When the synoptic Gospels of Jesus Christ were written is of paramount importance. Liberal scholars assert that they were written late in the first century by non-eyewitnesses. If this is true then the entire premise of the New Testament is lost. Ancient texts written decades after the events took place, by people who did not see what they are writing, would be of very little value today.
Fortunately for our generation, we have surviving manuscript copies of nearly the entire New Testament that are dated as early as 175 A.D. The existence of manuscript copies from 175 A.D., demands that the original autographs must have been written early in the first century. The reason that we do not have these original autographs is due to the survivability of papyrus under the brutal conditions that existed in antiquity.[1.5] What we do have today is 24,593 surviving manuscript copies of the original autographs which fully validate the events described in the New Testament, as sworn by the writers of the four Gospels.
And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe. ~John 19:35
This chapter establishes that there is credible evidence in the historical record to prove that the synoptic Gospels were written early in the first century—beginning immediately after Jesus ascended back to heaven. The very words of Jesus Himself, state that He expected these men to write a testimony of what they had seen an heard, and that Jesus would send the Holy Spirit to remind them of these things so they could accurately write.[1.75] Jesus commanded these men to take their testimony to the entire world. This would not be possible unless there was a written testimony that was sent out by courier to the churches in Asia Minor, and then dispatched to the rest of the world. Jesus told the Apostle John: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.”
In John 9:4, Jesus told the disciples, “We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned to us by the one who sent us.” It is clear that Jesus did not want these men to delay. They must quickly carry out the tasks God assigned to them by writing on papyrus the things they had seen and heard and send them out to every nation.
The reason is clear; God wanted the whole world to know that salvation was available to everyone. God had kept His promise to send the world a Savior and He desired that every person would have a chance to hear and be saved. Jesus wanted the people who were alive at that time in every distant land of the world to also have the opportunity to receive Jesus and obtain salvation. The idea that the Gospels would not be written for decades, or that Jesus did not intend that the Apostles would write a testimony about Him and send it to the world, is preposterous.
Critics of the New Testament seek to assert that the four Gospels were written late in the first century, long after the eyewitnesses had perished, but never provide evidence to prove this hypothesis. In every book, article, and comment written by liberal scholars, you will not find any valid evidence to prove a late-date writing for the synoptic Gospels. All of these statements in books and articles are merely the opinion of these liberal scholars.
It is possible to prove a very early writing of the synoptic Gospels by empirical evidence. This chapter provides this evidence, beginning with archeological evidence for the date when Paul was under trial by a Roman appointed representative at Cesarea. From this certain date, we can accurately prove all the other dates of the New Testament and establish when the synoptic Gospels were written.
In 59 A.D., Paul is before Porcius Festus, the Procurator of Judea while Paul is a prisoner at Cesarea. We know that Festus was here at this date because of coinage that has survived history with the Provincial coinage of Judea attesting to Nero’s 5th year. This documents Porcius Festus in Judea at 58-59 A.D., with Paul before him. Josephus records this same event in Antiquities, Book XX, Chr. 8, § 9: “Now when Porcius Festus was sent as successor to Felix by Nero, the principal of the Jewish inhabitants of Cesarea.“
Paul experienced his final hearing before Festus in Acts 24:27. In Acts 25:12, Festus instructs Paul to go to Jerusalem in order to be tried. Paul states that he is a Roman citizen and requests that he be sent to Caesar for trial. Festus orders Paul to be taken to Rome for trial before Nero.
After a shipwreck and a three-month delay on Malta, Paul arrived in Rome about February, 60 A.D. (Acts 28:1-16). While in Rome, Paul meets with the Jews in Acts 28:15-28.
Eusebius writes that Paul was beheaded by Nero early in 68 A.D.[3a] This is verified by Eusebius as he records the death of Nero on June 8, 68 A.D.[3b] Nero, unable to garner the courage to take his own life, requested that his secretary, Epaphroditos, should kill him. These facts of the historical record allow us to understand other dates in the New Testament.
We know that the text of Luke was written before Acts, his second book, where he records the missionary journeys of Paul in Asia Minor.
Accurate Forensic Examination
Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians in 49 A.D. In this letter, Paul describes a conversation that he had with Peter and James, 14 years before, in 35 A.D. Paul penned the text in Galatians just before he appeared before Festus in 49 A.D.
After Paul had completed his first eighteen months missionary journey through Asia Minor, he received a report that the believers at Galatia were struggling due to false teaching that had crept into their church. Some of the Judaizers had tried to convince the Christians of Galatia that in addition to trusting in Jesus, they must also keep the laws of Moses. In response to this difficulty, Paul wrote to confirm his former words that no Christian must keep the laws of Moses in order to be saved.
This issue continued to be a problem amongst the new Christian churches, which precipitated the meeting with the Jerusalem Council, also in 49 A.D., that is seen in Acts 15:1-30. During this meeting of the early church leaders, it was determined that only four laws would be imposed upon new Christians: “(1.) abstain from things polluted by idols, (2.) from sexual immorality, from (3.) things strangled, and (4.) from eating blood ~Acts 15:20.
Again, we are learning correct dates for the events of the New Testament and eventually the time of writing for the synoptic Gospels, starting with the coinage of Festus and the statement of Paul in Galatians 2. These verified events allow us to forensically determine additional accurate dates for many other events in the New Testament.
Internal Textual Evidence Of The New Testament
A second piece of forensic evidence found in the New Testament text comes from Paul’s letter to Timothy (1 Timothy 5:18), where he quotes the precise words of Jesus that Luke had first recorded in his Gospel, Luke 10:7: “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” This quote by Jesus, recorded by Luke, is not in any of the other Gospels. Paul quotes this text from Luke verbatim. This means that Luke’s Gospel must have been written very early, before Paul penned this letter to 1 Timothy in 64 A.D., while Paul was still imprisoned at Rome.
