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8 Authors of the New Testament

8 Authors of the New Testament: Who were these holy men of God?  Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, James and Jude.  Read on, and we’ll meet them!

When Jesus*(4 BC-30 AD) referred to the “Scriptures,” He meant the Old Testament. So did His disciples and all the early Christians. There was no “New Testament” for forty years after Jesus’ Ascension, but all of the books were almost certainly written before 70 AD. They were written in like manner as the Old Testament, to use St. Peter’s* (1 BC-67 AD) words, “but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” 2 Peter 1:21

*indicates this person's biography is in my book SPIRITUAL LIVES

Who were these holy men of God? Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, James and Jude. Read on, and we’ll meet them!

New Testament Authors: Matthew

The first of these holy men is MATTHEW, depicted by Rembrandt and others as writing his Gospel with an angel looking on. His Gospel is the first book of the New Testament and a perfect link to the prophecies of the Old.

Matthew himself is the perfect person to make the transition. He knows the Old Testament intimately, citing over 60 scriptures to link events in his Gospel. This is a powerful way of appealing to his Jewish audience.

He shows that Jesus comes from the line of Abraham*(1996-1821 BC) and David*(1085-1015 BC) and that the primary mission was to save the Jewish people from their sins.

He demonstrates that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah of Daniel* (623-570 BC) and the fulfillment of all the Old Testament promises of His coming.

The early church fathers all recognized Matthew as the author of the first gospel, and several asserted that he first wrote in Hebrew and later in Greek. Our best information about him comes from the Bible. He is mentioned 8 times by name (5 as Matthew and 3 as Levi) and was a tax collector before Jesus called him to be a disciple.

He was a Galilean who hosted a dinner where Jesus was the main guest. The Pharisees criticized him for eating “with publicans and sinners.” As a tax collector, he was skilled at keeping records and gave a complete history of Jesus’ life from His conception and virgin birth to His crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension into heaven.

As a disciple, he witnessed many of the events he recorded and was close to the other apostles with whom he was commissioned to spread the Gospel both during Jesus’ lifetime and after His ascension. These companions told him about events he did not witness, like the Transfiguration. Matthew was an excellent reporter and writer and recorded what he had heard with great anointing, as is evident from his record of the Sermon on the Mount.

He seems too to have known Joseph and received from him the details of Jesus birth, the messages from the angel of the Lord, the visit of the wise men, the flight to Egypt and the return to Nazareth, all unique to Matthew’s Gospel.

His Gospel is the most complete of those we have, beginning with events foretelling the coming of Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah and ending with the Great Commission. He probably wrote this while he was ministering in Jerusalem and Judea shortly after Pentecost. Later, tradition tells us, he died as a martyr in Ethiopia around 60 AD. Among the unique aspects of his Gospel is the listing of the Beatitudes and what John Stott called the greatest invitation ever made:

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30

New Testament Authors: Mark

The Bible tells us more about MARK than Matthew. He was the son of yet another Mary, the sister of Barnabas, a devoted follower of Jesus. Her house was the site of the Lord’s Supper and the gathering place for Jesus’ followers after Pentecost. We know nothing about his father, but his full name was John Mark, and he is mentioned 10 times in the New Testament (5 as Mark, 2 as John, and 3 as Marcus).

Mark certainly was close to Peter and the other apostles and growing up in the house that he surely knew all about Jesus and may indeed have met Him. I believe that he was the young man following Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:51).

However that may be, he was at the center of Christian fellowship in Jerusalem and was chosen to be an assistant to Paul*(5-67) and Barnabas on their first missionary journey. Later, he went with Barnabas to Cyprus and later to Rome to visit Paul. It was probably at this time, in the mid-60s, that he wrote his gospel.

Mark jumps right into his purpose in the first verse: The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;

It is a dynamic book, starting with Jesus’ baptism by John*(5 BC - 29 AD) and moving quickly through the full story of Jesus' life and miracles up to its culmination in the Resurrection and the Great Commission. While Matthew’s audience was the Jews, Mark’s was the Romans, and Matthew focused on Jesus as King, Mark focused on Him as a servant, the Son of God, using His divine power to help people and glorify God.

Above his continuing associations with Barnabas and Paul, Mark’s closest relationship was with Peter, who call him “my son.” (1 Peter 5:13). It was from Peter that Mark got the content for his Gospel, and I am reminded of Peter’s dynamic and impetuous character as I read Mark jumping quickly on to the next topic and using the word “immediately” 39 times.

