Who Wrote the Gospels Found in the New Testament of Our Bibles and How Do We Know?

Mosaic Authorship HOW RELIABLE ARE THE GOSPELS BIBLICAL CRITICISM

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Edward D. Andrews
EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored over 140 books. Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).

The reliability of the Gospels has long been questioned because of pseudo-scholarship. Were the Gospel writers’ plagiarists? Did the synoptic Gospel (Matthew, Mark & Luke) writers merely copy from one another? Is there a document called Q? Was the Gospel of Mark written first? Are the Gospels authentic and reliable?

“The gospels must now be seen as the result of early Christian mythmaking. Q forces the issue, for it documents an earlier history that does not agree with the narrative gospel accounts.”[1] – Burton L. Mack, retired professor of New Testament studies.

Burton L. Mack is not alone in his thinking, it has become very common among Bible scholars to question the reliability of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, that is, the Bible’s historical accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry. Why have some Bible scholars viewed the Gospels as myths? Should their views cause us to have doubts as to the trustworthiness and the truthfulness of the Gospels? Below we will examine some of the evidence.

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The Double Standard from Skeptics

When we are looking at secular history, historians come across balanced, fair, reasonable but when it comes to the gospels, there is a tremendous double standard. The Gospels, for example, are presumed to be guilty of being frauds, authors unknowable until they are proven innocent, and the bar is raised when it comes to the level of evidence needed. The normal way of investigating historical events, peoples, and places ostensibly are thrown out the window. One perfect example of this is when it comes to the discussion of the authorship of the gospels.

There is very good internal and external evidence that the gospels were written by the names ascribed to them in our Bibles: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Let us look at some of the evidence below. If secular historians had the level of evidence that we have for the authorship of the Gospels, they would be beside themselves with joy.

Critics and skeptics simply argue that the authors’ names were added later to add authority to the texts. They claim, ‘we don’t know who wrote the gospels. They were just Christians writing far removed from the actual events.’ The critics and skeptics claim that the gospel authors were compiling, redacting (higher criticism, AKA Biblical Criticism), and even inventing different traditions in order to strengthen their faith. The critics and skeptics claim that the actual writers of the four Gospels certainly weren’t written by eyewitnesses.  Worse still, liberal to moderate Bible scholars who are inundated in uncertainty and skepticism, Postmodernism. Andrews Norton an American preacher and theologian, accepted some of the Biblical miracles while rejecting most of those in the Old Testament, and a few in the new, including rejecting the virgin birth. On the Gospels, he writes in the 1800s:

“A further reality is that all the Gospels were written anonymously, and none of the writers claims to be an eyewitness. Names are attached to the titles of the Gospels (‘the Gospel according to Matthew’), but these titles are later additions to the Gospels, provided by editors and scribes to inform readers who the editors thought were the authorities behind the different versions. That the titles are not original to the Gospels themselves should be clear upon some simple reflection. Whoever wrote Matthew did not call it ‘The Gospel according to Matthew.’ The persons who gave it that title are telling you who, in their opinion, wrote it. Authors never title their books ‘according to.’ – The Evidences of the Genuineness of the Gospels, p. 110.

The Reliability of the Gospels Begin to Be Questioned

From the close of the first century C.E.[2] to the 18th century, the reliability of the Gospels was never really brought into question. However, once we enter the so-called period of enlightenment, especially from the 19th century onward, some Bible scholars viewed the Gospels not as the inspired, fully inerrant Word of God but rather as the word of man, and a jumbled word at that. In addition, they determined that the Gospels were not written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, saying the Gospels were written after the apostles, denying that the writers of the Gospels had any firsthand knowledge of Jesus; therefore, for these Bible critics such men were unable to offer a record of reliable history. Moreover, these liberal Bible scholars came to the conclusion that the similarities in structure and content in the synoptic (similar view) Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), suggests that the evangelists copied extensively from one other. Further, the liberal Bible critics have rejected that the miracles of Jesus and his resurrection ever occurred as recorded in the Gospels. Lastly, some have even gone so far as to reject the historicity of Jesus himself.

