Proving The Imperative Of An Early Writing For The Synoptic Gospels, By The Greek Text

The day that I began to publish my findings that an early writing of the synoptic Gospels could be proven from the text of the New Testament, a massive opposition ensued. It became clear to me that the lies that have been told in former times regarding the late-date writing of the synoptic Gospels was very important to the enemies of Christ.

I never imagined that I would experience such opposition, though I should have expected such an assault. If the critics of Christ can convince the world that the narratives of Jesus were written late in the first century, they could also assert that the writers of these texts were not the eyewitnesses who saw Jesus do the things that are written in the Gospels.

The eyewitness testimony of the Apostles was of paramount importance to Jesus. Without the certainty of firsthand accounts, the Gospel of Christ loses much of its power to convince the world. If no one saw what is written in the Gospels, then there are no reliable witnesses to verify the events are really true. This eyewitness testimony was so important to Jesus that He placed special emphasis on taking what the Apostles had see to the “ends of the earth.”

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 

When Were The Gospels Written?

It’s important to understand that we cannot discover the truth concerning this issue from modern scholars. Even amongst many conservative scholars today, there are several who date the synoptic Gospels much later than the actual text indicates. The primary method that we should use to determine the true dates for the synoptic Gospels is to examine the text itself to see if clues can be found.

The Basis Of Authenticating Ancient Manuscripts

In any surviving ancient manuscripts that describe events of antiquity, the first place we look for evidence is in the text that is written. In this regard, what the text says is more important that what any scholar says about the text. The reasons are obvious. The text is fixed, it comes from an ancient date with specific details that can be analyzed. Modern scholars come from the present. They were not there, they don’t really know what took place. Many scholars today make their conclusions from a bias, whether liberal or conservative. Many scholars have to maintain the status quo in fear of losing their career or status amongst their peers.

Is The New Testament A Valid Historical Narrative?

I belong to no organization, or institution which places pressure on me to agree to their stated position. I am free to tell the truth about what the text states and not fear what people think or say. After 45 years of education, research, writing, lecturing, and publishing, I know what the text says. I publish the facts and not what I am pressured to say. Men like Ehrman, Bork, Reddish, and Carrier are mercenaries for the atheist cause who write for profit and fame. I care not for money or power, but only that Christ may be exalted and revealed by the truth of the scriptures which proclaim Him.

This essay examines the facts of the Greek texts which clearly define the intent of Jesus to command the Apostles to write their testimony as the prophets of old had written their texts, and send them out to the world immediately after He ascended back to heaven.

Courts of law have had to deal with ancient documents many times and in many different ways. Federal Rules For Evidence have been established which determine what shall constitute valid, reliable testimony. In this regard, the testimony of the four Evangelists meets every criteria required by federal law and is considered valid and reliable testimony of true facts.

Legal Analysis Of The Four Gospels As Valid Eyewitness Testimony

In the case of the New Testament, the surviving 24,593 manuscripts in our possession today, have been more closely scrutinized than any other texts that has existed in the entire history of the world. The reason is obvious. Those who claim that God does not exist, cannot tolerate a book that proves His existence. If the New Testament is proven as a work of antiquity, written by eyewitnesses, it will be impossible to impeach the narratives about Jesus.

Jesus came into the world to demonstrate by empirical evidence that God does exist. The entire purpose of Jesus’ arrival was to fulfill all the words written by the Hebrew prophets regarding the promised Messiah.

What The Prophets Wrote Concerning Messiah

The fact that Messiah was also God, was no surprise to the prophets of the Old Testament. They had predicted just such a Messiah who would be both God and man. This was the intent of David’s prophecy in Psalms 110:1, Isaiah’s prophecies of Messiah, and the text of 2 Samuel where David is told that one of his descendants will be the Messiah, the Son of God, in human flesh.

In Luke’s Gospel, we find the text from 24:44-47 where Jesus is telling the men who had seen Him crucified and now risen from the dead, that all He has done so far, was written and predicted by the prophets. These prophets also predicted that these men we know as the writers of the Gospels, would see Jesus and write a testimony of what they had seen and heard, and send it to the whole world.

The same day of Jesus’ resurrection, two of Jesus’ disciples were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem….As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them…

He asked them, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?”

“The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said.

Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. ~Luke 24:13-27 (NLT)

These two men returned to Jerusalem and found the eleven Apostles gathered together.

And within the hour they were on their way back to Jerusalem. There they found the eleven disciples and the others who had gathered with them, who said, “The Lord has really risen! He appeared to Peter.”

