The Internal Biblical Witness for Exactly Four GospelsBy John Kishishian on Sunday, September 3, 2006.
IV. The internal Biblical witness of four gospel accounts and only four: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, will be considered in this chapter. As has been shown thoroughly in prior chapters of this study, the Bible's supernatural authorship (God wrote it) is plainly evident from it's external and internal harmony and consistency. That is, within the 66 books of the Bible there are no proven errors of science, logic, history, mathematics, etc. and no internal contradictions. This chapter will show that the internal Biblical evidence supports the inclusion of four gospel accounts among it's 66 books. Not less than four, and not more than four. Exactly four gospel accounts.
A. The Biblical evidence will be presented first. Then, several quotes of Christian leaders from the first, second or third centuries are put forth, in which they cite some or all four gospel accounts as being recognized books of the Bible. These are quotes from pre-Catholic sources, showing that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were already recognized as part of the Bible by the Christian churches long before the Catholic church came into existence. There were not over 80 gospel accounts floating around and in use by Christians in the first through third centuries as Dan Brown asserts in his book The DaVinci Code. There were only four gospel accounts in use by the early Christians. And it was not the Catholic church that decided which books would be accepted in the canon of scripture. God decided which books would be included in his scriptures and the Christian churches in the first century simply recognized those books, (and in particular for this section, the four gospel accounts). How they recognized which books were included was discussed in the earlier section on the canon of the scriptures.
B. First the Biblical evidence is presented. This section must be carefully read and considered. A cursory or flippant reading without careful consideration will cause the reader much confusion and misunderstanding. Each of the following six sections will deal with a series of fours. Each section will build on the preceding section(s) and all of them put together not only provides internal Biblical evidence for only four gospel accounts, but even for the correct order of their listing in the Bible as; Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
1. The four creatures of Ezekiel 1 and 10, and Revelation 4. In Ezekiel chapters 1 and 10 are presented four creatures which each have the following four faces: lion, man, ox or cherub, and eagle. In Revelation 4 there are four creatures and the first is like a lion, the second is like a calf, the third has the face of a man, and the fourth is like an eagle.
5 Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man. 6 And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings… 10 As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle. Ezekiel 1:5-6, 10.
14 And every one had four faces: the first face was the face of a cherub, and the second face was the face of a man, and the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle. 15 And the cherubims were lifted up. This is the living creature that I saw by the river of Chebar. Ezekiel 10:14-15.
…and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. 7 And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. Revelation 4:6-7.
a. Notice the three lists and their order. In Ezekiel 1: man, lion, ox, and eagle. In Ezekiel 10: cherub, man, lion, eagle. In Revelation 4: lion, calf, man, eagle.
b. Lion, man and eagle are the same in each list. Ox, cherub, and calf are interchangeable
in the remaining slot. Cherub is short for cherubim; an angel. The ox, cherub, and calf have a certain characteristic in common, which is why they are interchangeable in these three lists.
c. So what we have is a list of four things: lion, ox/cherub/calf, man, and eagle.
2. The lion, the ox/cherub/calf, the man, and the eagle sometimes refer symbolicly in scripture to: king, servant, man, and deity (God) respectively. Obviously, the man refers to man, but the lion, ox/cherub/calf, and eagle need some expounding to show their symbolism as king, servant, and deity (God).
a. Lion is symbolic of a king (royalty). The following passage is a prophecy of Jesus Christ, who descended from the tribe of Judah and is called the Lion of the tribe of Judah. Recall from above, the prophecies to King David that Christ would be his descendant and would reign as king forever. The new testament fulfillment of that prophecy is given, as well as several other scriptures relating the concept of lion and king.
9 Judah is a lion's whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? 10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. Genesis 49:9-10.
(Referring to Jesus Christ at his coronation in heaven after his resurrection and ascension) …behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. Revelation 5:5.
The king's wrath is as the roaring of a lion; but his favour is as dew upon the grass. Proverbs 19:12.
The fear of a king is as the roaring of a lion: whoso provoketh him to anger sinneth against his own soul. Proverbs 20:2.
b. The ox/cherub/calf are each in various ways symbolic of a servant. They are presented separately and several verses are given for each one.
1) The ox serves by labouring in the field.
Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox. Proverbs 14:4.
For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward. 1Timothy 5:18.
2) Cherubs or angels serve God's people in various ways. Recall that to serve someone is synonymous with ministering unto them.
7 And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire….14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation? Hebrews 1:7, 14.
43 But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: 44 And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. Mark 10:43-44.
3) The calf serves by having it's life taken, either for food or for burnt offerings and sacrifices.
