The New Testament: A Product of Man or God?
Skeptics frequently claim that the writers of the Bible such as Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John “invented” moments in the life of Jesus. They question how the Gospel writers knew what Jesus thought and did when He was alone. How could Mark have known what Jesus prayed when He was alone in the Garden of Gethsemane? How did Matthew know what the devil said to Jesus when he tempted Him? Do such references reveal an inconsistency? Are these passages of dialogue in Scripture just reconstructions of the kind of thing a character might have said?
Our faith is not based upon what one might have said or what might be right. Our faith is based upon fact. Skeptics totally ignore the fact that the Bible writers were guided by the Holy Spirit. Before Jesus sent the apostles on the limited commission, He promised that the Holy Spirit would guide them supernaturally (Matthew 10:19-20). Later, as Jesus spoke to His apostles on the night of His betrayal, He said: “But the Comforter, even the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you” (John 14:26, emp. added). Shortly thereafter He promised them: “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13, emp. added).
Not only did Jesus promise that the Holy Spirit would come upon the apostles, but the apostles themselves claimed to be guided by the Holy Spirit when they taught the gospel. On the Day of Pentecost, the apostle Peter claimed the apostles had received the promised Spirit (Acts 2:33; cf. John 16:13). When Paul wrote to the brethren of Galatia, he told them that his teachings came to him “through revelation of Jesus Christ” (1:12). To the Ephesian brethren, Paul wrote that God’s message was “revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets” (3:5, NKJV). These men did not “invent” stories and teachings about Jesus and the church. Neither did they have to rely on their own cognizance to remember the events that took place twenty or thirty years prior to their writing. The reason is because the Holy Spirit revealed the Truth to them.
One might wonder, further, how Mark’s Gospel account can be considered inspired if he was not an apostle. Part of the answer can be found in Ephesians 3:5 where Paul claimed that the Holy Spirit had been revealed to Christ’s “apostles and prophets.” How was the Spirit given to prophets like Mark, Luke, James, and Jude? How can we accept these books as the Word of God? Answer: The apostles could lay hands on individuals and impart to them certain miraculous gifts. One of these gifts was the gift of prophecy (1 Corinthians 12:10). Thus, in addition to apostles, there were prophets in the early church who were guided by the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:1; Ephesians 2:20; 3:5).
Other evidence that points to the Scriptures being the authoritative Word of God is the early recognition of the inspiration of the New Testament. In 2 Peter 3:16, Peter put Paul’s letters on a par with the Old Testament Scriptures when he compared them to “the rest of the Scriptures.” In 1 Timothy 5:18, Paul quoted Luke 10:7 as “Scripture.” Within forty years after Paul had written his first epistle to the Corinthians, Clement of Rome wrote a letter to the Corinthian brethren, noting that apostle Paul wrote “under the inspiration of the Spirit” (The First Epistle of Clement, 47). Thus, the New Testament books were recognized as the inspired Word of God.
In short, none of the New Testament writers “invented” moments in the life of Jesus. Rather, just like the writers of the Old Testament, they were fully inspired by the Holy Spirit (cf. 2 Samuel 23:2, Acts 1:16, 2 Peter 1:20-21, 3:15-16, and John 16:13).