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Last Week’s Application
As a group, let’s commit to memorize 1
Corinthians 15:1-4 in order to communicate the
gospel clearly when the opportunity arises.
Write these verses on a card or slip of paper, then
put it somewhere you will see it often. Pray as a
group for God to provide opportunities for
sharing the gospel.
How did it go?
Adult Sunday School: Session 4
How the Books of the New Testament
Theme: God created the NT canon by
inspiring the written words of Christ-
commissioned eyewitnesses and
their close associates
1. Apostle—From Greek apostolos, “sent out,”
“commissioned”; a witness of the resurrection of Jesus
Christ (Acts 1:22) and recipient of his teachings (Ephesians
3:5), commissioned to safeguard the gospel and to apply
the teachings of Jesus in the churches. Occasionally
applied more broadly to individuals sent on a mission
(Acts 14:4, 14)
2. Athanasius (c. 296-373)—A bishop in Alexandria who
championed the doctrine of the Trinity against the heretic
Arius. He wrote an Easter letter in the year AD 367 which
listed the same 27 books that appear in the NT today.
3. Lost Gospels—The term usually refers to ancient
writings that were excluded from the NT, even
though they included supposed recollections of
events and teachings from the life of Jesus. Complete
manuscripts of a few of these lost Gospels have
survived. Others survive only in tiny fragments of
papyrus or in brief quotations found in the writings
of early Christian scholars. Several lost Gospels were
discovered anew in the past 100 years...
3. Lost Gospels—…Copies of some texts—such as
Gospel of Philip, Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Truth,
and Coptic Gospel of the Egyptians—were unearthed
in 1945 in Egypt, near a village known as Nag
Hammadi. If a Gospel is defined as an ancient
retelling of the events or teachings from Jesus’ life,
there are fewer than 30 known Gospels. Unlike the
NT Gospels, many lost Gospels record only isolated
teachings or fragmentary incidents from the life of
4. Muratorian Fragment—First known listing of Christian
writings that were received as authoritative and be
publicly read in the churches; so called because it’s
recorded on a fragment discovered by a man named
Ludovico Muratori around 1740. No one knows who
recorded this list; the list seems to have been written in
the vicinity of Rome in the second half of the second
century and may have originated in a gathering of church
leaders. The list includes all the books that appear in the
NT today except Hebrews, James, 1 & 2 Peter, and 2 & 3
Questions We’re Afraid to Ask
1. Can every book in the NT be connected to an eyewitness?
What about the books disputed early on like Hebrews and
2. Who created the NT canon? I’ve heard a plausible story that
the Roman Emperor Constantine is responsible for the
formation of the NT canon as he called and presided over the
First Council of Nicaea in AD 325.
3. How can we know that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were
really the sources behind the Gospels? After all, none of these
Gospels claim to be written by a particular author.
Consider and Discuss
1. Compared to other ancient historical writings, the NT
books were written not long after the events they
describe—during the lifetime of eyewitnesses, in fact!
Why do you think these eyewitness accounts are
criticized and mistrusted by secular historians, even
though other ancient eyewitness testimonies are
accepted without question?
2. The Gospel is historically trustworthy. How does this
truth impact your everyday life?
3. Early Christians cared deeply about preserving and
passing on the message of the eyewitnesses. Does your
own life reflect that same passion? What are some things
you can do to help more people hear or read this
Application for Daily Life
The biblical authors often describe the power of
God’s Word to combat all sorts of evil, including
deceitful teachings. As a group, let’s dedicate
ourselves to encourage and push each other to
memorize and study Scripture. Start here:
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for
teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in
righteousness, that the man of God may be competent,
equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17