Why should we rely on scripture so much when written from Paul, such as Romans, Ephesians, Colossians? Wasn’t he just a human being who could have written on his own beliefs?
The witness of the resurrection of Jesus Christ is at the foundation of Christian faith. In the first century the evidence was in two parts:
- This was “according to the Scriptures”.
- There was strong evidence of the apostles whose whole lives were instantly turned around by their witness of the risen lord.
1 Corinthians 15:3-9 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, (4) that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, (5) and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. (6) Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. (7) Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. (8) Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. (9) For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
Rather than spell out these two arguments in full detail, I’ll look at how this foundation leads to confidence in the New Testament books left by the apostles. Do we imagine that God raised Jesus from the dead and then left the gospel message to be only passed down by hearsay to later generations? No, God left us with an inspired record, the New Testament written in the common language of the day, Greek. This added to the inspired Hebrew scriptures, the Old Testament.
Jesus foretold the miraculous power, the Holy Spirit, that he would give his apostles after he left them:
John 16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
It was this Holy Spirit promised by Christ that led to the writing of the New Testament.
There are claims in the New Testament of authority from Christ. Here are some examples:
Galatians 1:1-2 Paul, an apostle–not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead– (2) and all the brothers who are with me, …
1 Corinthians 11:23-25 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, (24) and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” (25) In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
On the other hand when Paul is giving his own personal opinion he is careful to make that clear unless his readers mistook his words as from God:
1 Corinthians 7:10-12 To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (11) (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife. (12) To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her.
This is unusual. Normally Paul and the other apostles wrote, not their own personal opinions, but as God-appointed apostles with the Holy Spirit gift of prophecy.
A very practical way of testing the New Testament is to compare and contrast it with other works, both earlier by Jewish writers, and later by Christian writers. It immediately becomes apparent that the New Testament is vastly superior.