Posted in Doctrine, Holy Spirit, Inspiration

John 14-16, The Holy Spirit, And The Writing Of Scripture

How many times have we heard it said that the baptism of the Holy Spirit was given to the apostles only (excepting Cornelius and his household and near friends—Acts 10), to enable them to write scripture? How many Christians still hold to this unfounded idea?

Not long before his death, Jesus met with his apostles in an upper room to observe the Jewish Passover feast (Mark 14:12-16). He observed the Passover, instituted the Lord’s Supper, predicted his betrayal, and spoke of various matters (Matt. 26:17-29; Luke 22:7-38; John 13-17). The passage from John provides some extraordinary information regarding the coming of the Holy Spirit.

Many times in the past, some gospel preachers have tried to distance us Christians from what the Lord promised regarding the Holy Spirit in John 14-16 by making the statement, “The Lord was talking only to the apostles,” thus attempting to suggest that whatever the passage said about the Holy Spirit was intended for the apostles only. And if intended for the apostles only, then the Lord’s statements were not intended for any other Christian in days to come.

Let me kindly suggest just here, that whatever the merit of the claim regarding the fact that the Lord was talking to the apostles only, the suggestion that therefore what was said could not apply to anyone else is going to have to be supported by something other than the fact that the statement or statements were made only to the apostles. Surely, no one in his right mind would be willing to affirm that everything the Lord said to the apostles only was intended (in application) for the apostles only!

For example, in John 14:6, to the apostles only Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me.” Obviously the “no one” who could not come to the Father but by Jesus applied to the apostles, but not to the apostles only, because it included all other men as well. So, even in the context, we know that to say that something was said TO an apostle ONLY does not entail the idea that it could not then apply to anyone else also.

Now if somehow at this point asks me, “Are you saying that everything in John 14-16 that was said to the apostles only applies equally in the same way and in the same sense to EVERYONE else?” I would answer, “No.” But that leaves “some things” in the passage that do apply both to apostles and to non-apostles as well, including the promise of the Holy Spirit whom the world cannot receive (John 14:17; 3:3-5; Acts 2:1-4, 38; 1 Cor. 12:13).

Now, I do not want to take up an analysis of the complete context of John 14-16 in an effort to see everything that applies in the same way and in the same sense to both apostles and to non-apostles. However, I do want to explore what restricting all of the passages on the Holy Spirit to “the apostles only” means with regard to the doctrine of inspiration and the writing of New Testament Scripture.

In John 13:30, Judas, one of the original twelve apostles, left the upper room before Jesus spoke about the coming of the Holy Spirit. The words of Jesus in John 14-16 were not spoken to Judas, so our first relevant point is that not even all of the original apostles were the recipients of the Lord’s words in chapters 14-16 of John regarding the Holy Spirit. The second point is that of the eleven apostles left, not all of them wrote Scripture, even though all of them did preach (Mark 16:14-20). Matthias later replaced Judas (Acts 1:15-26), but we have no Scripture from Matthias. Of the original group of twelve apostles (Matthew 10:2-4), the only ones who wrote Scripture were Matthew, John, and Peter. Of course, later Saul of Tarsus would be converted, and he became an apostle born out of due season (Acts 9:1-18; 22:16; 1 Cor. 15:8-9). But he was not present when the Lord spoke in John 14-16. So, thus far we have the following:

  1. Eleven apostles heard Jesus in John 14-16 (these were the apostles to whom he spoke);
  2. One apostle (Judas) was not present so the Lord did not speak directly to him;
  3. One apostle replaced Judas later (Matthias), so that he was not present either in John 14-16;
  4. One apostle (Paul) became such later, so that the Lord did not speak directly to him either in John 14-16.

So, of the twelve original apostles, one (Judas) was missing in John 14-16. The replacement (Matthias) was not present either because he had not been selected yet, and Saul who became Paul the apostle was not present either. So, of the apostles present on Pentecost of Acts 2 when the church began, there were only eleven of them who had been present in the upper room in John 14-16. And Paul was not yet a Christian and certainly not an apostle yet. Did all twelve of the apostles in Acts 2 speak by virtue of their having the Holy Spirit within? Of course (Acts 1:26-2:4)! But one of them never heard Jesus in the upper room promise him the Holy Spirit. Since he did receive the Holy Spirit, it was NOT because the Lord had spoken to him in John 14-16.

What is our point? Our first point is that what Jesus said TO the apostles ONLY in John 14-16 about the coming of the Holy Spirit was not said EVEN TO ALL OF THE APOSTLES! The second point is that since others became apostles later and did receive the Holy Spirit, their absence from the upper room in John 14-16 DID NOT EXCLUDE them from the application of the Lord’s remarks with regard to the coming of the Holy Spirit even though the Lord did not address them directly in the upper room. If Matthias and Paul both received the Holy Spirit, it was not because the Lord spoke to them as a part of the APOSTLES ONLY group in John 14-16 because they were not apostles at the time. If the Lord’s words applied to them, it was not because the Lord had spoken directly to them in John 14-16 about the coming Spirit. Now, as noted, we have no inspired writings from most of the apostles including Matthias. We do have inspired writings from the apostle Paul.

But now, consider: if most of the apostles did not write Scripture (and they did not, though they preached by inspiration), and if Matthew, John, Peter, and Paul (as apostles) did not write the totality of Scripture, then who were the writers of the rest of the New Testament?

Well, Scripture claims that non-apostle prophets did that. Notice these passages:

“And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly teachers…” (1 Cor. 12:28-29).

“So then ye are no more strangers and sojourners, but ye are fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief corner stone;” (Eph. 2:19-20).

“And he gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;” (Eph. 4:11).

All apostles were prophets, prophets being those through whom God spoke by his Holy Spirit. The word “prophet” refers to someone who speaks for someone else. Prophets of God spoke for God. Prophets received revelation and spoke or wrote by inspiration (cf. 1 Cor. 2:12-13). In Paul’s list in 1 Corinthians 12 and in Ephesians 4, prophets are second only to apostles. And this group included those non-apostle men whom God selected to write the rest of the New Testament. These were John Mark, Luke, James, and Jude. The apostle writers were Matthew, John, Peter, and Paul.

Now consider that about half of the New Testament writers, then, were non-apostles! That means that if they were in fact inspired to write Scripture, their receiving the Holy Spirit in order to write Scripture was not because the Lord was speaking to APOSTLES ONLY in John 14-16! They were NEVER apostles, and yet the same preachers who try to disconnect brethren today from the Holy Spirit on the basis that the Lord was talking to apostles only in John 14-16, evidently forget about this group of inspired writers to whom the Lord in John 14-16 was not speaking at all! And yet our restrictive preachers allow them “in” to receive the Holy Spirit so as to write Scripture (though they claim that these prophets did not receive the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit), but they keep us Christians today “out” of the application of any of the Lord’s remarks regarding the coming Spirit in John 14-16. What a hermeneutical mess!

Furthermore, when preachers today claim that the baptism of the Holy Spirit was for the purpose of enabling the apostles to write Scripture (as this precise point has been made by some of our preachers for years and years), it seems as though they forget the second class of writers (the prophets) altogether! Why? Because our preacher friends do not concede that the prophets were ever baptized in the Holy Spirit! Well if the prophets wrote Scripture without the baptism of the Spirit and the apostles received the baptism of the Spirit, certainly it wasn’t the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit that enabled them to write Scripture any more than the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit enabled Old Testament writers to write Scripture either. No one today in our brotherhood claims that David or Moses received the baptism of the Holy Spirit in order to write Scripture! What an absolute confusion some of our preachers experience with regard to the Holy Spirit. But a focused consideration of the above material ought to provide some clarity on the matter. While having the Holy Spirit was necessary to a person’s speaking or writing by inspiration (1 Cor. 2:12-13; 1 Pet. 1:10-11; 2 Pet. 1:20-21), the “baptism” of the Spirit had nothing to do with either inspired speaking or inspired writing.

Please note that our opponents on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit go to John 14-16 and claim:

  1. In speaking of the Spirit, Jesus is talking about the baptism of the Spirit even though the word “baptism” in the context cannot be found;
  2. They claim that this “baptism” of the Spirit was promised to the apostles ONLY thus eliminating about half of the New Testament since about half was written by non-apostle prophets who according to our opponents never received the baptism of the Spirit but received the so-called “laying-on-of hands” measure of the Spirit.

Now, if it is true that Jesus is in John 14-16 speaking of Holy Spirit baptism (and our opponents claim that he is), and if it does apply to some non-apostles (New Testament prophets), and if non-apostle prophets wrote Scripture without receiving Holy Spirit baptism, then the apostles clearly did not write Scripture because they had received Holy Spirit baptism but rather because from the Holy Spirit they had received the gift of prophecy (1 Cor. 12:10-11). This shows that Holy Spirit baptism has nothing at all to do with the writing of Scripture! The gift of “prophecy” is what enabled men to write Scripture. This came FROM the Holy Spirit but was NOT the Holy Spirit any more than “the gifts of healings” constituted the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:4-11).

Furthermore, if Holy Spirit baptism has nothing to do with the writing of Scripture (and it does not), and if prophets and apostles wrote Scripture by means of the gift of prophecy (and they did), then if the non-apostle prophets who wrote the rest of the New Testament were “guided into all the truth” as well as the apostles in order to write Scripture (and they were—John 16:13), then there is no way for our opponents to restrict the application of the Lord’s remarks in John 14-16 on the Holy Spirit to apostles ONLY!

Posted in Inspiration

The Unity of the Bible

By Roy C. Deaver

The great general area of study called “Christian Apologetics” deals with evidences (or proofs) related to (1) the existence of God, (2) the deity of Jesus Christ, (3) the inspiration of the Bible. With regard to “evidences of inspiration” there are (1) evidences external, and (2) evidences internal. One of the most powerfully convincing internal evidences is the marvelous unity of the Bible.

Unity in Theme and Purpose

The Bible is a wonderful unit in theme and in purpose. By “theme” we mean the Bible’s basic message. By “purpose” we mean the reason for and the consequent blessings of that message.

It has been accurately observed and properly stressed that the “theme” of the Bible is: The coming of Christ. The Old Testament message is: The Christ is coming. The New Testament message is: The Christ has come and will come again. In statement, type, shadow, copy, and figure the Old Testament presents this message. In plain declaration, in anti-type, in substance, in original, and in the real— the New Testament presents this message. All is involved in the Christ— his gospel, his church, his blessings to men.

But, what about the “purpose” of the Bible? (1) The Bible relates to the need for human redemption. The first three chapters of Genesis explain how sin made its entrance into the world. Human beings are born into a world where sin is. (2) Accountable persons, in transgressing God’s law, thereby become sinners. The tragic fact is that all accountable persons do transgress God’s law and do become sinners. Cf. Romans 3:23; I John 1:8. (3) Redemption is in and through Jesus Christ, Romans 3:24; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14. (4) As previously indicated, the Old Testament points to Christ. “And beginning from Moses and from all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself,” Luke 24:27. The Old Testament Scriptures bore witness of Christ, John 5:39. Paul persuaded “them concerning Jesus, both from the law of Moses and from the prophets, from morning till evening,” Acts 28:23. (5) Human redemption glorifies God. “Sonship” through Christ is “to the praise of the glory of his (God’s) grace,” Ephesians 1:6. “Unto him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all generations forever and ever, ” Ephesians 3:21. “To the only wise God, through Jesus Christ…be the glory forever,” Romans 16:27.

It is based upon consideration of these five basic facts that we summarize the purpose of the Bible as follows: THE GLORY OF GOD AND THE SALVATION OF MAN, THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD. This is the purpose line which runs all the way through the Bible— from Genesis 1:l through the last verse of the Revelation. Every word in every verse in every paragraph of every chapter of every book sustains a vital relationship to this purpose line.

Unity in Books

The Bible is one book, but it is made up of many books. It has 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 books in the New Testament. It is one in theme; it is one in purpose.

Every book of the Bible has a unique message of its own. Every book of the Bible makes a unique contribution to the overall purpose of the Bible. Every book of the Bible does something (with regard to the purpose line) which no other book does. And, it is from this viewpoint that we declare that every book of the Bible is the greatest book of the Bible. Each book does something which no other book does. It is my job as a student to learn the basic message of each book— to learn the unique contribution which each book makes to the overall purpose.

Think of the book of Genesis. An appropriate title would be: The Book of Beginnings. Its purpose is, to set forth the beginning and early development of the scheme of redemption. It divides itself into five natural sections: (1) from the creation to Abraham, (2) the life of Abraham, (3) the life of Isaac, (4) the life of Jacob, and (5) the life of Joseph. But all as involved in the beginning and early development of the scheme of redemption.

Ephesians is: The Church of our Lord— God’s Plan for Man’s Salvation. Chapters one through three deal with the nature of the church; chapters four through six deal with the Christian’s life in that church.

The book of Hebrews is: The Way of Christ— The Better Way. Paul emphasizes: (1) Christians have the better medium, 1:l-4:13; (2) Christians have the better high priest, 4:14-10:18; (3) Christians have the better way, the way of faith, 10:19-13:25.

Whatever the book, it is a marvelous unit, it has a unique message, and it makes a unique contribution to the purpose of the Bible.

Unity in Presentation

If one begins reading in Genesis one and continues through the Bible, he is reading the gradual unfolding of God’s wonderful message of redemption. It is one beautiful connected story. In the Old Testament the story is told consecutively from Genesis through Nehemiah (Esther should be read at the end of Ezra 6). The books of Job through Malachi give additional details that are involved in the connected story. In Old Testament history “God Prepared the Perfect Plan.” In the New Testament history “God Presented this Plan to Man.”

This beautiful, amazing story of redemption is presented in wonderful consistency. There are no contradictions in the sacred message. Men have often referred to apparent contradictions, but thorough investigation never fails to remove the difficulty. “Contradictions” are often imagined where there are none.

From first till last the Bible was written by approximately forty writers, and over a period of sixteen hundred years. It was begun by Moses in the desert of Arabia, and was completed by John on the isle of Patmos. The writers generally were not conscious of the works of others. They were widely separated in geography and in chronology. They were fishermen, farmers, shepherds, soldiers and kings. They wrote in palaces, pastures, prisons and in tents. There were men who were highly educated, and there were men untutored and unlearned (so far as concerned formal education of the day). These were not a literary people. Yet, when these writings are all brought together in one sacred volume, there is perfect unity— there are no contradictions.


If a forty-piece orchestra should suddenly begin to play— in perfect timing, melody, and harmony— it would be evidence of direction by a single mind.

If forty archers, in forty different places, widely separated in time, should shoot their arrows and all hit the same target “dead-center” it would be evidence of (proof of) direction by a single mind.

If forty men— widely separated in geography, with varied backgrounds, and living over a period of sixteen hundred years— should each write down a few lines, and these lines when brought together constituted a beautiful poem, it would be evidence of direction by a single mind.

Because of its marvelous and otherwise inexplicable unity, we believe the Bible came from God— that it is miraculously inspired and is divine authority.