GOD'S WORD THE BIBLE: New Testament Documents


It is important to know that the written record of the New Testament indicates that the authors were in most cases eyewitnesses of Jesus or at the very least close associates and contemporaries of the eyewitnesses. This fact puts the authors of the New Testament in a position to be able to give an accurate and reliable account of what took place in the life of Christ and the early church. The following portions of the New Testament illustrate the fact that the documents are based on eyewitness testimony.

1. Cornelius's Conversion: The Apostle Peter was summoned to the house of Cornielius a Roman Centurion to preach the gospel to him. Gathered together were Cornelius and many of his relatives and friends. The Apostle Peter addressed them as follows:

(Acts 10:38-43) "You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed by the devil; for God was with Him. {39} "And we are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. And they also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross. {40} "God raised Him up on the third day, and granted that He should become visible, {41} not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us, who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. {42} "And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead. {43} "Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins."

2. Peter's Epistle: When writing to encourage the new Christians regarding the basis of their faith Peter reminded his readers that he witnessed the transfiguration of Jesus (Matthew 17:1-9) on the mountain top:

(2 Peter 1:16-19) For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. {17} For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, "This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased"-- {18} and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. {19} And so we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.

3. John's Epistle: The apostle John was also very emphatic in pointing out that the things he shared with his readers was the result of his intimate personal experience:

(1 John 1:1-4) What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled, concerning the Word of Life-- {2} and the life was manifested, and we have seen and bear witness and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us-- {3} what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, that you also may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. {4} And these things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.

4. Jesus appears to Thomas: After the death of Jesus the disciples had explained to their friend Thomas that they had seen Jesus alive but Thomas did not believe them. John records this event to which he was a witness:

(John 20:26-31) And after eight days again His disciples were inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came^, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst, and said, "Peace be with you." {27} Then He said^ to Thomas, "Reach here your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My side; and be not unbelieving, but believing." {28} Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" {29} Jesus said^ to him, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed." {30} Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; {31} but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

5. Paul and the resurrection: At the heart of the Gospel which Paul preached was the fact that Jesus, after He was crucified and buried, appeared alive to the Apostles, to a group of more than five hundred and finally to Paul himself:

(1 Corinthians 15:1-8) Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, {2} by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. {3} For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, {4} and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, {5} and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. {6} After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; {7} then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; {8} and last of all, as it were to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.

6. Lukes Gospel: While as far as we know Luke was not an eyewitness to Jesus he was a contemporary of His and a person who certainly had access to many who personally witnessed the events surrounding the life of Jesus. In the introduction to His gospel and the book of Acts Luke writes this:

(Luke 1:1-4) Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, {2} just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word have handed them down to us, {3} it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; {4} so that you might know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.

(Acts 1:1-3) The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, {2} until the day when He was taken up, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. {3} To these He also presented Himself alive, after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days, and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.

Regarding the authors of the New Testament we may make these statements:

1. Matthew, John and Peter were members of the twelve original Apostles with the latter two being personally very close to Jesus. They all were close companions of Jesus in His ministry and they all saw Him alive after His resurrection from the dead.

2. Paul and James saw Jesus alive after His crucifixion and burial. Paul was personally chosen by Jesus to preach the gospel to the non-Jewish Roman world. James was a member of Jesus household as His half brother and a close associate of the Apostles being a prominent member of the early church.

3. Mark and Luke were contemporaries of Jesus and were both very close associates of the Apostles. Both had a tremendous opportunity through their association with the Apostles and many others to know the facts about Jesus.

4. Jude was a contemporary of Jesus and the Apostles and was a brother of James and half brother to Jesus who surely qualifies as a reliable witness to the truth.