The Secular Record of History, Proves That Jesus Rose From The Dead

COPYRIGHT WARNING

If you are a Christian, you were born extremely rich. The day that you first trusted in Jesus as your Savior, you began a new life as the son or daughter of the Greatest King who has ever lived. Possessing great riches is not enough to live a truly satisfying and purposeful life. We must also gain knowledge and wisdom; to know how to live. In order to fully understand the riches that are ours, we must read the bankbook and discover what God has deposited into our account because of what Jesus has accomplished for us.[1]

Many years ago, one of the world’s richest men, discovered a list of priceless items that he wanted for his collection. He dispatched his trusted employee to travel the world until he found these items and bring them back to his home. After a long and exhausting search, the items were discovered—all in the same location. The employee returned to his boss and reported: “Everyone of these treasures that you were seeking, are already yours. They have been in your warehouse for quite some time.”

In Christ, everything that we are searching for in our life, is already ours…

One of the many treasures that we possess, is the certain knowledge of God’s power and ability to order and bless our lives. There is no greater place to learn about the Lord’s capacity to direct our lives, than seeing this capability demonstrated by the fulfillment of His prophetic word. Many people misunderstand the purpose of these prophecies of the Bible as an attempt to predict the future. This was not the intended purpose of God’s prophetic word. The Lord was desiring that every person might know Him and be able to trust in what He has promised us. How better to prove this ability than to speak about things that are yet to come; and fulfill His word, with extreme precision.

The primary purpose of every prophecy of the Bible is to reveal the Son of God to us, in a meaningful and deeply personal way. After the passage of two-thousand years, it would be difficult for most people to understand how a man like Jesus could do the things that are recorded in the New Testament. This is a primary reason why some scholars, who spend their lives studying the Bible, lose their faith. Once they are confronted with the reality that Jesus opened the eyes of the blind, caused the lame to walk, and raised the dead; some are not able accept these claims as the truth. In a few cases, modern scholars have asserted that the writers of the New Testament “embellished” these accounts. In other words, they lied to us. What is seldom considered is the impact that these events had upon first century people who realized that all these things were true, regarding Jesus. The entire reason that such a great number of people believed that Jesus had died and rose again, was due to the overwhelming body of evidence that existed, after these events took place. The new book: “Honest Men,” presents this evidence to the reader for examination and consideration.

This is the entire purpose of the narrative of Jesus Christ, is to prove that He is God, dwelling in the body of a Man. This was the promise of God when He spoke thousands of years ago and promised to send mankind a Savior. The very first prophecy in the Bible, found in Genesis 3:15, describes a future redeemer who will come into the world by the “Seed of a woman.” Women do not possess seed, they must receive it from a male. This prophecy speaks of a virgin who will conceive the Son of God, by supernatural means, without the aid of a human father. In this book, we learn why this essential truth is so important to the entire story of Jesus. Without His virgin birth, Jesus could not be the Savior of the world.

If God desired to make Himself known to us, how better than to come—personally to earth and demonstrate His power by suspending the physical laws of the universe. Since sickness and death are unnatural and God is the author of life, what better way to prove His existence than by repairing the damage that sin has done to our lives. Jesus demonstrated His power over death by simply speaking; just as David describes in the Book of Psalms:

By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. Psalms 33:6

Only God has the power to speak and create the universe, yet Paul writes in the Book of Colossians that all things were made by Jesus Christ.

For by Jesus all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. Colossians 1:16 (RCR)

If God is the only One who can speak a universe into existence, and Jesus spoke the universe into existence, then Jesus is God.

The ancient Hebrew prophecies of the Messiah, are the visible means—whereby, God can prove that the Bible is His word and not simply the words of men.

For this reason, God spoke to unique men, and told them about certain things that would happen during the history of mankind. All of these events were necessary to bring His Son into the world and allow us to know who He is. The way that God confirmed His Son’s identity, is by His fulfillment of over four hundred predictions about Him. The manner in which Jesus has profoundly affected the entire course of human life is extreme and clearly visible, if we will only take the time to consider these facts.

