THE RESURRECTION OF OUR LORD JESUS AND THE TESTIMONY OF GOD IN OUR DAYS
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© 2014, by Derek Casey. All Rights Reserved.
Verification of Contemporary Facts and Proof for the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus
“… because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17:31)
The Gospel is good news because it is verifiable and true. That is why it is good news.
They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces were not ashamed. (Psalm 34:5)
The following article is written for honest seekers who want to evaluate the facts behind the Christian faith. It is primarily written for the Non-Christian, although it is my belief that Christians will also benefit by reading this article. It is my hope that this article will answer the fundamental questions about the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus and serve as a quick verification tool for the wonderful historical facts of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus from the dead, through whom we have the gift of eternal life to all who choose to receive Him.
The article is written by a common man for the common man or woman. God intended everyone to be saved in Christ Jesus and come to the knowledge of the Truth. It should not be difficult or out of the grasp of the common man to find the Truth about Jesus. God made it so. If a man reads the New Testament (NT) or hears the Gospel, he asks himself the question: “Well how do I know it is true? Are these fables? How do I know that their witness is true? Did these things really happen?” God does not think these questions are irrelevant; otherwise He would not have accredited Jesus with miracles and raise Him from the dead.
My first reaction after I read the Gospel of John is “Wow, if God did all these things for me, than He would have left enough proof so I can find out if this true. Otherwise, we would not be able to distinguish truth from a lie, or a myth. It was the Lord Jesus Himself who said
“He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12b)
Then Jesus healed the man born blind (John 9). We are also commanded to “love the LORD Your God with … all [our] mind.” No blind faith is required here, only a step in the light. Rejoice.
It is my intention from common contemporary and verifiable facts, we will verify the extra-ordinary and wonderful fact of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus from the dead.
Some of the questions that will be answered in this article are the following:
- Is the NT that we have today an accurate copy of the original autographs?
- Did the NT writers pen down what really happened? How can I verify? And how do I know they did not lie?
- How do I know for sure what Jesus said and did?
- Does God exist?
- Is Jesus God?
- How do we verify the Resurrection of Christ?
- What is God plan for my life?
Since the birth of the Christian faith, the followers of Lord Jesus have claimed that a holy and a loving God created Heaven and earth and everything in between. Everything visible and invisible was created by this holy and loving God. The Creator became a part of the creation and lived among us as a man for about three years. As the old Hymn, “Down from His Glory” said:
Down from His glory
Ever living story
My God and my Saviour came,
And Jesus was His Name.
The Lord Jesus showed us how to live like children of the living God, how to live on every word that comes out of the mouth of God. The Lord Jesus gave us an example of how to abide in God how to walk with God and how to be led by God. The Disciples of the Lord Jesus have also claimed that He did many miracles to accredit His teaching, His claims, His identity and His deity. They claimed that He demonstrated His power over disease, over demons, over nature and over death. They claimed that the Roman governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate at the urging of the Jewish leaders of their time condemned Him to death on the cross. The Apostles claimed that He died and He was buried and on the 3rd day He rose again from the dead proving that He has power over death and proving His identity and claims that Jesus is God from all eternity. He who knew no sin, became sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21b), so “as many as received Him, to them He gave them the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12). This is the good news of the Lord Jesus. If you receive His resurrected life as Lord and Saviour, you go to Heaven.
Today, just as in the past, the world judges the Lord Jesus as a fraud, liar, impostor and even as cleverly devised stories and myth. God overturned their judgment and raised Him from the dead. The Lord Jesus stood before Pilate who passed judgment on Him while ignoring the facts. However the day will come when Pilate will stand before the Lord Jesus who is the eternal judge. Likewise, today’s reader will pass judgment on the Lord Jesus, but the day will come when the roles will be reversed and the reader will stand before the Lord Jesus and be judged. I urge the reader to consider the facts fairly.
Now the Resurrection is a fact of history and a verifiable fact. That is why it is good news. How do you verify this fact? The same way you verify any other historical fact. I would also add that where God gave us an amazing and a wonderful Gospel, He also gave us TODAY adequate and proportional verification to Christ’s Resurrection from the dead. That is why the Gospel is good news because it is verifiable and true. The good news is that you can know for sure that God exists (1 John 5:13; John 17:6) you can know for sure God created Heaven and earth and everything in it. You can know for sure the Bible is the perfect Word of God and you can know for sure that Lord Jesus is God from all eternity. Because of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus, you can know that the Lord Jesus who knew no sin became sin on our behalf that to those who receive Him, to all those who believe Jesus; they can appropriate His righteousness by receiving Him and become children of the living God.
If you are a Muslim or a Buddhist or anything else, you can never be sure that you will go to Heaven or even that God exists. For Christians, these questions are answered because of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
The miracles the Lord Jesus performed were for the sake of the people who saw them, to authenticate His identity and His claims. They can never be separated from the Gospel of the Lord Jesus. Many modern critics reject the Gospel and its reliability because of its supernatural characteristics. They presuppose that the Gospel is not true without looking at the facts that stands behind the Christian Faith. God exists and He chose to reveal Himself through creation and He chose to take on a human body for a time to give us His ultimate revelation. What better ways can He accredit His identity other than proving that He has power over the laws of nature. If the reader has closed his mind completely to the existence of God than He would be better served in reading Appendix A. It is my hope that the reader will at least be open to the possibility of the existence of God. We are surrounded by supernatural facts that can only be explained by the existence of God.
… because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse … (Romans 1:19-20)
Appendix A will be a quick presentation of three laws of nature, and they point to the existence of God:
- The Law of Biogenesis
- The Law of Entropy
- The Laws of Information
These laws of nature point us to the existence of God.
Let us start with our task of verifying the Resurrection.
In the following charts are some of the miracles and claims of the Lord Jesus. The reader should be familiar with them as they form an important part of the Gospel, and they cannot be separated from the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
|Some of the Claims of the Lord Jesus||Action, Miracle or Context||Reaction|
|But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I am working.” (John 5:17)||Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God. (John 5:18)|
|“For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will.” (John 5:21)|
|“For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son …” (John 5:22)|
|“… that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.” (John 5:23)|
|“I am the bread of life.” (John 6:35a, 41b, 48, 51a)||Feeding the 5,000|
|“I am the light of the world.” (John 8:12a)||Healing the blind man|
|“… I am the door of the sheep.” (John 10:7a, 9a)|
|“I am the good shepherd.” (John 10:11a, 14a)|
|“I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25b)||Raising Lazarus from the dead|
|“I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6a)|
|“He who has seen Me has seen the Father …” (John 14:9b)|
|“I am the true vine …” (John 15:1a)|
|Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” (John 8:58)||Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by. (John 8:59)|
|“I and My Father are one.” (John 10:30)||Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?” The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.” (John 10:31-33)|
|When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins have been forgiven you.” (Mark 2:5)
“For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” (Matthew 12:8)
|Healing of the paralytic Healing on the Sabbath|
|When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins have been forgiven you.” … “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’? But in that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” immediately he arose, and took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” (Mark 2:5, 8-12)||Healing of the paralytic||And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:6-7)|
|Miracles||Where Wrought||Where Recorded|
|First encounter with Nathanael||John 1:47-51|
|Water made wine||Cana||John 2:1-11|
|Nobleman’s son healed||Cana||John 4:46-54|
|First miraculous draught of fishes||Sea of Galilee||Luke 5:1-11|
|Leper healed||Capernaum||Matthew 8:2-4; Mark 1:40-45; Luke 5:12-15|
|Centurion’s servant healed||Capernaum||Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10|
|Widow’s son raised to life||Nain||Luke 7:11-17|
|Demoniac healed||Capernaum||Mark 1:21-28; Luke 4:31-37|
|Peter’s mother-in-law healed||Capernaum||Matthew 8:14-15; Mark 1:29-31; Luke 4:38-39|
|Paralytic healed||Capernaum||Matthew 9:2-8; Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:17-26|
|Man with ailment for thirty-eight years healed||Jerusalem||John 5:1-16|
|Man with withered hand healed||Galilee||Matthew 12:10-14; Mark 3:1-6; Luke 6:6-11|
|Blind and dumb demoniac healed||Galilee||Matthew 12:22-24; Luke 11:14|
|Tempest stilled||Sea of Galilee||Matthew 8:23-27; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25|
|Demoniacs dispossessed||Gadara||Matthew 8:28-34; Mark 5:1-20|
|Jairus’ daughter raised to life||Capernaum||Matthew 9:18-19, 23-26; Mark 5:22-24, 35-43; Luke 8:41-42, 49-56|
|Issue of blood healed||Near Capernaum||Matthew 9:20-22; Mark 5:25-34; Luke 8:43-48|
|Two blind men restored to sight||Capernaum||Matthew 9:27-31|
|Dumb demoniac healed||Capernaum||Matthew 9:32-34|
|Five thousand miraculously fed||Decapolis||Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:31-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:5-14|
|Jesus walks on the sea||Sea of Galilee||Matthew 14:22-33; Mark 6:45-52; John 6:15-21|
|Syrophœnician’s daughter healed||Coasts of Tyre and Sidon||Matthew 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30|
|Deaf and dumb man healed||Decapolis||Mark 7:31-37|
|Four thousand fed||Decapolis||Matthew 15:32-39; Mark 8:1-9|
|Blind man restored to sight||Bethsaida||Mark 8:22-26|
|Demoniac and lunatic boy healed||Near Cæsarea Philippi||Matthew 17:14-21; Mark 9:14-29; Luke 9:37-43|
|Miraculous provision of tribute||Capernaum||Matthew 17:24-27|
|The eyes of one born blind opened||Jerusalem||John 9:1-41|
|Woman, of eighteen years’ infirmity, cured||[Perea.]||Luke 13:10-17|
|Dropsical man healed||[Perea.]||Luke 14:1-6|
|Ten lepers cleansed||Borders of Samaria||Luke 17:11-19|
|Lazarus raised to life||Bethany||John 11:1-46|
|Two blind beggars restored to sight||Jericho||Matthew 20:29-34; Mark 10:46-52; Luke 18:35-43|
|Barren fig tree blighted||Bethany||Matthew 21:12-13, 18-19; Mark 11:12-24|
|Malchus’ ear healed||Gethsemane||Matthew 26:51-54; Mark 14:47-49; Luke 22:50-51; John 18:10-11|
|Second draught of fishes||Sea of Galilee||John 21:1-14|
The Importance of the Resurrection in the Christian Faith
After three years of following Jesus, it was the Resurrection that caused the disciples to believe and trust Him as God and Saviour. It is not possible to be a Christian without believing in the bodily Resurrection of Christ. How can we trust a dead man to be our Lord and Saviour? How can He help us if He could not help Himself?
The bodily Resurrection of Christ has very important implications for every believer, some are spiritual implications, others for the purpose of verifying Christ’s identity. I will list a few of them:
- To authenticate the claim and identity of Christ
- To authenticate that Bible. It is the Resurrection that accredits the authenticity of the Bible**
- His Resurrection was God’s approval of Jesus sacrifice on the cross, without that we are not forgiven
- When we received Christ, we received His resurrected life in our bodies. God views us as united with Him, in His death, His burial and His Resurrection.
- We received the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of our future resurrection
- We have ultimate victory over death
- We have the gift of eternal life by faith in His finished work on the cross. (By the way, this eternal life starts now. Do not wait until you die to enjoy eternal life.)
** Another important point is that the Resurrection accredits the authenticity of the Bible. **
I know that the record of the Bible is true because of the Resurrection of Christ. This is an important point. We can demonstrate that for 2,000 years the text of the NT came down and was not lost. However the point I am trying to make is the content of the stories is accredited to us by the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
Something to Ponder: How Are Historical Facts Verified?
In my introduction, I stated that we will verify the Resurrection of Christ like any other historical fact is verified. I also stated that where God gave us amazing claims He gave us adequate and proportional verification to find out the truth. From ordinary historical facts, we will verify the extra ordinary fact of the Resurrection.
Simple questions for the reader (kindly answer them):
- Which city and hospital were you born in? How can you prove it?
- Which city and hospital/house were your grandparents born in (all four of them)?
- Where was Barak Obama born?
People who are reading this article will be able to answer the first question. Let us say the answer is New York or Cairo. However, what if I say prove it? They may produce a birth certificate or something similar. But for the skeptics, they could easily say: “We do not believe it; ID can easily be forged.” So, a piece of paper is not the best proof. 1/3 of the American public don’t believe or don’t know if Barak Obama was born in the USA; and this is after he released his birth certificate. That is astonishingly high for such a simple matter. Luckily, the Ministry of Health in Hawaii never suffered a fire or a disaster; otherwise, the record would have been lost, and then, what, does that mean Obama was never born the USA?
