The Dunamis Word 2

Icon

Upholding The Light Of Jesus In A Dark World

The Resurrection, A Historical Fact

 

These men and others have rejected the faith, also claiming that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, and that the scriptures are erroneous and contradictory, and because of their weakness, postulate ridiculous fantasies with no basis in actual events facts or history.

The aim of the enemy through them is to create doubt against the clear and overwhelming evidence for the historicity of the Jesus of the Bible and the resurrection which confirms that only Jesus has power over life, death and sin.

II Timothy 4:4 ~ “And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables”

It is interesting to note that what these men have done is because of the foolishness of their hearts. It is crucial that the Christian is able to know not only what he or she believes, but also why he or she believes it.

Romans 1:21~ “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened”

Because of the danger of abundant error, ignorance can not be an excuse for the serious follower of Jesus. Our preaching content must change and dynamically increase in order to bring the necessary information to the people of God and the Body of Christ.

In this article I will set forth the some of the primary reasons why we as Christians can rest assured that Jesus lives because he rose on the third day as he said he would some 2000 years ago.

 

Section I: Understanding The Enemy’s Plan

2 Peter 3:3-5 ~ “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:”

Most critics of the resurrection begin first with the personage of Jesus as found in the Gospel texts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. According to the critics the Gospels present a myth or a mythic Jesus and not necessarily a Jesus of actual history. For the atheist and critic, this is an essential argument that they must win to adequately make their case. Simply said, if Jesus didn’t live, then certainly he did not die or rise again and all the Christian would hold dear is nothing more than a series of good parables and sayings as found in many other world religions.

2 Timothy 4:3-4 ~ “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

Secondly, there is an effort is to misplace the time and the sequence of the gospels in order to make them appear to be written at later date than what they have factually and historically been believed to be. This is done in order to associate the gospels with the writings and practices of mystery religions such as Mithra, Zoroaster, Dionysus etc., that did not appear until after the success of Christianity was widespread. In fact, studies have shown and modern scholarship has proven that most of these mystery religions and what is further known as Gnostic teachings and gospels were not proliferated and did not develop until mid second and third centuries some 100 to 250 years after Jesus and after Christianity was established.

2 Peter 5:8-9~ “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.”

Third, because of the power and influence of his ministry, the critic must separate Paul from the historical Jesus, recreate him as a Gnostic teacher and thinker describing a “cosmic Jesus” or any god of the mystery religions, and further affirm their presupposition by vehemently questioning why Paul didn’t give a biography of Jesus or a life synopsis within his epistles. They object are quick to point out and ask why Paul did not give a summary of the virgin birth, the disciples interactions with Jesus, and in-depth notations of Jesus most famous discourses such as the Sermon On The Mount.

To the Christian believer the thought that someone would try to do any of these things and simultaneously disrespect Jesus and the Biblical texts is borderline blasphemy. For these reasons and others, the church must be prepared to vigorously defend what we know is the truth of the WORD of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Thankfully, attempts to discredit Christ and the Bible and arguments such as I have outlined have been put down over the centuries by astute and faithful scholars seeking to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the Saints.” (Jude 3)It would seem however, that the perfect storm of Biblical illiteracy, an intense rise in critical thinking and form criticism, and in many cases flat out lies and ridiculous hypothesis, have opened the doors of confusion upon those who have not given heed to history or serious study toward the defense of the Christian faith.

Please be assured that as facts are discovered and rediscovered, the historical Christian faith and Gospel truths espoused and held dear over the centuries remain intact, unchanged and more strong than ever.

 

Section II: A Historically Factual Record

II Peter 1:16-18 ~ “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. “

As we will see, the facts are plain and simple. Jesus lived, died, resurrected and fulfilled the Law (Old Testament) for righteousness. (Rom. 10:4) Not only do the Gospels confirm the life death and resurrection of Jesus but secular history and historians confirm the same also, sometimes ignorantly and in many cases unintentionally.

 

Section III: The Bible Is A Valid Historical Record

Fact # 1 ~ The Bible is valid as a record of history as any current or discovered historical record.

Not only does the Biblical record contain religion and religious beliefs, it also contains material and references regarding individuals of ancient history and circumstances covering multiple centuries, in real time. It is interesting to note that for thousands of years historical criticisms challenging Biblical historical accuracy have all come up short. Further, there remains over 2000 years of archaeological discovery, scriptural exposition, and Biblical doctrine upon which we may confidently build our faith.