The P52 PROJECT The P52 PROJECT The P52 PROJECT

Philosophical rationalism found its beginnings in René Descartes (1596 –1650), Thomas Hobbes (1588 –1679), Baruch Spinoza (1632 –77), and John Locke (1632 –1704). Theological rationalism, however, was directly linked to three chief sources: Christian von Wolff (1679 –1754), Hermann Samuel Reimarus (1694 –1768), and Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729 –81). Wolff attempted to tie biblical revelation into natural revelation, while Reimarus made natural revelation the source of Christianity. Lessing added to this new set of problems by arguing that the contingent truths of history could never be a proof for the necessary truths of reason. Thus, to these men can be traced much of what later developed in liberal Christianity, including the destructive form of biblical criticism of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Accordingly, “biblical criticism” came to mean not simply the scientific investigation of biblical documents but a method that assumed from the start the critic’s right to pass judgment on the truth claims of the Bible. Thus, for example, to interpret the Bible historically meant almost by definition to acknowledge that it contains contradictions; indeed, one of the standard textbooks on the subject simply assumes that any approach is unhistorical that does not accept those contradictions.[3] In short, assent to the view that the Bible was not totally reliable became one of the operating principles of the “historical-critical method.”

Anyone who was theologically committed to the traditional view of inspiration obviously could not do “criticism” in this sense. Subsequent developments, however, created further complications. The formulations of so-called higher criticism regarding the historical origins of biblical documents tended more and more to denigrate the religious value of the Bible. By the beginning of the twentieth century, “conservative” and “liberal” approaches had become almost totally polarized, though the former continued to make extensive use of critical studies insofar as these could be integrated into the framework of theological orthodoxy.[3]

Higher criticism (historical-critical method) is a term used to describe the study of the Bible with the objective of finding out details such as the authorship, source material, and time of the composition of each book. Higher criticism of the Bible got started in earnest during the 18th and 19th centuries. Historical criticism, also known as the historical-critical method or higher criticism, is now known as biblical criticism. Some forms of biblical criticism are source criticism, form criticism, tradition-historical criticism, redaction criticism, structural criticism, reader-response criticism, feminist criticism, among several others.

Eta Linnemann writes, “In the academic community, the confirmed results of scientific investigation are considered the touchstone of intellectual inquiry. Indeed, society at large has come to respect all claims offered under the rubric of ‘science.’ As a ‘scientific theology,’ the historical-critical method has come to dominate the field of biblical criticism in Germany and is championed in seminaries and universities around the world.” In Historical Criticism of the Bible Eta Linnemann tells how modern Bible scholarship has drifted far from the truth, and why its assumptions are nonetheless so influential and thereby inherently dangerous. Those who practice the interpretive methods of biblical criticism evidenced by their writings and words that one does not have to believe that the Bible is the fully inerrant inspired Word of God. Biblical criticism is extremely flawed, and its assault on the Bible has stumbled much of Christianity into believing that the Bible is not the fully inerrant Word of God but rather it, the Bible, is full of errors, mistakes, and contradictions.

What Is the Synoptic Problem of Matthew, Mark, and Luke and What is the Hypothetical So-Called Q Document?

The Reading Culture of Early Christianity From Spoken Words to Sacred Texts 400,000 Textual Variants 02

Manuscript Evidence

What do we discover when we look at manuscripts of both secular codices and The Greek New Testament Gospels codices? What we find is that be it secular or Gospels, the author’s names appear at the beginning of the text and at the end of the text. This holds true if a text has more than one work in it.