The new book: “Honest Men,” begins with the premise that the story you are about to read, is impossible. There is no way that one man could say and do the things that the Hebrew prophets predicted. In the chapter: “Impossibilities,” you will discover some of the supernatural circumstances that surrounded Jesus life, death, and resurrection. As we proceed through the pages of this book, the things that are ascribed to Jesus Christ, are hard to believe. For this reason, God has left us, a remarkable body of evidence to support and confirm that what He said, is the truth. By the time that you finish this book, you will have a good working knowledge of the most profound events that have ever taken place on the earth. Whether or not you will believe them will depend upon your own particular predisposition. It is possible that a person could see all of the massive evidence for Jesus life, death, and resurrection and still not believe. This happens all of the time and I have spoken to many people who refuse to believe, despite the evidence. The human will is an insurmountable fortress than cannot be breached if the heart within, is not inclined.

The Influence of Jesus Life

For a man who is described as a “myth,” or someone who “never existed,” Jesus has had a profound affect upon a great number of human beings. There have been more lives changed—for the better, by coming into a new relationship with Jesus Christ, than any other person in the history of the world. Some people who investigate the true historical facts of Jesus existence will stipulate that He was crucified under Pontius Pilate, while maintaining that there is no evidence that He rose from the dead. This book contains a vast resource of evidence to fully validate the Resurrection of Jesus and the facts surrounding this event. There are substantial records from secular history which also describe the Resurrection and have been in existence since early in the first century. Of equal weight, is the evidence that is preserved for us from antiquity that describes the sudden changes in the disciples of Jesus, after they realized that He had risen. From the moment that Jesus was arrested at the Garden of Gethsemane, every man that pledged his loyalty to Jesus, fled in fear of his life. These men hid themselves in dark rooms, waiting for a knock on the door, to be arrested and crucified, themselves. Peter was so frightened by Jesus’ arrest that He repeatedly denied that he had ever known Him.

After the disciples of Jesus received word from Mary that He was not in the tomb where they had placed Him; they all ran to see for themselves. In the chapter: John, there is a brief description of what happened when these men reached the tomb and found that Jesus was no longer there. The grave clothes that Jesus had been wrapped in, included over one hundred pounds of spices. Both the linen cloth and the spices—within, were still in their original position, untouched.[2] When Peter entered the sepulcher, he saw the grave clothes remaining as they were when Jesus was placed there. The way that these linen cloths were laying, undisturbed; caused Peter to stare at them, for quite some time. In the original Greek language, it states that Peter looked, and looked, and looked; defining the utter amazement at what he saw.[3] If Peter had not seen the body of Jesus in the tomb, or he had seen the grave clothes, thrown aside in haste, he would have departed the tomb and we would likely, never hear from him again. What Peter saw at that moment, convinced him that Jesus had risen from the dead; just as He said he would. The result of Peter’s conviction that Jesus had risen, is confirmed by the drastic changes that took place in his life, after this visit to the empty tomb. Instead of fear; confidence. In place of cowardice; boldness.

Peter understood that there was no body remaining within the linen that had once covered Jesus. The spices that were placed between Jesus’ body and the linen sheets, was still there. Jesus’ body had come out of the burial clothes and was gone, leaving the linen cloths as they were; remaining in the same shape of His body. If the body of Jesus was still in the tomb. If Jesus’ body had been stolen. If there was not—substantial and compelling evidence that He had risen from the dead, then we would never have seen the sudden boldness of these men who were such cowards the night before. The disciples of Jesus believed that He had risen, because of the evidence they saw with their own eyes. This knowledge changed these men, instantly.

The brother of Jesus; James, did not believe that his older sibling was God, or that He was the Messiah. This all changed after the Resurrection took place. James became an instant believer and wrote the Book of James in which he describes himself as: James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. James 1:1.

The second brother of Jesus; Jude, also did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah, until after the Resurrection. Jude refers to himself as: Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James. Jude 1.

The men who witnessed the empty tomb and saw Jesus alive, afterwards, were compelled to record their true testimony. These men gave their lives in defending the certainty that Jesus had risen from the dead.[4]

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:[5] John was placed in a boiling pot of oil but was unharmed,[6] 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 knowingly, and voluntarily, die for a lie. Job records the fact that all that a man has, he will give to save his own flesh.