For a critic to throw out or call into question the use of the Bible as a source of history and historical events is highly unreasonable. There is no basis for such objection. Just as one would not throw out a dictionary as a source of defining words or an encyclopedia as a source for historical events,  one should not discount the Bible as a source of history because there is no sound reason to do so. 

As an example of Biblical historical veracity, Sir William Ramsey  is and was known as one of the  greatest  archaeologists to have ever lived. As a skeptic of Biblical history, in the mid 19th Century, he was thoroughly convinced as a student in a German historical school, that the book of Acts was a product of the Mid Second Century AD. During the course of topographical study of Asia Minor he was compelled to consider the complete writings of Luke. (Luke-Acts) As a result he was forced to do a complete reversal of his initial beliefs due to the overwhelming evidence uncovered in his research.

Concerning Luke’s ability as a historian Dr. Ramsay pointed out, “Luke is a historian of the first rank, not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy…this author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians” ~ “The Bearing Of Recent Discovery On The Trustworthiness Of The New Testament” Sir WM. Ramsay, London: Hodder & Stoughton 1915. P 222.

Dr. Ramsay also pointed out in a later work that “Luke’s history is unsurpassed” and that the NT reflect conditions that are unique to the second half of the first century AD and do not reflect conditions of any later date. “St. Paul The Traveller and Roman Citizen” Sir WM Ramsay, Baker 1962 P 81.

Biblical archaeological historical reliability is merely one  example of overall Biblical historical reliability. The most reputable scholarship of our time has placed other evidences on top of this one in order to reveal a complete and accurate view of the historical setting in which Jesus actually lived, died and was resurrected.

 

Section IV: Historical Methods Of Confirming Literary Reliability

There are several methods used to confirm the reliability of ancient literature. Eight of them are as follows:

  1. Are the reports within the material “early enough” or “close enough” to the time frame of the events they describe?
  2. Do the documents actually go back to the original source, or does it go back to a second hand or even third party reference?
  3. Does the document have continuity?
  4. Are the reports made by what is generally thought to be a reputable person or persons?
  5. Do the documents have close physical or material proximity to events that they describe? If not, do the circumstances known to the time in which they were written justify the spatial relationship?
  6. Can the existence of the documents or events contained within the documents be verified through other or in this case secular historical documents and sources?
  7. Does the document have an inner logic that pulls the thoughts contained within it together?
  8. Does the document describe characters whose actions are both dissimilar and similar to what we would expect such actions to be based upon what we know about the history of the time period in which it is contained and which it describes?

OBJECTION: The Critic says that Christian biases and authorship have distorted the Biblical texts and therefore are not reliable as historical narratives.

OBJECTION OVER-RULED:Not all biases distort historical texts. In fact biases in many cases seek to preserve actual historical narratives to relieve ambiguity. Biases that corrupt or distort historical events, are normally smoked out in the light of the aforementioned methods. In fact, when properly applied, these methods allow the scholar and historian to identify historical corruptions and biased interpolations of data within the text. The goal is to place the complete text on the same platform and within the same scope as confirmed historical documents and narratives. At that point one can properly evaluate history and discern actual context. If done properly biases, not normally recognized by the untrained eye, are efficiently weeded out.

 

Section V: The Death Of Jesus Means That There Was A Life Of Jesus.

Surprisingly, one of the best confirmations for the Life of the historical Jesus is the Historical fact of his physical death.

An article in the Journal Of The American Medical Association concluded from the Gospel accounts that Jesus certainly had died before he was removed from the cross:  

“Clearly the weight of historical and medical evidence indicates that Jesus was dead before the wound to his side was inflicted and supports the traditional view that the spear, thrust between his right ribs, probably perforated not only the right lung but also the pericardium and heart and thereby ensured his death. Accordingly, interpretations based on the assumption that Jesus did not die on the cross appear to be at odds with modern medical knowledge” (William D. Edwards, ‘On The Physical Death Of Jesus Christ,’ “Journal Of The American Medical Assn.” 255 no. 11 3/21/1986)

Dr. Samuel Houghton, a great Psysiologist from the University of Dublin, states the following as it pertained to the scriptures recitation of the flow of “Blood and water” after piercing the side of Jesus on the Cross…

“The importance of this is obvious,. It [shows] that the narrativein St. John xix. could never have been invented; that the facts recorded must have been seen by an eye-witness; and that the eye -witness was so astonished that he apparently thought the phenomenon miraculous” – ‘Commentary on the Holy Bible’ Frederick C. Cook Pg. 349-350 

Having made the prior observations the historical record of the Bible clearly states that Jesus died. (Jn.19:30, Mk. 15:37, Mt. 27:50, Lk. 23:46)

Technique # 6 ~ Can the existence of the documents or events contained within the documents be verified through other, or in this case, secular historical documents and sources?