The Greek New Testament manuscripts during this period conform to this method. In the Codex Sinaiticus (330-360 C.E.), the Codex Vaticanus (300-330 C.E.), two of our earliest and most trusted codices, and the Codex Alexandrinus (400-440 C.E.), the name Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are found at the beginning and at the end of their particular gospels precisely as one would expect them to be according to the custom of the time. Moreover, we find exactly the same with two of our earliest Greek New Testament papyri manuscripts, P75 (175-225 C.E.) and P66 (110-150 C.E.). – SEE THE MANUSCRIPT IMAGES AT THE END OF THE ARTICLE

So, our earliest and most trusted manuscripts of the Gospels have only these names on them. In other words, there is no discrepancy in finding any other names. From the second century, we have manuscripts with names of the evangelists on them, which were copied only decades after the author’s had penned their perspective Gospels. There is no secular writing that is dated even remotely this close to their perspective originals, as the secular sources are centuries removed. So, once again for emphasis, the earliest Greek New Testament manuscripts with the Gospel author’s name on it are Luke on P75 (175-225 C.E.) and John on P66 (110-150 C.E.).[4] – SEE THE MANUSCRIPT IMAGES AT THE END OF THE ARTICLE

Michael Kruger talks about the widespread nature of this evidence, “What we find is incredible uniformity across the board for the titles of these gospels, Matthew’s Gospel is called ‘Matthew’; Mark’s is called ‘Mark’. It is amazingly consistent, something we would not expect if the titles were added later.”[5]

Lastly, there are no manuscripts of the Greek New Testament manuscripts from the early historical period or any historical period that have names on them other than Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. This is precisely what should be expected if the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John had no dispute about them.

The Epistle to the Hebrews The Epistle to the Hebrews The Epistle to the Hebrews

THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW – Writing Completed: c. 45-50 C.E.

While the Gospel ascribed to Matthew does not name him as the author, the strong overwhelming evidence of early church historians stamps him as such. Reasonably no other ancient book has its writer more clearly and unanimously confirmed than the book of Matthew. From as far back as Papias of Hierapolis (early second century A.D.) onward, we have a group of early witnesses to the fact that Matthew wrote this Gospel.

McClintock and Strong’s Cyclopedia states: “Passages from Matthew are quoted by Justin Martyr, by the author of the letter to Diognetus (see in Otto’s Justin Martyr, vol. ii), by Hegesippus, Irenæus, Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus, Clement, Tertullian, and Origen. It is not merely from the matter, but the manner of the quotations, from the calm appeal as to a settled authority, from the absence of all hints of doubt, that we regard it as proved that the book we possess had not been the subject of any sudden change.” – 1981 Reprint, Vol. V, page 895.

Geisler wrote,

The traditional author of this book is revealed by its title: Matthew. He was one of the twelve apostles chosen by Christ (Matt. 10:1–3) and was a tax collector by profession (v. 3), which was considered one of the lower levels of the social strata, listed along with “heathen” (18:17).

Internal Evidence

Internal evidence is what is found inside a book and external evidence is what is discovered outside a book. The internal evidence for Matthew’s authorship includes the following: (1) there are numerous references to money in this Gospel, which fits Matthew’s role as a tax collector (see 17:24, 27; 18:24); (2) the many self-references to “Matthew the tax collector” fit his Christian humility; (3) his invitation of friends to a mere “dinner” (9:9–10) as opposed to a “great banquet” (Luke 5:29, where Matthew is called Levi) fits his humility; (4) perhaps in deference to his profession, he omits the parable of the tax collector (Luke 18:9–14) and the story of Zacchaeus, a tax collector (19:1–10); (5) in accord with his experience at keeping records, he recorded the long discourses of Jesus (Matthew 5–7, 10, 13, 20, 23–25); and (6) as an apostle, he had direct access to words, events, and supernatural guidance (John 14:26; 16:13).

