CHAPTER 10 - What’s The Final Word For Satan In The New Testament?
What is the power of the written word? Think about that for a moment. Your spouse or kids say they love you, and that is always nice to hear, but when they write it in a card your feelings go a whole lot deeper. The meaning is magnified just by seeing the words “I love you Mom” in writing. Penned by their own hand, the very strokes of the pen are imbued with nuances of your loved one’s character. Seeing some things in writing just means a whole lot more than to hear them from time to time. Let’s say you share the card you just received with a friend, telling them why you were given such a beautiful card but your friend is not a Mom. Should that friend take the sentiments in your card and cling to them for themselves? Should another reader who was not the intended audience believe the message in the card was for them? How much impact should the card addressed to you have on the lives of others…others who may even be in your family?
That card might be of great value to you but it is written only to you. Should you then expect anyone reading to be moved by the words that were written to a specific audience? Anyone reading your card two or three hundred years after it was written would certainly understand it was intended for a specific audience and they would not make the mistake of declaring, “this card is sacred and is to be read by all peoples in all times”…saying “it is words to live by for everyone.” I know the New Testament writings are more than just a sentimental birthday or Mother’s Day card but what has happened with these letters in your Bible is little different than your card being read three hundred years after it was received by you. We would have no trouble showing by the contents, the structure, and the addressee of the card that it was meant for you and you alone. It was intended for a specific audience and others should take information from it with that in mind. Why do we have such trouble doing the same with the letters from the Apostles?
The New Testament Doctrine Of Satan Is Contrived
Were it to be left here without addressing the issues I am about to discuss in the following pages, many would reject all that I have stated about the authority or lack thereof of the New Testament. Many would resolve to stand in concrete that the New Testament is Scripture. However, as with all issues that play into the ideas that Satan is real, I am not going to stop short of this next very important step. I plan to be very thorough in showing the New Testament is not Scripture. Therefore Christianity is mistaken to extract a doctrine of Satan from those letters. If you are convinced already that Satan is not a biblical doctrine because you understand that doctrine cannot come from the writings of the New Testament, then that’s great. Feel free to move past this chapter and boldly head towards the final chapters of this book. If however you are somewhat unclear as to what the NT is and what the authors intended it to be, then do read on. You are about to see the most compelling evidence, from the pages of the New Testament itself that the New Testament is not “Scripture” in the sense or level of authority that the Old Testament is.
It may be somewhat arduous to explore but this is a good time to consider something important about each of the letters in the New Testament. It is often ignored by scholars, but every single book of the New Testament speaks of itself as a letter. The internal self-testimony is loud and clear and not one shred of evidence can be found to show that these writings believe themselves to be Scripture.
If we can find that the New Testament is not authoritative then we move one huge step closer to the reality of no Satan. For a few pages now, we will seriously consider if the New Testament is Scripture or if it is just meaningful letters to various groups of believers. Today we will look at an unusual source for our exploration. Instead of listening to what Christians think of their holiest book or discussing what theologians say about the New Testament, we will hear what the New Testament says about the New Testament. What a novel idea. Let’s see what the internal evidence found in the New Testament says about itself. Let’s go to the source to see what the New Testament is. For instance, the suggestion of what the NT is can be gleaned by seeing the book of “Luke” is written to a man named Theopholis, as is the writing titled “Acts.” Therefore, both are personal letters, not Scripture. The letter to the “Romans” is just that, it is a letter addressed to a group of believers who dwelt in Rome, it is not declaring itself Scripture. First and Second Corinthians are letters to the saints in Corinth. It is interesting to see Paul talks in 1st Corinthians chapter 5 verse 9 about a previous “letter” he wrote to them. Paul by no means is thinking that his letters should ever be called Scripture. Particularly because he himself referred to the Torah the Psalms and the Prophets as Scripture.
I wrote unto you in a letter not to company with fornicators:
In the New Testament book titled Galatians, we see Paul is writing a letter to the assemblies in Galatia. In this letter, Paul talks about numerous issues. A close look at the book reveals that Paul is concerned with a group of Jews who believe Yeshua is Messiah and are telling the Galatians they must follow a custom they call the custom of Moses. The instruction of the Judaizers is that the custom of Moses must be strictly followed in order for a convert to become an heir of the promise that came through Abraham. After his Damascus Road epiphany, Paul knew that the promise is not inherited by undergoing a liturgical and precise rabbinical ceremony, which involved ablution, manumission, and circumcision. He was telling the Galatian believers the “promise” is inherited through acceptance of the Messiah and that the obedience to the Messiah comes after. Chapter 3 mentions how some Judaizers taught the Abrahamic promise must be acquired through performing a physical act like circumcision. This letter identifies the contrast from the rabbinic modality of inheriting the promise, to how Yeshua imparts the promise to those who come into faith in him. Paul was not canceling the Torah or circumcision as some claim he did in the letter to the Galatians. If he did, he is then opposed to the Messiah. A Messiah who said in Matthew 5 not one tiniest letter shall pass from the Torah until all is fulfilled. Seems to be a contradiction there if Paul changed what the Torah said. If that is the case then parts of the Torah have passed away. Which of these great leaders is a liar? Paul or Yeshua? If Paul was in fact canceling the Torah then Yeshua was a liar, if Yeshua was true in claiming the Torah was not going away, then Paul is a liar and why do we listen to anything Paul writes?
