in Blog

What Benefit Is It to Know About the Rapid Writers of Jesus?

  • June 2, 2020
  • By Ben van Noort
What Benefit Is It to Know About the Rapid Writers of Jesus?

Is it beneficial to know that the Gospels are written down by rapid writers?

Practical Benefits
There are indeed several benefits:
– To know that the stories are not fake.
– To know that you are on solid ground reading the Gospels.
– There is no need to think deeply—without a final answer—how the Gospels came to us.
– There is no need to explain theologically what practically happened. And for this, we will take an example.

The Mountain Where Jesus Revealed Himself

Matthew’s Gospel ends with one of the resurrection stories to the eleven disciples. The women who had met Jesus near the tomb received the task of bringing a message from Jesus to the disciples: “Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see me,’” (Matthew 28:10).

And in v. 16 we read: “Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.” Most probably it was the mountain near Capernaum (Matthew 8:5, Luke 7:1) where Jesus had chosen his disciples (Luke 6:13–16) and had already called them apostles. The mountain near Capernaum most probably belonged to the higher places westward of the fishing village.

Some Doubted

And there they saw him again after his resurrection: “And when they saw him they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me,’” (Matthew 28: 17–18). Here we have the example of “a seeming theological difficulty”, which is only a practical detail. Regularly I have heard a preacher telling that doubts are okay; even some of the eleven disciples were still in doubt when Jesus appeared to them.

Theological or Practical Doubt?
But that is not the case, they were not in doubt about Jesus, but more about the whole situation. R. T. France said about this “It is hardly surprising that such an extraordinary event as the resurrection found them in ‘two minds,’” (the heavenly brightness blinds them).[1] The clue in this passage is: “And Jesus came and said to them.” Just as with Christmas: Jesus came, and as he was closer to them, they saw him better and they became satisfied.

In this event the so called Great Commission is given, “Make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” There is no theological explanation necessary for the “doubt”, it is a practical feature in the text. Here they were in one of the places where Jesus had taught them (Sermon on the Mount), where they were called as disciples. And from this place they were sent out.

Natural Confusion
We have here an observation by a rapid writer of a natural confusion, and not a description of “a theological shortcoming” among some who were there.    

[1] R. T. France, “The Gospel according to Matthew”, in: Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Leicester, Inter-Varsity Press; Grand Rapids, W. B. Eerdmans: 1985) 413

By Ben van Noort, June 2, 2020