Thursday, October 18, 2018


Were the Four Gospels of the New Testament the creation of the Early Church to promote their new religion or did they represent eyewitness Apostolic accounts of the ministry of Jesus?  There are many considerations that argue that the Church would never have invented such Gospels:

  1. The founders of the faith portrayed themselves as fools and cowards.
  2. Jesus never complemented His disciples.
  3. Jesus’ teachings were perplexing, even undoable.
  4. Jesus consistently insulted the powerful and influential.
  5. The NT writers never recanted, even as they faced martyrdom.
  6. Jesus’ teachings didn’t line up comfortably with the other books of the NT.

I just want to focus on the last point. Jesus had been consistently cryptic about many of the essential teachings of the Gospel - His deity, Messiah-ship, the New Covenant, and even the atonement. His cryptic language even prompted the religious leadership to demand the He reveal Himself in plain language:

  • So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” (John 10:24)

Even when He did reveal Himself, He did so indirectly and then forbade His three Apostles to say anything about what they had seen until He was raised. We find this in all three accounts of the Mount of Transfiguration:

  • ...Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.” (Matthew 17:1-3)

This passage only indicates that Jesus had been transfigured and not Moses and Elijah, who had been regarded as the greatest Israelites.  However, the Apostles were blind to its significance. Peter seemed to regard them as equals and suggested that they erect three dwellings, one for each. However, a divine voice from heaven corrected Peter’s mistaken assumption:

  • He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him." (Matthew 17:5)

This was contrary to their expectations. Instead, the voice should have said, “Listen to Moses and to his covenant.” Evidently, Jesus was greater than Moses, and His teachings would soon take precedence over those of Moses.

The Apostles were terrified. When they opened their eyes, they saw Jesus standing alone. Undoubtedly, He was the Son that they must obey.

Evidently, they understand. If Jesus was greater than Moses, then Jesus must be the Messiah. Therefore, they asked about Elijah who was to be the herald of the Messiah (Malachi 4). If Jesus is the Messiah, where was His herald? Jesus then explained that John the Baptist had fulfilled the figuratively prophecy about Elijah. However, He also forbade the three to say anything about what they had learned until after His resurrection.

Had the Gospels been the invention of the Early Church, the writers of the Gospels would have made it easy for their new converts to believe by making sure that the Gospels seamlessly agreed with the rest of the NT. How? By placing in Jesus’ mouth words like:

  1. I am the Messiah.
  2. I am God, the second Person of the Trinity.
  3. I am sinless.
  4. I am eternal.
  5. I came to take your sins upon myself and die for them.

Actually, He did say such things, but only indirectly and especially at the end of His earthly sojourn. However, the demons were willing to disclose what Jesus was trying to keep hidden about Himself (Matthew 8:29; Mark 1:23-24; Luke 4:34) and His mission. However, His silence on these many critical issues would not have been the way the Early Church would have presented Him. Instead, they would have created a superficial agreement between Him and His Apostles at the expense of historical nuance.

The Gospels give every evidence of their authenticity. Consequently, even the Bible critic, Bart D. Ehrman, concedes:

·       “The oldest and best sources we have for knowing about the life of Jesus…are the four Gospels of the NT…This is not simply the view of Christian historians who have a high opinion of the NT and in its historical worth; it is the view of all serious historians of antiquity…it is the conclusion that has been reached by every one of the hundreds (thousands, even) of scholars.” (Truth and Fiction in the DaVinci Code, p. 102)

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