New Testament Scholars Teaching Errors To Students

Did Jesus Expect The Apostles To Wait For Decades Before Writing Their Testimony?

One of the assertions used by critics of the New Testament in order to discredit the validity of the testimony it contains, is to insinuate that the Apostles did not write the four Gospels until very late in the first century, or early in the second century.

Notice the following statement in the book, “An Introduction To The Four Gospels,” by New Testament scholar, Mitchell G. Reddish,” in the first chapter, called: “The Formation Of The Four Gospels,” written in 1997.

“Since the four Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—begin the New Testament, readers often assume that these works were the earliest written products of the Christian church. This assumption is often coupled with the beliefs that the authors of the four Gospels were eyewitnesses of the events they narrate and that the composition of the four Gospels was relatively simple process of preserving in writing what they had seen and heard firsthand. Such assumptions about the Gospels, however, are inaccurate. All the letters of Paul in the New Testament were written prior to any of the Gospels being completed. The authors of the Gospels, or at least the persons responsible for the final form of the Gospels, were almost certainly not eyewitnesses; and the Gospels themselves are the end products of traditions that were transmitted and preserved in various forms, both oral and written.”

This book is listed as a primary source at Wikipedia for information regarding the writing of the four Gospels.

Reddish continues with the statement:

“Jesus of Nazareth was not an author, but a teacher and preacher. His method of communication was exclusively oral. Furthermore, there is no indication that Jesus expected or desired that his message would be preserved in writing and passed along for generations.”

Here is the problem with the above statement that is often repeated many times, in many other books; there is absolutely no evidence to prove that any of these statements by Mitchell Reddish are true. In fact, there is evidence in the New Testament text that impeaches all of Reddish’s assumptions. Jesus repeatedly tells His disciples to write all they had seen.

Twelve Times Jesus Tells John To Write Everything That He Has Seen:

  • Write in a book everything you see…” Rev. 1:11
  • Write down what you have seen…” Rev. 1:19
  • Write letters…” Rev. 2:1, 2:8, 2:12, 2:18, 3:1, 3:7, 3:14
  • “Write this down…” Rev. 14:13
  • “Write this…” Rev. 19:19
  • “Write in a book everything you see…” Rev 21:11

Mitchell Reddish said: “there is no indication that Jesus expected or desired that his message would be preserved in writing and passed along for generations.”

This man is considered a New Testament scholar who is teaching young people at university these unprovable posits with no evidentiary proof. This is the reason that so many young people, who start out with great faith in Jesus, end up with a dead faith by the end of their first year at seminary.

Mitchell Reddish intends that his book would be used as a textbook for seminary students. He states in the author’s comments for this book, the following:

“An Introduction to the Gospels is designed to be a textbook for courses on the Gospels, for use at the college and beginning seminary level.”

If you purchased this book or were given it as part of your seminary or university class, this is the information you would first see regarding the New Testament.

The assertion by Reddish that the Gospels were not written until much later, is based upon his assumption that Jesus never told the disciples to write a record for Him. In fact, Jesus told the Apostles immediately after He was risen from the dead, to take what they had seen “to all the nations,” in Luke 24:47. In Acts 1:8, just prior to Jesus’ ascension back to heaven, He said “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” It would not be possible to accomplish this without a written record that was distributed to all the known parts of the world. Paul was able to reach the people of the known world, only by publishing written letters that were distributed throughout Asia Minor early in the first century by known postal routes.

  1. The assertion by Reddish that the writers were not eyewitnesses, cannot be proven by anyone. This conclusion is based solely on opinions, conjecture, speculation, and general consensus amongst other scholars holding the same view of the New Testament. Again, using the text itself as the authority, the writers themselves clearly state that they saw Jesus with their own eyes. See the first chapter, “Eyewitness Accounts,” for detailed proof that these texts were written by eyewitnesses.
  2. The claim by Reddish that Paul’s letters were written before the Gospels has no actual physical evidence to prove this assertion. It is based upon his opinion and the opinions of other liberal scholars. In fact, we can prove from the evidence of the New Testament itself that the letters of Paul were not all written before the Gospels. We have textual evidence that the text Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 5:18, he received from Luke’s Gospel, 10:7, which must have existed before Paul wrote his letters.
  3. The idea of Reddish that because Jesus did not write anything Himself, He did not intend that the men who He called to be His witnesses would also not write a lasting record of all they had seen and heard, is preposterous. This was the very reason that Jesus called these men to follow Him and witness what He was doing. Jesus was fulfilling the Old Testament scriptures of the Messiah and unless these men wrote a permanent record of how and when He did this, it would never be known to later generations.
  4. The entire purpose of Jesus’ arrival on earth was to herald the arrival of the Messiah that God promised the world. If this was not accomplished by eyewitnesses who heard and saw Jesus do the things that He accomplished; if the text was not immediately written and sent to the world; if Jesus never intended that a record would be written at all, the coming of the Messiah to earth to die for the sins of the world and offer redemption to every person, would be useless. Of course Jesus called eyewitnesses to record what they saw and write their testimony immediately. Of course Jesus wanted a permanent record to be made. If not, then the entire narrative of Jesus makes no sense at all.

