Jesus Rates The Epistles
This analysis should be easy to digest and assimilate - but preconceptions from traditional teaching may make it almost impossible to gracefully accept. The Old Testament is a record of first-hand transmissions of God (the Law) to the Prophets, also containing some comments by the writer. The Gospels are a record by Apostles-Disciples of what His Father transmitted to Jesus Christ (the Testimony), interspersed with comments of the author. The Epistles were letters written by Apostles-Disciples about what they were taught of the content of the Law and the Testimony, as then understood by them.
Jesus quoted from and gave the names of "Books" making up the Law. The identity of the five New Testament "Books" containing the first-hand Testimony of Jesus Christ is obvious, and Jesus said they completed it. Rev. 22:18. In the Epistles, Paul made no mention of the "Books" written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. They could hardly have been in duplicated circulation when Paul wrote his last letter. 2Timothy.
In about 363 and in 397 A.D., church leaders convened to vote on what to finally include in the Bible's "God-breathed" scriptures (writings). They gathered to vote on that - for shame! Those which garnered the most votes were included. The Epistles were voted in overwhelmingly. But some leaders had also voted to include 14 "books" of the Apocrypha. This final voting resulted in the eventual Protestant Bible containing 66 "books." Interestingly enough, 6 is the number of man and the exercise of his dominion on the subject.
The voting took place as an aftermath of the 315 A.D. Church election to work for the State and, in turn, be paid in physical protection and material support from the State - instead of relying on the protection and support promised by the one God for His faithful servant. Today, is it good to mindlessly confirm votes cast in spiritual adultery? Far better to go to the Law and the Testimony of Christ for the better, correct answer! Isa. 8:20.
Church-goers have long been reminded that all Scripture is God-breathed (better than King James "inspired"). 2Tim. 3:16. Does this statement by Paul validate inclusion of the Epistles within the God-breathed writings? So the churches teach. Come, let us reason together in God's Word as a whole, says the Lord to church people, all of whom He says (prophetically) have been filled with perversions of truth (iniquity). Isa. 1:4, 18, Rev. 12:9.
"Every writing is God-breathed" is a statement that could be made only by one devoid of a sense of history. Even in the first century, there were many writings extant (of Greeks and Romans and Jews) which could not by any stretch of imagination have been God-breathed. The words in the Greek literally translated to English are:
EVERYWRITINGGODSPIRITEDANDBENEFICIALTOWARDTEACHINGTOWARD... All upper case letters, no punctuation. The verb "is" is not to be found in this Greek sentence. "Is" must be added to smooth out the English translation, so the Church (with eyes on membership and collections) chose a self-serving placement of the verb, in fact, in two places. The sentence then had to receive Church interpretation to make it even marginally acceptable to its blinded sheep. 2Pet. 1:20!
Each of the Epistle writers had in view not his own writings as God- breathed, but the Faith, the organized Plan for man's well-being taught by the Christ Spirit in Old Testament and during His ministry - as best they then understood it. Ro. 1:3, Gal. 1:23, Eph. 4:5, 1Pet. 5:9, Jude 3, etc. How should 2Tim. 3:16 read to conform to the Law and the Testimony? "Every writing, God-breathed and (thus) profitable, is toward or for instruction, etc."
To claim every writing is God-breathed and is profitable for ... is destructive! The writings which were God-breathed, according to Jesus, were the records of what God did speak through Moses and the Prophets (including the Psalms), the 4 "Gospels" and Revelation. The final Prophet was Jesus Christ (And last of all, He sent His Son ... Mt. 21:37 literal). 2Tim. 3:16 has been corrected in the American Standard Version.
Matthew, a first-hand witness of the teachings of Christ wrote his record probably in about 60 AD. Mark knew the other Apostles and wrote his record from hearsay (less complete) probably in about 63 A.D. Luke, an associate of Paul and friend of the Apostles, wrote his record from hearsay of eye-witness accounts around 60 A.D. Lk. 1:1-4. John, the one he said Jesus specially loved, wrote his eye-witness, thoughtfully selective account around 100 A.D. Half the Epistles were written before the Gospels, and half were almost contemporary with them.
It was the intent of the Epistle writers to encourage interest among people in learning and practicing the Faith. They preached to this end and then wrote letters to explain and exhort. Seldom were any letters of record sent in advance of verbal teaching. They spoke and wrote their words, the best they could muster, to draw people toward the Faith.
Jesus Christ is the Word(Logos)! Jhn. 1:1, 14, Rev. 19:13. The sense of the Greek "Logos" is: The collection of things in mind, reasoned out, and the form in which they are expressed - thereby fully representing the Author. That "author" is typically the Lord, but it can also be an earth-man. Mt.12:37, Lk. 23:9, etc. It was the Faith to which the Apostles labored to attract people, persuading with their (logos) words (commentary). Ro. 1:5, Gal. 1:23, Eph. 4:5, 1Pet. 5:9, Jude 3, etc.
