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Knowing "The Truth"

Acts 17:28 `For in him we live and move and have our being.'

How do we know about Jesus? How has he been revealed to us?
Acts 2 Comment on Peter's sermon. Why do you think people found him credible?





By the time the "canon" of New Testament writings was drawn up by early church councils there were many works claiming to be biographies of Christ, some of which still exist (at least in part) today. A number of things distinguished these four from others - the long tradition of their use and consensus of their authorship, their consistency, their reliability and accuracy. The reliability of these texts has been reaffirmed more recently by people such as the classical philologist Wolfgang Schadewaldt1and legal scholar Sir John Anderson.

Who wrote the Gospels, why and when?
Matthew - early theologians and historians (such as Papias in the 1st Century) credited the book to the apostle Matthew, something undisputed at the time. Fragments from a codex of Matthew in Oxford and Barcelona have been dated to c60AD by papyrologist Carsten Theide2 (the original scroll must have been older, maybe late 50's). Written for a jewish audience with many more OT references than the other gospels.
Mark - Papias and other early church leaders all credit the gospel to Mark (which was a nickname). Christians in Jerusalem met at his mothers house (Acts 12:12), and he may have been speaking of himself in Mark 14:51-52 (a young man [who shall remain nameless] . . .). Although originally associated with Paul, he becomes very close to Peter in Rome (1Peter 5:13), from whom he collected the material for his gospel, which may have been written as early as 50AD (a fragment was found among the Dead Sea Scrolls - the library of an apocalyptic Jewish sect). Mark writes to a gentile church, but with a distinct Judean accent in his Greek.
Luke - a physician by profession, and probably a gentile (the only biblical writer who was), he was a close componian of Paul from his second mission trip. The gospel (and Acts) were dedicated and written for an educated Roman patron. He refers to other accounts and states that he had "carefully investigated everything" (Luke 1:1-4).
John - written by the apostle, late (perhaps verylate - he makes a point of refuting the rumor that he would not die John 21:20-23). John's gospel is both more intimate and more enigmatic. Looking back at the development of the church, and with almost all of the NT in wide circulation, John writes to reinforce and expand on what has been written before.

What does the authorship and date of the Gospels tell us about them?




Why are the gospels different?



The Old Testament
Acts 18:24-28, and Luke 24:25-27 Remember how Matthew quotes from the OT about Jesus (Matthew 1:22-23; 2:15, 17-18, 23; 4:14-16; 8:17; 12:17-21; 13:35; 27-9-10), and other well-known passages in the OT about Christ. How does this reflect on the truth about the gospels?



How else can we know the truth about Christ and the accuracy of the testimony about him (or anything for that matter?) Look at 1 Corinthians 2 (yes the whole chapter)



John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Remember the beginning of John 1? Who is the "Word" referred to by John?



Who's son is "the Christ?" What does Peter say in  Matthew 16:15-17, and
In Matthew 22:41-46 corrects an error of contemporary theology. What does this imply about the Messiah, and hence, Jesus himself? (Compare what Peter said at Pentecost)





John 10:23, Matthew 21:14-16 Mark 14:61-64 What is Jesus saying in these passages, and what did his audience understand him to mean?



Jesus' purpose.
Mark 10:45; Luke 19:10; John 3:16,17; John 10:10
What is Christ's purpose in these passages?



How does believing (or having faith in Jesus) save us? Look at Romans 6:3-10; Ephesians 5:31-32; Ephesians 1:11-14



1 John 3:24 Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.
Romans 8:16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.
What reassurance then, can we have of this salvation? How can we know that this is the truth?



Extra references to check out.
Matthew 24:1-2 (foretelling the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70 - remember when these were written)

Notes
1 The Reliability of the Synoptic Tradition.quoted by Martin Hengel at the end of his Studies in the Gospel of Mark.
2 Eyewitness to Jesus, Doubleday, 1996

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