Luke states at the beginning of his Gospel that he obtained the testimony for his Gospel from the eyewitnesses who had been with Jesus from the beginning. This means that Matthew and Mark must have written their Gospels before Luke. You will see in the timeline that follows, when these Gospels must have been written.
The early writing of the Synoptic Gospels are important to the missionary journey’s of Paul in Asia Minor because he describes his witness to these various people as coming from the authority of the Gospels—written by Matthew, Mark and Luke, and personally revealed to Paul by Jesus.
Without a written testimony from the men who had seen Jesus, Paul would not have the proper authority to preach the Gospel of Christ. In Acts 15, Paul states that he was teaching the Gospel that he received from the men who had been with Jesus during the years of His public ministry.
The following are a few of the locations where the Gospel of Christ was being preached and taught very early after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension to heaven.
The Gospel Was Being Taught In Jerusalem, Asia Minor, And The World
- Acts 2:21: (Jerusalem) “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Just 50 days after Jesus had ascended back to heaven.
- Acts: 8:25 (Jerusalem:) “So when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.
- Acts 14:6-7, 14:21 (Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia:) they were preaching the gospel there.
- Acts 16:10 (Macedonia:) we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.
- Acts 15:1-3 Paul received the Gospel from the eyewitnesses and directly from Jesus. “I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received.”
- Romans: 1:15 (Rome:) I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also.
- 1 Corinthians: 1:17 and 4:15 (Corinth). For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect…in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.
- 2 Corinthians: 8:18 (by Titus), 9:12-13 (proof of the ministry), 10:14 (authority of the Gospel), 10:16 (teach the Gospel in regions beyond Corinth), 11:7 (teach the Gospel free of charge).
- Galatians: 1:7-9 (warning not to believe any other Gospel).
- Ephesians: 1:13 (received the Gospel and believed), 6:19 (Paul declaring the ministry of the Gospel).
- Philippians: 1:15 (fellowship of the Gospel), 1:17 (Paul appointed to defend the Gospel).
- Colossians: 1:5 (Paul taught the word of truth from the Gospel), 1:23 (the hope of the Gospel).
- 1 Thessalonians: 2:2 (teach the Gospel), 2:4 (entrusted with the Gospel), 2:8 (Paul imparts the Gospel), 3:2 (Timothy taught the Gospel of Christ).
- Hebrews: 1:2 (the Gospel is preached).
- 1 Peter: 1:12, 1:25, 4:6 (the Gospel was preached).
How could Paul prove that the Gospel of Christ was authentic and reliable if he did not have a written text from the eyewitness who had seen and heard Jesus? In 1 Thessalonians 2:13, the Gospels are described as the word of God, scripture equal to those of the Old Testament: For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us (the Gospels), you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
It is clear from this text that Paul had the Gospels with him as he went from town to town, telling people about Jesus and all that He had said and done.
It would be impossible to convince people that Jesus was the true Messiah if Paul could not produce the Gospel scriptures and demonstrate from these texts, how Jesus had fulfilled every Messianic prophecy of the Hebrew scriptures. Jesus gave an example of how this would be possible after He had risen from the dead, when He met two of the disciples on the road to Emmaus: Then Jesus said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures (Luke 24:44-45).
The entire basis of the testimony about Jesus in the New Testament, is founded upon what the Hebrew prophets had written about the Messiah. Jesus ordered His life perfectly so that He would fulfill every prophecy written for the Messiah. On the road to Emmaus Jesus showed the two disciples that He met, precisely how He had fulfilled these prophecies. Then Jesus told these two men something spectacular. In addition to the prophets writing that Messiah would suffer, die and rise again; the message of His death and resurrection would be proclaimed to all the nations: Then Jesus opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And he said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’ You are witnesses of all these things (Luke 24:45-48).
Don’t miss what the above verse is saying: It was predicted in the Old Testament that the Gospel of the Messiah would be proclaimed to all the nations. It was not possible to reach all the nations of the world unless a written text was sent out to the world.
What these men had seen and heard—they were commanded by Jesus—to immediately tell the entire world. This could only be accomplished if the testimony was written in letters and dispatched to the world. They could not simply tell people orally, this would not accomplish a world-wide ministry. The text had to be written and sent out just as the letters of Paul had been dispatched. Jesus instructed the Apostle John that he should; “write what you see in a book and send to the seven churches which are in Asia” (Revelation 1:11). This was the method used by the early Christian church to convey news of Jesus and the teaching of His Gospel to people in distant lands.
The Apostles who saw Jesus risen from the dead were commanded by Him to be His witnesses to the entire world. In Acts 1:8 after Jesus had risen, He told the Apostles, “you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” A witness is someone who sincerely tells other people what they have seen and heard. In different ways, twenty-nine times within the book of Acts, these men are described as telling the world about Jesus as His witnesses. The only way they could accomplish this impossible task was if Jesus did what He had said in John 14:25-26; “I will send the Holy Spirit to remind you of all I said and did,” and then empower these simple fishermen to do extraordinary things by the power of the Holy Spirit, Acts 4:33: “The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all.”
It was essential in winning souls for Christ that there were written texts from the eyewitnesses who saw and recorded that Jesus had fulfilled each of the Old Testament prophecies. This is what Jesus was describing in Luke 24 above, You are witnesses of all these things.
Paul began his first missionary journey through Asia Minor in 45 A.D. It is clear that he had these texts from the Gospel writers with him as he moved from town to town.
