Is the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Supported by Reliable Evidence?


In the present modern age of the internet and computer technology, the world has the largest assembly of information ever known. The ability to search or write on any subject has become commonplace amongst those who have a laptop or handheld device. Research into the subject of Jesus life, death, and resurrection, is as easy as a few clicks of the keyboard. Adversaries of the Bible and Jesus Christ have written extensively in rebuttal of the historical Jesus, as well as the New Testament narrative which describes His resurrection from the dead. Many claims have been made by critics who assert that Jesus is a myth, the Bible is full of inaccuracies, and the resurrection never happened. To the untrained, these articles put forth by critics may appear, on examination, credible and factual. In fact, they are not.

To begin, most articles which claim that the Bible is inaccurate, or that Jesus is a myth, are based on the opinions of the writer and have no historical or factual basis. It is common amongst atheists and non-believers that they often espouse statements that have come to them from other atheists or non believers. Very rarely do any of those who take an adversarial position to the Bible or Jesus Christ, ever investigate whether the statements they are making–have a factual basis. Those who do posit facts, have invalid or inaccurate facts, and are not trained in the subjects that they claim to have knowledge of.

Upon a thorough examination of these positions against the Bible and the person of Jesus Christ, we find that these individuals did not begin with the idea that the facts are likely true, but commenced  upon their investigation with the assumption that the Bible is an assembly of stories–written by men and the person of Jesus Christ is a fabrication of history. When any person begins with an assumption that something is not true, this bias will cloud every part of their investigation. It is impossible to arrive at a truly impartial conclusion when we have determined ahead of time that something must not be true.

The only way in which any honest person can truly know what is true and what is false–is when we begin with the premise: “I don’t know,” and then follow the evidence where it leads.

About 700 years before Jesus of Nazareth was born in Bethlehem, the prophet Isaiah had already written that He would be treated unjustly and in a rush to judgement–He would be denied an fair and equitable trial.

Isaiah 53:8b He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation?

Literally, this statement “Who will declare His generation?” means “Who will declare the wickedness of His generation?”[1] Jesus was denied a fair and just trial. Isaiah asks the question: “Who will declare this injustice to future generations?”

Because the leaders of Israel considered Jesus acknowledgment that He was the Son of God, so heinous, they did not believe that He was worthy of a trial. In their minds, by Jesus own confession—He had committed the worst possible sin: blasphemy.[2] Isaiah predicts this denial of a fair and equitable trial by the statement: who will declare (consider) His generation? The problem with the judgment of the Jewish leadership was their lack of consideration that Jesus really was the Son of God—the Messiah. They did not “consider” (alternate translation of “declare”) that Jesus was who He claimed to be—though He met all of the criteria. Jesus said and did all the things that the Hebrew prophets predicted. The disciples recorded in the New Testament the fact that Jesus words and works were done in fulfillment of the words of these Hebrew prophets.

Ten times, Matthew records the words: that it might be fulfilled (See Prophecy 245).

Matthew 1:22-23 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying:

No proof of Jesus guilt

The charges brought against Jesus were false. When witnesses were sought to bring evidence that He had committed crimes worthy of death, no credible testimony could be found.

Matthew 26:59-61 Now the chief priests, the elders, and all the council sought false testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, 60 but found none. Even though many false witnesses came forward, they found none. But at last two false witnesses came forward 61 and said, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.’ ”

The two persons who did come forth to testify that Jesus had said that He was able to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days—misrepresented the intent of His words. As is always true of those who have yet to be Born Again, they did not understand the spiritual meaning of Jesus words (1 Corinthians 2:14). When Jesus said, Destroy this Temple and I will rebuild it in three days, He was speaking of His ability to raise the Temple of His crucified body—back to life again after three days. Jesus never said that He was going to destroy the temple at Jerusalem.

John 2:19-21 Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” 21. But He was speaking of the temple of His body.

1 Corinthians 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?

Isaiah’s prophecy that the Messiah would be falsely and unjustly condemned to die—is a fact of the historical record. Isaiah wrote this prediction approximately 700 years before Jesus was arrested and accused of sedition. The fact that the disciples remembered that Jesus had prophesied that this would happen is recorded by their testimony.

