New Testament Documentation
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” – 2 Tim. 3:16-17
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We’ve been talking about how God speaks through His Son, through the Bible – through the New Testament. It’s important to note that the Bible the Word of God, and it is an historically accurate document.
Jesus is the Son of God, the Savior of the world. I think we must first acknowledge Him as an historical figure in time. He was born, He lived, and He died. He also rose again to life. And the Scriptures that testify of Him also bear record of history that is corroborated by archaeology and well-attested history.
When you look at well-known and celebrated historical documents like Homer’s Iliad, the History of Thucydides, and Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars, there are glaring differences in the documentation available from that of the New Testament. There are only 643 copies of Iliad available, 10 copies of Gallic Wars, and only 8 manuscripts of the History of Thucydides.¹
Contrast that with the New Testament: there are over 5,700 manuscripts of the New Testament, in part or whole, that substantiate its accuracy. And many of the New Testament documentation is dated within 70 years of the original writings.¹ Some of the other historical works mentioned only have documentation dating some several hundred years from the original writings. Yet, as a whole, they are accepted as authentic historical documents.
Then there are the facts about secular history in the New Testament that are accurate as well. Take the inscription with the name of Pontius Pilate – the governor of Judea who handed over Jesus to be crucified – that was found in 1961 by archaeologists. Luke 3:1 describes the same historical figure.
There’s also Gallio, the proconsul of Achaia mentioned in Acts 18:12-17. Inscriptions collected from the Greek city of Delphi show part of a letter written from the emperor to Gallio and it includes his official title – proconsul of Achaia. There are several other examples of how the New Testament is a historically reliable document.
We can take the New Testament at its word. The apostles weren’t just making stuff up as they went along. The New Testament is historically accurate, and it is the Word of God.
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¹ Butt, Kyle and Eric Lyons (2006), Behold! The Lamb of God.