If we choose to believe that neither Yeshua nor Paul are liars then it must be that we are misunderstanding one of them. Peter told us Paul’s epistles are difficult to understand for the one who has not learned Torah. Therefore, in the letter to Galatians, I would say Paul is being misunderstood by the vast multitudes of so called bible scholars, professors, and theologians who would be considered “unlearned” according to Peter. For an excellent commentary on Galatians according to its cultural, historical, linguistic, and social context, Avi Ben Mordechai does a fabulous job in his book, “Galatians, A Torah-Based Commentary in First Century Hebraic Context.” Our task for the moment is to determine if letters such as the letter from Paul to the Galatians can be elevated to Scripture.
According to what the internal testimony of each writing displays, we see Galatians, Acts, Romans, and Luke are letters not Scripture. We will discuss some of the content of these letters in Volumes 3 and 4 of Imagine There’s No Satan, but what about the rest of the so-called “New Testament”? Do the other writings in the “Christian Bible” reveal themselves to be Scripture or is there evidence that they are simply meaningful correspondence? Let’s consider the findings for the remainder of the “books” of the New Testament.
Guess who the book titled “Ephesians” is written to? That’s right; it is a letter to the assembly of believers who gather together in the city of Ephesus. A city that was three miles off the west coast of Asia and connected to the chief cities by highways. Philippians, Colossians, First and Second Thessalonians, all are letters written to the respective locales and to the groups of believers residing there. These are all clearly letters and nothing more, sent to a specific audience addressing a specific need or issue of that audience. If the fact that Paul wrote a letter to a specific place addressing specific things means we are all supposed to treat his writing as Scripture because the Catholic Church fathers said so, then there has been a lot of picking and choosing as to what to obey of Paul’s “Scripture.” Paul gave separate instruction to individuals in his letter for a reason and we can understand something of value by seeing this individualized instruction of Paul’s. Yet his valuable instruction can still be valuable but not be Scripture. Notice in his letter to the Philippian assembly Paul sends personal messages to be shared with individuals in that community. This alone ought to indicate that we are reading instructional and encouraging correspondence and that those writing it and those hearing it would have never held it to the status of Scripture.
Philippians 4:1-3 KJV
1 Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.
2 I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.
3 And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.
The appearance of individual instruction in the letters from Paul is evidence that Paul isn’t writing a document he would ever expect to be considered Scripture, but is just writing a letter to a group of friends who happen to be believers. We no more take the instruction to individual persons contained in Paul’s letters as intended to be universal instruction than we are to take the Gospels or other letters of Paul as Scripture for all People for all time. Otherwise, we should be washing the feet of other believers in the manner of the Messiah, or greeting each other with a holy kiss upon coming together as some Christian sects do. Should we then interpret Paul’s words as a commandment for all people for all time? If Paul wanted all the assemblies in all the towns for all time to abide by his letters, why then is the Letter to Colosse the only letter with an instruction to share that letter with another town? Paul tells the Colossians they are to read his letter and they are to read the letter he sent to the Laodiceans and the Laodiceans are to read the letter to Colossae. His clear message is in no way telling them to ensure his letter is read to all the other believers that are around the globe as has become the practice with the New Testament.
And when this letter is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.
When Paul wanted a letter shared with groups other than who the letter was addressed to, he was sure to include those instructions as we see in Colossians. By the way, have any of the “New Testament” Christian churches you have been to heeded Paul’s command to read the letter to the Laodiceans? Or is Paul’s command to the New Testament churches something that can be ignored? If they truly believed it was Scripture then shouldn’t they adhere to Paul’s injunction to read the letter to the Laodiceans? Here are a few proofs from some of the Apostolic writings to show they are intended by the author to be “letters.”
Luke was a letter written to a man named Theopholis because the writer thought it would be good to pass on the account of the Messiah as he saw it.
It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, Luke 1:3 KJV
The book of Acts is believed to be written by Luke, the alleged writer of the Gospel of Luke. It was a further account of the activities that transpired after the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ.
The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Acts 1:1 KJV
Romans was a letter written to a group of believers residing in Rome. Intending to inform and encourage those who were embroiled in one of the most perilous situations.
To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 1:7 KJV
The letter to the Corinthians bears the internal testimony of correspondence sent to a decadent and troubled believing community. The area of Corinth was riddled with difficult issues due to the heavy engagement in pagan religions. Pagan religious practices continued by those who were doing the faith of the Messiah. The second letter Paul writes refers to the first document that he had sent to them as a letter.
Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: 1 Corinthians 1:2 KJV
For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season. 2 Corinthians 7:8 KJV
The letter to the Galatians is said to be a letter in the first two verses where Paul identifies himself as the writer and then identifies who is to read this letter. Again, there is no internal evidence for this piece of correspondence being called Scripture.
Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;) And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia:
Galatians 1:1-2 KJV
Ephesians is written to the believers in Ephesus and again it is a letter addressing the concerns and needs that Paul may have been made aware of. Nonetheless, we find no reason inherent in the letter to classify it as Scripture.
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:
Ephesians 1:1 KJV
The letter to the Philippians is another clear letter directed to a particular locale in Paul’s ministry area. As it is correspondence aimed at a group needing some assistance and clarification in their developing body of believers, there is no need to grace it with the honour of being called Scripture.
Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:
Philippians 1:1 KJV
Colossae was a city in the Roman Empire lying in lesser Asia near Laodicea and Hieropolis. The letter Paul wrote to the believers there is yet again another piece of personal correspondence that would not have been assumed to be Scripture by Paul, the Colossians, or any who might have heard Paul’s letter over the next hundred years or so.
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother, To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Colossians 1:1-2 KJV
Letters, Letters, And More Letters…
So far, we see that Luke, Acts, Romans, 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians are all letters as indicated in each document. Before we see about the rest of the writings in the “New Testament” I want to explain to you how I feel about Paul’s letters in general and in fact the entire collection of documents in the Apostolic Testimony, which is considered the “New Testament” in common thought. I am not saying that the “New Testament” is to be chucked out. I am not saying that it is not to be read by followers of Yeshua, nor am I saying that the message contained in the pages of the “New Testament” is one that opposes the message contained in the “Old Testament,” as is propagated by many who don’t understand the New Testament from a biblical Hebraic perspective.
If one can come to understand the writings called the New Testament in a manner more in line with the understanding of a first century hearer and writer, it becomes clear that the “New Testament” is a valuable witness. If this famed document testifies accurately it becomes irreplaceable in assisting one in knowing that the Messiah has indeed come and was indeed resurrected. We also learn the first century believers had the understanding that Yeshua is planning to return from being seated in Heaven to completely restore the Kingdom to Israel. The “New Testament” does not initiate a brand new covenant with a brand new people. Once again I’ll repeat that it is a compilation of letters that testify to the works of the Messiah and aid believers with various problems in that time. You see, Paul taught multitudes not only how to walk out their faith in accordance with the desire of Yahweh as found in the Hebrew Scriptures but Paul also showed those who were willing to see that Yeshua was Messiah, through the Hebrew Scriptures.
For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.
Acts 18:28 KJV
The Messiah can be found abundantly in the “Old Testament,” and you can find a catalogue of the prophecies about the Messiah in many places, one such place is in Lee Strobel’s book, “The Case for Christ.” Although they are arguable to some, there you are going to see an inventory of over 300 prophecies that the Messiah fulfilled in His day. In the pre-Christ period of the closing BCE centuries and the early first century CE the anticipation of a soon coming Messiah was palpable. And Paul, as well as many other “Jewish” rabbis, would be well aware of where passages about the Messiah could be found in the “Old Testament.” In fact, the rabbinic sages of the past centuries have an understanding that the Messiah was expected to come in the time period Christ did come, but they collectively missed Him because the salvation of Yah, Yeshua, did not come in the package that they expected Him to come in. That said, we must remember the New Testament is not to be used as a manual for doctrine; especially a doctrine of Satan.
Changing A Belief System Takes A Lot Of Truth Seeking
Starting to explore your belief system so you can begin to see there might not be a “Satan” or that the “New Testament” might not be Scripture is a pretty big shift, even in the face of convincing evidence. A shift of that magnitude can happen but it is difficult, as has been shown in many of the major paradigm shifts in the collective thought of culture over the centuries. Shifts like when the Roman Catholic Church was convinced that the Earth was the center of the universe. I am referring to a time when most of the civilized world believed with such certainty that the earth is the center of the universe. This belief was so embedded in culture that there was a threat to imprison anyone who claimed differently. Imagine the uproar when a man claimed that it is not the Earth but the Sun that is the center of our universe.
Many who were exposed to the “new” idea were too entrenched in their previous version of the Earth’s position in the universe to seriously consider changing. Ultimately though, it is obvious that the correct understanding prevailed. People began exploring their beliefs. And truth, as always, had a way of rising to the top and pushing out error as long as there was a herald to proclaim the truth without fear.
Like those who had an entrenched belief in the position of the Earth in the universe, so too were the Pharisaical thinkers of the first century CE entrenched in the well-developed form of Judaism they lived, taught, and defended as true and correct. And so too are many believers in Satan who will not let go of their evil second God, even when they are shown he is a god in their mind. They are almost hopelessly entrenched in their comfortable error. We can turn to German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer who said it best. If there is truth to be shared it will likely meet with some ridicule and resistance before it becomes “self evident.”
“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as self-evident.”
