The Bibliographic Test only determines to what extent the original writing was accurately copied down through the centuries. The Internal Test moves to the next level to determine to what extent the original writings are credible documents.
The bulk of the New Testament was written by eye-witnesses or their close associates who would have heard their accounts of events. I have already discussed that in previous posts. The writers stress accurate details and commitment to truth.
Most of the NT was written between AD 27 and 70, giving insufficient time for myths and legends to develop, and early enough that other eye-witnesses could have come forward to correct falsehoods.
The writers were willing to be killed rather than deny their testimony that Jesus died on the cross, was raised from the dead, and is God Himself. Even a quick reading of Acts demonstrates the hostility the early writers faced. Acts 4 describes the arrest of Peter and John and their hearing before the Jewish leaders. In Acts 7, Stephen tells the Good News to the Sanhedrin and is stoned to death for blasphemy. In 2 Cor 11:23-27, the Apostle Paul described his various trials while telling others about Jesus, including “imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren ; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.” People don’t go through such horrific experiences for a lie.
What claims did the writers make about their gospels and letters? They obviously intended them to be read as true accounts and not fiction or myth. The Apostle Paul clearly claimed that his message came from God and was not mere fiction. See Galatians 1:12. He also states that –
All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16
And they recognized each other as authoritative, as reflected in these passages:
a). Jesus authorized their writings beforehand.
–John 15:26-27 “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.”
b). The apostles considered their own words to be authoritative.
–Galatians 1:8 “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned.”
c). The writers of the New Testament recognized the authority of other books already written.
–2 Peter 3:15 “Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.”