However, if the individual was able to produce an eye-witness such as his mother or father, they can give a testimony of the place of birth. This would strengthen the proof. If the individual is able to produce more eyewitnesses, such as the doctor or person who delivered him, then the case will be even stronger. However a skeptic can say the eyewitnesses are lying. So now, we would have to ask what is the motive for the eyewitness to lie? And is there an opportunity to lie and get away with it?
Consider the following for the 2nd question. Most people know more about Jesus’ place and location of birth then they know about their grandparent’s place and location of birth. Try to do a test and see how many of your four grandparents’ city and location of birth would you know? Very few people would know all of them. Yet most people would know the place and location of Jesus’ birth, and most would answer that Jesus was born in a stable in Bethlehem.
Yet we have good news because God provided us with the necessary proof for an honest seeker of the Resurrection of Christ. We have a far more reliable and documented case for the Lord Jesus from direct eyewitness testimony then the two most powerful emperors of His time, Augustus Caesar and Tiberius Caesar. In my opinion, more Americans know more about the circumstances of the birth of Christ than the circumstances about the birth of President Obama. (By the way, I am neither a Democrat or a Republican; I am a Christian from Canada who is making a point by contrasting two well known individuals).
What type of verification is sufficient for the reader? The proof that God has given us is a big deal. And in the end, the reader should be CERTAIN THAT THE LORD JESUS ROSE FROM THE DEAD. How than shall we proceed? There are many ways to go about it and many godly Christians have written on the subject. I prefer to proceed from present day facts that are indisputable and work back in time to the original events.
Examination of Contemporary Facts about the Resurrection of Christ
God has testified about the identity of Jesus by raising Him from the dead.
“… because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17:31)
Like many other historical facts, the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus cannot be duplicated; however, I will discuss three facts which are the direct by-products of the Resurrection 2,000 years ago and which remain with us to this very day. On the surface, they may not look impressive, but they are a very big deal, and we will demonstrate why they are so important. These three facts will verify that extra-ordinary.
It is very difficult for anyone to deny the following three facts as they remain with us to this very day and can easily be verified by anyone:
- The Birth of the Church in Jerusalem and the Claims of Christ’s Deity upon Which It Was Founded on
- The Lord’s Day / The Christian Day of Worship – First Day of the Week (Sunday)
- NT writings, over 5,800 Greek Manuscripts, Tens of Thousands of NT Manuscripts Other than Greek and Thousands of Quotations from the NT
Fact I: Today the reader is a witness to the fact that a Christian Church exists
Where was this community of Christian believers (The Church) first established?
When did this Church come into existence?
How did this Church come to be?
Who established this Church?
Upon what claims and teaching was this community of believers established?
The only place where we find a complete and accurate historical account of the birth of the Church is in the book of Acts. No other record about the birth of the Church that contradicts the accounts in the book of Acts exists. Personally, I am not aware of any serious person or scholar who denies that the birth of the Church was in Jerusalem.
No one can claim that the Church started 500 years ago in Europe or 1500 years ago in Syria or 1900 years ago in Rome. The Church has verifiable and unbroken history that can be traced back to about 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem during the governorship of Pontius Pilate in Palestine when Annas and his son-in-law Caiaphas were high priests (Luke 3:2; John 18:13).
This unique community of believers with their own sets of beliefs and practices can be objectively traced back to Jerusalem about 33 AD. No other competing history has ever been presented to contradict this fact, not in the past and not in the present. There is no evidence that states otherwise.
Even if the skeptics deny the supernatural elements that happened in the early days of the Church; the skeptics could not deny that a significant amount of preaching, sweat and blood would have to happen to establish the Church in Jerusalem (Acts 5:40, 42). How else would the Church exist?
This community of Christian core beliefs are the following:
- The creator became a part of the creation, became a man and lived among them for three years. His name was Jesus of Nazareth.
- A group of this founding movement claimed that they followed Jesus and lived in close proximity together for about three years proclaiming the kingdom of God.
- Jesus followers saw Him preach, teach, heal and do amazing miracles. One of His important teachings is that He was the Son of God who came to pay the penalty for our sins by becoming a ransom to many.
- Jesus followers claimed that He demonstrated power over disease, power over demons, power over nature; by doing miracles such as raising the dead, walking on water, calming the storm, creating food for thousands of hungry people, healing the blind, forgiving sin and accepting worship.
- Jesus’ followers believed that He came to pay the penalty for our sins by dying on the cross and rising from the dead on the third day.
All of these beliefs were present at Pentecost 50 days after His public crucifixion IN JERUSALEM.
So, to go back and clarify why the birth of the Church in Jerusalem is a very big deal, we need to understand the Jewish cultural atmosphere where the Church was first established. Blasphemy was punishable by death.
“This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them.” (Acts 26:10)
See Josephus’ comments on how James the Apostles died, or how Saul watched Stephen die in Acts 7:54-8:3. I will refer to a few scriptural passages which highlight this type of an atmosphere.
Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”
Then took they up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by. (John 8:58-59)
“I and My Father are one.”
Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. (John 10:31-32)
But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, “I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!”
Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”
Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, “He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy!” (Matthew 26:63-65a)
Jesus was put on trial and convicted of the charge of blasphemy (ironically, it was the Jewish high priest who blasphemed when he said that they have no king but Caesar). The best example I can give the reader to explain the religious cultural atmosphere is present day Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Similar to Jerusalem 2,000 years ago where Jews will have to do three annual pilgrimages (Deuteronomy 16:16). Muslims are required to do a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime. Both cities are considered to be the centre of cultural and religious life. Today in Mecca and the entire Kingdom in Saudi Arabia, it is not legal to preach the Gospel, or to have a Church. Still to this very day blaspheme laws are enforced in Saudi Arabia and are punishable by death.
It is also illegal for a non-Muslim to approach Mecca or the surrounding area such as Medina. All roads are guarded with military check points, and you cannot get a visa to Mecca if you are a non-Muslim. If you ever approach the area by highway, you will start seeing signs on the Highways (Muslims this way, Non-Muslims this way).
However, let’s say a Christian was able to get a visa (zero chance) and went into Mecca and went near one of the doors to Al Masjad Al Haram–the mosque that encircles the Kaaba–and then started preaching the Gospel. What do you think would happen to such a Christian? It is highly likely that this Christian would be encircled by a mob, beaten and stoned on the spot. He would not last one hour. If that Christian was really lucky, he would be arrested by the religious police (yes, they have religious police in Saudi Arabia), he would be tortured, beaten up and then charge with blaspheme. A charge that if convicted could result in being put to death by the sword.
Similar atmosphere and attitudes to various degrees exist in countries such as Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and various Middle Eastern countries. (As I am writing this article in mid April 2014, I am reading “Christian couple get death sentence in blasphemy case” dated April 4, 2014.)
Today we think of Mullah in Iran and Saudi Arabia or the Taliban in Afghanistan as fanatical; however, this type of fanaticism still exists in certain part of Israel with the ultra-orthodox Jewish or Jewish zealot community. Preaching the Gospel is illegal in Israel. Today Christian priests are regularly spat on in Jerusalem by ultra-orthodox Jewish zealots. Preaching the Gospel in certain parts of Israel will certainly results in persecution and can be dangerous.
2,000 years ago, things would be far worse and a hundredfold more dangerous for those who are perceived to be idolaters and heretics in Jerusalem. Jerusalem was the center of religious, cultural, economical, and political activities for the whole nation. The area of Jerusalem would have been less than 5 square km (2 square miles).
Every Jew in the world was required to come and visit the Temple and offer their sacrifices at the Temple three times a year (Deuteronomy 16:16). Worship in the Temple at Jerusalem was the centre of their National Identity. The atmosphere in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago would be similar (if not more) to the present day atmosphere in Mecca. Mainly, they took their religion very seriously. They would have been fanatical about anyone who did not adhere to their orthodox view of their religion. If you are going to preach the kingdom of God in Jerusalem you will be noticed. Claims that the kingdom of Heaven is here or that you are the Son of God in such a city and in such atmosphere (along with other claims that you can forgive sins, give eternal life, raise the dead and judge the world etc.) will draw attention, and be investigated by the religious authorities. In such an important city as Jerusalem, in such a small city, people will take notice and they will take action.
Having been condemned as a blasphemer, the Lord Jesus hung on a cross, naked, tortured, His face disfigured beyond recognition (Isaiah 52:14b). He died on a Roman cross, having a spear pierce His side, causing water and blood to come out of His side (John 19:34, which records an important observation which I will explain later).
The Gospel accounts do tell us that He was abandoned by most of His followers. Even Peter who promised that he will never abandon him fled. This is the reality that His followers had to deal with: a dead body hanging on a cross with an inscription on top of Him stating: “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews“. For Jesus’ followers, the psychological blow and defeat would be tremendous; this would be death and defeat of a man cursed and rejected by God. The devastation felt by these men as they abandoned Jesus would have been enormous. They had left their jobs, their family, and everything to follow Him for three years to proclaim with Him the kingdom of God. After the crucifixion the disciples would have been crushed, confused, and utterly defeated.
What happened to this group of defeated, broken, and utterly confused people that transformed them from broken and devastated people to courageous and energized believers? It is an amazing fact that the Christian Church was established in the very same city that Jesus was crucified in and only 50 days after the crucifixion. It was established under the noses of His enemies.
In order for the Church to be established in Jerusalem at minimum you must have preaching, teaching, and witnessing; these are incredible acts of courage in such a hostile and fanatical atmosphere.
What can account for such a tremendous change in the disciples? I know that the disciples changed from hopelessness to hope, from being afraid to being courageous, from defeat to victory. I know that it happened because they succeeded in establishing the Church in such a harsh atmosphere. Do people really believe that going to the wrong tomb and finding it empty would have resulted in this type of a change? The only explanation that would make sense is that these individual believed that: 1) Jesus truly died on the cross, and that 2) Jesus truly appeared to them in bodily form over a period of 40 days. He ate with them, they spoke to Him, and they touched Him, they walked with Him, they recognized His teaching and His miracles. Nothing else could account for such a change in the followers of Jesus.
Liberal scholar, Muslims and atheists will tell you that the Gospel was invented generations and generations after Jesus death in a faraway and distant land after the eyewitnesses have died; when He was elevated into a god. They will twist the truth to try to rob you of eternal life in Christ.
We have one Gospel and four written independent accounts of that same Gospel. (I revisit this point later in this article.) The historical record shows that the Gospel originated and was preached in Israel and Jerusalem. Furthermore the Church was established in Jerusalem 50 days after the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus. Why was Jesus put to death on the cross? Because the Jewish priestly court (Sanhedrin) put Him on trial and convicted Him of the charge of blasphemy: Jesus claimed to be the Son of God.
And the high priest answered and said to Him, “I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!”
Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”
Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, “He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy! What do you think?”
They answered and said, “He is deserving of death.” (Matthew 26:63b-66)
The Gospel originated with the Lord Jesus in Israel and the Church was given life in Jerusalem 50 days after His Crucifixion through the means of preaching the Gospel. For “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.“ (Romans 10:17)
Fact II: The Lord’s Day / The Christian Day of Worship – First Day of the Week (Sunday)
For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it. (Exodus 20:11)
The earliest Christian in Jerusalem and in Israel grew up as practicing Jews. For them keeping the Sabbath holy was essential. To desecrate a Sabbath is a capital offence. How is it that the early disciples thought it is no longer essential to keep the Sabbath and started to worship and gather on the first day of the week?
Confrontations over desecrating the Sabbath came very early on between Jesus and the Pharisees. The religious leaders of the day constantly accused Jesus and the disciples of breaking the Sabbath. Jesus made it a point to heal at any time and any day of the week including the Sabbath (Mark 3:1-5; Matthew 12:9-14; John 5). From confrontations over the Sabbath between the religious establishment and Jesus, we see that following teachings emerge:
Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27-28)
Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:28)
Jesus is equal to the Father (John 5:16-18)
Jesus will raise the dead and give life to whom He wills (John 5:21)
Jesus will be the Judge (John 5:22)
The Son of God should be honored just as the Father is honoured (John 5:23)
The Son can forgive sin on earth (Luke 5:17-26)
Now all four Gospels mentions that Jesus rose on the first day of the week, we also see the pattern that Jesus kept appearing to His disciples on the first day of the week. The early Church did not forsake Temple worship; however since their understanding of the law was changing in relations to Jesus and the true worship of God, observance of the Sabbath took a lesser importance then honouring the Son of God on His Resurrection Day – which is renamed by the early Church the Lord’s Day (Revelation 1:10).
References in the NT such as in 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 and 1 Corinthians 16:2 to gather a collection, or in Acts 20:7, shows that the practice of the Church gathering on Sunday to worship has started with the Apostles. Although the Apostles kept going to the Temple, their understanding of Temple worship and Sabbath worship has changed. True worshippers will worship the Father in Spirit and Truth (John 4:21, 23). In giving instructions to the Gentiles in Acts 15 at the first Council in Jerusalem, the Apostles never compelled anyone to keep the Laws of Moses (which would include circumcision and Sabbath keeping).
