911:THE CHRIST

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You may never know that JESUS is all you need, until JESUS is all you have. -- Corrie Ten Boom
"No serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non-historicity of Jesus." ~ Otto Betz [1]

Contents

Yahshua haMachiach

Prophecies concerning Jesus

Birth of the Messiah

According to Luke Luke 2 there are 2 indices of the time of birth of Jesus

  1. Luke 2:1-2: And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
    1. See: Caesar Augustus, Quirinius, and the Census
    2. Res Gestae Divi Augusti: is the funerary inscription of the first Roman emperor, Augustus, giving a first-person record of his life and accomplishments - The Census made is point #8
      1. When I was consul the fifth time (29 B.C.E.), I increased the number of patricians by order of the people and senate. I read the roll of the senate three times, and in my sixth consulate (28 B.C.E.) I made a census of the people with Marcus Agrippa as my colleague. I conducted a lustrum, after a forty-one year gap, in which lustrum were counted 4,063,000 heads of Roman citizens. Then again, with consular imperium I conducted a lustrum alone when Gaius Censorinus and Gaius Asinius were consuls (8 B.C.E.), in which lustrum were counted 4,233,000 heads of Roman citizens. And the third time, with consular imperium, I conducted a lustrum with my son Tiberius Caesar as colleague, when Sextus Pompeius and Sextus Appuleius were consuls (14 A.C.E.), in which lustrum were counted 4,937,000 of the heads of Roman citizens. By new laws passed with my sponsorship, I restored many traditions of the ancestors, which were falling into disuse in our age, and myself I handed on precedents of many things to be imitated in later generations. [2]
  2. Luke 2:8: And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
    1. Shepherds were watching over their flock by night
      1. Knowing from the bible that Bethlehem is the birthplace of Jesus, then according to weather.com temperature in the month of December in Israel (Christmas season as the birth time of Jesus according to RCC traditions) in Israel are average high 57(ºF)/ 13.9(ºC) and average low of 42(ºF)/ 5.6(ºC) which is surely not an appropriate time to: watching over their flock by night


The Fulfilled Prophecies about Jesus Christ

There are hundreds of prophecies in the Bible about Jesus. Using the science of probability, the odds of these being a coincidence has been ruled out. Many of the Old Testament prophecies were written 500, 700 and 1000 years before the birth of Christ! I find it fascinating that the people of that time had access to all the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah including where He would be born, and still they did not see it! Amazing! [3]

Check out this partial list of fulfilled prophecies about Jesus! The first scripture is the prophecy from the Old Testament and the second is the fulfillment from the New Testament.

God would send a Saviour

The Saviour would come for our sins (Matthew 1:18-25) and to destroy Satan (Romans 16:20)

Genesis 3:15 "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her [a]Offspring; He will bruise and tread your head underfoot, and you will lie in wait and bruise His heel." - said that He would be the seed of a woman (of a virgin). Meaning He would not be from the seed of Adam. Galatians 4:4, Luke 2:7, and Revelation 12:5 said that He was the seed of the woman. He was not conceived of an earthly father (Matthew 1:18-25). [4]

Descendant of Abraham

Genesis 18:18 "Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him."

Acts 3:25 "And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, 'Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.'"

Galatians 3:8 "And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed."

Descendant of Isaac

Genesis 17:19 "Then God said, 'Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.'"

Genesis 25:19 "And these are the generations of Isaac, Abraham's son: Abraham begat Isaac:"

Matthew 1:2 "Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers.

Descendant of Jacob

Numbers 24:17 "I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel."

Luke 3:34 "The son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor."

Will descend from the tribe of Judah

Genesis 49:10 "The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his."

Psalm 60:7 "Gilead is Mine, and Manasseh is Mine; Ephraim also is My helmet (the defense of My head); Judah is My scepter and My lawgiver."

Luke 3:33 "The son of Amminadab, the son of Ram, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah."

Place of birth to be Bethlehem

Micah 5:2 "But you, Bethlehem Ephratah, you are little to be among the clans of Judah; [yet] out of you shall One come forth for Me Who is to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth have been from of old, from ancient days (eternity).

Matthew 2:1 "After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod..."

Will be born of a virgin

Isaiah 7:14 "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: the virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel."

Matthew 1:18 "This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit."

