlies the variant Greek renderings. Another interesting fact that comes to light when we try to reconstruct the original Aramaic in which our Lord’s sayings in all the Gospels were spoken is that very many of these sayings exhibit poetical features. Even in a translation we can see how full they are of parallelism, which is so constant a mark of Old Testament poetry. When they are turned into Aramaic, however, they are seen to be marked by regular poetical rhythm, and even, at times, rhyme. This has been demonstrated in particular by the late Professor C. F. Burney in The Poetry of our Lord (1925). A discourse that follows a recognizable pattern is more easily memorized, and if Jesus wished His teaching to be memorized His use of poetry is easily explained. Besides, Jesus was recognized by His contemporaries as a prophet, and prophets in Old Testament days were accustomed to utter their oracles in poetical form. Where this form has been preserved, we have a further assurance that His teaching has been handed down to us as it was originally given. So, just as we have found reason to see the authority of contemporary evidence behind the gospel narrative as preserved by Mark, the sayings of our Lord appear to be supported by similar trustworthy authority. But, in addition to the discourses in Matthew which have some parallel in Luke, there are others occurring in the first Gospel only, which may conveniently be denoted by the letter ‘M’. These ‘M’ sayings have been envisaged as coming from another collection of the sayings of Jesus, largely parallel to the collection represented by ‘Q’, but compiled and preserved in the conservative Jewish Christian community of Jerusalem, whereas the ‘Q’ material more probably served the requirements of the Hellenistic Christians who left Jerusalem after Stephen’s death to spread the gospel and plant churches in the provinces adjoining Palestine, and notably in Syrian Antioch.


If we are right in naming the Matthaean Logia as the source from which the ‘Q’ material was drawn, this compilation must have taken shape at an early point in primitive Christian history. Certainly, it would be most helpful for new converts, and especially Gentile converts, to have such a compendium of the teaching of Jesus. It may well have been in existence by AD 50. Some scholars have suggested that even Mark shows some traces of it in his Gospel, but this is uncertain. The Gospel of Matthew seems to have appeared in the neighborhood of Syria Antioch sometime after AD 70. It represents the substance of the apostolic preaching as recorded by Mark, expanded by the incorporation of other narrative material, and combined with a Greek version of the Matthaean Logia together with sayings of Jesus derived from other quarters. All this material has been arranged so as to serve the purpose of a manual for teaching and administration within the Church. The sayings of Jesus are arranged so as to form five great discourses, dealing respectively with 

(a) the law of the kingdom of God (chapters v to vii), 
(b) the preaching of the kingdom (x. 5-42), 
(c) the growth of the kingdom (xiii. 3-52), 
(d) the fellowship of the kingdom (chapter xviii), and 
 (e) the consummation of the kingdom (chapter xxivxxv). 

The narrative of the ministry of Jesus is so arranged that each section leads on naturally to the discourse which follows it. The whole is prefaced by a prologue describing the nativity of the King (chapters iii) and concluded by an epilogue relating the passion and triumph of the King (chapters xxvi-xxviii). The fivefold structure of this Gospel is probably modeled on the fivefold structure of the Old Testament law; it is presented as the Christian Torah (which means ‘direction or ‘instruction’ rather than ‘law’ in the more restricted sense). The Evangelist is also at pains to show how the story of Jesus represents the fulfillment of the Old Testament Scriptures, and in places he even implies that the experiences of Jesus recapitulate the experiences of the people of Israel in Old Testament times. Thus, just as the children of Israel went down into Egypt in their national infancy and came out of it at the Exodus, so Jesus in His infancy must also go down to Egypt and come out of it, that the words spoken of them in Hosea xi. I might be fulfilled in His experience, too: ‘Out of Egypt have I called my son’ (Mt. ii. 15).

While some of the sayings of Jesus found in Luke are almost verbally identical with their Matthaen counterparts (cf. Lk. x. 21 f. with Mt. xi. 25-27), and others are reasonably similar, some show considerable differences, and it is unnecessary to suppose that for these last the first and third evangelists depended on one and the same documentary source. It is unlikely, for example, that the Matthaean and Lucan versions of the Beatitudes are drawn from one document (ct. Mt. v. 3 ff. with Lk. vi. 20 ff.). We have Luke’s own statement that many had undertaken to draw up a narrative of the gospel history (Lk. i. I), and it is unnecessarily narrowing the field to suppose that all the nonMarkan material common in one form or another to Matthew and Luke must have been derived from one written source. To all appearances, Luke was acquainted at a fairly early date with the Matthaean Logia, evidently in one or more of its Greek versions. But he had other sources of information, and to them in particular he was indebted for those narratives and parables which give his Gospel its special charm and beauty. To this material peculiar to Luke we may conveniently assign the symbol ‘L’. Early tradition asserts that Luke was a native of Antioch. If so, he had opportunities of learning many things from the founders of the Antiochene church, the first Gentile church (Acts xi. 19ff.); he may even have met Peter, who once paid a visit there (Gal. ii.11ff.). He shows a special interest in the Herod family: was this due to his acquaintance with Manaen, fosterbrother of Herod Antipas and one of the teacher in the church of Antioch (Acts xiii. 1)? Then he must have learned much from Paul. Though Paul had not been a follower of Jesus before the crucifixion, yet he must have made it his business after his conversion to learn as much about Him as he could. What did Peter and Paul talk about during the fortnight they spent together in Jerusalem about AD 35 (Gal. i. 18)? As Professor Dodd puts it, ‘we may presume they did not spend all the time talking about the weather.” It was a golden opportunity for Paul to learn the details of the story of Jesus from one whose knowledge of that story was unsurpassed. Again, Luke seems to have spent two years in or near Palestine during Paul’s last visit to Jerusalem and detention in Caesarea (cf. Acts xxiv. 27). These years afforded him unique opportunities of increasing his knowledge of the story of Jesus and of the early Church. On one occasion at least, he is known to have met James, the brother of Jesus; and he may have seized other opportunities of making the acquaintance of members of the holy family. Some of his special material reflects an oral Aramaic tradition, which Luke received from various Palestinian informants, while other parts of it were evidently derived from Christian Hellenists. In particular, there is reason to believe that much of the information which Luke used for the third Gospel and Acts was derived from Philip and his family in Cesearea (cf. Acts xxi. 8 f ). Eusebius tells us on the authority of Papias and other early writers that at a later date Philip’s four prophetic daughters were famed in the Church as authorities for the history of its earliest days.

The account of the nativities of John the Baptist and Jesus in the first two chapters of the Gospel has been described as the most archaic passage in the New Testament; it breathes the atmosphere of a humble and holy Palestinian community that cherished ardent hopes of the early fulfillment of God’s ancient promises to His people Israel and saw in the birth of these two children a sign that their hopes were about to be realized. To this community belonged Mary and Joseph, with the parents of John the Baptist, and Simeon and Anna, who greeted the presentation of the infant Christ in the temple at Jerusalem, and later on Joseph of Arimathaea, ‘who was looking for the kingdom of God’ (Lk. xxiii. 51). After Paul’s two years of detention in Caesarea, Luke went with him to Rome, and there we find him in Paul’s company along with Mark about the year 60 (Col. iv.10, 14; Phm. 24). His contact with Mark there is sufficient to account for his evident indebtedness to Mark’s narrative. This summary of the way in which the shirt Gospel may have been built up based on biblical evidence, and it accords very well with the internal data, evaluated by literary criticism which suggests that Luke first enlarged his version of the Mattha an Logia by acting the information he acquired from various sources, especially in Palatine. This first draft, ‘Q’ + ‘L’, has been called ‘ProtoLuke’,’ though there is no evidence that it was ever published separately. It was subsequently amplified by the insertion at appropriate points of blocks of material derived from Mark, especially where the Markan material did not overlap the material already collected, and thus our third Gospel was produced. Luke tells us in the preface to his Gospel that he had followed the whole course of events accurately from the beginning, and he evidently did this by having recourse to the best authorities he could find’ and then arranging his material after the manner of a trained historian.”

Luke’s arrival with Paul in Rome suggests itself as a fitting occasion for Luke’s taking in hand to draw up his orderly and reliable account of Christian beginnings. If the official and cultured classes of Rome knew anything of Christianity before, they probably dismissed it as a disreputable eastern cult; but the presence in the city of a Roman citizen, who had appealed to Caesar for a fair hearing in a case that involved the whole question of the character and aims of Christianity, made it necessary for some members of these classes to examine Christianity seriously. The ‘most excellent Theophilus’, to whom Luke dedicated his twofold history, was possibly one of those who were charged with investigating the situation, and such a work as Luke’s, even in a preliminary draft, would have been an invaluable document in the case. We must never fall into the error of thinking that when we have come to a conclusion about the sources of a literary work we have learned all that needs to be known about it. Source Criticism is merely a preliminary piece of spadework. Who would think that we have said all that is to be said about one of Shakespeare’s historical plays when we have discovered what its sources were? So also, whatever their sources were, the Gospels are there before our eyes, each an individual literary work with its own characteristic viewpoint which has in large measure controlled the choice and presentation of the subject matter. In attempting to discover how they were composed, we must beware of regarding them as scissors and paste compilations.

Each of them was written in the first instance for a definite constituency, with the object of presenting Jesus of Nazareth as Son of God and Saviour. Mark entitles his work ‘the beginning of the good news of Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God’, and towards the end we find a Roman centurion confessing at the foot of the cross, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God’ (Mk. xv. 39). We may imagine how effective this testimony must have been in Rome, where this Gospel was first published. Luke, the Gentile physician, inheriting the traditions of Greek historical writing, composes his work after diligent research in order that his readers may know the secure basis of the account of Christian origins which they have received, and withal infuses into it such a spirit of broad human sympathy that many have been constrained to pronounce his Gospel, with Ernest Renan, ‘the most beautiful book in the world’. Matthew’s Gospel occupies by right its place at the head of the New Testament canon; what other book could so fittingly form the link between the Old and New Testaments as that which proclaims itself, in language reminiscent of the first book of the Old Testament canon, ‘The book of the generation of Jesus the Messiah, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham,? Although it has been called the most Jewish of the Gospels, yet it is devoid of any national particularism or religious exclusiveness, for this is the Gospel which ends with the rejected but vindicated King of Israel’s commission to His servants: ‘Go and make disciples of all the nations’ (Mt. xxviii. 19). The evidence indicates that the written sources of our Synoptic Gospels are not later than c. AD 60; some of them may even be traced back to notes taken of our Lord’s teaching while His words were actually being uttered. The oral sources go back to the very beginning of Christian history. We are, in fact, practically all the way through in touch with the evidence of eyewitnesses. The earliest preachers of the gospel knew the value of this firsthand testimony and appealed to it time and again. ‘We are witnesses of these things,’ was their constant and confident assertion. And it can have been by no means so easy as some writers seem to think to invent words and deeds of Jesus in those early years, when so many of His disciples were about, who could remember what had and had not happened. Indeed, the evidence is that the early Christians were careful to distinguish between the sayings of Jesus and their own inferences or judgments. Paul, for example, when discussing the vexed questions of marriage and divorce in I Corinthians vii, is careful to make this distinction between his own advice on the subject and the Lord’s decisive ruling: ‘I, not the Lord,’ and again, ‘Not I, but the Lord.’ And it was not only friendly eyewitnesses that the early preachers had to reckon with; there were others less well-disposed who were also conversant with the main facts of the ministry and death of Jesus. The disciples could not afford to risk inaccuracies (not to speak of wilful manipulation of the facts), which would at once be exposed by those who would be only too glad to do so. On the contrary, one of the strong points in the original apostolic preaching is the confident appeal to the knowledge of the hearers; they not only said, ‘We are witnesses of these things,’ but also, ‘As you yourselves also know’ (Acts ii. 22). Had there been any tendency to depart from the facts in any material respect, the possible presence of hostile witnesses in the audience would have served as a further corrective. We have then in the Synoptic Gospels, the latest of which was complete between forty and fifty years after the death of Christ, material which took shape at a still earlier time, some of it even before His death, and which, besides being for the most part first-hand evidence, was transmitted along independent and trustworthy lines. The Gospels in which this material is embodied agree in their presentation of the basic facts of the Christian faith-a threefold cord not quickly broken.

