Can We Prove The Bible, By The Bible?

On occasion I hear an interesting comment made by atheists and critics of the Bible: “You can’t prove the Bible, by the Bible.”

The Extant Scroll of Isaiah where 131 Messianic Prophecies are written

This is the idea of people who deny the integrity of the Bible, and don’t understand it’s perfection. These comments are most often made by people who have never really studied the Bible, after being born again by the Spirit of God. First and foremost, an atheist or critic of the Bible, does not have the capacity to understand the Bible. This privilege is withheld from non-believers, and only those who come into a personal relationship with God by the death and resurrection of Jesus, are given the Holy Spirit, who leads all believers into the truth of the scriptures.

In Matthew chapter 13, the disciples ask Jesus why He only speaks plainly to them, but to those outside He hides the truth of His word in Parables.

Jesus tells these men: “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.” ~Matthew 13:11-12 (NLT)

The First Principle in understanding that the Bible does prove itself, is that non-believers and critics of the Bible, will never understand this. Only those who have repented of their sins and turned to Jesus in a sincere desire to know Him and obey Him, are given the gift of the Holy Spirit, who “leads us into all truth.”

“If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.” ~John 14:15-17

The Second Principle in understanding that the Bible proves itself, is that this premise is proven by the existence of the New Testament texts which have survived time and decay, and exit today as historical narratives of true events that took place in the first century.

Everything written in the New Testament that describes the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, was predicted by the Old Testament prophets. There are over 400 Messianic Prophecies that Jesus fulfilled. At the time that Jesus was conducting His earthly ministry to reveal salvation by His death and resurrection, His disciples didn’t realize that He had been systematically, and with great precision, completing all of these 400 prophecies.

“Jesus found a young donkey and rode on it, fulfilling the prophecy (Zechariah 9:9) that said: “Don’t be afraid, people of Jerusalem. Look, your King is coming, riding on a donkey’s colt.” His disciples didn’t understand at the time that this was a fulfillment of prophecy. But after Jesus entered into his glory, they remembered what had happened and realized that these things had been written about him.” ~John 12:14-16 (NLT) 14

Zechariah 9:9; Written 700 Year Before Jesus Arrived:

“Rejoice, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, your king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey—riding on a donkey’s colt.”

The prophet Zechariah was told to write a prophecy for Messiah, that when He comes and introduces Himself to Israel as their Messiah, He will be riding on the colt of a donkey. The Sunday before Jesus was crucified, He rode into Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey, to purposely demonstrate to the Jews, He is their True Messiah. John 12:14-16, above, provides the historical record that Jesus did this very thing. There are 400 of these Messianic Prophecies written in the Old Testament, that Jesus fulfilled with great precision.

Jesus is called, “The Son of Man,” 77 times in the New Testament. This is the title the prophet Daniel first called the Messiah, who was to come (Daniel 7:13). Later when the leaders of Israel asked Jesus if He was the Messiah, He told them, “yes, and you will see the Son of Man coming with the clouds of heaven (Daniel’s description), sitting at the right hand of God (David’s description in Psalms 110:1).

Daniel 7:13: “As my vision continued that night, I saw someone like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven.

Psalms 110:1: “The LORD said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.'”

It is the reality of these Old Testament prophecies that Jesus precisely fulfilled in the New Testament, that demonstrates, by evidence,  the Bible proves itself

Only the Bible contains these predictions about the Messiah in the Old Testament, fulfilled in the New Testament, with one hundred percent accuracy. No publication of man, no other religion, no other mythological god, has ever been able to write and predict future events with perfect accuracy.