Matthew 1:23 "Behold, the virgin shall become pregnant and give birth to a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel--which, when translated, means, God with us"

Will escape into Egypt as a child

Hosea 11:1 "When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son."

Matthew 2:14-15 "And having risen, he took the Child and His mother by night and withdrew to Egypt. And remained there until Herod's death. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, Out of Egypt have I called My Son"

Will minister in Galilee and along the Jordan River

Isaiah 9:1-2 "Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan--The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned."

Matthew 4:12-16 "Jesus...returned to Galilee. Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali--to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah: Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, along the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles--The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned."

He will be rejected by the Jewish people

Isaiah 53:3 "He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not."

John 1:11 "He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him."

Character of wisdom and understanding

Isaiah 11:2 "The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him--the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord."

Luke 2:52 "And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men."

The time of his entry prophesied to the very day

Daniel 9:25-26 "Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven 'sevens' and sixty-two 'sevens.' It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two 'sevens' the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing."

This prophesy refers to weeks of years, or 483 biblical years. Beginning with the exact day on which Persian King Artaxerxes gave the decree to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem (March 14, 445 BC), exactly 173,880 days later--Palm Sunday, April 6, AD32--Christ rode into Jerusalem the week before he was 'cut off' (crucified). This is the precise number of days spanning 483 biblical years, which were then measured as 12 months of 30 days each.1

He would enter Jerusalem upon an Donkey

echariah 9:9 "Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O Daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King comes to you; He is [uncompromisingly] just and having salvation [triumphant and victorious], patient, meek, lowly, and riding on a donkey, upon a colt, the foal of a donkey."

John 12:13-14 "So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him. And as they went, they kept shouting, Hosanna! Blessed is He and praise to Him Who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel! And Jesus, having found a young donkey, rode upon it, [just] as it is written in the Scriptures"

Matthew 21:1-7"AND WHEN they came near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples on ahead, Saying to them, Go into the village that is opposite you, and at once you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie [them] and bring [them] to Me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall reply, The Lord needs them, and he will let them go without delay. This happened that what was spoken by the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, Say to the Daughter of Zion [inhabitants of Jerusalem], Behold, your King is coming to you, lowly and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey [a beast of burden]. Then the disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and laid their coats upon them, and He seated Himself on them [the clothing]."

Betrayed by a close friend

Psalm 41:9 "Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me."

Mark 14:10 "Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them."

He will be sold for thirty pieces of silver

Zechariah 11:12 "I told them, 'If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.' So they paid me thirty pieces of silver."

Matthew 26:15 "And asked, 'What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?' So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver."

He said false witnesses would accuse Him

Psalm 27:12 "Give me not up to the will of my adversaries, for false witnesses have risen up against me; they breathe out cruelty and violence."

Matthew 26:60-61 "But they found none, though many witnesses came forward [to testify]. At last two men came forward And testified, This Fellow said, I am able to tear down the [b]sanctuary of the temple of God and to build it up again in three days."

Silent when accused during his trial

Isaiah 53:7 "He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth."

Matthew 26:62-63 "Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, 'Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?' But Jesus remained silent. The high priest said to him, 'I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.'"

He will suffer for others

Isaiah 53:4-5 "Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed."

Matthew 8:16-17 "When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: 'He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.'"

He will be buried with the rich

Isaiah 53:9 "And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth."

Matthew 27:57-60 "When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple: He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed."

He will be crucified with sinners

Isaiah 53:12 "Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors."

Matthew 27:38 "Two robbers were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left."

Mark 15:27-28 "And with Him they crucified two robbers, one on [His] right hand and one on His left. And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, He was counted among the transgressors."

Luke 23:33 "And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left."

His hands and feet will be pierced

Psalm 22:16 "Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet."

John 20:27 "Then he said to Thomas, 'Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.'"

His bones would not be broken

Psalm 34:20 "He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken."

John 19:33-36 "But when they came to Jesus and they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came (flowed) out. And he who saw it (the eyewitness) gives this evidence, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he tells the truth, that you may believe also. For these things took place, that the Scripture might be fulfilled (verified, carried out), Not one of His bones shall be broken"

Will be mocked and insulted by the people

Psalm 22:6-8 "But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: 'He trusts in the Lord; let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.'"

Matthew 27:39-40 "Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, 'You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!'"

He would be spat upon

Isaiah 50:6 "I gave My back to the smiters and My cheeks to those who plucked off the hair; I hid not My face from shame and spitting."