The Cumulative Evidence
We obtain a valid piece of archeological evidence from the coinage of Festus, which places Paul before him in 59 A.D. This allows us to determine correct dates for all of the other events described by the New Testament.
The following timeline is in reverse order from 70 A.D., to 32 A.D., revealing the entire period when the synoptic Gospels and the New Testament Epistles were recorded.
Using The Evidence Of Paul Before Festus in 59 A.D., We Arrive At The Following Timeline:
- 70 A.D. The Roman general, Titus, destroys Jerusalem and the Temple, fulfilling the prediction of Jesus in 32 A.D. that “not one stone of the temple shall be left here upon another,” described in Matthew 24:2, Mark 13:2, and Luke 21:6. The Epistle of Barnabas chapter 16.3, states that the destruction of Jerusalem happened in 70 A.D. Josephus, in Flavius Josephus, Antiquités 17:13, confirms this event and describes 1.1 million Jews being killed at that time. This was the most important event during the first century concerning the Jews, yet none of the Gospels record these catastrophic events taking place. The reason is obvious; the Gospels were written before the events of 70 A.D.
- Second, when the Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D., so also were all the genealogical records that were stored in the archives of the Temple. In order for Matthew to have known that Jesus had the correct line of descendants to be the Messiah and place it into his Gospel, the Temple must have still been standing. Unless Matthew had seen these records in the archives of the Temple before 70 A.D., they would not be present in the Gospel he wrote to prove to the Jews that Jesus had the right to be their true Messiah, a descended of David and Abraham.
- 68 A.D. June 8, 68 A.D., Emperor Nero commanded his secretary, Epaphroditos, to kill him as Nero didn’t have the courage to take his own life.
- 68 A.D. Eusebius writes that Paul was beheaded by Nero early in 68 A.D.[3a] This is verified by Eusebius as he records the death of Nero on June 8, 68 A.D.[3b]
- 66 A.D. Paul’s second imprisonment under Nero. Paul writes 2 Timothy (64-66 A.D.).
- 66 A.D. The book of 2 Peter was written. Peter describes an event in 2 Peter 1:16-19, that took place in the texts of Matthew 17:5; Mark 9:7; and Luke 9:35, describing the transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain. “As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed, and his clothes became dazzling white, far whiter than any earthly bleach could ever make them. Then Elijah and Moses appeared and began talking with Jesus.”
- Peter wrote his second letter in 66 A.D., and describes this former experience that was recorded earlier in the synoptic Gospels. Peter said that this event had convinced him that Jesus was God and Messiah: “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.”
- This meeting between Jesus, Peter and John, Moses and Elijah, at the mountain which is described in the synoptic Gospels that Peter is referring to in 2 Peter 1:16-19, must have been written much earlier than when Peter wrote his second letter, in 66 A.D. This is forensic evidence of early writing for the Synoptic Gospels (33-43 A.D.).
- 63 A.D. Paul continues his ministry with additional missionary work.
- 62-64 A.D. Paul writes 1 Timothy and Titus. Paul quotes verbatim in 1 Timothy 5:18, text that he obtained from Luke’s Gospel: Luke 10:7: “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” This means that Luke’s Gospel was written before 1 Timothy. This text does not appear in any other New Testament material except Luke 10:7. This is forensic evidence that the Gospel of Luke was written near 44 A.D.—after Matthew and Mark—much earlier than 1 Timothy 5:18, written about 64 A.D.
- 62 A.D. Paul is released from Roman imprisonment.
- 61-62 A.D. Paul writes Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians, and Philippians.
- 61 A.D. Paul preaches the Gospel without hindrance for two years, living in his own rented house at Rome (Acts 28:30-31).
- 60 A.D. Paul arrives at Rome (Acts 28:14-16). Paul meets with the Jews (Acts 28:17-28).
- 59 A.D. Paul’s appeal honored, headed to Rome (Acts 25:12). Paul before Agrippa (Acts 25:13 – 26:32). Paul leaves for Rome, sails to Myra (Acts 27:1-5). Paul sails to Fair Havens on Crete (Acts 27:6-8). Despite Paul’s warning, they set sail again (Acts 27:9-12). In the middle of a storm Paul is shipwrecked on the island of Malta (Acts 27:13 – 28:1). Paul at Malta (Acts 28:2-10). Paul sails to Syracuse (Acts 28:11, 12). Paul sets sail for Rhegium then Puteoli (Acts 28:13).
- 59 A.D. Paul experienced his final hearing before Festus in Acts 24:27, Acts 25:1-12. In Acts 25:12, Festus instructs Paul to go to Jerusalem for trial. Paul states he is a Roman citizen and appeals to Caesar. Festus sends Paul to Rome for trial before Nero.
- 57 A.D. Paul at Jerusalem (Acts 21:15-25). Paul arrested at the temple, causes a mob (Acts 21:26-36). Paul addresses the mob (Acts 21:37 – 22:21). Paul’s Roman citizenship saves him from scourging (Acts 22:22-29). Paul before the Sanhedrin (Acts 22:30–23:10). Jesus tells Paul that he will bear witness of him in Rome (Acts 23:11). The plot against Paul’s life (Acts 23:12-22). Paul sent by guard to Felix the governor (Acts 23:23-35). Paul before Felix (Acts 24:1-27).
- 56 A.D. Paul writes Romans and 2 Corinthians.
- 56 A.D. Paul goes to Macedonia (Acts 20:1). Travels to Greece (Acts 20:2). Paul returns to Macedonia (Acts 20:3). Paul at Troas (Acts 20:4-12). Paul at Assos. Mitylene. Chios. Samos. Togyllium. (Acts 20:13-15). Paul exhorts the Ephesian elders at Miletus (Acts 20:15-38). Cos. Rhodes. Patara. Phoenicia. (Acts 21:1, 2). Paul at Tyre (Acts 21:3-6). Paul at Ptolemais (Acts 21:7). Paul at Caesarea (Acts 21:8-14).
