Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Musing about the New Testament

People sometimes wonder whether ‘The New Testament’ is a New Testament concept. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts in the comments. But I’ve been musing on this.

The basic shape of the New Testament as a Trinitarian text oriented around the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the preaching of his apostles is laid out in John 14.26: ‘the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything [i.e. inspire the apostolic output], and remind you of all that I have said to you [i.e. inspire the euaggelic output].’

Hebrews 2.3b-4 offers a bit more (including a Trinitarian framework) in describing our ‘so great salvation’ as: a) declared through the Lord [i.e. represented in the Gospels]; b) attested by those who heard him [i.e. represented in the epistles]; and c) confirmed by God’s miraculous accompanying testimony [i.e. the book of Acts].

Galatians 2.9 in speaking of the pillar apostles alongside Paul fills in some of the details of the apostolic output as originating in James, Peter, John, and Paul (as many in the early church recognised). The four missions associated with these four pillars may also explain the four-fold gospel as representing (more or less?) the gospel teaching associated with each of the pillars (James - Matthew; Peter - Mark; John - John; Paul - Luke) [almost with E.E. Ellis].


  1. Dr. Head,
    It seems that the author of 1st Peter, which I take as Peter, certainly seems to think the New Testament is a New Testament concept. He attributes this salvation that the prophets were looking for to the Gospel which the hearers received. The Gospel about Jesus which was proclaimed from heaven by the Holy Spirit. 1st Peter 1:10-12. As Trinitarian as it gets!


  2. 2 Peter 3:2 seems to indicate two bodies of authoritative writings [i.e. OT & NT];
    "that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles"

    Paul also seems to allude to the Old Testament and New writings in 2 Corinthians 3:6, 14;
    "our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant . . . For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains uplifted . . ."
    The apostles definitely recognized that they were part of a new plan of God that included their own apostolic authority and body of writings.

    1. Sorry, that should have read; "Paul also seems to allude to the Old Testament and New Testament writings"

  3. I like the two scriptures Mr. Mitchell uses to describe the Christian faith.

    As to the "Trinitarian" description, that imposes a doctrinal burden not found in original Christianity. Evangelical Christian Kermit Zarley (himself a former Trinitarian) has written many articles on the subject.

  4. I'm interested in your parenthetical interpretation of John 14:26 as being primarily a promise that the Holy Spirit would work in a special way in the lives of the Apostles to inspire a special apostolic output. I recently read Luther on this verse, and he takes this verse as a promise to Christians of all times that the Holy Spirit would bring people to the Christian faith and keep them in the Christian faith by means of the Word. I'm curious to hear how others have taken this verse, whether a promise pertaining to the Apostles specifically or a promise to all Christians generally.

    1. 1 John Chapter 2 (ESV) speaks to that question -- the teaching from the Holy Spirit was not and is not restricted to the Apostles:

      vs. 20 "But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge."
      vs. 27 "But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him."

  5. I've always assumed we get the phrases Old Covenant / Testament and New Covenant / Testament from Hebrews 8.