 

Section VI: In Addition To The Biblical Texts, Secular Historians And Otherwise Reputable Persons Also Confirm The Physical Death of Jesus

Christianity was a small religion with no special recognition among the known secular world until the word regarding Jesus and his message began to spread. With the war in AD 70 Christianity began to spread further due to persecution of the Jews. Please remember that most, if not all of the early Christians were also Jews.

As the church began to grow and the message spread, Christianity became more noticed by many secular historians. These are some of the more firm and widely accepted references to the historical life and death of Jesus:

Tacticus, a lawyer and official Roman historian says that Jesus suffered the extreme penalty (crucifixion) during the reign of Tiberius, under Pontius Pilate.

Josephus, a Jewish General and historian, reports that Pilate condemned him (Jesus) to be crucified. In fact his writings, Josephus practically gives Jesus’s entire ministry history as was known.

Lucian of Samosata, a second century, Greek satirist and author of ‘The Death Of Peregrinus’, mentions Jesus’ crucifixion in a way that suggest his knowledge of Jesus as a historical physical person in Palestine and further does not question that Jesus existed.

Mara Bar-Serapion, late first century to third century, was a pagan writing his son from prison. He confirms that Israel had been punished and was currently suffering because of how they had killed their “wise king”. Scholars believe that this reference is one referring directly to Jesus hailed by Romans as the “King Of The Jews” (Mt.27:37, Mk.15:26, Lk.23:38, Jn.19:21)

The Jewish Talmud, reports that Jesus was “hanged on a tree” aka crucified. (Acts 5:30, Acts 10:39, Gal.3:13)

Fact # 2 ~ If Jesus was crucified, then he must have without a doubt lived.

OBJECTION: Many of the sources sited here lived in the second century and later and therefore have no relevance to confirming events of the first century.

OBJECTION OVER-RULED: Well into the second century there was little or NO DEBATE that Jesus had suffered death by crucifixion and therefore actually physically existed as a man. The historical narratives of the Gospels were formed and possibly compiled as early as AD 44. Due to strong Oral Tradition the message was already in existence and accepted by Christians as a primary source regarding the historicity of Jesus and the resurrection. In order to be noted in secular records at this time indicates and confirms the explosive growth of Christianity which was further evidence that a historical and not mythic Jesus was being preached and presented. 

 

Section VI: Early Enough

 
Technique # 1~ Are the reports within the material “early enough” or “close enough” to the time frame of the events they describe?

Fact # 3 ~ The gospels themselves were written in a very short time of the actual events of history and were preserved well before they were written through a very high standard of oral tradition which was a part of the Semitic cultural norm in which they were given.

The tradition in which the narrative of the gospels were born was unlike the cultural setting that existed at the time. The Gecko- Roman cultural standards of oral tradition were incompatible with the Hebrew and Semitic standards of Oral Tradition. Paul Rose Eddy and George A Boyd in their book‘The Jesus Legend’ state the following,

“This means that in most oral communities there are checks and balances that ensure that the substance of historically oriented oral tradition is not distorted or lost” Pg.263.

We can have confidence that the Word (NT Biblical Text) was highly valued and preserved through multiple first hand witnesses, Strong Oral Tradition and and was further confirmed by subsequent and outside sources. With that said, there should be confidence that the manuscripts and subsequent rewritings were highly accurate and historically reliable when written.

Modern scholarship dates the crucifixion of Jesus in AD 33. Scholarship has also speculated that Matthew’s gospel could have been written as early as AD 44 and Mark’s gospel as early as AD 60. What we know of surety, is that Paul wrote I Corinthians in AD 55 after having been converted in AD 37 (Acts 9) and meeting the Disciples in Jerusalem in AD 40. (Galations 1:18, Acts 9:26).

The message he (Paul) preached was one found to be fully consistent with the living eye-witnesses (Apostles) accounts and specified, and as we would expect. There was also a clear parrallel with the message of Jesus which had been delivered some 7 to 22 years prior to both Paul’s conversion and initial writings.  