Mark 14:65 "And some of them began to spit on Him and to blindfold Him and to strike Him with their fists, saying to Him, Prophesy! And the guards received Him with blows and by slapping Him."

Will be hated without cause

Psalm 69:4 "They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head: they that would destroy me, being mine enemies wrongfully, are mighty: then I restored that which I took not away."

John 15:23-25 "He that hateth me hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause."

His side will be pierced with a spear

Zechariah 12:10 "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son."

John 19:34 "Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water."

Revelation 1:7 "Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth shall gaze upon Him and beat their breasts and mourn and lament over Him. Even so [must it be]. Amen (so be it)."

He will be resurrected after his death

Psalm 16:10 "Because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay."

Matthew 28:9 "Suddenly Jesus met them. 'Greetings,' he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him."

He will ascend into heaven

Psalm 68:18 "When you ascended on high, you led captives in your train; you received gifts from men, even from the rebellious--that you, O Lord God, might dwell there."

Luke 24:50-51 "When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven."

Mark 16:19 "So then the Lord Jesus, after He had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and He sat down at the right hand of God"

Acts 1:9 "And when He had said this, even as they were looking [at Him], He was caught up, and a cloud received and carried Him away out of their sight."

Acts 1:11 "Who said, Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing into heaven? This same Jesus, Who was caught away and lifted up from among you into heaven, will return in [just] the same way in which you saw Him go into heaven."

Rapture or Tribulations?

Main article: The Secret Rapture

Jesus is coming as a thief in the night

  • One of the main concept and deception to Christians, is that most of them believe the Rapture (Jesus taking his church) will happen before/during the tribulations, and before the man of sin is revealed, and that they avoid any kind of tribulations. Those who defend this thesis do it based on mostly on the idea that "Jesus is coming as a thief in the night".

Why is this not true?

  • The pretribulationist (those who belive Jesus is coming before the tribulations) says that the day of the Lord immediately follows the rapture, and as a result they see the entire seventieth week as the day of the Lord or the wrath of God. And yet they see the first half of the tribulation as a time of peace when a great revival takes place. In the Thessalonian passage it clearly states in verse 3 that "destruction will come upon them suddenly." Another passage that confirms this is 2 Peter 3:10, "But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up." It is clear that the question to be answered is: (Question:) who is Christ coming to as a thief? In 1 Thessalonians 5:4 Paul writes, "But you brethren, are not in darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief." It is clear in the Revelation passage that the warning (Answer:) is to those who are asleep. In both cases the picture is the same- for the one who is not awake (unbelievers) the coming will be like a thief; however, for the one that is awake (believers), the coming will not be like a thief. [7]



Paul, wrote that, “the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night” when reminding the Thessalonians of his previous instructions to them about the Second Coming. Here is what Paul wrote. [8]

"Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people (unbelievers) are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they (unbelievers) will not escape. But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness (1 Thessalonians 5:1-5)."
  • When Paul says, “the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night,” notice that he is referring to “people,” “them,” and “they,” Paul is making a distinction between the believers and the unbelievers. Consider what Paul says to the believers in verse four - “But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief.” He is telling them that the Day of the Lord will not surprise the believers, because they know what will happen first. On the other hand, Christ’s return on the Day of the Lord will surprise the unbelieving world.



Again, in Revelation, Jesus reminds and warns His followers that if they do not stay awake, His return will surprise them like a thief. [9]

"Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you (Revelation 3:3).
"Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed" (Revelation 16:15)
  • Believers will be aware of the general time of Christ’s return but unbelievers will be caught off guard when Jesus Christ returns to earth “like a thief in the night.” Therefore, don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, many signs will occur before Jesus Christ returns to gather up His Church.

Olivet discourse

But of that day or that hour not a [single] person knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on your guard [constantly alert], and watch [a]and pray; for you do not know when the time will come."