By the 2nd century, we have evidence that Sunday worship was well established. The Epistle of Barnabas, Justin, Clement of Alexandria, and Ignatius all reference Sabbath and the Lord’s Day.
Here is quotation by Justin (114-165 AD) in his First Apology 67:
On the day called Sunday all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen …
But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Savior in the same day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration.
Living under the requirements of the Mosaic Law was a huge temptation for the early Church (Sabbath keeping was part of keeping the Law). It put constant pressure on the Church and many Epistles in the NT addressed this issue as well as other false doctrine. It seems to me Peter, Barnabas and others stumbled on this issue (Galatians 2:11-16). It just shows how big of a temptation it was for the early Church to keep the Law which was already fulfilled by “Christ in us”.
Nevertheless despite these unfortunate stumbles, living by grace prevailed over keeping the Mosaic Law, and Sabbath worship lost its importance to living in newness of life through union with Jesus. The Lord’s Day came to be established in the time of the Apostles as the believers gathered to celebrate His Resurrection from the dead. The Lord’s Day increased in importance, and Sabbath keeping decreased in importance. This huge historical and religious shift started with the Apostles and occurred as a direct result of Jesus’ Resurrection from the dead; it also remains with us to this very day.
Fact III: NT writings, over 5,800 Greek Manuscripts, Tens of Thousands of NT Manuscripts Other than Greek and Thousands of Quotations from the NT
Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1)
Yes, I am not ashamed of the Word of God. A talking snake, why not? We see talking birds. Why not a talking snake, especially if it possessed by Satan. This question is for the liberal scholar only. Would you like to see a talking snake? Look in the mirror.
Today we have a Christian book that tells us what happened 2,000 years ago. It tells us what Jesus and His apostles did and taught.
Two important questions scream for an answer:
- Is the NT that we have today an accurate copy of the original autographs?
- Did the NT writers pen down what really happened? (This question is ultimately answered by Christ rising from the dead; this lies outside the Bible and independent of it.)
Question #1 will be the longest to answer. We need to show the NT that we have today is the same NT that was penned down by the Apostles and that it is the same Gospel that was taught by the Apostles.
Now I need to start with a HUGE WARNING to the reader. BEWARE OF LIBERAL SCHOLARS WHO ARE TRYING TO ROB YOU OF ETERNAL LIFE FOUND IN THE LORD JESUS. The field of textual and historical criticism abounds and is dominated by liberal scholars and non-believers whose starting point about the Gospel is that miracles are not possible, that God does not exist, or that Jesus is not God. (Many of these liberal scholars are even bishops or priest in so-called Christian denomination). That is the common denominator they have; apart from that, they will have a million objections and hypotheses about everything. No matter how many objections we shoot down, they will come up with a million more objections. If they see someone rise from the dead before their eyes, they will still not believe.
“If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.” (Luke 16:31b)
… those critics who approach ancient Christian sources with methodologies of suspicion. They appear to assume that nothing can be accepted from the ancients that does not comport with patterns, logic, or assumptions of modern western world. They seem to place little stock in implications from non-literary evidence such as geography and archaeology, but heavy emphasis upon logical implications of their own reading of written documents. Hence, in this case they virtually reject out of hand such records as the Bible, Eusebius, and others.
– Did Jerusalem Christians Flee to Pella?
The charge by atheists, Muslims, and liberal scholars is that the NT is unreliable with thousands and thousands of errors. Some even go as far as denying that Jesus ever existed. In a very recent and public debate, Bill Nye claimed that
… the Bible is like the old telephone game …
This is the common perception of the secular world, but nothing is farther from the truth. When it comes to the Greek text of the NT, we can prove that what the Apostle and the NT writers wrote is the same as what we have today. Not 98% of the original, not 99.9% of the original, but 100% of the original. Now for the purpose of verifying the Resurrection, I only need to answer and expound on the two above mentioned questions. Although this will be the longest part of the article, we are only skimming the surface here. I will not be able to present every proof and argument. For a deeper understanding of the reliability of the Gospels kindly see our article “HOW WE GOT THE GOSPEL BOOKS: The Truth about Who Wrote the Gospel Books and When and How” by John Tors, which will be featured on the Truth In My Days website.
The following facts will help us obtain the answer to the first question.
- We have 5795 catalogued Greek Manuscripts. The tally from February 4, 2010 is the following: minuscules (lower case letters) = 2,903; majuscules (uncials or capital letters) = 320; papyri = 127; lectionaries = 2,445 for a total of 5,795. An excellent way to view some of these manuscripts is at the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts.
- The NT was translated early on into other languages such as Latin (over 10,000 manuscripts), Armenian (over 2,000 manuscripts), Slavic (over 4,000 manuscripts), Syriac (over 350 manuscripts), Coptic (over 975 manuscripts), Gothic (over 6 manuscripts), Ethiopian (over 600 manuscripts), Georgian (over 43 manuscripts), and other languages. They are called versional witnesses; to date their numbers is in the tens of thousands.
- Another important source is the quotation of the NT by the Church Fathers. We have about 86,000 quotations from them. These Church Fathers come as early as late first century all the way to the middle ages.
In all simplicity, to answer the charge that the Bible was corrupted, we need to ask when and how?
People who are using the New King James Version today or people who used the King James Version in the 1600s, did they have a different Jesus? A Jesus who was not God? A Jesus who did not walk on water or heal the blind? Did the Jesus in the King James Bible which was published in the 1600s feed 50 people with five loaves of bread and two fish? Do we see people in the 1800s have a different Jesus that feeds 500 men? The narratives and miracles and the doctrines about Jesus are the same today as they were in the 1800 as they were in the 1600 and so on. When did they change? Is there any evidence that they have changed maybe in the 1400 AD or 600 AD. No, none whatsoever. Same miracles, same divine claims, same theology, same Jesus.
Keep in mind; I am not saying that scribes did not make errors as they copied the Bible. Even if the scribes made mistakes and missed a line, or copied a line twice, or made a mistake by indicating Jesus fed 400 men instead of 4000 men. The mistake will not be duplicated in the thousands of other manuscripts. I give an example below of how to retrieve the original text by comparative analysis. A scribal error in one of the manuscripts will have thousands of other manuscripts to correct it. The critics would have to show not one manuscript stating that Jesus fed 400 men but they have to show that that hundreds and thousands of manuscripts stating that Jesus fed 400 men. No such evidence exists.
Thousands of manuscripts from different parts of the world, from different times of history, from different translation tell the same stories, the same divine claims, the same parables, the same Jesus. These are the facts, and they are plain to see for everyone (except liberal scholars, who, having eyes to see, they do not see).
Perhaps the Bible changed around Constantine’s time around 350 AD. Perhaps Jesus was just a good teacher and then He was elevated as God around this time or before this time. What does the evidence show? How old is the Gospel? Where did it originate from?
The evidence from the papyri, manuscripts and versional copies is that, from 50 AD until our time, all the information about Christ in the ancient Church whether it is in Europe, the Middle East or Egypt is the same information we have today. It is the same teaching, same parables, same letters, same 4000 and 5000 people being fed, same disciples worshiping Jesus in the boat (Matthew 14:33), same Paul calling Jesus: ”our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ”, same Thomas saying: “My Lord and my God”, same Lazarus being raised from the dead. This is what the evidence shows.
The Gospel and the NT have not changed. We have found great discoveries of papyri and manuscripts in the last two hundred years. These discoveries substantially demonstrate that the Church always had the same New and Old Testament. Simply put, the Bible was passed down in the Church from generation to generation throughout history; the Church never lost the Bible. This is further proven by the versional copies of the NT and the early quotations from the Church Fathers.
Comparing the NT manuscripts to other ancient manuscripts such as: Annals written by Publius Cornelius Tacitus (AD 56-117), the Roman senator who wrote the Annals and the Histories, whose three manuscripts we have at the earliest from the 9th century. Yet Tacitus work is considered the pinnacle of Roman historical writing.
You see, there is really no comparison when it comes to the reliability of the Scripture. Here are a few other examples:
A Comparison of Ancient Works with the NT
|Author||Work||Date Written||Earliest MSS||Time Gap||Old||New|
|Homer||Iliad||800 BC||c. 400 BC||400||643||1,757|
|Herodotus||History||480–425 BC||10th C||1,350||8||109|
|Sophocles||Plays||496–406 BC||3rd C BC||100-200||100||193|
|Caesar||Gallic Wars||100-44 BC||9th C||950||10||251|
|Livy||History of Rome||59 BC–AD 17||Early 5th C||400||1 Partial, 19 copies||150|
|Tacitus||Annals||AD 100||1st half:850, 2nd: 1050 (AD 1100)||750–950||20||2 + 31 15th C|
|Pliny, the Elder||Natural History||AD 49–79||5th C fragment: 1; Rem. 14–15th C||400 (750)||7||200|
|Thucydides||History||460–400 BC||3rd C BC (AD 900)||200 (1,350)||8||96|
|Demosthenes||Speeches||300 BC||Some fragments from 1 C BC. (AD 1100)||1,100+ (1,400)||200||340|
|*NT||AD 50–100||AD 130 (or less)||40||5,366||5,795|
|**NT||AD <50-69||AD<50||Less than 15 Years||5,366||5,795|
*, ** NOTE: Kindly note that I had to use the most updated chart I could find, which was from CRI, as Josh McDowell’s chart is 40 years old and the data has changed. CRI’s article uses quotations from Bart Ehrman who is frankly the enemy of the Lord Jesus. I do not agree with their dating of the NT books. Bart Ehrman and all the liberal scholars try to push back the manuscript dates as far as they can to remove the Gospels beyond eyewitness times; they try to discredit the content of the NT. Over and over again, liberal scholars were forced to reconsider their fake dates in the face of new NT papyri such as P52. They advocate that the Gospel according to Mark was written first – contrary to historical records – and from there they try to get rid of the Resurrection. Satan is subtle, many have fallen into the trap of Markan priority including most of the evangelical scholars. I have made a strong case to show that the origins of the Gospel according to Matthew most likely started while the Apostle Matthew was following the Lord Jesus and taking notes.
I have added the last row in the chart to reflect a conservative dating of the NT which is before the fall of the Temple in AD 70. The dates that I will be assigning to the Gospels are the best dates that fit the evidence.
We acknowledge that as the manuscripts were copied over and over again; errors did occur, such as spelling mistakes, or copying a word twice, or forgetting to copy a word or a line. However, because we have so many manuscripts, we can demonstrate using statistical analysis that the original text of the NT can be reclaimed to 100% accuracy. This is the method used with Byzantine Majority text, and it is the best method to use. Many liberal scholars depend heavily on using the Sinaiticus or Vaticanus manuscripts because they are the oldest. However they do not even agree with each other in numerous places. The best method to retrieve the original text is to use the maximum amounts of manuscripts and compare them to each other. This method eliminates 100% of the errors provided you have a wide base of manuscripts, which is the case of the NT.
The variants can be categorized into four kinds:
- Spelling and nonsense readings
- Changes that can’t be translated; synonyms
- Meaningful variants that are not viable
- Meaningful and viable variants
Briefly, 75% of the variant are spelling mistakes and nonsense reading. Similar to writing in English “a orange” instead of writing “an orange”, they really do not affect the reliability of the text and the original reading can be retrieved easily.
The second largest group, changes that cannot be translated and synonyms, also do not affect the meaning of the text, maybe the emphasis. They compromise less than 8% of the variants.
Third category meaningful variants that are not viable. They are easily spotted and corrected.
The fourth category meaningful and viable variants represent less than 1% of the textual variants. Still, even with this category, no major belief is affected. For example, in Romans 5:1, some manuscripts read “we have peace”, ἔχομεν (Greek “echomen”), while others have “let us have peace”, ἔχωμεν (Greek “echōmen”). Using the tools that we have in comparative analysis with other manuscripts, versional copies, and quotations from the Church Fathers, we can always retrieve the original text.
All variants can be corrected by comparing the vast number of documents to each other. 100% of the original text can be retrieved provided that we use as many manuscripts as possible. It would not be a good practice to depend on a few manuscripts to reconstruct the original text.
A few words on how we retrieve the original Greek Text. As manuscripts are copied, spelling errors (and other types of errors such as skipping a line or copying the line twice etc.) do creep into the copied text. However, let us say that I have received a fax of a letter that was not transmitted properly, so the sender refaxes again and still the fax is not transmitting properly. Now I have two flawed faxes of the original and I do not have the original text.
The faxes read as follows:
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and ourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works …
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of ourselves; it is the gift of God, ___ of works …
Comparing the two faxes, I can easily reconstruct the original. Obviously, it is a very simplistic way to explain how we retrieve the original text. But that is how it is basically done. The wider your base of manuscripts you are using for comparison, the more you will be successful in eliminating the errors that creep in.