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

It is true that many people have died for what was later determined as lies. In the case of Jesus; history itself proves that the Biblical accounts of His crucifixion and resurrection are true. This chapter provides the reader with sufficient evidence from secular history that Jesus did in fact, rise from the dead. As this chapter continues, you will be presented with this evidence.

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. The most valuable thing that a man possesses is his life. To surrender that which is most precious to defend a truth, so vital, and of such infinite importance; is all the testimony that we need to confirm that Jesus, had, in-fact—risen.

The Persecution of Early Christians by the Romans

One of the most compelling pieces of evidence from secular history that serves to validate the presence of Jesus Christ, on earth, dying on a cross, and resurrected from the dead; is the persecution of the early followers of Jesus, by the Roman government.

The Romans were very tolerant of every religion except Christianity. The Roman Emperors determined that Christianity was a terrible “superstition,” in which its followers believed in the impossible; their leader had risen from the dead.[7]

The Roman Empire was generally quite tolerant in its treatment of other religions. The imperial policy was generally one of incorporation – the local gods of a newly conquered area were simply added to the Roman pantheon and often given Roman names. Even the Jews, with their one god, were generally tolerated. So why the persecution of Christians?

“In order to understand the Roman distrust of Christianity, one must understand the Roman view of religion. For the Romans, religion was first and foremost a social activity that promoted unity and loyalty to the state – a religious attitude the Romans called pietas, or piety. Cicero wrote that if piety in the Roman sense were to disappear, social unity and justice would perish along with it.”

The early Roman writers viewed Christianity not as another kind of piety, but as a “superstition.” Pliny, a Roman governor writing circa 110 AD, called Christianity a “superstition taken to extravagant lengths.” Similarly, the Roman historian Tacitus called it “a deadly superstition,” and the historian Suetonius called Christians “a class of persons given to a new and mischievous superstition.“[8] —Persecution in the early church

The “mischievous superstition,” that Tacitus, Pliny, and Suetonius refers to, was the firm belief by the followers of Jesus that He had risen from the dead. This fact of Christianity made it impossible for the Roman Emperors to accept Christianity as a conventional religion. No other leader amongst any other religion had ever claimed to rise from he dead. We should understand at the onset that Christianity is far different from all other religions. The central and most crucial part of Christianity is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Without the Resurrection, Christianity would have ceased to exist before it began.

It was because Christians believed in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ that ten Roman Emperors gave their orders to execute any Christian who would not repent of their Christianity and worship a Roman god.[9] Since Christians maintained such a firm belief the Jesus had risen from the dead, because it is firmly established in their scriptures, they would not deny Jesus.

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 1 Corinthians 15:14

History records that early Christians were persecuted and killed, by the Roman government, for a period of 250 years.[10] Beginning with Nero in 54 A.D., and ending with Diocletian in 313 A.D.[11]

Nero (54-68): Paul beheaded; Peter crucified upside down
Domitian (95-96): John exiled to Patmos, writes the Book of Revelation.
Trajan (104-117): Ignatius burned at the stake.
Marcus Aurelius (161-180): Polycarp martyred.
Septimus Severus (200-211): Executed Irenaeus.
Maximinus (235-237): He killed Ursula and Hippolytus.
Decius (249-251);
Valerian (257-260);
Aurelian (270-275);
Diocletian (303-313) Killed more Christians than all before him.

The most reliable source for the true facts of this persecution of Christians, is from Foxes Book of Martyrs: During this period of history, John Foxe estimated that five million Christians were killed for simply believing in Jesus as their Savior.[12] See the chapter: John Foxe, for detailed information.

It is interesting that Jesus spoke to the church at Smyrna in the Book of Revelation, chapter 2, and told them that they would suffer through “ten days” of persecution and to be faithful, even in their death…

And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, ‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life: “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. Revelation 2:8-10

These “ten days,” appear to be a prophetic prediction by Jesus of the ten Roman Emperors who killed such a great number of Christians.

All ten of these Roman Emperors recorded their view of Christianity, in the records of the Roman Senate Archives.[13] Under Emperor Decius, Christians arrested, could purchase a “libelous,” which proved that they had converted from Christianity, without actually denying Jesus and worshipping a Roman god. This was accomplished by paying a fee to a Roman official to obtain the certificate.

