We received this question:
We would agree that when Paul wrote to Timothy saying, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness…” (2 Tim 3:16), he was speaking of the Scripture that was already written at that time — what we call the Old Testament.
So how do we know that the New Testament writings are divinely inspired?
There are many reasons, and a great deal of biblical support, to claim that the books of the New Testament are God’s divinely inspired, preserved Word. The Gospel records and the Book of Acts are actually historical accounts. And there are secular historical documents that support much of what is written. Additionally, Paul validated those books in his letters.
In this article, we’ll address only a few of the validations of the New Testament being God’s Word. While we encourage you to research manuscript evidence further (Read: Manuscript Lines in the New Testament), remember that the Bible supplies sufficient support that the whole Bible is God-breathed.
In referring to Paul’s letters, Peter equated Paul’s writing to Scripture when he wrote:
2 Pet 3:14-16 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.
We know that Peter was selected and commissioned by Jesus to help build the Church, so it is noteworthy that he esteemed Paul’s writings as accurate, authoritative, AND on par with “the rest of the Scriptures.”
It is unknown whether Paul ever thought his letters would be gathered and preserved for teaching purposes in the same way as the Hebrew Tanakh (Bible) was used for teaching. But we do know from historical documents that his letters were collectively used as early as the 2nd century for teaching in churches.
Paul’s Apostolic and Spiritual Authority
We also know that Paul was taught by Jesus, thereby giving him apostolic authority (Gal 1:11-12).Additionally, Paul claimed to be taught by the Holy Spirit:
1 Cor 2:9-13 But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
Understanding that Paul had both apostolic and spiritual authority gives us reason to believe that his writings are divinely inspired. Therefore we are to be “mindful of” his words just as we are of the prophets and all the apostles. Peter confirmed this when he wrote with the purpose to “stir up our minds by way of remembrance. That [we] may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour. (2 Pet 3:1-2 )
Canonization of the Holy Scriptures
Another consideration is the careful and prayerful diligence of the early church fathers in their canonization of the Holy Bible. The word canon comes from a Greek word meaning rule or measuring stick. Study of the canonization process reveals a meticulous methodology of determining the authority and authenticity of the books that make up our Holy Bible.
Finally, in offering proof of the authenticity of the New Testament as Scripture, we have God’s faithful promise that He would preserve His Word.
Psalms 119:89, 152, 160 Forever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven. Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded them forever. Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth forever.
Proverbs 22:20-21 Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge, That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?
Matt 24:35 35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
John 10:35 …the scripture cannot be broken;
1 Pet 1:24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: 25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.
God has told us we are to live by His Word.
…He answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4)
God would not have given us this command if He had not also preserved His Word, so that we could know His plan and purpose for our lives and our reasonable service to His will and ways.
It ultimately comes down to trusting faith. Trusting in the Word of God and the God of the Word. Do you trust God? He hasn’t asked us to know or understand everything, but He wants us to believe His Word and trust in Him always — even when we might not fully understand something. Be patient and seek the Holy Spirit, for God has promised:
…when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you. (John 16:13- 14)
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