Some Other Writers of the New Testament
[Illustration: (drop cap L) Ancient engraving of man reading scroll]

Let us now look at the rest of the books which make up the New Testament. In the days when Paul preached at Athens, the old capital of Greece, much of the ancient splendour and power of the Greek people had passed away, for the Romans had conquered their country, and they were no longer a free nation.

Yet, although the Greeks had been forced to yield to Rome, their conquerors knew that the Grecian scholars and artists were far better educated and more highly gifted than themselves, and Greek statues and writings had therefore become the fashion throughout the Roman Empire. Indeed, many of the Greek sculptors and authors are remembered and admired to this day. Homer, the greatest Greek poet, who lived about a thousand years B.C., is still world famous.

Homer's best-known poem[1] is about a terrible war which took place between the Greeks and the Trojans. Its words are noble, and its descriptions very clever, but although all must admire the beauty of the lines, the poem produces a dismal and depressing effect.

The picture it gives of the old heathen religion is terrible, for Homer described the 'gods' and 'goddesses' in whom he believed as being far more cruel and unjust than the worst men and women of his time. According to his ideas, Jupiter, Diana, Apollo, Mars, and the rest came down to earth and took part in the battle.

In vain did the great hero, Hector, fight his bravest; in vain did he sacrifice himself, and strive to make up for the wrong-doing of his brother; he failed utterly, for Homer tells us that he was hated by some of the 'gods' for no fault of his own, and so they doomed him to destruction, and guided the hand of the man who slew him. How little those clever Greeks had been able to discover of the mercy and justice of God!

But although the men of this great nation knew nothing of our wise and loving Heavenly Father, He knew and loved them every one, and as we have seen, He called a Greek Christian author to help Him in the wonderful work of writing the Bible.

In addition to the story of our Saviour's life this Greek author, St. Luke, also wrote a book about a war -- a war that was to become world-wide -- the war against sin and the Devil, and the name of this second book is the 'Acts of the Apostles.'

In all this wonderful Bible of ours there is no Book more wonderful than the 'Book of the Acts.' Have you ever stopped to think what a terrible gap there would be in the history of God's dealings with the world had the 'Acts' never been written?

The Apostle Paul's life would be almost a blank. Stephen's victorious death would be all unknown to us. Above all, the story of our Saviour's ascension into Heaven, and the marvellous fulfilment of His promises in the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, would have been left untold.

The Book of the Acts stands alone.

There are four Gospels -- written from four different points of view, but of the four writers, Luke, the Greek, was the only one who wrote a sequel and showed the results which our Saviour's Life, and Death, and Resurrection produced at once in the world.

The marvellous accuracy of St. Luke and his keen observation become every year more striking as fresh discoveries in the lands of which he wrote show how true he is in the tiniest detail; while his modesty is equally remarkable, for only by carefully noticing when he says 'we' and when 'they' can we discover when he shared St. Paul's dangers and trials.


'Only Luke is with me' (2 Timothy iv.11) wrote the Apostle from his Roman prison. The beloved physician was faithful to his great leader to the last.

How did Luke write, and what did his two books look like when he had finished them? He wrote on papyrus -- that is, on reed paper, using an ink like black paint, and a reed pen.

As far as we know no portions of the Bible-books of this date are left in the world, but in the beginning of the year 1911 a large number of very ancient fragments of Bible-books were discovered in Upper Egypt, and with these was part of a translation of Luke's Book of the Acts -- just shreds and tatters of fragile papyrus paper, the remains of what is up till now the oldest copy of the New Testament in the world.

Amongst the ancient manuscripts kept in the British Museum are old old copies of Homer's War poems, and here also are stored the precious fragments of the chronicles of that other great Greek writer -- St. Luke.

Homer's book belongs to the forgotten past, for the heathen religion of Greece is to-day as though it had never been.

But the writings of St. Luke are as full of blessing and power as ever, and the war he wrote about grows more wonderful every day. For Christ, the Son of God, came down from Heaven not to fight against men as the false gods of the old Greeks were supposed to have done, but to fight and conquer for men, to lift up the fallen, and to win for the victors a crown of deathless glory.

The Apostle Peter, in contrast to St. Luke, was only a fisherman when the Lord bade him leave his boat and his nets to preach and teach the Gospel.

His ideas were very limited when Jesus Christ first came into his life, and he knew little or nothing of the various branches of knowledge which had become a second nature to the Greek scholar; but the fisherman was to receive his education in a very different fashion from Luke, for his teacher was the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

How impossible it would have seemed to Peter, in the days when he washed his nets by the Lake of Galilee, that his writings should ever form a part of the Scriptures -- God's Book, which he had learned from his childhood to love and reverence!