From the massive records of the Romans, that are extant to the present day, any person of diligence can discover that Jesus is a genuine person of history. His early followers were brutally executed for simply believing that He had risen from the dead. The only reason that the Roman Government viewed Christianity as such a great threat, when all other religions were not regarded as dangerous, is due to the primary claim of its leader, and the belief of its followers; that Jesus Christ had not only died on a Roman cross, but that He had risen from the dead. This stunning reality is recorded in the pages of Roman antiquity and is undeniable, empirical evidence of his existence in history. Jesus crucifixion, is recorded in the Roman archives, and the fact of His resurrection is evidenced by the strong stance that His followers took when confronted with death, rather than deny Him. There is no doubt that John’s letter to the seven churches, from the Book of Revelation, chapter 2:8-10, was read to those suffering under persecution. The letter that was written to the church at Smyrna, was specifically intended for those who would suffer under these brutal Roman Emperors.

you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. Revelation 2:8-10

The early christians were encouraged to stand fast in their commitment to Jesus and not fear death, because they had confidence that Jesus would also raise them from the dead.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26

A Letter From Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus, to Emperor Trajan

In the year 112 A.D., Piny the Younger, governor of the Roman provence of Bithynia (Turkey), wrote a letter to the Roman Emperor, Trajan, requesting clarification on his orders to execute those who where Christians.[14]

The following are a few of the excerpts from this letter:[15]

It is my constant method to apply myself to you for the resolution of all my doubts; for who can better govern my dilatory way of proceeding or instruct my ignorance? I have never been present at the examination of the Christians [by others], on which account I am unacquainted with what uses to be inquired into, and what, and how far they used to be punished; nor are my doubts small, whether there be not a distinction to be made between the ages [of the accused]? and whether tender youth ought to have the same punishment with strong men?”

“Whether there be not room for pardon upon repentance?” or whether it may not be an advantage to one that had been a Christian, that he has forsaken Christianity? Whether the bare name, without any crimes besides, or the crimes adhering to that name, be to be punished?”

“In the meantime, I have taken this course about those who have been brought before me as Christians. I asked them whether they were Christians or not? If they confessed that they were Christians, I asked them again, and a third time, intermixing threatenings with the questions. If they persevered in their confession, I ordered them to be executed; for I did not doubt but, let their confession be of any sort whatsoever, this positiveness and inflexible obstinacy deserved to be punished.”

“However, they assured me that the main of their fault, or of their mistake was this:-That they were wont, on a stated day, to meet together before it was light, and to sing a hymn to Christ, as to a god, alternately; and to oblige themselves by a sacrament [or oath], not to do anything that was ill: but that they would commit no theft, or pilfering, or adultery; that they would not break their promises, or deny what was deposited with them, when it was required back again; after which it was their custom to depart, and to meet again at a common but innocent meal, which they had left off upon that edict which I published at your command, and wherein I had forbidden any such conventicles.”

“These examinations made me think it necessary to inquire by torments what the truth was…”

Emperor Trajan’s reply:

“My Pliny,

You have taken the method which you ought in examining the causes of those that had been accused as Christians, for indeed no certain and general form of judging can be ordained in this case. These people are not to be sought for; but if they be accused and convicted, they are to be punished; but with this caution, that he who denies himself to be a Christian, and makes it plain that he is not so by supplicating to our gods, although he had been so formerly, may be allowed pardon, upon his repentance. As for libels sent without an author, they ought to have no place in any accusation whatsoever, for that would be a thing of very ill example, and not agreeable to my reign.”

This letter exchange between two Roman officials, kept in the Archives of the Roman Senate, and originating from a secular source; verifies that many thousands of Christians were executed for simply believing in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Remember that the resurrection and a belief in Jesus Christ, are inseparable. Without the resurrection, there is no Christianity.

Both Pliny and the Roman Emperor, state that any person who had previously claimed to be a Christian, upon the recantation of their belief, could be spared execution. The fact is, that a majority of those who believed in Jesus death and resurrection, would not deny Him, even to save their own life. This is verified by a Roman source that was not sympathetic to Christ or His followers.