Going back to the first question in this section: “Is the NT that we have today an accurate copy of the original autographs?“
Let us look at some more evidence. There are important reasons why we actually have our Christian book intact for 2,000 years and with the same original information. The NT documents (the four Gospels, the letters of the Apostles to the Church) were written for the Church, and they were protected by the Church as it was transmitted from the first generation to the next. Letters and Gospels from Apostles were delivered by hands of trusted believers and the churches in different cities were encourage to circulate them among themselves, cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:27; Colossians 4:16; Acts 15:30. See also what Polycarp (110 AD ?) writes to the Philippians,
“I have received letters from you and from Ignatius. You recommend me to send on yours to Syria; I shall do so either personally or by some other means. In return I send you the letter of Ignatius as well as others which I have in my hands and for which you made request. I add them to the present one; they will serve to edify your faith and perseverance” (Epistle to Phil, XIII)
Despite the fact that there were forged letters pretending to be from the Apostles (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:2) and forged gospels like the gospel of Peter and the gospel of Thomas, they never survived inside the Church.
If myth and legend have developed in the Church then we should ask the question, WHEN DID IT DEVELOP? And WHERE did it develop? Did myth and legend develop in Jerusalem with the Apostles or outside Jerusalem with believers that were not eyewitnesses, perhaps after the Temple fell? What does the evidence show?
Confirming the Authentic Chain of Transmission of the Gospels
Early manuscripts and the early Church Father writings prove that legend did not take root in the NT writing.
The NT is earlier then 324 AD:
Eusebius Bishop of Caesarea (260/265 – 339/34 AD) in Palestine (he is a contemporary of the emperor Constantine) affirmed 26 NT Books but dividing them into 3 categories:
Universally accepted eyewitness accounts and letters of the Apostles:
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, 1 Peter, 1 John and Revelation.
These books he considered Scripture.
Contested books in the Church (which he subdivided into superior and inferior):
Superior group: James, Jude, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John.
Eusebius advocated their acceptance as Scripture but acknowledge that not everyone agreed about them (I have put Eusebius’ comments about the Cannon in Appendix E).
The NT is earlier than 250 AD:
Papyri evidence of “Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri” dated 250 AD. Portions of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts still remain. Out of the original 110 leaves, 30 remain.
Earlier than 235 AD:
Hippolytus (170 – 235 AD) was born in Rome and was a disciple of Irenaeus. Over the course of his many known writings, Hippolytus acknowledged most of the NT.
The NT is earlier than 225 AD:
Origen of Alexandria (184/185 – 253/254 AD) who was well-travelled during his life (North Africa, Rome, Palestine). He was aware of teaching, doctrine, and false doctrine that existed in different locations of the Church. He acknowledged Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, 1 Peter, 1 John, and Revelation as Scripture. He also acknowledged that some within the Church had their doubts about Hebrews, 2 Peter, 2 John, 3 John, and James as Scripture.
Earlier than 185 AD:
Irenaeus (120/140 – 200/203 AD) Bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul (present day Lyons) grew up in Smyrna while Polycarp was Bishop there. Irenaeus quoted from as many as 21 NT books (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, 1 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, and Revelation). That does not mean he did not know the other NT writing.
Earlier than 160 AD
Tatian’s “Harmony of the Gospel” dated 160 AD, which shows that the Gospels existed before 160 AD.
Earlier than 150 AD:
The “Bodmer Payri“, which is the oldest papyri, is a near complete Gospel according to John dated 125-150 AD.
Earlier that 110 AD:
Polycarp (69 – 155 AD), Bishop of Smyrna was the disciple of the apostle John. He is an important figure in the early Church because He was a direct disciple of the Apostle John. I have included from his letter to the Philippians all his quotations in Appendix C. It is a short letter yet he quotes or alludes to ALL OF THE NEW TESTAMENT. He also calls the writings Scripture in chapter 12:
It is declared then in these Scriptures “Be you angry, and sin not,” and, “Let not the sun go down upon your wrath”.
In this one letter only, Polycarp quotes from or alludes to 27 NT books:
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 & 2 Peter, 1, 2 & 3 John, Jude, and Revelation
Ignatius Bishop of Antioch (35 or 50) – (118) AD). He was also a student of the Apostle John. He was arrested and on his way to Rome, along the route he penned down seven letters. He quotes from or alludes to 18 NT books:
Matthew, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, and Revelation.
Again, it does not mean that he did not know the rest of the NT.
Earlier than 100 AD:
The Rylands Papyrus P52 is dated about 100 AD. It is a small fragment of the Gospel according to John (18:31-33, 37-38) found in the south of Egypt.
Clement of Rome (30–99 AD):
Irenaeus lists him as contemporary of the Apostles and a witness of their preaching. It is likely that he is the same Clement in Philippians 4:3. Good evidence shows that Clement wrote his letter to the Corinthians after Nero’s persecution (when it is believed that Peter and Paul were martyred) and before the destruction of Temple, so around 69 AD. This would be the earliest letter that we have outside the NT, and note that it is clearly written before the fall of Jerusalem (see Appendix B for dating of 1st Clement). Clements quotes from the following books:
Titus 3:1, Acts 20:35, 1 Peter 3:20, 2 Peter 2:5, Hebrews 1:3-4, 11:5, Romans 1:32, James 5:20
He also quotes 1 Corinthians 2:9 and calls it Scripture; the Church as a body metaphor as in 1 Corinthians; and James 4:1, – Jesus’ “millstone” quote (which is present in Matthew, Mark, and Luke).
Keep in mind, the early Church Fathers, such as Origen of Alexandria, were familiar with other non-inspired books. But they were selective and careful to have different categorizations:
- The universally accepted eyewitness writings of the Apostles and their close companion (Luke and Mark)
- Those whose authorship was in doubt
- Books and writings that are not the product of the original eyewitnesses.
Clement, Ignatius, and Polycarp all quoted passages out of all of the 27 books of the NT. Geographically, Clement lived in Rome, and Ignatius and Polycarp live in Smyrna which is located in present day Turkey. The original NT must be earlier then 100 AD and older the 69 AD because it would needed time to circulate.
Appendix C: List of quotations from the NT by Clement, Ignatius and Polycarp. They are the earliest Christian writings outside the NT. I will try to find a complete Index and update the appendix in the future.
Let’s keep going to find out how old is the NT and where did the Gospel originate from.
Earlier than 70 AD
Above pictures are of the Arch of Titus which still stands in Rome.
It was built in 82 AD to commemorate Titus’ victories, including the siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
We saw from the letter of 1 Clement that the NT existed before 70 AD.
Now let us consider the following, Jerusalem with its Temple was the center of the national, economic, and religious life of every Jewish person since Solomon built the first temple. Most Jews attended festivals (three of them were mandatory for every Jewish male over 13). They brought sacrifices to the Lord as part of their worship. They believed the Temple to be God’s earthly dwelling place. Now if you were a Jewish follower of Jesus (like Matthew, Peter, and John) who saw Him and heard Him and have seen His miracles and you were writing His sayings and recording His deeds after the city have fallen to the Roman in 70 AD, would you not mention that the city or the Temple have been destroyed? This is a colossal national disaster in terms of lives, property, and especially spiritually. There is no way you would not mention that fact, especially since Jesus prophesied the siege of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple and the manner which the city will fall (Luke 19:43-44; Mark 13; Matthew 24). Yet, none of the Gospels have these facts which Jesus predicted that happened in this generation (Mark 13:2, 30). This colossal fact is absent in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
It would have been a vindication for the Jewish Christians to have this fact mentioned. But they do not record it because all four Gospels and the letters of the Apostles were written before the siege of Jerusalem, before the fall of the city, and before the destruction of the temple by the Romans in 70 AD.
Many NT Books Were Written before AD 61
The book of Acts mentions the martyrdom of Stephen and the Apostle James (son of Zebedee). Acts ends with Paul and James (half-brother of the Lord Jesus) alive. Paul at the end of Acts was under house arrest and awaiting his trial before the emperor. We know from Clement’s letter to the Corinthians that Peter and Paul died during the reign of Nero who reigned from 54 to 68 AD. The great fire of Rome started in 64 AD. According to Tacitus (Annals 15.44), it was rumoured that Nero started the fire and that, in order to dispel the accusations, Nero accused and savagely punished the already detested Christians.
From Josephus we know that James was killed in 62 AD:
And now Caesar, upon hearing the death of Festus, sent Albinus into Judea, as procurator. But the king deprived Joseph of the high priesthood, and bestowed the succession to that dignity on the son of Ananus, who was also himself called Ananus … Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned. (Antiquities of the Jews (Book 20, Chapter 9, 1))
Luke mentions the death of Stephen and the Apostle James of Zebedee. There is simply no way that Luke would not have mentioned the death of the Apostle Peter or James in the book of Acts if it happened before the book was finished–a fact that even Josephus (an unbeliever) records in details. So Acts must have been written between 54 and 61 AD at the latest.
Other internal clues: Luke mentions the death of Herod Agrippa I in 44 AD (as does Josephus). Luke also mentions in Act 18:2 the expulsion of the Jews from Rome in 49 AD (Claudius … expelled the Jews from Rome since they rioted constantly at the instigation of Chrestus-Suetonius 70-122 AD). Luke also mentions Felix and Festus, Acts 24:27. Festus took over the governorship of Judea from 59-62 AD. He sends Paul to Rome in 59 AD. The voyage to Rome takes about three months. Paul remained two full years in his rented house in Rome. And the book of Acts ends. So the book of Acts was written in 61 AD.
Luke’s work consists of two parts. The first is the Gospel account; then, he wrote Acts (Acts 1:1). In his first book, Luke starts the Gospel account with the following:
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 above, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed. (Luke 1:1-4)
The Gospel According to Luke Is Earlier than 55 AD
Luke tells us that his work on the Gospel account is not the first: “… many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative …” Many, like, how many? Well, many means many, and this will include Mark, Mathew and other sources as we will see from historical records. Since Acts was written after Luke, the Gospel according to Luke would be even earlier then 61 AD. A good date for consideration would be 60AD during Paul imprisonment in Rome. But there is another date to ponder. Now consider the following: Paul’s referencing of Luke 10:7 (1 Timothy 5:17-18, written in 56-57 AD) and Luke 22:19-20 (1 Corinthians 11:23-26, written in 55 AD) is best explained by dating the Gospel according to Luke before 55 AD.
Luke asserts that he got his information from eyewitnesses of the events. Paul met Peter, James, John, and the elders on multiple occasions. But Paul could not have been the source of information about Jesus ministry on earth for Luke. As far as we know Paul was not an eyewitness of Jesus early ministry. Luke travelled with Paul and met James and the elders in Jerusalem in 57 AD (Act 21:18). Luke must have visited Jerusalem earlier than 57 AD. If Luke gathered the details in Luke 2 from eyewitnesses, then it is probable that he met Mary (the mother of Jesus, James, and Jude) and got the information from her. How else would anyone know that:
But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart … but His mother kept all these things in her heart. (Luke 2:19,51b)
Whether you date the Gospel according to Luke 60 AD or the more likely date of earlier that 55 AD, we see that at least three of the Gospel accounts were written while most of the Apostles were alive and within 22 to 27 years of the crucifixion of Christ. This is an important point. Mark and Mathew are even earlier.
We are not finished:
The Gospel According to Mark Is Earlier than 50 AD
How about the Gospel according to Mark? External evidence shows fragments discovered at Qumran 7Q5 from the Gospel according to Mark dated from 50 BC to 50 AD at the latest. This fragment was dated before it was identified as part of the Gospel according to Mark, so there was no bias on part of the palaeographers. Liberal scholar will dispute that identity of this fragment, but none of them are in the field of palaeography, which are how ancient papyri are dated and is a totally different field from textual criticism.
Again, historical record (multiple and independent, see Appendix D) given to us by the Church indicates the following: Matthew was written first, then Mark, the Luke then John. So Mark was written earlier than 50 AD.
A possible time and place would be just after 45 AD, in Rome. In Acts 12, James the son of Zebedee is beheaded by Herod Agrippa I, and then they proceed to arrest Peter. God intervenes and saves Peter. Luke tells us in Acts 12:12 that Peter flees and goes to Mary’s house who is John Mark’s mother. Then Peter goes to another place (Acts 12:17). It is very possible that Peter went to Rome. In Acts 12:25, Barnabas and Saul returned to Jerusalem from Antioch and brought Mark with them. Mark seems to also be a missionary as well, perhaps one of those who was originally scattered on the account of Saul’s persecution.
It is not out of the question that Mark met Peter in Rome. More research needs to be done to explore this possibility, but it is beyond the scope of this article.