I love Mark’s succinct style and particularly his simplicity in writing what has become my life verse: Be not afraid, only believe. Mark 5:36

New Testament Authors: Luke

Luke is the only Gentile to write in the New Testament. While Matthew wrote to the Jews and Mark to the Romans, Luke wrote to the Greeks. He was born in Antioch and trained as a physician. In this capacity, he traveled with Paul and chronicled their travels in the Book of Acts.

Luke was also a historian and what we would call a journalist. He operated in the same way as Herodotus did, reading what was out there and interviewing people who were eyewitnesses to the events. His goal in writing is clearly stated:

That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed. -Luke 1:4

Certainty, he traveled in the right company to find prominent and eye-witness disciples. But he reached out beyond his traveling companions to others, notably MARY,* (18 BC? -C 43 AD), the mother of Jesus. Just as Matthew wrote things on Jesus’ birth that could only have come from Joseph, Luke recorded others that could come only from His mother, including her visit from the Angel Gabriel and the Magnificat.

He also gives us the only information we have about Jesus’ youth. He was genuinely interested in people and presents Jesus as a compassionate healer and miracle worker.

As a doctor, Luke provides medical details of many of the conditions Jesus healed. To Luke, the Gospel was much more than simply salvation; it was a loving and powerful way of life. He teaches us prayer and presents 18 unique parables, including the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son.

An excellent storyteller himself, Luke writes a beautiful narrative beginning with the backstory of Jesus’ birth and continuing through His Ascension. But his narrative does not end with his Gospel. There is more!

Luke uses Jesus’ Ascension to introduce the ministry of the Holy Spirit. This begins with the falling of the Holy Ghost on the disciples ten days after He ascended into heaven and recounts the supernatural effect of the Holy Ghost on changing the disciples and sparking the growth of the church in Jerusalem.

He introduces this second “treatise” in the same way and to the same person as he did the first, and the result in the book we know as the Acts of the Apostles.

Here, Luke reports on the church in Jerusalem under the ministry of Peter and John, getting his information from others, including Stephen’s stoning and Saul of Tarsus's conversion. Later, in chapter 16, we find him with Paul and Silas as they move from Asia Minor into Macedonia.

Luke is now a participant in the unfolding story, which he covers until Paul’s appearance before Nero in the late 60s. Luke quietly disappears from the scene, and we hear nothing more of him in the Bible, tradition reporting his death in 84.

“Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy. …[He] should be placed along with the very greatest of historians.” – Sir William Ramsay, archeologist

Luke was a remarkable literary artist and historian. Read Luke and Acts as a unit, and you will be blessed! It is moving, thrilling, and anointed from beginning to end.

New Testament Authors: John

The Bible tells us more about John*(7 - 100) than any of Jesus’ other disciples. He and his brother James were the sons of Zebedee, who owned a fishing business in Galilee. John was a disciple of John the Baptist until Jesus called him to “Follow Me.”

He was the youngest disciple, and Jesus called him and his brother “the sons of thunder” because they wanted to call down fire from heaven on others. However, that changed during his time with Jesus as he recognized His love and later became the disciple of love himself. He was very close to Jesus, leaning on His breast at the Last Supper and being asked by Jesus from the cross to take His mother, Mary, into his own home.

Along the way, John penned the key verse about salvation, John 3:16, and explained Jesus teaching that “ye must be BORN AGAIN.

Later, he ministered with Peter and established the church in Jerusalem immediately after Pentecost. He disappears from the scene after Herod kills his brother James with the sword, and we learn no more of him until we hear in his own words that he was banished to the Isle of Patmos.

His Gospel is quite different from the first three, called the “synoptic” Gospels because it presents Jesus as the Eternal Word of God, creator of all, and God incarnate, the visible image of God. At the same time, he reveals Jesus as a Friend, Comforter and Helper. All of these aspects are shown in John’s presentation of Jesus raising Lazarus.

Of course, this is not the last word from John. He goes on to deliver three love-driven epistles and finally seals the completion of the New Testament with his amazing vision of the Glorified Jesus and the end of the age. He alone was given the privilege of seeing Jesus as He is now, on His throne in heaven and preparing to return to complete the Gospel and to establish His eternal Kingdom. John was surely anointed as he wrote these words that Jesus dictated to him:

And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:
I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. Revelation 1:17-18

New Testament Authors: Paul

Born as Saul of Tarsus, Paul’s story was recorded by Luke and amplified by the Apostle himself:

If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. Philippians 3:5-6

All of this changed when Jesus appeared to him, knocked him off his horse, and ordained him to be his minister. Luke gives an account of this in Acts and records it twice more there as Paul’s verbatim testimony.