John 2:22 Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.

Prophecy 251 explores similar facts of Jesus’ unjust arrest and resulting trials.

Important facts regarding the reliability of the New Testament:

We should remember that the facts and the statements of those who witnessed the events of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection are recorded posthumously for us in the historical record. There is absolutely no reason for any person to doubt the authenticity of any testimony that has been given concerning the events that are narrated for us in the text of the New Testament. For the past 2,000 years, no one has ever successfully impeached the testimony of the New Testament writers. There have been hundreds of attempts to impugn the New Testament narrative of Jesus, but never a single successful denigration of these documents. This is due to the massive amount of evidence which fully validates their authenticity and reliability. The burden of proof to challenge the testimony recorded in the New Testament scriptures is on the opposing parties who make their claims that the text is not reliable.

No scholar to date has successfully impeached the four gospels in a manner that literary or historical experts would concur is a valid reason to doubt their authenticity. The New Testament testimony regarding Jesus is a true and accurate accounting of the actual events which transpired in Jerusalem.[3]

We have every reason to trust the New Testament:

All of the copies of the New Testament which we have in our possession today were found in places where we would expect credible New Testament documents would be found: in the care of Christian churches who had preserved these instruments for the past 2,000 years.

Since the New Testament has been in global circulation for nearly 20 centuries, retained by the Christian church, and held as authentic by the leaders of the church—by time and preservation, the narrative of the New Testament must be considered authentic and reliable. The burden of proof to demonstrate facts to the contrary is on those who oppose and criticize these records, alleging that they are not authentic. Merely to state that the gospels are unreliable because they were written at some distance from their occurrence, or make assertions that the events in the gospels did not occur at all, is both disingenuous and unsupportable by evidence.

The four Gospels are reliable

It is inconceivable that the narrative of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection were contrived or misrepresented by the four gospels and then widely copied and distributed to all of the vast number of churches that received them. If these accounts were not true at the time that they were written, or if they were considered to be inaccurate during the first canonization of the scriptures, shortly after the events were written, they would have been excluded by the early church leaders.

A first century scholar’s knowledge of authenticity is certainly greater than any scholar today.

If the details of Jesus’ life and ministry were untrue, specifically that He had risen from the dead, there is no doubt that there would be a great number of impeaching documents that would refute the testimony of the witnesses who had written that they saw Jesus alive during a period of 40 days after His crucifixion.[4] This testimony was received as credible and accurate by all of the churches in Asia, shortly after the first century. In fact, we do not find any credible refutations of the accounts of the gospels. In fact: the Christian church confirmed the words of the four gospels as the word of God—equal to Old Testament scripture and not merely the words of men.

1 Thessalonians 2:13 For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.

The men who wrote the New Testament were honest, diligent men who recorded the words of Jesus and the beginning of the Christian church because they were convinced by facts that these things were true. They were certain that their record of Jesus words and deeds were the fulfillment of the Old Testament scriptures concerning the Messiah.

John 19:36 For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, “Not one of His bones shall be broken.” Acts 1:16 “Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus

1 Peter 2:6 Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.

Prophecy as a conduit to prove the resurrection

The Old Testament contains a considerable record of over 400 prophecies which describe that the Messiah. A substantial point of the Messiah’s arrival was His death and resurrection. Eleven Old Testament prophecies specifically detail His resurrection from the dead. Jesus could not have fulfilled all of these prophecies, only to stop short of those which also predict the resurrection. This is not only a factual impossibility; it is a logical and mathematical impossibility. Any person who had the ability to fulfill every other prophecy of the Messiah apart from the resurrection must also have the ability to raise Himself from the dead. Mathematicians agree that the odds of any one person being able to fulfill just eight of the prophecies of the Messiah by accident is 1017th power.[5]

The book: “The Prophecies of the Messiah,” demonstrates that Jesus fulfilled 365 of these prophecies.

Let us remove the 11 prophecies which deal with the resurrection of the Messiah. How likely is it that Jesus fulfilled the other 354 prophecies of the Messiah by happenstance?

