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.
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Who is the dreaded beast of Revelation?
Now at last, a plausible candidate for this personification of evil incarnate has been identified (or re-identified). Ken Gentry’s insightful analysis of scripture and history is likely to revolutionize your understanding of the book of Revelation — and even more importantly — amplify and energize your entire Christian worldview!
Historical footage and other graphics are used to illustrate the lecture Dr. Gentry presented at the 1999 Ligonier Conference in Orlando, Florida. It is followed by a one-hour question and answer session addressing the key concerns and objections typically raised in response to his position. This presentation also features an introduction that touches on not only the confusion and controversy surrounding this issue — but just why it may well be one of the most significant issues facing the Church today.
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Foundations in Biblical Eschatology
By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.
All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?
These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.
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Who is the Real Jesus?
Ever since the dawn of modern rationalism, skeptics have sought to use textual criticism, archeology and historical reconstructions to uncover the “historical Jesus” — a wise teacher who said many wonderful things, but fulfilled no prophecies, performed no miracles and certainly did not rise from the dead in triumph over sin.
Over the past 100 years, however, startling discoveries in biblical archeology and scholarship have all but vanquished the faulty assumptions of these doubting modernists. Regrettably, these discoveries have often been ignored by the skeptics as well as by the popular media. As a result, the liberal view still holds sway in universities and impacts the culture and even much of the church.
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