Empirical, Historical, Evidence That The Narratives Of Jesus Are True
It is common to hear persons state that the New Testament narratives of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection are not true. When we question these individuals about the authority they are relying upon to make these conclusions, we find that they are based upon their opinions, a prior bias against God, or their personal doubts that these things could be true.
By 160 A.D., the entire body of the New Testament Gospels were already published as a single record of the true events of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection:
By 240 A.D., the first Christian Apologist, Origen, had already successfully impeached every argument by the prominent Greek Atheist Philosopher, Celsus. Some people have the idea that only recently has the New Testament been proven wrong by experts. The facts of history show us that from the first century, the truth of Jesus’ death and resurrection were already under assault.
Celsus argued that the texts of the New Testament which claim that Jesus rose from the dead, performed miracles, and claimed to be God, were false. Origen demonstrated by evidence, logic, and intelligence that all of Celsus’ objections were baseless and the New Testament was true because of the empirical evidence that existed at that time to prove these events happened.
Every one of these arguments in refutation of a risen Jesus was proven false, permitting the truth of the New Testament to continue as known facts, for the past 2,000 years. Long before any modern atheist critic of the New Testament was born, and for every generation of critic before today, the New Testament has survived unscathed as truthful accounts by eyewitnesses, writing about genuine events that are described by all 27 books of the New Testament.
Historical Facts Of New Testament Reliability:
- There are 24,593 surviving manuscript copies of the New Testament, more than any other manuscripts for any other event in history, secular or religious.
- The evidence for Jesus life, death, and resurrection were written closer to the time of the events than any other events of history, secular or religious.
- The text of the New Testament today, matches the text of the original manuscripts in every event which describes Jesus’ miracles, claim to be God, crucifixion, and resurrection.
- There are more than 31,000 citations from the New Testament by writers throughout the past 2,000 years of history, allowing us the ability to reconstruct the entire New Testament just by the writings of these authors who quoted the New Testament scriptures.
- The Manuscripts of the New Testament have been found in the historical records from countries all over the world.
- The narratives of the New Testament are written by authors who specifically state that they are eyewitnesses of the events they describe for Jesus’ miracles, crucifixion, and resurrection.
- The New Testament lists over 500 eyewitnesses who saw Jesus alive during a period of 40 days after His resurrection.
- The records of Jesus’ miracles, crucifixion, and resurrection, are found in 23 of the 27 New Testament books, proving that the four Gospels are not the only texts which make these claims.
- Christianity grew to 56% of the world’s population by 300 A.D., because of the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. If the resurrection was later found to be not true, this would never have happened.
- Over 5 million Christians were executed by 10 Roman Emperor’s, over a 250 year period of time, because Christians would not deny that Jesus had risen from the dead.
- There are 121 secular citations in the historical record, outside of the Bible, which describe Christ and Christians, during the period of history when the New Testament places Jesus in Jerusalem.
Source: “Why Jesus Is God, And Others Are Not” by the same author.
Two thousand years ago, men saw and heard the things Jesus said and did, and they recorded these events for the world. Every event of history is validated in precisely the same way; surviving manuscript evidence. The evidence of history proves that Jesus lived, died, and rose from the dead.
What gives credibility to an event of history is the manuscript evidence that has survived time and decay.
The idea that the New Testament is not true because it describes events that some believe are not possible, is based upon conjecture and assumption. The evidence shows that the events in the New Testament are true.
- The truth regarding anything is never dictated by our view of the assertion.
- The truth of events does not depend upon their believability, but only upon the evidence which proves these events took place.
If the historical record presents us with the largest body of empirical evidence for an event, ever introduced by history, we must stipulate that the record does prove these events happened.
A man who had the power to heal every disease, raise the dead, and raise Himself from the dead, recorded by men who stated that they saw these events take place, is far more compelling than the opinions of people today, who express their opinions that they could not have happened.
Many people today have the idea that atheists and critics of the New Testament, have evidence to support their ideas that Jesus is a myth and the events of the New Testament are fabrications. In reality, there is no evidence which controverts what is written in the New Testament which describes Jesus with the power to perform miracles and who was raised from the dead.
Name any event of history that has 24,593 surviving manuscripts which document their narrative? There are none.
We have greater extant evidence for Jesus’ and what He said and did, than we do for President Abraham Lincoln in his own personal writings. In my book, “These Things Are Written: An Expositional Treatise Of The Life, Death, And Resurrection Of Jesus,” I detail the massive evidence of the historical record for Jesus, compared to that of other past historical events, including those of Abraham Lincoln’s writings.
Are The New Testament Narratives EyeWitness Accounts?
When we examine the text for ourselves we see that those who claim to be writers of the events which took place during the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, state clearly that they are eyewitnesses.