You and I have access to knowledge and ideas like never before in the history of man. I am thankfully not the only person to try to communicate the message that there is no Satan and that the “New Testament” is not Scripture. Ultimately, it is up to the individual to examine the claims while setting feelings aside in order to come to the truth of these matters. I trust that your pursuit of the truth goes on long after you set this book down. For now though, I am asking you simply to ask yourself the question, “Is it possible that the New Testament is not supposed to be called Scripture?” If one can honestly entertain that question, then he or she must come to terms with what the “New Testament” is. If not Scripture, then what is it and why do we have it available to us today? There are so many varied versions and interpretations of the New Testament. In the Eastern versions of the New Testament you will find verses that are not in the KJV and find portions of verses that are in the KJV missing from those same Eastern versions. If I am suggesting that the New Testament we have today has inaccuracies and has been poorly understood how then can I believe the “New Testament” should be utilized by today’s searcher of the truth? That is an excellent question.
Should We Use the New Testament The Way It Was Meant To Be Used?
I am convinced that none of the alleged writers of the “New Testament” would condone its use for constructing doctrine. Therefore, I would say it must be seen through different glasses than have typically been used. Can we read this body of literature through a corrected prescription, absent of any astigmatic perception? Are we able to look past our centuries old grid and read it afresh through proper cultural and historical context? We ought to strive to consider the correct social and linguistic context while still throwing in a huge dash of realization that not one word of the so-called “New Testament” can go against or change any word, concept, precept, or doctrine of the “Old Testament” or else the writer is a false prophet and should not be heard or heeded.
We must also strive to add to that an admission that if the words of the New Testament seem to contradict the Hebrew Scriptures then the issue is that we do not understand the message that was intended. No one is given the authority to change the Torah. Paul and Yeshua should not be seen to be at odds with each other on issues and the New Testament does not have the
authority to override or abrogate that which is found in the Old. One must come to a firm resolve that if the “New Testament” seems to contradict the “Old Testament” in any way shape or form, the God of the Universe is a liar. Yeshua told us that the Scripture cannot be broken and Yahweh told us that His word is settled in Heaven forever. I must remind you again that not one jot or tittle shall pass from the Hebrew Scriptures….ever. If any words do “pass” then Yeshua lied to us too and we have no hope.
Our objective should be to use the writings in the New Testament in the same manner and according to the example of the thousands of believers in Messiah who were all over the known world in the first century. There has yet to be even one copy of an original “New Testament” writing that proves to be from the first century brought to light in present day scholarship.
It is probable the writers of the books of the New Testament were men who had received a report from an eyewitness. They were wise enough to write it down because of the significance of the report.
In the first century there were no newspapers or books, radio or T.V. The common modes of disseminating information were to tell others or in some cases to write letters about the amazing news and deliver them to people that were connected to you in another town. Word of mouth was a valuable and predominant mode of sharing information. Although it is arguable, there is a great deal of evidence to suggest some of the Apostolic writings were not even penned until the second century and at that they weren’t written by those whose names appear in the greeting of the letter.
What may have occurred is that friends of eyewitness would have seen the snowball effect of Yeshua’s life and recognized the profound impact it was having on society. Kings and Dignitaries of the Biblical period had their court recorders make written records about decisions and occurrences in the life of the ruler but Yeshua would not have had this as He came as the son of an insignificant Jewish couple. After many years had passed since the apostles walked with Yeshua, those who felt that a record of the life and ministry of Yeshua was important enough to be recorded committed to recording as much as they could remember of what had been told them by the eyewitness of Yeshua’s life, death, and resurrection.
Initially the death of Yeshua would have been hardly notable enough in the Roman Empire to be recorded. True, the rulers were concerned about a revolt from those who were close to the situation but revolts were common in the turbulent dictatorial environment. Moreover, the regularity with which the Romans killed alleged seditionists and malefactors was notable. Rome was the ones who were writing the history books at the time so according to their perspective this man Yeshua was at most just another common criminal. But those who would become the writers of many of the books of the New Testament saw the impact of the Messiah on the world around them, they did as many good history recorders did. They began to piece together the events of the past from accounts of people who had been closest to them and from some who had been directly involved. Eventually they came up with what is today called The Gospels; an account of important events in the first century. And although the account was not written immediately after the incidents it describes took place, The Gospels and some of the Apostolic writings were valuable witnesses to those events. Valuable and surprisingly accurate.
Even today there are numerous historical records that we receive as accurate but were written by authors not present at the event or the time of the event. These authors were only able to talk to individuals who may have been present during the period being recorded. Or perhaps the historians put together a semi-comprehensive documentation of what occurred in the period of interest by using other documents that testify to the period. Therefore, in practicality, the record of Yeshua and His ministry was most likely a reasonably well compiled account that was gleaned from the memories and thoughts of numerous individuals. Individuals who were alive many years after the Messiah walked the earth and possibly even into the second century. Often times, one author would put together his thoughts and information about a person or situation by using another writer’s work as a resource. This understanding lends itself well to accepting that the Gospels specifically, may not be written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, but very well may be transmitted oral accounts of what did transpire according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The accounts were eventually written down some years after the events took place. Although this is just a theory, it could have happened this way or in a manner very similar……Don’t believe me though, study it to show yourself approved!