Over 47 years ago when I was an atheist myself, I doubted this supposition made by Christians, that the Bible contained prophecies that were precisely fulfilled, proving it is the word of God. For more than 35 years I studies these Messianic Prophecies to see if they were actually fulfilled by Jesus. The results of this scholarly work are now published in three books:

  1. The Prophecies of the Messiah
  2. The Messianic Prophecy Bible
  3. These Things Were Written

The Bible Claims That Prophecy Proves The Bible It Is From God

This fact is difficult for non-believers, and often leads to the supposition that the Bible can’t prove itself. The statement God gave us, which provides a test for whether the Bible is true or false, is found in the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 18:

“But you may wonder, ‘How will we know whether or not a prophecy is from the LORD?’ 22 If the prophet speaks in the LORD’s name but his prediction does not happen or come true, you will know that the LORD did not give that message. That prophet has spoken without my authority and need not be feared.” ~Deuteronomy 18:21-22

When I was an atheist I took up this challenge and made a concerted effort to try and disprove Deuteronomy 18:21-22. In my examination of every prophecy from the Old Testament regarding Jesus as the Messiah, I was never able to find a single flaw. It was because of this finding that I became a believer myself, and began to write “Prophecies of the Messiah,” and publish these results for all who were interested. I have continued to study these Messianic Prophecies and all of the false assertions which state that Jesus didn’t fulfill these prophecies. Most critics have already determined ahead of time that Jesus could not have fulfilled any prophecy, making it impossible to really examine the evidence without bias, and discover that Jesus did fulfill every one of the Messianic Prophecies.

The Apostle John noted in his Gospel that even though people of his day, saw Jesus perform miracles that were a fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies, they still didn’t believe in Him

This becomes a significant verifying source that demonstrates the ruse of people who don’t believe the Bible. Even in the face of conclusive evidence, i.e., seeing Jesus do the miracles that proved He was the Messiah, the people in the first century who saw these things with their own eyes, didn’t believe in Him.

The Prophecy of the Messiah from Isaiah chapters 6 and 53, cited by John:

“But despite all the miraculous signs Jesus had done, most of the people still did not believe in him. 38 This is exactly what Isaiah the prophet had predicted; (Isaiah 53:1): “LORD, who has believed our message? To whom has the LORD revealed his powerful arm?”  39 But the people couldn’t believe, for as Isaiah also said, 40 (Isaiah 6:8-10): “The Lord has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts—so that their eyes cannot see, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and have me heal them.” ~John 12:37-40

John cites Isaiah 53:1, and 6:8-10 as the source of the Old Testament to confirm that when Messiah arrives and begins to fulfill all of the Messianic Prophecies, the people who see Him do these things, will not believe He is the Messiah. To this response, the Lord will answer: “you will not believe even when you see Him fulfill the prophecies with your own eyes? Very well, I will make you blind and deaf, unable to see or hear anything else concerning my word.”

Jesus cited Isaiah 6:8-10, in the text from Matthew 13. I shared these scriptures with you at the beginning of this essay. Jesus cites the exact same text from Isaiah 6:9-10, when He tells His disciples why people will not believe He is the Messiah, and the fulfillment of all that the prophets wrote:

Matthew 13:14-15

Jesus said: “This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah (6:9-10) that says, ‘When you hear what I say, you will not understand. When you see what I do, you will not comprehend. For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes—so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.’”

The Third Principle in understanding that the Bible proves itself, is understood by the historical reality of the texts from the New Testament concerning Jesus. A majority of atheists and critics of the New Testament, do not believe the New Testament is historical, but mythological. They arrive at this conclusion, not because there is evidence to proves this, but because this is their predetermined conclusion.

Atheists do not care if the evidence proves the New Testament is historical; they don’t believe the miracles that Jesus performed, or His resurrection from the dead, that are recorded, are true. This is their basis in rejecting the New Testament as a historical narrative.

The entire Bible is a book of miracles, due to the God who it describes. The first sentence of the first book in the Bible, begins with the greatest miracle of all: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).

To the present day, many critics don’t believe that God created the universe. Why is this? The immensity and complexity of the universe. In the minds of non-believers, no Being could be capable of creating this immense cosmos of trillions of stars and planets. The reality in our current knowledge of the universe, is that science cannot explain how a natural process created the universe.

When I learned this about 30 years ago, I determined to continue my education in a way that I could also learn whether God could have created the universe. Today I know that He is the only credible source for the universe. Why do I believe this? This is what the science proves.