Peter States That He Is Writing As An Eyewitness
For we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We saw his majestic splendor with our own eyes when he received honor and glory from God the Father. The voice from the majestic glory of God said to him, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” We ourselves heard that voice from heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain.
Because of that experience, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. You must pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place—until the Day dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts. Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God. ~2Peter 1:16-21
Peter is referring to an experience that is recorded in the Gospel’s of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, where Jesus told the disciples that they would see Him coming in His kingdom before they die. Just six days later, the writers of the Gospels record an event that Peter refers to in 2 Peter 1:16-21, where Peter said that he heard a voice from above that said: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!”
Jesus Addressing His Disciples In Context With Peter’s Statement:
“Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”
The following is the text for which Peter is referring to in 2Peter 1:16-21, in the paragraph above:
…Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. But Jesus came and touched them and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.” When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. Now as they came down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead.” ~Matthew 16:28 – 17:9
Peter said that this event which Matthew described, was one of the preeminent and convincing pieces of evidence that Jesus is God and Messiah.
- Matthew 16:28-17:9: “Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves.
- 2Peter 1:16-21: “We saw his majestic splendor with our own eyes when he received honor and glory from God the Father (on the high mountain).
This is corroboration of the events which took place, as recorded by Matthew, Mark, and Luke, that Jesus showed them a future time when He would return to earth as the Reigning Messiah to rule over the earth, by Peter himself, in a separate letter.
Peter said that as a result of this experience: “Because of that experience, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets,” ~2Peter 1:16-21
Peter states that when Jesus took him and the disciples up on the mountain and Jesus was changed before their eyes into what He will look like upon His return to earth to rule over the nations of the world, Peter believed what the Old Testament prophets wrote about Messiah and applied these things to Jesus. This was an eyewitness experience of Peter, supported by the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
John Writes That He Is Writing As An Eyewitness
“We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life. This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us. We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.” ~1 John 1:1-4 (NLT)
“Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.” ~1 John 4:14 (NLT)
Four times John states that what he is writing, is intended as a historical, eyewitness testimony of things he actually saw and heard. This remains for us today as a valid historical narrative of these events. It has survived for 2,000 years intact and unimpeached, despite hundreds of attempts to impunge its truth over the course of history.
There Is No Record Of Impeachment For Jesus’ Miracles, Crucifixion, Or Resurrection Anywhere
You can read and hear a great amount of rhetoric from critics of Jesus about how the narratives in the New Testament are not reliable, but you will never find any evidence to support these ideas.
If these things had not happened; Jesus power to perform the miracles that are described; His crucifixion and subsequent resurrection three days later, there is no doubt that these events would have been impeached not long after they were asserted by the thousands of letters distributed all over the known world. It is a fact of history that no myth or legend has ever had the power to survive history without being discovered. In the case of Jesus and the things written about Him, the opposite is true. No record has ever come forth from the first days after Jesus rose from the dead to invalidate this event, nor the miracles which Jesus performed for the purpose of proving that He is God and Messiah.
The Old Testament scriptures contain over 400 prophecies that relate to the Messiah which must be fulfilled perfectly by anyone who is seeking to demonstrate, by evidence, that they are the true Messiah. I wrote a 3200 page Treatise documenting how Jesus fulfilled all of these 400 prophecies in “The Prophecies Of The Messiah.”
There are no historical proofs in the records of antiquity which refute the facts of Jesus’ miracles, death, or resurrection, ever.
Paul Writes That He Is Writing As An Eyewitness
What makes the eyewitness testimony of Jesus unique and compelling, is the fact that he was the greatest adversary to Jesus and Christianity that was ever seen in Jerusalem. After Paul saw the resurrected Jesus while traveling on the road to Damascus, Syria, he became the chief advocate and preacher of the risen Jesus.
As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.” The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank. ~Acts 9:3-9
It is clear that God chose Paul because he was so highly regarded as a Pharisee, trained by the preeminent Rabbi of Israel, Gamaliel, and was himself, a noted Hebrew scholar. Paul states his credentials in Acts 22 after he was arrested at the Temple and how he was once on a mission to destroy everyone who claimed that Jesus was the Messiah. These facts that are presented to us by the narrative of the New Testament are both compelling and reliable. It was well known in the early church—the fear that Paul spread and the destruction he caused by his attempts to wipe out Christianity.
“I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated under Gamaliel, strictly according to the law of our fathers, being zealous for God just as you all are today. I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and putting both men and women into prisons, as also the high priest and all the Council of the elders can testify. From them I also received letters to the brethren, and started off for Damascus in order to bring even those who were there to Jerusalem as prisoners to be punished. “But it happened that as I was on my way, approaching Damascus about noontime, a very bright light suddenly flashed from heaven all around me, and I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ And I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus the Nazarene, whom you are persecuting.’ And those who were with me saw the light, to be sure, but did not understand the voice of the One who was speaking to me. ~Acts 22:3-9
Concerning Jesus’ Resurrection, Paul stated that he had seen Jesus alive and that when he examined the text of the Hebrew scriptures which describe the Messiah, Jesus met all of the prophetic qualifications necessary to prove that He is the only true Messiah.
Paul Writes That Jesus Appeared To Many Eyewitnesses After He Was Crucified:
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. ~1 Corinthians 15:3-8
The idea that there were no eyewitnesses to Jesus resurrection is not supported by the historical record. Not only did the twelve who followed Jesus, saw Him alive, but over five hundred people all at the same time saw Jesus alive after He was crucified. We might imagine that some of those who stated that they saw Jesus alive were imagining what they had seen, but what about five-hundred people? Could five hundred people all imagine the same thing, all at the same time? Impossible!
Paul was so certain that Jesus was alive that he told the Christians of the early church that if Jesus had not risen from the dead, their entire basis of faith was wrong and they could not expect to be raised themselves after they died.
Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. ~1 Corinthians 15:12-15
There Is No Christianity Without Jesus’ Resurrection
A majority of religions in the world rest upon the doctrines of a person or principles of a church. Christianity rests upon a person who claims to have risen from the dead. Take away Jesus or the facts of His resurrection and there is nothing left. Either Jesus is real; He was crucified and rose from the dead, or He did not. If He did, then we have the most compelling and powerful events that have ever taken place in human history. If they did not happen, then we are all wasting our time and should not trust in any of the narratives of the New Testament.
Fortunately for those who do believe, we have the most substantial and fully validated surviving ancient manuscripts that have ever existed for any historical event. We know that what is written about Jesus’ death and resurrection are true because of the empirical evidence that has survived time and decay to prove they are true.
The Old Testament Predicted A Messiah Who Would Perform Miracles
It seems to be the opinion of some critics of the New Testament that because it is old, it is not reliable. If we applied this assertion to all of the documents that we have from antiquity, we would never be able to validate any event of the past. The only method whereby we might verify an event and the particular parts of that historical event, are by what those who lived during those times wrote and has been preserved for us through the years of history.
It is further argued that because the text of the New Testament is of such great age and specifies events that are not possible by mortal men, this means that the text about Jesus’ miracles and resurrection cannot possibly be true. The problem with this conclusion is that the very reason that Jesus appeared on earth, was to prove that He is both God and Messiah, by these miracles.
The Old Testament Predicts A Messiah With The Power Of Miracles
Few people understand that the body of scripture from the Old Testament, demands a Messiah with the ability to perform miracles of healing in order to validate His claim to be God and Messiah.
The prophet Isaiah predicted that Messiah would be able to open the eyes of the blind, cause the deaf to hear, and make the crippled walk. In the New Testament, men who saw Jesus perform these miracles of healing, later wrote that at first they did not make the connection between what the Prophets had written about Messiah, and the miracles Jesus performed. After Jesus rose from the dead, they realized that this supernatural works were the very evidence that God had told us to look for in anyone who would claim to be Messiah.
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. ~John 2:22
Peter Describes Jesus’ Crucifixion And Resurrection In The Book Of Acts
In Acts chapter 10, Peter begins to confirm all that is written in the four Gospels about Jesus.
Then Peter replied, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right. This is the message of Good News for the people of Israel—that there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee, after John began preaching his message of baptism. And you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. “And we apostles are witnesses of all he did throughout Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a cross, but God raised him to life on the third day. Then God allowed him to appear, not to the general public, but to us whom God had chosen in advance to be his witnesses. We were those who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. And he ordered us to preach everywhere and to testify that Jesus is the one appointed by God to be the judge of all—the living and the dead. He is the one all the prophets testified about, saying that everyone who believes in him will have their sins forgiven through his name. ~Acts 10:34-43 (NLT)
- Validation of Jesus’ miracles.
- Validation of Jesus’ crucifixion.
- Validation of Jesus’ resurrection.
- Validation that Jesus claimed to be God
- Validation that Jesus’ disciples are witnesses of these things.
- More surviving empirical (observable/testable) evidence than any other event of ancient history.
- Reliability of the text: Our modern New Testament matches the original manuscripts and early church writings about Jesus death and resurrection.
Categories: Empirical Evidence for the Resurrection, Historical Validity of the New Testament, Messianic Prophecies, Messianic Prophecy Bible, Prophecies Fulfilled by Jesus, Reliability of the New Testament, Resurrection Proven by Secular Sources, Robert Clifton Robinson, The Four Gospels, The Historical Jesus, The Miracles of Jesus, The Resurrection