Just because a document records the fulfillment of a prophecy in a specific manner, or because a document uses lots and lots of Hebrew Scripture, are not reasons to elevate a letter to the position of Scripture. Nor should one imbue the writings in a document with the same authority and intent as the Holy Scriptures used in the first century just because a group of men operating in self-imposed spiritual authority under the Roman government say the writings are Scripture.
I understand how much there is to digest on this topic and arguments will continue for some time to come, so for now let’s consider the primary witness. The best witness is the internal testimony of the remainder of the writings in the “New Testament.” If we accept the testimony these writings have of themselves, we will see they are certainly not Scripture.
Do The Rest Of The Writings Call Themselves Scripture?
First and Second Thessalonians are not only letters to those dwelling in Thessalonica, but the opening greeting of these writings indicates that the thoughts and sentiments contained in the letters includes thoughts from Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy. Paul asks that this epistle, a letter, be read to all the followers of Messiah who are in the town;
1Thessalonians 5:27 KJV
I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren.
And again in Second Thessalonians, Paul calls his writings letters;
The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every letter: so I write.
First and Second Timothy are clearly letters to Timothy to encourage and counsel him in situations he was encountering in the location of his ministry. Much if not all of the Apostolic writings, including all of Paul’s writings, are able to teach us some valuable lessons today. Neither of the letters to Timothy was intended to be or to become Scripture two to three hundred years later. What we are seeing throughout the documents of the “New Testament” is that they are excellent aids to express some wonderful biblical concepts. Concepts that have always been part of the faith in Yahweh. I think it was said quite well by a friend of mine a few years ago that the “New Testament” is probably the best commentary on the Torah you could find. In truth, it seems we are able to use much of the “New Testament” as commentary on the Hebrew Scriptures. These writings further illuminate how Messiah wanted us to understand God and walk out faith in Him. The book titled Titus is of course a personal letter to Titus. Again we can see that correspondence addressed to an individual would never be classified as Scripture by any of the Apostles. So why does Christianity call it Scripture?
Titus 1:4 KJV
To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.
The book titled Philemon is also a letter but it is addressed to three persons specifically and also to the group of believers meeting in a house. The group of believers is the called-out assembly and has come to be called the “Church” in English. The Greek word for church, ecclesia, means a called out assembly so we are slightly missing the intent of this Greek word when we see it as a group of people meeting in a large building that is purchased and maintained through the donation of finances by the attendees of the building. The “church” in the first century was a group of believers who did not fit into the religious culture of the day because they recognized the value of the resurrected Messiah as well as they kept the commands of God. They therefore met in homes on the Sabbath to learn how to serve the Messiah through keeping the commands.
Philemon 1:1-2 KJV
Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellow labourer,
And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in thy house:
How could a group of early, Common Era, religious politicians, decide to call a letter Scripture when that letter is so clearly intended for a specific group of people addressing a specific situation? That decision is quite a wonder. Here one might argue that the writings contained in the Old Testament were often directed to a specific group of people such as those writings aimed at the nation of Israel. That argument though won’t hold up for long when we consider that the Messiah Himself affirmed the entire Old Testament as Scripture by His repeated use of it and His testimony of it never being abolished or broken.
I agree with the principal that one must have “faith” to follow after the Messiah but faith need not insult logic on such a profound level as to say we should call a personal letter “Scripture” just because it has been called “Scripture” since the second, third, or fourth century. This letter to a man named Philemon is about Onesimus, a slave who has abandoned his master and fled to Rome. Having either embezzled his master's goods, or robbed him, Onesimus is in line for a beating by his master but Paul asks the master of the slave to have mercy and receive him back. Asking Philemon as a brother in Christ to forego the punishment for a fleeing slave. Also notice the number of personal salutations listed at the end of the letter. A clear indication this is personal mail not Scripture.
There salute thee Epaphras, my fellowprisoner in Christ Jesus; Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellowlabourers. Philemon 1:23-24 KJV
The fact that the letter to Philemon closes with salutations to numerous individual people strongly indicates that it was never intended to be treated as Scripture by a general body of any religion.
Hebrews is the next book in the present order of the Athanasius Canon. This book is closer to an actual “book” that could be considered Scripture than are most of the other documents in the “New Testament.” T0 whom was Hebrews written? Well, the title tells us. The group of people it was written to was to the Hebrews, who may have been a group of Hebrew believers who resided in Rome. This possibility is suggested from Clement of Rome quoting the letter extensively in his writings and from the names of those who received greetings at the end of the letter. Thus, this letter was intended for a specific group of people, just as most of the other epistles in the “New Testament.” Clement of Rome is a first century religious leader who himself has written Epistles, such as the Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, also called First Clement. Even at the close of the first century when Clement was active in the religious community, this letter of Hebrews, which may or may not be attributed to Paul the apostle, was not referred to as “Scripture.” The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary speaks of this letter. In their comments we see the view that this letter to the Hebrews was equal to the other epistles but it was not considered Scripture. “Scripture” they note, was a title reserved strictly for the Old Testament.