Jesus, in the Olivet discourse, tells us to watch for the signs and uses the fig tree as an example. In Matthew 24:32-33 He says, "Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender, and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; even so you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door." He goes on in verse 36 to tell us that we do not know the day or the hour, but as Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:1, we do know the times and the seasons. [10]

Christians will be Persecuted

Blessed are ye, when [men] shall revile you, and persecute [you], and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Matthew 5:11
  • “You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit." Mark 13:9-11
  • “But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. This will result in your being witnesses to them. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict." Luke 21:12-15
  • "But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you." Matthew 10:17-20

Christians will be Martyrs

  • And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up. And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. Daniel 8:23-24
  • In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world John 16:33
  • And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect's sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days. Mark 13:20
  • Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. Matt. 24:9
  • "And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death." Matthew 10:21
  • "You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. All men will hate you because of me." Luke 21:16
  • "They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service." John 16:2
  • "And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held" Revelation 6:9
  • "And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations." Revelation 13:7
  • And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and [I saw] the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received [his] mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. Revelation 20:4


Miracles of jesus

todo

Biblical

Witness of Miracles

Non-biblical sources of Yeshua

More information has survived about Jesus Christ than most other ancient figures. Yet few historical persons have ever had their existence as questioned and as researched as Jesus Christ. One result of all that research is that information about Christ, from sources other than the Bible, is readily accessible by the common person for nearly the first time in history.

Unfortunately, this information and other material which refers to Christ seldom makes it into our learning cycle. Almost any material with significant reference to Christ or the Bible can be classified as religion and thus be summarily censored out of all events, displays, or institutions touched by government-allocated tax dollars. And the areas touched by tax dollars broaden every year.

Therefore, because taxpayer-funded expressions of Christ currently seem limited to extreme commentaries like crucifixes submerged in jars of urine, and scowling portraits of Jesus painted with an artist's own feces, the paths by which we have been left to learn any facts about the historical life and times of Jesus are either through churches, private institutions, or self-study.

The world deals differently with Jesus than with other historical figures and rightly so. Jesus made bigger claims and a bigger impact than all the others. Jesus claimed to be God incarnate and left this world with the original Schwarzenegger-styled promise of "I'll be back". Even if our tax dollars seem to favor Christ's critics, it is not necessarily wrong to hold Christ up to a higher standard. Raising the standards was one of his clearest messages.


The testimonies from hostile sources

In the case for Christ, the value of evidence, particularly from hostile sources, is tremendous. Hostile sources are considered to be those who were definitely not followers of Christ; i.e., people who clearly were not out to propagate favorable belief in him. The fact that hostile sources cite Christ, as well as cite other New Testament personages and events, is evidence for both the existence of Christ and the general veracity of the Bible.

The important point of hearing the corroborating testimony by non-Christians writing in Christ's own era, and shortly thereafter, is simply the acknowledgment of Christ's existence. Naturally, because all of the proceeding testimony comes from people who did not conclude him to be God, it does not deal with Christ as favorably or thoroughly as writings by those who did.

It is also categorically true that proof of Jesus' divinity will not be found in writings that qualify as hostile. This is because if some ancient writer had seen and confirmed his miracles or realized his fulfillment of prophecy and then recorded "Yes, Christ actually did this or that which his followers speak of", that writer would no longer be considered hostile by today's skeptic. Right?

Therefore, only writers who reference Christ offhandedly or in a negative way are sources whom skeptics are likely to accept as neutral observers. Hence we are left with a collection of writings that, though by nature lack clear confirmation of Christ's deity, do at least confirm he walked the earth for even his enemies to see.


Titus Flavius Josephus

Josephus was a Jewish historian who was born around AD 38. He served Roman commander Vespasian in Jerusalem until the city's destruction in AD 70. Josephus personally believed Vespasian to be Israel's promised Messiah. When Vespasian later became emperor of Rome, Josephus served under him as court historian. 2 In AD 93, Josephus finished his work Antiquities of the Jews in which at least three passages specifically confirm portions of Scripture:

But to some of the Jews the destruction of Herod's army seemed to be divine vengeance, and certainly a just vengeance, for his treatment of John, surnamed the Baptist. For Herod had put him to death, though he was a good man and had exhorted the Jews to lead righteous lives, to practice justice towards their fellows and piety towards God, and so doing to join in baptism. 3

...convened the judges of the Sanhedrin and brought before them a man named James, the brother of Jesus who was called the Christ, and certain others. He accused them of having transgressed the law and delivered them up to be stoned. 4

At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. And his conduct was good, and [he] was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive;... 5

  • Antiquities of the Jews 3.3:
"Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. [11]
  • Antiquities of the Jews 20:9
"Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James" [12]

Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus

Pliny was the governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor. Much of his correspondence has survived including a particular letter written circa AD 112 to the Roman emperor Trajan. This letter does not reference Christ directly, but it does establish several beliefs and practices of early Christians. This includes their loyalty to Christ even when it cost them their lives. Pliny's letter states:

In the meantime, the method I have observed towards those who have been denounced to me as Christians is this: I interrogated them whether they were in fact Christians; if they confessed it, I repeated the question twice, adding the threat of capital punishment; if they still persevered, I ordered them to be executed.

