THE HISTORICITY OF JESUS AND RELIABILITY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
It’s amazing how many people today have no idea how to go about proving that Jesus was truly was the Son of God and that the New Testament documents are reliable. In fact most people you ask especially those in the denominations will tell you that they cant give you proof but that they just know from their heart of hearts that there is God and that Jesus is his son. They will usually start telling you some personal experience they had which usually involves some strong emotions or a certain feeling that convinced them that Word of God is true. This is called subjectivism where one appeals to their feelings. How one may feel at any given time doesn’t proof anything. If one could prove that there was a God based solely upon a feeling then any religion or any man made doctrine no matter how absurd could be proven to be true. God never intended for us to just to feel like he exist or to feel like his Word is true. No, instead we can adequately prove that the Word of God is a historically accurate by reasoning from both internal and external evidences.
The Word of God is not some myth nor was it based upon some mans teachings. The Word of God was recorded by historical eyewitnesses and is grounded upon events that took place in history. People today don’t have any problems believing that George Washington was our first president. How do we know that this is true? We didn’t personally live during that time. The reason why we know that it’s true is because of the testimony of those who lived during that time. If we are going to believe that George Washington was the first president based off of reliable historical eyewitnesses they we need to believe the historical eyewitnesses of the Bible as well. We know that Luke wrote the book of Luke and Acts to the Theophilus claiming what he had written was an orderly account of all things that had been fulfilled (Luke 1:1-4). This is significant because Theophilus was an official in the imperial network of the Roman empire, probably a governor, and he would have access to polices and records to check and see if Luke was accurate in his writings or not. Luke records many details about historical events, which have been proven to be right on with all external evidences that have surfaced so far.
prove that the New Testament documents are historical accurate when it talks
about the life and death of Jesus Christ but first proving from external
sources that there was a Jesus as described by the Word of God. First, lets take a look at five early pagan writers. Thallus writing around 52AD recognizes Jesus existence by
trying to explain away the darkness that occurred and Jesus crucifixion (Mark
15:33). He argued that the abnormal darkness alleged to have accompanied the
death of Christ was a purely natural phenomenon and coincidence. Mara Bar-Serapion
writing around 73AD asked the question, “what
advantage did the Jews gain from executing their wise King?” (Please note that
the date of this writing is in question and could have been written as late as
the third century.) Cornelius Tacitus writing around
112AD about the reign of Nero 54 – 68AD told how the Christians were made
scapegoats for the Great Fire of 64AD. It was rumored that Nero was the one who
started the fire to gain glory by rebuilding the city. Notice what Cornelius
says, “consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and
inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations,
called Christians by the populace. Christus, from
whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of
Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus”.
Pliny the younger writing around 112AD extracted some information from
Christians by torture. He wrote, “ they were in the
habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang an
anthem to Christ as God, and bound themselves by a solemn oath not to commit
any wicked deed”. Finally our fifth writer Suetonius
writing around 120AD about the life of Claudius shows that Jesus did exist. He
said, “ as the Jews were making constant disturbances
at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from
The first century Christians believed that the
information found in the New Testament documents were
true because they were willing die for that truth. In fact F.F. Bruce tells us
that at the turn of the century that the Romans sent out military police to
confiscate the writings of the New Testament, and that the
Our next proof of the reliability of the New Testament is found in the number of manuscripts and their date. A manuscript is a copy of the original letter for letter. We do not have any originals of the New Testament today. A manuscript is deemed more reliable the closer it was copied to the original date. Lets first examine five early non-biblical historical writings that are considered by scholars to be reliable. Caesar’s Gallic Wars was written between 58 to 50 B.C. and we only have ten good manuscripts with the oldest one dating back to the ninth century. The Roman History of Livy was written between 59 B.C. to 17AD and we have 35 manuscripts with the oldest one dating to the fourth century. Histories of Tacitus was written between 100 to 155 AD and we have two manuscripts with the oldest one dating to the ninth century. The Annals of Tacitus s was written about 100 AD and we have twelve manuscripts with the oldest one dating back to the eleventh century. The history of Thucydies was written between 460 to 400 B.C. and we have eight manuscripts with the oldest one dating to 900AD. I want to emphasize that scholars agree that these historical records are reliable even though some these manuscripts are 1300 years removed from the originals and are few in number. These historical records don’t even come close to the manuscript evidence of the Bible. There are about 5000 copies of the New Testament documents in whole or in part with the oldest one dating back to 350AD. That is only about 250 years removed from the originals. This is more than enough proof to show the reliability of the New Testament documents and we should believe what they say. F. F. Bruce made the following statement, “If the New Testament were a collection of secular writings, their authenticity would generally be regarded as beyond all doubt”.
move on to proving that Jesus is the Son of God. All of Christianity hinges
upon Jesus resurrection from the dead. If it can be proved logically that Jesus
did indeed rise from the dead. It would prove the Jesus truly was the Son of
to prove that Jesus was raised from the dead was in the fact that he told his
disciples that he must go to the Father before he could send the Holy Spirit to
guide them into all truth (John 14:26, 16:7, 12-13). Now if I can show that the
Holy Spirit came to the apostles, then I can show that Jesus did in fact rise
from the dead and return to the Father. The New Testament claims that many saw
Christ alive after his death on the cross. Even though his apostles had ate and
drank with him after he arose from the dead (Acts 10:41). They still did not
understand that the kingdom would not be a physical one (Acts 1:6). The
resurrected Jesus tells them they will receive the Holy Spirit there at
logical proof of Jesus resurrection can be found in the conversion of Saul.
Saul did not like the Christianity movement at all. In fact he became a true
fanatic at trying to destroy Christianity (Gal. 1:13-14). He even went outside
Another proof that Jesus was the Son of God was in the fact that he claimed that no one could take his life but he had the power to lay it down (John 10:17-18). He specified that he would die by crucifixion (Mat. 20:19, John 3:14, 8:28, 12:32-33). Many attempts were made on his life from childhood to adulthood (Mat. 2:13-21, Luke 4:16-30, John 8:59). However, they were always unsuccessful because it wasn’t his time to die yet (John 2:4, 7:6). It was his destiny to die upon the cross. Crucifixion usually took 36 to 72 hours for someone to die from starvation or exhaustion. However, Jesus died in six hours (Mark 15:25-37). Pilate was surprised that he was already dead (Mark 15:44). Jesus had control over when he died and expressed when he was about to die in John 19:30. All this shows us that he was more than just a man. He predicted how he would die and displayed that he had the power to take his life, as he died only six hours after being on the cross.
In conclusion the evidence is overwhelming proving that the Bible is based upon historical events by creditable witnesses who confirm all that happened in the life of Christ and in the first century church. Since we know the Bible is reliable, we should accept all that the New Testament writer says as truth. I have made several logical arguments, which prove that Jesus did exist, and that he was crucified, buried and raised from the dead. Every Christian should take great comfort in knowing that God and Christianity can be proven from history and from logically examining the facts of the New Testament documents.
Study Guide Historical Christian Evidences by Edward C. Wharton .