Hebrews - CANONICITY AND AUTHORSHIP.—Clement of Rome, at the end of the first century (A.D), copiously uses it, adopting its words just as he does those of the other books of the New Testament; not indeed giving to either the term "Scripture," which he reserves for the Old Testament (the canon of the New Testament not yet having been formally established), but certainly not ranking it below the other New Testament acknowledged Epistles. As our Epistle claims authority
So we see Clement did not call the book of Hebrews or any of the other apostolic writings “Scripture.” And we have heard Justin Martyr from around 150 AD call these letters the memoirs of the apostles. As the comments above state, even at the end of the first century, only the Hebrew canon was thought of as Scripture. The letter to the Hebrews, like all the other writings in the “New Testament” made the jump from an inspired letter that was to be used to guide believers in their faith walk in certain areas and to encourage Godly lifestyle and lifestyle choices; to being considered “Scripture.” It may be considered Scripture according to early Catholic men, but there is no internal evidence in the writing that ascribes the position of “Scripture” to this letter; even though it is a profound piece of writing which so clearly explicates the greatness of Messiah as the Great High Priest.
Looking at the letter of James, titled “James” in the New Testament, we see a general epistle which may be one of the few apostolic documents which could honestly be considered Scripture. This could be a consideration because the epistle of James is written to the scattered tribes of Jacob who had been ousted from Jerusalem and Israel during times of persecution. The “scatterings” occurred during the Assyrian, and the Babylonian and Persian period, and then continued to occur during the period of Alexander. These dispersions led to “Jewish” people becoming believers in Messiah while in their dispersion, which is known as the Diaspora. It is not certain to which group James was writing in particular, but it is generally believed there was an Eastern and a Western dispersion, as is noted by Albert Barnes.
There were two great “dispersions;” the Eastern and the Western. The first had its origin about the time when the ten tribes were carried away to Assyria, and in the time of the Babylonian captivity. In consequence of these events, and of the fact that large numbers of the Jews went to Babylon, and other Eastern countries, for purposes of travel, commerce, etc., there were many Jews in the East in the times of the apostles. The other was the Western “dispersion,” which commenced about the time of Alexander the Great, and which was promoted by various causes, until there were large numbers of Jews in Egypt and along Northern Africa, in Asia Minor, in Greece proper, and even in Rome. To which of these classes this Epistle was directed is not known; but most probably the writer had particular reference to those in the East.
No matter which group James was writing to, some may suggest that in considering the broad audience he intended, one could very well fit this type of a letter into the category of being called “Scripture.” There is no other Apostolic writing that outrightly addresses itself to all who are Israelite. Here we have James, likely the half brother of Messiah, writing a letter for people all over the Middle East to read. John Gill adds insight to understanding this letter in his commentary. Gill says;
This epistle is called "general,” because not written to any particular person, as the epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon are; nor to any particular churches, as the epistles to the Romans, Corinthians, &c. but to the believing Jews in general, wherever they were. The author of it is James; and whereas there were two of this name, who were the apostles of Christ; some have thought it was written by one, and some by another:
Although this letter is actually a General Epistle, which differs from Paul’s Epistles written to a specific individual or geographical group, it would still not have been sent abroad with the intention of saying it is Scripture. It is not possible that James would have sent out his letter of encouragement to believers who had been scattered, and expected that when it showed up at the door of the house-church or synagogue, those receiving it would take it as anything more than an inspired letter. It was then and is now a letter to address some issues, give support, and bolster faith through encouraging the body of believers. James wanted the dispersed believers to know a few things that would help them survive in the harsh environment away from the cradle of their faith.
James 1:1-3 KJV James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.
My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
The letter from James is another letter that was inspired by God, because it showed love and patience to the struggling believers out on the fringes, so to speak. Any writing that teaches and shows true love, true patience, and true kindness, has to be inspired by God. Because He is loving, patient, and kind and those things must emanate from Him. Even if a murderous, devil worshipping, God hating, criminal wrote a letter that showed kindness to a person, that letter would contain inspiration and mirror the goodness of God. In the contents of James’ epistle, the dispersion will receive some God inspired encouragement, admonishment, and instruction. But does this make James’ writing “Scripture?” OR, did it become “Scripture” at a point in history much removed in every way from the first century assembly of believers? It can be seen that the latter is the case and the historian Eusebius notes it as the first Catholic epistle, meaning the first letter. I emphasize that Eusebius called it, “a letter” and he realized it is intended for a less specific audience than Paul’s letters.