- 54-55 A.D. Paul writes 1 Corinthians.
- 53 A.D. Paul returns to Antioch after stopping at Ephesus, Caeserea, and Jerusalem (Acts 18:18-22). Travels through Galatia and Phrygia strengthening the disciples (Acts 18:23). Paul passes through the upper regions on his way to Ephesus (Acts 19:1). Paul’s ministry at Ephesus (Acts 19:1-41).
- 52 A.D. Paul writes 1 and 2 Thessalonians.
- 51 A.D. Paul sails from Troas to Neapolis (Acts 16:11). Travels to Philippi where Paul meets Lydia (Acts 16:12-15). Paul and Silas imprisoned after casting out a demon from a slave girl (Acts 16:16-25). Prison doors opened miraculously and the jailer saved (Acts 16:25-34). Paul departs from Philippi (Acts 16:35-40). Paul passes through Amphipolis and Apollonia (Acts 17:1). Paul at Thessalonica, preaching Christ, but later flees (Acts 17:1-10). Paul at Berea where he leaves Silas and Timothy (Acts 17:10-14). At Corinth and rejoined with Silas and Timothy (Acts 18:1-17).
- 50 A.D. Paul travels to Derbe and Lystra and picks up Timothy, strengthening the churches (Acts 16:1-5). Paul goes to Troas and sees a vision of a Macedonian man (Acts 16:6-10).
- 49 A.D., Paul writes his letter to the Galatians, Paul states that 14 years before, He met with Peter and James in 35 A.D.
- 49 A.D. Paul goes to the Jerusalem Council with Barnabas (Acts 15:1-29; Galatians 2:1). Paul and Barnabas return to Antioch of Syria, teaching and preaching (Acts 15:30-35; Galatians 2:11-14). Contention over John Mark; Barnabas and John Mark sail to Cyprus (Acts 15:36-39). Paul and Silas depart, going through Syria and Cilicia strengthening the churches (Acts 15:40-41).
- 48 A.D. Paul travels from Antioch to Seleucia, then to Cyprus (Acts 13:4). While on Cyprus they go to Salamis and Paphos (Acts 13:5-12). From Paphos they go to Perga of Pamphylia where John Mark departs for home (Acts 13:13). Ministry in Antioch of Pisidia (Acts 13:14-50). At Iconium (Acts 13:51 – 14:6). Flees to Lystra and Derbe, preaching the gospel (Acts 14:6-7). In Lystra Paul and Barnabas are mistaken for gods (Acts 14:8-18). Stoned at Lystra, supposed to be dead, but re-enters the city (Acts 14:19-20). Departs with Barnabas to Derbe, preaching the Gospel (Acts 14:20-21). They return to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch to strengthen disciples and appoint elders (Acts 14:21-24). From Pisidia they returned to Antioch of Syria and reported their journey to the church (Acts 14:24-28).
- 47 A.D., Paul goes to Antioch with Barnabas teaching and many people (Acts 11:26). Agabus predicts a famine (Acts 11:27, 28). Money sent to Jerusalem through Barnabas and Saul (Acts 11:29, 30). Barnabas and Saul return with John Mark (Acts 12:25). Barnabas and Saul “separated” and sent out (Acts 13:2, 3).
- 46 A.D., Barnabas travels to Tarsus in order to seek Saul (Acts 11:25).
- 38-46 A.D. Paul returns to Tarsus for safety (Acts 9:30).
- 46 A.D. Luke begins to write Acts.
- 45 A.D. Paul begins his ministry.
- 44 A.D. Luke wrote his Gospel.
- 37 A.D., Paul returns to Damascus then leaves due to safety concerns (Gal 1:17; Acts 9:20-25; 2 Corinthians 11:32-33).
- 35 A.D. Paul meets with Peter and James (Galatians 1:18-19).
- 34 A.D. Paul travels to Arabia and remains there till 37 A.D. (Galatians 1:17).
- 34 A.D. Paul meets the risen Jesus on the Road to Damascus.
- 33-34 A.D. Saul is the persecutor of the church (Acts 8:1-3; Philippians 3:6).
- 33 A.D. to 43 A.D. Matthew and Mark write their Gospels.
- 32 A.D. Jesus is crucified and raised from the dead.
- 32 A.D. Jesus predicts the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. “not one stone will be left upon another.” (Matthew 24:2, Mark 13:2, Luke 19:44, 21:6). This prophecy of Jesus was fulfilled 38 years later in 70 A.D.
Evidence From The Text Of The New Testament
When we examine the internal text of the New Testament we find that the documents themselves provide us with evidence of a very early date of writing.
Jesus repeatedly stated that He called 12 men to act as His witnesses. “And you are my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Jesus told these 12 Apostles that they would tell the whole world what they had seen and heard. “And you must also testify about me because you have been with me from the beginning of my ministry” (John 15:27).
Jesus certainly intended that these men would immediately write and send their written testimony to the world—describing all they had seen and heard—because it was not possible for them to travel the entire world on foot. Jesus made it clear that the time to go was immediate, not decades later. “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19).
Jesus said that after He was raised from the dead, He would send the Holy Spirit to remind these men, all He had said and done: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26).
Just prior to His return to heaven, Jesus instructed the Apostles to wait at Jerusalem for the arrival of the Holy Spirit who would enable them to remember and write their testimony: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth “(Acts 1:8). After the Apostles received this power, they would immediately send out their testimony to the churches in Asia Minor, as Paul was traveling to visit these churches.