The following are a few of the essays I have published at this website, documenting the science of the universe and how a natural or accidental process could never create a universe like ours:

The Scientific Evidence That Proves The God Of The Bible Is The Source Of The Universe:

Returning to the historical evidence that proves the New Testament is the third principle which demonstrates the Bible proves itself: When we examine the texts of the New Testament and use modern literary forensic methods, we find that these texts exhibit artifacts of truthful written testimony which prove the men who testified that Jesus said and did the things they have written in these narratives, are telling the truth.

It is possible to prove, by scientific forensic methods, whether any written texts, are truthful. These are the same methods used today by the FBI in their examination of written statements.

Subjecting The New Testament To Modern Forensic Methods

When we are evaluating ancient literature to determine whether written text is truthful or deceptive, there are certain principles that allow us to know if the narrative is true or not. Linguistic text analysis allows a professional to examine a text to detect certain inconsistencies and anomalies that reveal fraud.

The language, syntax, and grammar that are used in describing people and events are key to determining whether a story is true or false. Those who are experts in linguistic analysis know precisely what to look for in a written statement or story to discover if the verbal behavior is normal or exhibits signs of deceit.

Many people do not realize that it is easier to detect inconsistencies in written statements than it is for those which are made orally.

By studying word choices, it is possible to detect predictable differences between deceptive and truthful statement. These practices are used every day by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in determining whether narratives are true or contrived. 

I have spent many years studying these techniques in applying them to the New Testament.

Detecting Signs Of Truth In Literature

One: Those who are writing genuine accounts of actual events often use the pronoun “I” in describing their own actions.

The clear intent of the four Gospels is that these narratives are either eyewitness accounts or the testimonies of one who interviewed an eyewitness to the events.

And he who has seen these things has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe.  ~John 19:35

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life.  ~John 1:1

Two: People who are telling the truth describe the historical events they are writing about in the past tense.

The reality of the New Testament is that it is written as a historical narrative, not as allegory, myth or legend.

Therefore, when Jesus 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

His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.  ~John 12:16

If the narrative of the four Gospels was contrived, it would not bear this emblem of all truthful testimony: reflection back to facts that were unknown to the writers at the start.

Three: Truthful accounts always contain very detailed and specific accounts.

Historical scholars are struck by the sheer number of historical references to people, places, and governments that are made in the New Testament. A majority of these have been verified by archeological discoveries and found absolutely accurate in every detail.

One of the criticisms of Luke’s account of Jesus’ life is found in his description of the census that he says was ordered by Caesar Augustus.

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.  ~Luke 2:1-3

Because no previous archeological discovery had ever verified that such a census took place, Luke was regarded as having embellished this story. A later discovery regarding the taxes of the kingdom of the Roman government revealed that the taxpayers were enrolled every 14 years by the use of a census. Archeology has uncovered facts which verify that Caesar Augustus did conduct the precise census described, during the period of time Luke specified—near the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.⁠[1] 

Further, an inscription discovered in Antioch describes Quirinius in 7 B.C., who was the governor of Syria, on two occasions—7 B.C. and 6 A.D.—a fact that is confirmed by the Jewish historian Josephus.⁠[2]

An archeological discovery in Egypt uncovered a Papyrus which specifically describes the details of this census spoken of by Luke, under Caesar Augustus:

“Because of the approaching census it is necessary that all those residing for any cause away from their homes should at once prepare to return to their own governments in order that they may complete the family registration of the enrollment and that the tilled lands may retain those belonging to them.”⁠[3]

The fact that Luke has been confirmed as a scholarly historian of specific details regarding the history of the first century, it is certain that he also recorded the specific events of Jesus’ ministry with the same precision. Luke’s integrity as a historical scholar demands that we accept, with confidence, his testimony of Jesus’ resurrection which is the foundation of the entire Christian church.

Four: In the presence of multiple writers, their accounts will differ slightly, although telling the same story.

Narratives which are later determined as fraudulent are always found to be identical as multiple witnesses often agree ahead of time to tell the same story. Narratives which are genuine will have different accounts of the same events which validate them as authentic. 