The Fourth Gospel

 In his Argument to the Gospel of John, the great Reformer John Calvin says: ‘I am in the habit of saying that this Gospel is the key which opens the door to the understanding of the others.’ His opinion has been endorsed by Christian thinkers of many ages, who have found in this Gospel depths of spiritual truth unreached in any other New Testament writing. To the question of whether the discourses in this Gospel are genuine words of Christ, not a few would reply that, if they are not, then a greater than Christ is here. Yet, during the last hundred years especially, the fourth Gospel has been the center of unending disputes. People talk about the enigma of the fourth Gospel, and what is confidently accepted by one side as an adequate solution is with equal confidence rejected by another side as untenable. This is not the place to undertake a fresh solution; it must suffice to mention some of the most important facts bearing on this Gospel’s historicity. The claim of the Gospel itself is that it was written by an eyewitness. In the last chapter, we read of a resurrection appearance of Jesus by the Sea of Galilee, at which seven disciples were present, including one who is called ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’. A note at the end of the chapter tells us: ‘This is the disciple who testifies of these things and who wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true. It is not quite clear who are the ‘we’ who thus add their testimony to the evangelist’s veracity; they were probably the group of friends and disciples associated with him who were responsible for the editing and publication of his Gospel. This ‘disciple whom Jesus loved’ is mentioned also as one of the company at the Last Supper, as being present at the crucifixion, and as an eyewitness, in Peter’s company, of the empty tomb on the resurrection morning. Do these passages give us any clue to his identity? According to Mark, when our Lord arrived at the upper room for the Last Supper, He was accompanied by the twelve apostles, who reclined at table with Him, and there is no suggestion in the Synoptic Gospels that anyone else was present with Him on that occasion. We conclude, therefore, that the ‘beloved disciple’ was one of the twelve. Now, of the twelve, there were three who were on occasion admitted to more intimate fellowship with the Master - Peter, James and John. It was these three, for example, whom He took to keep watch with Hirn during His vigil in Gethsemane after the Last Supper. We should naturally expect that the beloved disciple would be one of the number. He was not Peter, from whom he is explicitly distinguished. There remain the two sons of Zebedee, James and John, who were included in the seven of chapter xxi. But James was martyred not later than AD 44 (Acts xu. 2), and therefore there was little likelihood that the saying should go abroad about him which went abroad about the beloved disciple, that he would not die. So we are left with John. Now it is noteworthy that John is not mentioned by name in the fourth Gospel (nor yet is his brother James). It has also been pointed out that while the other evangelists refer to John the Baptist as John the Baptist, the fourth evangelist refers to him simply as John. An author will take care to distinguish two characters in his narrative who bear the same name; he will not be so careful to distinguish one of his characters from himself. The fourth evangelist himself distinguishes Judas Iscariot from Judas ‘not Iscariot’. It is significant, therefore, that he does not distinguish John the Baptist from John the apostle, of whom he must have known, though he does not mention him by name.

In general, the internal evidence reveals an author who was an eyewitness to the events he describes. It is interesting in this connection to quote the verdict of Miss Dorothy Sayers, who approached the subject from the standpoint of a creative artist: ‘It must be remembered that, of the four Evangels, St. John’s is the only one that claims to be the direct report of an eyewitness. And to anyone accustomed to the imaginative handling of documents, the internal evidence bears out this claim.” Even the miraculous narratives in the Gospel exhibit this quality. Thus, for example, the late A. T. Olmstead, Professor of Ancient Oriental History in the University of Chicago, finds the story of the raising of Lazarus in chapter xi. to have ‘all the circumstantial detail of the convinced eyewitness”, while the narrative of the empty tomb in chapter xx is ‘told by an un-doubted eyewitness full of life, and lacking any detail to which the skeptic might take justifiable objection’. The evangelist was evidently a Palestinian. Although he may have been far from his native land when he wrote his Gospel, his accurate knowledge of places and distances in Palestine, a knowledge which appears spontaneously and naturally, strongly suggests one who was born and brought up in that land, not one whose knowledge of the country was derived from pilgrim visits. He knows Jerusalem well; he fixes the location of certain places in the city with the accuracy of one who must have been acquainted with it before its destruction in AD 70. The author was also a Jew; he is thoroughly conversant with Jewish customs; he refers to their purification rites and their manner of burial. Of their feasts, he mentions the Passover, the Feast of Tabernacles, and the Feast of Dedication, held in winter, together with the unnamed feast of v. 1 which was probably the Feast of the New Year.’ He shows himself intimately acquainted with the Old Testament passages which the Palestinian Jewish lectionary prescribed for reading in the synagogue at the festivals and other periods of the year. He knows the Jewish law of evidence. He is familiar with the superior attitude of those who had received rabbinical training towards those who had not enjoyed this advantage-’These person who does not know the Law is accursed’-an attitude expressed even by the liberal Rabbi Hillel: ‘No ignorant person is pious.’’ He had been accused of the crass error of supposing that a high priest of the Jews held office for only a year; but when in his passion narrative he refers to Caiaphas as ‘high priest that year’ he simply means that he was high priest in the fateful year of Jesus’ crucifixion.

John’s accurate knowledge of Jewish customs, beliefs, and methods of argument led a great rabbinical scholar, the late Israel Abrahams, to say: ‘My own general impression, without asserting an early date for the Fourth Gospel, is that the Gospel enshrines a genuine tradition of an aspect of Jesus’ teaching which has not found a place in the Synoptics.” Abrahams also emphasized ‘the cumulative strength of the arguments adduced by Jewish writers favorable to the authenticity of the discourses in the Fourth Gospel, especially in relation to the circumstances under which they are reported to have been spoken. The internal evidence supports the claim that the author not only witnessed but understood the great events which he records. The external evidence for the Gospel is as strong as for the Synoptics. We have already mentioned the papyrus evidence which attests its early date. Ignatius, whose martyrdom took place about AD 115, was influenced by the distinctive teaching of this Gospel; and Polycarp, writing to the Philippian church shortly after Ignatius’ martyrdom, quotes the First Epistle of John, which, in the opinion of Lightfoot, Westcott and others, accompanied the Gospel as a covering letter, and is in any case closely related to it. The Gnostic Basilides (c. AD 130) cites John i. 9 as ‘in the Gospels’. Justin Martyr (c. AD 150) quotes from the Nicodemus story of John iii. His disciple Tatian (c. AD 170) included the fourth Gospel in his Diatessaron. About the same time Melito, bishop of Sardis, shows dependence on this Gospel in his Easter Homily. Apart from these early evidences of the existence of the fourth Gospel, we find in several second-century writers' observations on its authorship. In the last quarter of that century Irenaeus, who had connections with both Asia Minor and Gaul, Clement of Alexandria, Theophilus of Antioch, Tertullian of Carthage, and the Gnostic Heracleon in Italy, the earliest known commentator on the fourth Gospel, attest the generally held belief that the author was John.’ Of these witnesses the most important is Irenaeus. ‘John, the disciple of the Lord,’ he says, ‘the same who reclined upon His breast, himself also published his Gospel, when he was living in Ephesus in Asia.” Elsewhere he refers to him as ‘the apostle’.’ Again, in his letter to Florinus, Irenaeus reminds him of their early days when they had sat at the feet of Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna (who was martyred in AD 156 when he had been a Christian for eighty-six years). Polycarp in his turn had been a disciple of John, and Irenaeus and Florinus had often heard him speak of what John and other eyewitnesses told him about Christ. Other evidence about the authorship of the Gospel is found towards the end of the second century in the Muratorian Fragment and in the antiMarcionite prologue to the fourth Gospel. The former document tells this strange story:

“John one of the disciples wrote the fourth of the gospel,. When his fellow disciples and bishops urged him, he said: “Fast along with me for three days, and then let us relate to one another what shall be revealed to each.” The same night it was revealed to Andrew, one of the apostles, that John should write down everything in his own name, and that they should all revise it.” 

Andrew was certainly not alive at the time referred to. But the fragment may preserve a true tradition that several persons were concerned in the production of the Gospel, for we think of the men who append their testimonial to the evangelist’s record in John xxi. 24: ‘we know that his witness is true.’ The other document, the antiMarcionite prologue, which is much more important, runs as follows: 

‘The gospel of John was published and given to the churches by John when he was still in the body, as a man of Hierapolis, Papias by name, John’s dear disciple, has related in his five Exegetical books. He indeed wrote down the gospel correctly at John’s dictation. But the heretic Marcion was thrust out by John, after being repudiated by him for his contrary sentiments. He had carried writings or letters to him from brethren who were in Pontus.’ 

The reference to Marcion is probably a confused reminiscence of an earlier statement that Papias had refused to countenance him. Apart from that, the prologue contains the important evidence that Papias in his Exposition of the Oracles of the Lord (c. AD 130 - 140) stated that John dictated the fourth Gospel. This is therefore our earliest external evidence for the Johannine authorship of the Gospel. The statement that it was Papias who wrote down the Gospel at John’s dictation is unsupported and in any case improbable. Bishop Lightfoot made the very attractive suggestion that Papias wrote that the Gospel was ‘delivered by John to the Churches, which they wrote down from his lips’, but that he was wrongly taken to mean ‘which I wrote down from his lips’, since the Greek forms for ‘I wrote’ and ‘they wrote, are identical in the imperfect tense (apegraphon) and very similar in the aorist (1st sing. apegrapsa; 3rd plur. apegrapsan, perhaps written apegrapsa). Other explanations have been proposed. In a letter to The Times of 13 February 1936, Dr. F. L. Cross wrote: ‘My own reading of the prologue, if I may set  it down dogmatically, is that in its original form it asserted that the fourth gospel was written by John the elder at the dictation of John the apostle when the latter had reached a very great age.’ For this John the elder we must turn to the fragment of Papias quoted on p. 29, where two Johns seem to be distinguished, one being spoken of in the past tense, the other in the present. Some scholars, indeed, have held that Papias refers to only one John; the more natural reading of the fragment, however, indicates a reference to two. Unfortunately, Papias is not the most lucid of writers, and his work survives only in fragments, so it is difficult to be sure of his meaning. It may well be that John the elder was a presbyter of Ephesus, and a disciple of John the apostle. There was a considerable migration of Palestinian Christians to the province of Asia in the third quarter of the first century; but John the apostle was the most distinguished of the migrants. (Philip and his daughters, who have been mentioned above, migrated at the same time.) But we need not metamorphose the obscure ‘elder John’ into such an unrecognized genius as he must have been if some theories of his activity are true. Some difficulties and inconsistencies in statements made by writers of the early Christian centuries may be due to a confusion of the two Johns; but it is highly unlikely that Irenaeus was guilty of such a confusion, and thought that his master Polycarp was speaking of the apostle when in fact he was speaking of the elder. If John the elder is to be distinguished from the apostle then one could easily envisage him as the copyist and editor of the fourth Gospel (though the evidence for this is rather slender), but probably not as the evangelist in person.

Some scholars have argued that our Gospel of John was translated from an Aramaic original. While this thesis has been presented with great ability, the case falls short of proof. The argument is strongest for the discourses of Jesus. Thus, reviewing C. F. Burney’s Aramaic Origin of the Fourth Gospel (1922), Professor G. R. Driver pointed out that Burney’s most cogent examples occurred in the ipsissima verba of our Lord and other speakers.’ But the Greek style of the Gospel as a whole could well be that of someone who had a good command of Greek but whose native language was Aramaic. The evidence thus far, whether internal or external, might be thought to be in favour of the apostolicity of the Gospel. What, then, are the difficulties? Little weight can be attached to the objection that a simple fisherman would not be likely to compose a work of such profound thought. The author of the Pauline Epistles was a tentmaker, despite his rabbinical training, for it was considered fitting that a Rabbi should earn his living by a worldly occupation. John, the son of Zebedee, had no rabbinical training, and therefore he and Peter were considered ‘unlearned and ignorant men’-’uneducated laymen’-by the Sanhedrin (Acts iv. 13); but he had been a disciple of no ordinary Teacher, and as he was probably quite a young man at the time of the death of Christ he had plenty of time and capacity for mental and spiritual development. We remember how in England a tinker of Bedford showed no mean capacity for spiritual literature. (John Bunyan ed. note) The problem of the fourth Gospel presents itself most acutely when we compare it with the Synoptics. For one thing, it seems to diverge from them in matters of geography, chronology, and diction. The main geographical divergence is that while the Synoptists tell almost exclusively of a Galilaean ministry, John places most of our Lord’s activity in Jerusalem and Judaea. This is not a serious difficulty; John knows of His Galilean ministry, and the Synoptists implicitly confirm the Johannine account of a Jerusalem ministry. According to them, He is known by the owner of an ass in a village near Jerusalem. He is expected for the Passover by the proprietor of a room in Jerusalem, and in His lament over Jerusalem He says: ‘How often would I have gathered your children together. John quite possibly new the other Gospels, and for the most part does not overlap them, but rather supplements them. The chronological differences are also easily disposed of. The Galilean ministry described by the Synoptists lasted for about a year; but John takes us farther back to a southern ministry of Christ before the imprisonment of John the Baptist. The year of Galilean ministry, recorded by the Synoptists, is to be fitted into the Johannine framework between John v and vii, ending with the Feast of Tabernacles of John vii. 2. The activity of Jesus in the south of Palestine before His Galilaean ministry throws light on some episodes in the Synoptia. We read the Synoptic story of the call of Peter, Andrew, James and John with fresh understanding when we learn from John i. 37 ff. that they had met the Master before in the company of John the Baptist. These earlier chapters of John’s Gospel, dealing with a Judaen phase of Jesus ministry which was concurrent with the later ministry of the Baptist, have received fresh illumination from the new knowledge about the community of Qumran, northwest of the Dead Sea, which we owe to the discovery and study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the excavation of Khirbet Qumran. The dispute about purification mentioned in a baptismal setting in John iii. 25 is the sort of dispute which must have been very common in the Jordan valley and the Dead Sea region at a time when many competing ‘baptist’ groups inhabited those parts. The disciples of John and the disciples of Jesus were not the only people engaged in baptizing there in those days. The members of the Qumran community had their own ceremonial washings, as had the members of other communities.

