Post Author: Bill Pratt
Based on the previous post, we know that the NT documents were written soon enough after the events of Jesus’ life to prevent anyone claiming that they are largely tainted by myth or legend. This fact was very important to establish, but we are still left with a nagging question. Just because it was written soon after the events doesn’t mean that the writers didn’t make it all up.
Maybe the followers of Jesus fabricated this story about him dying and rising from the dead right after Jesus died, so that Jesus couldn’t correct them. How can we trust them? After all, don’t people start religions to gain power and wealth? We certainly see many modern-day religious figures becoming quite wealthy.
One newspaper story from several years ago featured a man in Miami, Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda, who claimed to be the reincarnated Jesus himself! He owns armored Lexus’ and BMW’s as well as several diamond-encrusted Rolex watches; he wields tremendous influence over his thousands of followers – everything a charlatan could dream of. Maybe the disciples, the writers of the NT, were just like de Jesus Miranda. Let’s find out.
We are going to ask questions of the NT writers that any court of law would ask of witness testimony. It’s interesting to note that many famous attorneys who have studied the evidence of the NT became Christians because they understood how compelling the evidence is. So let’s pose some of the questions that would be asked of a witness.
Question 1: Do the witnesses claim to be eyewitnesses or claim to have received their information directly from eyewitnesses? This question is obvious since eyewitness testimony will always be more accurate. With respect to the NT writers, all of them implicitly claim to be eyewitnesses of the events surrounding Jesus’ life. They write as if they were there and they heard Jesus’ words themselves.
However, we have several instances in the NT where the writers explicitly claim to have eyewitness testimony. They go out of their way to prove this point. For example, Luke claims to have “carefully investigated” the accounts “handed down . . . [by] eyewitnesses” (Luke 1:1-4). In 1 John 1:1-3, the apostle John makes it clear that he is writing about what he himself heard, saw, and touched.
In fact, in the span of three verses, he claims eyewitness credentials 8 times! Here is a person that wants you to know he was there. Not to be outdone by John or Luke, Peter reminds his readers in 2 Pet. 1:16-18 that “we were eyewitnesses of [Jesus’] majesty.” Time and again, the writers of the NT claim to be presenting eyewitness testimony, so question 1 is answered with a resounding “yes.”
We will continue with additional questions in the next post.