Then the two from Emmaus told their story of how Jesus had appeared to them as they were walking along the road…

…And just as the two they were telling the eleven about what happened on the road to Emmaus, Jesus himself was suddenly standing there among them. “Peace be with you,” he said.

44 Then Jesus said, “When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. 46 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. 47 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.’ 48 You are witnesses of all these things. ~Luke 24:33-48 (NLT)

What The Greek Text Proves

In the above narrative from Luke 24:44-47, Jesus uses the text: “These are the words” in referencing a past act that was being described to the disciples. The Greek uses, λόγοι, a clear statement, describing certain facts that were previously spoken by the words of the prophets, and are the very substance itself of all that was spoken. The time of these events is given to us: Jesus said these things to these 12 men while He was still with them, and before His crucifixion, indicated by the Greek, Οὗτοι, a  masculine, proven by the predicate οἱ λόγοι; which stands for ταῦτα, “these things,” indicating the men who were there from verses 36-43, from the beginning.

We read in the previous text that Jesus had said these things to these 12 men during the days of the logoi. For purposes of clarification, Luke explains that these men did not fully understand what Jesus was telling them about His death and resurrection in the past (9:44). 

The important thing that Jesus is emphasizing to these men is that now they understand that He has been risen from the dead, as a fulfillment of the prophets words. In light of what Jesus is saying to them, now, they are able to look back and see that everything Jesus had previously said and done, was because these things were written for Him to do and say, by the prophets.

Jesus is saying that in this time of revelation where they can now see all that He has accomplished, in context with what the prophets had written for Him, they must also continue, as the prophets had in the past,  write their own testimony that the words of the prophets have been fulfilled. This written testimony must immediately be sent to the world as a witness to every part of the world.

Jesus indicates this by the use of the Greek, logoi: they saw the Word of God, Jesus, and, “that it is necessary,” to tell the world what happened.

καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς ὅτι Οὕτως γέγραπται, καὶ οὕτως ἔδει παθεῖν τὸν χριστόν, καὶ ἀναστῆναι ἐκ νεκρῶν τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ,

When Jesus had met two of the disciples on the road to Emmaus, they had not yet realized what Jesus had done. He told them:

Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?”  And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. ~Luke 24:26-27 (NKJV)

The Greek text indicates here that the perfect, the things the prophets had formerly written, by Greek thinking, these records still stand. Jesus is commanding the bearers of their witnesses who saw Him, to declare to the world that He has fulfilled the words of the prophets. These Apostles are to also write—immediately, and send their testimony to every corner of the earth possible. The Greek here is clear; the reason this is necessary is because these men, whom the prophets described who would see the Messiah, are a continuing part of what the prophets had formerly written and predicted hundreds of years before.

The Greek texts allows us to see that the entire Old Testament was written for the purpose of preparing these Apostles to write their own testimony. This is proven by Jesus’ use of the terms:  “the Law of Moses (Pentateuch) and the Prophets and Psalms”; in verse. 27, and the Greek text that demands that these men must be the continuing part of the prophetic ministry of the Old Testament prophets.

Then Jesus said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. ~Luke 24:44-48 (NKJV)

These prophets who wrote about Jesus are the Jewish-designated prophets; Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, as well as the actual prophets such as Daniel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Zechariah. We learn from Jesus that the entire Old Testament was written for the purpose of preparing the world for the arrival of Jesus, the True Messiah. As such, all the prophecies, illustrations, and purposes of everything written, was to prepare the world for Jesus’ arrival.

For this reason, there is no uncertainty that the Apostles were to set out to record their testimony immediately after Pentecost (Acts 2), when the Holy Spirit would endow them with power to remember (John 14:25-26), and write all that they had seen and heard—to be sent to the whole world (Acts 1:8).

When we study the Greek text of this discourse between Jesus and the disciples, it is absolutely clear what He intended they do. The Greek, περὶ ἐμοῦ, indicates that everything written by the Old Testament prophets, describes these men writing their testimony to fulfill the entire purpose of the prophets who wrote to reveal the Messiah. If these men did not immediately write, the prophecies of the Old Testament would fail. This is how important it was that the testimony of the men who saw Jesus, be recorded and sent to the world as soon as possible.

In this, we begin to understand why satan has dispatched so many to try and impeach the early writing. The entire word of God rests upon whether these men who saw Jesus perform miracles, state that He is God, forgave sin’s as only God could, commanded nature to obey Him, raised the dead, was crucified, and rose from the dead, would write an enduring testimony immediately and send it to the world.