...They affirmed, however, that the whole of their guilt, or their error, was that they were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to perform any wicked deed, never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to make it good; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food - but food of an ordinary and innocent kind. 6


Cornelius Tacitus

Tacitus was a senator under Emperor Vespasian and later became governor of Asia. Around AD 116 in his work entitled Annals, he wrote of Emperor Nero and a fire which had swept Rome in AD 64:

Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate, and a most mischievous superstition thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome... 7

  • Tacticus Annals: The Roman historian Tacitus wrote concerning the Great Fire of Rome, in Book 15, chapter 44 of his Annals:
    • "Hence to suppress the rumor, Nero falsely charged with the guilt, and punished Christians, who were hated for their enormities. Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea" Tacitus is remembered first and foremost as Rome's greatest historian. He was born in the year 56. Tacitus was able to consult the official sources of the Roman state: the acta senatus (the minutes of the session of the Senate) and the acta diurna populi Romani (a collection of the acts of the government and news of the court and capital). He could read the collections of speeches by some emperors, such as Tiberius and Claudius. Generally, Tacitus was a scrupulous historian who paid careful attention to his historical works. [13]

Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus

Suetonius was a chief secretary to Emperor Hadrian writing around AD 120 in his work Life of Claudius:

Because the Jews at Rome caused continuous disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from the city. 8

Lucian

Lucian, the Greek satirist, wrote this rather scathing attack in The Death of Peregrine circa AD 170:

The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day - the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account... You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them; and then it was impressed upon them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws. 9

Talmud

The Talmud is essentially the collection of Jewish oral traditions that were put into writing with additional commentary between the years of AD 70 and 200. From the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 43a includes:

On the eve of Passover they hanged Yeshu. And an announcer went out, in front of him, for forty days (saying): 'He is going to be stoned because he practiced sorcery and enticed and led Israel astray. Anyone who knows anything in his favor, let him come and plead in his behalf.' But, not having found anything in his favor, they hanged him on the eve of the Passover. 10

The facts in this passage are somewhat difficult to assimilate. Although Yeshu is referring to Jesus, the announcement that he was to be stoned (a lethal punishment) is followed by the statement that he was hanged (crucified). One possible explanation is that the Jewish leadership's call for his stoning preceded his eventual arrest by at least those forty days. This would be consistent with Scripture's accounts of his numerous near-stonings (John 10:31-33, 11:8).

Jesus' death by crucifixion may have then just been a matter of Roman involvement in the affair. Perhaps it is more likely that his sudden crucifixion (which immediately followed his arrest and dubious midnight trial) was gladly allowed by the Jewish leaders to pre-empt the normal forty day holding period for a condemned man. The leaders may have feared that, during this time, Jesus' followers might have been able to organize his release or stir up an outcry against them.

Summary

In summary, what can we conclude about the figure of Jesus Christ by only listening to non-Christians of the first centuries? That he was an invented myth? Absolutely not. Just by listening to Jesus' enemies and outsiders, we can put together the following profile on Christ and his influence; the sum of which positively affirms the believability of the Bible and deity of his person:

  • Jesus was a wise man and was called the Christ or Messiah, (Josephus)
  • Jesus gained many disciples from many nations, (Josephus)
  • He healed blind and lame people in Bethsaida and Bethany, (Julian the Apostate)
  • He was accused of practicing sorcery and leading Israel astray, (the Talmud)
  • Under Herod, and during the reign of Tiberius, Pontius Pilate condemned Christ to die, (Tacitus)
  • Christ was crucified on the eve of Passover, (the Talmud)
  • His crucifixion was accompanied by three hours of unexplained darkness, (Thallus)
  • Christ's disciples, "reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive;", (Josephus)
  • His disciples took to the habit of meeting on a fixed day of the week and took their name "Christians" from him, (Pliny)
  • They gave worship to Christ "as to a god", (Pliny)
  • They bound themselves over to abstaining from wicked deeds, fraud, theft, adultery, and lying, (Pliny)
  • Christians held a contempt for death and were known for a voluntary self-devotion, (Lucian)
  • Christians believed themselves all brothers from the moment of their conversion, (Lucian)
  • Christians lived after Christ's laws, (Lucian)
  • Christians were willingly tortured and even executed for their refusal to deny their belief in the resurrection and deity of * Jesus Christ. (Josephus, Tacitus, Pliny, Lucian)

