5. The Bible And Authorship of the Gospels

The Bible is the most important document ever written. It is the inspired word of God. God dictated it to righteous men:

“For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” 2 Peter 1:21

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16

Without the Bible we cannot know God. It tells us of His character and His will in the world and in our lives.

It is also the foundation for our Western Society, American government, and our culture.

It is the greatest piece of literature ever written containing some of the most beautiful prose and poetry ever written (Psalms as well as many individual passages rhyme in Hebrew).

It is essential that we study our Bible regularly. We cannot become too familiar with it. This is how we draw closer to God.

Authorship of Synoptic Gospels

None of the gospels say within themselves who wrote them, but the church fathers from the early second century attached the current names to them. They would have been the students of the authors, or at most, grand-students. They even quoted from them and we still have those quotes.

Doubt about authorship of the synoptic gospels did not arise until the “Age of (Un)Enlightenment”- 1800’s. This was a time with people tried to prove how smart they were by throwing away everything accepted as truth before them. They especially scoffed at the Bible and Christianity, seeing atheism as more “intellectual.” These people move the writing of the gospels to much later times, requiring different authors than tradition calls for.

Dating the Gospels

None of the gospels or Acts mention AD70. Ad70 was 40 years (ish) after The Crucifixion. Since this event would have proven Jesus' prophecies true and it would have supported the authors' case of His being God, this alone lends powerful proof that the gospels were written before AD70.If they were written afterwards it would have been in the best interest of their cause to include that event.

Nor do they mention Nero’s persecution, the death of Paul or Peter (AD64, 65) Wouldn’t Acts, by its very nature as the history of the Early Church, have mentioned these things?

If you were to fake a gospel, put a name on it that wasn't the true author, you would pick the most popular, trust worthy disciple to name it after; Peter or James.

Matthew was at best a minor Disciple.

Mark and Luke weren’t even disciples. Luke wasn’t even a Jew (best we can tell).

All four have had their names attached since the early second century with no competitors, no doubts (except for John which I discuss in a different article) until the 1800’s.

Q Source

The existence of a “Q gospel” is speculation. It was never mentioned by early church leaders, never hinted at. No copies survived, though we have many faux-gospels (all named after prominent disciples, by the way). The idea was first purposed in the 1800’s, after many came to believe Mark was written before Matthew. Q “must” have existed because where else would Mark get all his information?

Q is believed to be a collection of sayings from Jesus written before “Christian doctrine” was developed. There is a subtle distrust/disbelief in "the Bible as truth" here.

If Matthew was written first, we don’t really need Q, since Matthew could easily have been the primary source of the record of Christ’s sayings.


Ancients believed Matthew was the first gospel written. It is 90% the same as Mark, so modern scholars assume Mark was written first and Matthew copied and expanded on his work (with the help of Q). However, the scholars from the first and second century believed the other way around; Mark summarized Matthew.

Matthew was probably written in Antioch.

One question would be why Matthew would copy, just about word for word, Mark’s accounts of what Matthew experienced first-hand (such as the banquet in his own house in Matthew 9:9-13, Mark 2:13-17) Isn’t it more reasonable that Matthew wrote it down first and Mark copied him?

Matthew focused on the Jews. He quotes the Old Testament 62 times. He doesn’t bother to explain Jewish customs as the other gospels do.

He is the only author to use “Kingdom of Heaven” instead of “Kingdom of God.”

He correlates Old Testament prophecy with the life of Christ.

Some quotes from the early fathers sound kind of like Matthew was originally written in Aramaic, but the grammar is correct Greek with no hint of translation problems. We are probably misunderstanding the pronoun assignment in the 2nd century quotes.

Matthew was quoted from by Ignatius who died around A.D.115. This book is also quoted by Clement by the very late 1st century AD, so we know it was written and already considered "scripture" by then.There is no way our modern doubters could be right in assigning Matthew to the second century. Ignatius couldn't have quoted from a book written after his death.

Matthew may have been written by as early as AD40, though most think around 50. Notes added by scholars as early as AD125 attribute it to the disciple Matthew and are found on all known manuscripts. There is no known debate of authorship prior to modern times.

“As a tax collector, Matthew possessed a skill that makes his writing all the more exciting for Christians. Tax collectors were expected to be able to write in a form of shorthand, which essentially meant that Matthew could record a person’s words as they spoke, word for word. This ability means that the words of Matthew are not only inspired by the Holy Spirit, but should represent an actual transcript of some of Christ’s sermons. For example, the Sermon on the Mount, as recorded in chapters 5-7, is almost certainly a perfect recording of that great message.”

This would fulfill the requirements for a source of exact sayings written shortly after the time of Christ, exactly what Q is supposed to be.

