Jesus promised His apostles that the Holy Spirit would come to their aid and bring to their remembrance all the things which He had taught them (John 14:26). He declared that the Holy Spirit would guide the apostles into all truth (John 16:13). Before He left this earth, Jesus promised the apostles that the Holy Spirit would descend on them and endow them with power (Luke 24:49). He described this endowment with power as the baptism of the Holy Ghost which would allow them to be witnesses for Him to the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:5).
On the first Pentecost after the resurrection of our Lord, in fulfillment of
the promise of Christ to the apostles, the Holy Spirit descended upon the Twelve,
appearing as a manifestation of cloven tongues of fire, and gave each of the apostles
the ability to speak in an unlearned foreign tongues or language (Acts 2:1-
The apostles claimed to be thus guided by the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:16ff; et.
al). This baptism of the Holy Spirit was unique to the apostles, being promised
only to them (2:14; and see above) and allowing only them to pass miraculous gifts
on to those upon whom they had laid their hands (Acts 8:18). Even those who had
miraculous gifts were not able to give this gift to others, thus Philip, though he
had miraculous endowments, needed the apostles to bestow this miraculous power upon
the Samaritans (Acts 8:14-
Being thus endowed, the apostles and other first century Christians who received
the gift of the Holy Ghost through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, were able
to speak with divine sanction and authority and perform miracles confirming the words
which they spoke (Mark 16:19,20; Heb. 2:1-
The apostle Paul wrote fourteen of the twenty-
Paul wrote an epistle addressed to the “churches of Galatia,” which would
have included at least the churches in Lystra, Derbe, Iconium, and Antioch in Pisidia.
In this letter Paul expresses dismay that the Christians in these cities were so
quickly moving away from the original form of doctrine which he had delivered to
them, into following a changed, perverted gospel (1:6-
Furthermore, what he was now commanding them to help preserve, was precisely what the other apostles had already been teaching in other parts of the world, for he now “preached the faith which he once destroyed” (1:23). Paul wanted all of these churches to clearly understand that they were amenable to what he wrote in this epistle.
As an apostle of Jesus Christ, Paul was concerned about the church at Laodicea, at Colosae, about all those who had not even seen his face (Co. 2:1). Indeed, the care of all the churches fell upon his shoulders (II Cor. 11:28). To the church at Colosae, Paul wrote: “And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea” (Col. 4:16). This was not just a one time, unique arrangement. Paul stressed that he taught the very same thing in every church everywhere (I Cor. 4:17). In writing to the church of Christ at Thessalonica, Paul charged that “this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren” (I Thes. 5:27). Certainly, Paul believed that what he taught, whether spoken or in writing, constituted a body of doctrine that was universally authoritative and completely binding.
Paul wrote to the brethren at Ephesus and expected that his words would be
understood (Eph. 3:3,4) and that this knowledge would be passed on and given to all
(3:9). Paul wrote to the brethren at Phillipi stating that what he had told them
in some form, he was telling them again because it was safe, i.e., it was important
that these things which he wrote be clearly understood (Phil. 3:1). It was not unusual
for the apostles to write letters to the churches (Acts 15:23; II Cor. 10:9-
Paul told the young gospel preacher Timothy that what he wrote to him was to be used as an authoritative guide for conduct in the Lord’s church (I Tim. 3:14,15). Further demonstrating that the scripture that we have in our New Testament is what first century Christians accepted as inspired and authoritative is the fact that in his letter to Timothy (I Tim. 5:18) Paul quotes from the gospel accounts of Luke (10:7) and/or Matthew (10:10) and describes them as “scripture.” So by the time Paul wrote to Timothy the second time near the end of his life, between 65 and 67 A.D., the gospel accounts of Matthew and Luke were accepted as scripture and authoritative as far away as Asia minor. Paul expected that what he had taught Timothy was to be faithfully taught to other teachers who could in turn teach the same things to others (II Tim. 2:2). It was ever so important that the teaching remain pure and uncorrupted in transmission. So important was this written body of doctrine that Paul taught Timothy to study, rightly dividing, handle aright, the word of God to show himself approved before God (II Tim. 2:15). Paul made it abundantly clear that all scripture is inspired of God (II Tim. 3:16,17).
Paul requested that Timothy bring him the “books and parchments” (II Tim. 4:13).
What these were is not known. There are many suggestions: classical writings, the
Hebrew scriptures, the Septuagint, his own writings, the writings of other inspired
men. Could it be they were a collection of his own writings, and perhaps possibly
the writings of other inspired authors, which he wanted to prepare for inclusion
in the canon of the New Testament before his impending death (II Tim. 4:6-
Paul wrote to Philemon about one Onesimus and, as usual, signed the letter with his own hand (19,21). This epistle covers very important doctrinal issues enveloped in a letter addressing matters of personal concern.
In the book of Hebrews Paul writes that we are under a new covenant. The first
covenant was codified in written form. Why should we not expect the second to be
written? James, the half brother of our Lord, wrote an epistle that was addressed
to Hebrew Christians the world over (James 1:1). James describes how that we are
to look into the perfect law of liberty, the word, and be not forgetful hearers but
doers of the work and only then shall we be blessed (James 1:21-
Likewise, Peter wrote to Christian Jews who were dispersed across the Roman world. Peter, one of the twelve apostles who lived with Jesus for three years and knew Him like few others could, nevertheless describes the writings of Paul, who was a much later convert to Christ, as Scripture, on par with the Old Testament.
And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved
brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As
also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things
hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they
do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction (II Peter 3:15,16 -
Obviously, then, by the mid 60's, Paul’s epistles were already understood to be authoritative and binding and already being circulated throughout the brotherhood enough to be understood by the Jewish Christians scattered throughout the Roman empire who read Peter’s letter.
The New Testament makes it extremely clear: these first century writings of
the apostles of Christ were both inspired and authoritative. As noted above, Jesus
had already told His apostles that they would be guided into all truth (John 14:26;
John 16:13). Furthermore, Jesus told them after His resurrection that, being baptized
in the Holy Spirit, they would be empowered to become His witnesses in all the earth
(Acts 1:8). Within a little over a month, the Holy Spirit descended upon them and
equipped them for the task of being ambassadors for Christ to the world (Acts 2:
The apostle Paul described how that the very words they spoke were inspired of God:
For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?
even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received,
not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the
things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the
words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual
things with spiritual (I Cor. 2:11-
The New Testament scriptures were given by the inspiration of God and are profitable
for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (II Tim.
3:16,17). They were delivered from heaven and recorded by sincere men and compiled
with the intention that they should be the only standard by which Christians live
their lives. It was, indeed, accepted by Christians in the first century as the