How can we be sure that the New Testament is historically reliable? It’s an important question. Consider three brief evidences that prove the reliability of the New Testament.
First, consider the enormous amount of manuscripts in existence. To this writer’s knowledge, there are 5,748 in Greek, 10,000 in Latin, and 10,000 to 15,000 in other languages in existence. This totals 25,000 to 30,000 handwritten copies of the New Testament. Some of these manuscripts date back to the second century, making it possible that they are copies of the originals. About 10 percent of these come from the first 1,000 years after Christ. We have almost 50 from the first 300 years alone.
Second, consider the amount of references to the New Testament found in the writings of the early “Church Fathers.” Origen (second century) quoted 5,745 verses from all the books of the New Testament. Tertullian (200 AD) quoted 300, Clement (194 AD) quoted 380, Irenaeus (178 AD) quoted 767 verses, Polycarp (165 AD) quoted 36 verses. All told there are over 1 million quotations from the church fathers. The entire New Testament could be reassembled with these quotes alone, save a few verses!
Third, consider the canonization process. This carefully scrutinized process unfolded over a number of years. Internal evidence was considered. Do the books claim inspiration? Are its claims consistent with itself and other biblical books? Are there any historical errors? External evidence was also considered. How was the book viewed by people of antiquity? Is the book quoted or referenced by others, like Jesus, Peter, or Paul, for example?
The New Testament, and the Bible as a whole for that matter, is inspired of God and bears the marks of inspiration (2 Tim. 3:16-17). We can be absolutely sure that what we read in the pages of our bibles is accurate and trustworthy. For further study, get a copy of the book Behold! The Word of God by Kyle Butt, and check out the Apologetics Press website for additional articles and materials.