External Evidence

There are many lines of external evidence: (1) The church has accepted that Matthew is the author of this book from the earliest known times. (2) The early Father Papias, who was a disciple of Polycarp, the disciple of the apostle John, ascribed it to Matthew. Papias wrote: “So then, Matthew, indeed, in the Hebrew language put together the Logia in writing; but as to their interpretation, each man dealt with it as he was able.”2 (3) Later Fathers of the church are virtually unanimous in ascribing it to Matthew. These include Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, and Origen, who left little doubt about what the early church taught: “As I have learned by tradition concerning the Four Gospels, which alone are received without dispute by the Church of God under heaven: the first was written by St. Matthew, once a tax-gatherer, afterwards an Apostle of Jesus Christ, who published it for the benefit of the Jewish converts, composed in the Hebrew language.”[6]

THE LIFE OF Paul by Stalker-1 Paul PAUL AND LUKE ON TRIAL

THE GOSPEL OF MARK – Writing Completed: c. 60-65 C.E.

Even though Mark had access to the Gospel of Matthew and his account contains only 7 percent that is not included in the other Gospels, it would be an error to believe that Mark just condensed Matthew’s Gospel and then added a few special details.

Ancient tradition shows that Peter provided the fundamental information for Mark’s Gospel, and this agrees with the fact that Mark was connected with Peter in Babylon. (1 Pet. 5:13) According to Origen, Mark composed his Gospel “in accordance with Peter’s instructions.” (The Ecclesiastical History, Eusebius, VI, XXV, 3-7) In his work, “Against Marcion” (IV, V), Tertullian says that the Gospel of Mark “may be affirmed to be Peter’s, whose interpreter Mark was.” (The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. III, p. 350) Eusebius gives the statement of “John the presbyter” as quoted by Papias (c. 140 C.E.): “And the Presbyter used to say this, ‘Mark became Peter’s interpreter and wrote accurately all that he remembered, not, indeed, in order, of the things said or done by the Lord. . . . Mark did nothing wrong in thus writing down single points as he remembered them. For to one thing he gave attention, to leave out nothing of what he had heard and to make no false statements in them.’”—The Ecclesiastical History, III, XXXIX, 12-16.

John Mark obviously also had other sources of information. Since the early disciples of Jesus met the home of Mark’s mother (Ac 12:12), he must have been familiarized with other persons aside from Peter who had come to known Jesus Christ well. Such persons who had seen Jesus doing his work and had heard him preach and teach. Apparently being the “certain young man” whom those that were trying to arrest Christ tried to seize but who “got away naked,” Mark himself was clearly not without personal contact with Jesus. (Mark 14:51-52)

Geisler wrote,

Who Wrote It?

The book was written by John Mark, a companion of Peter. John was his Hebrew name and Mark his Latin name.

We know this about Mark. He was: (1) an associate of Peter (1 Peter 5:13), (2) once a missionary companion of Paul (Acts 13:5), (3) the son of one Mary (12:12), (4) a nephew (or cousin) of Barnabas (Col. 4:10), (5) the subject of dispute between Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:37–40), (6) later reconciled to Paul (2 Tim. 4:11), (7) perhaps the person whose home was the “upper room” (see Mark 14:12–16; Acts 12:12, 14), (8) possibly well-to-do (owned a big home) and his cousin owned land (4:36–37), and (9) may have been the unclad lad who fled the Garden (Mark 14:51–52).

Internal Evidence

The internal evidence for Mark’s authorship is supported by many lines of evidence: (1) he was familiar with the geography of the land and Jerusalem (5:1; 6:53; 8:10; 11:1; 13:3); (2) he knew Aramaic, the common language of the day (5:41; 7:11, 34; 14:36); (3) he understood Jewish institutions and customs (1:21; 2:14, 16, 18; 7:2–4); (4) the account is vivid and detailed, revealing contact with Jesus’s “inner circle”—James, Peter, and John (1:16–20, 29–31, 35–38; 5:21–24, 35–43; 6:39, 53–54; 9:14–15; 10:32, 46; 14:32–34); (5) he used Peter’s words and deeds (8:29, 32–33; 9:5–6; 10:28–30; 14:29–31, 66–72); (6) he alone added “and Peter” in the resurrection account (16:7; see 1 Cor. 15:5); (7) there is a striking similarity between his broad outline and Peter’s sermon in Acts 10:34–43.

