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Are 2 Peter, Hebrews and Revelation authentic?

I received a comment on my Real Jesus V-Log from a skeptic who claims that the early church fathers doubted the canonicity of 2 Peter, Hebrews and Revelation. When I asked for examples he gave me Eusebius, Jerome, Origin and Amphilochius.

(If you’ve never heard of Amphilochius of Iconium, he is one of the Eastern Fathers, a contemporary of St. Basil of Caesaria and Gregory of Nazianzus.)

It’s interesting that he cited mainly Post-Nicene fathers who lived after the fourth century. Origen lived in the third century and he did not question the integrity of the canon. On the contrary, he affirmed the canon exactly as we know it today.

The simple fact of the matter is every one of the books of the New Testament is quoted by church fathers of the first and second century.

Hebrews is among the earliest books to be quoted. It is first found in the Epistle of 1 Clement. By 96 A.D. (some say much earlier) we have Clement of Rome quoting extensively from Hebrews. Other early fathers quoting from Hebrews are Hermas, Hippolytus, Irenaeus and Tertullian. Hebrews was universally accepted and no one records any doubt that Paul was the author until the fourth century.

2 Peter is supposedly a problem for the authenticity of the canon. However, Theophilus of Antioch quotes directly from 2 Peter. Clement of Rome makes five allusions to 2 Peter. Although liberal scholars dispute this, other allusions to 2 Peter may be found in the Didache, St. Ignatius, the Epistle of Barnabas, Hermas, the Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians, the Dialogue of Justin with Trypho, the Apology of Aristides, and Irenaeus.

Although direct references are hard to prove, it may be due to the brevity of the epistle and the similarity of chapter 2 with Jude, which comprises about one-third of the book. In other words, biased liberals often interpret quotes and allusions to be from Jude, but they could be allusions to 2 Peter 2. Likewise, liberal scholars also dispute the books of Jude, 2 John and 3 John on the basis that they receive little attention from the Ante-Nicene Fathers. However, these four books are the shortest of the general epistles and therefore they are the most likely not to be quoted.

Revelation also has strong evidence for a pedigree. The early church attributed authorship of Revelation to the apostle John. Justin Martyr (100-165 A.D.) quotes Revelation 20 that Jesus Christ would dwell in Jerusalem one thousand years. Irenaeus (120-200 A.D.) quotes every chapter of Revelation. Tertullian (155-220 A.D.) quotes from almost every chapter of Revelation and attributes John the Apostle as author. Hippolytus (170-235 A.D.) attributed Revelation to John and quotes extensively from Revelation chapter 17 and 18. Clement of Alexandria (150-211 A.D.) and Origen (185-254 A.D.) also attribute John the Apostle as the author of Revelation.

Ignatius (30-108 A.D.) writes regarding John the Apostle, “And why such facts as the following: Peter was crucified; Paul and James were slain with the sword; John was banished to Patmos; Stephen was stoned to death by the Jews who killed the Lord? But, [in truth,] none of these sufferings were in vain; for the Lord was really crucified by the ungodly.”

The evidence against John the Apostle being the author is minimal, largely based on grammatical style differences with the John’s Gospel. As a partial preterist, I hold the view that Revelation was written either during or just prior to the Neronian persecution in 64 A.D. not in the mid-90s during Domitian’s persecution. Revelation was written under extreme duress by a fisherman with a rough knowledge of Koine Greek. Later, the Gospel and three Epistles were written by in Ephesus with the assistance of his elders, as evidenced by the numerous “we” passages. The composition of these later books was more polished for that reason.

Revelation was not, in fact, disputed by Origen. However, some of Origen’s students disputed it. This theory arose because many erroneously interpreted Revelation to teach a premillennial return of Jesus. By the time of Athanasius and Augustine, much of the church had turned to an amillennial view of eschatology and sought to discredit John as the author of the supposedly premillennial book.

Comments

Your comments are welcome!

The Apostle John did not write anything attributed to him. It is all but certain the the epistles of John were penned by John the Presbyter. The writer(s) of The Gospel According to John was someone who was highly Hellenized and lived long after the Apostle John had been martyred. In fact, the good apostle was dead before Revelations was written, even if it might have been penned during Nero's reign. The Apostle John was martyred at the same time that his brother James was martyred. Phillip of Snide definitely thought so and nobody has ever been able to disprove his contentions. Most likely, Acts was altered to accommodate the love affair that early Church fathers had with the idea that the Apostle John had lived up to the impossible legends glorifying him. Jesus had prophesied that both John and his brother James would be martyred (Mark 10:39). If John had survived the martyrdom of his brother, why is there no mention of where he went or how he had managed to avoid being martyred? Why did not Herod seek to have him killed instead of only going after Peter? Why is there no historical mention of John by contemporaries after the missionary episode recorded in the eighth chapter of Acts? The only subsequent reference to him was that his brother had been martyred in the twelfth chapter of Acts. He then disappears from view. If he was such a mighty member of the Church after that, why is there no historical evidence of him demonstrating that he was here or there doing this or that? There are only unsubstantiated legends, which arose long after the end of the Church's third generation. He was supposedly entombed in Ephesus. But there is no archeological evidence to be found proving it. Seems to me that someone would have built a shrine over his tomb since he was allegedly such a fantastic champion of the Church. Why did his supposed disciples neglect to make sure his remains were properly honored? Even if they had fled ahead of persecution, they could have either returned later or made arrangements for their disciples to return to Ephesus to honor John with a shrine.
Truly, John was a fine fellow and undoubtedly a worthy apostle. But his legend outshines the truth that was his real life….

Posted by James Trusty on 10/25/2014 02:54 PM #

Your comment is a good example of one of the things that amazes me about skeptics and liberals.

You have the ability to reject the traditional views that are based on the claims of the biblical texts themselves and early patristic testimony and then to make very dogmatic claims that are based on no textual evidence or patristic testimony.

For instance, you say that the Apostle John was martyred at the same time that his brother James was martyred. In fact, the church fathers claim John lived was seen in the time of Domitian and lived until Trajan's reign (c. 96 AD).

To support your claim you use an argument from silence even while you reject testimony that was undisputed among people who were reputed to be John's own disciples.

If you are unfamiliar with these, I will be happy to provide the citations.

Posted by Jay Rogers on 10/25/2014 02:54 PM #

I have been wondering all afternoon how John, the disciple Jesus loved, and from Whom John undoubtedly learned of the love of the Father, could write an entire book about the wrath of God. I find this very unsettling and am having doubts as to the authenticity of this writing.

Posted by PARIS ST MICHAEL on 06/28/2012 05:06 PM #

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