Many people are, mainly because of the influence of anti-missionaries, convinced that the Apostolic writings are not inspired Scripture. In other words, they do not believe it is the Word of YHVH. This may shock you, but we have even heard people who proclaim to be believers refer to it as garbage.
Think about this logically. What does it imply when you make the statement that the New Testament or Apostolic writings are not inspired? It basically invalidates this part of the Bible and reduces it to the level of commentary, stripping it of all authority. This is a problem, because if the Apostolic writings are not inspired writings, why do we need it or why do we even read it? This belief also invalidates all that is written about Y’shua, His teachings, His followers, the writings of Paul, those who followed after him and the book of Revelation.
We, however, believe that the Apostolic Writings is the inspired word of YHVH and will show you why.
We first need to determine how these writings were considered by those who had it. However, before we do that, let us start with Y’shua. What did He consider as the Word of YHVH?
What did Y’shua consider as inspired Scripture?
44 Now He said to them, â€œThese are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.â€
Y’shua refers to the three sections of the Tanakh here. Traditionally, the Tanakh was divided into the Law or Torah (the first five books), the Prophets and the Writings. We see from this that, to Y’shua, all these books were important. You will understand later why this is significant for us to know.
What did his followers consider as inspired Scripture?
Paul was a follower of Y’shua. What did he consider as inspired Scripture?
In the Epistle to Timothy, Paul quotes:
1 Timothy 5:18
18 For the Scripture says, â€œYou shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,â€ and â€œThe laborer is worthy of his wages.â€ â€
The first quote here is from Deut 25:4, and the second is a paraphrase from Lev 19:13 and Deut 24:15. What is interesting is that this paraphrase uses exactly the same words as it was spoken by Y’shua and written in Luke 10:7. Paul is quoting the very words written in Luke. A scholar like Paul would not quote words from the book of Luke and call it Scripture if it was not. This is, however, not a very strong argument, because it could have been a well-known saying at the time.
Let us continue to the next quote. The next quote is from the second book of Peter.
2 Peter 3:1â€“2
1 This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Master and Savior spoken by your apostles.
David Stern comments thefollowing on this verse.
Predictions (literally, â€œwords spoken previouslyâ€) of the holy prophets, either those of the Tanakh or recent New Covenant prophets (Ac 11:27&N). The rest of the chapter suggests the latter, even though at 1:19 â€œthe prophetic Wordâ€ refers to the Tanakh.
Kefa regards the command given by the Lord and Deliverer through your emissaries as having as much authority over believersâ€™ lives as the predictions of the holy prophets, as is also clear from v. 15&N2
This is very important, especially the second part of this passage. As David Stern said, it is clear from this passage that Peter sees the words of the apostles as authoritative as the writings of the prophets. This is confirmed by Jude 17.
17 But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Master Y’shua Messiah,
From this, we understand that the words of the Apostles, the Gospels, have as much authority as the prophets have.
In the next passage we see Paulâ€™s writings being referred to as part of Scripture by Peter.
2 Peter 3:15â€“17
15 and regard the patience of our Master as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness,
Here is David Stern’s commentary on this passage.
This is the only place in the New Testament where one of its authors refers to another of its authors as such. In fact, with the phrase, â€œthe other Scriptures,â€ Kefa gives Shaâ€™ulâ€™s letters the status of Holy Writ.
Kefa commends Shaâ€™ul as our dear brother; there is no conflict between them, some nineteenth-century scholars to the contrary notwithstanding. It is possible, however, says Kefa, to distort what Shaâ€™ul writes. The most common distortion is in the direction of antinomianism; this happens especially when Shaâ€™ulâ€™s letters are read apart from their Tanakh and Gospels-Acts background. 2
When Paul refers to all scriptures in the Epistle to Timothy, what did he mean?