External Evidence

The external evidence for Mark being the author of this Gospel is good. First, the earliest manuscripts have his name on them, and one of the earliest Church Fathers, Papias (AD 110), attributed it to Mark. Papias wrote:

And the Presbyter used to say this, “Mark became Peter’s interpreter and wrote accurately all that he remembered, not, indeed, in order, of the things said or done by the Lord. He had not heard the Lord, nor had he followed him, but later on, as I said, followed Peter, who used to give teaching as necessity demanded but not making, as it were, an arrangement of the Lord’s oracles, so that Mark did nothing wrong in thus writing down single points as he remembered them.”

See Also PAPIAS (C. 60-130 A.D.) AND THE GOSPELS OF MATTHEW AND MARK

What is more, other early Fathers unanimously agreed that Mark was the author. These include Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Justin Martyr, Tatian, Tertullian, Origen, Jerome, and Eusebius.[7]

APOSTOLIC FATHERS APOSTOLIC FATHERS APOSTOLIC FATHERS

THE GOSPEL OF LUKE – Writing Completed: c. 56-58 C.E.

As we know, Luke was not an eyewitness of all the events he records in his Gospel, as he was not one of the twelve apostles and he may not have even been a believer until after Jesus’ death. Nonetheless, he was very intimately connected with Paul in the missionary work. (2 Tim. 4:11; Philem. 24) So, as we expect, his Gospel shows evidence of Paul’s influence, which is seen by examining their two accounts of the Lord’s Evening Meal, at Luke 22:19, 20 and 1 Corinthians 11:23-25. Luke uses more than 300 medical terms or words and he also gives a medical meaning as well that are not used in the same way (and in some cases not at all) by the other authors of the Greek New Testament.[8] Although not named in his Gospel, he is named in the early manuscripts as was mentioned above, the physician Luke (Col 4:14) is the author of this account. There is other written evidence to this conclusion from the early second century C.E., as the Gospel was assigned to Luke in the Muratorian Fragment (c. 170 C.E.).

Geisler writes,

Who Wrote It?

Luke the physician (Col. 4:14), companion of Paul (2 Tim. 4:11; Philem. 24), and possibly a Gentile, since he is not listed with the circumcised (Col. 4:10–14), is the author of this Gospel. Since Luke was an associate of Paul and his writings reflect Paul’s teaching, it has been called the Gospel of Paul.

Internal Evidence

The author was often a companion of Paul, since he uses the first person in certain sections of Acts (16:10, 17; 20:6; 27:1). Timothy and Mark are both referred to in the third person (20:5), so neither of them is the author. Luke is the only remaining possibility. What is more, his theological emphasis was like Paul’s. Also, Luke fits the known character of the author by his use of medical terms,3 his Greek interest, and his literary ability. Finally, Luke was the author of Acts5 because he referred to his “former treatise” (Acts 1:1); both Acts and Luke are addressed to the same person, “Theophilus” (Luke 1:3; Acts 1:1); language and style in both are the same; and both show medical and Gentile interest.

External Evidence

The external evidence for Luke’s authorship is also very strong. First of all, it bears Luke’s name in the earliest manuscripts. Likewise, it was accepted as Luke’s by the early Fathers (for example, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement, Origen, Gregory of Nasianzus, Jerome, and Eusebius). In addition, Sir William Ramsay supported Luke’s authorship archaeologically. Even a liberal scholar like Adolph Harnack agreed that Luke wrote it. Finally, a noted Roman historian, Colin Hemer, agrees with the Lucan authorship.[9] – Hemer, Acts in the Setting of Hellenic History, 308–35.