Critical Errors Of Adversaries

Those who seek to undermine this truth are the soldiers of the devil and it is his work they seek to accomplish. Thankfully, we can see from the historical record that these men did exactly what Jesus commanded. We have 24,593 extant manuscript copies of the New Testament that have survived time and decay, and have the same fundamental text about Jesus as when they were first written by these men.

Has The Text Of The New Testament Been Changed?

The Greek also shows us here that Jesus taught these men from the Old Testament text (v.27), how He had fulfilled the words of these prophets, and the task of the Apostles was to complete what the prophets had predicted by recording Jesus words and deeds. The present Greek infinitive defines the actions of these men to also write their testimony as a continuous and lasting action that bring understanding to what the prophets wrote.

From this day onward, the men who had been called by Jesus to witness all He had said and done, would no longer see the prophets as the past, but as a preface to their own work—which was to tell the world about Jesus as a continuation of the prophets efforts—to declare and prove the Messiah. What the Old Testament prophets had witnessed from God; the call of Jesus to the Apostles to write a testimony predicting the arrival of the Messiah—these men were to continue by their writing, and declare to the world as soon as possible—Messiah had arrived, died, and rose from the dead.

The prophecies of the Bible are of no use if we cannot see how they were fulfilled and understand why they were written in the first place. For these men whom Jesus called as His witnesses, they had the clearest view of anyone. They were taught by Jesus that the things He had done in the past three and one-half years, were a part of what the Hebrew prophets had written. They must write themselves and send their testimony out to the world as a herald, or all the words of the prophets would fall to the ground.

Prophecy has always been intended by God as the most secure proof of His existence and proof that He alone is God. No other god or religion has demonstrated that they are capable of predictive and fulfilled prophecy—with one hundred percent accuracy—other than the God of the Bible. The Lord said that when a prophet speaks in His name, those who hear, can test his words by whether the prophecy has come true. If that prophet predicts an event and it happens just as he said, this prophet has spoken for the Lord. But if that prophet speaks a word of prophecy and it does not come to pass, this prophet has not spoken for the Lord.

But you may wonder, ‘How will we know whether or not a prophecy is from the Lord?’ If the prophet speaks in the Lord’s name but his prediction does not happen or come true, you will know that the Lord did not give that message. That prophet has spoken without my authority and need not be feared. ~Deuteronomy 18:21-22 (NLT) 

Deuteronomy 18 gives us the definition for what constitutes a true prophet of God. Concerning Jesus, the prophets wrote over 400 predictions for the Messiah. In order for Jesus to be validated as Messiah, He had to fulfill all of these predictions. If Jesus missed only one prophecy; if he partially fulfilled all but one, if Jesus failed in any way to fulfill any part, He would not be the Messiah. God made the fulfillment of these prophecies so difficult that it would be impossible for any person to mistakenly identify the wrong person.

I have spent nearly 40 years studying, documenting, teaching and writing about these Messianic Prophecies. When you see their predictions and the precision at which Jesus fulfilled each one, you will be stunned by the proficiency of Jesus.

It is Jesus’ fulfillment of these prophecies that are the primary proof of Jesus’ identity, that convinced me that He is God and Messiah.

To Complete What The Prophets Wrote

The purpose of the Apostles writing the New Testament Gospels was so that we could examine what Jesus had said and done and compare these events with what the prophets wrote. If these men did not record these events, we would have no way of knowing if Jesus was the true Messiah. In order for this to happen, the Apostles had to set out to write immediately after Jesus returned to heaven. We know today that they did this very thing, for we have the surviving manuscript copies to prove they wrote everything we see in our New Testament today. We have found manuscript copies of the New Testament from all over the world, written in thirteen different languages.

Jesus told these men: ““Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things.”

After Jesus was raised from the dead He instructed these men to wait at Jerusalem until the Feast of Pentecost arrived. On that day we read in the Second chapter of Acts, that the Holy Spirit came and filled each of the believers who were waiting there. After this power came upon these men, they were able to remember everything that Jesus had said and done, and write a concise and accurate narrative. By 43 A.D. these narratives were complete for Matthew, Mark. Luke used these narratives with interviews from the eyewitnesses who had been with Jesus from the beginning, and wrote His detailed Gospel by 44 A.D.

