We have much more to say about this in our blog post, "Is the Bible True? Incredible Proof That We Can Trust the Bible".
Table of Contents:
1. EARLY WRITING - How do we know the letters of the New Testament were written in the 1st century AD?
2. ACCURATE WRITING - How do we know that the New Testament documents, written down in the 1st century AD, actually happened?
3. ACCURATE COPIES - How do we know the version of the New Testament we read today in our Bibles is the same one written back in the 1st century AD?
The early church fathers (these were the disciples OF the disciples who lived in the 1st and 2nd century AD) quoted from these New Testament documents.
You can't quote from something that wasn't already written.
So if they are quoting from something in 110 AD, it must have already been written before that point.
St. Clement of Rome (or Pope Clement I) writing from Rome in AD95, quotes from Matthew, Mark, Luke, Romans, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, 1 Timothy, Titus, Hebrews, James and 1 Peter.
St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote letters from Smyrna in Asia Minor in AD107 quotes from 24 of the 27 books that we currently have in our New Testament today.
St. Polycarp of Smyrna, the disciple of John (lived from AD69-155) wrote a letter from Smyrna in Asia Minor in AD110, and quotes from 18 of the 27 books that we currently have in our New Testament.
So now that we know these New Testament documents were written in the 1st century AD, let's move on to question 2.
How do we know the New Testament documents written down in the 1st century actually happened?
Keep in mind, the key question of what the authors of the New Testament wrote about was the resurrection of Jesus. If it happened, as they claimed, then Jesus was the Son of God and Christianity is true.
If He didn't rise from the dead, then Christianity is false.
So the New Testament documents were 27 documents, written on 27 different scrolls, by 9 authors, over a 20-to-50-year period, in the 1st century AD.
So who were these 9 authors?
St. Paul, who wrote 13 (of the 27 New Testament documents) became a follower of Christ around 32 AD, about 2 years after Jesus rose from the dead (around 30 AD).
Paul wrote his letters in a period between around AD 48 and AD 64. This is less than 20 years after Jesus rose; if Paul was lying, other people would speak out and say so.
Hebrews is the only book that we are unsure who the author is.
The other authors of the New Testament documents (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, James, Peter, and Jude) were either disciples of Jesus (and thus eyewitnesses of these events), or, as in the case of Mark and Luke, got their information directly from those eyewitnesses.
So why should we trust their accounts?
Well, instead of gaining power or popularity as writers of today may gain, the New Testament writers got just the opposite: submission, servitude, torture, and even death (THEY WERE CLAIMING JESUS ROSE FROM THE DEAD).
Most of these writers lost their lives for what they proclaimed. If they knew they were lying about Jesus rising from the grave, they wouldn't die for that lie. Would you?
Also as mentioned in the Archaeology section, archaeology has confirmed over 80 historically claimed details from the Gospel of Luke, and around 60 historical and/or archaeological details from the Gospel of John.
Also, there are at least 30 characters in the New Testament who have been confirmed as historical by archaeology and non-Christian sources.
If what was said about people, places, and events at that time has been proven to be scientifically accurate, it is reasonable to ask why we shouldn't consider the other things that the Gospel writers said about Jesus.
How do we know the version of the New Testament we read today in our Bibles is the same one written back in the 1st century AD?
For this third question, it is not too difficult because we have copies of these documents (over 6,000 in Greek alone and over 20,000 in other languages) that we can compare to see if the current version we have today is similar to what was written 2,000 years ago.
And as we compare, we find that the documents we have today are over 99% accurate to what was written thousands of years ago, and NONE of the differences there are affect any of the core Christian doctrines we have today.
Check out our Blog - "Is the Bible True? Incredible Proof That We Can Trust the Bible".
Check out these books under the "Can We Trust the Bible?" tab on our Book List.