GOD'S WORD THE BIBLE: New Testament Documents

So far we have seen that the New Testament was written by eyewitnesses or associates and contemporaries of the eyewitnesses of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. It has also been shown that the written record handed down to us has substantial amounts of detailed information about people, places, times and events. Where these details can be checked by other reliable sources the record of the New Testament has proved to be accurate and reliable. This fact gives added credibility to the written record as regards the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.

As we continue to examine the reliability of the New Testament two additional questions should be asked: what was the purpose and motivation of the authors and what was the outcome of their work? If the authors were motivated by selfish and corrupt motives one might question the reliability of what is written. On the other hand if the motives of the authors were pure and selfless than our confidence in their sincerity and reliability is bolstered. The remainder of this section is dedicated to looking at the purpose and motivation of the authors.


Luke in the beginning of his gospel is very clear about the reason why he wrote. He states that he investigated everything carefully and recorded it in writing so that his readers might know the exact truth about all that took place based on the testimony of the eyewitnesses he spoke to.

(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.


When the Apostle John recorded the miraculous events around the life of Jesus he pointed out that the things he wrote were only a small percentage of all that had taken place. Further he was very clear in expressing his motivation for recording the things he experienced. John wanted his readers to know that Jesus was the Son of God so they would believe in Him and receive forgiveness of sin and eternal life.

(John 20:30-31) 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.


John in his first epistle tells his readers that everything he had experienced with his senses he wrote so that others might take hold of the eternal life that he had already embraced. Through this John wanted his readers to join with him in having fellowship with God and with His Son Jesus Christ.

(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.


While many of those in the early church who were preaching the gospel were motivated by a sense of love and duty toward God it seems that this is most evident in the life of the Apostle Paul. Paul was specifically called by God to preach to the gentiles and he knew he had a solemn responsibility to be doing that. Further Paul was motivated by a deep sense of gratitude toward God and Jesus Christ for the love that was given to him in Christ.

(Romans 1:1) Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God

(1 Corinthians 9:16) For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.

(2 Corinthians 5:14-15) For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; {15} and He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.

A close look at the life of the Apostle Peter reveals that he too was motivated by a sense of duty towards God and love for his Lord and Savior Jesus. Shortly after Jesus crucifixion the Apostle Peter and others were preaching the gospel to the people. The Jewish leaders had them arrested and put in prison forbidding them to speak about Jesus. When Peter was let out of prison he went back to the temple to preach causing him to be arrested again. His reply to the Jewish leaders was this:

(Acts 5:27-32) And when they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. And the high priest questioned them, {28} saying, "We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us." {29} But Peter and the apostles answered and said, "We must obey God rather than men. {30} "The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. {31} "He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. {32} "And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him."

Many are familiar with the story of Peter's denial of Jesus. The Apostle was overwhelmed with remorse realizing what he had done when he denied he knew Jesus. Later on when Jesus appeared to him after the resurrection Peter had the chance to redeem himself and proclaim his love for Jesus. He did so responding to Jesus call to take care of the new Christian flock.

(John 21:14-17) This is now the third time that Jesus was manifested to the disciples, after He was raised from the dead. {15} So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said^ to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?" He said^ to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said^ to him, "Tend My lambs." {16} He said^ to him again a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" He said^ to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said^ to him, "Shepherd My sheep." {17} He said^ to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You." Jesus said^ to him, "Tend My sheep.


Again the apostle Paul serves as a good representative of the motivation of those who were spreading the gospel in the first days of the early church. Paul's sense of moral obligation towards his fellow man in proclaiming the truth of the gospel is apparent when he made this statement:

(1 Corinthians 9:19-22) For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more. {20} And to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law, though not being myself under the Law, that I might win those who are under the Law; {21} to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, that I might win those who are without law. {22} To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some.

In closing it can be said that the record of the New Testament indicates that the authors of those documents were motivated by a very pure and honorable sense of love and duty towards God and man.