GOD'S WORD THE BIBLE: New Testament Documents

In this section we will examine the outcome of the lives of those who proclaimed the gospel message. In judging the trustworthiness of the written record we now possess one must determine if the writers stood to receive any significant personal gain in this life as a result of their proclamation. In other words was there anything to motivate them to say what they said and do what they did other than a love for God and their fellow man. Again an examination of the testimony of the written record indicates that nothing but the purest motives could have been driving those who were spreading the gospel. The biblical account together with the record of history tells us that the early Christians were hated by the Jews, the pagan Roman people and the Roman government. Furthermore, the cost for many who spread the gospel was great personal sacrifice, hardship, depravation, persecution and sometimes death. Consider the examples below:


The story of Stephen is found in the sixth and seventh chapters of the book of Acts. Stephen was hated because his presentation of the facts surrounding Jesus life could not be refuted. He was brought before the Jewish leaders who ordered him stoned to death based on the false testimony of others. Stephen's last dying words were a prayer that God would forgive those who were killing him. The reader is encouraged to read the entire story and consider the example of Stephen for himself. Clearly Stephen stood to gain nothing for his proclamation of the truth and was motivated to give his life out of a love for God and for others. The Apostle Paul, not yet converted, stood by keeping watch over the garments of those murdering Stephen and giving his whole hearted approval.

(Acts 7:58-60) And when they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him, and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. {59} And they went on stoning Stephen as he called upon the Lord and said, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!" {60} And falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them!" And having said this, he fell asleep.


James the brother of the Apostle John was murdered by Herod for his own personal political gain. Herod knew the Jews hated the new Christians and wanted to appease them by killing James and having the Apostle Peter arrested with the same intent. In the case of Peter God miraculously delivered him from the grips of death so that Peter might continue to preach the gospel. Knowing the danger involved Peter did not shrink back from continuing to proclaim the truth about Jesus.

(Acts 12:1-3) Now about that time Herod the king laid hands on some who belonged to the church, in order to mistreat them. {2} And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword. {3} And when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. Now it was during the days of Unleavened Bread.


Many of the early Christian were Jews who recognized that Jesus was the promised Jewish Messiah and the Son of God. The Jewish establishment of the day did not embrace this truth so that the new converts were thrown out of their synagogues and disowned by their friends and families. The Jews saw the early Christian Church as a heretical sect of Judaism which had to be wiped out. The Apostle Paul, originally named Saul before his conversion, was one of the most zealous of those committed to this task. He was feared by the early church and in part responsible for the death of Stephen. After the stoning of Stephen we read of a great persecution that broke out against the early church at the hands of the Apostle Paul (Saul).

(Acts 8:1-3) And Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him (Stephen) to death. And on that day a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. {2} And some devout men buried Stephen, and made loud lamentation over him. {3} But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house; and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison.


It is interesting to note that Paul who so vigorously persecuted the early church was himself after his conversion the object of repeated and persistent persecution and hardship. Consider just one example from scripture where Paul details some of the persecution and hardship he endured. Paul in comparing himself to others says:

(2 Corinthians 11:23-27) Are they servants of Christ? (I speak as if insane) I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. {24} Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. {25} Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. {26} I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; {27} I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.

Only after reading the book of Acts can one fully appreciate all that the Apostle Paul endured in faithfully carrying out his responsibility to proclaim the gospel. The viewer is encouraged to do that and see firsthand all that took place in those early days of the church.

As the evidence of the outcome of the lives of those who proclaimed the gospel is examined the reader becomes aware that this message was delivered at great personal expense. There is no reasonable explanation for this fact other than the realization that these men were driven by the deepest personal conviction that what they proclaimed was true and vitally important, along with being motivated by the highest levels of love for God and their fellow man.

The testimony of the written record of the New Testament is signed and certified by the blood of the martyrs who proclaimed it.