See the evidence of when the Synoptic Gospels were written

As Jesus finishes His dissertation with the Apostles, He states once again that their written testimony is a permanent part of the record God intended that the world should have of the One true Messiah. There are three Greek infinitives here that state the substance of what has been written: “suffer-arise-be proclaimed.” These are described as “timeless” by the aorists. Today we understand these as constative. This becomes particularly true in light of proclaiming the Gospel by written text, that has carried throughout all of the ages of history since the Gospels were originally written by 44 A.D., followed by John’s Gospel near 90 A.D. Jesus’ suffering has ended. He has risen from the dead. The time to proclaim what these men had seen and heard had begun. There was no possibility that a delay was expected, commanded or possible. Jesus expected these men to immediately write and get the word out to the world.

God wanted every person alive at that time to hear and have a chance to be saved. If these men waited even a year, people who died in that year might be lost.

In this text from Luke 24, we see an active verb in the Greek, describing Jesus as “arise.” In the Bible we find that Jesus was raised, both by the Father (v.6), and that Jesus raised Himself from the dead. This is observed in the Greek phrase, ἐκ νεκρῶν.

Luke describes Jesus as “entering His glory,” and the part that the Apostles play in declaring this truth to the world is seen in the imperative to write it all down and send it to the nations of the world. The Greek here includes the verb, κηρύσσειν, meaning to act as a κῆρυξ, or to proclaim a message as in a public declaration to the world. They are to act as heralds to the world. This is the standard verb that is used in Greek for preaching.

In Greek thinking, the herald obtains the message he is supposed to tell, from the man who sent him out in the first place. The Job of the herald is to tell everyone who will hear it. The herald does not change the message; he writes what he sees and hears and gives it to everyone. The herald does not care what people think about what he writes, his task is to write and send it. It is the task of those who hear, to respond properly and according to what the herald has proclaimed.

The passive Greek text here hides the agents; the heralds who proclaim the message, for a moment, but Jesus tells us who the messengers are; the men who have been with Him from the beginning.

We see clearly that what Jesus has commanded these men to do, is to be proclaimed to all the nations, πάντα τὰ ἔθνη. This is the same term that was used in Matthew. 28:19 and further expanded in Acts 1:8. No person who reads and understand Greek could misunderstand what Jesus intended here. He meant that these men should immediately write and send their testimony to the whole world without delay.

Jesus understood the restrictions of Judaism during that time, but made it clear in telling these men that their mission was not just for the Jews in Israel, but the whole world. This is clear in the Greek, ἀρξάμενοι, a nominative plural participle that is placed after a passive aorist infinitive, resulting in the participle being a part of the following sentence. Some see a difficulty in R. 1203 where it describes an anacoluthon of the participle as a principal verb, while 946 is ready to change the punctuation and present this form in an imperative sense. Lenski says the solution is to “add either an apposition or a participle in the nominative case, where a pedant would insist on an oblique case (here the accusative).”[1]

Jesus understood that the Apostles would experience a tremendous amount of opposition at Jerusalem, primarily from the Sanhedrin. Nevertheless, they would begin teaching the Gospel of Christ at Jerusalem and move out from there, eventually reaching the whole world.

One of the often repeated statements of Jesus is His command that these Apostles who saw and heard Him, must take their testimony to all nations. This was a prerequisite of the Hebrew scriptures for Messiah, and a certain requirement for the objects of Messiah’s testimony. Their herald of what Jesus had accomplished would be the start of many others during the history that ensued, also bringing the same Good News to the whole world, by way of their written texts.

When Paul began his missionary journey’s through Asia Minor, he carried the texts of Matthew, Mark, and later, Luke, with him. It was necessary to present the testimonies of these eyewitnesses, with the prophecies of the Messiah, to the people of these nations in order to fully validate that Jesus had fulfilled every prophetic requirement for Messiah.

Jesus promises that He will remind the Apostles of all He has said and done, enable them to write their testimony, and with this, the Greek emphatic, ἐγώ, will send the Holy Spirit to make all these things possible. Peter describes these events in his sermon of Acts 2, expounding Joel 2, and twenty-five additional Old Testament scriptures related to Messiah in Acts 2-3.

It was the power of the Holy Spirit, unseen by the Hebrew prophets who described the Messiah, that would enable these twelve men who saw Jesus, to accomplish all that the prophecies of Messiah required.

See The New Book That Documents The Evidence To Prove An Early Writing Of The Synoptic Gospels:

“You Are My Witnesses: The Men Who Saw Jesus.”


NOTES:

[1] Quote and sources from Lenski’s Commentary on the New Testament.



Categories: Historical Validity of the New Testament, How The NT Writers Remembered, Messianic Prophecies, Messianic Prophecy Bible, Robert Clifton Robinson, Salvation through Jesus, The Four Gospels, The Historical Jesus, To Preach the Gospel

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