By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)
One of the claims often made against the New Testament is that no one in the first century knew who wrote the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John).
This has led many critics of the Bible to proclaim that there were actually no eyewitnesses of Jesus Christ.
However, there are several reasons to reject this criticism of the New Testament, the most one being this: the Gospels are not anonymous!
Indeed, there is a great deal of evidence to document that the Gospels were indeed written by the Apostles (Matthew, John), and the close companions of the Apostles (Mark, Luke).
Writing of some of this evidence, one author informs us:
“The first and perhaps biggest problem for the theory of the anonymous Gospels is this: no anonymous copies of Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John have ever been found. They do not exist. …Instead, as New Testament scholar Simon Gathercole has demonstrated, the ancient manuscripts are unanimous in attributing these books to the apostles and their companions…When it comes to the titles of the Gospels, not only the earliest and best manuscripts, but all of the ancient manuscripts without exception, in every language— attribute the four Gospels to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John….Second, notice that there is some variation in the form of the titles (for example, some of the later manuscripts omit the word “Gospel”). However, as New Testament scholar Michael Bird notes, there is “absolute uniformity” in the authors to whom each of the books is attributed….In fact, it is precisely the familiar names of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John that are found in every single manuscript we possess!…Third— and this is important— notice also that the titles are present in the most ancient copies of each Gospel we possess, including the earliest fragments, known as papyri (from the papyrus leaves of which they were made). For example, the earliest Greek manuscript of the Gospel of Matthew contains the title “The Gospel according to Matthew” (Greek euangelion kata Matthaion ) (Papyrus 4). Likewise, the oldest Greek copy of the beginning of the Gospel of Mark starts with the title “The Gospel according to Mark” (Greek euangelion kata Markon )…In short, the earliest and best copies of the four Gospels are unanimously attributed to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. There is absolutely no manuscript evidence— and thus no actual historical evidence— to support the claim that “originally” the Gospels had no titles.” (Brant Pitre, The Case For The Real Jesus: The Biblical And Historical Evidence For Christ, 17-19 (Kindle Edition); New York, NY: Image, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House).
Even the earliest enemies of Christianity acknowledged the genuineness of the New Testament Books!
For example, consider the following:
“Infidel writers of the first four centuries also wrote favoring our authors. The Emperor Julian, known as “the apostate,” wrote in 361 a work against Christianity; but he nowhere expressed a doubt as to either the books of Christians or their authors. It is almost certain that had occasion admitted of it, he would have challenged the genuineness of the books. Porphyry, universally conceded to have been the most formidable opponent to Christianity, wrote in 270, and spoke of Matthew as “their evangelist.” In 176, Celsus, esteemed by modern infidels as a wonderful philosopher, wrote a book against Christianity entitled A True Discourse, of which Origen has preserved fragments. But so unlike was he to his modern infidel brethren that he admitted the existence of the Christian or New Testament writings, and their genuineness…Whatever the reason, it must be apparent to every unprejudiced mind that earnest seekers after truth, who ignore such testimony accessible to the average scholar, are inexcusably guilty of trifling with indisputable evidence which would be convincing in any civil court. Such testimony has been provided in abundance by the friends and foes of the lowly Nazarene- our Lord in glory- and it proves that these”…holy men of God,” to whom their writings were assigned, “spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:21).”” (James Todd, quoted by W.E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of Old Testament Words, 167-168,; Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Company)
When we consider the evidence that the early heretical sects of the church (such as the various branches of the Gnostic groups) also accepted the genuineness of the Gospels, as well as the most ancient, vehement, and secularly learned opponents of the faith, then we realize that the “anonymous gospel” claim is simply not true.
I encourage you to place your complete faith in the Jesus Christ of the Bible. He died for your sins, was buried, and arose from the dead on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). Only He can save us from our sins (John 14:6).
He proclaims that we must repent of our sins as believers and be baptized by His authority to receive the forgiveness of our sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:37-38).
If you are a child of God who has left the Lord’s church, I encourage you to repent and turn back to Him in prayer (1 John 1:9).
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.