Eyewitnesses and Ministers of the Word
Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account…. (Luke 1:1-3)
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life – the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us – that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:1-4)
The writers of the New Testament were eyewitnesses (or had access to eyewitness accounts) of the ministry of Jesus, on earth and in post resurrection. Nothing is as convincing as eyewitness testimony. This is the only time this Greek word, autóptēs, is used in the New Testament and the word means to see with one’s own eyes. The modern word autopsy is derived from this word and it conveys the act of examination of the parts of the body to make certain conclusions as to cause of death. The eyewitnesses, which all the apostles were, including Paul, had the best vantage point to write the commands of Christ because they were intimately acquainted with Him, the living Word.
Martin Vincent in Vincent’s Word Studies points out the writers of the New Testament possessed both personal knowledge and practical experience of the life and message of Christ by the usage of being eyewitness; the writers were character witnesses of the Rabbi from Nazareth. The Mosaic Law required two or three witnesses for a capital offence case (Numbers 35:30; Deuteronomy 17:6-7 and 19:15) because it is more compelling evidence than one witness. We use the same rationale in the criminal courts of our day. That the writers of the New Testament were eyewitnesses to the events they record, and no eyewitness ever contradicted the testimony, assures us the New Testament is the Word of Jesus and contains His commands for His people.
The writers of the New Testament were more than eyewitnesses; they were ministers of the word. In the Greek, the word for ministers is the subordinate official who waits to accomplish the commands of his superior. Thusly, the apostles were military subordinates fulfilling the commands of Jesus by transmitting the Word of God to the written page for future subordinate personnel to carry on the mission of the Revolution. Ministering would include teaching the doctrine, preaching the gospel of the Kingdom, and attesting to the life to be lived through the example of Jesus who is the Superior Officer.
The writers of the New Testament delivered onto us, or transferred unto us, the message or words of Jesus by authoritative testimony of the facts. The apostles declared and taught by their transmission of the written Word the commands of Christ. Like all commands from a superior, these are to be heeded in our Revolution for the Kingdom.