The Gospel according to Mark brings us within about 15 years of the crucifixion if not earlier, while most of the Apostles and the early Church were still alive and active. Mark was not the earliest Gospel account. Origen gives us a reliable historical record that Mathew was written first, then Mark, then Luke then John.
Evidence from the early Church Fathers indicates that Matthew had to be written before 50 AD. How early? I think good evidence shows that the practice of Matthew taking notes started while he was following Jesus during His earthly ministry. As we are told in Luke 1:1-4, it is very clear, that many people in the Church before Luke have written down the teaching and the works of the Lord Jesus. This is not so hard to believe as many of the people in the Church today are in the habit of taking notes. They go to Church and take notes during the sermon. It is not hard to believe that the practice of taking notes happened early on. The practice may have originated with the Apostle Matthew. (As a tax collector for the government, his job was to keep records.) Why not? (Skeptic: “Well, the author would have indicated that he took down notes while he was following Jesus.”) Look at the book of Acts, which is full of minute details (historical and geographical). Luke followed Paul for many years from city to city and continent to continent. Most likely, he took notes as he documented his journey to write down names of places, names of people, details of events; I think most people would accept that (otherwise, how else would you remember so many minute facts like the depth of water about a quarter mile off Malta as your ship is about to run aground (Acts 27:28)?). We do not see in the book of Acts that Luke took notes. But the probability is high that Luke took notes on his travels with Paul. There is also very good probability that Matthew also took notes as he followed Jesus in Galilee and Judea.
God in His divine sovereignty may have chosen this method to form the Gospel according to Matthew. Papias, Bishop of Hieropolis in Asia Minor (contemporary of some of the Apostle from 60 to 130 AD), wrote:
Matthew collected the oracles in the Hebrew language, and each interpreted them as best he could.
Irenaeus, Origen, Eusebius and Jerome confirm this fact. See Appendix D.
Matthew most likely took notes very early on. Probably as he followed Jesus. Most likely Matthew used these notes to pen down a Gospel account in Hebrew, and then translated it to the Greek. Just because the latest date for Matthew is earlier than 49 AD does not mean that the process of the formation of the Gospel according to Matthew could not have started while Jesus was alive or shortly after His death. The sum of the evidence seems to favour a very early date. This hypothesis sure beats all the nonsense that liberal scholars peddle and there is more evidence for it.
Finally the dating of the Gospel according to John. The details given by the author are amazing; such as the pool of Siloam, and the blood and water out of the side of Jesus.
Evidence #1:The Rylands Papyrus P52 is conservatively dated about 100 AD. It is a small fragment of the Gospel according to John (18:31- 33, 37-38) found south of Egypt. It is hard to defend a late date for the Gospel according to John when we have such evidence like P52. It would take time to circulate this gospel account to southern Egypt.
Evidence #2: No mention of the siege of Jerusalem or the destruction of the Temple.
Evidence #3: John 2:21 and also John 4:20-24 are two places in the Gospel according to John where he could have mentioned that the Temple was destroyed, but he didn’t.
So the Jews answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking about the temple of His body. (John 2:18-21)
This was the charge that the two false witnesses used in the trial,
“This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.'” (Matthew 26:61b)
“You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” (Matthew 27:40b)
Why does John mention that “He was speaking about the Temple of His body”? To correct the misunderstanding about Jesus’ comment since Jesus was talking about His bodily Resurrection and not the Temple which was still standing. If the Temple was destroyed, here would be a good place to mention that important fact. Another place John could have mentioned that the Temple was destroyed is in John 4:20-21:
“Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”
Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.”
Temple worship was central to Jews worship and now is being replaced by worshiping through the Spirit of God. This would have been a good place in John to mention that the Temple was destroyed.
The balance of the evidence from these two Scriptures indicates that the Temple was still standing when the Gospel according to John was written. There are at least two other places in the Gospel according to John where internal evidence proves that John was written before 70 AD. For an in-depth discussion of the facts, kindly see our article on this subject: “The Truth about Who Wrote the Gospel Books and When and How” by John Tors.
A very reasonable date for the Gospel according to John is 65 AD.
I have one more point to make in this section: For those liberal scholars who say that these Gospels accounts were not written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John, they will never be satisfied by any amount of evidence.
I have one final question to ask. What would it take for a person to attribute The Gettysburg Address to anyone other than Abraham Lincoln? Despite the confusion of which of the five known letters it was that he delivered that day, once it has been established publicly that Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg address. No one can say today that it was someone other than Lincoln. The burden of proof is on the person who is trying to rob Abraham Lincoln of his words and not on the person who believes Abraham Lincoln wrote these words.
For 1,800 years, most people believed that it was Matthew, Mark, Luke and John who wrote the Gospel accounts. The four Gospel accounts were established in the Church as an embodiment of what was taught since Jesus preached the Gospel. The four Gospel accounts were established in the Church with the name of these individuals attached to each Gospel account.
Let us ponder the following: Paul’s letters were established in the Church, and they bear his name and signature, but the letter of Hebrews was established in the early Church in absence of a name or a signature. We see that it takes more than a signature or a name or a claim that such and such a letter was written by John or Paul to establish a letter in the Church. By the historical fact that these four Gospel accounts were established in the Church as written by these four men, this is in itself very good evidence to believe that these letters were indeed penned down by these four men.
No amount of evidence will ever convince liberal scholars of this truth. Why? Because they “suppress the truth in unrighteousness … Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God … Therefore God gave them up” (Romans 1:18b, 22-23b, 24a)
This section is finally done. It is my hope and prayer that I have demonstrated an unbroken chain of transmission from the Lord Jesus’ mouth, to the Apostles, to the present day.
Considering All the Data
We have demonstrated that there are three contemporary facts as a result of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and they remain with us to this very day:
- The Birth of the Church in Jerusalem based on the claims of the deity of Christ.
- The Day of the Lord. Celebrating His Resurrection and moving the worship day from Saturday to the first day of the week – Sunday.
- The NT writings – manuscripts, quotations from the Church Fathers, and an unbroken chain of transmission of the information.
To answer our first question: Is the NT that we have today an accurate copy of the original autographs? Yes, 100%.
We have also demonstrated that the NT was transmitted to us as it was passed down by the Apostle themselves. There was no room for legend or error to take root in the NT.
The heresies that attempted to take root in the Church such as Gnosticism, Judaizing (see Galatians), false teaching like the rumour that the Lord has already returned (2 Thessalonians 2:2), and many others were not accepted by the Church and eventually died off in the Church.
Now to move on to the second question: Did the NT writers pen down what really happened (this include Jesus’ words and deeds)? In other words, were the Apostles deluded, liars, or did they write the truth? There is an answer to this question, and it is decisively answered by the first fact we presented.
The Apostles and the early Christians did not have the opportunity to lie and get away with it and did not have the motive to lie.
This may surprise a lot of people, but the Apostles could not have lied, could not have been deluded (or hallucinating) and they could not have been crazy. All these three charges are NOT POSSIBLE, and they are again refuted by the fact that the Church was established in Jerusalem, shortly after Jesus’ Resurrection. I will explain: Did the Apostles along with the early disciples lie that Jesus was raised from the dead and appeared to them over a period of 40 days? Did they lie about the blind man in John 9? How about the man crippled from birth at the door of the Temple in Acts 3:1? Did they lie about the man at the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem who was sick for 38 years? How about Lazarus, the one raised from the dead, or about Peter walking on water? Or about all the healings? Or about the feeding of the 4,000 men or about the feeding of the 5,000 men? How about Jesus’ claims that He will forgive sins, judge the world, raise the dead, give eternal life, or that He was God?
Let us reason this carefully because Fact #1 provides us with the decisive answer. Since the Church was established in Jerusalem 50 days after Jesus crucifixion they would not have an opportunity to lie because the claims are easily verifiable. People in Jerusalem knew that Lazarus was walking around after he died otherwise the Apostles would have been exposed as fraud. People in Jerusalem knew that 4,000 men and 5,000 men (plus women and children) were fed by a few fish and a few loaves of bread; otherwise, the religious authorities would have been happy to expose the disciples as liars. People in Jerusalem knew that the man born blind in John 9 had his sight restored and that the crippled man in Acts 3 was healed. For the Apostles to teach these things and make such claims in Jerusalem, under the noses of their enemies, if these stories were not true, their teaching and claims would not have survived. How you ask? All the religious authority had to do is point out to the people (and certainly they had the ears of the people): “Hey people, they are lying; they are saying that Jesus fed 5,000 men, healed the lame at the gate of the temple, and healed the man born blind in Jerusalem. None of these things happened. No one in Jerusalem or Judea or Galilee saw these things.” On the other hand, it is hard to argue with such teaching in your home town if you were at Lazarus’ funeral and now you could go to his house and have lunch with him. Jerusalem and the surrounding areas was not a very big place. Jerusalem was about 5 square km (see the above pictures); the stories and teachings were well known and could have been verified. If the stories were not true then the disciples along with the Church would have been squashed.
I will repeat this because it is important: If the Apostles were teaching that Jesus said: ”I am the Light of the world” (John 8:12b, 9:5b) and then healed the man born blind in John 9, but the man was still blind or the man did not exist or if Lazarus never died and rose from the dead, then all the religious establishment had to do to kill the Christian movement is to stand up in the Temple and say: “Hey, they are teaching that this Jesus healed the lepers, the lame and the blind, raised the dead, fed the 5,000 and 4,000; but no one in Jerusalem or Israel saw these things. They are giving a false witness. They are lying. No one saw these things in Israel”, “They are crazy. These things did not happen in Jerusalem”, or “They are deluded.” That was all they had to do to kill the Christian movement.
The religious authorities did not say the Apostles were teaching lies, because these facts were well known. Jesus and the Apostles were well known. They stood before the governors, the regional kings and the Emperor himself. They met Caiaphas, Ananias, Pilate, Felix, Festus, Herod, and most likely stood before Nero “since this was not done in a corner.” (Acts 26:26) The Apostles and early Christians did not have an opportunity to lie and get away with it.
Let me give a few examples to see how difficult it is to establish a lie publicly while it could be challenged by living eyewitness.
If today I want to make up a story that Jesus as a child made a model bird out of clay, blew on it, and it became a real bird and flew away that if I then go to my church and try to attribute this story to Jesus, I would be kicked out of the church and labelled a liar and a heretic. It is not easy to establish such lies today and would have been far more difficult to establish such lies in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago.
Let us say that I want to make up a false biography of Adolph Hitler 40 years after he died. Actually, we do not need to imagine this because it happened. In April 1983, a West German news magazine, Stern, published parts of the diaries of Adolf Hitler. They paid over 3.8 million dollars for it. After the magazine spent time examining the document including consulting hand writing experts, they paid the money. Stern reported that the 60 volume diaries had been found by farmers in a plane crash at the end of the war. Once Stern made the claim publicly, it was shortly exposed as a fraud. It was not able to survive the scrutiny of the public (see Wikipedia Hilter Diaries and Infoplease).
Again, let us say that I wanted to fake a biography of Jesus or someone famous in our days, say, Howard Hughes who is a famous engineer, industrialist and a film maker. Well, life is stranger than fiction because it actually happened. In 1971, McGraw-Hill and Life magazine were about to publish an autobiography of the Howard Hughes. They claimed that the autobiography was published with the assistance of the writer Clifford Irving. Irving claimed that he met with Hughes a hundred times in Mexico and the Bahamas to tape-record his life story. To counter these claims, Howard Hughes called a press conference and denounced it as a fraud. Clifford Irving earned a two and a half years jail sentence for his lie (see Wikipedia Clifford Irving and Infoplease).
What if I visited New York City in 2013 and said that the Yankees won the World Series in 2013, how far can I go with such a lie? The people in New York know that they never made it to the World Series in 2013. I certainly cannot pass such a lie at Yankee Stadium.
What if I went to Washington D.C. and said that Barack Obama publicly promised a guaranteed minimum income of $ 40,000 per year to every American and a 4 day / 32-hour working week during his campaign promise. Can such lie be established in Washington? Or anywhere in the USA?
It is not easy to make radical public statements under the noses of your enemies unless they are true.
We always think it is easy to establish such detailed stories. The opportunity to lie and make up such stories did not exist in Jerusalem 2,000 ago. Jesus was famous in Israel and Jerusalem. Friend and foe knew who Jesus was. 2,000 years ago the religious authorities would have taken high interest in anyone who walked in their midst proclaiming that He is the Son of God, that He can forgive sin, judge the world, raise the dead, and give eternal life. All that religious authorities had to do was to stand up and point out to the people that the disciples were lying and that none of these miracles or claims happened in their midst. They could not because most people in Jerusalem and Judea knew about them.
Even in Rome, Lystra, and Philippi (and so on), these claims encountered resistance and persecution. (See Acts 13:50 – Antioch of Pisidia; 14:5 – Iconium; 14:19 – Lystra, 16:20-21 – Philippi; 17:5-9 and 13 – Thessalonica, 18:2 – Corinth, 19:23-24 – Ephesus; also Act 21-23 – Jerusalem).