Contrast this to other writings of antiquity as follows:

  • Alexander the Great’s 2 BEST historical sources weren’t written until 400 years AFTER his death.
  • Caesar Agustus, arguably Rome’s greatest Emperor, generally has 5 resources that document his childhood, a brief funeral inscription written between 50 and 100 years AFTER his death and 3 sources written between 100 and 200 years AFTER he died.

Although literary evidence for the existence of 2 notable men of history is not as rich as the “early” and “close” historical accounts we have regarding Jesus, these 2 individuals are generally accepted to be actual historical figures and are not considered to be mythic or contrived.

OBJECTION:There are coins to confirm Caesar’s existence. There is nothing other than the biblical text to confirm the existence of Jesus.

OBJECTION OVER-RULED:Coins or signage are not indicators of physical life attributes or actual extensions in time and space. There are many symbols that exist that do not offer a living counterpart but are only representative of mythic and or imaginary figures. Neither Bart Simpson or Buggs Bunny are human and certainly don’t physically exist, but yet their images cannot be denied. With Jesus, we have multiple, high quality, verifications of his existence across the board and a sound historical record with multiple attestation. Confirmation for the existence of Jesus is far above any other figure of antiquity.  

Section VII: Multiple Attestation

Technique # 4 ~ Are the reports made by what is generally thought to be a reputable person or persons?

Fact # 4~ There are over 5700 Greek copies of the New Testament in existence today. There are over 10,000 copies in Latin. Then there are over 10,000 to 15,000 copies written in Coptic, Syriac, and Armenian and most are complete. Approximately 10% of these manuscripts are from the first Milena and nearly 50 of those are Greek dated within the first 3 centuries of Christ’s death. Additionally, there is a very strong line of Apostolic successors that clearly and strongly affirms the resurrection of Jesus and the Biblical, historical narratives of the Gospels in particular.

Clement who was an early church father along with Iraneus are said to have had conversations with the actual Apostles themselves. Tertullian says Iraneus was ordained by Apostle Peter said this in I Clement 42:3,

“Therefore having received orders and complete certainity caused by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and believing in the Word of God, they went with the Holy Spirit’s certainity, preaching the good news that the Kingdom of God is about to come” ~‘Case For The Real Jesus’2007 Lee Strobel Pg.117.

Further, Polycarp,appointed by John as Bishop of the church at Smyrna, in 110 AD writing to the Phillipian church mentioning the resurrection of Jesus no fewer than 5 times.

In addition Pliny The Younger, the adopted son of Pliny the Elder, was a Roman Senator, lawyer and civilian administrator. In AD 110 while Governor of Bithyna, he asked Roman Emperor Trajan ( aka Hadrian) how to deal with Christians. He would interview Christians after encouraging them to defect from their faith. This is what he wrote:

“They {The former Christians} assured me that the sum total of their error consisted in the fact that they regularly assembled on a certain day before daybreak. They receited a hymn antiphonally to Christus (Christ) as if to god, and bound themselves with an oat not to commit any crime, but to abstain from theft, robbery, adultery, breach of faith, and embezzlement of property entrusted to them. After this it was their custom to separate, and then come together again to partake of a meal, but an ordinary and innocent one.” – ‘The Jesus Ledgend’ 2008 Eddy / Boyd Pg.175

The point here is that not only was the message and gospel in effect during the time of Jesus and shortly after his death but also many years afterward. In this case some 77 years afterward.

In addition other church fathers such as Ignatius, Tertullian, and Origenwillingly suffered for and followed the beliefs that they had received and held dear until death.

 

Section VIII: Dissimilarities & Similarities

Technique # 6~ Does the document describe characters whose actions are both dissimilar and similar to what we would expect such actions to be based upon what we know about the history of the time period in which it is contained and which it describes?

Fact # 5 ~ The Tomb Was Empty.

The empty tomb was not only confirmed by the Gospel narratives and early followers of Jesus, but also by the Jews and the Romans. The Romans confirm it by saying that the tomb was empty, the Jews say it by trying to cover it up. (Matthew 28:11-15)

The Nazareth Inscription named after the town in which it was found is an ancient piece of evidence that appears to be an Imperial Edict belonging either to the reign of Tiberius (AD 14-37) or Claudius (AD 41-54). What is fascinating about this document is that is is an invective backed with heavy sanctions against meddling around with tombs and graves. This edict seems to have been an imperial reaction to the resurrection of Jesus. ~ Frank Morrison ‘Who Moved The Stone?’  1958 

Fact # 6 ~ The Resurrection Was Multiply Attested

The Jewish thought of resurrection was a bodily, physical,  resurrection not a mere limited spiritual one. Therefore, a resurrection account would leave a body unaccounted for.

