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What does the New Testament say about itself?

This page is not intended to examine what happened to the New Testament after the apostle John died; rather, with this, I hope to give an impression of what things were like while the apostles and primary disciples still lived, to get a feeling of how the church of the 1st century was woven together as one church though dispersed.

The Gospel accounts number four as we all know.  Matthew, Mark, and John were personally there as witnesses to Jesus' life and death.  Luke seems to have become a believer after Jesus died.  For this reason, we see this statement by Luke:
Luke 1:1, Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to draw up a narrative concerning those matters which have been fulfilled among us, 2even as they delivered them unto us, who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, 3it seemed good to me also, having traced the course of all things accurately from the first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus; 4that thou mightest know the certainty concerning the things wherein thou wast instructed. (ASV)
The scripture here tells us the following:
1. That several other narratives, gospel accounts, were publicly available to Christians at large in ca 56-58CE when Luke penned his gospel. 
2. That Luke himself used eyewitnesses to trace what happened and that he had no trouble finding and communicating with these other eyewitnesses be it Christian ones or otherwise.
Let us examine how Christians communicated, and how common this communication was.  A top down approach looking at the various occurrences in the scriptures is now employed:
Acts 15:30, 36,41, So they, when they were dismissed, came down to Antioch; and having gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle.
 
36And after some days Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us return now and visit the brethren in every city wherein we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they fare .

41And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches. (ASV)
As we see, the travelling brothers that visited the congregations previously established carried with them the letters, the epistles, to where they went "confirming the churches."

That the congregations kept in touch with each other regularly, the following scripture establishes.
I Corinthians 16:2, Upon the first day of the week let each one of you lay by him in store, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come. 3And when I arrive, whomsoever ye shall approve, them will I send with letters to carry your bounty unto Jerusalem: 4and if it be meet for me to go also, they shall go with me.

I Corinthians 7:1, 1NOW concerning the thing whereof you wrote to me . . . (DRC)
We see then in this and in the following that Paul communicated back and forth by letter in many instances and in person as opportunity permitted, as God granted it.  It is obvious that the Corinthians received several letters in Paul's absence.  Further, it tells us that we are permitted to logically conclude that the other congregations were communicated with in a similar fashion.
II Corinthians 7:8, For though I made you sorry with my epistle, I do not regret it: though I did regret it  (for I see that that epistle made you sorry, though but for a season)

II Corinthians 10:8, For though I should glory somewhat abundantly concerning our authority (which the Lord gave for building you up, and not for casting you down), I shall not be put to shame: 9that I may not seem as if I would terrify you by my letters. 10For, His letters, they say, are weighty and strong; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.

In the following scripture, it becomes clear that there was a methodology among the congregations, an understanding that each congregation forward their epistles to the other congregations further down the line.

Of course, verse 27 below may refer to the locals only, or it could be taken in a wider sense.  Nonetheless, below, in 2:14, we see that the traditions which they were taught by letters is unavoidable proof of the constant communication and assembling of the New Testament and gradually compiling of it as time went by.
Colossians 4:16, And when this epistle hath been read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye also read the epistle from Laodicea.

I Thessalonians 5:27, I adjure you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the brethren.

II Thessalonians 2:14,15,  whereunto he called you through our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15So then, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye were taught, whether by word, or by epistle of ours.

II Thessalonians 3:17, The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write.

The message is quite clear, as we confirm by James' writings salutation.  James here writes to all of the brothers in all the congregations dispersed in the then known world.  The same confirmation is seen in Peter's salutation.  Jude simply says "to them that are called" – as in all of you! 

Thus, it is with high confidence that we see the brothers communicate this readily over what may from our standpoint seem backward times.  There is no doubt that these people kept in touch easily – perhaps not speedily, nonetheless, still easily.
James 1:1, James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are of the Dispersion, greeting. (ASV)

I Peter 1:1, Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the elect who are sojourners of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,

Jude 1, Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ:
This same ease in confidence that the message will, shall, be read by all then existing Christians, Jesus glorified also exhibits.  Jesus knows that this shall be seen by God's servants -- without a doubt.
Revelation 1:1, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show unto his servants, even the things which must shortly come to pass: and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John;
Thus, it is no surprise that Peter writes that he knows what Paul wrote in his letters.
II Peter 3:15, And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also, according to the wisdom given to him, wrote unto you;
From the above internal proof, it should be fairly apparent that the apostles and disciples compiled the New Testament easily during their lifetimes.  The last survivor, John, also showed no sign of worry as to whether his Revelation would be received by God's servants, Jesus brothers and sisters.

From this, we can only state that - as all of the Word of God is inspired by God; likewise, all of the Word of God, the whole Bible, was clearly compiled under the supervision of God, Jesus, the apostles, and the disciples -- the church of God, the spiritual Israel, the twelve tribes in dispersion.  As Paul indicates himself in the above quotations, many more letters were written than what we have presented in our Bibles.  This is in accord with this supervision of what constitutes the Bible.

There would be no reason to have letters included in the NT canon unless they deal with spiritual matters.  Many letters could have dealt with internal problems and matters of judgment, contributions for the poor here and there, etc.  Such would not be important enough to include in the canon.

When atheists reject the above, preferring instead infidel Bible-critics' view of scripture to the clear internal message of Holy Scripture, they simply make a clear display of their ungodliness to Jesus the Judge of all.

The message is clear. God is behind our Bible's makeup and content.

 
 
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