Matthew IS Q.


Some now believe Mark to be the first written because it is so much shorter and similar to Matthew. The speculation is that Matthew took Mark’s gospel (plus Q) and expanded it.

However, it is likely Mark took Matthew’s gospel and eliminated all that the Roman Christians he was writing to would not have been interested in, and added explanations the gentiles needed of basic Jewish culture.

The general agreement is that “Mark” is the gospel of Peter as told to John Mark (with the book of Matthew in hand). It was likely written around AD65 (Peter being murdered around 65). Whether written before or after Peter’s death we can’t really tell from the early church’s writings. They contradict each other. Maybe he began it before Peter died and finished it after?

Mark was a companion of Paul (Acts 12:25) the cousin of Barnabas (Col.4:10) and the companion of Peter (I Peter 5:13) possibly his interpreter. He was called “stump-fingered” by one of the 2nd century church leaders (because he had short fingers?)

The grammar and structure are consistent with Mark’s believed educational/social level. The linguistic style is that of someone writing in a second language with their first language Aramaic.

Mark refers to “Rufus and Alexander” (Mark.15:21) being the sons of Simon of Cyrene. Why would he bother with this unless the audience for the gospel knew who Rufus and Alexander were? Rufus is mentioned by Paul in the book of Romans (16:13). Even if the author were someone other than John Mark it still shows that the gospel had to have been written within the lifetime of the sons of Simon of Cyrene.”

Mark employs Roman time keeping, uses Roman military terminology which would have been understood by his audience.

Luke may possibly have developed John Mark in the book of Acts not only for literary reasons within the book, but because he was a source which Luke used

There is a similarity between the broad outline of this Gospel and Peter’s sermon in Caesarea [Galilee, Jerusalem, Passion, Resurrection, Commission] (Acts 10:34-43)

Mark was considered to be an abstract of Matthew from Augustine until the early part of the nineteenth century (Guthrie, p. 133)

Details in the book of Mark, such as Jesus using a pillow in the boat, suggest that the account came from an eyewitness, which Peter certainly was.

The original document appears to have ended at 16:8. 9- and the rest was added later.


Luke was written by gentile Luke, who was a companion of Paul, acquaintance of apostles and other eyewitnesses. It was written before Paul’s execution (mid 60’s?)

The last part of Acts was written in first person plural (we). Possibly Acts was written as part of Paul’s defense before Caesar. Maybe he had Matthew and Mark in hand as well as Paul’s knowledge and that of other disciples in Rome. Since his stated purpose was to give a historical record, he would have done extensive research.

With Hebrews, Luke and Acts are the best Greek in the Bible. Luke was very educated.

So when were they written? Acts could not have been written earlier than [Festus's appointment as procurator (24:27), which… appears to have occurred between A.D.55 and 59] AD63 is gaining popularity for the date of Acts writing.

Luke was written before Acts, so likely late 50’s or very early 60’s.


Unlike the authorship of the other three gospels, authorship of John has been debated since ancient times. We have never been really sure who wrote it.

John is quoted in writings from AD135, so must have been written earlier than that. Most believe written it was written between AD80-90  though there is no clear mention of the fall of Jerusalem. There may be a hint of it in Jesus talking about destroying the temple and raising it in three days.

John was probably written in Ephesus.

Though tradition says that St John, 1, 2, 3, John, and Revelation are all written by the same man, the John's are written in much more educated Greek than Revelation, evidence they don’t have the same author.

Papais says "he [John] was killed by the Jews." Which would have happened late 60s or early 70s. If John was written in 80-90 it could not have been written by the disciple.

(It is commonly believed that John died a natural death even after being boiled in oil. However, I can find no reliable source for the oil story. It likely is a folk tale entering Christianity a couple hundred years after John's death.

The idea that John was not martyred is based on a flawed interpretation of John 21:20-24 where Jesus said in reference to the beloved disciple, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me." But as the book of John says itself, "But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?" So, 1) Jesus did not say the beloved disciple would not be martyred but that it was none of Peter's business either way, and 2) as my next article will discuss, John was likely not the beloved disciple anyway.)

The earliest quotes from John are from AD.120 maybe 117. Augustine in the early second century quoted enough from the book of John we could assemble the whole thing just from his quotes!

Early dates for the Gospels are important because it means eye witnesses wrote them, making them the gold standard of historical record; there is no possible way to make them more reliable.

Also, it doesn’t allow time for myths to creep in to the culture. And there would have been eyewitnesses around who could have called a lie, yet there is no record from the first or second century of anyone disputing the gospel accounts.

Doubt only comes from our “Enlightened, superior” times.