7 And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetcht a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it. 8 And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat. Genesis 18:7-8.
2 And he said unto Aaron, Take thee a young calf for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering, without blemish, and offer them before the LORD. 3 And unto the children of Israel thou shalt speak, saying, Take ye a kid of the goats for a sin offering; and a calf and a lamb, both of the first year, without blemish, for a burnt offering;…8 Aaron therefore went unto the altar, and slew the calf of the sin offering, which was for himself. Leviticus 9:2-3, 8.
c. Man obviously refers to man, the human nature, and needs no further explanation.
d. The eagle is often symbolic of deity (God).
11 As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: 12 So the LORD alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him. Deuteronomy 32:11-12.
(The LORD God speaking) Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself. Exodus 19:4.
3. The Branch is another name of Jesus Christ. In old testament prophecy, Jesus Christ is referred to in four passages under the name of the Branch. In one passage he is referred to as LORD (God), in another as King, in another as servant, and in another as man.
a. The LORD (God).
In that day shall the branch of the LORD be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. Isaiah 4:2.
b. The King.
5 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgement and justice in the earth. 6 …and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. Jeremiah 23:5-6.
c. The servant.
Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH. Zechariah 3:8.
d. The man.
…Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD: Zechariah 6:12.
4. Jesus Christ is King, servant, man, and God.
a. Jesus Christ is King. In old testament prophecy, God told King David that one of his descendents would be called the Son of God and would reign as King forever. First is presented the prophecy and then it's new testament fulfillment, as well as several other verses which show that Christ is King.
1) The old testament prophecy and it's new testament fulfillment in Jesus Christ.
(The word of the LORD unto David) 12 And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build an house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. 14 I will be his father, and he shall be my son. 2Samuel 7:12-14.
And now the new testament fulfillment in Jesus Christ follows.
30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Luke 1:30-33.
2) Another passage which shows that Jesus Christ is King.
29 Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. 30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; 31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. 32 This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. 33 Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. 34 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, 35 Until I make thy foes thy footstool. 36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Acts 2:29-36.
b. Jesus Christ is a servant. Here also the old testament prophecy is given first and then the new testament fulfillment in Christ follows. Several other passages are also presented.
1) First the old testament prophecy that Christ would be a servant.
Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgement to the Gentiles. Isaiah 42:1.
And now the new testament fulfillment of this prophecy.
15 But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all; 16 And charged them that they should not make him known: 17 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, 18 Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgement to the Gentiles. Matthew 12:15-18.
2) Some other passages which show that Jesus Christ is a servant.
5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: Philippians 2:5-7.
(Christ speaking) 26 …he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. 27 For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth. Luke 22:26-27.
c. Jesus Christ is a man.
1) Several verses declaring the human nature of Jesus Christ.
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 1Timothy 2:5.
5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Philippians 2:5-8.
2) A number of verses showing some of the common experiences of humanity which Christ experienced.
37 And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. 38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. Matthew 26:37-38.
BB. Natural growth.
(Speaking of Jesus when he was just a child) And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him. Luke 2:40.
1 And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered. Luke 4:1-2.
(Speaking of Jesus) 22 Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth. 23 But as they sailed he fell asleep:… Luke 8:22-23.
And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. Luke 9:58.
Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. John 4:6.
d. Jesus Christ is God. This point was proven conclusively earlier in this study. A sampling of verses declaring the deity of Christ follows.
And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. 1John 5:20.
Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. Titus 2:13.
Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen. Romans 9:5.
Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. John 8:58.
5. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John present Jesus Christ as king, servant, man, and God, respectively. Though each gospel account shows Christ as king, servant, man, and God, we find that Matthew emphasizes the kingship of Christ, Mark places emphasis on Christ as a servant, Luke particularly depicts the humanity of Christ, and John especially emphasizes the fact that Jesus Christ is God.
a. Matthew places special emphasis on the fact that Jesus Christ is King. This is clearly seen by taking note of the number of times the words king and kingdom appear in each of the gospel accounts. Though not every use of these words pertains to Christ, most of the time they do in one way or another. Matthew uses king 20 times and kingdom 56 times. Mark uses king 11 times and kingdom 21 times. Luke uses king 8 times and kingdom 45 times. And John uses king 16 times and kingdom 5 times.
b. Mark's main theme is Christ the servant. He portrays the life of Jesus as full of benevolent deeds, with Christ moving quickly from one good deed to another. Jesus' actions are emphasized more than his teaching. Several key words are repeated throughout the book which support the theme of continual serving of others by Christ. Straightway, immediately, and forthwith. Their definitions follow.
1) Straightway - Immediately; without interval or delay; at once.
