The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Disputed New Testament Texts

I want to share with you some facts about the writings which the early Christians wanted “read in the churches.” A problem arose because of the gnostic groups that were prevalent in those days. In order to spread their gnostic beliefs, they constructed false “gospels” and “epistles” purporting to have been written by disciples of Jesus or by apostles. For example, one of these supposedly describes some of Jesus’ activities when He was still a child. It reports that he formed a bird out of clay, and then turned it into a real, live bird which then flew away.

In order that the Church would not be deceived by these false, so-called apostolic writings, the leaders of the Church made a list of the writings of the genuine disciples and apostles, and proclaimed that only they could be read in the churches. They didn’t talk about these writings as being “The word of God” or that only they were “inspired.” The test was only whether they were written by the apostles or the disciples of Jesus. Thus the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were the only gospels included. Though Mark and Luke were not disciples of Jesus or apostles in the strictest sense, they were fellow workers with Paul, and did apostolic work with him. So they qualified. Acts, the early history of the Church was also accepted without dispute.

There was some heavy discussion among the early church leaders with regard to the apostolic letters (or “epistles”). Which of the letters circulated around were really composed by apostles and therefore qualified to be read in the churches?

All the letters of Paul were accepted without dispute. So was 1 Peter and 1 John.

Hebrews was under dispute. Who wrote it? Its author doesn’t say. Some early churches accepted it to be read in the churches; others didn’t. Those who accepted it assigned the authorship to Paul. This is highly doubted by most Biblical scholars today.

2nd and 3rd John were disputed. The author of these books referred to himself as “the elder.” We don’t know who this elder was, but some have speculated that it was an elder named “John,” though he doesn’t give his name at all. Again those who accepted 2nd and 3rd John assigned the authorship to the apostle John, although there is absolutely no evidence for this.

For some reason James and Jude were under dispute, although both these authors open their letters by giving their names and “James” and “Jude.”

Clement’s letter to the Corinthians was disputed. The author was Paul’s fellow worker (Philippians 4:3) and therefore did apostolic work as did Mark and Luke. Although some churches accepted it, others didn’t. Clearly it didn’t “make it” into the New Testament.

Revelation was under heavy dispute. Four times in the book, the author identifies himself as being “John.” But which John? The apostle John never calls himself “John” anywhere in his Gospel or in 1 John. So there is no reason to suppose that the apostle John was the author. Again, those who wanted it read in the churches said the author was John the apostle, and this idea has persisted to our day. Whoever the John was who wrote it, had a vision, and in most of the book, he describes what he saw in his vision. In my opinion, it is a mistake to formulate doctrine or beliefs about the future based on the vision which some unknown John saw.

Much later in A.D. 367 Athanasius formed a list which comprised what is knows as the “canon of New Testament writings”. Athanasius was the first person to form a list which is identical to that which is in
the “New Testament” as we have it today. His Old Testament “canon” was the same as that which is found in the Protestant Bible except it included the book “Baruch.” This book is not found in the Protestant Bible, but it IS included in the Catholic and Orthodox Bibles.

1 Like

How many times did Justin Martyr appeal to Paul’s teachings? How about Papias? Tertullian explicitly doubted Paul’s authority.

Hebrews has a similar theme to other Paul epistles in that it exalts Christ to be far above created things including Angels. Additionally it has several Pauline expressions and the other main theme which was warning Jews from falling away would have been a topic of concern to Paul. I think he wrote it with Apollos.

You interviewed them & know their motivations, it just can’t be that they sincerely believed John wrote it, could it?
The “Logos” as a term for Christ is used only by John and is found in John and Rev 19.13 and the fact Rev closes with Christ being called “Logos” and John opening 1.1 calling him “Logos” may mean Revelation was written first & then followed by the Gospel of John. Other common terms in both books are “the Lamb” “water of life” “him that thirsts” “Keep from” “cast out” “overcoming” and a greek word for “true” which is “alethinos.”

2 Likes

I didn’t question the sincerity of those who wanted Revelation read in the churches. But there were plenty in that day who didn’t believe John wrote it, and didn’t want it read in the churches. For the reasons I gave in the short article, I think the latter group was correct.

So because he calls himself John four times there is no reason to believe it’s John? Basically there is no reason of any kind to believe it’s John because he did the most straightforward thing one can do and you claim it’s no reason to believe it’s John. Yes in other letters he had other ways to describe himself but i think he also is allowed to call himself “John.” Apparently John assumed he was well known enough that the description “John” would suffice.
John probably wrote his gospel in collaboration with elders at Ephesus so the style may be more of them in his gospel then John who wrote Revelation in isolation and perhaps quickly as he was trying to keep up with visions.