How could James’ work be considered Scripture when there is no mention of the man until well after the apostolic period? This means first century congregations were not making use of James’ letter as a common church document. Again we see that a letter from a man to a specific group does not possess the inherent authority to be called Scripture and there was no divine or Apostolic authority to deem it Scripture by the truest Apostles of the first century. According to Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown, Origen is the first to even mention the letter from James by name;
The first mention of James' Epistle by name occurs early in the third century, in ORIGEN
Why then is “James” considered “Scripture?” It is not because the earliest hearers, readers, and users of it considered it “Scripture,” but because of an idea born in the first few hundred years of the Common Era that was accepted and evolved to become a concrete belief. The idea that the “Christians” should have a different set of writings to use as Scripture than that which had been used by the Jews, the Messiah, the Apostles, and all the first century believers, was an idea brought about by men who claimed to speak on behalf of God. Once again, it was a decision made by a powerful men’s club bent on designing a religion that they demanded should be absent of anything Jewish. Sadly they have neglected to understand that the Messiah is Jewish. And it is fair to say the festivals He kept were Jewish, the diet He kept is Jewish, and the Sabbath He kept and was resurrected on is Jewish. Of course, the Torah calls these things the Lord’s but most of us have come to think that all the Old Testament commands are “Jewish.” Leviticus 23 clears up whose festivals they are when it says that those feasts long thought by the world to belong to the Jews, are in fact God’s festivals.
Leviticus 23:4 These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons
A Few More Letters To Explore
I have tried to keep this exercise short. However, I didn’t want to leave you with simple statements that flatly claim a letter is not Scripture when a little bit of info on some of the “disciples’” letters might help clarify the point. What is left to look at in the “New Testament?” We can take a quick look at 1st and 2nd Peter; 1st, 2nd and 3rd John; Jude; and Revelation. By peeking at those writings we will be able to determine that they contain no internal evidence for being called Scripture.
The books of 1st and 2nd Peter can be looked at together for our purposes. They both contain a different message but for the most part are intended to encourage a group of believers who are once again called the “scattered.” Peter is inspired to send encouragement and instruction to the believers in the dispersion who are living in certain cities.
1Peter 1:1 KJV Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
If a biblical literalist reads this letter they will see it clearly is not written to them; that is unless they are from one of the cities mentioned in the opening statement. The letter was written to people in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. Like James, the letter from Peter could be considered to be Scripture more so than Paul’s letters should be. This is so because 1st and 2nd Peter are intended for a broad audience and therefore they have the potential to be seen as an instructional piece of literature which bares some characteristics of previously received Hebrew Scriptures. However, Peter tells the hearer in chapter two of 2nd Peter that no “Scripture” has been composed simply by the private thoughts of the writer.
2Peter 1:20 KJV Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
In saying this, Peter is acknowledging the Hebrew Scriptures as documents that came from Yahweh through men and were written down for all to have, for all time. Seeing that Peter is calling the Hebrew Bible “Scripture” in his writing, it would be insane for him to equate, or ever think anyone reading his letter would equate his own words of encouragement and instruction with Scripture. Peter’s letters are not believed by the hearers to be “powerful and able to divide joint and marrow,” as the Hebrew Scriptures are said to be. Nor are they called or thought to be the “living oracles,” as is the “Old Testament.” Along with the bulk of the “New Testament,” Peter’s words are not; “good for doctrine, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness,” as the “Old Testament” is said to be by Peter. Although Peter’s writings, preserved in the Christian New Testament are beneficial and seem to be inspired by God, they are not “Scripture.” It is only the Old Testament that has the full characteristics of Holy Scripture. The letter to the Hebrews testifies to those characteristics.
Hebrews 4:12 KJV For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
What document is the writer of Hebrews referring to when speaking of the “word of God”? Would Peter have claimed his letters are in the same category as the Scriptures that the writer of Hebrews is speaking of? Would Peter or any hearer in the first century call his letter “the word of God”? or say his words are “sharper than a two-edged sword?” It is indisputable that neither Peter, nor any first century hearer of the letter to the Hebrew, would have thought these letters; these words penned in an effort to encourage a specific group, would be anything more than just meaningful letter. These writings were not Scripture then nor are they Scripture today.
The Epistles of John are labeled 1, 2, and 3. To say they are anything other than letters to specific groups is to ignore the intent of the author and to impose an audience upon the letters that was not anticipated by the writer of the letters. To be fair, the letter of 1st John does not contain an addressee, however it is clear from the text and context that it is intended for a specific audience. The 2nd and 3rd epistles are addressed specifically. The recipients of John’s epistles did not misunderstand the intention of the writer. This is so in that the recipients are simply people he has the privilege of encouraging through correspondence. His writing was intended to meet some specific needs of the intended audience. Because the first Epistle has not identified an addressee, I will simply state there is little dispute as to the fact it is known to be an Epistle. A letter written to a specific group just like the second and third epistles, which have a specific recipient in mind. Second John has a particular lady and her children as the recipient of the letter, as is seen in verse one.
2John 1:1 KJV The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth;
A later greeting to her sister in the text of the letter testifies to the fact that the “elect lady” is an actual lady and not the “Church” as some claim. Commentators recognize this and also note that to use the language “elect lady” and the attached syntax would be highly unusual for a reference to the “church.” There is little dispute that a real lady is intended by John as is mentioned in Gill’s commentary below.
…the elect lady is the person he writes unto; by whom is designed not the church of Christ, since such a way of speaking is unusual; and besides, he speaks of coming to see her face to face, and of the children of her elect sister: but some particular person, some rich, as well as gracious woman of John's acquaintance; and these words, "elect lady,”…
In the third epistle, John is clearly addressing a close friend named Gaius.