As you can imagine, Paul was not well-received by the Christians in Jerusalem whom he had been so recently persecuting. Barnabas reached out to him, taught him, and then introduced him successfully to the Christian community, first at Antioch and later at Jerusalem.

From there, they set on their first missionary journey to Asia Minor, which was later followed by two more. These were instrumental in building nearly 20 churches and collaborating with others committed to spreading the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul wrote 14 letters to churches and people he had served and was recognized as a brilliant teacher and theologian. 3 chapters of these letters are standouts and recognized today by their subjects:

1 Corinthians 13: the “Love Chapter” 1 Corinthians 15: the “Resurrection” chapter and Hebrews 11: the “Faith Chapter.”

His ministry was punctuated by trials and other difficulties. In his own words:

Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.
Five times I was given the thirty-nine lashes by the Jews; 
three times I was whipped by the Romans; and once I was stoned. I have been in three shipwrecks, and once I spent twenty-four hours in the water. 
I have been in danger from floods and from robbers, in danger from my own people and from Gentiles; there have been dangers in the cities, dangers in the wilds, dangers on the high seas, and dangers from false friends. 
There has been work and toil; often I have gone without sleep; I have been hungry and thirsty; I have often been without enough food, shelter, or clothing. 
And not to mention other things, every day I am under the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 
– 2 Corinthians 11:23-28

Finally, Paul was summoned to Rome and executed by Nero. These words of his to Timothy are an accurate and noble testimony to his life:

For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:6-8

New Testament Authors: James

James was the brother of Jesus, but he did not believe in Him. Not only did his brothers not believe in Him, but they tried what we would call “an intervention” because they thought he was crazy (Mark 3:21). We hear no more of them until after His Resurrection when Jesus told His disciples go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me. – Matthew 28:10

We are not told what happened there, but Paul tells us Jesus appeared to James (1 Corinthians 15:7). This experience had a profound effect on James, who at once became a Believer and witness to the power of the Resurrection.

He soon became a leader in the church in Jerusalem along with Peter, and when Peter fled from Herod, James was recognized as a spokesman for the church. He approved Paul’s mission to the Gentiles and officially adjudicated that Gentile Christians were not bound to keep Jewish traditions.

He continued in his role as Bishop of Jerusalem, and we hear nothing more of him in the Bible. Tradition says he was martyred in Jerusalem in 67 or 69 AD. His gift to us is the Book of James, which is called the “Proverbs” of the New Testament.

It is indeed a book of wisdom, teaching that faith without works is dead, that the tongue needs to be tamed, that friendship with the world is enmity with God, and that the prayer of faith will heal the sick.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. James 4:7-8

New Testament Authors: Peter

Simon Peter, too, was a fisherman from Galilee and the leader of the twelve disciples. He was married, the chief spokesman of the Gospel on the Day of Pentecost, and the church's first leader at Jerusalem.

He was the apostle to the Jews and the first to receive Gentiles into the church. We know little of his life after the Jerusalem Counsel in Acts 15 until he goes to Rome in 62 and begins writing his epistles. Tradition tells us he was crucified upside down. The Roman Catholic Church claims Peter as its first Pope.

He wrote two epistles defending the Word of God, teaching us to defend our faith, and warning that the world would end in fire and melt with "fervent heat."

His Second Epistle sets the tone for the following books, Jude and Revelation:

New Testament Authors: Jude

JUDE was another brother of Jesus, who did not believe in Him until after the Resurrection. He humbly calls himself the brother of James when he addresses this extraordinary letter to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:

Jude writes about the same concerns of 2 Peter, warning about false teachers and the judgment that will befall them. Interestingly, He goes back to Adam and Enoch to show the long history of the Day of Judgment and warns it will come just as Enoch predicted with Jesus coming with his saints to execute judgment on the ungodly.

This appropriately readies New Testament readers for its last book of Revelation.

New Testament Authors: Final Word on Teamwork

What a wonderful “cross-functional team” these 8 Christians Authors make, giving us the priceless gift of the Word of God in the New Testament. Despite different backgrounds and ministries and occupations, they were united in their task, one we can join today in obeying the words of Jesus:

Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. Mark 16:15

We all have a role to play in sharing the Gospel. You may not be called to go into all the world, but you can teach the Gospel to your spouse and children or mother and father. Jesus wants to save everyone in your family, and you may be the one whose life and testimony send the light of His great salvation into their darkness. Do all you can to make Jesus known. If nothing else, you can share this article with someone who needs Jesus, and you will be blessed!

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