The Church was persecuted for the Gospel in Jerusalem, in Rome and other places (this is clear from Acts). We see from Josephus XX chapter 9 that the Apostle James (and others with him) died by stoning in 61 AD. In Acts, we see persecution and beheading of the Apostle James of Zebedee in Act 12:2. According to Suetonius the Roman historian, Claudius “… expelled the Jews from Rome, who were continually making tumults, being moved thereunto by one Chrestus“. The Jews in Rome agitated so much that Claudius kicked them out of Rome (Act 18:2; back then the Romans considered Christians to be Jews as well). It is important to note that they were persecuted by the Jews in Jerusalem and other cities. They were also persecuted by the Roman authorities (Nero) and other cultures. The question is then asked, why so much persecution for the teaching that we see in the NT? It was not Jesus’ miracles that were contested; it was His claims of deity.
All evidence indicates that the Apostles and the early Church did not lie and could not lie about Jesus teaching, claims, miracles and also the Resurrection appearances. If the Apostles and the early Church were not telling the truth, they would have been easily exposed as liars if their teaching about Jesus miracles was a fraud. The Jewish authority in Jerusalem could not discredit Jesus’ works or prevent the Apostles teaching publicly to destroy the Church. The facts were known and accepted in the city and all over Israel. Most importantly, the Apostles and early Christians would have known that they were lying, and it would not make sense for them to suffer martyrdom for a known lie. For a Christian to save his life, all he had to do is to say Caesar is lord. Christians died because they confessed that Jesus is LORD.
Critics who lay the false charge that the Apostles changed their teaching in Rome or Ephesus or Corinth and elevated Jesus to God and a miracle worker have no proof and no evidence to back their false claim. We have demonstrated that the Gospel originated with the Lord Jesus in Jerusalem and the Church was born in Jerusalem 50 days after the crucifixion. Anyone denying this is going against historical and verifiable facts.
There are also other indications of the truthfulness of the Gospel. If you are about to make up a story that Jesus appeared to you after He died, you would not include that you ran away and disowned your Saviour and your God because you were a coward. As we know, Peter who became the Church leader disowned him three times. Again, we see the same principles with Jesus’ own family as His brothers and sisters did not believe Him (Mark 3:21; John 7:3-5, 10:20). This is a very unflattering picture of Jesus. If the Gospels were meant for propaganda, they would not have included such embarrassing descriptions. What we find is that the Gospels were written in a very accurate manner describing customs, geography, local politicians, topography, and events that can only be attributed to eyewitness accounts.
There is also the question about the motive: Why would they construct such a lie? Jesus rising from the dead and He did all these miracles and that He claimed to be God? We know that the early Church was persecuted, and many died for their faith. Saul was present at the death of the first Christian martyr Stephen. The Apostle James (the brother of John) was arrested by Herod and beheaded by the sword. Peter was imprisoned, awaiting the same fate as James of Zebedee (Acts 12:3). James the half-brother of Jesus was stoned. Peter was crucified, John was exiled at Patmos, and Paul was executed in Rome.
Christianity was not as lucrative and rewarding as today’s televangelists with their million dollar lifestyles and false prosperity gospel. The Apostles left their homes, left their jobs, and lost everything to give the testimony of Jesus dying on the cross to pay the penalty of our sin and rising on the third day for our justification. Listen to the Apostle Paul as he describes some of the hardship in his life in 2 Corinthians 11:24-29:
From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness—besides other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?
It was not for earthly gain that the Apostles and the early Church preached the Gospel. It was not a message the world wanted to hear like the prosperity gospel of our days (which is a false gospel).
The Apostles and the early Church did not have the motive or opportunity to lie. The reason they claim that Jesus was raised from the dead is because they were convinced that He died on the cross and that He appeared to them over 40 days. He appeared to them in person, in different group sessions, in different locations and provided convincing proof that He was alive. The reason they preached that Jesus is God from all eternity is because they lived with Jesus for three years, listened to His teaching, saw His healings and miracles, heard His claims, saw Him alive after He was crucified, and finally saw Him ascend into Heaven.
Unlike any other faith in the world such as the Muslim faith or the Hindu faith or Mormonism; the disciples were in a position to know if Jesus did these things or not.
Skeptic: “But wait, people have objections and alternative theories to the Resurrection. They have figured out what happened; I read it in TIME magazine.”
Yep, every year around Christmas and Easter you are going to read the newest and latest thing about Jesus, e g. they found His tomb, they found his wife. Jesus bashing is a very lucrative business, not only for the liberal scholar professors, but also for the secular media.
Before we address the objections that most people present to the Gospel, it is important to demonstrate that most of these objections are not based on historical facts:
Let us take for example two historical facts:
- The death of Christ on a Roman cross.
- The empty tomb.
For a skeptic to deny the death of the Lord Jesus on the cross as Muslims do and some liberal scholars do, or to deny His empty tomb, they would be going against verifiable historical facts:
- We have an authentic transmission of eyewitness accounts that Jesus died on the cross–a record that cannot be matched by any other ancient historical fact accepted today. If this fact is denied than any other ancient historical fact can also be denied.
- We have a detailed account of His burial in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Sanhedrin, helped also by a second council member Nicodemus; this is very unlikely to be fabricated because it is easily debunked by the hostile Jewish community in Jerusalem.
- No other competing death story or burial story existed until after the 7th century advanced by Muslims.
- Non-biblical historical records support these two facts: Thallus (52 AD), Mara Bar-Serapion (70 AD), Josephus (93 AD), Pliny the Younger (112 AD), Tacitus(116 AD), and Phlegon(140 AD).
So, most of the objections are not based on sound facts. It is only because of the supernatural aspect of the Gospels that they are not universally accepted. Nevertheless, we will examine some of the objections and review them to see if they have any historical validity or even if they are possible.
There are many objections put forth by people to the Resurrection. Whether they are classical or contemporary objections, skeptics will attack the reliability of the Gospels. They will claim that the Apostles and Jesus are LIARS, LEGEND, or LUNATICS.
The Swoon Theory, i.e. simply put, Jesus did not die on the cross. He only appeared dead but revived later in the tomb. He appeared to His disciples. They were fooled that Jesus rose from the dead.
This theory is simply not possible for many reasons. Here are some of them. John specifically mentioned the following:
But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. (John 19:34)
This incidental detail would be hard to account for unless it is an eyewitness testimony. John simply wrote this observation because he was near the cross when Jesus died. When a body is dead for a significant time, the blood starts to separate into its components which is a mixture of 55% plasma and 45% red cells. Without the heart pumping and keeping the blood mixed, the process of separation (called hypostasis) starts to take effect. Plasma is 90% water. Whether the soldier pierced the side of Jesus on the order of Pilate or not (Mark 15:44-45) it does not matter. All that matters is that, when the spear was thrust in the side of Jesus, He was already dead for a while.
The Swoon Theory is not possible. All the evidence shows that Jesus died on the cross. This theory would not account for the miracles that the eyewitnesses are claiming after His appearance. The theory would also not account for the 75 pound wrapping of linen and spices or the moving of the very large stone and confronting the Roman guards outside the tomb that Jesus had to deal with.
Finally, the theory is decisively refuted by the first fact we have demonstrated. The establishment in Jerusalem of such great claims can only be attributed to the disciples of the Lord being convinced of at least two facts:
- Jesus died on that cross.
- Jesus appeared to them over a period of 40 days and convinced them that not only He is alive but has conquered death.
And that is what the disciples tell us. For a period of 40 days, Jesus appeared to them under different circumstances and proved to them that He was alive and that He conquered death. Thus they worshipped Him as God from all eternity.
The Stolen or Moved Body Theory
Traditionally, the earliest objection to the Resurrection is that the disciples stole the body and that they then proclaimed that Jesus was raised from the dead. This is what the Jewish authorities claimed in Matthew 28:13. The theory can also be modified to say that one of disciples stole the body or someone stole the body and fooled the rest of the group. We can also lump together any type of theory that states that the disciples went to the wrong tomb and found an empty tomb.
Again, this theory or this type of objection can also be refuted by Fact #1–the establishment of the Church in Jerusalem. People can sit down and try to make up explanations 2,000 years after the event, but they were not there. Where do the facts lead? In all simplicity, an empty tomb or a missing body was not reason for the energizing fact that changed the disciples and gave them hope and courage. The disciples and the early Church had to be convinced that Jesus died and that He rose from the dead. That is the only adequate reason that can change their crushed moral into hope, courage, and unshakable confidence that Jesus triumphed over death.
The Hallucination Theory; maybe they were crazy; Apostles are liars
I have demonstrated that these three charges are not possible.
Marian apparitions are like Jesus’ apparition–both are subjective and untrue
See our article “DO APPARITION OF MARY UNDERMINE THE CASE FOR JESUS’ RESURRECTION? Debunking Hector Avalos’ ‘Living Laboratory” by John Tors.
Islam also had a similar and amazing beginning
For those who contend with us that the Muslim faith had similar origins, we say that nothing is further from the truth. Mohamed never claimed to be God; he never claimed to do any miracles or prophesies. Mohamed claimed that he heard the Angel Gabriel, and he claimed to be the final prophet of god. He preached his religion in a polytheistic environment. Mohamed may have been persecuted for his message, but his new position brought him wealth, power, and all the women he wanted including as many as 13 wives, one of them as young as 9 years (Mohamed was 53 years old).
Finally, his tomb can still be visited today in Mecca where his body is buried.
Contradictions in the Resurrection accounts; Contradictions in the Bible
I already showed that the Resurrection of Christ stands behind the Bible and not vice versa. Because Jesus rose from the dead, I know that He is God, and He said “Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35b). That is why my starting point is that the Bible is true when I am searching to find answers.
Regarding the claim of contradictions in the Resurrection accounts, see: https://www.compellingtruth.org/resurrection-accounts.html
Regarding apparent contradictions in the Bible, see: https://www.compellingtruth.org/ and search for the answer to the apparent contradiction.
The NT is a Myth, like the Telephone Game
This is not possible, and it decisively refuted by Fact #1 and Fact #3. We have shown that the transmission of the text of the Bible was without alteration as the evidence proves.
Jesus’ tomb was found and His ossuary was found in Jerusalem in 2007, which means that He did not rise from the dead.
Truth In My Days Ministries has free workshops on this subject for Churches as well as many other subjects.
For internet articles, see:
“If you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however impossible, is the truth.” –Sherlock Holmes (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)
What method is acceptable to find the truth? Well, if you go to your doctor to find out what is wrong with your body and why you are fainting, the doctors will ask you questions and will do tests to diagnose you. In most cases, they will proceed by eliminating the impossible. “No, it could not be your sugar level, this checked out“ and on and on. Soon enough, they will find the cause. It is the same with your mechanic; if your car is not working, they will do the diagnostic test and start eliminating what is not possible.
We have demonstrated that the NT was transmitted accurately down the centuries and that whatever the Apostles wrote and taught was transmitted to us without alteration. We have demonstrated it is not possible that the disciples had lied or that they hallucinated or that they were crazy. If not liars, legend, lunatics, or that the Bible was not transmitted to us accurately, then what?
We have eliminated all the possibilities except what is the most obvious. Jesus rose from the dead proving His power over death, because He is the Author of life. By the act of His death and Resurrection, He opens the door to you to go to Heaven, for
as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name (John 1:12b).
Do you want to receive the gift of eternal life? Receive Jesus as Lord and Saviour. Jesus said:
”Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens door, I will come in to him …” (Revelation 3:20a)
I will leave you with a passage from the Bible that was written 700 years before Jesus was born, a passage from Isaiah. If you hear the Voice of the Lord today, do not delay, for it is written: “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts …” (Psalm 95:7b-8a/Hebrews 3:15b)
Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently;
So His visage was marred more than any man,
And His form more than the sons of men;
So shall He sprinkle many nations.
King shall shut their mouths at Him;
For what had not been told them shall they see,
And what they had not heard they shall consider.
Who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
And as a root out of a dry ground.
He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him.
He is despised and rejected of men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement of our peace was upon him;
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
He was taken from prison and from judgment,
And who shall declare His generation?
For He was cut off from the land of the living;
For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
And He made His grave with the wicked–
But with the rich at His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was any deceit in His mouth.
Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him;
He has put Him to grief.
When You shall make His soul an offering for sin,
He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his Hand.
He shall see of the labor of His soul, and be be satisfied.
By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many,
For He shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great,
And He shall divide the spoil with the strong,
Because He has poured out His soul unto death,
And He was numbered with the transgressors,
And He bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 52:13-53:12)
Today if you hear the Voice of the Lord and would like to receive Jesus as Lord and as Saviour; it can be done by simple faith,
that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and you believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him shall not be put to shame.” (Romans 10:9-11)
Start by reading the Bible and “… The Spirit of truth … He will guide you into all truth …” (John 16:13). The Holy Spirit will be your guide on this wonderful journey. Your journey will start with the Lord Jesus and your journey will end in Him.