Yet with God all things are possible.

Not only did the Apostle Peter write a part of the Bible, but that short book known as the 'First Epistle of Peter,' is one of the most frequently mentioned by all the earliest Christian writers -- those authors and teachers who had seen the Apostles, and had heard from their lips the story of the Saviour's life on earth. Thus it is that Peter's contribution to our Bible has become one of the strongest witnesses to the truth of the words written down in the Gospels. There is no possibility of a mistake; the man who wrote this Epistle could have been none other than the Apostle Peter who had been with the Lord from the beginning of His public work.

And it is very beautiful to trace throughout Peter's writings the echoes of the great facts which he had seen, and which to the end of his days formed the background of all his thoughts.

Christ had given him his name 'Peter' or 'Cephas,' that is, a rock or stone, and so he wrote of his Master as the great Corner-stone of God's spiritual house, in which each one of Christ's people are living stones, (1 Peter ii.5-7.)

The Saviour had once told Peter that he must forgive his brother although he was wronged by him on seventy-times seven occasions, and in Peter's Epistle we read, 'Above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.' (1 Peter iv.8.) 'Charity' should have been translated 'love.'

Then the Lord had warned Peter that Satan had desired to have him, and he -- remembering that solemn fact in his own life -- tried to put his readers on their guard against the great enemy, 'because your adversary the Devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.' (1 Peter v.8.)

Most touching of all are the words he wrote: 'For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God ... because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example.' (1 Peter ii.20, 21.) The man who had seen the Lord Jesus Christ suffer patiently could never forget.

'Feed the flock of God which is among you.... And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory.' (1 Peter v.2, 4.) His Master's last command by the Lake of Galilee to feed His flock was so deeply impressed on Peter's mind that it coloured all his thoughts to the last day of his life. (John xxi.)

This Epistle of St. Peter was written, we believe, to comfort God's people under the heavy trial of Paul's second imprisonment. Cruelty and persecution were doing their worst, but God was above all. 'Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you ... but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings.' (1 Peter iv.12, 13.)

Two short, but very beautiful, epistles are believed to have been written by two of the Lord's brethren, St. James and St. Jude.

Eusebius, the first Christian historian -- born 260 A.D., died 340 -- tells us that James was a Nazarite. This means that he had taken the old Jewish vow of special purity; he ate no meat, drank no wine, and wore nothing but white linen garments. This vow is often mentioned in the Old Testament. James had not believed that Jesus Christ was the Saviour of the world until after His Resurrection, when the Lord appeared to him. 'After that, He was seen of James.' (1 Corinthians xv.7.)

This set his doubts at rest for ever, and St. James too was called to write a part of God's Book.

Of St. Jude, author of the Epistle of that name, scarcely anything is known, but from Matthew xiii.55 and Mark vi.3 we learn that he was one of the Lord's brethren, and, like his brother, James, did not believe that Jesus Christ was the Messiah until after the Resurrection. This Jude must not be confused with the Apostle Jude.

These writers of the New Testament as they took their reed pens in their hands, and spread out their rolls of whitey-brown papyrus-paper, were not like Moses. True, they knew that the Holy Spirit was bidding them write, but that their written words should ever be used by God to form a part of the Bible would have seemed impossible to them all.


The last and by far the latest writer of God's Book was St. John, the beloved disciple.

Long after most of the other Apostles were dead, he still lived on, speaking and writing of his Master, and to the Apostle John the Lord Jesus Christ entrusted the record of many of His most beautiful and comforting words, and of the deepest and most spiritual teaching in the whole Bible.

Three of the shortest and yet most beautiful Books of the Bible are the three epistles which bear John's name. They are supposed to have been written from Ephesus, in John's latter days, and every sentence in them seems to breathe forth the peace, love, and wisdom of a very old man who has lived close to Christ for many years. It may well be then that these calm and loving letters were the last of all the Bible words to be written.

Now the 'Revelation,' though placed at the end of our Bible, was not the last Book to be written.

It was probably composed whilst Nero, the wicked Emperor, was torturing and burning the followers of Christ. St. John's heart must have been ready to break with distress, but the Holy Spirit comforted him, and lifted his thoughts right up to Heaven, showing him in a vision the end of all these things.

Among the fragments of the oldest Bibles in the world recently discovered, the Book of Revelation takes a prominent place. Some of these were probably written about the year 150 A.D. Let us remember when we look on the faded pages lying in the British Museum that when their discoloured lines were fresh and clean, men were still living who had seen the early martyrs die.

[1] The Iliad.

chapter xi how the gospels
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