Their logos went into the Epistles. Jhn. 17:20-21. "All who will ever come to believe into Me (My Word) through their words, so all may become one." He manifested the "Logos" Word from His Father. Jhn. 1:1. In the Septuagint Greek Old Testament, the Word of the Lord is also the Logos. Did the Lord intend the Epistles as additional God-breathed writings to fill out His Logos words, as did the Old Testament Prophets? In my view, if they were to extend the Law and the Testimony, He would necessarily have said "My Logos words given them,"as in Jhn. 8:31, not "their." "Believing into" is by diligence in the Lord's Logos. The disciple's logos should stimulate toward that. Becoming "one" is only by the Lord's teaching. Mt. 23:8. Epistle-bound minds may pay no attention to Jhn. 17:20-21, but it is part of the Testimony, giving Jesus' rating of the Epistles. Isa. 8:20. Few indeed see the Jhn. 17:20-21 connection with the Epistles, but it is plainly there. His Apostles were to bear the Testimony. Jhn. 15:26-27 literal, Isa. 8:20. Jesus thus indicated: no additions - even by Epistles!
Always, the objective was and should have been to attract to the Logos Word, the Faith, the "Thus says the Lord" organized content of the Books of Moses, Prophets, Psalms and the Testimony of Jesus Christ. Consider that not much of the voice teachings of Paul and other Epistle writers, their main activity, was preserved. What was preserved was about Jesus, His work and Word, and Old Testament. Acts 9:22, 10:34-43, 13:16-41, 14:15-17, 15:7-21, 23+, 16:5 (in the Faith), 17:10-11 (verification in the Faith), :22-32, 18:4, 19:8, 20, 20 :10-35, 28:23. You and I should do the same.
Some Epistle letters were sent to prepare people for the voice teachings (Acts 15:23, Ro. 1:10-13) and others to review those voice teachings (1Cor. 1:6, 2Cor. 1:14-19, Gal. 1:23, Eph. 1:13, 6:21 (from prison), Phil. 1:26 (from prison), Col. 4:7-10 (from prison), 1Thess. 1:5-6, 2Thess, 2:5, 1Tim. 1:3, 2Tim. 1:6 Titus 1:5, 1Pet. 1:7, etc.
Paul was especially effective during his ministry years, because he had such complete recall of the Old Testament and its prophetic connection with Jesus, the Messiah. He was specially Spirit-led, because the Holy Spirit could bring to his remembrance the Word of God that he had studied and heard.
As is proper in any family, the Lord gives a little here and a little there - as is needful for the moment and the then near future. He taught the basics to Exodus Israelites. In Paul's time, much more had been revealed, from the same Word. It is a shame that Christendom's churches, in 1950 years, can not show immensely more understanding of God's Plan for man than Paul had - from the same Word. Consider that the Lord's revealing then was for that time and the immediate future, and limited to that.
That partially explains why there are quite a few errors in the Epistles, contrary to the Logos Word. Even so, "Ephesians" and "Galatians" may still be of some help to beginner Christians. Today, the next step in revealing (from the same Word) is available and in print. But again, among those questioning established church teaching (filled with perversions) so few are ready to accept the new treasures.
Always, men have sought to create God is their own image. Thus there are 1000s of "faiths" in established Christian denominations, non-denominations, home study groups and cults - all different. Our Lord taught of one God, one Faith. So did Paul. Where each of the many "Christian" bodies lay claim to having "the truth," and the teaching of each manifestly differs from that of the others, something is terribly wrong! Jhn. 17:22-23, Eph. 4:5. Most Christians are aware of the differences, but don't much care. They prefer to rely on opinions and interpretations of their leaders. Few indeed have cared about teaching devoid of interpretation and opinion, in Christ's time or in our time.
Traditional church teaching majors in the Epistles, as slanted to its organization doctrine. According to that, the Epistles are "God-breathed and profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and for instruction in righteousness," but how profitable over the long, long course of 1950 years? Has not the "Christian" world (Russia and satellites were "Christian") been led toward godlessness and eventual genocide - even as the Lord said?
If that be your view, then a drastic change is called for. Back to the Law and the Testimony exclusively!! Isa. 8:20. Why call Me Lord, Lord - and do not what I (repeat I) say? Lk. 6:46. Man lives by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. Deut. 8:3. You shall have but one Teacher. Mt. 23:8.
May our loving Father help and encourage you, but never give you peace while you are at ease with what you think you know. Amos 6:1, echoed in 1Cor. 8:2.
C. Gordon Wolcott
A wise and loving Father would not deny His child teaching vital to well-being. His teaching would require no interpretation whatsoever by another immature child.
There is absolutely no need for anyone to seek out an interpreter for God's Word! How few are aware of that. God has forbidden it! God's truths are simple, plain and contain none of the mystery of man-designed dogmas. How much longer will self-serving Christians honor teachings handed down during the centuries through church organizations dominated by men? That has been instruction which shackles the soul, blinds the eye and assaults reason - through violence to Scripture. That limits the Holy One of Israel today! Never, never, never, has God chosen to speak through man's religious organization, despite claims to the contrary. God's Word states quite clearly that He does not. So why does the typical Christian not believe Him?