In the case of the four  Gospels there is no doubt that these men are telling the truth, as their differences of recollection are certain evidence of truthfulness.

These differences in remembered details is a certain evidence of reliable testimony. See the later part of this chapter for examples of these differences in narrative. 

Five: Balance of the narrative. In truthful narratives, there are three parts: a prologue, the critical event, and the aftermath. The prologue states the background information. The critical events is the most important as it describes the primary narrative. The aftermath is necessary to understand what took place after the events happened.

In truthful narratives the prologue will be about 25 percent of the story. The critical events should be the longest at about 50 percent. The aftermath, about 25 percent of the story.

If one part is particularly longer or shorter than it should be or is omitted altogether, this is a sign of deception.

Upon examination, the four Gospels bear all the marks of truthful accounts and display no characteristics of fraud. The manner in which each story about Jesus is written shows that they are carefully crafted to tell a specific story. The purpose of these accounts is to demonstrate how Jesus fulfilled a particular prophecy of the Messiah in the words and actions of His life, death, and resurrection.

Ten times, Matthew records the words, that it might be fulfilled, describing the words and actions of Jesus as direct fulfillments of the ancient Hebrew prophecies of the Messiah. 

This artifact of the four Gospels is conclusive evidence that what these four men wrote about Jesus had a clear and distinct purpose. If the accounts that are recorded in the New Testament were contrivances or embellishments of the truth, there is no possibility that after the events took place, the disciples would note that what Jesus had said or done was a fulfillment of a particular prophecy from the Old Testament that was written from 600-1,500 years before these events transpired.

So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”   ~Matthew 1:22-23, Predicted in Isaiah 7:14 

Six: The length of the descriptions. In truthful narratives, the length of each sentence is about 15 words. In stories that are deceptive, these sentences tend to be much shorter or extremely long.

The manner in which every event of the four Gospels is precisely outlined by specific details is exactly what we would expect from truthful accounts. 

Literary records which bear deceit never contain the degree of particular details with specific places, people, and non-related events as we see in the narrative of these four Gospels.

Read the accounts of the Samaritan woman in chapter 20. This narrative is filled with specific details that allow us to know far more about what is taking place than Jesus simply coming to meet a woman at the well.

  • Specific details about the location: In Judea, at Galilee, traveling through Samaria, coming to the city of Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave his son, Joseph.
  • Details of Jesus’ arrival: Jesus sitting by Jacob’s well at 12 noon, speaking to a Samaritan woman, which no Jewish man would ever do. 
  • Details of the woman’s life: Married five times, the man she is with now is not her husband. A religious discussion by the woman about Jacob’s well, and Jesus’ clarification of what true worship is.
  • Details about the disciples: Returning from lunch with Jesus, explaining His mission is to save people. Revealing the answer to the time of His return to earth with His church, after the harvest. 
  • Details about the people in the woman’s village: This woman believes in Jesus and tells the people of her village who also believe. 

As one who examines ancient manuscripts and is trained in fraud detection, these details are never a part of a story that is contrived. By the mere presence of these many specific yet focussed details, there is no doubt that the four Gospels were written as truthful and accurate accounts.

Seven: Narratives that are supported by earlier historical events are always found to be truthful. Stories which reference people or events without any prior history in the record are classic examples of fraud.

In the case of the New Testament, every event of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection which is described in the four Gospels is supported by an earlier text from the Old Testament.

The writers of the four Gospels are very careful to support each statement that they make about Jesus as the Messiah, with a specific detail from an Old Testament Prophecy. 

This characteristic, found in these narratives, greatly increase their believability. The authors are not relying simply on their own testimony but also the testimony of writers who claimed to be speaking for God, hundreds of years before. When we examine what was written by these Prophets in the Old Testament and compare their words with the accounts of the Gospel writers, we see a clear congruity between what was predicted and what is fulfilled, they match precisely. 

Eight: When all of the above are consistent in a written account, the examiner may conclude that the accounts are honest remembrances of events that actually took place.

Nine: People who recall events where they were present remember events differently than others who were there and also write in recollection. As long as the primary subjects of the story are consistent, the timing, specific occurrence of events, and structure of the story may be different without removing the truthfulness of the narrative.