In John chapter 17, Jesus is praying to the Father and asking Him to protect the men who have been with Him and have heard and seen all that He has said and done. Jesus said: “Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world.” ~John 17:11. He continues in verse 20 with the words: “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message.” ~John 17:20

Jesus is specifically stating that the men who have seen Him and all He has done, will write their testimony about Jesus and many others will believe in Jesus through their message.

Evidence From Paul’s Letters

A vigorous and compelling proof for the earlier writing of the four Gospels is also supported by Paul in his epistles. From a simple observance of what Paul wrote, we can accurately conclude that Luke’s Gospel was already in existence when Paul wrote to Timothy.

In Paul’s letter to Timothy, chapter 5, verse 18, he quotes from Luke’s gospel. It is Jesus who is saying the words that both Luke and Paul record.

Paul: For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.”  ~1 Timothy 5:18

When we examine Luke’s Gospel, we see that what Paul had written in 1 Timothy 5:18, came from what Luke had already written before in Luke 10:7.

Luke: And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house.  ~Luke 10:7

The first part of this verse that is quoted comes from Deuteronomy 25:4. However the second part of the verse is a direct quotation from Jesus Himself, as recorded by Luke: “The laborer is worthy of his wages” (Luke 10:7). This text is not found in the Old Testament. Paul quotes the exact same Greek texts that Luke first used in his Gospel. This proves that Paul knew that Luke’s Gospel was already written before he wrote to Timothy, and he considered Luke’s’ Gospel genuine scripture.

This dates the Gospel of Luke as written before Paul’s letter to Timothy—corroborating a very early writing for the Gospels. Luke’s Gospel was written after Matthew and Mark, as described in the first paragraph of Luke where he defines the source of his Gospel as coming from the eyewitness reports from the early disciples.

This proves that Reddish is wrong. The Gospels were written first, before Paul wrote his letters in the New Testament. Remember that Reddish has never provided any proof of a later writing for the Gospels. Like all modern liberal scholars, these men and women take great liberties in forcing their opinions, without any evidentiary support.

Bart Ehrman Echoes A Similar Theory

During a debate at Worcester, Massachusetts, on March 28, 2006, Ehrman said the following:

The Gospels were written by highly literate, trained, Greek-speaking Christians of the second and third generation. They’re not written by Jesus’ Aramaic-speaking followers. They’re written by people living 30, 40, 50, 60 years later. Where did these people get their information from?”[⁠1]

In the first chapter of this book we learned the flaws in Ehrman’s hypothesis of a late writing for the Gospels.

Ehrman is guessing that the writers were uneducated and not capable of writing in Greek. Luke was a skilled Greek Physician, clearly able to write elegant Greek. Mark was a Greek speaking scribe for Peter in writing the Gospel of Mark. Matthew clearly had the ability to write well as a Roman tax collector. John was a highly skilled writer, penning the book of Revelation, amongst his own Gospel and letters.

We don’t know that the original autographs were first written in Aramaic or Hebrew and later copied as Greek texts. In the third decade of the second century, Papias said: “Matthew gathered the sayings of Jesus in the Hebrew tongue, and each person translated them as he was able.”[2]

We can’t accurately conclude what language the original autographs were written because they don’t exist any longer. There are no original autographs for any ancient texts of that age, secular or religious. All that we have today to prove any ancient event are the surviving manuscript copies.

Ehrman, like Reddish, have an agenda to disprove the time of writing for the Gospels and push this date ahead as far as possible so that the eyewitness testimony of Jesus can be impeached. There is no evidence to prove a late writing of the Gospels. In this book, we have proven by many pieces of empirical evidence that the Gospels were most certainly written not long after Jesus was crucified and risen from the dead in 32 A.D.

Peter Confirms The Gospels Were Written First

Peter states emphatically in 2 Peter 1:16-21, that he is not making up the narrative he is writing regarding the Transfiguration of Jesus, but is recounting the actual events that took place. Peter is quoting from the Gospels of Matthew Chapter 17:1-6, Mark 9:2-13, and Luke 9:28-36. If the Gospels were written after the New Testament letters of Peter and Paul, how is it that Peter is quoting from all three Gospels in his second letter? Peter was written in 65 A.D., Obviously the Gospels were written much earlier.

You will find these unfounded, unproven statements in the books and publications of many other liberal New Testament scholars.

