New Covenant Ways – BT13c: What value are the New Testament writings for Christians?
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I’ve searched high and low through every stated purpose by the New Testament writers, even every word of every NT writing, and can’t find even a hint that Jesus or any of the NT writers intended for their sayings or writings to be copied, collected, systematically organized, or distributed to all Christians for all ages to come as some form of “NEW graphe scripture” to be included with the palaios “old, antiquated, worn-out, useless” graphe scripture into anything resembling a “holy bible.”
As important as Jesus was as a rabbi teacher, you never see Him ask for anything to be written down or copied! This was and still is unheard of with any important Jewish rabbi, for every “sound saying” of theirs was and is carefully written down by grammateus scribes or professional writers and copiers of gramma writings collected in graphe scripture, who were also ‘expert’ interpreters and teachers of it, and these were stored in books to be constantly referenced to in all subsequent teaching and writing. Yet, there is absolutely no mention of Jesus traveling with scribes!
Instead you see Jesus quieting their fears of not having His teaching recorded for quick access: “The Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say” (a), and “If I do not go away, the Parakletos (b) will not come to you. B ut if I go, I will send Him to you. . . When the Spirit of/belonging-to The Truth comes, He will guide you into ALL The Truth” (d). There is absolutely no hint that ANY of them were going to be “respected teachers,” the meaning of “rabbi,” or scribes to write down and copy Christ’s words for subsequent generations. All of the gospel accounts of Christ were written 37-77 years after Christ died (e)! Remember, Jesus explicitly told them: “You are absolutely not to be called ‘rabbi’ for One is your Teacher and/coupled you are ALL brethren” (f). See Teachers and Teaching.
<Notes> a) Luke 12:12, b) ‘Close-beside’ caller, summoner, or inviter; helper, succorer, or assistant; encouraging teacher, counselor, comforter, or consoler; defense-attorney, judicial-advocate, or court-intercessor, c) “The Truth” is shorthand throughout the NT for Jesus: John 1:17, 14:6, 8:30-32 – see The Truth page, d) John 16:6-7, 13, e) Mark around 70 AD, Matthew and Luke around 80-90 AD, John 90-110 AD, f) Matthew 23:8 – see Teach One Another – BT10.
The notion that Christians were going to refer to “holy gramma writings” grapho written by more New Testament “rabbis” or scribes to spread the gospel logos message of The Truth did NOT come into the Church until 150-250 years after Jesus, the apostles and all their disciples were long dead! If you carefully research Church history, you will see that ALL of these notions are simply ever-evolving “traditions of men,” just as Jesus criticized the Jews for doing (a), just as the NT writers warned Christians against (b)! All these Catholic Church inventions come as a result of becoming legalistic, controlling people for power and financial gain, after they had fallen away from the Holy Spirit and the miraculous. Without relationship you end up with religion! <Notes> a) Matthew 15:3, 6; Mark 7:8-9, 13, b) Colossians 2:8.
Instead you see Jesus consistently define who His sheep are, not as readers but as listeners: “They ongoingly, experientially, relationally ginosko know Me, in the same way as the Father ongoingly, experientially, relationally ginosko knows Me and I ongoingly, experientially, relationally ginosko know the Father” (a), but not by reading and studying scripture! Jesus tells how: “They shall actually akouo hear/listen-to-understand/know My Voice. . . My sheep shall actually akouo hear/listen-to-understand/know My Voice, and/coupled I ongoingly, experientially, relationally ginosko know them, and/coupled they ongoingly follow Me” (b). The Greek for “Voice” is phone – exactly what we listen to others on! You don’t read a phone! J esus isn’t text messaging us! Nor is Jesus grapho writing us gramma writings or personal epistles, nor asking anybody to do this for Him! Contrary to what Billy Graham said, the bible is NOT “God’s love letter to us.” <Notes> a) John 10:14-15, b) vv. 16, 27.
Remember that the NT says that NOW Christians “are an epistle from Christ delivered by us, written absolutely in fact NOT by the means of ink but by the means of the Spirit of the living God, absolutely in fact not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (a) – see Logos Word of God – BT20. This is a direct stab by Paul at the 10 commandments and the follow-up writings of the entire OT, but especially the 97.4% that is based on the “the Law of sin and death” – see Logos Word of God – BT5a. The NT “Great News” of the gospel is the solution to the really “bad news” of most of the OT. Yet, we’ve seen there is a thin 2.6% thread of prophetic hope for the Jews to hold to, but only UNTIL the coming of the Messiah and the gospel logos message (b) – see Logos Word of God – BT6. I guess a lot of Christians simply don’t understand what “UNTIL” means! All through this study you will see the word “UNTIL” emphasized to help you get the point! <Notes> a) 2 Corinthians 3:3, b) Matthew 11:13; Luke 16:16.
I believe many Christians and churches forget why any OT “sacred gramma writings” came into being in the first place. They were not God’s initial plan or “perfect will” Plan A but a reaction or “permissible will” Plan B to the Jew’s disobedience. God’s “perfect will” Plan A was for ALL the Jewish people to meet Him on the mountain, and told Moses this, so He could teach them ALL directly through experiential, relational ginosko knowing of Him, which would then have resulted in genuine, experiential, relational epignosis knowledge. However, out of fear or maybe guilt for possible exposure of sin in God’s holy presence, they assigned Moses to communicate with God directly and then to relay the information to them. The result of their disobedience birthed religion – the ministry of disseminated/distributed gnosis info-knowledge about God and His will from “the greatest to the least” through a top-down hierarchy of teachers – read the context of Exodus 20:19.
However, Paul tells Christians “Now, however, we already have been katargeo thrown-down-to-be-released-due-to-the-inactive-uselessness-of from the Law, already having died to that which we were bound to, in order for us to minister/serve by the means of the kainotes NEWness (a) of the Spirit and/coupled/namely absolutely in fact NOT by the means of the paliotes oldness (b) of [singular] gramma writing” (c). <Notes> a) from kainos: fresh, completely-different-in-kind, unprecedented, sharing nothing with its predecessors, unique, and superior, b) from palaios: old, antiquated, worn-out, useless, c) Romans 7:6.
If this is the case, why in the world would God have us now serve Him by following a new set of “holy gramma writings” and collect these portions into more graphe scripture? It makes absolutely no sense! I hear people say that Paul is just talking negatively about the Law ‘portion of’ scripture, which is the case for Romans 2:27, 29, or “the [singular] old covenant gramma writing that apokteino kills-to-death” in 2 Corinthians 3:6-7, but we have to remember that 97.4% of the OT is based on the old covenant Law, and also that Jesus and the NT writers referred to all ‘portions of’ the OT as “the Law,” as Jews today do – see Logos Word of God – BT5a. But in all these cases, Paul is pitting the seen gramma writing(s) against the unseen Spirit as the basis from which God’s people will serve/minister from. The first requires reading and study like the scribes and Pharisees did, but the second requires watching and listening in proseuche conversational-prayer like all prophets have to in order to learn from God directly!
Why would God perpetuate the result of the Jew’s disobedience in Exodus 20:19 above, which is the dissemination of gramma writings of graphe scripture, by continuing these into the completely-different-in-kind chadash/kainos New Everlasting Covenant? How is this continuance of the palaios “old, antiquated, worn-out, useless” then defined as chadash/kainos “fresh, completely-different-in-kind, unprecedented, sharing nothing with its predecessors, unique, and superior?” Or would God instead find a way to return to His original “perfect will” (Plan A) after man completely failed to accomplish God’s “permissible will” (Plan B)? That is exactly what the completely-different-in-kind New Covenant promises so clearly in Hebrews 8:11 citing Jeremiah 31:34, “ou absolutely not in fact, me absolutely not in possibility, shall each [of His people] teach his neighbor (Jew or Gentile proselyte) and each his brother (family) to ‘definitively/wholly, experientially, relationally ginosko know the Lord,’ for they (His people) shall actually ALL eido mentally ‘see’ to perceive/know Me, from the least to the greatest.” Can you see how God redefines this “experientially, relationally ginosko knowing of the Lord” through teaching gramma writings of graphe scripture to NOW “eido mentally ‘seeing’ to perceive/know Me,” which is always the term used for prophetic-visionary knowledge?