… because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse … (Romans 1:19-20)
Honest skeptic: How do we know that God exists? I cannot see God; I cannot hear God. Well there is a reason for that. Isaiah the prophet tells us that:
But your iniquities have separated you from your God;
And your sins have hidden His face from you,
So that He will not hear. (Isaiah 59:2)
Yet if you are on this page reading these words, it is because God Himself is reaching out to you. God takes the initiative and reaches out for us.
The creator of heaven and earth has given at least three great lights to help us dispel the darkness and find Him. The light of creation, the light of conscience and the light of Christ. I will be brief, as all I am trying to do is to open your mind to the possibility that God exists. Our secular environment has brainwashed most of our society into thinking that God does not exist.
The heavens declare the glory of God … (Psalm 19:1a)
Who created heaven and earth and everything in between?
Skeptic: I believe in evolution. Evolution is a science; it is proven. There is no blind faith.
Most people do not know that evolution is theory it is not a fact. Evolutionary scientists believe that non-living molecules, which have no life in them, came together by random chance to form the first living cell. This cell started to divide and grow in complexity through random natural mutation of the genetic code. Over millions and millions of years, simple living cells formed more complex living entities such as plants, insects, animals, and finally humans, all from the same original cell which started from non-living molecule. This is it in a nutshell.
For the majority of people who do not believe that God created heaven and earth, they will say that they believe in the theory of evolution. We have to come from somewhere. These are the two options: God or evolution.
Most of our society is fed this lie, i.e. that we came via evolution, and they believe it. Children are taught this lie as early as they are able to grasp it.
Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools … (Romans 1:22)
In fact, the laws of nature–or laws of science if you prefer, they are the same–firmly testify against the theory of evolution. But not only that, they point us to an eternal Creator. (FYI, some of the most important laws of science and nature are the easiest to understand).
I. The Law of Biogenesis
It is the first law of biology. It was discovered by the great French scientist Louis Pasteur in 1864. It simply states that “Life can only come from life.” No exception has been found anywhere in the universe. This law stands to this day and has never been violated.
If you put two space shuttles in a hanger together and leave them for a time (perhaps millions of years), they will not make little baby shuttles. Even if you wait millions and millions of years. Non-living matter will not produce life.
A theory in science is thrown out if it violates a known law of science. Not only does this law destroy the theory of evolution. But you must ask yourself how you account for life? How did life originate? This law points us to the Creator of all things who said: ”Let there be” and “it was so”
In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. (John 1:4)
II. The Law of Entropy
It is the second law of thermodynamics; in a nutshell, the law states that all things everywhere in the universe go from a state of order to an ever increasing state of disorder. This law applies everywhere in the universe and holds true for all natural processes. Liberal scientists will say this holds true only for closed systems, i.e. isolated systems, but this is a lie; the law holds true for closed and open systems (isolated and non-isolated systems). Everything around us is going from a higher state of order to an ever increasing state of disorder. A house built on top of a hill, if not maintained over time, will end up being a pile of rubble, perhaps in a few hundred years. If you put more energy on the house (non-isolated system), such as the sun shining on it or you set the house on fire, all you are doing is accelerating the disorder.
This law is another nail in the coffin of the theory of evolution. Non-living molecules do not assemble into a more organized and complex molecule to form the first simple living cell by random chance. Simple living cells do not become more and more complex living creatures over time. Complex beings have more genetic information, and the more complex the being, the more genetic information it has. A horse has more genetic information than a flower or an amoeba. Mutation causes a decrease in genetic information, not an increase of genetic information. Mutation corrupts the genetic code; it does not improve it.
In nature and in the universe, things go from an organized state to a more disorganized state. The theory of evolution simply violates the law of entropy, even if you wait millions and millions of years in hoping otherwise.
III. The Laws of Information
Finally the theory of evolution violates the laws of information.
In the above picture you have an ant holding a computer chip. The computer chip represents matter and information. The ant represents matter, information and life.
Apart from God who is the Creator of all life, no one knows what it takes to have life. However, whatever is needed for biological life, you will also need information.
If you take matches and use them to write your name and then someone walks over, he can read your name. You have used the sticks of matches to transmit information. Now if you scramble the matches, you cannot read your name anymore.
Observe the following:
- Information is very real, but it is also non-material. After you scrambled the stick of matches, you still have the same number of matches but no information.
- The information did not originate from the sticks of matches; they originated from an intelligent being.
- The alphabet that you used to form your name with matches are mutually agreed upon between the sender and the receiver. If I wrote my name in Arabic using the matches, you could not read it unless you knew the Arabic alphabet.
I could go on, but I use this simple example to show that information follows certain laws of nature. We are bound by these laws of nature even if they are immaterial in nature.
The first law of information states that A material entity cannot generate a non-material entity. So nonliving molecules cannot generation information, even if you wait millions and millions of years.
The fourth law of information states that universal information can only be produced by an intelligent sender. If you are driving your car listening to the news, the source of the information is not the radio or the antenna or the radio transmitter or the microphone of the newsperson. The source of the information is the man sitting behind the microphone. This is always the case; you can always trace the source of the new information to an intelligent person. A book is the medium where information is transmitted from one person to another person. However, the source of the information is not the book but the man who wrote the book.
These laws stand against the theory of evolution. Simple molecules getting together by natural random chance will not generation usable information, and they will certainly not become more and more complex even if you wait millions and millions of years. The laws of information not only disprove evolution but point us to a Creator who is the original source of this information.
I can go on, but this article is already too long. If you are interested to learn more about the laws of information, you can read Dr. Werner Gitt’s article or view his video “In the Beginning Was Information“.
Dr. Gitt has also a book by that name.
Each one of these laws refute the theory of evolution, but they also point us to a living Creator. It is my hope that, at minimum, your mind has been opened to the possibility of the existence of God. The Lord Jesus reveals to us who this God is.
APPENDIX B: The Dating of 1 Clement
Regarding 1 Clement 1:1, the “sudden and repeated calamities and reverses which are befalling us” could be a reference to the persecution under Nero that began in AD 64, but those who date 1 Clement to the AD 90s say that it refers to the persecution under Domitian, which is equally possible.
On the other hand, 1 Clement 41:2 is strong evidence for a date prior to the destruction of the Temple since, as it has been have noted, Clement describes the offering of the Temple sacrifices as ongoing by using the present tense. Those who date this letter to the AD 90s see this as a case of the “historic present,” and that is not completely impossible, as Clement does use the historic present elsewhere:
“Yet [Job] accuses himself, saying …” (1 Clement 17:4)
“Yet [David], too, says to God …” (1 Clement 18:2)
However, the context of 41:2 mitigates so strongly against this being an historical present that this suggestion can safely be discarded. So this gives us a terminus ante quem (latest possible date) of August 29, AD 70, (more or less) for the letter.
What about the terminus post quem (earliest possible date)? In 1 Clement 5:4-7, we read of the deaths of Peter and Paul, which means that these events had already happened. Peter probably died in AD 64 and Paul in May or June AD 68.
The upshot of this is that 1 Clement can be dated between, say, July 68 and August 70. I picked the latter end because the discussion of the deaths of Peter and Paul do not sound as if this is recent news. However, the latter half of AD 68 or AD 69 is certainly possible.
APPENDIX C: List of Quotations from the NT by Some Early Church Fathers
1 Clement, ordered by chapter number:
- 2 – Titus 3:1; Acts 20:35
- 7 – 1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 2:5
- 9 – Hebrews 11:5
- 34 – Quotes 1 Corinthians 2:9 and calls it scripture
- 35 – Romans 1:32
- 36 – Hebrews 1:3-4
- 37 and 38 – Church as a body metaphor, as in 1 Corinthians
- 46 – James 4:1
- 46 – Jesus’ “millstone” quote (which is present in Matthew, Mark and Luke)
- 49 – James 5:20
Letter of Ignatius to the Ephesians, ordered by chapter number:
- 2 – John 8:29
- 3 – John 17:11-12
- 5 – James 4:6
- 6 – Names Onesimus, as in Philemon
- 6 – John 1:14
- 7 – 1 Timothy 4:10
- 8 – 1 Peter 2:9
- 9 – Matthew 5:2; 2 Timothy 2:24-25; Luke 23:34
- 11 – Romans 2:4
- 12 – Matthew 23:35; Acts 9:15
- 13 – Ephesians 6:16, 6:12
- 14 – Luke 10:27; Matthew 12:33
- 15 – 1 Corinthians 4:20; Romans 10:10; 2 Corinthians 8:18
- 16 – 2 Corinthians 6:14-16
- 18 – 1 Corinthians 1:20
Letter of Ignatius to the Magnesians, ordered by chapter number:
- 3 – 1 Timothy 4:12
- 4 – Luke 6:46
- 8 – 2 Corinthians 5:17, mentions Judaizers
- 9 – 2 Thessalonians 3:10; Philippians 3:18-19; 2 Timothy 3:4
- 10 – Acts 11:26
Letter of Ignatius to the Trallians, ordered by chapter number:
- 9 – Hebrews 10:12-13
- 11 – Warns of “Nicolaitanes”
Letter of Ignatius to the Romans, ordered by chapter number:
- 2 – 2 Corinthians 4:18
- 7 – Galatians 2:20
Letter of Ignatius to the Philadelphians, ordered by chapter number:
- 2 – 2 Timothy 3:6
- 6 – “dragon Nicolaitanes”
Letter of Ignatius to the Smyrnans, ordered by chapter number:
- 3 – Maybe Revelation 1:7
Polycarp’s letter to the Philippians:
Chapter 1: (Colossians 3:12), (cf. Philemon 5), (cf. John 15:8), (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:3), (Acts 2:24), (1 Peter 1:8), (Matthew 13:17; cf. 1 Peter 4:13), (Ephesians 2:8-9) (cf. Ephesians 2:8-10).
Chapter 2: (cf. Ephesians 6:14;1 Peter 1:13), (cf. Hebrews 12:28), (1 Peter 1:21), (1 Peter 3:22; cf. Philippians 2:10), (Acts 10:42; 2 Timothy 4:1; 1 Peter 4:5), (cf. Luke 11:50), (1 Peter 3:9), (Matthew 7:1-2, cf. Matthew 6:12,14; Luke 6:36-38), (Luke 6:20; Matthew 5:3,10).
Chapter 3: (cf. 2 Peter 3:15), (Galatians 4:26), (cf. James 2:8-9)
Chapter 4: (1 Timothy 6:10) ,(1 Timothy 6:7), (2 Corinthians 6:7; Ephesians 6:11); (John 14:15),(Titus 2:4,5); (1 Thessalonians 5:17) (cf. 1 Timothy 5:5), (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:25)
Chapter 5: (Galatians 6:7), (2 John 6), (cf. 2 Peter 1:3), (cf. 1 Timothy 3:2-10), (1 Timothy 3:8), (cf. 3 John 4), (cf. Philippians 1:27), (2 Timothy 2:12), (Titus 2:6-8). (1 Peter 2:11); I Corinthians 6:9,10; cf. Revelation 22:15), (cf. Ephesians 5:4). (cf. Ephesians 4:11-12), (cf. Titus 2:4-8),
Chapter 6: (2 Corinthians 8:21; cf. Romans 12:17); (cf. Galatians 5:19-20; 1 Peter 2:11), (Matthew 6:14-15); (Romans 14:10,12), (Hebrews 12:28), (Galatians 4:18), (cf. Matthew 17:27), (2 Timothy 3:5), (1 Timothy 4:1-2)
Chapter 7: (1 John 4:3), (cf. Jude 3); (1 Peter 4:7), (Matthew 6:13) ,(Matthew 26:41; Mark 14:38).
Chapter 8: (1 Peter 2:24), (1 Peter 2:22), (cf. 1 John 4:9), (James 5:10); (Acts 5:41; Romans 8:17; cf. 1 Peter 4:16),(1 Peter 2:21).