Jesus’ final instructions to the Apostles are to tell people about Him everywhere; starting in Jerusalem, then the local communities surrounding Israel, and finally to the ends of the earth. Unless it was Jesus’ intent that a written testimony would be immediately recorded and sent out, obeying Jesus’ command to tell the whole world would not be possible.
Just 14 years after Jesus was raised from the dead, we see Paul beginning his first missionary journey to Asia Minor, teaching this Gospel to the churches in these areas. If there was no written narrative, it would be impossible to accurately tell others about Jesus on this journey. Paul said that he received the Gospel direct from Christ: “Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning. I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:11-12). It is also clear that Paul received the written testimony of they synoptic Gospel writers because he quotes text from these Gospels in his subsequent letters.
Luke begins his Gospel by telling us that “Many people have set out to write accounts about the events that have been fulfilled among us. They used the eyewitness reports circulating among us from the early disciples. Having carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I also have decided to write an accurate account” (Luke 1:1-3). Luke understood that writing an account of all that Jesus had said and done was of paramount importance. Certainly Luke wrote his Gospel early, before he wrote his second book, Acts.
In Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus, he speaks of “spreading this Good News” (Ephesians 3:7). How could Paul spread the Good New, the Gospels of Christ, If he had not received these Gospels from Matthew, Mark, and Luke? What would be the point of spreading the Good News if it did not include distributing the Good News by written letters to all of the churches in Asia Minor?
At the church of Thessalonica, Paul thanks the Christians there for receiving the Gospel of Christ as it really is, the word of God; scripture equal to the scriptures of the Old Testament: “you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God “ (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
In Acts 17:10-11, while at Berea, we see Paul before the Jews as they listened to him present the Gospel to them and their response was: “to search the scripture to find out whether these things about Jesus were true.“ What scriptures were they searching? It is certain that these scriptures were the Gospel narratives from the Apostles and these accounts were compared with the texts of the Hebrew prophets.
If there were no written testimonies about Jesus, recorded by the Apostles, stating what they had seen and heard from Jesus, and personally documenting the events of His healing miracles, raising the dead, crucifixion and resurrection, Paul would have nothing to present to the people in Asia Minor except his words. It is doubtful that without a written testimony from the men who saw Jesus crucified and risen on the third day, very few would become a believer in Christ.
When Paul and Silas went to the church at Thessalonica, they remained there for three consecutive Sabbaths (Acts 17:1-4). “He explained the prophecies and proved that the Messiah must suffer and rise from the dead. He said, “This Jesus I’m telling you about is the Messiah.” Unless there were written Gospels from the Apostles to demonstrate that these prophecies about the Messiah had been fulfilled, it is unlikely the people would have believed in Jesus.
These preceding facts allow us to determine that the Gospels of Christ must have been written very early in the first century, not later as critics assert. This means that these Gospels were written by the men who saw and heard the things they record in their Gospels. These men were eyewitnesses who have told us the truth about Jesus.
The New Testament and its internal texts, becomes evidence for us to examine, just as we would any other written texts from antiquity. When we study the entire New Testament we find that it is written sincerely, without contrivance, and it describes a uniform, central narrative about just one person, Jesus the Messiah.
The letters written by Paul after the Gospels were penned, also confirm the same details as the four Canonical Gospels. Were did Paul get this information to share with all the churches in Asia Minor, if not from the written Gospels of the Apostles of Jesus?
The New Testament Tells Us When The Gospels Were Written
If anyone wants to know when the Gospels were written, all they must do is open a New Testament and begin to read the books of Acts and the letters that follow. Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead in 32 A.D. Fourteen years later in 46 A.D., Paul was on his first journey through Asia Minor. In Acts chapter 13, Paul is at Antioch with Barnabas when the Holy Spirit tells them to go on this first missionary journey to preach the Gospel of Christ. “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them” (Acts 13:2).
On the Sabbath, the elders of the synagogue at Antioch invite Paul to speak to the people gathered in Acts 13:22-39. Paul begins with David from the Old Testament and demonstrates how Jesus was his descendant, a fulfillment of God promise to David in 1 Samuel 13:14, and 16:1,13. Then Paul connects Jesus’ arrival to the promise of God to Abraham in Genesis 15.
From there, Paul describes the events we find in the four Gospels where Jesus is arrested, condemned by Pilate, placed on the cross and dies. He is placed in the tomb of Joseph, and raised from the dead three days later. Paul finishes with his declaration that Jesus was seen alive for “many days,”by many eyewitnesses.
The people in Jerusalem and their leaders did not recognize Jesus as the one the prophets had spoken about. Instead, they condemned him, and in doing this they fulfilled the prophets’ words that are read every Sabbath. They found no legal reason to execute him, but they asked Pilate to have him killed anyway. “When they had done all that the prophecies said about him, they took him down from the cross and placed him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead! And over a period of many days he appeared to those who had gone with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to the people of Israel (Acts 13:27-31).
Where did Paul get the information for this encounter with the Jews at Antioch? It was already recorded in the Gospels by 46 A.D. when Paul departed for His first missionary journey in Asia Minor. The evidence that the Gospels were already written at this early date is proven by references in the book of Acts where Paul uses the testimony of the four Gospels to preach and teach. We also see in the letters after Acts that Paul refers to the Gospels in all his teaching about Jesus. Paul is preaching from the synoptic Gospels in all four of his journey’s to the churches which are in Asia, beginning just 14 years after Jesus rose from the dead.