2 Timothy 3:16â€“17
16 All Scripture is inspired by Elohim and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of Elohim may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
All Scripture is God-breathed. Others have translated this, â€œAll God-breathed Scripture is valuable.â€¦ â€ As I have rendered it, we learn here that the entire Tanakh, every verse of it (all Scripture), is inspired by God. Because of this, the Bible is incomparably more authoritative than anything else ever written or spoken. Opinions come a dime a dozen and a mile a minute, but assured truth from God about himself and humanity is found in the Tanakh and the New Testament, and nowhere else.
Because the Bible is God-breathed, it is valuable for the four pastoral purposes named. Anyone who belongs to God and who lets Scripture pastor him in all four of these ways (however, not apart from associating with the community of Godâ€™s people; see MJ 10:24â€“25) may be fully equipped for every good work.2
We see from the above quotes that both Paulâ€™s writings, and the Gospels were considered as part of the Scriptures, together with the whole Tanakh. We could therefor not exclude any of the books we currently have in our Bibles as inspired Scripture.
Adding to Scripture
Some may say yes, butâ€¦ they added to Scripture. They use Deuteronomy 4:2 to support their statement. Is this the truth?
2 â€œYou shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of YHVH your Elohim which I command you.
If we were to understand this verse as these people do, then we have a huge problem. We would have to exclude all the prophets and the writings as well, because including them would be adding to the word of YHVH, because they were written after this commandment was given. Alternatively, maybe we don’t really understand this verse in Deuteronomy correctly. Let’s look at the context of this verse. Just reading the preceding verse shows us that verse two refers to YHVH’s commandments, His statutes and judgments. This is repeated in Deuteronomy 12.
32 â€œWhatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it.
And in Proverbs…
5 Every word of Elohim is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. 6 Do not add to His words Or He will reprove you, and you will be proved a liar.
What does this mean then? What does it mean to add to His words? We find the answer in the book of Mark. This is a good example of how the Pharisees added to YHVH’s commandments.
3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the traditions of the elders; 4 and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves; and there are many other things which they have received in order to observe, such as the washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots.) 5 The Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, â€œWhy do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?â€ 6 And He said to them, â€œRightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: â€˜This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far away from Me. 7 â€˜But in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.â€™ 8 â€œNeglecting the commandment of Elohim, you hold to the tradition of men.â€
Adding to YHVH’s word, is to add commandments of men. The Pharisees did that, and we see that in Judaism too. They have added many so-called “fences” around the commandments to make sure the commandments are not broken. These “fences” lay a heavy burden on the people. Not only did they add these commandments, but also have elevated it to the same level as YHVH’s commandments. If you consider the blessing that is pronounced over the washing of hands, they say, ” Blessed are you Adonai, King of the Universe for giving us the commandment to wash our hands” Where exactly did YHVH gave a commandment to wash hands?
So, how are we to understand this then?
The Bible is progressive revelation. YHVH did not just speak to Adam and Eve or to Israel at Sinai and then stopped speaking. Through the ages, YHVH revealed Himself more and more to His people. He gave them His prophets and so revealed more of Himself, then He manifested Himself in the flesh (1 Tim 3:16) to show His great love for mankind and to give all salvation.
In all this YHVH did not change, neither did He change any of his previous instructions. The prophets and later Y’shua and His followers, furthermore, never taught anything contrary to YHVH’s commandments. The Apostolic writings is not in contradiction with YHVH’s commandments; therefor it does not add to it. Y’shua didn’t start a new religion; He walked and taught YHVH’s commandments and so did His followers. Those who say He or His apostles changed anything or added to YHVH’s word, is either twisting the Scriptures or does not understand it.
So are we adding to Scripture when we consider the Apostolic writings as inspired writings? No, on the contrary. To say the Apostolic writings is not Scripture would in a way be denying Y’shua as Messiah. For stating that these books are not inspired, makes His words and everything written about Him meaningless.
Another argument that is often used to invalidate the Apostolic writings, is that it was not as well preserved as the Tanakh. This is simply not true.
The early Christian literature is almost silent about the original manuscripts, a silence that implies that enough faithful copies were in existence that the loss of an original posed no concern. It is doubtful that the early church set apart a specific group of professional scribes for this particular purpose; scribes were more likely hired, or individuals in the church copies the letters. This would explain why there are so many copies of the New Testament books and why there are more mistakes in the New Testament books than there are in copies of the Old Testament: “In the early years of the Christian Church, marked by rapid expansion and consequent increased demand by individuals and by congregations for copies of Scriptures, the speedy multiplication of copies , even by non-professional scribes, sometimes took precedence over strict accuracy of detail.”
According to the evidence from the beginning of the forth century (shortly before the date of Codex Vaticanus) scribes were paid well for their work3
What about accuracy then?
According to New Testament textual criticism, it is important to note that the verbal agreement between various New Testament manuscripts is closer than between many English translations of the New Testament and that the actual number of variants in the New Testament is small (approximately10 percent), none of which call into question any major doctrine.
The greatest number of variants are differences or errors in spelling. For example, the author of Codex Vaticanus spells “John” with only one n instead of the common spelling with twoâ€¦ This type of variant makes no difference in the meaning of the text.
The second largest group of variants arises because of omissions of small Greek words or variations in word order. For example, in Greek a person’s name may or may not be preceded by an article (“the”). And the phrase the good man could also be written as “the man, the good one,” although in English both phrases are translated as “the good man.”
These types of variants also make no difference in the meaning of the text.3
From these two quotes from the book “The Journey from Texts to Translations” we learn that many manuscripts of the Apostolic writings exist and have a high enough level of accuracy. The variances and mistakes found in these manuscripts are such that it does not influence the message or doctrine. It is therefor a false statement to say that the manuscripts were not preserved or are inaccurate.
It is taught by anti-missionaries that the Apostolic writings are kabbalistic in nature. In order to make a good judgment of this statement, we need to understand a bit more about what kabbalism is about without having to spend time studying it. I found an article written by Maria Marty about this topic, and in this article, she gives a list of the main beliefs of the followers of Kabbalah. You can find a link to the article under references. It is very well-written and warns of the dangers of Kabbalah as people discover their Hebrew roots.
We can use this list to see if we find any resemblance between this and the Apostolic writings. Here is the list:
What does Kabbalah believe in?
-They believe in the Zohar or Book of Splendor with supernatural revelations in addition to the Torah
-Red strips on their wrists and waist to prevent bad/evil energy
-Read verses of the Torah backwards to find hidden meanings
-Read the palm of their hands and lines in the face (divination)
-Combine Hebrew letters, repeating them they reach their petitions and protects them from the evil eye.
-Contemplate on the letters to accomplish their wishes.
-Move their heads according to the forms of the letters.
-Light candles and make specific prayers.
-Call on a number of angels. They believe in Metraton, a superior angel. Messianic people whom I know and believe in Kabbalah say that this angel is Yeshua.
-They study Sefirot, which are the 10 divine emanations. There are ten demonic sefirot and ten divine sefirot according to Kabbalah.
-Mystic contemplation â€“ access to the deep regions of the soul.4
Read through this list and consider these beliefs. Kabbalah is occult in nature, full of magic, divination and idolatry. Compare this with the teachings in the Apostolic writings and you will see that the Apostolic writings bear no resemblance to Kabbalah. On the contrary, Y’shua and His followers taught against it. We shall look at a few examples from Scripture.
The Apostolic writings teach about eternal life. Some twist this to say it is thesameas reincarnation, but it is not. By definition reincarnation is
: the idea or belief that people are born again with a different body after death
: someone who has been born again with a different body after death5
Eternal life is nothing like that, it is spiritual not physical. Moreover, even if you want to call resurrection reincarnation, it won’t hold water because after Y’shua was resurrected the marks of the nails in His hands were visible (John 20:27.) Y’shua did not get another body.
Kabbalists read the palm of their hands and lines in the face and also consult astrology. This is divination
and is condemned in both the Tanakh and the Apostolic writings. In the book of Acts, mention is made of a slave-girl who practiced divination. This was not condoned; the spirit was cast out of her by Paul.