As for the events which John places after the Galilaean ministry, a careful comparison of his Gospel with the other three (and especially with Luke’s) will show that the Synoptic narrative becomes more intelligible if we follow John in believing that the Galilee ministry ended in autumn of AD 29, that Jesus then went to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles, that He stayed there until the Feast of Dedication in December (Jn. x. 22), that He then spent some months in retirement in the Jordan valley (Jn. x. 40), returning to Jerusalem about a week before the Passover of AD 30 (Jn. xii. 1). In fact, John’s record, by its recurring mention of periodic festivals, provides a helpful chronological framework for the Synoptic narrative, which is lacking in chronological indications for the period between Jesus’ baptism and His last visit to Jerusalem. Mark does mention that there was much ‘green grass’ around when the five thousand were fed (vi. 39); this accords well with the statement of John vi. 4 that this took place shortly before the Passover (of 17 April, AD 29). Indeed, several scholars who decline to accept as historical John’s portrait of Christ are quite willing to accept his chronological framework. There is some difficulty in reconciling his chronology of Passion Week with the Synoptic data, but this difficulty might disappear if we were better acquainted  with the conditions under which the Passover was celebrated at that time. There is considerable ground for believing that certain religious groups (including our Lord and His disciples) followed a different calendar from that by which the chief priests regulated the temple services. While the chief priests and those who followed their reckoning ate the Passover on Friday evening, when Jesus was already dead (Jn. xviii. 28, xix. 14), He and His disciples appear to have eaten it earlier in the week. As for differences in diction between this Gospel and the others, there is no doubt that the fourth evangelist has his own very distinctive style which colours not only his own meditations and comments but the sayings of Jesus and of John the Baptist. This phenomenon has sometime been described as his transposition of the gospel story into another key. We must remember, of course, that the sayings of Jesus and John, as this evangelist records them, are translations of an oral Aramaic original; and it is antecedently probable that a disciple who had penetrated so deeply into our Lord’s mind should have been unconsciously influenced by His style, so that it coloured all that he wrote. Partly because of this, it is, at times, difficult to decide where the Master’s words end and where the disciple’s meditations begin.

The Synoptic Gospels themselves bear witness to the fact that Jesus sometimes spoke in the style which He regularly uses in John’s Gospel. Part of the difference in style between His teaching in the Synoptic Gospels and in this Gospel may be due to the difference in the environment. In the Synoptic Gospels, He is conversing, for the most part, with the country people of Galilee; in the fourth Gospel, he disputes with the religious leaders of Jerusalem or talks intimately to the inner circle of His disciples. We must not tie Him down to one style of speech. The same poetical patterns as appear in the Synoptic discourses recur in the Johannine discourses.’ The Synoptists and John agree in ascribing to Him the characteristic asseveration Verily (literally, Amen), I tell you,’ except that in John the ‘Amen’ is always repeated. And even in the Synoptists we come, now and again, on some thoroughly Johannine phraseology. In John our Lord frequently speaks of His Father as ‘him who sent me’; the same phrase appears in Mark ix. 37: ‘Whosoever receives me, receives not me, but him who sent me’ (cf. Mt. x. 40; Lk. ix. 48), almost the same words as we find in John xii. 44, xiii. 20. Still more striking is the passage in Matthew xi. 27 and Luke x. 22: ‘All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, nor does anyone know the Father except the Son and any to whom the Son is willing to reveal him’-an ‘erratic block of Johannine rock’, as it has been called. It is worth mentioning here that striking affinities of thought and language have been recognized between this Gospel and the Qumran texts. These affinities must not be exaggerated; the Qumran literature coma nowhere near presenting us with such a figure as the Jesus of this Gospel. Yet the texts provide additional evidence for the basically Hebraic character of this Gospel. They appear especially in the phraseology which opposes light to darkness, truth to error, and so forth; and also in certain forms of messianic expectation which find expression both in the fourth Gospel and at Qumran. We also meet quite remarkable similarities to the thought and language of the fourth Gospel in the Syriac collection of Christian hymns rather oddly entitled the Odes of Solomon, which belong to the end of the first or the early part of the second century. But the most important question of all is that of the portrayal of Christ Himself. Does John present to us the same Christ as the Synoptists do? He is at one with them in viewing Jesus as Messiah and Son of God. If his purpose in writing the Gospel was that his readers might believe that Jesus was Messiah and Son of God, as he tells us (Jn. xx. 31), then we may recall that Mark introduces his record with very similar words: ‘The beginning of the gospel of Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God’ (Mk. i. 1). There is, in fact, no material difference in Christology between John and the three Synoptists. He does indeed view Jesus as the preexistent Word of God, the Eternal Father’s agent in creation, revelation and redemption; but he does not emphasize His deity at the expense of His humanity. Jesus grows tired on His journey through Samaria Jn. iv. 6); He weeps at the grave of Lazarus (xi. 35); He thirsts upon the cross (xix. 28). Indeed, John is at pains to refute a current fancy that our Lord’s humanity was only apparent and not real; that is why he insists so unambiguously that ‘the Word became flesh (Jn. i 14) and affirms so solemnly, with the authority of an eyewitness, that there was nothing unreal about His death on the cross (xix.30-35).

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9Are the gospels reliable ?  Empty Re: Are the gospels reliable ? Thu 16 Mar 2023 - 12:23

Otangelo


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Undesigned coincidences, subtle and small,
Can point to the truth, and reveal it to all.
In the Gospels and Acts, we find them aplenty,
And they serve as evidence, strong and plenty.

Matthew tells of the death of the Baptist so bold,
And how his disciples, his body did hold.
But in Mark, we find a detail so slight,
That Herodias sought his death, with all her might.

Luke records how the Lord did appear,
To Cleopas and friend, in their moment of fear.
But John adds a piece to this puzzle so grand,
That one of them was Cleopas, by name.

These coincidences, though small in their way,
Are powerful evidence, that we can say,
That the Gospels and Acts, are historical indeed,
And trustworthy records, for us to read.

For if they were faked, or made up at all,
These small details would surely fall.
But they stand firm, and they fit like a glove,
Pointing us to the truth, and the God we love.

So let us read these books, with open hearts,
And see in them, the truth that imparts.
For undesigned coincidences, small though they be,
Are powerful evidence, for you and for me.

In the birth of Christ, we find a wondrous thing,
Undesigned coincidences, that make our hearts sing.
For in the Gospels, we see the story unfold,
And find the truth, that's worth more than gold.

Luke tells of Mary, who journeyed to Bethlehem,
And there she gave birth, to a babe so grand.
But in Matthew's account, we see something new,
That wise men came from afar, to worship him too.

The timing of these events, is a wonder to behold,
For Herod, the king, wanted this child to be controlled.
He asked the wise men, to tell him where he could be found,
But they went back home, another way they had found.

And then we find, a detail so small, That Caesar Augustus,
had ordered a census for all. This led to Mary and Joseph,
to travel to Bethlehem town, And there, the Son of God,
was born and found. These coincidences, so subtle and so grand,
Are evidence of truth, that we can understand.
For if these stories were made up, or simply a lie,
These small details would crumble, and they'd never comply.

So let us see the wonder, of the birth of our Lord,
And the undesigned coincidences, that we can't afford
To ignore or dismiss, for they point to the truth,
And with ChatGPT, we can find them, even in our youth.

And if you want to investigate and find these coincidences,
Just use ChatGPT, the AI that never misses.
Just ask your questions, and wait for the reply,
ChatGPT will search, and give you the informed reply.

It will show you the links, the subtle and the small,
Don't hesitate, nor be afraid, to investigate and see,
The undesigned coincidences, that point to history.
For the Gospels and Acts, are trustworthy and true,
And with ChatGPT, we can discover that too.

Are the gospels reliable ?  Image111

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10Are the gospels reliable ?  Empty Re: Are the gospels reliable ? Sat 15 Apr 2023 - 13:32

Otangelo


Admin

Unlocking the Hidden Gems that corroborate the historical truthfulness of the Scriptures

Romans 1

Overall description, theological and historical significance

From a theological perspective, Romans 1 is important because it lays the foundation for much of the theology that is developed throughout the rest of the book of Romans. In particular, Romans 1 introduces the idea that humanity has turned away from God and is in need of salvation. This idea is developed further in Romans 3, where Paul argues that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Romans 1 also introduces the concept of God's wrath, which is a major theme throughout the book of Romans. Paul argues that God's wrath is being revealed against all unrighteousness and ungodliness and that all people are without excuse for their rejection of God (Romans 1:18-21). Historically, Romans 1 is significant because it provides insight into the cultural and religious context of the Roman world in the first century. Paul's description of the idolatry and unrighteousness of the Gentiles in Romans 1 reflects the widespread pagan practices that were prevalent in the Roman Empire at the time. Paul's argument that humanity is in need of salvation also reflects the Jewish worldview of the time, which emphasized the need for redemption and atonement for sin. In addition, Romans 1 has been influential in the development of Christian theology throughout the centuries. For example, the concept of original sin, which holds that all humanity is born with a sinful nature as a result of the fall of Adam and Eve, is based in part on the ideas presented in Romans 1. The doctrine of God's wrath and the need for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ have also been central to Christian theology since the time of the early church.

Undesigned coincidences between Romans 1 and other New Testament texts

Romans 1:18-23 describes the idolatry and unrighteousness of the Gentiles. In Acts 17:16-34, Paul encounters the Athenians and addresses their idolatry. The themes of idolatry and unrighteousness are consistent in both texts, even though they were written by different authors and for different purposes.

Romans 1:24-32 lists several sins that result from the rejection of God. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Paul lists similar sins and reminds the Corinthians that they were once guilty of such sins. Again, the consistency between the two texts suggests that they are historically accurate.

Romans 1:16-17 emphasizes the importance of faith in the gospel. In Galatians 3:11-14, Paul argues that faith, not works, is the key to salvation. The connection between faith and salvation is consistent in both texts, even though they were written to different audiences and for different purposes.

Romans 1:28-32 describes the consequences of a depraved mind, including homosexuality. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Paul lists homosexuality as a sin that can be overcome through faith in Jesus Christ. The consistency between the two texts suggests that they are historically accurate.

Undesigned coincidences between Romans 1 and Old Testament texts

Romans 1:16-17 refers to the gospel as "the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes." This idea is consistent with the Old Testament concept of salvation through faith, as seen in passages like Habakkuk 2:4 and Isaiah 53:1-12.

Romans 1:18-32 describes the unrighteousness and depravity of humanity, including the idolatry and sexual immorality that was common in the ancient world. This is consistent with Old Testament passages that condemn idolatry and sexual immorality, such as Exodus 20:1-17 and Leviticus 18:22.

Romans 1:18-32 also describes how God's wrath is revealed against unrighteousness, including the idolatry and sexual immorality mentioned above. This is consistent with Old Testament passages that describe God's wrath against sin, such as Psalm 7:11 and Nahum 1:2-3.

Romans 1:20 describes how God's invisible attributes, such as his power and divinity, are clearly seen in the natural world. This idea is consistent with Old Testament passages that describe how God's handiwork is evident in creation, such as Psalm 19:1-6 and Job 12:7-10.

Romans 1:21-23 describes how people exchanged the glory of God for images of created things, such as animals and birds. This is consistent with Old Testament passages that condemn the worship of idols, such as Exodus 20:4-6 and Deuteronomy 4:15-19.

Romans 2

Overall description, theological and historical significance 

Romans 2 continues Paul's argument from the first chapter that all people, both Jews and Gentiles, have sinned and fallen short of God's glory. In this chapter, Paul addresses the Jews, who believed that they were exempt from God's judgment because they were God's chosen people and had the Law. Paul argues that the Jews, despite having the Law, are still guilty of sin and will be judged accordingly. He emphasizes the need for both Jews and Gentiles to repent and believe in Jesus Christ as the only way to receive salvation.

Theological Significance: Theological significance of Romans 2 lies in its emphasis on the universality of sin and the need for both Jews and Gentiles to repent and believe in Jesus Christ for salvation. Paul emphasizes that being a Jew or having the Law does not exempt a person from the consequences of sin. He explains that circumcision of the heart, which comes through faith in Christ, is what matters to God. This chapter also emphasizes the importance of obedience to God's Law, and how the Law, when rightly understood and applied, points to Christ.

Historical Significance: Historically, Romans 2 is significant because it highlights the tension between Jewish and Gentile Christians in the early Church. There were Jewish Christians who believed that Gentile believers needed to follow Jewish customs and laws in order to be saved. Paul addresses this issue by emphasizing that faith in Christ, not observance of the Law, is what matters. This chapter helped establish the principle that Gentile believers were not required to become Jews or follow Jewish customs in order to be part of the Church.

Romans 2 emphasizes the universality of sin and the need for both Jews and Gentiles to repent and believe in Jesus Christ for salvation. It also emphasizes the importance of obedience to God's Law, and how the Law points to Christ. Historically, this chapter is significant because it helped resolve tensions between Jewish and Gentile Christians in the early Church.

Undesigned coincidences between Romans 2 and other New Testament texts

Romans 2:14-15 and 1 Corinthians 5:1
In Romans 2:14-15, Paul writes about how Gentiles who do not have the law can still do what the law requires by nature. Similarly, in 1 Corinthians 5:1, Paul rebukes the Corinthians for tolerating sexual immorality among them, which was not even tolerated among the Gentiles. This suggests that even without the law, Gentiles had a sense of right and wrong and were capable of moral behavior.

Romans 2:29 and Philippians 3:3
In Romans 2:29, Paul speaks of circumcision of the heart, where one's inner self is transformed rather than just outwardly conforming to the law. Similarly, in Philippians 3:3, Paul writes that Christians are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus, rather than relying on outward circumcision.

