The Progress Of Doctrine In The New Testament By T. D. Bernard -- By: Richard C. Barcellos

Journal: Reformed Baptist Theological Review
Volume: RBTR 04:2 (Jul 2007)
Article: The Progress Of Doctrine In The New Testament By T. D. Bernard
Author: Richard C. Barcellos


The Progress Of Doctrine In The New Testament
By T. D. Bernard

A Review Article (Part II)

Richard C. Barcellos*

* Richard C. Barcellos serves as Lecturer in New Testament Studies and Administrative Assistant to the Dean at the Midwest Center for Theological Studies (www.mctsowensboro.org) in Owensboro, KY.

Lecture VI: The Epistles (Part I)

As expected, Bernard sees continuity between the book of Acts and the Epistles. Acts gives us apostolic history; the Epistles give us apostolic doctrine. “The history gains significance from the doctrine, and the doctrine derives authority from the history.”1 But, as Bernard asks, “what is that truth which they worked out?”2 Bernard observes that in the book of Acts the recorded addresses are delivered, on the main, “to those who are not yet Christians. So Christ was preached to the world: but how was he taught to the Church?”3 This is the domain of the Epistles. The Epistles record what the Apostles taught those who had believed. Granted, the book of Acts contains glimpses of instruction for believers, such as the Jerusalem Council, Paul’s address to the Ephesian elders, and brief records of Paul revisiting and instructing the churches born through his missionary labors, but the content of his instruction is not recorded. Just the opposite occurs in the Epistles. In the book of Acts sinners become saints, are baptized, and formed into local churches and instructed. But we are not told of what this instruction consisted. Bernard says:

To this point the book of Acts conducts us, and at this point it leaves us.

It may be said, what more should follow? Christians exist. Christian communities are formed. Let them now be left to their ordinary and permanent resources.

So it might have been.–So in God’s mercy it was not.

A new life had begun, intellectual, moral, and social, teeming with elements, which could not but work and expand. It would have been hard to say with what force they would do so, or in what direction. Now the great ideas of the Gospel are old and familiar; and the very words which represent them have been sorely battered by controversy, and worn thin by use. But then the revelation of Christ had just broken, like an unexpected morning, on a weary and hopeless world. The stupendous events which had so lately passed on earth, the present actual relations with heaven which were witnessed to men by proofs within and around them, the ...

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