Consequently, this is the exact emphasis we see in the NT: God’s return to His “perfect will” Plan A for directly teaching by the means of His Holy Spirit, not just to 17 OT Prophets over 365 years from Jonah 790 BC to Malachi 425 BC, but to ALL of His people as “The One Teacher” (a) to “guide you into ALL The Truth” (b), so that “In these last days it shall actually be…that I will pour out My Spirit on ALL flesh…[further qualified as] your sons and daughters shall actually prophecy, . . . shall actually envision visions . . . shall actually dream dreams . . . [and finally qualified as] – that is, on My men and women servants . . . I will pour out My Spirit, and they shall actually prophecy” (c), and “the Spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus” (d), for “the promised grace-gift of the Holy Spirit is for you, your children, and ALL those far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to Himself” (e). Doesn’t that include you? <Notes> a) Matthew 23:8 – see Teach One Another – BT10, b) John 16:13, c) Acts 2:17-18, d) Revelation 19:10, e) Acts 2:38-39.
Therefore the apostle John was confident: “You’all have been anointed by the Holy One so you’all ALL eido mentally ‘see’ to perceive/know” or a more likely variant reading says, “you’all eido mentally ‘see’ to perceive/know ALL things” (a), and since “His anointing teaches you’all about EVERYTHING, you’all have absolutely in fact no need that anyone should teach you” (b). These verses are the exact reason many clergymen in the Catholic Church didn’t want John’s writings included in the NT canon! They had authoritative power and a paid livelihood being “the bishop-teacher-leaders” of the Church, and so this directly threatened them! <Notes> a) 1 John 2:20, b) 1 John 2:27.
But this is the same John who didn’t even bother writing down “The Gospel by John” until 57-77 years after the Christ’s death, and then pointed out that he could have written volumes about what Jesus said and did (a). The fact he didn’t should tell you something of the importance of such writings! The purpose of what little he did write wasn’t to give us something to preserve, copy, study, and base doctrine from! It was simply for his immediate readers “to have trusting-relying-faith that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by having trusting-relying-faith they may have zoe genuine-life everlasting in His name/authority” (b). Even the very records of “The Great Commission” of the Church by Jesus imply that God would never stop “confirming the gospel logos message with signs, wonders, miracles, and the Holy Spirit’s grace-gifts” (c), just as the early Christians proseuchomai conversationally-prayed God would do to bear witness/testify to their emboldened proclamation (d), which God was ever so happy to do (e). <Notes> a) John 21:25, b) John 20:30-31, c) Mark 16:17-20, d) Acts 4:23-31, e) Hebrews 2:4.
The term “graphe scripture” was never applied to anything but the collection of OT gramma writings by any Jew or Christian church leader until 208 AD, when in desperation in argumentation against the Monarchian Praxeas and Bishop Marcion of Sinope, who the Catholic Church had branded as heretics, the Latin theologian Tertullian first applied this term “graphe scripture” to a very loose collection of Christian writings at that time, and only some of these eventually ended up in the New Testament. Boy, that sure isn’t a good reason to call the NT “scripture!” And we’ve already seen that to make 2 Peter 3:15-16 says that Paul’s writings are the “other graphe scriptures” is the very “distorting and twisting” condemned by Peter of “hard to understand” passages in both prophetic ‘portions of’ scriptures primarily in Peter’s mind, but also the “other/different graphe scriptures,” that is, the non-prophetic ‘portions of’ such as the Law, historical Writings, and Psalms that comprise the OT. The “distorters and twisters” did it with every ‘portion of’ scripture and now also with Paul’s writings about the 2nd coming of Christ! But now they are doing it by saying Paul’s writings are graphe scripture! This is called eisegesis, not exegesis – see Logos Word of God – BT11!
It wasn’t until around 300 AD that we even have anybody seriously interested in determining the NT canon or “list of official books,” but especially after Emperor Constantine decriminalized Christianity in 313 AD, the writing of Church History by Eusebius in 330 AD, Constantine’s First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, and Constantine’s commissioning of 50 bibles for his Church of Constantinople in 331 AD. It wasn’t until the Council of Laodicea, made up of 30 clergymen in 363 AD, did they “set out to judge which books were to be read aloud in churches,” which excluded Revelation. In 367 AD, Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria gave us the current 27 book canon of the NT. One guy! Other canon lists that came after disagreed. It took Pope Damasus I in 383 AD to fix the canon in the Roman Catholic Church. Still there were many challenges to it. The Eastern Church, “had a weaker feeling for the necessity of making a sharp delineation with regard to the canon. Similarly the canons of the Syriac, Armenian, Georgian, Egyptian Coptic, and Ethiopian Churches all have minor differences.” Again, if you really dig into this, you will see that there were many political and financial motivations at work here, and there was little agreement that wasn’t somehow forced upon the Church. Many manuscript experts, historians, theologians, and segments of Judaism and the Christian Church still disagree as to exactly what belongs in the bible – check out Wikipedia’s “Biblical Canon” and also “Development of the New Testament Canon.”