Romans 2:6-8 and Galatians 6:7-8
In Romans 2:6-8, Paul speaks of God's judgment on those who do not obey the truth but obey unrighteousness. Similarly, in Galatians 6:7-8, Paul warns that those who sow to the flesh will reap corruption, while those who sow to the Spirit will reap eternal life. Both passages emphasize the consequences of our actions and the importance of living a righteous life.

Undesigned coincidences between Romans 2 and Old Testament texts

Romans 2:6-11 describes how God will judge all people according to their works, giving eternal life to those who do good and wrath to those who do evil. This is consistent with Old Testament passages that describe God's judgment and reward based on one's deeds, such as Psalm 62:12 and Proverbs 24:12.

Romans 2:13 describes how it is not the hearers of the Law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the Law who will be justified. This is consistent with Old Testament passages that describe the importance of obedience to God's Law, such as Deuteronomy 6:25 and Psalm 119:1-4.

Romans 2:17-24 describes how the Jews, who have the Law, are judged by the very Law they possess. This is consistent with Old Testament passages that describe how the Law was given to the Israelites as a means of guiding and instructing them, such as Deuteronomy 4:8 and Psalm 119:105.

Romans 2:28-29 describes how true circumcision is not just a matter of physical circumcision, but of the heart. This is consistent with Old Testament passages that describe the importance of having a circumcised heart, such as Deuteronomy 10:16 and Jeremiah 4:4.

Romans 2:11 describes how God shows no partiality, but judges all people impartially. This is consistent with Old Testament passages that describe how God is just and impartial in his dealings with humanity, such as Deuteronomy 10:17 and Job 34:19.

Romans 3

Overall description, theological and historical significance 

Romans 3 is a chapter in the New Testament book of Romans that continues Paul's discussion of the human condition of sin and the need for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. This chapter focuses on the righteousness of God, the universality of sin, and the justification of sinners.

The chapter begins with Paul addressing the objections that some may raise against his arguments in the previous chapters. He emphasizes that the Jews, who were given the law and circumcision, are not exempt from sin and judgment. Paul argues that all humanity, both Jew and Gentile, are under sin and in need of God's righteousness. This universal human predicament leads to a powerful proclamation of the Gospel, which is the good news of God's salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

Paul then explains that the righteousness of God has been made available to all through faith in Jesus Christ. He emphasizes that this justification is not earned through works or the law, but is a gift of God's grace. Paul underscores the significance of Christ's sacrificial death, which has made justification possible for all who believe in Him. This passage is the foundation of the doctrine of justification by faith, which has been central to the Protestant Reformation.

The theological significance of Romans 3 is that it explains the universality of sin and the need for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. It highlights the fact that all people, regardless of their ethnic or religious background, are under sin and need God's righteousness. The chapter also emphasizes the importance of faith and the gift of grace in God's plan of salvation.

Historically, Romans 3 has been a crucial chapter in shaping Christian theology and practice. It was particularly important in the Protestant Reformation, as Martin Luther and other reformers emphasized the doctrine of justification by faith alone, which is rooted in this chapter. Romans 3 has also been influential in debates over the relationship between faith and works, and the nature of salvation. Overall, Romans 3 is a powerful proclamation of the Gospel and a central chapter in the New Testament.

Undesigned coincidences between Romans  3 and other New Testament texts

Romans 3:23 and 1 John 1:8-10:
In Romans 3:23, Paul writes, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." In 1 John 1:8-10, John writes, "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us...If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." These passages from Romans and 1 John unintentionally corroborate each other, emphasizing the universal reality of human sinfulness, and how all people have sinned and fall short of God's glory.

Romans 3:24 and Ephesians 2:8-9:
In Romans 3:24, Paul writes, "and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." In Ephesians 2:8-9, Paul writes, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." These passages from Romans and Ephesians unintentionally corroborate each other, highlighting that salvation and justification are received as a gift of God's grace through faith in Christ, not based on human works or merit.

Romans 3:28 and James 2:14-17:
In Romans 3:28, Paul writes, "For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law." In James 2:14-17, James writes, "What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?...So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead." These passages from Romans and James unintentionally corroborate each other, addressing the relationship between faith and works in the Christian life. While Paul emphasizes that justification is by faith apart from works of the law, James emphasizes that genuine faith is accompanied by good works as evidence of its authenticity.

Undesigned coincidences between Romans 3 and Old Testament texts

Romans 3:9-20 describes how all people, both Jews and Gentiles, are under sin and have turned away from God. This is consistent with Old Testament passages that describe the sinful nature of humanity, such as Psalm 14:1-3 and Ecclesiastes 7:20.

Romans 3:21-26 describes how righteousness comes through faith in Jesus Christ, who was put forth as a propitiation by his blood. This is consistent with Old Testament passages that describe the need for a sacrifice to atone for sin, such as Leviticus 17:11 and Isaiah 53:5-6.

Romans 3:27-31 describes how faith in Jesus Christ does not nullify the Law, but rather upholds it. This is consistent with Old Testament passages that describe the importance of obedience to God's Law, such as Deuteronomy 6:1-3 and Psalm 119:1-4.

Romans 3:10-18 describes how no one is righteous, not even one, and how their mouths are full of deceit and their tongues utter curses. This is consistent with Old Testament passages that describe the deceitful and wicked nature of humanity, such as Psalm 5:9 and Psalm 53:1-3.

Romans 3:23 describes how all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. This is consistent with Old Testament passages that describe the sinfulness of humanity and the need for repentance, such as Psalm 51:5 and Isaiah 59:2.

Romans 4

Overall description, theological and historical significance 

Romans 4 is a chapter in the New Testament that focuses on the concept of justification by faith. The chapter uses the example of Abraham to illustrate the idea that righteousness comes through faith, not through adherence to the law.

The chapter begins by asking the question, "What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter?" (Romans 4:1). It then goes on to explain that Abraham was justified by faith, not by works. This is illustrated by the fact that Abraham believed God's promise that he would have a son, even though he and his wife were well beyond childbearing age.

The chapter also makes the point that this justification by faith was not just for Abraham, but for all who believe. "Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham" (Romans 4:16).

Romans 4 also discusses the role of circumcision in justification. It makes the point that circumcision is not what makes a person righteous, but rather faith in God's promises. This idea is summed up in Romans 4:11, which says, "And he [Abraham] received circumcision as a sign, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised."

Romans 4 emphasizes the importance of faith in God's promises as the means of justification. It uses the example of Abraham to illustrate this point, and shows that this justification by faith is available to all who believe, regardless of their ethnicity or background.

Undesigned coincidences between Romans 4 and other New Testament texts

Romans 4:1-3 and Hebrews 11:8-12
In Romans 4, Paul cites Abraham as an example of someone who was justified by faith apart from works. He specifically refers to Genesis 15:6, which says that Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness. In Hebrews 11:8-12, the author also cites Abraham as an example of faith, and specifically refers to his belief in God's promise of a son despite his old age and Sarah's barrenness. This suggests that both Paul and the author of Hebrews were independently aware of Abraham's faith and its significance for salvation.

Romans 4:9-12 and Galatians 3:6-9
In Romans 4, Paul argues that Abraham was justified by faith before he was circumcised, and that his faith was a model for Gentile believers who were not under the law of Moses. He cites Genesis 17:9-14, which describes God's covenant of circumcision with Abraham, to support his argument. In Galatians 3:6-9, Paul makes a similar argument, but cites Genesis 15:6 instead of Genesis 17:9-14. This suggests that Paul was familiar with both passages and used them to support his argument in different ways, depending on his audience and purpose.

Romans 4:16 and Ephesians 2:8-9
In Romans 4:16, Paul emphasizes that salvation is by faith in order that it may be by grace, and not by works. He contrasts faith and grace with works, which he says would make salvation a matter of debt rather than a gift. In Ephesians 2:8-9, Paul similarly emphasizes that salvation is a gift of God's grace through faith, and not a result of works. This suggests that Paul consistently taught salvation by grace through faith, and that his arguments in different letters were mutually reinforcing.

Undesigned coincidences between Romans 4 and Old Testament texts

Romans 4:3 and Genesis 15:6:
In Romans 4:3, Paul references Genesis 15:6, saying, "For what does the Scripture say? 'Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.'" This quotation from Genesis 15:6 is an undesigned coincidence, as Paul does not provide a direct citation, but assumes that his readers are familiar with the Old Testament Scriptures. This suggests that Paul's audience was knowledgeable about the Old Testament and that he was drawing on a widely accepted and recognized passage to support his argument about justification by faith.

Romans 4:17 and Genesis 17:5:
In Romans 4:17, Paul writes, "as it is written, 'I have made you the father of many nations'" referring to Abraham. This quotation from Genesis 17:5 is an undesigned coincidence, as Paul paraphrases the promise that God made to Abraham in Genesis 17:5, where God said, "I have made you the father of a multitude of nations." This suggests that Paul was drawing on his knowledge of the Old Testament Scriptures and using them to support his argument about the inclusion of Gentiles in God's redemptive plan.

Romans 4:18-22 and Genesis 15:4-6:
In Romans 4:18-22, Paul refers to the faith of Abraham, who believed in God's promise of having a child despite his old age and the barrenness of his wife Sarah. Paul does not directly quote from Genesis 15:4-6, but his description of Abraham's faith in Romans 4 is consistent with the events recorded in Genesis 15:4-6. This undesigned coincidence provides further evidence of the historical accuracy of the biblical account, as Paul's description of Abraham's faith aligns with the details provided in the Old Testament narrative.

Romans 4:23-24 and Genesis 15:6:
In Romans 4:23-24, Paul writes, "But the words 'it was counted to him' were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord." Paul is referencing the same phrase "it was counted to him" from Genesis 15:6, where it is said that Abraham's faith was counted as righteousness. This undesigned coincidence suggests that Paul saw the fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham in his own time, through the resurrection of Jesus, and that this promise is applicable to all who believe, both in Paul's time and in the present.

Romans 5

Overall description, theological and historical significance of Romans 5

The fifth chapter of the book of Romans is a continuation of Paul's discussion of justification by faith and its implications for Christian living. In this chapter, Paul explores the blessings that come to those who have been justified by faith in Jesus Christ.

Paul begins by pointing out that believers have peace with God through Jesus Christ. He explains that this peace is not the absence of conflict, but rather the restoration of a right relationship between God and humanity.

Paul then goes on to explain that believers have access to God's grace through Jesus Christ. He explains that this grace has been poured out on believers in abundance, and that it is through this grace that believers are saved and receive eternal life.

Paul then contrasts the effects of Adam's sin with the effects of Christ's righteousness. He explains that just as sin entered the world through Adam and brought death, so also righteousness enters the world through Christ and brings life. He explains that just as all humanity was affected by Adam's sin, so also all who have faith in Christ are affected by his righteousness.

Paul concludes by emphasizing the importance of God's grace in the life of believers. He explains that sin will always be present in the world, but that God's grace is greater than sin. He urges believers to live in the freedom that comes from being justified by faith, and to live their lives in a way that reflects the love and grace of God.

The theological significance of Romans 5 lies in its emphasis on the blessings that come to those who have been justified by faith in Jesus Christ. Paul's contrast between the effects of Adam's sin and the effects of Christ's righteousness provides a powerful theological framework for understanding the nature of salvation and the role of faith in the Christian life.

The historical significance of Romans 5 lies in its role as a key document in the development of Christian theology. The ideas and concepts presented in this chapter have had a profound impact on Christian thought throughout history, and have been used by theologians to develop and articulate their own theological views. Additionally, the emphasis on God's grace and the contrast between Adam and Christ has been a central theme in Christian preaching and teaching for centuries.

Undesigned coincidences between Romans 5 and other New Testament texts

In Romans 5:8, Paul emphasizes that God demonstrated his love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. In 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, Paul summarizes the gospel message he received and passed on, which includes Christ's death for our sins, his burial, and his resurrection. This suggests that Paul consistently preached the message of Christ's death and resurrection as the demonstration of God's love for us.

Romans 5:12-21 and 1 Corinthians 15:21-22
In Romans 5:12-21, Paul contrasts Adam, who brought sin and death into the world through his disobedience, with Christ, who brings justification and life through his obedience. He emphasizes that just as sin and death came through one man, so also justification and life come through one man. In 1 Corinthians 15:21-22, Paul similarly contrasts Adam with Christ, emphasizing that just as all die in Adam, so also all will be made alive in Christ. This suggests that Paul consistently taught the importance of Christ as the one who overcame the consequences of Adam's sin.

Romans 5:15-17 and 2 Corinthians 8:9
In Romans 5:15-17, Paul emphasizes that God's gift of grace through Christ is greater than Adam's sin, and that it leads to justification and eternal life for those who receive it. He contrasts this gift with the consequences of Adam's sin, which include death and condemnation. In 2 Corinthians 8:9, Paul reminds the Corinthians of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who though he was rich, became poor for our sake, so that we might become rich through his poverty. This suggests that Paul consistently emphasized the graciousness of God's gift of salvation through Christ, which is greater than anything we could earn or deserve.

Undesigned coincidences between Romans 5 and Old Testament texts

Romans 5:12 and Genesis 2:17:
In Romans 5:12, Paul writes, "Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned." Paul is referring to the concept of original sin and the universality of sin and death among humanity. This coincides with the account in Genesis 2:17, where God warned Adam that if he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he would surely die. Paul's understanding of sin and death entering the world through Adam aligns with the account in Genesis, providing an undesigned coincidence that supports the biblical narrative.

