"Paul [cannot be] both claimant and witness [for himself]." Tertullian, Against Marcion 207 A.D.


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EMAIL November 28, 2012

What Is The New Testament Inspired Canon?

Hi Friend,

I haven't read yet your book but I would like to ask a simple question. Do you believe that the 4 Gospels are the only inspired books in the New Testament? If that is the case, what about the other books not written by Paul, like the book of Acts; 1 & 2 Timothy; James, Revelation, etc.? Are they therefore inspired since they were not written by Paul?
Hope you could enlighten me on this question. Many thanks.

My Reply

Hi Angelo

NT Inspiration means a prophet such as Jesus or an apostle quoting Jesus because Jesus said the Spirit would bring His words back to the memory of the 12. This status is true only of Matthew and John's Gospel, and the book of Revelation. Thus, to me, those 3 books are inspired.

Mark was written by a friend of Paul's -- and later an inaccurate mythology tried linking this to Peter. See Marcan Priority Claim.
Thus, it has no apostolic credentials. Yet, it is valuable as historical corroboration of Matthew and Luke.

Luke is a special case where the evidence suggests he was trying to preserve the Original Gospel of Matthew (OGM) written in Hebrew, which was the first gospel, and was honored as a fifth gospel for the first 400 years of Christianity. See Original Gospel of Matthew in Hebrew. Thus, Luke is historical evidence of an inspired book -- the OGM -- which for reasons of doctrine was let slip out of memory, and into oblivion. From the OGM, 49 quotes were preserved in quotes dating 96 AD to 425 AD, which Mr. Rives incorporates into our Matthew. You can read the final product at Original Gospel of Matthew Reconstructed. (The first 2 volumes are scholarly reviews of all the variants, their sources, issues over validity, etc.) Thus, when you see Hebraisms in Luke, such as sentences beginning with "And" Edwards recently explained that this means it came from the OGM in Hebrew.

Neither Peter nor John ever claim they write their letters under inspiration. Their intent is to edify. In the Law, a work could not be recognized as prophetic unless the prophet says the Lord "burdened" him with a message / he spoke for Yahweh, or in Moses' case, God spoke from heaven in the hearing of the people that recognized Moses as His agent. (Jesus too had this at his baptism and transfiguration.)

James is the first bishop of the church, and Jude was the second. Both are siblings of Jesus. Neither claims inspiration, nor that they are prophets, nor that they are apostles. Hence, they are edifying.

The Epistle to the Hebrews was written by Barnabas, according to Tertullian writing in 205 AD. (See link.) Hence, it lacks any prophetic or apostolic credentials.

That said, this does not mean we exclude any of these secondary authorities from the Bible. (Paul is a special case.)

Why? Because in the assembly of the OT, there was a tier of authority in the Bible -- with the Law  / Torah in #1 position, then the Prophets (who were measured by consistency with Torah), and finally the Writings / Scripture section. See Carlstadt Research. The Writings / Scripture section signified either totally uninspired works which were edifying or potentially deemed prophetic in the future, such as Daniel, or were sometimes inspired and sometimes not, such as Psalms and Proverbs. When our NT was put together, it was with this same view in mind. If we restored that approach, we can attach purely edifying works, as Carlstadt recommended. Only in the 1500s was canon ruled to be 100% inspired in each book. It included many more books than we have today -- specifically the Apocrypha used to be part of the KJV Bible of 1611. (It was removed in 1885. See Kingjamesbibleonline.org at this link.)

But Paul is something one has to consider differently for a specific reason. Jesus told us not to follow false Christs who come using Jesus' name who appear in the wilderness where not every eye saw him. Jesus specifically says this is how you will know this is not the true Jesus. Our Lord Jesus instructs us "do not follow them." (Matt 24:4-5, 24-27.)  I believe if Christians prayed and asked God what to do, that if we realize now that the "Jesus" Paul thought was Jesus could not possibly be the true Jesus by the criteria Jesus gave in Matt 24 (see our discussion link), then we should likely excise and remove Paul's epistles, even though there are many edifying things in those epistles.

The emphasis of Yahweh speaking about Jesus from heaven twice -- once at the baptism and once at the transfiguration of Jesus -- was to "Listen to Him" "Obey Him." Yahweh was referring to Jesus -- the one known to the 12, not the one known to Paul. To obey that instruction from Yahweh, I think we must remove Paul from canon or put him in a separate section with a Preface identifying this modern realization of an overwhelming consensus among true Christians that finally we must reject Paul and turn back to Christ. (That day is fast approaching, I sense.) Otherwise, Paul's words clearly interfere with the acceptance of Jesus' message on salvation, morals, and God Himself.

I hope that helps.