Four times the author identified himself as John and second century witnesses to John’s authorship were Martyr, Irenaeus,Clement of Alexandria & Tertullian. Many of the book’s original readers were alive during Martyr & Irenaeus life & probably communicated in some way the authorship information.

1 Like

I’m not sure about that. Regarding Rev 19:13, it’s important to note that it says Jesus’s name is called the Word, not that he is the Word.

1 Like

Good points being made here.

Thanks!

Steve, if you are convinced that the apostle John wrote Revelation, I suppose that’s all right.

But I suggest you consider about the different way in which the writer of Revelation spelled “Jerusalem” in Greek, that is, different from the way the apostle John spelled it in his gospel.

I am not talking about the variations in endings, which are defined by case. I am talking about the words themselves which do not have the same Strongs number.

The apostle John was consistent in his spelling of the word. In his gospel, he spelled Jerusalem “ιεροσολυμα” (Strongs 2424) twelve times, and no other way.

The writer of Revelation was consistent in his spelling as well. The word he used was
“ιερουσαλημ” (Strongs 2419) He wrote this word three times in Revelation, and in no other way.

1 Like

Previously I gave a number of common phrases used which is unlikely to be a coincidence but in this case I think John wrote Revelation alone and in difficult conditions with no time for editing but the gospel I think was a collaboration between John and certain disciples at the Church of Ephesus with John being the storyteller & others writing.

I think if his name “is called the Word of God” he is his name, there is no separation between the two. I know my name is Steve but I could change my name to Jack and yet I would still be the same person but when you are named “The Word of God” you can’t change your name to Steve or Jack because you are “The Word of God.” Now God changed or perhaps added the name Jesus but God can do that.

Don’t a lot of the names in the OT mean “God is [something]” or “God’s [something]” or "the [something] of God?

Yes and good point like Michael i think means “one like God” with the “el” in Michael being a name of God. But again i simply think John got a vision toward the end of Rev in Chap 19 and then opened up his gospel with this epiphany and expanded it a bit more.

@steve7150 John 14:24 implies Jesus and “the word” are not the same.

He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.

Is the “word” in this verse the same “word” in John 1?

That’s a good question, qaz. I think it does not refer to the Son of God as in John 1.

Also the vast majority of translations lead the reader astray by translating John 1:1 as

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

How could the Word both be with God and also be God?
Could you both be with your earthly father and also be your earthly father?

The first occurrence of “God” in John 1:1 is preceded by the article. That is, it speaks of “the God.”

Whenever “ho theos” (the God) occurs in the New Testament (with no other modifiers), it always denotes God the Father only.

The second occurrence of “God” is not preceded by an article. In that case the word either refers to “a god” or else to “God” as a property and could be translated as “divine”.

The Diaglot renders John 1:1 as
In a beginning was the Word, and the Word was with the God, and a god was the Word.

The New World translation of Jehovah’s witnesses renders it similarly:
In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.

Though I disagree with these translations, I do admit that they are better translations of the Greek text than the vast majority of translations of the verse, which do not distinguish the instance the word “God” preceded by the article, and that which isn’t.

Personally, I would translate the verse as follows:

In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was Divine Essence.

Or perhaps simply, “… and the Logos was divine.”

1 Like

Neither does it have to mean another
being - being with God. Consider the
following :—-

The Logos means [something said, including thought, a motive / plan etc] Also the logos was WITH = [pros] THE God.
The word [pros/with] is used in GAL 2:5 in the context of the truth of the gospel being [with] them in thought,heart and mind ready to speak, and in this context it fits beautifully with Jhon 1:1.

So yes, Gods spoken word is divine, and yes it was with him. What The God was his word was [ie] divine.

But again “the Word” was made flesh and dwelt among us and John’s gospel was to a big extent about revealing Jesus majesty.
This reminds me of the Melchesedek chapter 7 in Hebrews , they are all about Jesus, at least as i see it, because these books are about Jesus.

I did give my reasoning about the word becoming flesh on the “Jesus as co
Creator” ? thread. I don’t think it would be fair for me to continue with it on this given thread.

Yes now that you mention it you did and i respect your viewpoint so we will agree to disagree.

1 Like