For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.
– 2 Peter 1:16
Peter and his fellow apostles were not known for their intellectual sophistication. Rather, they gained their reputation by having been with Jesus. Here’s how others saw them in the days after Jesus had ascended into heaven when they were spreading the message of His life and teaching:
Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.
– Acts 4:13
And as John himself would write:
What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life–and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us–what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you…
– 1 John 1:1-3
Thus the New Testament is not a collection of theological treatises. Rather these are the working papers of men who were simply testifying to what they had seen and heard.
Consider, for example, sentiments like these (emphasis added):
My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you–but I could wish to be present with you now and to change my tone, for I am perplexed about you.
– Galatians 4:19-20
Though I have many things to write to you, I do not want to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face…
– 2 John 1:12
Therefore, it’s obvious from these and other passages that the authors focused more on face-to-face communications than on writing. However, this actually makes the writings all the more credible. Their value was determined by those who received them, and the fact that the documents were preserved testifies to their utility in that original context.
We could wish that these texts were directed to 21st-century sensibilities to make them more easily understandable to us, but the manner in which they actually do exist makes their authenticity all that much harder to deny!
(Remember that prayer is more about listening than talking. Use the words below to start yourself, but then allow time to reflect more on the Scripture above before you say the “Amen.” During that time of quiet reflection, let God shape your thoughts and wait for a sense of peace to come. That’s your signal to say “Amen” and go forth to the day.)
Lord, use the witness of Your servants to draw my heart to You today…(this is where you remain quiet to let Him work in your thoughts)… Amen.
(All scriptures, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the NASB.)