What we learn from these statements by Reddish and Ehrman is the reality that there are some New Testament scholars who do not believe the Gospels are a genuine narrative of true events, written by eyewitnesses. These men use their power of persuasion as scholars to write these emphatic statements regarding the unreliability of the New Testament, without any evidence whatsoever to prove their assertions.

A little further in Reddish’s book, in the same first chapter, he said the following:

There is no indication that Jesus expected or desired that his message would be preserved in writing and passed along for generations.”

Let us read what Jesus said to His Apostles regarding what they had seen and heard from Him:

Then Jesus opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And he said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’ You are witnesses of all these things. ~Luke 24:45-49

Jesus states clearly that it was written in the Old Testament that the things He was saying and doing, would be written after they were accomplished and proclaimed to all the nations.

Jesus cannot be any clearer, and Reddish cannot be more wrong about his statements that Jesus never intended that eyewitnesses would write an account of what they saw and take this narrative to all the world. There is no possibility that Jesus expected or commanded these Apostles to wait to write their testimony until decades later. The very idea is ludicrous.

Jesus instructed these men to wait at Jerusalem for the arrival of the Holy Spirit that He would send to live inside the Apostles and enable them to remember and write an accurate account. Jesus did not want these men to go out and begin until they had been given this power.

The emphatic command of Jesus to “wait in Jerusalem,” demands that the men wanted to go immediately, but are temporarily prohibited until the Holy Spirit comes upon them. We see the powerful effect of the Spirit in Peter’s life from Acts chapter 2 where this uneducated fisherman, elegantly delivers the most powerful and scholarly speech in the New Testament to more than 1 million  people from all over the world.

“And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.”~Luke 24:49

Jesus made it clear that when the Holy Spirit came upon them, that they would each be given the ability to remember all that Jesus had said and done—for the very purpose of recording a permanent record that would last forever.

I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. ~John 14:25-26

The final instructions of Jesus to His disciples just before he ascended back to heaven, was this power they were given to remember and write, should immediately be taken to Jerusalem first, then Judea, then Samaria, and finally, to the ends of the earth. This command cannot be any clearer.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” ~Acts 1:8

Once again, do not miss the importance of what Jesus is saying because it completely contradicts all that these liberal scholars are asserting.

Jesus said that these men are His witnesses. They will be given the ability to remember all that He said and did, by the Holy Spirit, after He is risen from the dead. They are to wait at Jerusalem until Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit will come and fill each one of these men.

After this they are to go to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

Does this sound to you like Jesus did not “expected or desired that his message would be preserved in writing and passed along for generations,” as Reddish asserts?

The answer is absolutely, no. Reddish is either guessing, or he does known that Jesus did say these men should write a record and send it to the world, but he doesn’t want people to know this. Either way, there is a great deal of deception going on in the world of New Testament scholarship today.

The entire article at Wikipedia where Reddish’s book is listed as a primary reference regarding the four Gospels, is filled with similar references from authors like Reddish, saying the very same things, none of them true.

There is not one actual item of evidence in the entire book by Reddish to prove any of these claims. In fact, if you read the opinions of many other liberal New Testament scholars, you will also not find any evidence to support the ideas Reddish puts forth, in their books either. These authors depend upon their notoriety as scholars and the readers lack of awareness that they are being misled, to prove their many false claims about the New Testament.

If you think I am exaggerating or wrong, buy one of these books from these scholars and see for yourself. This is what I have done, and by reading what these authors wrote, I discovered that there was no evidentiary support for any of these claims.

You will find that the actual text of the New Testament tells us all we need to know, regarding the truth. The writers tell us they are eyewitnesses. Jesus commanded His disciples to write a recored and send it to the whole world. Jesus did not expect these men to wait and not complete His orders, for decades. The very idea that this happened is preposterous.

Jesus’ statements to the Apostles after His resurrection, is clear that they are His witnesses and they are to tell everyone what they have seen and heard.

This command makes no sense if Jesus did not mean that they should write their testimony immediately and distribute these letters to every city possible. There is no way that these men could reach the ends of the earth without sending a written record.

When we examine what Jesus said in Luke 24:47-48, Jesus’ instructions to His Apostles is emphatic in the Greek—they are to be His witnesses to all nations—and to do it now. The Apostles did not wait decades, Jesus said go now; ρξμενοι, a greek nominative plural participle after a passive aorist infinitive, “You are witnesses of these things.” The Apostles could not reach all nations unless they wrote a testimony and immediately sent this narrative to all nations, immediately.

The Apostles understood what Jesus was saying. Jesus told them to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit filled them with the ability to remember all that Jesus had said and done, then write a record and send it out to the nations. This would happen on Pentecost, 50 days after Jesus’ resurrection.

