Post Author: Bill Pratt
In part 3, we continue with J. Warner Wallace’s case for the early dating of Mark, Luke, and Acts, as elucidated in his book Cold-Case Christianity.
The seventh piece of evidence is that Paul reinforced the claims of the Gospel writers. Wallace explains:
While some modern critics challenge the authorship of Paul’s pastoral letters, even the most skeptical scholars agree that Paul is the author of the letters written to the Romans, the Corinthians, and the Galatians. These letters are dated between AD 48 and AD 60. The letter to the Romans (typically dated at AD 50) reveals something important. Paul began the letter by proclaiming that Jesus is the resurrected “Son of God.” Throughout the letter, Paul accepted the view of Jesus that the gospel eyewitnesses described in their own accounts.
Just seventeen years after the resurrection, Jesus was described as divine. He is God incarnate, just as the gospel eyewitnesses described in their own accounts. In fact, Paul’s outline of Jesus’s life matches that of the Gospels. In [1 Corinthians 15:3-8] (written from AD 53 to 57), Paul summarized the gospel message and reinforced the fact that the apostles described the eyewitness accounts to him. . . .
In his letter to the Galatians (also written in the mid-50s), Paul described his interaction with these apostles (Peter and James) and said that their meeting occurred at least fourteen years prior to the writing of his letter. [See Gal 1:15-19 and Gal 2:1]
This means that Paul saw the risen Christ and learned about the gospel accounts from the eyewitnesses (Peter and James) within five years of the crucifixion (most scholars place Paul’s conversion from AD 33 to 36, and he visited Peter and James within three years of his conversion, according to Gal. 1: 19). This is why Paul was able to tell the Corinthians that there were still “more than five hundred brethren” who could confirm the resurrection accounts (1 Cor. 15: 6). That’s a gutsy claim to make in AD 53– 57, when his readers could easily have accepted his challenge and called him out as a liar if the claim was untrue.
The eighth piece of evidence is that Paul quoted Luke’s Gospel in his letter to the Corinthians.
Paul also seems to have been familiar with the gospel of Luke when he wrote to the Corinthian church (nearly ten years earlier than his letter to Timothy). Notice the similarity between Paul’s description of the Lord’s Supper and Luke’s gospel:
“For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood.’” (1 Cor. 11: 23– 25)
“And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.’” (Luke 22: 19– 20)
Paul appears to be quoting Luke’s gospel— the only gospel that has Jesus saying that the disciples are to ‘do this in remembrance of Me.’ If Paul is trying to use a description of the meal that was already well known at the time, this account must have been circulating for a period of time prior to Paul’s letter.
Stay tuned for part 4 of this important series, where J. Warner Wallace continues to build his case for the early dating of Mark, Luke, and Acts.