Introduction to the New Testament (1915) [Chapter 1]

[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]

The Gospels in General  

(pp.14-36)

A) About the author of the chapter:

Louis Berkhof “graduated from Calvin Theological Seminary in 1900 …

In 1902 he went to Princeton University for two years earning a B.D. degree …

In 1906 he was appointed to the faculty of Calvin Theological Seminary. He assumed the presidency of the seminary in 1931 …” [1]

[1] http://www.calvin.edu/hh/seminary_presidents/semm_pres_berkhof.htm

B) Chapter Summary:

i) The Title of the Gospels

“The  word  εὐανγγέλιον passed  through  three  stages  in  the  history  of  its  use.  In  the  older Greek  authors  it  signified  a  reward  for  bringing  good  tidings; also,  a  thankoffering  for  good tidings  brought. Next  in  later  Greek  it  indicated  the good  news  itself.  And  finally  it  was  employed  to  denote  the  books  in  which  the  gospel  of  Jesus  Christ  is  presented historic  form. It  is used  very  extensively  in  the  New  Testament,  and  always  in  the  second  sense,  signifying  the good  news  of  God,  the  message  of  salvation.”[1]

“The  first  trace  of  the  word  as  indicating  a  written  gospel  is  found  in  the  didache [15:3], the  Teaching  of  the  Twelve  Apostles,  discovered  in  1873  and  in  all  probability  composed between  the  years  90  and  100  A.  D …

The  plural euanggelia,  signifying  the  four  Gospels,  is  first  found  in  Justin  Martyr,  about  152  A.  D.”[2]

ii) The Number of Gospels Recognised by the Early Church

“In  all  probability  the  earliest  evidence  that  the  Church  of  the  first  ages  accepted  the  four  Gospels  that we  now  possess  as  canonic,  is  furnished  by  the  Peshito,  which  most  likey  dates  from  the first  half  of  the  second  century.”[3]

“Another  early  witness  is  found  in  the  Muratorian  Fragment,  a  mutilated  work  of  which  the real  character  cannot  now  be  determined,  and  that  was  probably  written  about  170  A.  D.”[4]

“An  important  witness,  really  the  first  one  to  a  fourfold Gospel,  i.  e.  to  a  Gospel  that  is  four  and  yet  is  one,  is  Tatian,  the  Assyrian.  His  Diatessaron was  the  first  harmony  of  the  Gospels.  The  exact  date  of  its  composition  is  not  known;  the meaning  of  its  name  is  obviously  [the  Gospel  ]by  the  Four.”[5]

“In  one  of  his [i.e. Irenaeus (c. 120-200)] books  he  has  a  long  chapter  entitled:  “Proofs  that  there  can  be  neither  more  nor fewer  than  four  Evangelists.” Looking  at  the  Gospels  as  a  unit,  he  called  them  “the  Gospel with  four  Faces.””[6]

“Another  significant  testimony  is  that  of  Origin,  the  great teacher  of  Alexandria  of  whom  Eusebius  records  that  in  the  first  book  of  his  commentaries on  the  Gospel  of  Matthew  he  asserts  that  he  knows  of  only  four  Gospels,  as  follows:  “I  have learnt  by  tradition  concerning  the  four  Gospels,  which  alone  are  uncontroverted  in  the Church  of  God  spread  under  heaven,  that  according  to  Matthew,  who  was  once  a  publican but  afterwards  an  apostle  of  Jesus  Christ,  was  written  first;  .  .  .  that  according  to  Mark  second; .  .  .  that  according  to  Luke  third;  .  .  .  that  according  to  John  last  of  all.””[7]

“Church  History  VI, 25. Eusebius  himself,  who  was  the  first  historian  of  the  Christian  Church,  in  giving  a  catalogue of  the  New  Testament  writings,  says:  “First  then  we  must  place  the  holy  quaternion  of  the Gospels.””[8]

iii) The Literary Character of the Gospels

“The  Gospels  have  a  literary  character  all  their  own;  they  are  sui  generis. There  is  not another  book  or  group  of  books  in  the  Bible  to  which  they  can  be  compared.  They  are  four and  yet  one  in  a  very  essential  sense;  they  express  four  sides  of  the  one  εὐαγγέλιον of  Jesus Christ.”[9]

“The  Gospels  are  not  histories  of  the  life  of  Christ,  nor  do  they, taken  together,  form  one  history …

They  are  four  pen-pictures,  or  better,  a  four  fold  portraiture  of  the  Saviour  a  fourfold  representation  of  the apostolic  κήρυγμα;  fourfold  witness  regarding  our  Lord.”[10]

“Each  one  of  them  gives  us  a  certain  view  of  the  Lord,  and  only the  four  taken  together  present  to  us  his  perfect  likeness,  revealing  him  as  the  Saviour  of  the world.”[11]

“Matthew  wrote  for  the  Jews  and characterized  Christ  as  the  great  King  of  the  house  of  David.  Mark  composed  his  Gospel for  the  Romans  and  pictured  the  Saviour  as  the  mighty  Worker,  triumphing  over  sin  and evil.  Luke  in  writing  his  Gospel  had  in  mind  the  needs  of  the  Greeks  and  portrayed  Christ as  the  perfect  man,  the  universal  Saviour.  And  John,  composing  his  Gospel  for  those  who already  had  a  saving  knowledge  of  the  Lord  and  stood  in  need  of  a  more  profound  understanding  of  the  essential  character  of  Jesus,  emphasized  the  divinity  of  Christ,  the  glory  that was  manifested  in  his  works.”[12]

Continue reading “Introduction to the New Testament (1915) [Chapter 1]”

Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe (2010) [Chapter 2 – Part 2]

[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]

Revelation: God Speaks

(Part 2: pp.47-64)

A) About the author(s):

Mark Driscoll has a Master of Arts degree in exegetical theology from Western Seminary. He was the founding and preaching pastor of Mars Hill Church, and former president of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network

Gerry Breshears is a Professor of Theology at Western Seminary and earned his PhD in Systematic Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary.

B) Chapter Summary:

iv) Who wrote the Bible?

“The human authors of the Bible include kings, peasants, philosophers, fishermen, poets, statesmen, a doctor, and scholars. The books of the Bible cover history, sermons, letters, songs, and love letters. There are geographical surveys, architectural specifications, travel diaries, population statistics, family trees, inventories, and numerous legal documents.”[1]

“People who were providentially prepared by God, and motivated and superintended by the Holy Spirit, spoke and wrote according to their own personalities and circumstances in such a way that their words are the very Word of God. God’s supernatural guidance of the writers and their situations enabled them to receive and communicate all God would have us know for his glory and our salvation.

We call this divine inspiration. Putting it a bit more technically, the writings themselves have the quality of being God-breathed. It is not the authors or the process that is inspired, but the writings.”[2]

“The belief that God wrote Scripture in concert with human authors whom he inspired to perfectly record his words is called verbal (the very words of the Bible) plenary (every part of the Bible) inspiration (are God-breathed revelation). Very simply, this means that God the Holy Spirit inspired not just the thoughts of Scripture but also the very details and exact words that were perfectly recorded for us as Scripture. When we say verbal, we believe that the very words are inspired and important, chosen by God, so every word does matter … When we say plenary, we mean there are no parts of the Bible we don’t believe, don’t like, or won’t teach or preach or obey.”[3]

See 2 Tim. 3:16–17; 2 Pet. 1:19–21.

“The biblical authors knew they were writing Holy Scripture.”[4]

See 1 Cor. 14:37; 1 Tim. 5:18; 2 Pet. 3:15–16.

[1] pp.47-48

[2] p.48

[3] pp.48-49

[4] p.50

Continue reading “Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe (2010) [Chapter 2 – Part 2]”