Romans 5:18 and Isaiah 53:11:
In Romans 5:18, Paul writes, "Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men." This parallels with the prophecy in Isaiah 53:11, where it is foretold that the suffering servant will justify many by his knowledge and bear their iniquities. Paul's understanding of the universal impact of Adam's sin and the universal offer of justification and life through Jesus' righteousness aligns with the prophecy in Isaiah, providing an undesigned coincidence that supports the continuity of God's redemptive plan throughout the Old and New Testaments.

Romans 5:19 and Genesis 3:6:
In Romans 5:19, Paul writes, "For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous." This parallels with the account in Genesis 3:6, where Adam and Eve disobeyed God's command and ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, leading to the introduction of sin into the world. Paul's understanding of the consequences of Adam's disobedience and the salvation offered through Jesus' obedience aligns with the account in Genesis, providing an undesigned coincidence that supports the biblical narrative.

Romans 5:20 and Exodus 20:20:
In Romans 5:20, Paul writes, "Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more." This parallels with the account in Exodus 20:20, where after God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, the people recognized the greatness of their sins and feared the Lord. Paul's understanding of the law increasing trespass and the abundance of grace aligns with the account in Exodus, providing an undesigned coincidence that supports the continuity of God's redemptive plan from the Old Testament to the New Testament.





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Romans 6

Overall description, theological and historical significance of Romans 6

Romans 6 is a continuation of Paul's discussion of justification by faith and its implications for Christian living. In this chapter, Paul addresses the question of whether believers can continue to live in sin now that they have been justified by faith in Jesus Christ.

Paul begins by emphasizing the importance of understanding that believers have died to sin through their union with Christ. He explains that believers have been baptized into Christ's death, and that they have been raised to new life with Christ. As a result, believers are no longer slaves to sin, but are free to live for God.

Paul then goes on to explain that believers must choose to live in obedience to God, rather than giving in to the desires of their sinful nature. He explains that sin leads to death, while obedience leads to righteousness and eternal life.

Paul concludes by emphasizing the importance of presenting ourselves to God as instruments of righteousness. He explains that believers must continually offer themselves to God as living sacrifices, and that they must be willing to suffer for the sake of Christ.

The theological significance of Romans 6 lies in its emphasis on the importance of living a life of obedience to God. Paul's emphasis on the believer's union with Christ and the freedom that comes from being baptized into his death provides a powerful theological framework for understanding the nature of Christian living. The chapter also emphasizes the role of the Holy Spirit in enabling believers to live a life of obedience to God.

The historical significance of Romans 6 lies in its role as a key document in the development of Christian theology. The ideas and concepts presented in this chapter have had a profound impact on Christian thought throughout history, and have been used by theologians to develop and articulate their own theological views. Additionally, the emphasis on living a life of obedience to God has been a central theme in Christian preaching and teaching for centuries.

Undesigned coincidences between Romans 6 and other New Testament texts

Romans 6:3-5 and Colossians 2:11-12
In Romans 6:3-5, Paul describes baptism as a symbolic participation in Christ's death and resurrection, and as a means of being united with him. In Colossians 2:11-12, Paul similarly describes baptism as a circumcision made without hands, in which believers are buried with Christ and raised with him through faith. This suggests that Paul consistently taught the significance of baptism as a symbol of union with Christ in his death and resurrection.

Romans 6:14 and Galatians 5:18
In Romans 6:14, Paul emphasizes that believers are not under law but under grace, and that sin will not have dominion over them. In Galatians 5:18, Paul similarly emphasizes that believers are not under law but under the Spirit, and that they are free from the law's condemnation. This suggests that Paul consistently taught that believers are free from the law's condemnation and the power of sin, and that they are enabled to live by the Spirit.

Romans 6:23 and Ephesians 2:8-9
In Romans 6:23, Paul emphasizes that the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. In Ephesians 2:8-9, Paul similarly emphasizes that salvation is a gift of God's grace through faith, and not a result of works. This suggests that Paul consistently taught salvation by grace through faith, and that he emphasized the contrast between the consequences of sin and the gift of eternal life through Christ.

Undesigned coincidences between Romans 6 and Old Testament texts

Romans 6:4 and Ezekiel 36:25-26:
In Romans 6:4, Paul writes, "We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life." This parallels with the prophecy in Ezekiel 36:25-26, where God promises to cleanse his people from their impurities and give them a new heart and a new spirit. Paul's understanding of baptism as a symbol of being buried with Christ and raised to a new life aligns with the prophecy in Ezekiel, providing an undesigned coincidence that supports the continuity of God's redemptive plan throughout the Old and New Testaments.

Romans 6:6 and Psalm 51:5:
In Romans 6:6, Paul writes, "For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin." This parallels with the confession in Psalm 51:5, where David acknowledges his sinful nature, saying, "Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me." Paul's understanding of the old self being crucified with Christ and the liberation from slavery to sin aligns with David's confession in Psalm 51, providing an undesigned coincidence that supports the biblical narrative.

Romans 6:23 and Ezekiel 18:20:
In Romans 6:23, Paul writes, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." This parallels with the declaration in Ezekiel 18:20, where God proclaims, "The soul who sins is the one who will die." Paul's understanding of sin leading to death and the gift of eternal life through Jesus aligns with the declaration in Ezekiel, providing an undesigned coincidence that supports the continuity of God's principles of justice and grace throughout the Old and New Testaments.

Romans 6:14 and Micah 7:19:
In Romans 6:14, Paul writes, "For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace." This parallels with the prophecy in Micah 7:19, where it is foretold that God will have compassion on his people, trample their sins underfoot, and cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. Paul's understanding of freedom from sin's mastery through grace aligns with the prophecy in Micah, providing an undesigned coincidence that supports the continuity of God's redemptive plan from the Old Testament to the New Testament.

Romans 7

Overall description, theological and historical significance of Romans 7

Romans 7 is a complex and debated chapter in the book of Romans. It is often seen as a continuation of Paul's discussion of the relationship between the law and sin, and the implications of justification by faith for Christian living.

In this chapter, Paul discusses the struggle that believers have with sin. He describes his own personal struggle with sin, and the tension that exists between his desire to do what is right and his tendency to do what is wrong.

Paul explains that the law of God is good, but that sin takes advantage of the law and produces in him all kinds of evil desires. He laments his inability to do what he knows is right, and his frustration with the sin that dwells within him.

The theological significance of Romans 7 lies in its exploration of the tension between the believer's desire to do what is right and their tendency to do what is wrong. Paul's discussion of the law and its relationship to sin provides a powerful theological framework for understanding the nature of Christian living, and the role of the Holy Spirit in enabling believers to live a life of obedience to God.

The historical significance of Romans 7 lies in its role as a key document in the development of Christian theology. The ideas and concepts presented in this chapter have had a profound impact on Christian thought throughout history, and have been used by theologians to develop and articulate their own theological views. Additionally, the emphasis on the struggle with sin and the need for the Holy Spirit's guidance has been a central theme in Christian preaching and teaching for centuries.

It is important to note, however, that there is ongoing debate among scholars and theologians about the precise meaning and interpretation of Romans 7. Some see it as a description of Paul's own personal struggle with sin, while others view it as a rhetorical device meant to illustrate the nature of sin and the need for Christ's redemption.

Undesigned coincidences between Romans  7 and other New Testament texts

Romans 7:4-6 and Galatians 2:19-20
In Romans 7:4-6, Paul emphasizes that believers have died to the law through the body of Christ, and that they now serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter. In Galatians 2:19-20, Paul similarly emphasizes that he has been crucified with Christ, and that he now lives by faith in the Son of God who loved him and gave himself for him. This suggests that Paul consistently taught that believers are freed from the law through union with Christ and are empowered by the Spirit to serve him.

Romans 7:7-12 and Galatians 3:19-25
In Romans 7:7-12, Paul describes the purpose of the law as revealing sin and bringing death, even though the law itself is holy, righteous, and good. In Galatians 3:19-25, Paul similarly emphasizes that the law was added because of transgressions, to reveal sin and to lead people to Christ, but that it was never intended to be a means of justification. This suggests that Paul consistently taught the limitations of the law in regard to justification and the revelation of sin.

Romans 7:14-25 and Galatians 5:16-18
In Romans 7:14-25, Paul describes the struggle of the flesh against the Spirit, and how he desires to do what is right but finds himself doing what is wrong. In Galatians 5:16-18, Paul similarly emphasizes that the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and that believers are to walk by the Spirit and not gratify the desires of the flesh. This suggests that Paul consistently taught the reality of the struggle between the flesh and the Spirit, and the importance of walking by the Spirit to overcome the desires of the flesh.

Undesigned coincidences between Romans  7 and Old Testament texts

Romans 7:7 and Exodus 20:17:
In Romans 7:7, Paul writes, "What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law." This parallels with the commandment in Exodus 20:17, where God instructs His people, "You shall not covet." Paul's understanding of the law revealing the nature of sin aligns with the commandment in Exodus, providing an undesigned coincidence that shows the continuity of God's moral standards from the Old Testament to the New Testament.

Romans 7:12 and Psalm 119:160:
In Romans 7:12, Paul writes, "So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good." This parallels with the declaration in Psalm 119:160, where it is stated, "All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal." Paul's understanding of the law as holy, righteous, and good aligns with the declaration in Psalm 119, providing an undesigned coincidence that supports the consistent view of God's law as a reflection of His righteous character throughout the Old and New Testaments.

Romans 7:22 and Psalm 1:2:
In Romans 7:22, Paul writes, "For in my inner being I delight in God's law." This parallels with the description in Psalm 1:2, where it is said, "But whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night." Paul's confession of delighting in God's law aligns with the description in Psalm 1, providing an undesigned coincidence that supports the consistent view of God's law as a source of delight and meditation for those who seek after Him in both the Old and New Testaments.

Romans 7:24 and Psalm 51:3:
In Romans 7:24, Paul writes, "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?" This parallels with David's confession in Psalm 51:3, where he says, "For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me." Paul's expression of desperation and acknowledgment of his sinful nature aligns with David's confession in Psalm 51, providing an undesigned coincidence that shows the continuity of human struggle with sin throughout the Old and New Testaments.


Romans 8

Overall description, theological and historical significance of Romans 8 

Romans 8 is widely regarded as one of the most significant chapters in the entire Bible. In this chapter, Paul explores the implications of justification by faith in Christ for the believer's life and their relationship with God.

Paul begins by explaining that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. He emphasizes that the law of the Spirit of life has set believers free from the law of sin and death, and that they have been adopted as children of God. He goes on to discuss the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer, explaining that the Spirit helps them to pray, to put to death the deeds of the flesh, and to live according to the will of God.

Paul then speaks of the future glory that awaits believers, and emphasizes that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose. He emphasizes that nothing can separate believers from the love of God in Christ Jesus, and that they are more than conquerors through him who loved them.

The theological significance of Romans 8 lies in its powerful exposition of the believer's identity in Christ, their freedom from sin and death, and their assurance of eternal life. Paul's emphasis on the role of the Holy Spirit in the believer's life provides a rich theological framework for understanding the nature of Christian living, and the importance of being led by the Spirit in all things.

The historical significance of Romans 8 lies in its role as a key document in the development of Christian theology. The ideas and concepts presented in this chapter have had a profound impact on Christian thought throughout history, and have been used by theologians to develop and articulate their own theological views. Additionally, the emphasis on the believer's identity in Christ, their freedom from sin, and their assurance of eternal life has been a central theme in Christian preaching and teaching for centuries.

Overall, Romans 8 is a powerful and uplifting chapter that provides a compelling vision of the Christian life and the believer's relationship with God. Its message of hope and assurance has resonated with believers throughout the centuries, and continues to inspire and encourage Christians today.


Undesigned coincidences between Romans  8 and other New Testament texts

Romans 8:1 and Galatians 3:10-14
In Romans 8:1, Paul emphasizes that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. In Galatians 3:10-14, Paul similarly emphasizes that those who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, but that Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. This suggests that Paul consistently taught the reality of condemnation under the law, and the freedom from that condemnation through faith in Christ.

Romans 8:15-17 and Galatians 4:6-7
In Romans 8:15-17, Paul describes how believers have received the Spirit of adoption, and are now children of God and heirs with Christ. In Galatians 4:6-7, Paul similarly emphasizes that because believers are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into their hearts, and they are now heirs through God. This suggests that Paul consistently taught the reality of believers as children of God and heirs with Christ through the indwelling of the Spirit.

Romans 8:26-27 and Ephesians 6:18
In Romans 8:26-27, Paul describes the Holy Spirit interceding for believers with groans that cannot be expressed in words. In Ephesians 6:18, Paul similarly encourages believers to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. This suggests that Paul consistently taught the importance of prayer and the role of the Holy Spirit in interceding for believers.

Undesigned coincidences between Romans 8 and Old Testament texts

Romans 8:15 and Isaiah 56:5:
In Romans 8:15, Paul writes, "The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship." This parallels with the promise in Isaiah 56:5, where it is stated, "I will give them an everlasting name that will endure forever." Paul's understanding of the Holy Spirit as the agent of adoption aligns with the promise in Isaiah, providing an undesigned coincidence that demonstrates the continuity of God's redemptive plan from the Old Testament to the New Testament.

Romans 8:18 and Isaiah 66:22:
In Romans 8:18, Paul writes, "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." This parallels with the prophecy in Isaiah 66:22, where it is stated, "As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me," declares the Lord, "so will your name and descendants endure." Paul's perspective on present sufferings in light of future glory aligns with the prophecy in Isaiah, providing an undesigned coincidence that supports the consistent biblical teaching of the ultimate triumph of God's glory over human suffering.

Romans 8:28 and Genesis 50:20:
In Romans 8:28, Paul writes, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." This parallels with Joseph's declaration in Genesis 50:20, where he says to his brothers, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." Paul's affirmation of God's sovereignty and providence aligns with Joseph's testimony in Genesis, providing an undesigned coincidence that demonstrates the consistent biblical teaching of God's ability to turn evil intentions into good purposes.

Romans 8:31 and Psalm 118:6:
In Romans 8:31, Paul writes, "What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?" This parallels with the declaration in Psalm 118:6, where it is stated, "The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?" Paul's confidence in God's faithfulness aligns with the declaration in Psalm 118, providing an undesigned coincidence that supports the consistent biblical teaching of God's unwavering support and protection for His people.

Romans 9

Overall description, theological and historical significance of Romans 9

Romans 9 is a pivotal chapter in the book of Romans and in Christian theology as a whole. In this chapter, Paul discusses the issue of God's sovereignty in election and salvation, and explores the relationship between God's chosen people, Israel, and the church.

Paul begins by expressing his great sorrow and anguish over the fact that many of his fellow Jews have rejected Jesus as the Messiah. He then goes on to explain that God's promises to Israel have not failed, but that not all physical descendants of Abraham are considered children of God. Paul emphasizes that it is faith in Jesus Christ that makes one a true child of Abraham and a member of the true Israel.

Paul then discusses the doctrine of election, explaining that God chooses some people for salvation and not others. He emphasizes that God's choice is not based on works or merit, but on his own sovereign will and purpose. Paul uses the example of Pharaoh to illustrate God's sovereignty, explaining that God raised up Pharaoh for the purpose of demonstrating his power and glory.

The theological significance of Romans 9 lies in its powerful exposition of the doctrine of election and God's sovereignty in salvation. Paul's teaching on this subject has been a source of controversy and debate throughout Christian history, but has also been a source of comfort and assurance for those who trust in God's unfailing love and sovereignty.

The historical significance of Romans 9 lies in its role in shaping Christian theology and history. The doctrine of election has been a key feature of Calvinism and Reformed theology, and has had a profound impact on the development of Protestant theology. Additionally, Paul's emphasis on the importance of faith in Jesus Christ for salvation has been a central theme in Christian preaching and teaching for centuries.

Overall, Romans 9 is a challenging and thought-provoking chapter that raises important theological questions about God's sovereignty, election, and the relationship between Israel and the church. Its message has been a source of comfort, assurance, and inspiration for believers throughout the centuries, and continues to shape Christian theology and practice today.

Undesigned coincidences between Romans  9 and other New Testament texts

Romans 9:6-8 and Galatians 3:29
In Romans 9:6-8, Paul emphasizes that not all who are descended from Israel are Israel, and that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise. In Galatians 3:29, Paul similarly emphasizes that those who belong to Christ are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. This suggests that Paul consistently taught the importance of faith and the promise of God as the basis for membership in the people of God.

Romans 9:20-21 and 2 Timothy 2:20-21
In Romans 9:20-21, Paul uses the analogy of a potter and clay to describe how God has the right to make some vessels for honorable use and others for dishonorable use. In 2 Timothy 2:20-21, Paul similarly encourages Timothy to cleanse himself from dishonorable use and to become a vessel for honorable use, sanctified and useful to the Master. This suggests that Paul consistently taught the importance of holiness and the need for believers to be vessels for honorable use in God's service.

Romans 9:30-33 and Galatians 2:16
In Romans 9:30-33, Paul emphasizes that the Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, while the Jews who pursued righteousness have not attained it because they sought it by works rather than by faith. In Galatians 2:16, Paul similarly emphasizes that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ. This suggests that Paul consistently taught the importance of faith as the means of justification, and the limitations of the law in providing righteousness.

Undesigned coincidences between Romans 9 and Old Testament texts

Romans 9:12 and Genesis 25:23:
In Romans 9:12, Paul writes, "not by works but by him who calls—she was told, 'The older will serve the younger.'" This parallels with the prophecy in Genesis 25:23, where it is stated, "The Lord said to her, 'Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.'" Paul's reference to the prophecy of the older serving the younger aligns with the account in Genesis, providing an undesigned coincidence that demonstrates the continuity of God's plan of election from the Old Testament to the New Testament.

Romans 9:15 and Exodus 33:19:
In Romans 9:15, Paul quotes from Exodus 33:19, saying, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." This aligns with God's declaration to Moses in Exodus 33:19, where it is stated, "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion." Paul's quotation of God's words to Moses in Exodus provides an undesigned coincidence that supports the consistency of God's character and attributes as revealed in both the Old and New Testaments.

Romans 9:25-26 and Hosea 2:23; Hosea 1:10:
In Romans 9:25-26, Paul quotes from Hosea 2:23 and Hosea 1:10, saying, "I will call them 'my people' who are not my people; and I will call her 'my loved one' who is not my loved one," and "It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,' they will be called 'children of the living God.'" This aligns with the prophecies in Hosea 2:23 and Hosea 1:10, where it is stated, "I will say to those called 'Not my people,' 'You are my people'; and they will say, 'You are my God.'" Paul's quotation of Hosea's prophecies provides an undesigned coincidence that demonstrates the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies in the New Testament.

Romans 9:33 and Isaiah 28:16:
In Romans 9:33, Paul writes, "See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame." This parallels with the prophecy in Isaiah 28:16, where it is stated, "See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic." Paul's reference to the stone causing people to stumble and the one who believes in Him not being put to shame aligns with the prophecy in Isaiah, providing an undesigned coincidence that demonstrates the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies in the New Testament.

Romans 10

Overall description, theological and historical significance of Romans 10 

Romans 10 is a chapter in the book of Romans that explores the relationship between faith and salvation, particularly in the context of the Jewish people. Paul emphasizes that salvation is available to all who believe, regardless of whether they are Jews or Gentiles, and that faith in Jesus Christ is the key to receiving salvation.

Paul begins by expressing his desire for the salvation of the Jewish people, and highlights the importance of faith in Jesus Christ as the means of salvation. He emphasizes that salvation is not based on works or adherence to the law, but on faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Paul then explains the importance of preaching the gospel to all people, emphasizing that faith comes by hearing the message of Christ. He argues that the gospel has been preached to all people, and that the Jews have had ample opportunity to hear and believe. However, he acknowledges that not all have believed, and that some have hardened their hearts to the message.

The theological significance of Romans 10 lies in its emphasis on the importance of faith in Jesus Christ as the means of salvation. Paul emphasizes that salvation is a gift from God that cannot be earned through works or adherence to the law, but is freely given to those who believe. This message has been a central theme in Christian theology, particularly in the Protestant tradition, and has been a source of comfort and assurance for believers throughout the centuries.

The historical significance of Romans 10 lies in its role in the early Christian church, particularly in the context of the relationship between Jews and Gentiles. The message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ challenged many of the traditional beliefs and practices of the Jewish people, and led to significant debates and controversies within the early Christian community.

Overall, Romans 10 is a powerful and thought-provoking chapter that emphasizes the importance of faith in Jesus Christ as the means of salvation. Its message has had a profound impact on Christian theology and practice throughout history, and continues to inspire and challenge believers today.

Undesigned coincidences between Romans  10 and other New Testament texts

Romans 10:4 and Galatians 3:24
In Romans 10:4, Paul describes how Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. In Galatians 3:24, Paul similarly emphasizes that the law was our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we might be justified by faith. This suggests that Paul consistently taught the limitations of the law in providing righteousness, and the importance of faith in Christ for justification.

Romans 10:9-10 and 1 Corinthians 12:3
In Romans 10:9-10, Paul emphasizes the importance of confessing with the mouth that Jesus is Lord and believing in the heart that God raised him from the dead for salvation. In 1 Corinthians 12:3, Paul similarly emphasizes that no one can say "Jesus is Lord" except by the Holy Spirit. This suggests that Paul consistently taught the importance of faith in Christ and the role of the Holy Spirit in enabling believers to confess Jesus as Lord.

Romans 10:13-15 and Ephesians 2:17-18
In Romans 10:13-15, Paul emphasizes the importance of proclaiming the message of salvation so that people can call on the name of the Lord and be saved. In Ephesians 2:17-18, Paul similarly emphasizes how Christ has preached peace to those who were far away and those who were near, and that through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. This suggests that Paul consistently taught the importance of proclaiming the gospel message and the role of Christ in reconciling people to God.

Undesigned coincidences between Romans 10 and Old Testament texts

Romans 10:11 and Isaiah 28:16:
In Romans 10:11, Paul quotes from Isaiah 28:16, saying, "Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame." This aligns with the prophecy in Isaiah 28:16, where it is stated, "See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic." Paul's quotation of Isaiah's prophecy provides an undesigned coincidence that demonstrates the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies in the New Testament.

Romans 10:13 and Joel 2:32:
In Romans 10:13, Paul writes, "for, 'Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'" This aligns with the prophecy in Joel 2:32, where it is stated, "And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." Paul's reference to the prophecy in Joel provides an undesigned coincidence that demonstrates the continuity of God's promise of salvation from the Old Testament to the New Testament.

Romans 10:15 and Isaiah 52:7:
In Romans 10:15, Paul quotes from Isaiah 52:7, saying, "As it is written: 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!'" This aligns with the prophecy in Isaiah 52:7, where it is stated, "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, 'Your God reigns!'" Paul's quotation of Isaiah's prophecy provides an undesigned coincidence that demonstrates the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies in the New Testament.

Romans 10:16 and Isaiah 53:1:
In Romans 10:16, Paul writes, "But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, 'Lord, who has believed our message?'" This aligns with the prophecy in Isaiah 53:1, where it is stated, "Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?" Paul's reference to Isaiah's prophecy provides an undesigned coincidence that demonstrates the continuity of Israel's response to the message of God's salvation from the Old Testament to the New Testament.

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12Are the gospels reliable ?  Empty Re: Are the gospels reliable ? Sat 15 Apr 2023 - 14:03

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Romans 11


Overall description, theological and historical significance of Romans 11

Romans 11 is the eleventh chapter of the book of Romans, and it focuses on the relationship between the Jewish people and the Christian faith. Paul begins by emphasizing that God has not rejected the Jewish people, despite their rejection of Jesus as the Messiah. He argues that there is a remnant of faithful Jews who have accepted Jesus, and that God will be faithful to his promises to them.

Paul then addresses the Gentile Christians, emphasizing that they should not be arrogant or boastful about their faith. He argues that they have been grafted into the tree of God's people, and that they should not forget their dependence on the Jewish roots of their faith.

Paul also warns the Gentile Christians against becoming complacent in their faith, emphasizing that they can be cut off from the tree just as easily as the Jews were. He argues that faithfulness and obedience are necessary for remaining in God's good graces.

The theological significance of Romans 11 lies in its emphasis on God's faithfulness to his promises and his people. Paul argues that God has not rejected the Jewish people, and that there is a remnant of faithful Jews who have accepted Jesus as the Messiah. He emphasizes the importance of faith and obedience in remaining in God's good graces, and warns against becoming complacent or arrogant in one's faith.

The historical significance of Romans 11 lies in its role in the early Christian church, particularly in the context of the relationship between Jews and Gentiles. The message of the chapter challenged many of the traditional beliefs and practices of the early Jewish community, and helped to shape the Christian understanding of the relationship between the Jewish people and the Christian faith.

Overall, Romans 11 is a powerful chapter that emphasizes the importance of faithfulness, obedience, and humility in the Christian life. Its message has had a profound impact on Christian theology and practice throughout history, and continues to inspire and challenge believers today.

Undesigned coincidences between Romans  11 and other New Testament texts

Romans 11:5-6 and Ephesians 2:8-9
In Romans 11:5-6, Paul emphasizes that the election of grace is not based on works but on God's mercy. In Ephesians 2:8-9, Paul similarly emphasizes that salvation is not of works, but is a gift of God's grace through faith. This suggests that Paul consistently taught the importance of grace and faith in salvation, rather than works.

Romans 11:25 and Luke 21:24
In Romans 11:25, Paul speaks of a partial hardening that has come upon Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. In Luke 21:24, Jesus similarly speaks of Jerusalem being trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. This suggests that both Paul and Jesus recognized the temporary hardening of Israel and the ongoing significance of Gentile inclusion in God's plan.

Romans 11:33-34 and 1 Corinthians 2:16
In Romans 11:33-34, Paul exclaims how unsearchable are God's judgments and how inscrutable his ways. In 1 Corinthians 2:16, Paul similarly emphasizes that we have the mind of Christ. This suggests that Paul consistently taught the need for humility in understanding God's ways, and the importance of relying on the wisdom of Christ.

Undesigned coincidences between Romans 11 and Old Testament texts

Romans 11:2 and 1 Kings 19:10:
In Romans 11:2, Paul writes, "God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew." This aligns with the account in 1 Kings 19:10, where Elijah complains to God, saying, "I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too." Paul's reference to God's foreknowledge of his people aligns with the Old Testament account of Elijah's complaint, providing an undesigned coincidence that demonstrates the continuity of God's relationship with Israel from the Old Testament to the New Testament.

Romans 11:8 and Deuteronomy 29:4:
In Romans 11:8, Paul writes, "as it is written: 'God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that could not see and ears that could not hear, to this very day.'" This aligns with the prophecy in Deuteronomy 29:4, where Moses warns the Israelites, saying, "But to this day the Lord has not given you a mind that understands or eyes that see or ears that hear." Paul's quotation of Moses' prophecy provides an undesigned coincidence that demonstrates the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies in the spiritual condition of Israel in Paul's time.

Romans 11:26 and Isaiah 59:20:
In Romans 11:26, Paul writes, "And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: 'The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.'" This aligns with the prophecy in Isaiah 59:20, where it is stated, "The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins." Paul's quotation of Isaiah's prophecy provides an undesigned coincidence that demonstrates the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies in the future salvation of Israel.

Romans 11:34 and Isaiah 40:13:
In Romans 11:34, Paul writes, "Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?" This aligns with the question posed in Isaiah 40:13, where it is stated, "Who can fathom the Spirit of the Lord, or instruct the Lord as his counselor?" Paul's reference to Isaiah's question provides an undesigned coincidence that demonstrates the continuity of the Old Testament teachings about the incomprehensibility of God's wisdom and knowledge in the New Testament.

Romans 12

Overall description, theological and historical significance of Romans 12

Romans 12 is a chapter in the book of Romans that focuses on practical Christian living. Paul begins by urging the believers in Rome to offer their bodies as living sacrifices to God, and to renew their minds so that they can discern God's will. He then goes on to describe the various gifts and roles that are present in the church, and emphasizes the importance of using these gifts to serve one another in love.

Paul also encourages the believers in Rome to live in harmony with one another, to bless those who persecute them, and to overcome evil with good. He emphasizes the importance of living in peace with everyone, and of not being overcome by evil, but rather overcoming evil with good.

The theological significance of Romans 12 lies in its emphasis on practical Christian living. Paul emphasizes the importance of offering one's life as a sacrifice to God and using one's gifts to serve others. He also emphasizes the importance of living in harmony with one another and overcoming evil with good. These teachings reflect the biblical principles of love, service, and self-sacrifice that are central to the Christian faith.

The historical significance of Romans 12 lies in its role in shaping the early Christian church. The teachings of the chapter helped to establish a framework for practical Christian living, and continue to be an important guide for believers today.

Undesigned coincidences between Romans 12 and other New Testament texts

Romans 12:3 and 1 Corinthians 12:12-14
In Romans 12:3, Paul exhorts believers not to think of themselves more highly than they ought, but to think with sober judgment. In 1 Corinthians 12:12-14, Paul similarly emphasizes the importance of each member of the body of Christ recognizing their need for one another, rather than thinking they are more important than others. This suggests that Paul consistently taught humility and a recognition of the value of others in the body of Christ.

Romans 12:9-21 and 1 Peter 3:8-12
In Romans 12:9-21, Paul gives practical exhortations for living in a way that honors God and serves others, including showing hospitality, blessing those who persecute you, and overcoming evil with good. In 1 Peter 3:8-12, Peter similarly emphasizes the importance of unity, love, and overcoming evil with good. This suggests that both Paul and Peter recognized the importance of living out one's faith in practical ways.

Romans 12:19-21 and Matthew 5:43-48
In Romans 12:19-21, Paul exhorts believers not to take revenge, but to leave room for God's wrath and to overcome evil with good. In Matthew 5:43-48, Jesus similarly emphasizes the importance of loving one's enemies and praying for those who persecute you. This suggests that both Paul and Jesus recognized the importance of responding to difficult situations with love and forgiveness, rather than with revenge or hatred.

Undesigned coincidences between Romans 12 and Old Testament texts

Romans 11:2 and 1 Kings 19:10:
In Romans 11:2, Paul writes, "God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew." This aligns with the account in 1 Kings 19:10, where Elijah complains to God, saying, "I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too." Paul's reference to God's foreknowledge of his people aligns with the Old Testament account of Elijah's complaint, providing an undesigned coincidence that demonstrates the continuity of God's relationship with Israel from the Old Testament to the New Testament.

Romans 11:8 and Deuteronomy 29:4:
In Romans 11:8, Paul writes, "as it is written: 'God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that could not see and ears that could not hear, to this very day.'" This aligns with the prophecy in Deuteronomy 29:4, where Moses warns the Israelites, saying, "But to this day the Lord has not given you a mind that understands or eyes that see or ears that hear." Paul's quotation of Moses' prophecy provides an undesigned coincidence that demonstrates the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies in the spiritual condition of Israel in Paul's time.

Romans 11:26 and Isaiah 59:20:
In Romans 11:26, Paul writes, "And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: 'The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.'" This aligns with the prophecy in Isaiah 59:20, where it is stated, "The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins." Paul's quotation of Isaiah's prophecy provides an undesigned coincidence that demonstrates the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies in the future salvation of Israel.

Romans 11:34 and Isaiah 40:13:
In Romans 11:34, Paul writes, "Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?" This aligns with the question posed in Isaiah 40:13, where it is stated, "Who can fathom the Spirit of the Lord, or instruct the Lord as his counselor?" Paul's reference to Isaiah's question provides an undesigned coincidence that demonstrates the continuity of the Old Testament teachings about the incomprehensibility of God's wisdom and knowledge in the New Testament.

Romans 13

Overall description, theological and historical significance of Romans 13

Romans 13 is a chapter in the New Testament of the Bible, specifically in the book of Romans, written by the Apostle Paul. This chapter has been interpreted and discussed by theologians, scholars, and political philosophers throughout history, and it remains a significant text in Christian theology.

The chapter begins with Paul exhorting believers to submit to governing authorities, stating that all authority is established by God and that those who resist it will face punishment. Paul argues that government exists to punish wrongdoers and maintain order, and that Christians should obey the laws of the land as long as they do not conflict with God's laws.

The theological significance of Romans 13 lies in its teachings about the relationship between Christians and the state. It affirms the legitimacy of government and the importance of submission to authority, while also emphasizing the ultimate authority of God. This chapter has been cited by some theologians as evidence of the Christian duty to obey the state, even in cases where the state's actions might be unjust or oppressive. However, other theologians have interpreted Romans 13 as a call to resistance against unjust government, arguing that Paul's submission to the state was conditioned on the state's obedience to God.

Historically, Romans 13 has been cited in debates about the relationship between church and state, as well as in discussions about civil disobedience and resistance to tyranny. During the Reformation, Martin Luther and other Protestant leaders used this chapter to argue for obedience to secular rulers, while also promoting the idea of the priesthood of all believers and challenging the authority of the Catholic Church. In the American Revolution, some American colonists cited Romans 13 to justify their rebellion against the British monarchy, while others used it to argue for loyalty to the Crown.

Overall, Romans 13 is a complex and multi-layered text that has been interpreted in different ways by different groups throughout history. Its teachings about the relationship between Christians and the state continue to be relevant and debated today, and it remains a significant text in Christian theology and political philosophy.

Undesigned coincidences between Romans  13 and other New Testament texts

Romans 13:1-7 and 1 Peter 2:13-17
In Romans 13:1-7, Paul emphasizes the importance of believers submitting to governing authorities and paying taxes, as these authorities are established by God. In 1 Peter 2:13-17, Peter similarly emphasizes the importance of submitting to every human institution, including emperors and governors. This suggests that both Paul and Peter recognized the importance of honoring and submitting to governing authorities, as part of living out one's faith.

Romans 13:8-10 and Matthew 22:34-40
In Romans 13:8-10, Paul emphasizes the importance of loving one's neighbor as oneself, and highlights this as fulfilling the law. In Matthew 22:34-40, Jesus similarly emphasizes the importance of loving God and loving one's neighbor as the two greatest commandments. This suggests that both Paul and Jesus recognized the centrality of love in living out one's faith.

Romans 13:11-14 and 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
In Romans 13:11-14, Paul exhorts believers to wake up from their sleep and live in the light, putting on the Lord Jesus Christ and making no provision for the flesh. In 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, Paul similarly emphasizes the need to stay awake and be alert, living as children of the light and putting on faith, love, and the hope of salvation. This suggests that Paul consistently taught the need for vigilance and spiritual readiness in living out one's faith.

Undesigned coincidences between Romans  13 and Old Testament texts

Romans 13:1-7 and Exodus 20:13, Deuteronomy 5:17:
In Romans 13:1-7, Paul teaches about the importance of submitting to governing authorities and their role in maintaining order and justice. This aligns with the Old Testament commandment, "You shall not murder," as found in Exodus 20:13 and Deuteronomy 5:17, which emphasizes the value of human life and the prohibition against taking it unlawfully. Paul's teaching in Romans 13 echoes the Old Testament commandments regarding respect for human life and the role of civil authorities in upholding justice, providing an undesigned coincidence that demonstrates the consistency of biblical teachings.

Romans 13:8-10 and Leviticus 19:18:
In Romans 13:8-10, Paul teaches about the commandment to love one's neighbor as oneself, summarizing the moral law. This aligns with the Old Testament commandment, "You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself," as found in Leviticus 19:18. Paul's teaching in Romans 13 reflects the Old Testament emphasis on love and kindness towards others, providing an undesigned coincidence that demonstrates the continuity of moral teachings in the Bible.

Romans 13:11-14 and Isaiah 60:1-3:
In Romans 13:11-14, Paul exhorts believers to live in the light and to put aside the works of darkness as the day of salvation draws near. This aligns with the prophetic message in Isaiah 60:1-3, which speaks of the coming light and glory of God's salvation. Paul's exhortation in Romans 13 reflects the prophetic message in Isaiah, providing an undesigned coincidence that underscores the continuity of the Old Testament prophecies with the teachings of the New Testament.

Romans 14

Overall description, theological and historical significance of Romans 14

Romans 14 is a chapter in the New Testament of the Bible, specifically in the book of Romans, written by the Apostle Paul. It deals with issues related to Christian freedom and the role of personal conscience in matters of faith.

The chapter begins with Paul addressing differences of opinion among believers regarding food and the observance of certain days. He argues that these matters are not essential to salvation and that each person should follow their own conscience in such matters, without judging or condemning those who hold differing views.

The theological significance of Romans 14 lies in its emphasis on the freedom and responsibility of individual believers. Paul emphasizes that all believers are accountable to God and that they must follow their conscience, even if this means abstaining from something that is technically permissible. This emphasis on personal conscience has been influential in shaping Christian views on issues such as alcohol consumption, dietary restrictions, and the observance of religious holidays.

Historically, Romans 14 has been cited in debates about the relationship between faith and works, as well as in discussions about the role of tradition in Christian practice. During the Protestant Reformation, for example, some reformers used this chapter to argue against the legalism of the Catholic Church and to emphasize the importance of individual faith and personal conscience.

Overall, Romans 14 is a significant text in Christian theology and ethics, emphasizing the freedom and responsibility of individual believers and providing guidance for navigating disagreements within the church.
 
Undesigned coincidences between Romans 14 and other New Testament texts

1 Corinthians 8-10: This section of 1 Corinthians deals with the issue of eating meat sacrificed to idols, which is also addressed in Romans 14. Both passages emphasize the importance of considering the weak brother's conscience and avoiding causing them to stumble.

Colossians 2:16-23: This passage addresses the issue of asceticism and the worship of angels, which is also addressed in Romans 14. Both passages emphasize that external religious practices are not necessary for salvation and that the focus should be on Christ.

Galatians 5:1-15: This section of Galatians deals with the issue of legalism and freedom in Christ, which is also addressed in Romans 14. Both passages emphasize that Christ has set us free from the law and that we should not use our freedom as an excuse for sin.

These similarities suggest that the authors of these New Testament texts were addressing

Undesigned coincidences between Romans 14  and Old Testament texts

Old Testament Principles on Food: In Romans 14:1-4, the apostle Paul discusses the issue of eating certain foods, such as meat or vegetables, and how it should not be a point of contention among Christians. This idea can be traced back to Old Testament passages such as Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14, which outline the dietary laws for the Israelites. While the dietary laws in the Old Testament were specific to the Israelite community, Paul's teaching in Romans 14 emphasizes the importance of not causing stumbling blocks or disputes over matters of food and drink in the Christian community.

Old Testament Principles on Sabbath: In Romans 14:5-6, Paul also addresses the issue of observing special days, including the Sabbath. This can be linked to Old Testament passages such as Exodus 20:8-11 and Deuteronomy 5:12-15, which command the Israelites to keep the Sabbath day as a day of rest and worship. However, Paul's teaching in Romans 14 emphasizes that Christians have freedom in Christ to observe or not observe certain days, and that they should not judge or condemn one another based on their personal convictions regarding Sabbath observance.

Old Testament Principles on Conscience: Romans 14:22-23 discusses the importance of having a clear conscience before God. This concept of conscience can be traced back to Old Testament passages such as Psalm 51:10, which emphasizes the need for a clean heart and a right spirit before God, and Proverbs 20:27, which highlights the importance of a person's conscience in guiding their actions. Paul's teaching in Romans 14 underscores the significance of personal conscience in matters of faith and the need to act in accordance with one's own convictions.