The conversion of Paul (fka Saul), James (The Brother of Jesus) and Thomas (the Disciple) was due to meeting a physically resurrected Christ. According to the testimony of Paul Jesus personally appeared to Cephas and over 500 people at once, many who were yet alive at the time that he wrote and those who were alive could attest to the fact that they had seen a risen Jesus. (I Cor. 15:6)

Unlike the belief of many non-Christian cults, Jesus resurrection was physical and not merely a conscience awareness or symbol. Jesus ate, spoke, and offered his limbs to be touched.

Further, the account of the resurrection of Jesus was unlike anything of it’s day and the witnesses were not manipulated to make a better story.

In fact the story was quite embarrassing. To begin with, women were the first witnesses of the empty tomb. The words of women (Represented by Mary & Martha and others) were not generally accepted as credible in witness and legal matters. Women were not a good source of accepted testimony in that day. Nevertheless women were the first witnesses. No other tradition would expose itself to this sort of criticism unless the writers were interested in relaying the complete truth and even flaws to the readers of history.

Expected Dissimilarities:

Fact # 7~ The pre-resurrection actions of the disciples are exactly what we would expect from individuals who are not confident in their faith.

Fact # 8~ The post-resurrection actions of the disciples are exactly what we would expect from believers who had observed and partaken in a life changing event as the resurrection would have been.

Fact # 9~ The response of the Jews is exactly what we would expect from individuals who did not accept Jesus as Messiah and certainly not as God.

Fact # 10 ~ The actions of the Romans is what we would expect from individuals who considered the Jews insignificant and the Christians as less of a threat and as just another sect within Judaism.

 

Section IX: Biblical Doctrines Written And Witnessed First Hand

Technique # 2~ Do the documents actually go back to the original source, or does it go back to a second hand or even third party reference?

The authorship of the Gospels have been traditionally held to be based on first hand and eye witness accounts and have been therefore held in high esteem because of the quality of testimony delivered to the church.

Some scholars suggest the use of Q, L and M documents as sources for the gospels. Although there has never been any proof of any such documents even if they did exist they would not be problematic and would in fact speak more favorably to an even earlier delivery of written documents preserving and sharing the actual words and sayings of Jesus prior to the dates that currently exist.

Section X: Summary

  • The Bible is valid as a record of history as any current or discovered historical record.
  • Historical methods of confirming literary reliability will weed out any proposed historical biases if applied properly.
  • There are several methods used to confirm the reliability of ancient literature. Eight of them are as follows:
  1. Are the reports within the material “early enough” or “close enough” to the time frame of the events they describe?
  2. Do the documents actually go back to the original source, or does it go back to a second hand or even third party reference?
  3. Does the document have continuity?
  4. Are the reports made by what is generally thought to be a reputable person or persons?
  5. Do the documents have close physical or material proximity to events that they describe? If not, do the circumstances known to the time in which they were written justify the spatial relationship?
  6. Can the existence of the documents or events contained within the documents be verified through other or in this case secular historical documents and sources?
  7. Does the document have an inner logic that pulls the thoughts contained within it together?
  8. Does the document describe characters whose actions are both dissimilar and similar to what we would expect such actions to be based upon what we know about the history of the time period in which it is contained and which it describes?
  • As compared to other documents of antiquity the Biblical narrative has an overwhelming amount of documents and manuscripts first orally preserved and produced early and near actual events in support of text accuracy.
  • Archaeology confirms many parts of the narratives without apparent or evidential conflicts in style, geography and messages consistent with the time frame in which the narratives were produced.
  • There is a sound line of secular sources who unintentionally confirm the death of Jesus therefore confirming the life of Jesus.
  • The growth and message of the early Christian church is one of the best indicators that not only did the church exist, but the message of the church existed, was in tact and centered around it’s chief historical figure, Jesus of Nazareth.
  • The responses of the Jews, and Romans are in accord with what we would have expected them to be in an accurate historical setting.
  • The responses of the Disciples/Apostles are what we would expect from followers who thought their faith initially had been misplaced.
  • The actions of the Apostles are what we would expect if someone were convinced of their faith through a post mortem physical appearance of the one in who their faith was placed. Nothing else can adequately account for such a dramatic, change, intent and determination to carry the Gospel openly and in all places.

2 Timothy 2:13-19 ~“Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Help Support The Ministry

Hot Topics

Media & Podcasts

Pastor's Profile

Study Materials

%d bloggers like this: