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The Entire Bible is God's Word: pt4, The New Testament

In parts 1, 2 and 3 we have shown the reliability of The Bible.  Parts 1 and 2 even show how the Old Testament has not changed and how it has been reliably copied through its history.  But what about the New Testament?

Has the New Testament been reliably copied or has it changed over time?

First we need to understand that we have 1st and 2nd century quotes, copies, and manuscripts.  Clement I was written around 96 AD to 100 AD and it quotes a lot of different portions of the Bible.  The John fragment mentioned in part 3 is from the 2nd century along with many others. 

We can use those and compare them to later copies. 3rd and 4th century manuscripts and quotations.  Much like comparing the Masoric Text, Dead Sea scrolls, and The Septuagint.  When we do this, we see that the only changes and variations are things like spelling and punctuation.  Do we speak and write like English speaking people 200 years before us?  Not exactly.  Is the constitution of the United States of America reliably copied?  Yes.

The claim that The Bible has changed and morphed into what it is now is sad ignorance.  A bible that gets published 10 years from now can still be tested against a copies written and quoted in the 2nd century.  If the bible 10 years from now does change, it will conflict with copies written and quoted in the 2nd century and be obvious that it is not close to the original.

 How was the Books of The New Testament Chosen?

As the small Christ following sect of the Jewish community grew, their teachings came under attack and even some from the sect started teaching their own ideas.  To remain unified and know what Christ taught and did not teach the sect had to bring together the writings that were genuine and reject the ones that were not.

Around 150 AD an early church leader named Justin Marytr stated this:
"On the day called the Day of the Sun all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then all rise together and pray."
In other writings Justin quotes  Romans, 1 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, and 2 Thessalonians, and possible ones to Philippians, Titus, and 1 Timothy.

Here we see that the church already regarded the Old Testament ("writings of the prophets") and "the memoirs of the apostles" as something that should be read "as long as time permits".  The Prophets and the Apostles were understood to be both authors of God's Word.

How did they know what "memoir" was from an Apostle?

Clement 1: 96 AD

Clement, the church leader in Rome quoted from the Old Testament and from 3 of the 4 gospels and most of Paul's letters as authoritative.  He clearly understood them to be authentic and genuine.  He is extremely important due to the fact he knew the apostles personally.

Marcion Canon: 144 AD

An early church apostate, Marcion, compiled a list of writings that he felt was from God in 144 AD.  This is known as the Marcion Canon.  He rejected the entire Old Testament, only accepted The Gospel of Luke, and accepted all the known writings from Paul.  Even though he left the church to start is own, we see which documents were around, available, and circulated in the 2nd century, and in many ways, viewed as divinely inspired.  This then motivated the church to find and bring together all the documents from those who walked with Jesus and were his direct apostles.

Montanus: 150-170 AD

"Between A.D. 156 and 172, a second provocateur appeared on the scene. His name was Montanus. Montanus was accompanied by two prophetesses, Prisca and Maximilla. “The Three” spoke in ecstatic visions and encouraged their followers to fast and pray, calling the church to a higher standard of righteousness and zeal. If that was as far as their teaching went, they would have been an asset. But their message included what they called “new prophecy,” which pushed Christ and the apostolic message into the background. The age of Jesus was being superseded by the age of the Holy Spirit, and Montanus was its spokesman. Was Montanus truly bringing a new prophecy with new authority? Prophecy more authoritative than Jesus and the apostles? This question prompted the church to respond a second time." {http://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-study/topical-studies/who-decided-what-went-into-the-bible.html}

Ireaneus 180 AD

Irenaeus quotes from 21 of the New Testament books and names the author he thought wrote the text. He mentions the four gospels, Acts, the Pauline epistles with the exception of Hebrews and Philemon, as well as the first epistle of Peter, and the first and second epistles of John, and the book of Revelation. He may refer to Hebrews (Book 2, Chapter 30) and James (Book 4, Chapter 16) and maybe even 2 Peter (Book 5, Chapter 28) but does not cite Philemon, 3 John or Jude.

The Muratorian Fragment: 190 AD

In A.D. 96, Clement of Rome wrote “The apostles were made evangelists to us by the Lord Christ; Jesus Christ was sent by God. Thus Christ is from God and the apostles from Christ. . . . The Church is built on them as a foundation” (1 Clement 42).  The Muratorian Fragment lists writings that a group in the church accepted as "scripture".  It was written around 190 AD.

Eusebius: 330 AD

After 150 years of debating and circulating documents, Eusebius makes a list of which documents the church as a whole accepts, which ones are debated, and which ones are rejected. (http://www.bible-researcher.com/eusebius.html).

Constintine The Great: 331 AD

The Emperor of Rome wanted the church to formulate and print 50 bibles for the empire.  Eusebius was commissioned to this task.  He most likely recommended the list he formulated.

Cyrl of Jerusalem: 350 AD

He listed the Gospels (4), Acts, James, 1–2 Peter, 1–3 John, Jude?, Paul's epistles (14) as scripture.

Athanasius: 367 AD

In a Easter letter to another church, he lists books of the new testament.  The exact ones that were canonized today.

Gregory of Naziazus: 380 AD

He compiled a list of scripture that agreed with Athanasius' list.

The Test:

Because of these two major incidents in the early church; the church asked five very important questions to help discover and determine genuine writings from the apostles and prophets.

1. Was the book written by a prophet of God?
2. Was the writer confirmed by acts of God?
3. Does the message tell the truth about God?
4. Did it come with the power of God?
5. Was it accepted by God’s people?

Conclusion:

After 400 AD it was clear that the church as a whole accepted what we have now as the divine word of God for the New and Old Testament.  All these books were scrutinized by the Jews for hundreds of years, then tested by Christians for hundreds of more years.  After all the research and testing, The books that we have now passed the test of time and debate.

The continuous rejection of The Bible will always be.  The Sanhedrin did not understand the Old Testament  nor did they believe Jesus.  Millions of self proclaimed 'Christians' have left the church over the hundreds of years due to their rejection of the tested and accepted books of the Bible.

No matter what anyone says about The Bible.  It has been tested and debated.  It has proven to be reliable and unchanged.  It has changed millions of lives and forever changed history.  In Pauls letter Romans, he even makes the point that no matter the rejection of man, God's Word is always true and stands the test of time.

Man did not decide for themselves what The Bible is; they were merely led by the Spirit of God to discover it.

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