Follow this logic…

Because Jesus was able to fulfill the 354 prophecies that exclude the resurrection, it is certain that He was also able to fulfill the 11 prophecies that confirm that the Messiah will be raised from the dead.

The Old Testament predicts eleven times—the Messiah will be raised from the dead.

Prophecy 64 Psalm 2:7-8
Prophecy 69 Psalm 16:9-11
Prophecy 85 Psalm 22:22
Prophecy 91 Psalm 30:3
Prophecy 100 Psalm 40:2-5
Prophecy 109 Psalm 49:15
Prophecy 147 Psalm 117:17-18
Prophecy 190 Isaiah 26:17-20
Prophecy 260 Isaiah 53:10
Prophecy 272 Isaiah 53:3
Prophecy 293 Jeremiah 30:9

For detailed information on the factual evidence for the Resurrection and the reliability of the New Testament, see the chapter: The Certainty of the Resurrection.

This is why Bible prophecy is so essential for a correct understanding of what Jesus accomplished. A person who is unfamiliar with the gospel story would likely read the account of Jesus’ arrest, conviction and death as a terrible tragedy. In reality, all the events described in the gospels were under the sovereign control of God and were planned and known to Him before the world was made. This is why we have a record of hundreds of Old Testament Prophecies and their fulfillment, documented in the New Testament.

Jesus most certainly did raise from the dead, or none of the men who followed Him would have refused to recant the resurrection or face a horrific death. Nearly every man who said that Jesus had risen was given the opportunity to save his life, if he would only renounce publicly that Jesus had not risen from the dead.

Would they die for a lie?

The men who witnessed Jesus’ accomplishment of these incredible works were compelled to record them, preserve them, and give their lives in defending the certainty that they actually took place.[6]

• Matthew—killed by a sword.
• Mark—dragged through the streets until dead.
• Luke—hanged on a large olive tree in Greece.
• John—According to Tertullian:[7] John was placed in a boiling pot of oil but was unharmed,[8] John was later banished to the isle of Patmos—where he wrote the book of Revelation.
• Peter—crucified upside down in Rome.
• James—beheaded in Jerusalem, with his accuser who turned to Christ.
• James the younger—beaten with a club and thrown off of a cliff.
• Phillip—scourged, thrown into prison, and crucified.
• Bartholomew—whipped until dead.
• Andrew—crucified, preaching to those in attendance until he died.
• Thomas—run through with a lance.
• Jude—killed by arrows.
• Matthias—stoned at Jerusalem then beheaded.
• Barnabas-beheaded.
• Paul—beheaded.

All of the men who said that Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead, and forgave sins—died horrible deaths, defending their testimony as absolute truth. A man may contrive a story and stand by it until he is required to give his life for his testimony. No sane person would voluntarily die for a lie. Job records the fact that all that a man has, he will give to save his own flesh.

Job 2:4 … Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life.

The men, who witnessed what Jesus of Nazareth had said and done, safeguarded the accurate and worldwide distribution of their testimony, finally dying themselves for the affirmation that Jesus rose from the dead. There is no greater evidence for authenticity than when a man is willing to die for what he believes. All that a man has is his own life. To surrender that which is most valuable to defend a truth so vital, and of such infinite importance, is all the testimony that we need to confirm that Jesus in fact had risen.

All historical events are confirmed by first-hand testimony

Virtually everything we believe regarding past history is because of the eyewitness testimony of those who were there at the time the events they recorded took place. How do we know that George Washington and Abraham Lincoln were actual persons of history? We read the testimony of those who saw them, heard them, and then recorded the events for us. The man Jesus Christ is a real person from past history whose life has been recorded for us by the men who saw and heard the amazing things that He had said and done. There is more historical evidence for the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ than any other person in the chronology of the world.[9]

Jesus was aware of God’s plan.

Everything that was going to happen, Jesus knew in advance. He understood that His life, death, and resurrection were written about by many of the Old Testament prophets and that He would be fulfilling each one of the prophecies of the Messiah.

