Why Does The New Testament Even Exist?

There are those in the academic community who conduct canonical studies who have posed the question: "Why is there a New Testament at all?" Some have made the error that the early church produced the canon as a reaction against false teachers such as Marcion (who was making his own canon) in the second and third centuries A.D. These scholars believe the New Testament canon to be an afterthought to help equip the life of the church.

There are several answers to addressing this very question that can be found in the Scriptures:

First, Jeremiah prophesied that there would be a new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34). The new covenant states: "I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people." It is very important to realize that a covenant had written documentation. If the old covenant had written documentation, and the new covenant is superior to the old covenant, then it would be the case that the new covenant would also have written documentation. We see that Paul describes Himself as a minister of the new covenant in 2 Corinthians 3 where he wants to see God's law written upon the hearts of His people.

Second, the Jews living in the first century A.D. were expecting God to fulfill promises He had made in the old covenant. Israel was still in spiritual exile and needed to return to God. We see in the New Testament that there were many Jews who had these expectations (Luke 2:38; 24:21; Acts 1:6). The Old Testament story was incomplete and needed to be finished. It is very interesting that the Hebrew arrangement of the Old Testament consists of having 1 & 2 Chronicles together as the last book where we see there are genealogies, a hope of a return to the Davidic throne, and returning from exile. Matthew starts off with a genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:1-17), Jesus would be the legal heir to the throne of David (Matthew 1:1,6,17,20), and Jesus is the One who will deliver Israel from spiritual exile (Matthew 1:21). Matthew (along with the other New Testament writers) continues the narrative of God's great plan of redemption.

Third, Jesus commissioned the apostles to be guided by the Holy Spirit into all truth (John 14-16). First, this started out as an oral proclamation, but eventually the apostles (along with other prophets) wrote down epistles unto the congregations that they ministered. These epistles were considered inspired and authoritative (1 Corinthians 14:37; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; 2 Peter 3:15,16; 1 Timothy 5:18; 2 Thessalonians 3:14). The early church received what was known as Scriptures that were on par with the authoritative Old Testament canon (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Since all authority is given to Jesus and since we will be judged by the words of Jesus (the New Testament) in the last day (John 12:48), it stands to reason that we would need the written words of Jesus as a guide to eternal life (Hebrews 1:1-2; 1 John 5:13).



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