Today, because such a great deal of evidence for Jesus Christ has been discovered and is readily available on the internet and by many, many other books; the critics of Jesus, Christianity, and the Bible, have vigorously disputed every piece of evidence that validates Jesus as a real person of history. As you can see from the brief information in this chapter, the world has many sources for verification of the facts concerning Jesus of Nazareth. Even if someone is not inclined to believe the Bible, it is impossible to deny the record of secular history, which also, fully validates the presence of Jesus Christ—in Jerusalem, crucified under Pontius Pilate, and Resurrected from the dead. These facts remain to the present day in the Annals of the Roman Senate, and declare the massive efforts, of at least ten Emperors, to eliminate Christianity from the face of the earth. Two thousand years have passed; the Roman government and all those who tried to eliminate Jesus’ influence upon history, have all died. He is still alive today and remains as the greatest single influence upon every aspect of human life.

Let us begin this journey of discovery…

The preceding is from the new book: “Honest Men,” by Robert Clifton Robinson; now available at amazon

Honest Men Cover03


NOTES:
[1] Bankbook: a booklet issued by a bank to an account holder for recording sums deposited and withdrawn.
[2] And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. John 19:39
[3] John 20:5: “Peter saw the linen cloths lying there,” from the Greek word; “theoreo,” as a spectator, one who stares to discern—intensely, for the purpose of understanding.
[4] Fox’s Book of Martyr’s: Chapter 1 History of Christian Martyrs to the First General Persecutions under Nero
[5] 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
[6] 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, http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/305163/Saint-John-the-Apostle
[7] Robert L. Wilkin, “The Piety of the Persecutors.” Christian History, Issue 27 (Vol. XI, No. 3), p. 18, 19
[8] 1.Everett Ferguson, “Did You Know?” Christian History, Issue 27 (Vol. XI, No. 3), inside cover.
2.Robert L. Wilkin, “The Piety of the Persecutors.” Christian History, Issue 27 (Vol. XI, No. 3), p. 18.
3.1.Persecution in the Early Church, religion facts.com, March 17, 2015
[9] 1.Persecution in the Early Church, religion facts.com, March 17, 2015
2.“The Roman Empire was generally quite tolerant in its treatment of other religions. The imperial policy was generally one of incorporation – the local gods of a newly conquered area were simply added to the Roman pantheon and often given Roman names. Even the Jews, with their one god, were generally tolerated. So why the persecution of Christians?
In order to understand the Roman distrust of Christianity, one must understand the Roman view of religion. For the Romans, religion was first and foremost a social activity that promoted unity and loyalty to the state – a religious attitude the Romans called pietas, or piety. Cicero wrote that if piety in the Roman sense were to disappear, social unity and justice would perish along with it.
The early Roman writers viewed Christianity not as another kind of pietas, piety, but as a superstition, “superstition.” Pliny, a Roman governor writing circa 110 AD, called Christianity a “superstition taken to extravagant lengths.” Similarly, the Roman historian Tacitus called it “a deadly superstition,” and the historian Suetonius called Christians “a class of persons given to a new and mischievous superstition.” {9} In this context, the word “superstition” has a slightly different connotation than it has today: for the Romans, it designated something foreign and different – in a negative sense. Religious beliefs were valid only in so far as it could be shown to be old and in line with ancient customs; new and innovative teachings were regarded with distrust.”
[10] Maurice M. Hassatt, “Martyr.” The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. IX, Robert Appleton Company, 1910
[11] Mark Galli, “The Persecuting Emperors.” Christian History, Issue 27 (Vol. XI, No. 3), p. 20.
[12] 1.Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, Publisher: ReadHowYouWant, December 19, 2011, ISBN: 1459633199, Kindle Edition
2.Chuck Smith, “The Tribulation and the Church,” The Word For Today, Publishers, August 5, 2011, Kindle Edition.
[13] 1.The Annals: The Reigns of Tiberius, Claudius, and Nero by Cornelius Tacitus and J. C. Yardley ISBN 0-19-282421-X Oxford pages 2-27.
2.”Tacitus and the Writing of History,” by Ronald H. Martin 1981 ISBN 0-520-04427-4, pages 104–105.
[14] Letters of Pliny the Younger and the Emperor Trajan, Translated by William Whiston, From The Works of Josephus, Hendrickson Publishers, 1987. Source: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/maps/primary/pliny.html
[15] Ibid

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