In Paul’s third journey through Asia Minor in 53-57 A.D., he passed through Ephesus, just 100 miles from the small church at Colosse. Paul wrote to Ephesus and declared that the Gospel of Christ was already in use at that time, and Paul was spreading this Good News within the first and second decades after Jesus’ resurrection. By God’s grace and mighty power, I have been given the privilege of serving him by spreading this Good News (Ephesians 3:7).
In Paul’s letter the Colossians he describes the Gospel of Christ as “being preached all over the world.” The Gospel was recorded by the four writers who testified to all they had seen and heard from Jesus. Here we see that what Jesus had accomplished during His life, death, and resurrection, was already recorded and carried by Paul to the churches he visited in Asia Minor, just 14 years later. But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed as God’s servant to proclaim it (Colossians 1:23).
Jesus Commanded The 12 Apostles To Write And Send The Gospels Out To The World
Jesus called these twelve men to testify as eyewitnesses, immediately. All the miracles that they saw could never be repeated; yet all these things must be known to the world for all time. Jesus wanted the people of that time in history who were still alive, to know what Jesus had done, as well as every other person throughout history. Unless these men wrote what they had seen and heard and sent the texts to the local churches, the people of that time would not have the opportunity to hear about the salvation Jesus died to give them and respond. Any person who thinks that these men did not immediately write their testimony and send it to the churches that were established, must answer why the Apostles would not want the generation in which they lived, to be saved?
There is no possibility that the synoptic Gospels were not written quickly and sent to the world. To believe this is to not understand the purpose for which Jesus came into the world in the first place. “For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish…But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?” (John 3:16, Romans 10:14).
In John’s Gospel Jesus promised that He would remind these men of everything they had seen and heard so they could write a reliable account (John 14:26).
Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would testify of Him to these men. Then they must testify about Him to the world, because they had been with Him from the beginning (John 15:26).
The evidence that the Gospels were written immediately after Jesus rose from the dead, is found in the text itself where Jesus makes this requirement an imperative.
In Acts chapter 6, a dispute arose between the Greek Christians and the Hebrew Christians. The Greeks felt that the daily needs of their widows for food was not being taken care of, as it was for the Hebrew widows. The twelve Apostles decided to appoint seven men to oversee this daily distribution of food for these widows. What follows in this text is of critical importance.
And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility. Then we apostles can spend our time in prayer and teaching the word (Acts 6:3-4).
To Connect The Messianic Prophecies To Jesus
The reason the twelve Apostles gave for the appointment of these seven men, was so that they could spend their time in prayer and teaching the word. What word? It wasn’t the Old Testament scriptures only, it was also the Gospels. The Old Testament scriptures were not sufficient to prove Jesus was the Messiah without the testimony from the Apostles who described how they had seen Jesus fulfill all these prophecies. The Gospel accounts were essential in proving that Jesus had fulfilled the Hebrew prophecies of the Messiah.
See the book by the same author: “The Prophecies Of The Messiah,” and “The Messianic Prophecy Bible.”
The Apostles wanted to focus their efforts on teaching the Gospel of Christ, described here as the word of God. Unless the Apostles were able to demonstrate that Jesus had fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies for the Messiah, as documented in the written Gospels, they would never be able to prove Jesus was the true Messiah. When we read the Gospels there are hundreds of citations by the writers where they note that a particular thing that Jesus was doing at that time, or was saying, as a fulfillment of an Old Testament prophecy written for the Messiah:
So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet Isaiah (7:14), 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).
As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah (40:3) the prophet, saying: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight (Luke 3:4).
That the word of Isaiah (53:1) the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke: “Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” (John 12:38).
After Jesus was raised from the dead, He told the Apostles that everything He had said and done, was in fulfillment of all that Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms had written about Him as the Messiah.
Then Jesus said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me” (Luke 24:44).
If the Apostles did not record the Gospels in writing and distribute them to the churches that were in Asia Minor and Israel, there would be no way for the people to connect the prophecies of Messiah from the Old Testament, to the events that had taken place while Jesus was here on earth.
This demands that the Gospels must have been written very early after Jesus rose from the dead. We know that Paul had not written any of his letters this early. He doesn’t meet Jesus until Acts 9. In order to teach the word of God, there must have been a written text in existence before Paul’s letters, to carry to the churches so that it could be demonstrated that He is the true Messiah.
We know that the testimony of the Apostles who had written what Jesus had said and done, was carried to the church at Thessalonica. Paul writes that when they began to teach the people there what Jesus had said and done, they received these words as “the word of God.” Paul is not talking about the Old Testament scriptures. There would be no need to specify that the Old Testament was the word of God. The people already knew this. Paul is describing the words of the Apostles who had already written their testimony about Jesus as the Gospels. This is what Paul was teaching the people at the church at Thessalonica. These people accepted the Gospels as the word of God, scripture equal to the Old Testament.
For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
This is clear evidence that the Gospels must have already existed by this early date when Luke penned the book of Acts. Of course this is true because Acts is the second book of Luke, after his own Gospel.
There is absolutely no evidence anywhere that the Apostles waited for decades to write their testimony. This idea comes from a few liberal New Testament scholars as their opinions, but not because there is any proof that this is really true.
The text of the New Testament is where we find the evidence. It is by what Jesus said regarding His desire that these twelve men would tell everyone what they had seen, and the statements of these men who said they saw Jesus with their own eyes, that we can correctly understand that the New Testament was written by men who saw Jesus and heard Him. These men certainly did not wait, they began to write immediately after Pentecost and started to distribute these texts all over the world within a short period of time. They did this because Jesus told them to write a remembrance and tell the world immediately.
