RPM, Volume 18, Number 4, January 17 to January 23, 2016

Introduction to the New Testament

Part 4

By Louis Berkhof

Table of Contents:

The Gospels in General
The Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel of Mark
The Gospel of Luke
The Gospel of John
The Acts of the Apostles
The Epistles in General
The Epistles of Paul
The Epistle to the Romans
The First Epistle to the Corinthians
The Second Epistle to the Corinthians
The Epistle to the Galatians
The Epistle to the Ephesians
The Epistle to the Philippians
The Epistle to the Colossians
The First Epistle to the Thessalonians
The Second Epistle to the Thessalonians
The Pastoral Epistles
The First Epistle to Timothy
The Second Epistle to Timothy
The Epistle to Titus
The Epistle to Philemon
The Epistle to the Hebrews
The General Epistle of James
The First General Epistle of Peter
The Second General Epistle of Peter
The First General Epistle of John
The Second and Third General Epistles of John
The General Epistle of Jude
The Revelation of John

3. Leading Principles.

There are certain fundamental principles that guide us in our investigation, which it is desirable to state at the outset, in order that our position may be perfectly clear. For the sake of brevity we do not seek to establish them argumentatively.

1. For us the Bible as a whole and in all its parts is the very Word of God, written by men indeed, but organically inspired by the Holy Spirit; and not the natural product of the religious development of men, not merely the expression of the subjective religious consciousness of believers. Resting, as it ultimately does, on the testimony of the Holy Spirit, no amount of historical investigation can shake this conviction.

2. This being our position, we unflinchingly accept all that the various books of the Bible tell us concerning their authorship, destination, composition, inspiration, etc. Only in cases where the text is evidently corrupt, will we hesitate to accept their dicta as final. This applies equally to all parts of the Word of God.

3. Since we do not believe that the Bible is the result of a purely natural development, but regard it as the product of supernatural revelation, a revelation that often looks beyond the immediate present, we cannot allow the so-called zeitgeschichtliche arguments the force which they are often supposed to have.

4. While it is the prevailing habit of many New Testament scholars to discredit what the early Church fathers say respecting the books of the Bible, because of the uncritical character of their work, we accept those early traditions as trustworthy until they are clearly proven unreliable. The character of those first witnesses warrants this position.

5. We regard the use of working-hypotheses as perfectly legitimate within certain limits. They may render good service, when historical evidence fails, but even then may not go contrary to the data at hand, and the problematic character of the results to which they lead must always be borne in mind.

6. It is not assumed that the problems of New Testament Introduction are insignificant, and that all the difficulties that present themselves can easily be cleared up. Whatever our standpoint, whatever our method of procedure in studying these problems, we shall sometimes have to admit our ignorance, and often find reason to confess that we know but in part.

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