3John 1:1 KJV The elder unto the well beloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth.
One could scarcely expect that the writer, the reader, or the first century believers would have considered as Scripture a letter directed to an individual. Why should it be classified as Holy Scripture on the testimony of power-hungry, religious, political leaders of the second to fourth centuries? I am willing to concede at the very least one might consider the Gospels, Revelation, and Acts possibly as Scripture, because there are understood to be words of Christ contained in them. It is even reported by the Apostle who wrote the letter to the Hebrews, that we were given the word of prophecy, meaning Scripture, in the past by the Holy Prophets of Old but that in the present day we receive the word by the Messiah;
Hebrews 1:1-2 KJV God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
These statements at best leave room to add Yeshua’s words, if we have received them accurately, to the Scriptures. However, even to do such would not be correct because if they were to have been considered to be Scripture, then surely the God of the Universe would have made that addition to the formal first century Hebrew Canon long before the mid to late second century when formation of a New Testament canon first was considered. As for the words that the apostles are said to have written, there is no mention of any of the apostles having been spoken to directly as a way of Yahweh transmitting Scripture, so surely John knew he was not ever going to have his words “canonized” as Scripture. Based on the words of the writer of Hebrews, we see that no other writer’s words should be considered “Scripture.” And definitely the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd letters of John ought not to be called equal to the Hebrew Scriptures.
The book of Jude is another letter to a group of believers who are at risk of becoming apostate due to the infiltration in their ranks of certain false apostles and heresy teachers. Jude is addressing a specific group with a specific issue that needs to be focused on. Jude recognized the peril the community he was writing to could find themselves in if they didn’t take heed and protect themselves. Could “Jude” be Scripture due to the nature of the warning that is still relevant today for so many communities of believers? Perhaps it could, but then it would have been elevated from a personal letter to a Holy Writ. Unless Jude is a prophet from the past, who is being referred to by the writer of Hebrews, then it is highly improbable that any first century believer would have considered this personal letter, hand delivered to a “beloved” congregation of notably small size, as being words on par with the Prophets and seen as “Scripture.”
Jude says it himself that he really needed to write to them to encourage them to “contend for the faith.” This faith by the way, would have been defined according to what the Old Testament said was faith. When Jude wrote his letter the only “Bible” available was the Old Testament. This document is a letter of encouragement from Jude and no one receiving it would have given one thought to calling the letter “Scripture.” Jude is referring to the faith once delivered to the saints that is taught in the Old Testament. Of course it was not the “Old Testament” to Jude rather, the Scriptures. He upholds the Scriptures through his words but unquestionably, Jude does not suggest his words should be considered Holy Scripture and neither should we.
Jude 1:1-3 KJV Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:
Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied.
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
Concluding Thoughts On The New Testament
As we near the end of this thorough discussion on what the New Testament is and what it is not, I will close with these remarks.
On careful examination we can see there is no evidence in the New Testament that identifies the New Testament as Holy Scripture. Nor is there any viable testimony from the late first century scholars and early second century writers that identifies the New Testament as Holy Scripture. Although written by men who heard testimonies about the first century happenings, this compilation of letters was not thought to be Scripture by the early believers and was definitely not intended to be Scripture by the writers. A letter, such as is found in the New Testament, may well have been written with Godly inspiration but inspiration from God has been the impetus for many profound Christian documents throughout history. Therefore, inspired writings do not automatically become Scripture and stating a letter is inspired does not make a good argument for that letter to be called Scripture.
There is a vast amount of evidence in the New Testament testifying to the fact that the Old Testament is Holy Scripture and is the only source for designing and defining doctrine. Upon searching the entire Old Testament one cannot conclude that a literal Satan is a doctrine in the Old Testament… Therefore, if Christianity derives a doctrine of Satan from the New Testament, Christianity is either extracting a doctrine that cannot be considered biblical or Christianity is misrepresenting what is being said in the letters of the New Testament. This misrepresentation has been based on many presuppositions that stem from first and second century mystical Greek thought. The only way to determine if Christianity has correctly deduced who and what satan is, is to refresh our understanding of the satan concept. This is possible by applying the same Hebraic methods of biblical scholarship to the concept as would have been employed by Yeshua, Paul, and each of the Disciples of Christ in the first century. All in all, however one reads the New Testament; it is certain that the doctrine of a literal Satan cannot and should not be established by the words contained in those letters. Letters which have been protected by men who practically worship the New Testament instead of understanding it the way the original hearers might have understood it. Although Christianity continues to propagate the idea of a second lesser god in their Satanology, it seems we can thank the Greeks for our Satan concept of today. That said, you can look forward to seeing the Greek connections to this concept in the next chapter. As for determining if the book of Revelation is Scripture or not, please be patient, I will get to that shortly. For now let’s move to explore how demonology was taught us by the Greeks.
 Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible – (emphasis added)
 Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible, Albert Barnes (1798-1870)
 Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible
 John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible, Dr. John Gill (1690-1771)
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