The Opinions Of Liberal Scholars
It doesn’t take long to notice that there are many opinions from many liberal scholars regarding the text of the New Testament. I have read a great number of the conclusions published by these men and women. There is one underlying principle that is true in a majority of these opinions: They make many assumptions that cannot be supported by evidence and they often rely upon the conclusions of other scholars rather than what the text itself actually proves.
What this means is that there is no possibility of knowing who is right or if any group is correct in their conclusions regarding the New Testament.
We must ask ourselves if the men who wrote the New Testament at the beginning, intended that people later in history would have to rely upon the opinions of scholars, two thousand years later, in order to understand what the New Testament is saying?
I say no. Most of the 27 books of the New Testament are really just personal letters of communication between real persons. By standing over their shoulders and examining their conversations from afar, we learn a great deal about Jesus and the events that took place at that time. These letters are written matter-of-fact, not as myths, tales or novels. It is well known in examination of ancient literature that personal letters are not used to commit fraud. When we find personal letters between people in the historical record, they stand as tremendous evidence of true events that are described by these letters.
These letters were considered so valuable, accurate and instructive by people of that period, that they were copied tens of thousands of times and distributed all over the known world.
Differing Opinions For When The Gospels Were Written
Surprisingly, this depends upon whom you ask. Conservative scholars often date the New Testament Gospels much earlier that liberal scholars. We might ask why this is true, if there is so much written by so many who claim to be scholars, shouldn’t there be a general consensus amongst alleged experts?
Many conservative scholars write that the Gospels of Matthew was written from early 60 A.D., to 80 A.D. Turning to the guidance of liberal scholars, both analyzing the same texts, they conclude that Matthew was written from 80 A.D. to 100 A.D.
Conservative scholars state that the Gospels of John was penned from 60 A.D. to 100 A.D. Again, looking at the same evidence, liberal scholars conclude that John’s Gospel was written from 90 A.D. to 100 A.D.
By these varying dates between liberal and conservative scholars we realize that either there is some degree of bias from both sides regarding the actual dates, or both sides don’t really know when the Gospels were written.
I have written extensively in proving from the historical record that Jesus died in 32 A.D. Before Jesus went to the cross He told His disciples that after He was crucified, risen from the dead, and returned to heaven, He would send the Holy Spirit who would empower these 12 men, the ability to remember everything that He had said and done during the three and one-half years of His public ministry.
These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you (John 14:25-26).
After Jesus was risen from the dead, He again reminded these 12 men that He had called them specifically to be His witnesses, and to immediately take all they had seen and heard and reveal it to the whole world.
What Does The Evidence Prove?
Listen to what Jesus told the Apostles after He had risen from the dead:
“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me—everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Does this sound to you like Jesus wanted these twelve men who had seen the most spectacular events in the history of the world, to wait 20, 30, 40 years or more before they wrote a record of all that Jesus had said and done?
Jesus called these twelve men to testify as eyewitnesses—at that moment. All the miracles that they saw could never be repeated; yet all these things must be known to the world for all time. Jesus wanted the people of that time—who were still alive—to know these things, and also every other person throughout history. The Gospel of Christ was not just for people living in later periods of history; it was for the whole world, beginning the moment that Jesus rose from the dead.
The evidence that the Gospels were written immediately after Jesus rose from the dead, is found in the text itself where Jesus makes this requirement an imperative. There is absolutely no evidence anywhere that these men waited for decades to write their testimony. The only source for this late-date idea, comes from liberal scholars who have an agenda to try and rob the Gospels of their eyewitness testimony.
How could any scholar know the precise decade when the Gospels were written? Those who guess say later; those who read Jesus’ words, see that He said: “What you see, write in a book and send it now..” The two Gr. imperatives “write” (γράφω) and “send” (πέμπω) are peremptory, authoritative aorists. “Do It Now!”
Until it can be proven, by evidence, that the Gospels actually were written late in the first century, I will maintain an early date for their writing. There is no proof they were written late; there is tremendous internal proof within the New Testament the Gospels were immediately written.
What Did The Writers Intend?
It is inconceivable that the New Testament writers wrote in such a way that their texts would be shrouded in mystery and the true meaning of what they wrote could not be understood by every person born on the earth.
If we need scholars to tell us whether the text is reliable, has been changed, or really records actual events, then the God who claims to be the author of these texts must be an impotent God, incapable of ensuring that His words could survive intact for the world to read.
The writers of the New Testament state in their narratives that all they are writing, even they themselves did not understand or believe at first. It is a common agreement amongst the writers that the miracles they saw Jesus perform—even the raising of Lazarus from the dead—did not fully convince them at first. It was not until after Jesus was brutally crucified and they saw Him alive in the flesh, that they really believed that He is the Messiah and God in human flesh.
The New Testament Prefaced By The Old
Any person who has adequately studied the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah, understands that these texts make it clear that God would send the world a Messiah who would have the power of miracles to validate that He is the One whom God sent. These prophecies also state that He would be crucified and raised on the third day. There are over 400 of these Messianic Prophecies that I have personally documented and published in two books, which fully validate that Jesus is the only person in the history of the world who has completed these prophecies with great precision.
If Jesus had failed to fulfill even one of these prophecies, He could not be the Messiah. The fact that He did complete these predictions with extreme precision, is testimony to the power that God has to accomplish all that He promised.
Who Is Telling The Truth?
If we start with the assumption that the writers of the New Testament are honest men who are telling the truth about what they recorded, then we do not need the opinions and conclusions of modern scholars. It is a prerequisite of law that a person or matter is cloaked with righteousness at the beginning. This is to say, the testimonies that people write, and the people who write them, are considered truthful and accurate, until evidence can be presented to disprove their testimony.
According to current United States Federal standards for evidence, “the testimony of the evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, as recorded in the four canonical gospels, would stand as credible, factual evidence in a court of law.”
