1.1 Proposition 1: The Law Went Forth
The statement was made above: “The thing we need to know is: at what point did the law of the Lord go forth?” The premises of this proposition are as follows:
No part of the New Testament could not be delivered before the “law of the Lord went forth.”
The law of the Lord went forth from Jerusalem, as recorded in Acts 2.
No part of the New Testament is recorded before Acts 2.
The error is that the major (first) premise is false. The point or location from which the “law of the Lord went forth” has no bearing on whether Jesus could or could not have delivered NT teaching before that point in time. This is clear from what Jesus taught (especially Jno.13-17). What does matter is what was contained in the law of the Lord when it went forth from Jerusalem. The law of the Lord was to go forth from Jerusalem (Isa.2:1-4; Lk.24:46-49), so there is no problem with the minor (second) premise. But, all of this law was yet to be written when it went forth. All 27 books of the NT went forth from Jerusalem. These 27 books were first in oral form spoken by the Spirit through the apostles and prophets. Indeed, Peter spoke of things on Pentecost that were later to be recorded in MML&J (Acts 2:22-24, 36).
Examine the books that were written by those who were the instruments of the Holy Spirit after Acts 2 (the record of when/where the law of the Lord began to go forth). We must conclude that MML&J were among the things the Spirit revealed as the law of the Lord was going forth from Jerusalem. What does matter is what went forth went from Jerusalem. Now, let us see what was to go forth from Jerusalem into all the world. Notice what Jesus said would be among the things going forth from Jerusalem:
- “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world” (Matthew 24:14). Thus, the message Jesus had been preaching would be among the things that would go forth from Jerusalem into all the world. Jesus did not intend that the message He had been preaching to Jews only, would always be for Jews only. The pre-cross gospel He had been preaching would “be preached in all the world.” MML&J present to us the gospel that Jesus wanted to be preached in all the world, the gospel that was first spoken to the Jews (Romans 1:16).
- The story of the woman who anointed Jesus before the cross (Matthew 26:6-13) was to be told: “wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world.” Notice again that the gospel Jesus preached before the cross was to be preached “in the whole world.” Thus, once again, Jesus makes it irrelevant that during His ministry He had been talking to Jews only. The gospel He first preached to Jews only would eventually be preached “in the whole world.” This is quite important because the argument will be made quite forcefully that Jesus only talked to Jews during His ministry. From that fact it will be argued that Jesus could not have talked to the Jews about NT principles and that He could only talk to the Jews about their law or prophecy about the kingdom. But Jesus tells us in the above two verses that what He was teaching as “this gospel” (before the cross) would extend to “all the world.” Those who teach that MML&J are not the gospel have to answer the question of whether the following statement of Jesus could be true: “Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her"(Matthew 26:13). The story of the woman is not found in Acts 2 - Revelation 22 (the supposed NT that was to go forth from Jerusalem). Since only Matthew and Mark tell that story, it is inescapable that Matthew and Mark would contain “this gospel” that was to be preached in all the world. Another thing we cannot escape is that the message Jesus was preaching before the cross would be among the things that would “go forth from Jerusalem.” We will re-emphasize this point again later.
- “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26). The time: before the cross. The speaker is Jesus, and the persons spoken to were the apostles. Matthew and John are presenting the Spirit’s divine recall of what Jesus taught them. John was inspired by the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit was bringing this event to his remembrance when he wrote John 14:26. How could he not be writing a New Testament book? Mark and Luke are doing the same, even though we cannot establish that Jesus talked to them personally in the past. But these pre-cross sayings of Jesus were going to be recalled to them by the Spirit later, beginning at Jerusalem in Acts 2. Therefore, whatever it was that would “go forth from Jerusalem,” would have to contain some of Jesus’ sayings He spoke before the cross. MML&J definitely present to us the kind of things Jesus said would be recalled by the Spirit. MML&J were written with the Spirit’s help in a perfect recall. These books are presented during the Spirit’s administration beginning from Jerusalem. Therefore, these books are beyond dispute NT books, and even though they present some of the pre-cross words of Jesus, it is beyond dispute that Jesus intended that these words be recalled by the Spirit after the cross for the benefit of all the world.
- The disciples were told to remember some things Jesus told them while He was with them. An example is John 15:20: "Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.” The apostles were learning things from Jesus’ example of service that they would carry over into their service after the cross. Jesus had given an example (John 13) that they should do as He had done. That example was to be carried in their memory and expressed in their activities after the cross. MML&J were written for us to see the example He wanted us to follow. The example of humble service was seen before the cross in Jesus’ service to them. Therefore, some things before the cross were to be carried out in practice after the cross. We learn many of these binding examples only in MML&J. These are NT books that went forth from Jerusalem.
- The great commission (Matthew 28:20) expressly commanded that “whatever I have commanded you” was to be extended to those that the disciples taught beginning at Jerusalem. While it is argued by some that this refers only to the commands Jesus gave after the cross in the 40 day period, this defeats the argument that “at what point the law went forth” is the crucial argument. If it is allowed that some commands were given by Jesus pre-Acts 2-Jerusalem, this contradicts the argument that the law went forth from Jerusalem. Those who take refuge in the 40-day loophole have allowed that some of the law went forth from Jesus before Acts 2. (We are not granting the assumption that the command of Matthew 28:20 speaks only of commands given in the 40 day period. We are simply showing that the explanation made on Matthew 28:20 contradicts another argument that is made. If it is crucial “when” the law of the Lord went forth and from where it went forth, then the apostles could not use the commands in the 40 days period after the cross.) The great commission should then say for them to “teach them to observe all things I will command you when My law goes forth from Jerusalem.” Either the argument on Isaiah 2 (“go forth from Jerusalem”) is used faultily, or the argument on Matthew 28:20 (“teach them to observe all things I have commanded you”) is used faultily. We believe that both passages are being misused, but if they are right in their use of one passage, then they are not right in their use of the other.
We will look more extensively at the great commission later, in some of the request lists of topics (posted at the end of this document). Right now we are simply addressing the earlier quote and the first proposition. The simple, straightforward interpretation of Matthew 28:20 is that Jesus wanted them to teach that all things that Jesus taught them would be applicable. It is clear that he did not have to qualify this general statement to say that it should exclude those incidental things such as Peter catching a fish that would have a coin in its mouth. It is also clear that this excluded many specifics of the law that would no longer apply. The disciples were told to teach whatever Jesus had commanded them, not necessarily inferred to be what Moses had already previously commanded them.
We have established in the five points above that the major premise of the first proposition is false, and therefore the entire proposition is false. The question of “at what point did the law of the Lord go forth” is really not a crucial point, and the use made of that issue is very faulty. What matters is what went forth from Jerusalem. When we consider that the Spirit gave us these 27 NT books after Acts 2, then it is easy to see that part of the law of the Lord that went forth from Jerusalem were the books of MML&J. In those books are some of the things Jesus intended to be “preached in all the world.” If it is crucial “at what point” something went forth from Jerusalem, then MML&J have as much right to the NT canon as any of the other 23 books. If it is crucial as to what went forth from Jerusalem, then the Holy Spirit’s reminders of what Jesus had said to the apostles were given in MML&J and become just as much a part of the Spirit’s ministry of revelation as any of the other 27 NT books.