Is the New Testament Divinely Inspired? (Part 1)


In a series of three Q&A’s entitled, “why do you consider the Old Testament so important?,” we discussed the close connection between the Old and New Testament which is shown by the number of times the Old Testament is quoted in the New Testament.   The Old Testament had the approval of Jesus Christ and He quoted from it to prove the point.

In 2 Timothy 3:16, we learn an important lesson about ALL Scripture: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”

As we explained in the previous series, Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers observes the following when discussing that it can be translated as: “Every scripture inspired by God is also profitable for doctrine, for reproof… “:

“The rendering followed by the English version, and which is certainly grammatically possible, by making—’all Scripture’ the subject, and ‘given by inspiration of God’ the predicate, declares positively the inspiration of all the Old Testament Scriptures, for this is what the Apostle must have referred to, if we understand this verse as we have it rendered in the English version above.”

In Acts 20:27, Paul wrote: “For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God,” and that must have been from the Old Testament which was the main written text at that time plus the teachings of Jesus which were, for the most part, not yet part of the written Word of God. Scholars tell us that some of the New Testament texts (such as the gospel records according to Mark, Matthew and Luke, and 1 Thessalonians) were all written before the book of Acts.

A key verse in the New Testament can be read in John 14:26: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom (which) the Father will send in My name, He (it) will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”

Barnes Notes on the Bible are instructive about this verse:

“Will send in my name – On my account [or better: “through Me”]. To perfect my work. To execute it as I would in applying it to the hearts of men. See John 14:13.

“Shall teach you all things – All things which it was needful for them to understand in the apostolic office, and particularly those things which they were not prepared then to hear or could not then understand. See John 16:12. Compare… Matthew 10:19-20. This was a full promise that they would be inspired, and that in organizing the church, and in recording the truths necessary for its edification, they would be under the infallible guidance of the Holy Spirit. [We hasten to add that the Holy Spirit is not a Person, but God’s power emanating from the Father and the Son.]

“Bring all things to your remembrance – This probably refers to two things:

“1. He [that is, Jesus through His Spirit] would seasonably remind them of the sayings of Jesus, which they might otherwise have forgotten. In the organization of the church, and in composing the sacred history, he would preside over their memories, and recall such truths and doctrines as were necessary either for their comfort or the edification of his people. Amid the multitude of things which Jesus spake during a ministry of more than three years, it was to be expected that many things which he had uttered, that would be important for the edification of the church, would be forgotten. We see, hence, the nature of their inspiration. The Holy Spirit made use of their memories, and doubtless of all their natural faculties. He (better “it”, unless we speak of Jesus Christ, working through His Spirit) so presided over their memories as to recall what they had forgotten, and then it was recorded as a thing which they distinctly remembered, in the same way as we remember a thing which would have been forgotten had not some friend recalled it to our recollection.

“2. The Holy Spirit [that is, Jesus Christ, through His Spirit] would teach them the meaning of those things which the Saviour had spoken. Thus they did not understand that he ought to be put to death until after his resurrection, though he had repeatedly told them of it, Luke 24:21, Luke 24:25-26. So they did not until then understand that the gospel was to be preached to the Gentiles, though this was also declared before. Compare Matthew 4:15-16; Matthew 12:21, with Acts 10:44-48.”

The ministry then, and down through the ages until the present time, were instructed in 2 Timothy 2:15: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Therefore as “rightly dividing the word of truth” is required, the admonitions and teachings of the New Testament must be God-breathed in order for His ministry to accomplish this.

A look at some of the New Testament writers will reveal much about the God-inspired nature of their writings.

As mentioned above, Paul addressed the Ephesians’ Elders and stated: “For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.”  We know from Acts chapter 9 that Saul was “breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem” (verses 1-2).  On the road to Damascus, he met Jesus and, after 3 days of blindness which was healed, he was baptised (verses 3-18).   In verses 19-20, we read:

“So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus. Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.”   After persecuting those of “The Way,” he became one of the giants of the New Testament with many of his writings becoming part of the Word of God.

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 14:37: “If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.”

There is further proof in 1 Corinthians 2:13-16: “These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.  But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.  For ‘who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.”

In 2 Corinthians 2:17, there is further proof that what Paul wrote was of Godly inspiration: “For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.”

In 1 Peter 1:12, Peter writes: “To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into.”

It is interesting that Peter indicates that Paul’s writings are to be viewed as are the rest of the Scriptures:

“…and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures” (2 Peter 3:15-16).

The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary observes: “other scriptures—Paul’s Epistles were, therefore, by this time, recognized in the Church, as ‘Scripture’: a term never applied in any of the fifty places where it occurs, save to the Old and New Testament sacred writings.”

In 1 Thessalonians 2:13 we read what Paul wrote to the Church there: “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.”

We read in Luke 1:2-4: “… just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.”   It is clear that the physician Luke, who also wrote the Book of Acts, wrote this gospel record to inform positively to the “most excellent Theophilus” about the truth, life and ministry of Jesus Christ.

In the Book of Revelation which was the last book written and which was included in the Scriptures, we read the following in Revelation 1:1-2: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw.”

This statement in the last book of the Bible clearly shows that Jesus Christ revealed to the apostle John those things that had to happen in the future. The Greek word for Revelation is apokalupsis (apocalypse) which is an uncovering, revealing or unveiling and it was God the Father who, through Jesus, gave this information thus sealing it with Godly authority.

(To be continued)

Lead Writer: Brian Gale (United Kingdom)

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