According to www.EarlyChristianWritings.com, there were at least 167 early Christian writings that millions of Christians enjoyed reading, but never considered as a “bible” for the first 200 years, and many of the early Church Fathers didn’t even agree on what NT books were “authoritative.” Additionally, 49 more writings came in the next 100 years. And these are just the ones we have found! For example, Clemant of Rome from 88-99 AD, 1st apostolic father of the Church, “had some letters of Paul’s and some form of the “words of Jesus,” but while he valued these highly, he did not refer to them as graphe ‘scripture,’ a term he reserved for the Septuagint.” Furthermore, “Adolf von Harnack argued that Bishop Marcion of Sinope viewed the church at this time of 130-140 AD as largely an Old Testament church, claiming the theology of the Old Testament was incompatible with the teaching of Jesus regarding God and morality. It was a Church without a firmly established New Testament canon, so he created a definite group of books which he regarded as fully authoritative, displacing all others. The Church gradually formulated its New Testament canon in response to the challenge posed by Marcion.” Justin Martyr, whose writings span the period from 145 to 163 AD, “mentions the ‘memoirs of the apostles’, which Christians called ‘gospels’ and which were regarded as on par with the Old Testament.” We see Irenaeus by 180 AD arguing for 4 gospels even though Tatian’s Diatassaron showed “a powerful indication that the fourfold Gospel contemporaneously sponsored by Irenaeus was not broadly, let alone universally, recognized.” Irenaeus only mentions 21 of 27 NT books, debates the inclusion of 1 Clement, Polycarps’ Epistle, and Shepherd of Hermas that others widely accepted. This is just a sampling of the early Church’s confusion as to what they considered “authoritative” let alone going to the extreme and calling it “graphe scripture,” which wasn’t until 208 AD by Tertullian.
This isn’t even dealing with the many debates about the integrity of the Hebrew and Greek text – see Bible Info and Wikipedia’s “Textual Variants in the New Testament.” If you think everybody agrees what the actual text of the New Testament is, guess again! There are “around 400,000 textual variants of the NT, a staggering number when coupled with the fact that there are only 138,000 words in the Greek NT, meaning there are almost 3 variants per word. However, less than 4000 (2.8% of the NT) have a good chance of being authentic and changing the meaning of the text,” writes scholar Tim Barnett 5/24/2016. But what they don’t tell you is that many of these passages affect Christian doctrine significantly! True, that 70% of all variants are easily-detected spelling differences that don’t alter the text. Other variants are legitimate spelling differences but again don’t change the meaning. The tricky part is the scholar’s judgment calls saying that other variants “do change the meaning of the text, but they could not possibly be in the original.” If you dig down, you will find many scholars still debating these passages, and new manuscript discoveries could unravel all their assumptions, as they have in the past! I’ve actually seen so many verses hinge on 1 word that I find that number 4000 to be low, and you can find plenty of scholars that agree! There are also 3,415 languages the bible is translated into and numerous versions within each of these, even 900 English bibles. If you don’t think much is “lost or modified in translation” you need to compare them – see Wikipedia’s “List of English Bible translations” and at www.biblegateway.com I last counted 63 NT versions and I’ve seen radical differences in meaning in so many passages! The idea of building doctrine from any text other than the original Greek and Hebrew can only be riddled with error!
Furthermore, it wasn’t until 1611 when the Protestant King James decided to call the bible a “Holy Bible” though the idea of biblia sacra “sacred or holy books” or a biblia “bible” for short was first coined in the Middle Ages (465 – 1500 AD) by a Latin Catholic theologian. However, it wasn’t until 1611 that King James decided to call the OT and NT collection “The Holy Bible.” One king gets to make this decision for everybody!
The more you dive into this, the more you realize that only “wise and learned/understanding” men can even start to scratch the surface of making any sense from all this – see Bible Info. This certainly can’t be God’s plan for knowing Him or His will? Is this a perfect God’s “perfect will” (Plan A) or imperfect man’s attempts to get around God’s “perfect will” which then God “permits?”