This word appears 19 times in Mark, 8 times in Matthew, 4 times in Luke, and once in John.
2) Immediately - Without any delay or lapse of time; instantly, directly, straightway; at once.
This word appears 17 times in Mark, 6 times in Matthew, 13 times in Luke, and 5 times in John.
3) Forthwith - Immediately, at once, without delay or interval.
This word appears 3 times in Mark, 2 times in Matthew, not at all in Luke, and once in John.
c. Luke especially shows the humanity of Jesus Christ. He presents the birth story in greater detail than the other gospel accounts (Mark and John don't even record the birth story), and gives a brief glimpse of Christ at the age of twelve. Christ's geneology through his human mother Mary is given as well. Luke emphasizes Christ undergoing the common experiences of humanity (such as natural growth, hunger, sleep, poverty, sorrow, etc.) and his sympathetic attitude toward the poor, the lowly, and the outcasts.
d. John's account gives strongest emphasis to the deity of Christ: the fact that Jesus Christ is God manifest in the flesh. Jesus Christ came down from heaven (he is God the Word, made flesh), sent by God (the Father) and given divine commission by God to accomplish certain things. The person and attributes of Christ as well as his deity are more fully given by John than the other gospel writers. John also records eight miracles of Christ (besides his resurrection) which prove his deity. Six of these miracles are found only in John's gospel account.
6. The order in which the four gospel accounts are listed in the Bible (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) bears the mark of God's inspiration. This is based upon how each account concludes. We note a definite order in the conclusions: Christ's resurrection, his ascension into heaven, the promise of the Holy Ghost's coming, Christ's second coming. The book of Matthew finishes with Christ being resurrected. Mark goes a step further and shows his ascension into heaven after his resurrection. Luke takes the next step in mentioning the promise of Christ to send the Holy Spirit (who anoints and empowers the gospel church after Christ's ascension, fully inaugurating the gospel church time period, which occupies the time between Christ's first and second comings). John finishes with mention of the second coming of Christ.
a. Matthew's final chapter leaves off with Christ being resurrected.
5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. 6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. 7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you… 16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. 17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. Matthew 28:5-7, 16-20.
b. Mark's final chapter goes a step further and mentions Christ's ascension into heaven.
So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. Mark 16:19.
c. Luke closes his account with Christ instructing his disciples that after his ascension they are to wait in Jerusalem until he sends the Holy Ghost upon them. As stated above, this involves the empowerment of the gospel church by God the Holy Ghost and the full inauguration of the gospel church time period which occupies the time between Christ's first and second coming. The following passage in Luke compared with a parallel passage in the book of Acts which Luke also wrote will show this to be so.
(Jesus speaking to his disciples) And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. Luke 24:49.
4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. 5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence…8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. Acts 1:4-5, 8.
d. John closes his account with Christ making mention of his coming, obviously his second coming since he had already come the first time and there are only two comings of Christ, the second of which will bring all of time and history to an end.
19 … And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me. 20 Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following;… 21 Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? 22 Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me. 23 Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? John 21:19-23.
e. Also recall the visions of Ezekiel 1and 10 and Revelation 4, which listed the lion, ox/cherub/calf, man, and eagle. Recall what each of these oftentimes symbolize. Lion: king, ox/cherub/calf: servant, man: man, eagle: deity.
1) Keeping in mind what each of these creatures is symbolic of, in the new testament vision of Revelation 4, the order of the creatures is the same as the order in which the four gospel accounts are listed: lion (king, Matthew), calf (servant, Mark), man (man, Luke), eagle (deity, John). This is some more evidence pointing to the inspiration of God even as concerning the order in which the four gospel accounts appear in his word, the Holy Scriptures.
2) Furthermore, the eagle is listed last in all three of the visions. The other three creatures each appear in the first, second, and third slot from vision to vision. This would seem to point to the distinction between John's account and the other three gospel accounts, which are sometimes referred to as the synoptic gospels because of their similarity of content. John not only presents the deity of Christ more fully than the other gospels but his account contains much information which is not in the other three gospels, while Matthew, Mark, and Luke have quite a large amount of similarity in what they each present about Christ.
C. This section presents some pre-Catholic historical citations showing that Christians in the first and second centuries already recognized the four gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) as part of the 27 books of the new testament. Furthermore, the new testament was written and finished by about 80 A.D. at the latest, the exceptions perhaps being the gospel of John, the epistles of 1John, 2John, and 3John, and the book of Revelation. These last five books which were all written by the apostle John may have been completed as late as 90 A.D. if not earlier. The point here is that the Roman Catholic Church did not decide which books would be included in the new testament in several councils in the 3rd and 4th centuries. God decided what books would be included in His Book and the Christian churches during the first century simply recognized those books as belonging to the canon of Holy Scripture. These citations are taken from He Walked Among Us by Josh McDowell.