Today, atheists and critics of the four Gospels, have established standards for religious-based sources that is higher that those required for secular questions. Co-founder of the Harvard School Of Law, Simon Greenleaf argued then, and this remains true today, “the burden of disproving evidence lies squarely on the shoulders of the objector.“ Greenleaf argued that the reader of any texts of a historical source should be approached with “a mind free from all pride of opinion, not hostile to the truth sought for, willing to pursue the inquiry, and impartially to weigh the arguments and evidence, and to acquiesce in the judgment of right reason.”
The texts of the New Testament have survived for nearly 2,000 years, intact, with virtually all of the fundamental truths about Jesus coming to us with no substantial alterations to the original text. We have greater surviving manuscripts to validate these events that are described in the New Testament than any other event in antiquity. The comments and conclusions of modern critical scholars are based completely upon their own opinions that originate by speculation and conjecture.
All we must do is read the New Testament for ourselves to see whether the narratives about Jesus make sense, are credible, and are trustworthy. After nearly 45 years of just studying the text of the New Testament apart from the opinions and conclusions of other scholars, I am convinced that this is all that is necessary.
If we begin with the idea that God exists and He has the power and technology to conceive, engineer, and produce the universe we inhabit, then it is no stretch of the imagination to accept that He also has the power to communicate a message to us through men that He might choose, and preserve their testimony intact so that every person on earth might have a reliable copy to read.
The Preceding Is From The Book:
The following are the resources available at this site which contain evidence to prove each of these important issues:
- When Were The Gospels Written?
- Were The Gospels Written By Eyewitnesses?
- Did The Gospel Writers Borrow From Each Other?
- Has The Text Of The New Testament Been Changed?
- Is The New Testament Filled With Errors?
- Were The Four Gospels Written Anonymously?
- The Body Of New Testament Evidence
- Are There Sources For Jesus Outside The New Testament?
- Is The New Testament A Valid Historical Narrative?
- Did Jesus Really Claim To Be God?
 P46 is the earliest New Testament Codex Manuscript in existence, dated at 175-225 A.D. It contains the following letters written by Paul:
- Romans 1:1–5:17
- Romans 5:17–6:14
- Romans 6:14–8:15
- Romans 8:15–11:35
- Romans 11:35–14:8
- Romans 14:9–15:11
- Romans 15:11–Hebrews 8:8
- Hebrews 8:9–9:10
- Hebrew 9:10–26
- Hebrews 9:26–1 Corinthians 2:3
- 1 Corinthians 2:3–3:5
- 1 Corinthian 3:6–2 Corinthians 9:7
- 2 Corinthian 9:7–end, Ephesians, Galatians 1:1–6:10
- Galatians 6:10–end, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians 1:1–2:3
- 1 Thessalonians 2:3–5:5
- 1 Thessalonians 5:5, 23–28
- 1 Thessalonians 5:28–2 Thessalonians, Philemon; 1–2 Timothy, and Titus
P45, P46, and P47, From 200 A. D. contain surviving manuscript copies from all four gospels, and Acts (P45), with 30 references to Jesus’ death and resurrection.
P46: From 200 A.D.,Contains Roman 6:5-14, Confirming Jesus’ Crucifixion And Resurrection
[1.5] It is certain that the original autographs were written early in the first century. Under the conditions that these original autographs were subjected to during the first century, very few papyrus documents survived more that two hundred years.
Egyptologist Kenneth Kitchen, estimated that about 99 percent of the original papyri that are dated from 3000 B.C. through the 400 B.C., have been lost to time and decay.
In the Greco-Roman world, Roman soldiers were traditionally paid three times a year. These payments were documented by pay receipts that were written on papyrus. Of the estimated 225 million pay receipts that were given to Roman soldiers during the reigns of Augustus and Diocletian, from 27 B.C., to 305 A.D., only two fragments have survived.
Source: Kitchen, Kenneth A. The Third Intermediate Period in Egypt. Warminster, U.K.: Aris & Phillips, 1986.
[1.75] Jesus commanded the apostles to immediately take the Gospels to the entire world: And you are my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. ~Acts 1:8
Jesus told the 12 Apostles that they would have the ability to remember everything they had seen and heard, after Jesus returned to heaven and He had sent them the Holy Spirit: But when the Father sends the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. ~John 14:26
 1. F.F. Bruce, New Testament History, 1983, pp. 345.
2. Antiquities, Book XX, Chr. 8, § 9 “Now when Porcius Festus was sent as successor to Felix by Nero, the principal of the Jewish inhabitants of Cesarea.” Josephus, Flavius. The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus: Josephus’s work, translated by William Whiston in 1737. Kindle Edition.
3. Yamazaki-Ransom, K., The Roman Empire in Luke’s Narrative, Continuum, 2010, p. 145 F.F. Bruce, New Testament History, 1983, pp. 345.
[3a] Eusebius Ecclesiastical History 3.39.16
 a. Nancy J. Kippenhan, Assistant Professor of Law, Liberty University School of Law (B.S., M.B.A., Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; J.D., magna cum laude, Widener University School of Law).
b. Simon Greenleaf, LL.D. (1783–1853) was appointed Royall professor of law in the Law School of Harvard University from 1833 until 1846, and later succeeded Justice Joseph Story as the Dane professor of law in 1846. John Henry Wigmore, Preface to SIMON GREENLEAF, A TREATISE ON THE LAW OF EVIDENCE (16th ed. Little, Brown & Co. 2001) (1842).
[6 ]TESTIMONY, supra note 5, §§ 3, 27, 48.
 Id. §§ 28, 33, 41.
. Id. § 1.