In the case of Luke and Matthew and the alleged discrepancy between what each wrote, this difference in text is easily understood by how the Jews during this period of history understood authority. 

Matthew describes the Centurion coming to Jesus personally with a request; Luke speaks of the leader of the Jews being sent on behalf of the Centurion, to ask help from Jesus. 

There is no contradiction within the narratives of Luke and Matthew regarding the centurion and Jesus that would define them as fraudulent. These accusations of inconsistency are made because the reader does not comprehend the culture and traditions for that period of history.

The Methods Used To Prove Historical Events, Proves The New Testament Is Historical

The Historical Evidence That Proves The Resurrection Of Jesus

The records of antiquity contain evidence which allows us to know whether events that took place in the historical record are true. What we know about these past events can only be understood through the writings of those who saw and heard the things they are preserving for us. Everything that has taken place during recorded history is validated in precisely the same manner. It is by the testimony of witnesses that we are able to know what has taken place and have confidence that these records are reliable narratives.

Critics of the Bible often say the events which took place in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus are not historical, but mere myth. The basis of this assertion is the belief that miracles are not possible: The idea that a man could come back from the dead after being brutally crucified, is preposterous to some, doubtful to others.

Imagine what it would be like to see such an event and try to convince people of that time it had really happened—even more—to convince people two-thousand years later that Jesus had risen from the dead. The facts of the historical record reveal that men have written they did see Jesus dead on a Roman cross, and then alive three days later. These men also state that Jesus opened the eyes of the blind, caused the crippled to walk, turned water into wine, and walked on the surface of the sea.

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.[4] 

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.[5]

There are 134 statements in the New Testament which declare that the writers saw and heard Jesus. There are 396 citations in the New Testament where His crucifixion and resurrection three days later are recorded. These citations are in my book, “You Are My Witnesses: The Men Who Saw Jesus.”

The miracles that are ascribed to Jesus in the New Testament become an in insurmountable barrier for the atheist and other critics of the Bible, simply because they do not believe these events could have happened.

Many people who read the New Testament for themselves, see sufficient evidence in the text to believe the events that are described really happened. The New Testament was not written as a novel or story, but as personal letters between real persons that are instructive, corrective, and encouraging. The New Testament is understood today as scripture, equal to the scriptures of the Old Testament (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

When we team what is written in the New Testament with the records of secular history, we find that non-interested parties that did not believe in Jesus, nor were they sympathetic to His cause, also have written in their records that Jesus had risen from the dead.

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 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.[6]

“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.[7]—Persecution in the early church

The mischievous superstition that Tacitus, Pliny, and Suetonius refer 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 the 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.

Recorded Secular Records Of Jesus’ Resurrection

Roman authors who describe the reasons that Christianity was deemed so dangerous to Roman society, characterized the belief that Christians would not deny the resurrection of Jesus, as “superstitio.”[8] Tacitus called their trust in the resurrection, exitabilis (detestable).[9] Suetonius referred to the Christian stance of Jesus’ resurrection as Superstitio nova ac malefica (Mischievous Superstition). [10] Pliny wrote to Emperor Trajan that the Christian superstitious belief in the resurrection was a contagio (disease).[11]

Christianity was not seen by the Romans as most other religions. In the minds of the Roman Emperors, the bizarre belief that Jesus had risen from the dead, defined those who believed this superstition as mentally ill. If the Romans allowed Christianity to spread throughout the Roman Empire, it would threatened the very fabric of Roman society.

In Roman thinking, superstition was not regarded in the same way that it was in most other cultures. The superstition of Christianity was viewed by the Romans as dangerous, and corrosive to society. In the minds of Roman leaders, the idea that a man could have risen from the dead was so disturbing to the human mind that a person would likely go insane. This would result in a loss of his humanity, and the entire structure of Roman life would erode into chaos.[12]

Historical Evidence For Jesus’ Resurrection

Only when Romans encountered Christians who insisted that Jesus had been raised from the dead, did they find it impossible to tolerate their strange and dangerous religion. In the minds of the Romans, anyone who could believe such things were already insane and worthy of death. To allow people to populate nations for whom they ruled, with these intolerable views, the entire Roman Empire could be jeopardized.

