The answer seems simple doesn’t it? Well you are right, it is simple! While it is true that their names have not “been signed on the dotted line” of any of the copies of the gospels that have been found, scholars and the early church both affixed the names of the authors with their gospels.
Matthew, a tax collector also known as Levi and one of the twelve disciples, wrote the first gospel in the New Testament of Matthew. John Mark, who was a friend of the disciple Peter, wrote the Book of Mark. And Luke, who was Paul’s doctor, wrote the book of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles.
So as you can quickly see, these books were written by either a disciple of Christ or a person that was a close associate of a disciple and used their words. The main reason we can say with certainty that these books were written by these authors is twofold: first, there is no competition. No one else in almost 2000 years has claimed to have written them or someone uncovered evidence otherwise. The other reason is the lack of influence credibility theory. It works something like this: If I were to write a book about Jesus that was false and wanted people to believe it, would I choose to put down the name of a tax collector, who is by far not the most loved person? No I would choose someone with some influence and respect. Nor would I put down the name of a second hand person. I would pick one of the twelve disciples that I felt was the most trustworthy and well liked and put their name down as the author of my work. These did not happen.
The fun part of this theory is the book of John. Now John was a very prominent man in the community as well as one of Jesus’ inner three. But the author of the Book of John is actually the only one in question. In the second century AD, a Christian writer named Papias wrote about John the Apostle and “John the Elder”. It is not sure if he is speaking of a single person and giving him two titles, which was extremely common in the day, or if he is actually referring to two different people. However, this one quote aside which may not be a issue anyhow if it is the same John, everything else points to the fact that John the Apostle wrote the Book of John.
Additionally, many have argued that since two of these books were written by non-disciples that there is a possibility of them adding their own slant to the story to make it more magical or meaningful. That is not true at all, even in today’s systems.
Take for example a court stenographer. They do not know the people involved in the case at all; they have never seen them before in their lives! Yet they write down what the people say and it is accepted as “truth” even though they were never there and did not see the events.
The same can be said for the biographers of today. The authors that wrote the Princess Diana biographies after she died may have known her…or they may not have. The ones that did know her personally can write about what they saw and heard while they were with her. Those that did not know her talked to her friends, family, and those that did know her and then wrote those facts down as a book and it is instantly accepted as the truth even though they had never met her. Should we not give the same considerations to people that are dealing with God? You and I would be extra careful with all the facts if we knew God was looking over our shoulder; don’t you think they did as well? And remember this is a time where you are stoned to death for being a false prophet. I know I would do my best to get every fact correct!
What if that biography on Diana said she had four children and had a wart on the end of her nose? Well it is quite easy for us to debunk those lies. How? Well we can clearly see she only had 2 sons, William and Harry. Even without all the media, it would be easy for someone to read that and say “wait a minute…that is not true! I went to school with William and Harry and they don’t have any other siblings!” The same goes with those that knew Diana; they would quickly inform us that she, in fact, did not have a wart on the end of her nose. In today’s world, that “biography” would be placed in the fiction section and the author would have a hard time finding another job as a biographer. In the days of Jesus, especially with him preaching to thousands, many of his acts were well known! You could not slip things in and not have the Romans or Jews come knocking at your door in the middle of the night! The author would need to go into hiding!
With the lack of any competitors, the fact that common men wrote these words instead of some prestigious person with other agendas, and the fact that people of that time accepted these words, there is little doubt that Matthew, Luke, and John Mark, and John the Apostle wrote these words and that they are the true first or second hand look in to the life of Jesus Christ.
In His service,