As Christian musicians, are we going to believe what the NT says about the OT’s limited use to prepare Jews to be converted to Christ because it is palaios “old, antiquated, worn-out, and now useless,” and since then we have “the One Teacher” Holy Spirit? Will we believe Jesus and the NT writers that they never envisioned more “NEW scriptures” because they spoke to specific people for specific reasons, like warnings and to simply build trusting-relying-faith, not create works of dogma or apologetics to be collected, especially when it turns out this idea of a New Testament was a late-coming, evolutionary fabrication over hundreds of years of powerful Catholic Church leaders trying to gain control of people, and to win arguments against the Jews and all those they label at the time as “heretics.” With at least 4000 significant NT textual variants and ongoing debate over what’s even supposed to be in the NT canon, not to mention the OT text and canon that is a huge ball of wax, are we going to perpetuate “traditions of the elders or fathers” of the Church just like the Jews did, which Jesus constantly criticized, and even allow the decisions of earthly kings decide what we consider authoritative? There is no NT discussion about writing, reading, copying, studying, teaching, or debating NT writings like the scribes and Pharisees did of the OT. If fact, the NT looks down on this OT practice! The NT emphasis is NOW on seeing and hearing Jesus’ Voice by revelation of the Holy Spirit.
Christians are NOW the writings of God because Jesus is NOW the “living, active logos Word of God” living in Christians by the Holy Spirit. God writes His “only 2 commandments of trusting-relying-faith and unconditional-love” on our hearts, NOW giving us discernment between good and evil, and this is absolutely not asking us to read anything, or “that any man teach you because you have the anointing that teaches you all things, especially to meno abide/remain in Christ.” See A 11-21-2021 Vision about Meno abiding. Let’s not forget the New Covenant distinctive that “ou absolutely not in fact, me absolutely not in possibility, shall each [of God’s people] teach his neighbor (Jew or Gentile proselyte) and each his brother (family) to ‘definitively/wholly, experientially, relationally ginosko know the Lord,’ for they (His people) shall actually ALL eido mentally ‘see’ to perceive/know Me, from the least to the greatest.” We can’t go back to the WAY of the OT to live the NT!
Let us not forget that the writing down God’s will was not God’s “perfect will” (Plan A) of coming into His presence to learn directly, but his “permissible will” (Plan B) because God’s people disobeyed His desire for intimate-fellowship learning. But Jesus says “Come to Me, take My yoke (harness) of learning upon you, and listen to My Voice” if you want to be His sheep. There is no reading or studying here, but direct meno connection to the Vine of Christ, all that is needed to “produce much fruit.” Don’t we know the radical shift that we are to “minister/serve by the means of the completely-different-in-kind-superior kainotes NEWness of the Spirit and/coupled/namely absolutely in fact NOT by the means of the paliotes old-antiquated-worn out-uselessness” of [singular] gramma writing?” We are supposed to be setting our minds on the things of the Spirit, not things on earth, including writings! We are supposed to be knowing God NOW during the Church age by eido mentally ‘seeing’ to perceive/know Him through prophetic visions and dreams per Acts 2:17-19 and many other verses.
Lord, thank You that “You have kept hidden the secrets of the kingdom from the so-called ‘wise and understanding ones’ and un-hidden them to little children, even the least among us.” There is NOW no more reason to collect, read, study, debate, or even teach biblical writings, whether old or newer in time. However, like Paul, I find myself having to cite so much of the bible to those who practically worship the bible, so they can see that the bible actually points them away from writings to Jesus and His Holy Spirit. The writings were only UNTIL the coming of Christ! Thank You that NOW Jesus is the Logos Word of God and we are Your writings as personal epistles to show Christ to the world. Shine through us by Your indwelling “One is Your Teacher” Holy Spirit. NOW we go to You for everything in proseuche conversational prayer to hear Your Voice and prophetically ‘see’ Your will for us!
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Spiritual Education, Jesus never asked anything to be written down, No New Testament writers stated they wanted their writings to be made scripture, Jesus and the New Testament says the Holy Spirit would continue to teach Christians as the One teacher, none of us to be called teachers, the idea of collecting writings into New scripture came hundreds of years later, Jesus defines Christians as those who hear His voice not read writings about Him, Christians are now the writings of God, God writes on Human hearts by His Spirit not scrolls with ink, Direct teaching was always God’s Perfect Will Plan A, Writings was God’s Permissible Will Plan B due to Israel’s disobedience, Now we serve God solely by the Spirit NOT by writings, The anointing of the Spirit eliminates human teachers, No Christian bible until 325 AD