English Bible Versions King James Bible KING JAMES BIBLE II

THE GOSPEL OF JOHN – Writing Completed: c. 98 C.E.

The Gospel of John was accepted as canonical by the early Christian Church. It appears in nearly all the ancient catalogs, being there accepted without query as authentic. The epistles of Ignatius of Antioch (c. 110 C.E.) contain clear traces of his use of John’s Gospel, as do also the writings of Justin Martyr a generation later. It is found in all the most important codices of the Christian Greek Scriptures— the Sinaitic, Vatican, Alexandrine, Ephraemi, Bezae, Washington I, and Koridethi codices—as well as in all the early versions. A fragment of this Gospel containing part of John chapter 18 is contained in the John Rylands Papyrus 457 (P52), of the first half of the second century. Also parts of chapters 10 and 11 are found in the Chester Beatty Papyrus No. 1 (P45), and a large part of the whole book is found in the Bodmer Papyrus No. 2 (P66) of the early third century. The Egerton Gospel (British Library Egerton Papyrus 2) refers to a collection of three papyrus fragments of a codex of a previously unknown gospel, found in Egypt and sold to the British Museum in 1934; the physical fragments are to be dated to about 150 C.E.

In short, concerning the sayings of Jesus that were not part of the canonical Gospels, they can be viewed with mere curiosity because they were not preserved for us through inspiration by NT authors Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John when the canonical Scriptures were being written. They contain no value that would be binding on Christians.

Nevertheless, there is a great value in Egerton Papyrus 2 fragments just as it true with P52. They serve as an aid in undermining the Bible critics. These critics have long argued that John’s Gospel was not written until 150 C.E. This would mean that it could not have been written by the apostle John who died fifty years earlier in 100 C.E. Since Egerton Papyrus 2 fragments have so many parallel expressions found in John’s Gospel, it strongly indicates that whoever wrote Egerton Papyrus 2 fragments, he was using John’s writing as a source. Then, we have P52, a fragment of John’s Gospel, which has been dated to 100-150 C.E. Thus, the Gospel of John must have been written earlier than 150 C.E. in order for it to have been circulating down in Egypt where the Egerton Papyrus 2 fragments were written about 150 C.E. Therefore, Egerton Papyrus 2 fragments bolstered by the discovery in 1935 of the fragment P52 of John’s Gospel (Papyrus Rylands Gk 457), which also dates likely 110-125 C.E. to give it time to be found in Egypt, confirm the date of the writing of John’s Gospel to be about 96 C.E.

APOSTOLIC FATHERS Lightfoot APOSTOLIC FATHERS Lightfoot APOSTOLIC FATHERS Lightfoot

See THE UNKNOWN GOSPEL: EGERTON PAPYRUS 2

Geisler wrote,

Who Wrote It?

There are three views on the authorship of the Gospel of John. Traditionally, it is assigned to John the apostle, “the beloved disciple” (21:20–24). Some more recent scholars have proposed that it is another John known as John “the elder” (see 2 John 1). Others have suggested that it was a disciple of the apostle John who got his information from John. However, there is no real evidence for the last two views and very strong evidence for John the apostle, as follows:

(1) He was the son of Salome and Zebedee, a fisherman (Matt. 4:21). (2) He had a brother named James (4:21; 10:2). (3) Some say John was Jesus’s cousin, conjecturing that his mother, Salome, was the Virgin Mary’s sister. (4) John’s family had servants and official connections in high places (27:55–56; Mark 1:20; Luke 8:3; John 18:15–16; 19:26–27). (5) John was one of the twelve apostles (Matt. 10:2). (6) He was first a follower of John the Baptist (John 1:35–40) and one of the first to follow Jesus (v. 40). (7) He was the beloved disciple of Jesus (21:7). (8) He outran Peter to the tomb and was the first disciple to believe in Jesus’s resurrection (20:1–4, 8). (9) He was probably the youngest disciple (see points 7 and 8—the term “beloved” often refers to a young person, and a young person, as a general rule, can run faster than an older person). (10) He was one of the inner circle of apostles, along with James and Peter (Matt. 17:1). (11) He was the one to whom Jesus committed his mother at his death (John 19:25–27). (12) He appeared three times in Acts by name (3:1; 4:13; 8:14) and in one chapter is unnamed (15:2, 22–23). (13) He escaped the Neronian persecutions of the late 60s but was later banished by the Roman Emperor Domitian to the Isle of Patmos (Rev. 1:9). (14) He is the author of four other books in the New Testament—1, 2, 3 John, and Revelation.

Mosaic Authorship Mosaic Authorship Mosaic Authorship

Internal Evidence

The internal evidence pointing to John the apostle as the author of the Gospel is as follows: (1) First of all, the author was a Jew (in thought, word, symbols, customs, and knowledge of the Old Testament). (2) Further, he was a Palestinian Jew (knowing well the customs, language, geography, and topography of the land). (3) Also he was an eyewitness of persons, time, numbers, places, manners, and other details (John 21:24). (4) He was one of the twelve apostles (13:23). (5) What is more, he was one of the disciples referred to but unnamed in John 21:2, 7 (along with Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, and James; see Matt. 4:21). (6) Also he was one of the “inner circle,” along with Peter and James (John 20:2–10; Mark 5:37; 9:2–3; 14:33), who saw Jesus’s glory (John 1:14). (7) He was not Peter (1:41), Thomas (14:5), Philip (v. 8), or Andrew (6:8) who are mentioned by name. (8) And he was not James who died in AD 44 (Acts 12:2). (9) Thus, by the process of elimination, the author of the Gospel must have been the apostle John, who leaned on Jesus’s bosom at the Last Supper (13:23–25); he was the unnamed disciple who appears several times in the text (in 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7, 20); he was the one Jesus loved (21:7); he was given responsibility for Jesus’s mother (19:26–27). John wrote the Gospel of John (21:24), as well as the Epistles of John (see chapters 26–27 of this book) and the book of Revelation (see chapter 28).

External Evidence

Other evidence for John the apostle is strong as well. First, the John Ryland Fragment (including John 18:31–33, 37–38), early second century (AD 117–38), confirms it was written in the first century. Further, the early testimony of Irenaeus, who knew John’s disciple Polycarp, confirms that it was John the apostle. What is more, other early sources (including Tatian and the Muratorian canon, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, and Eusebius) confirm that John wrote it.

The first to challenge John’s authorship was a late second-century group, the Alogoi sect (who denied the deity of Christ and the Holy Spirit).[10]

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[1] Burton L. Mack, The Lost Gospel: The Book of Q and Christian Origins (New York, NY: HarperOne, 1994), 10.

[2] B.C.E. means “before the Common Era,” which is more accurate than B.C. (“before Christ”). C.E. denotes “Common Era,” often called A.D., for anno Domini, meaning “in the year of our Lord.”

[3] Kaiser Jr., Walter C. Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics: The Search for Meaning (Kindle Locations 5870-6111). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

[4] Metzger, Bruce M., Ehrman, Bart D., The Text of the New Testament, 4th ed., Oxford University Press, NY, 2005, 56, 58

[5] Michael Kruger, “Who Wrote the Gospels?” video, EhrmanProject.com on YouTube, 10/1/2010

[6] Norman L. Geisler, A Popular Survey of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2014), 44–45.

[7] Norman L. Geisler, A Popular Survey of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2014), 60–61.

[8] The Medical Language of Luke, 1954, W. K. Hobart, pages xi-xxviii.

[9] Norman L. Geisler, A Popular Survey of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2014), 76–77.

[10] Norman L. Geisler, A Popular Survey of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2014), 93–94.

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