Jesus’ command to these men is clear, after they received this power they are to write an account of all they had seen and heard because He also wanted people of that time to hear about Jesus. If they had waited, think of how many thousands of people would never have known what Jesus had done. Does the following statement by Jesus, sound to you like He wanted the Apostles to wait for decades?

“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” ~Matthew 28:19-20

In the chapter, “How Did They Remember,” I wrote a detailed description of how the Apostles of Jesus were able to recall all of the things we read in the New Testament. This came from Jesus’ statement in John’s Gospel where He told His disciples that the Holy Spirit would give them the ability to recall every detail of what Jesus had said and done, so that they could write an accurate account.

I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. When the Father sends the Paraclete as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. ~John 14:25-26

Our confirmation that this did take place is observed by reading the elegant texts of the four Gospels and seeing how detailed these narratives are.

The Prophets Predicted An Immediate Writing Of Messiah’s Gospel

Luke includes an important detail that the Old Testament prophets predicted that all of the things that the Apostles saw and heard, they would record and preserve this testimony and send it out to the entire world.

Then Jesus opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And he said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’ You are witnesses of all these things. ~Luke 24:45-49

These men were not to wait in order to accomplish this, except under one requirement; to stay in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit came to live in them. After this, they were to take the message to the world. This could not happen unless it was in written form and distributed. It would be by the indwelling of the Spirit of God that these men would have the ability to:

  1. Remember all that Jesus said and did.
  2. Have the capacity to write all these things, accurately.
  3. Have the opportunity to distribute their Gospels all over the world.
  4. After the Holy Spirit gave them these things, they were to immediately send out their Gospels to the world.

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” ~Acts 1:8

In Luke 24:47-49, we find extraordinary facts by studying the Greek texts.

It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’ You are witnesses of all these things.

We notice the text here that states, “It was also written.” The Greek verb κηρσσειν, to act as a κρυξ, a herald, to proclaim in public. In Greek thinking, the one who receives the call as a herald does everything he can to to announce the message. This includes public speaking, private witnessing, and writing the texts to send them out to people whom the herald cannot reach.

These men understood by what Jesus said that they were not to add, take away, or change anything that Jesus had said or done, but write it all down for posterity, for every generation.

Can anyone accept that after the Hebrew prophets predicted a Messiah, Jesus comes as that Messiah, He performs the miracles required of this Messiah, is crucified and raised from the dead as this Messiah was predicted, that the men who saw and heard these things would not immediately write what they saw and send it to the whole world?

This is the purpose of Luke in writing this text in Luke 24:47-49. It was not only that men had written in the past that these things would happen. These same prophets also wrote that the men who would witness the fulfillment of these things by the Messiah, would also write their eyewitness testimony when the Messiah arrived and tell the world.

There would be no use in sending a Messiah who fulfilled all that the prophets wrote, if there were no men willing to write it all down and tell the world that God had fulfilled His word.

To insinuate that the Apostles did not write these texts, but they left this task for others to write later, or that Jesus never intended that they would write a testimony, as Mitchell Reddish writes in his book, ignores the entire history of the Bible. This is extremely poor exegetical scholarship by Reddish.

What is disturbing for myself as one who has studied the texts of the Bible for nearly 45 years, taught students at college, and published several books about the Bible, is the fact that Reddish wrote this book of fallacies for the first year seminary student.

Think of the thousands of young men and women who are now lost to their former Christian faith—believing that the New Testament is not a reliable representation of all that Jesus said and did.

By Reddish publishing what he has written in this book, we can no longer rely upon him as an accurate scholar. Clearly his bias or lack of knowledge have caused Reddish to make grievous errors that are proven false by the clear evidence of the New Testament extant manuscripts themselves.

In examining the Greek text of Luke 24:47-49, we find that a proclamation has been made by Jesus that these events the Apostles have seen with their eyes, are to be heralded “unto all the nations,” πντα τ θνη.

This is the same Greek word used in Matthew 28:19, and further detailed in Acts 1:8, where Jesus makes it absolutely clear that what they have seen they should write in a book and send it to all the nations of the earth. Here the Greek adds an apposition or a participle in the nominative case, where the pedant would insist upon an oblique case, though here there is the accusative. Clearly, by the Greek, Jesus intended that seeing Him would cause these men to have a world-wide telling of what they saw, and this could only be accomplished by writing it all down and sending to the world immediately.



[1] A Debate between William Lane Craig and Bart D. Ehrman, College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts March 28, 2006

[2] Eusebius Ecclesiastical History 3.39.16

Categories: Atheists, Bart Ehrman, How The NT Writers Remembered, Marcan Priority, Mitchell G. Reddish, New Testament Criticism, Origin of the four Gospels, Principles of Biblical Interpretation, Robert Clifton Robinson, Secular sources for Jesus, The Historical Jesus, The Importance of the Bible

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