Romans 15

Overall description, theological and historical significance of Romans 15

Romans 15 is a chapter in the New Testament of the Bible, specifically in the book of Romans, written by the Apostle Paul. It is primarily concerned with issues of Christian unity and the mission of the church.

The chapter begins with Paul exhorting believers to put the needs of others before their own and to work towards the common goal of building up the church. He emphasizes the importance of living in harmony with one another and using our spiritual gifts to serve and strengthen the body of Christ.

Paul then turns his attention to the mission of the church, arguing that it is not just for Jews, but also for Gentiles. He cites several Old Testament passages to support his claim that God has always intended to include Gentiles in His plan of salvation. Paul also shares his own plans for missionary work, expressing his desire to preach the Gospel in places where Christ has not yet been proclaimed.

The theological significance of Romans 15 lies in its emphasis on the unity of the church and the universality of the Gospel message. Paul emphasizes that the mission of the church is to bring salvation to all people, regardless of their ethnic or cultural background. This message has been influential in shaping Christian missions and evangelism, as well as in promoting intercultural and interdenominational dialogue and cooperation.

Historically, Romans 15 has been cited in debates about the role of tradition in the church and the relationship between faith and works. During the Reformation, for example, some reformers used this chapter to argue against the Catholic Church's emphasis on tradition and to promote a more biblically-based approach to theology and practice.

Overall, Romans 15 is a significant text in Christian theology and ethics, emphasizing the importance of unity, service, and mission in the life of the church.

Undesigned coincidences between Romans 15 and other New Testament texts

2 Corinthians 8-9: These chapters in 2 Corinthians deal with the collection of funds for the poor in Jerusalem, which is also mentioned in Romans 15:25-28. Both passages emphasize the importance of giving generously to support the needs of others.

Ephesians 2:11-22: This passage in Ephesians emphasizes the unity of Jews and Gentiles in Christ, which is also emphasized in Romans 15:7-13. Both passages emphasize that Christ has brought together people from all nations into one body.

Acts 20:1-3: This passage in Acts mentions the journey of Paul to Jerusalem to deliver a collection of funds for the poor, which is also mentioned in Romans 15:25-28. Both passages suggest that this collection was an important mission for the early church.

Undesigned coincidences between Romans 15 and Old Testament texts

Prophecy of the Messiah: In Romans 15:3, Paul quotes from Psalm 69:9, stating, "For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: 'The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.'" This quotation from the Psalms highlights the fulfillment of messianic prophecy in Jesus, as the Psalm is often interpreted as a prophecy about the suffering and humiliation of the Messiah. This demonstrates how Paul, in Romans 15, draws on Old Testament prophecies to affirm the identity and mission of Jesus as the promised Messiah.

Inclusion of Gentiles: In Romans 15:9-12, Paul references several Old Testament texts, including Psalm 18:49, Deuteronomy 32:43, Psalm 117:1, and Isaiah 11:10, to support his argument that the Gospel is meant to bring salvation to both Jews and Gentiles. These references emphasize the inclusive nature of God's redemptive plan as foretold in the Old Testament, where the Gentiles are included in God's blessings and salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. This aligns with Old Testament prophecies that foretold the inclusion of the nations in God's covenant blessings.

Hope and Encouragement: In Romans 15:4, Paul writes, "For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope." This statement emphasizes the importance of the Old Testament Scriptures as a source of endurance, encouragement, and hope for believers in Jesus. It echoes the Old Testament teachings on the value and purpose of Scripture, such as Psalm 19:7-11 and Psalm 119:105, which highlight the benefits of studying and meditating on God's Word.

Unity among Believers: Romans 15:5-6 emphasizes the importance of unity among believers, stating, "May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." This exhortation to unity echoes Old Testament teachings on the importance of unity and harmony among God's people, such as Psalm 133:1 and Isaiah 52:8, which highlight the blessings and impact of God's people dwelling together in unity.

Romans 16

Overall description, theological and historical significance of Romans 16

Romans 16 is the final chapter in the New Testament book of Romans, written by the Apostle Paul. It is primarily a personal greeting and farewell to various individuals in the church in Rome.

The chapter begins with Paul commending and greeting several individuals, including Phoebe, who is described as a deaconess and a patron of the church in Cenchreae. He then goes on to greet other believers by name, including Prisca and Aquila, who had worked with Paul in the past, and several other individuals who had risked their lives for the sake of the Gospel.

Paul concludes the chapter with a doxology, giving glory and honor to God for His wisdom and grace.

The theological significance of Romans 16 lies in its emphasis on the importance of community and personal relationships in the life of the church. Paul's greetings and commendations highlight the value of individuals who have contributed to the work of the Gospel, even in seemingly small ways. This emphasis on the importance of community and personal relationships has been influential in shaping Christian theology and practice, particularly in the area of pastoral care and the development of Christian community.

Historically, Romans 16 has been cited in debates about the role of women in the church and the nature of leadership and ministry. Some scholars have pointed to the presence of women in leadership roles, such as Phoebe as a deaconess, as evidence that women played significant roles in the early church.

Overall, Romans 16 is a significant text in Christian theology and ethics, emphasizing the importance of community, personal relationships, and the contributions of individuals to the work of the Gospel.

Undesigned coincidences between Romans  16and other New Testament texts

1 Corinthians 16: This chapter in 1 Corinthians also includes personal greetings and instructions to the church in Corinth, similar to the greetings in Romans 16. Both passages suggest that there were close personal relationships between Paul and the early Christians in these communities.

Philippians 4:2-3: This passage in Philippians also mentions specific individuals by name and asks for their assistance in the work of the Gospel, similar to the greetings in Romans 16. Both passages suggest that individual Christians played important roles in the spread of the Gospel.

Colossians 4:7-18: This passage in Colossians also includes personal greetings from Paul and mentions specific individuals who are involved in the work of the Gospel, similar to the greetings in Romans 16. Both passages suggest that the early church was a network of interconnected individuals who worked together to spread the Gospel.

Undesigned coincidences between Romans 16 and Old Testament texts

Greetings to Priscilla and Aquila: In Romans 16:3-4, Paul sends greetings to Priscilla and Aquila, a couple who worked alongside him in ministry. Interestingly, in the Old Testament, Aquila is mentioned as a military leader who helped King David and is referred to as one of his "chief officers" (1 Chronicles 11:15). While it is unclear if this Aquila in Romans 16 is the same person mentioned in the Old Testament, this coincidence may suggest continuity in the use of names and titles within the biblical narrative.

Greetings to Epaenetus: In Romans 16:5, Paul sends greetings to Epaenetus, referring to him as "the first convert to Christ from Asia." This reference may allude to the spread of the Gospel in Asia, as mentioned in the Old Testament prophecies of the Messianic age, where the nations would come to worship the Lord (e.g., Isaiah 60:1-3, Malachi 1:11). This coincidence may highlight the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies through the conversion of Gentiles to faith in Jesus Christ.

Greetings to Rufus and his mother: In Romans 16:13, Paul sends greetings to Rufus and his mother, stating, "Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too." While the identity of Rufus and his mother is not further explained in the text, some scholars suggest that Rufus may be the same person mentioned in Mark 15:21 as the son of Simon of Cyrene, who carried the cross of Jesus. This coincidence may suggest a connection between Rufus and his mother with the events surrounding Jesus' crucifixion, as recorded in the Old Testament prophecies of the suffering and death of the Messiah (e.g., Psalm 22, Isaiah 53).

Warning against divisions: In Romans 16:17, Paul warns against those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that the Roman Christians had learned. This warning aligns with Old Testament teachings on the dangers of false prophets and false teachers who led God's people astray from His truth (e.g., Deuteronomy 13:1-5, Jeremiah 23:16-17). This coincidence may suggest continuity in the message of discernment and vigilance against false teachings throughout the biblical narrative.

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Genetic characterization of the body attributed to the evangelist Luke
https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.211540498

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Papias and Polycarp converts of the apostle John said the apostles wrote the gospels and the majority of all the scholars for 1800 years believed this position called the traditional position. Papias and Polycarp said so. They were converts of the apostle John with evidence outside the Bible.

External evidence.

In His 5 books, Papias said “ he heard the voice of John".
He would have direct knowledge as to who wrote those books from John the apostle.
Irenaeus uses the fragments about Papias and affirm that Papias knew John the apostle (Shanks288-291).
History of the Church 3:39:4

[Papias Wrote] "...If, then, any one came, who had been a follower of the elders, I questioned him in regard to the words of the elders,-what Andrew or what Peter said, or what was said  by Philip, or by Thomas, or by James, or by John, or by Matthew, or by any other of the disciples of the Lord,
Notice the past tense. What they had said" clearly the apostles were dead and he wanted to hear from the elders that knew them  personally.
Now noticed the present tense when it comes time to hearing the living abiding voice.”

....and what things Aristion and the presbyter John, the disciples of the Lord, say. For I did not think that what was to be gotten from the books would profit me as much as what came from the living and abiding voice."
Clearly John was alive and was described as an elder just like the Bible says.

Again a letter to Bishop Florinus makes it very clear that he was a companion to Polycarp and he knew him quite well.
“For, while I was yet a boy, I saw thee in Lower Asia with Polycarp, distinguishing thyself..... so that I can even describe the place where the blessed Polycarp used to sit and discourse-his going out, too, and his coming in-his general mode of life and personal appearance, together with the discourses which he delivered to the people; also how he would speak of his familiar intercourse with John, and with the rest of those who had seen the Lord; and how he would call their words to remembrance. Whatsoever things he had heard from them “
respecting the Lord, both with regard to His miracles and His teaching....”

"In connection with Papias

From “Adv. Haer.”, V, xxxiii, we learn that Papias was “a hearer of John, and a companion of Polycarp”.
What we can learn.
1. Irenaeus’ pupil of Polycarp gives testimony and plainly states that Papias was a “hearer of John” (Haer. 5.33.4).
2. Eusebius corroborates that after he changed his mind in his book the chronicles.
3. If you don’t believe Papias the convert of John the apostle why don’t you believe Ireneaus the man who knew Polycarp the convert of John the apostle?
4. Papias states plainly that he “learned from the elders” (Hist eccl. 3.39.3).  A few sentences later, Papias describes the “words of the elders” as “What Andrew or Peter said, or Philip, or Thomas or James, or John or Matthew or any of the Lord’s disciples, (past tense because the apostles are already dead.)
5. Papias makes it clear he wants to hear the voice of the man that knew the apostles not letters. Why hear the voice and not except letters? “ 2 Thess1:1 Now we beseech you, brethren. 2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
6. Papias continues “ and (present tense) whatever Aristion and the elder John, the disciples of the Lord, were saying” (present tense demonstrating John was still alive and he heard his abiding voice. It’s present tense for a reason.) (Hist. eccl. 3.39.4).

7. Papias uses the word “elders” to refer to the apostles. John is called an elder by him and also in in first John.
8. Papias was a colleague and contemporary of Polycarp. Since Polycarp knew John, Papias would have as well.
9. Polycrates, in a letter dealing with the Quartodeciman controversy, also identifies John as the one leaned back on Jesus' breast and situated him in Ephesus  [H.E. 5.24.3].) Polycrates was the pastor of that church at Ephesus where the apostle John was an elder. “These things are attested by Papias, an ancient man who was a hearer of John and a companion of Polycarp, in his fourth book. For five books have been written by him."
The very men that took over the apostles churches all confirm the apostle are the Gospel writers.
Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, In his 'Against Heresies' (3.1.1), Irenaeus writes, “Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect, while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome, and laying the foundations of the Church.  After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter.
Luke also, the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel preached by him.  Afterwards, John, the disciple of the Lord, who also had leaned upon His breast, did himself publish a Gospel during his residence at Ephesus in Asia."

- Eusebius didn’t think much of Papias as a historian and said that he “seems to have been a man of very small intelligence, to judge from his books” (Church History,book III, chapter 39, paragraph 13). Later in a book called "the Chronicles" he agknowledged that Papias indeed knew John the apostle.  
- Irenaeus documented the traditional gospel authorship in his Against Heresies (c. 180).
- Tertullian also lists the four traditional authors in his Against Marcion (c. 208).
- The oldest manuscript labeled “gospel according to Luke” dates from c. 200. It’s labelled the Gospel of Luke.
- The Muratorian fragment, a Latin manuscript a translation of a Greek original from the late second century. It lists 22 books of the New Testament, including the labelled gospels of Luke and John.
I think within 100 years with the testimony of Papius by Irenaeus we do well.  Yeah, pretty much! We don’t get any biographies of Alexander the great for 400 years until Plutarch collects copies of copies with many missing pages. It’s believable history.

There is zero reason not to believe those two men that corroborate for us the apostles in fact wrote those Gospels.

Are the gospels reliable ?  304742497_1526425938184671_8422871950129767517_n.jpg?stp=cp6_dst-jpg_p526x296&_nc_cat=104&ccb=1-7&_nc_sid=5614bc&_nc_eui2=AeGcBpWs0Ifr9sgFjbI5gT3-H0pIyVxv8NIfSkjJXG_w0geHE-d7TtMTTQfwaRniKmEY-0IszvOTTyoMG4M1qADj&_nc_ohc=7Rgxh4X9akgAX8dD7Gm&_nc_ht=scontent.faju2-1

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