1. Clement of Rome (Died ca. A.D. 102).
Clement's letter to the Corinthians is the only extant work from him which is accepted as genuine. It was written about A.D. 95 or 96. In it he tells of the martyrdom of Paul and Peter. Significantly, he also quotes from Matthew, Mark, Luke and Acts, as well as 1Corinthians, 1Peter, Hebrews, and Titus…Paragraph 24 speaks of Jesus' resurrection and reflects his teaching about a grain of wheat which must fall into the earth and die before it can bear fruit. The only gospel account reporting this teaching is the one from John, but Paul also uses it in 1Corinthians 15:36,37. Clement therefore confirms not only the bodily resurrection of Jesus but also some of his teaching which was passed on through John and Paul. Pgs. 77-78, He Walked Among Us by McDowell.
2. Ignatius (Died ca. A.D. 117).
On his way to certain martyrdom at Rome, Ignatius wrote seven letters, six to churches and one to his friend, Polycarp. He had been bishop of the church at Antioch before his arrest and condemnation to death… Tradition calls him a disciple of Peter, Paul and John.
Ignatius writes of a number of historical facts, and quotes from Matthew, John and Acts as well as many of Paul's letters, James and 1Peter. Pg. 79, He Walked Among Us by McDowell.
3. Papias (ca. A.D. 60 or 70 to130 or 140).
Papias was bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia and, according to Irenaeus, a hearer of John and companion of Polycarp. Eusebius remarks that Papias wrote five books entitled Expositions of Oracles of the Lord, and these were still extant in Eusebius' time…
… Eusebius does preserve what Papias reported concerning the formation of the gospels of Mark and Matthew. Concerning Mark, Papias wrote:
And the Elder said this also: Mark, having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately everything that he remembered, without however recording in order what was either said or done by Christ. For neither did he hear the Lord, nor did he follow him; but afterwards, as I said, (attended) Peter, who adapted his instructions to the needs (of his hearers) but had no design of giving a connected account of the Lord's oracles. So then Mark made no mistake, while he thus wrote down some things as he remembered them; for he made it his one care not to omit anything that he heard, or to set down any false statement therein. Eusebius, The History of the Church 3. 39.
And regarding Matthew: "So then Matthew composed the oracles in the Hebrew language, and each one interpreted them as he could."
… Other reported historical reminiscences from Papias include the complete story of the woman caught in adultery found in John 8:1-11. Since the story is not found in most of the older manuscripts of John's gospel, Papias' report is an important early documentation of this historical detail of Jesus' life.Pgs. 80-81, He Walked Among Us by McDowell.
4. The Didache (ca. A.D. 95).
A church manual, The Didache was written toward the end of the first century. It quotes from the Sermon on the Mount and the Lord's prayer, and gives other instruction based on material in the gospels. The Didache evidences that the early church, within seventy years of the crucifixion, believed that the gospel accounts were accurate descriptions of the life of the historical Jesus. Pg. 82, He Walked Among Us by McDowell.
5. Justin Martyr (ca. A.D. 100-166).
In all his works he supports the historical facts given in the gospel accounts (he calls them "Memoirs by the Apostles"). From these he quotes various events in the life of Christ and defends them. Like other early Christian writers, he appeals to the Old Testament as prophetic of events which occurred in Jesus' life. But if these events never occurred, it would have been useless to look for prophecies in the Old Testament which allegedly point to events described in the gospels. Pg. 84, He Walked Among Us by McDowell.
6. Irenaeus (ca. A.D. 120? to 190+).
Irenaeus is generally accepted as the most orthodox of the AnteNicene fathers (early church leaders prior to the council of Nicea in A.D. 325). He is a valuable source of information on the life of Jesus since he was a pupil of Polycarp, a disciple of the original apostles. Think of it. He could say, "My teacher was a disciple of a man who walked with Jesus." …
In his works he relies heavily on the Old Testament, all the gospels and nearly all the Epistles. Of the origin of the gospels he writes:
Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect,… Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter. Luke also, the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the gospel preached by him. Afterwards, John, the disciple of the Lord, who had leaned upon his breast, did himself publish a Gospel during his residence at Ephesus in Asia. Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3. 1. 1.
Notice that Irenaeus, like other early writers, is concerned that the reports about Jesus handed down by the apostles are reliable. He continues by saying that those who deny the teachings of the apostles "blaspheme their Creator after a most imprudent manner!" Pgs. 85-86, He Walked Among Us by McDowell.