16 It happened that as we were going to the place of prayer, a slave-girl having a spirit of divination met us, who was bringing her masters much profit by fortune-telling. 17 Following after Paul and us, she kept crying out, saying, â€œThese men are bond-servants of the Most High Elohim, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation.â€ 18 She continued doing this for many days. But Paul was greatly annoyed, and turned and said to the spirit, â€œI command you in the name of Y’shua Messiah to come out of her!â€ And it came out at that very moment.
Meaningless repetition of words
Y’shua specifically taught against the meaningless repetition of words. In Kaballah, it is believed that the name of YHVH has creation power, thus they would meditate while repeating the name of YHVH many times in succession.
7 â€œAnd when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.
Peter taught that we are to be of sound judgment and sober for the purpose of prayer.
1 Peter 4:7
7 The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.
These two scriptures teach that these practices that are common in both Kaballah, and new-age meditation are wrong. We will go into more detail about the dangers of this kind of meditation in a future article. It is something that has infiltrated the believing community and many are drawn into new age, idolatrous practices because of that.
These are just two examples of how the Apostolic writings teach against practices similar to those in Kabbalah.
Magic and idolatry
Kabbalists contemplate on letters to accomplish their wishes, move their heads according to the forms of the letters and do other rituals as part of their prayers. These are all superstition and magic. They, moreover, call on angels, which is nothing less than idolatry. Furthermore, the wearing of red strips on their wrists and waist to prevent bad/evil energy, is also the practice of magic.
There is further prove from the Apostolic writings that the practice of magic and any form of idolatry was condemned among believers in Y’shua. In the book of Acts, we see new believers burning their books on magic and Paul calls these deeds of the flesh. He adds that those who practice these will not inherit the Kingdom of YHVH.
19 And many of those who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them in the sight of everyone; and they counted up the price of them and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.
19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of Elohim.
We can find many more references to prove this further. This may be a nice study for another time. However, to us this proves that you cannot make the claim that the Apostolic writings are full of Kabbalah. The teachings of Kabbalah and the Apostolic wrings are fundamentally different. There may be spiritual principles that overlap, but that you will find when you compare any other religion with the Bible. There are, for example, similarities between the Tanakh and the Koran, but I don’t see anybody throwing out the Tanakhâ€¦
So, what have we learned? We have through this study proven to you on four levels that the Apostolic Writings are the inspired word of YHVH. We have, firstly, learned from the Apostolic writings that the Gospels and Paul’s writings were considered as a part of Scripture by followers of Y’shua. It is seen to have as much authority as the Tanakh. We, furthermore, have concluded that to say the Apostolic Writings are inspired Scripture is not adding to Scripture.
We have, thirdly, refuted the statement that the Apostolic writings are kabbalistic in nature, and we have, fourthly, determined that the Apostolic writings were well preserved throughout the ages and that the errors therein of no consequence to us in regard to doctrine or message.
From this, we must conclude that the Apostolic Writings are a valuable, inspired part of Scripture, preserved for us through the ages in the same way the Tanakh was.
We are to be careful who we regard as teachers. To give credence to statements made by anti-missionaries is unwise. They will never tell you that the Apostolic writings are valid or inspired, it goes against their agenda. Their agenda is, to ultimately, prove to you that Y’shua is not the Messiah. If they can convince you that the Apostolic Scriptures are not inspired, it would not be very difficult for them to persuade you that Y’shua is not the Messiah. We have seen it so often in the believing community.
We do hope this article will help you in your understanding, and we pray that it may help you discern truth from error. We do need Y’shua; Y’shua is YHVH’s salvation to each of us. Do not reject a part of YHVH’S Word and deny His Salvation.
- All quoted passages are from the New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995. We have substituted YHVH for LORD and Yâ€™shua for Jesus.
- Stern, D. H. (1996). Jewish New Testament Commentary : a companion volume to the Jewish New Testament (electronic ed., 2 Pe 3:2). Clarksville: Jewish New Testament Publications.
- Wegner, Paul D; The Journey from Texts to Translations; Baker Academic, ISBN 978-0-8010-2799-4