Chapter 9: (Philippians 2:16; Galatians 2:2), (1 John 2:15; cf. 2 Timothy 4:10),
Chapter 10: (1 Corinthians 10:1; Jude 3); (1 Peter 2:17), (cf. 1 Peter 3:8), (cf. 2 Corinthians 10:1), (Galatians 6:10), (1 Peter 5:5), (1 Peter 2:12)
Chapter 11: (cf. Hebrews 13:5; Titus 2:12), (Titus 2:5), (1 Thessalonians 5:22), (cf. Colossians 3:5-6), (1 Corinthians 6:2), (cf. Philippians 1:1-6), (2 Thessalonians 3:15)
Chapter 12: It is declared then in these Scriptures, “Be you angry, and sin not,” and, “Let not the sun go down upon your wrath” (Ephesians 4:26), (Mark 1:1), (Hebrews 3:1), (cf. Revelation 14:12), (Galatians 1:1), (Ephesians 6:18,23), (cf. 1 Timothy 2:1-2), (Matthew 5:44), (Philippians 3:18)
Chapter 14: (Philemon 3)
APPENDIX D: Comments of the Early Church Fathers Regarding the Origin of the Gospels
Papias (Around 60 – 130 AD)
The Elder also said this, “Mark, being the interpreter of Peter, whatsoever he remembered he wrote accurately, but not however in the order that these things were spoken or done by our Lord. For he neither heard the Lord, nor followed him, but afterwards, as I said, he was with Peter, who did not make a complete [or ordered] account of the Lord’s logia, but constructed his teachings according to chreiai [concise self-contained teachings]. So Mark did nothing wrong in writing down single matters as he remembered them, for he gave special attention to one thing, of not passing by anything he heard, and not falsifying anything in these matters.”
“Concerning Mark, these things were related by the father [John the Elder]. Concerning Matthew these other things were said, “Therefore, Matthew set in order the logia (“divine oracles”) in a Hebrew dialect, and each interpreted them, as he was able. [cited by Eusebius in History of the Church 3:39]).
Irenaeus of Lyons (Around 180 AD)
“Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect, while Peter and Paul were preaching in Rome and laying the foundation of the Church. After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter. Luke also, the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel preached by him. Afterwards John, the disciple of the Lord, who also had leaned upon his breast, did himself publish a Gospel during his residence at Ephesus in Asia.” (Against Heresies book 3,1,1)
Origen (Around 244 AD)
“Among the four Gospels, which are the only indisputable ones in the Church of God under heaven, I have learned by tradition that the first was written by Matthew, who was once a publican, but afterwards an apostle of Jesus Christ, and it was prepared for the converts from Judaism and published in the Hebrew language” (Commentaries on Matthew [cited by Eusebius in History of the Church 6:25]).
Eusebius (Around 324 AD)
“Matthew had begun by preaching to the Hebrews, and when he made up his mind to go to others too, he committed his own Gospel to writing in his native tongue [Aramaic], so that for those with whom he was no longer present the gap left by his departure was filled by what he wrote” (History of the Church 3:24 [inter 300-325]).
Justin identified Mark’s Gospel with Peter
Early Christian apologist, Justin Martyr, wrote “Dialogue with Trypho” (approximately 150 AD) and included this interesting passage:
“It is said that he [Jesus] changed the name of one of the apostles to Peter; and it is written in his memoirs that he changed the names of others, two brothers, the sons of Zebedee, to Boanerges, which means ‘sons of thunder’ …”
Clement said that Mark recorded Peter’s Roman preaching
Clement of Alexandria (150 – 215 AD) wrote a book entitled “Hypotyposeis” (Ecclesiastical History Book 2 Chapter 15). In this ancient book, Clement refers to a tradition handed down from the “elders from the beginning”:
“And so great a joy of light shone upon the minds of the hearers of Peter that they were not satisfied with merely a single hearing or with the unwritten teaching of the divine gospel, but with all sorts of entreaties they besought Mark, who was a follower of Peter and whose gospel is extant, to leave behind with them in writing a record of the teaching passed on to them orally; and they did not cease until they had prevailed upon the man and so became responsible for the Scripture for reading in the churches.”
Tertullian affirmed Peter’s influence on the Gospel of Mark
Early Christian theologian and apologist, Tertullian (160 – 225 AD), wrote a book that refuted the theology and authority of Marcion. The book was appropriately called, “Against Marcion” and in Book 4 Chapter 5, he described the Gospel of Mark:
“While that [gospel] which Mark published may be affirmed to be Peter’s whose interpreter Mark was.”
Origen attributed Mark’s Gospel to Peter
In Ecclesiastical History Book 6 Chapter 25, it states that Eusebius quoted a Gospel Commentary written by Origen (an early Church Father and theologian who lived 185–254 AD) that explains the origin of the Gospels. This commentary also attributes the Gospel of Mark to Peter:
“In his first book on Matthew’s Gospel, maintaining the Canon of the Church, he testifies that he knows only four Gospels, writing as follows: Among the four Gospels, which are the only indisputable ones in the Church of God under heaven, I have learned by tradition that the first was written by Matthew, who was once a publican, but afterwards an apostle of Jesus Christ, and it was prepared for the converts from Judaism, and published in the Hebrew language. The second is by Mark, who composed it according to the instructions of Peter, who in his Catholic epistle acknowledges him as a son, saying, ‘The church that is at Babylon elected together with you, salutes you, and so does Marcus, my son.’ 1 Peter 5:13 And the third by Luke, the Gospel commended by Paul, and composed for Gentile converts. Last of all that by John.”
Eusebius (325 AD) also wrote an additional detail in Ecclesiastical History Book 6 Chapter 14 related to Mark’s work with Peter:
“The Gospel according to Mark had this occasion. As Peter had preached the Word publicly at Rome, and declared the Gospel by the Spirit, many who were present requested that Mark, who had followed him for a long time and remembered his sayings, should write them out. And having composed the Gospel he gave it to those who had requested it. When Peter learned of this, he neither directly forbade nor encouraged it.”
APPENDIX E: The Divine Scriptures That Are Accepted and Those That Are Not (from Ecclesiastical History 3.25.1-7)
At this point it seems appropriate to summarize the writings of the NT which have already been mentioned. In the first place must be put the holy quaternion of the Gospels, which are followed by the book of the Acts of the Apostles.
After this must be reckoned the Epistles of Paul; next in order the extant former Epistle of John, and likewise the Epistle of Peter must be recognized. After these must be put, if it really seems right, the Apocalypse of John, concerning which we shall give the different opinions at the proper time. These, then, [are to placed] among the recognized books.
Of the disputed books, which are nevertheless familiar to the majority, there are extant the Epistle of James, as it is called; and that of Jude; and the second Epistle of Peter; and those that are called the Second and Third of John, whether they belong to the evangelist or to another of the same name.
Among the spurious books must be reckoned also the Acts of Paul, and the Shepherd, as it is called, and the Apocalypse of Peter; and, in addition to these, the extant Epistle of Barnabas, and the Teaching of the Apostles [Didache], as it is called. And, in addition, as I said, the Apocalypse of John, if it seems right. (This last as I said, is rejected by some, but others count it among the recognized books.) And among these some have counted also the Gospel of the Hebrews, with which those of the Hebrews who have accepted Christ take a special pleasure.
Now all these would be among the disputed books; but nevertheless we have felt compelled to make this catalogue of them, distinguishing between those writings which, according to the tradition of the Church, are true and genuine and recognized, from the others which differ from them in that they are not canonical, but disputed, yet nevertheless are known to most churchmen. [And this we have done] in order that we might be able to know both these same writings and also those which the heretics put forward under the name of the apostles; including, for instance, such books as the Gospels of Peter, of Thomas, of Matthias, or even of some others besides these, and the Acts of Andrew and John and the other apostles. To none of these has any who belonged to the succession of ecclesiastical writers ever thought it right to refer in his writings.
Moreover, the character of the style also is far removed from apostolic usage, and the thought and purport of their contents are completely out of harmony with true orthodoxy and clearly show themselves that they are the forgeries of heretics. For this reason they ought not to be reckoned among the spurious books, but are to be cast aside as altogether absurd and impious.
 Clement is arguing for order, using as examples the body, army, seasons, nature, and temple sacrifices. The first four are ongoing and can be seen, which is the point of the examples, so it doesn’t seem reasonable that the last one is not viewable. Furthermore, historic present is used primarily – and perhaps exclusively – in narrative, and 1 Clement 41:2 is exhortation, not narrative.
 There is not universal agreement on this, though there is strong evidence that Paul, subsequent to the events described in Acts, was freed and went on a fifth missionary journey that took him all the way to Spain and which ended in AD 67.
The statement “We have a far more reliable and documented case for the Lord Jesus from direct eyewitness testimony then the two most powerful emperors of His time, Augustus Caesar and Tiberius Caesar,” found on (https://truthinmydays.com/verification-of-contemporary-facts-and-proof-for-the-resurrection/3/), should be removed.
Although some prefer to use a debate style tactic of comparison of ancient figures, it is not a proper tactic to make a logical argument. Rather, the standard to meet concerning evidence must be something that is *fixed,* not comparative. If a figure reportedly living in the ancient world has less evidence for him than Jesus, would we automatically say that that figure is mythical rather than historical? It matters not that one have extraordinary evidence, but only that one have *sufficient* evidence.
Moreover, as it concerns historicity issues, Caesars generally have a better attestation than Jesus, when numismatic evidence and contemporary inscription evidence is included.
Also, someone may want to review the page for issues of words written in singular that should be plural (e.g., “manuscript”).
All the best,
–Z. E. Kendall
Thank you for your feedback on this article. We hope you found it helpful.
Regarding your suggestion about the evidence needed for people from ancient history, it is certainly correct that what is needed is “sufficient” evidence, though that is not the same as “fixed” evidence, as there is no absolute standard for what constitutes the minimum amount that is to be deemed “sufficient,” which is what a “fixed” standard would require.
Regarding the evidence for Jesus’ life, miracles, death, and resurrection the primary evidence is the Gospel books, two of which (Matthew and John) were written by eyewitnesses and companions of Jesus, another of which (Mark) was passing on the direct eyewitness testimony of Peter, another companion of Jesus, and the fourth (Luke) of which was based on testimony delivered by “those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word.” By any reasonable standard, this is more than sufficient evidence; it is unparalleled for any ancient personage.
Regarding your question, “If a figure reportedly living in the ancient world has less evidence for him than Jesus, would we automatically say that that figure is mythical rather than historical?” We have never suggested that the evidence for Jesus is the minimum standard, and that is the only basis by which the historicity of those with less evidence would automatically be challenged. On the contrary, the evidence for Jesus far exceeds any reasonable minimum standard.
Apropos to this, this is why we made the point that “We have a far more reliable and documented case for the Lord Jesus from direct eyewitness testimony then the two most powerful emperors of His time, Augustus Caesar and Tiberius Caesar.” It was to draw attention to the fact that historians accept the details of the life and careers of other ancient personages on the basis of less evidence than there is for Jesus’, so it is a double standard to disregard the latter while accepting the former. It also underscores the fact that the evidence for Jesus is far more than the minimum required to be accepted.
Regarding your assertion that “as it concerns historicity issues, Caesars generally have a better attestation than Jesus, when numismatic evidence and contemporary inscription evidence is included.” Numismatic and inscriptional evidence comes with its own caveats; after all, there is a plethora of coins and statuary showing such characters as Zeus and Hercules, who are obviously fictitious, not historical. More to the point, however, numismatic evidence and inscriptional evidence can testify to the bare fact that a person existed, but in most cases they tell us next to nothing about what he may have done. Our point was that the resurrection of Jesus (and, indeed, His life, ministry, and miracles) is better attested than the details of the deeds and careers of these emperors, and that is indeed true.
Apropos to this, do note that the article said, “We have a far more reliable and documented case for the Lord Jesus from direct eyewitness testimony then the two most powerful emperors of His time, Augustus Caesar and Tiberius Caesar.” Numismatic and inscriptional evidence is not “direct eyewitness testimony,” so, again, the statement in the article is true.
Finally, regarding your contention that “It matters not that one have extraordinary evidence, but only that one have *sufficient* evidence,” I think you are conflating two things here that need to be kept separate. Yes, only sufficient evidence is needed to establish the trustworthiness of ancient written documentation, but that is a separate issue from the evidence offered in the written documentation. To wit:
Jesus claimed to be the Son of God and Saviour. Establishing the historical reliability of the documentation, which requires only “sufficient” evidence, demonstrates that He really made these claims – but it doesn’t prove that those claims were true. For that, one must look into these reliable documents to look at the evidence He offered to prove the claims – and for such claims to be accepted, the evidence must indeed by extraordinary.
If, for example, these reliable documents record that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God and Saviour, and the only evidence to support these claims was that everyone thought that He was a nice, honest man, that would not be sufficient.
If the documents recorded that Jesus made these claims and the only evidence He offered was His avowal that an angel had approached Him in a cave and told Him that He was the Son of God and Saviour, that would not be sufficient.
If the documents recorded that Jesus made these claims and the only evidence He offered was His insistence that God had appeared to Him and told Him where to dig up golden tablets that said He was the Son of God and Saviour, that would not be sufficient.
So, yes, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Jesus’ claims were indeed extraordinary, and the evidence He offered was commensurately extraordinary: the fulfilment of ancient prophecies, astounding miracles, and especially His bodily resurrection from the dead. These are sufficient to establish His claims.
I trust this clarifies matters to your satisfaction. Let us know if you have any further questions or comments.