Isaiah writes: Who will declare the wickedness of His generation to all the generations to come? In these 365 Prophecies and by this 252nd prediction, we have declared the events that surrounded Jesus’ arrest, death, and resurrection in order to demonstrate that He is the Messiah.

Much false testimony has been given by many people who seek to discredit the New Testament message of Jesus Christ. In every generation, there have been those who have brought forth arguments against the testimony that Jesus is a real person from history—who was crucified, died, and rose from the dead. Every one of these arguments have been overcome by the overwhelming evidence left to us by those who recorded these events. There has never been a successful impeachment of the facts: Jesus lived in Jerusalem and about 32 A.D., He was arrested, crucified, laid in a tomb, and rose from the dead three days later. All this, in fulfillment of over 400 Hebrew prophecies which predicted these events, hundreds—even thousands of years in advance.

This is the true and accurate account of the most extraordinary event in the history of the world: Jesus rose from the dead in fulfillment of the Hebrew scriptures.

See also Prophecy 90, which is a similar prediction from Psalms 27:12: “The Messiah will be condemned to die by false testimony.”

Psalms 27:12 “Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries; For false witnesses have risen against me, And such as breathe out violence.

NEXT: See the following articles which continue your discover of the facts regarding Jesus of Nazareth and the certainty that He lived, died, and rose from the dead.

The Historical Record of Jesus Life from Secular Sources
Historical Evidence For Jesus Resurrection
The Overwhelming Empirical Evidence for Jesus Death and Resurrection
The New Testament Passes Every Literary Test of History
Empirical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ
Empirical Integrity of the New Testament

[1] Cambridge Bible Commentary: And who shall declare his generation?] A still more difficult clause. The Hebr. word for “generation” (dôr) may mean (a) the time in which he lived, (b) the circle of his contemporaries, (c) those like-minded with him (Psalm 12:7; Psalm 14:5; Proverbs 30:11 ff.); but is never used with any such significance as “length of life,” or “life-history,” or “posterity.
[2] Mark 14:61-62 But He kept silent and answered nothing. ¶ Again the high priest asked Him, saying to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” 62 Jesus said, “I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”
[3] Those scholars who attempt to discredit the resurrection, such as Dr. Bart Ehrman, do so from their assumption that Jesus dod not raise from the dead and that many of the events of the Bible are a myth.
[4] Acts 1:3 to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.
[5] Science Speaks. by Peter W. Stoner, revised and HTML formatted by Don W. Stoner. Retrieved 2007-02-09
[6] Fox’s Book of Martyr’s: Chapter 1 History of Christian Martyrs to the First General Persecutions under Nero
[7] Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, anglicised as Tertullian (c. 160 – c. 225 AD),[1] was a prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa. T. D. Barnes, Tertullian: a Historical and Literary Study (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985), 58
[8] According to Encyclopedia Britannica, Tertullian, the 2nd-century North African theologian, reports that John was plunged into boiling oil from which he miraculously escaped unscathed. During the 7th century this scene was portrayed in the Lateran basilica and located in Rome by the Latin Gate; it is still annually commemorated on May 6. John’s feast day otherwise is December 27,
[9] 1.Grant, M., Jesus: An Historian’s Review of the Gospels New York: Scribner’s, 1977, Page 176
2.Van Daalen, D. H., The Real Resurrection, London: Collins, 1972, Page 41
3.Kremer, Jakob, Die Osterevangelien — Geschichten um Geschichte, Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk, 1977, Pages 49-50.

Categories: Agnostics and Skeptics, Atheists, Atheists uneducated observations, Common errors of Atheists, Contradictions in the Bible, Despised and Rejected, Empirical Evidence for the Resurrection, Historical Validity of the New Testament, Jesus is the Messiah, Literary authenticity of the New Testament, New Testament Manuscripts, Prophecies Fulfilled by Jesus, Prophecy proven by History, Reliability of the New Testament, The First Arrival of the Messiah, The Historical Crucifixion of Jesus, The Historicity of Jesus, The Resurrection of Jesus

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1 reply

  1. I like your research! Can’t wait to wade through some of your other articles


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