It was because the Romans viewed a religion based upon a resurrected Savior as extremely dangerous, that they vigorously sought to stamp out every trace of Christianity. History records that during the reign of ten Emperors, over five million Christians were persecuted and killed by the Roman government for a period of 250 years.⁠[13] Beginning with Nero in 54 A.D., and ending with Diocletian  in 313 A.D.[14]

These facts of secular history, preserved today in the records of the Roman Senate, are compelling and empirical evidence that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was well known by the Romans. It is irrelevant that the Romans didn’t believe the resurrection had taken place. What we should pay attention to is the fact that Roman Leaders understood that Christians believed this doctrine so fervently that they would rather die than deny it had taken place.

While it is possible that a person could die for a lie, in the case of Christianity, those who believed Jesus had risen from the dead, had credible evidence to support their fervent belief. Christians of that time had something in their possession that others who died for their beliefs did not have; a written record from eyewitnesses who stated they had seen Jesus crucified and then alive three days later.

This record also contained the testimony of the most astute Pharisee in Israel, Saul of Tarsus, who stated in 14 letters that He had seen the resurrected Jesus with his own eyes: “Am I not as free as anyone else? Am I not an apostle? Haven’t I seen Jesus our Lord with my own eyes?”[15]

The Christians of that time knew well that Saul had persecuted Christians and sought their death. Immediately after Saul saw Jesus on the road to Damascus, he became a completely different man. Now known as Paul, he became the chief architect of the true facts of Jesus’ resurrection and the certain truth that He is the true Messiah. It was these written records that caused the early believers in Jesus to not deny His resurrection and make them willing to die with confidence that Jesus had risen from the dead.

We see evidence of these facts in that when the Romans gave Christians the opportunity to deny Jesus, and worship their Roman gods, they refused. Christians were so certain that Jesus had risen, they were willing to die because they believe He would also raise them.

It is certain that Roman leaders did not believe in the resurrection, but they certainly accepted that Christians believed that Jesus had risen from the dead. It is this record that remains in the Roman Senate today that is compelling evidence of Jesus’ resurrection.

These facts were established by the writings of Roman Historians, Tacitus and Suetonius, as they described the resurrection as a terrible superstition that would endanger the Roman Empire. It was for this reason that we have an incredible record that Jesus had risen from the dead because history records that over five million Christians went to their death during a 250-year period of history under ten Roman Emperors, rather than recant and deny Jesus’ resurrection had taken place.

“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.”⁠[16] ~Persecution in the early church

To assert that Romans did not execute Christians during the reign of ten Emperors, because they believed the resurrection of Jesus had happened, is an unsupportable, based upon the evidence of history.

People may carry a myth only so far. Once their life is in jeopardy for believing their profession, those who know it is a fable will immediately recant in order to save their life.[17]

Myths and legends which claim that a person had risen from the dead cannot survive 2,000 years of scrutiny if they are not true. This has never happened during man’s history, and for good reason. People want to know the truth, and they will invest themselves in seeking to discover whether events are genuine or not.

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.[18] Since Christians maintained such a firm belief that 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.[19]

And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.[20]

History records that early Christians were persecuted and killed by the Roman government for a period of 250 years.[21] Beginning with Nero in 54 A.D. and ending with Diocletian  in 313 A.D.[22]

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

The most reliable source for the true facts of this persecution of Christians is from Foxe’s 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.[23]

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.’”[24]

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.[25] Under Emperor Decius, Christians arrested could purchase a libelous that proved 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, which 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 why 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—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 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.[26]

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?”[27]

A Letter From Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus to Emperor Trajan

In the year 112 A.D., Pliny the Younger—governor of the Roman province of Bithynia (Turkey)—wrote a letter to the Roman Emperor Trajan, requesting clarification on his orders to execute those who were Christians.[28]

The following are a few of the excerpts from this letter:[29]

“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, which are 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 that 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.

The Bible can and does prove itself, by itself, because it contains internal evidence of proven claims of fulfilled prophecies, the proven historical reliability of it’s truthful texts, and the massive manuscript evidence left to us by the writers.


NOTES:

[1] 1.John Elder, “Prophets, Idols and Diggers.” Indianapolis, New York: Bobbs-Merrill,1960. Pages 159, 160

2.Joseph Free,. “Archaeology and Bible History.” Wheaton: Scripture Press Publications, 1969, Page 285

[2] Elder, John. Prophets, Idols and Diggers. Indianapolis, New York: Bobbs-Merrill,1960, Page 160

[3] 1.Elder, John. Prophets, Idols and Diggers. Indianapolis, New York: Bobbs-Merrill,1960, Pages  159, 160

2.Free, Joseph. Archaeology and Bible History. Wheaton: Scripture Press Publications, 1969, page 285

[4] 1 John 1:1

[5]  2 Peter 1:16

[6] Robert L. Wilkin, “The Piety of the Persecutors.” Christian History, Issue 27 (Vol. XI, No. 3), p. 18, 19.

[7] 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.

[8] ‘ Superstitio’ and the Persecution of the Christians, L. F. Janssen, Vigiliae Christianae, Vol. 33, No. 2 (Jun., 1979), pp. 131-159.

[9] Tacitus Annals, 15.44.4

[10] Seutonius, Nero, 16,2

[11] Ibid, L. F. Janssen, Vigiliae Christianae, Vol. 33.

[12] 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. Persecution in the Early Church, religion facts.com, March 17, 2015.

[13]  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. 3. Maurice M. Hassatt, “Martyr.” The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. IX, Robert Appleton Company, 1910

[14] Mark Galli, “The Persecuting Emperors.” Christian History, Issue 27 (Vol. XI, No. 3), p. 20.

[15] 1 Corinthians 9:1

[16] 1.Everett Ferguson, “Did You Know?” Christian History, Issue 27 (Vol. XI, No. 3), inside cover. 3.1.Persecution in the Early Church, religion facts.com, March 17, 2015.

[17] Robert Clifton Robinson, 2019

[18] 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.”

[19] 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

[20] 1 Corinthians 15:14

[21] Maurice M. Hassatt, “Martyr.” The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. IX, Robert Appleton Company, 1910.

[22] Mark Galli, “The Persecuting Emperors.” Christian History, Issue 27 (Vol. XI, No. 3), p. 20.

[23] 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.

[24] Revelation 2:8-10

[25] 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.

[26] Revelation 2:8-10

[27] John 11:25-26

[28] Letters of Pliny the Younger and the Emperor Trajan, Translated by William Whiston, From The Works of Josephus, Hendrickson Publishers, 1987.

[29] Letters of Pliny the Younger and the Emperor Trajan, Translated by William Whiston, From The Works of Josephus, Hendrickson Publishers, 1987.



Categories: Archeological Confirmation, Atheists, Agnostics and Skeptics, Empirical Evidence for God, Historical Validity of the New Testament, How Salvation Occurs, Jesus is God, Jesus is Good, Jesus is the Messiah, Messianic Prophecy Bible, New Testament Manuscripts, Prophecy proven by History, Reliability of the Bible, Reliability of the New Testament, Robert Clifton Robinson, Secular Sources for Jesus, The Existence of God, The Four Gospels, The Historical Crucifixion of Jesus, The Historical Jesus, The Historicity of Jesus, The Prophecies of the Messiah

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1 reply

  1. Even though over 1000’s of years and multiple translations the core of the Bible is 100% sound Adam and Eve sinned in Eden, they sinned because of the Evil one that now rules the world The Plan of God was always to save His Creation and He has. He formed Israel to produce His Saviour His Saviour, the Lord Jesus, the begotten Son of the Father, a sinless man died for us. We only need to confess His Name and we are saved Thru Faith and Grace we are Saved. Satan and his anti Christ Ashkenazi Babylonian Talmudic Cabal are entering the Lake of Fire. It’s that simple.

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