2.3 The testimonies from martyrs.

-- THEY EACH DIED MAINTAINING JESUS WAS RISEN

The testimony of death is what this author found as a nonbeliever to be a very difficult problem to get around. This is in reference to the last point on the above list: people who were tortured and executed willingly rather than deny their beliefs of Christ.

It is a challenging conjecture for any of us to think of what beliefs, if any, we would hold to the point of enduring torture or death. How long would you burn, or how much skin could you take being peeled away before screaming out whatever your tormentors wanted to hear? Until such moment comes, no one can say. But that moment did arrive for many who came before us, and history answers that they believed Jesus to be God-incarnate to their last breath.

The torturous end of Jesus' closest followers and the torture and exile of another indicates something radical. Their lives and their writings may show us what they believed; but nothing as much as their deaths shows us just how much they believed Jesus to be risen.

Although many martyrs (people who died for not relinquishing their beliefs) and confessors (people who were threatened with death for the same) can be named throughout church history, it is the deaths of the apostles and other close followers which carry the bulk of evidence for Christ's deity.

The apostles knew, lived, and worked with Christ daily for years. If Christ were a fake, no matter what the apostles might have previously preached or written, it is improbable that even one of them would have died for the sake of a joke or a lie. How rational is it that all of them would endure torture, eleven to the death, without even one wavering from their singular belief that Christ was God, and that he appeared to them after his crucifixion?

The fact that they maintained perfect unanimity on Jesus' resurrection under torture, separately and over many years, is inconceivable unless they were each absolutely convinced of Christ's claim to be the almighty God of the universe. The possibility that the apostles honestly mistook him to be God and only thought he appeared to them will be discussed later. But it is without a doubt that, rightly or wrongly, they were all totally convinced of Jesus' deity to the end.


-- JESUS' APOSTLES: THE GREAT OBITUARY

Here is how many of those closest to Jesus met their end:

  • Matthew - killed by stabbing as ordered by King Hircanus
  • James, son of Alphaeous - crucified
  • James, brother of Jesus - thrown down from a height, stoned and then beaten to death at the hands of Ananias (circa AD 66)
  • John - tortured by boiling oil, exiled to Patmos in AD 95
  • Mark - burned during Roman emperor Trajan's reign
  • Peter - crucified upside-down by the gardens of Nero on the Vatican hill circa AD 64
  • Andrew - crucified on an "X" shaped cross by Aegeas, governor of the Edessenes, around AD 80
  • Philip - stoned and crucified in Hierapolis, Phrygia
  • Simon - crucified in Egypt under Trajan's reign
  • Thomas - death by spear thrust in Calamina, India
  • Thaddaeous - killed by arrows
  • James, son of Zebedee - killed by sword in AD 44 by order of King Herod Agrippa I of Judea
  • Bartholomew - beaten, flayed alive, crucified upside down, then beheaded 11

No group of individuals had closer contact with Jesus than those listed above. Their conclusion, even unto death, was that Jesus was God. Multitudes of unnamed Christians of the same and following eras likewise perished faithful to the conviction that Jesus is Lord. Pliny records an arrest procedure of many such Christians that today reads like a McCarthy-era transcript:

Those who denied they were, or had ever been, Christians, and who repeated after me an invocation to the gods,... and who finally cursed Christ - none of which acts, it is said, those who are really Christians can be forced into performing - these I thought it proper to discharge. 12

Tacitus, in his work Annals, tells us of the fate common to Christ's faithful, under Nero, who refused to recant their beliefs:

Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired. 13

We often hear or say some variation of, "Your actions are speaking so loudly that I can't hear what you're saying." The apostles and early Christians' actions speak very clearly. Their actions matched their words. They walked their talk. Of course at this point, one might wonder what good their faithfulness did them - secure for them a horrible death? Where was their so-called loving God?


-- WHERE WAS THEIR LOVING GOD?

Long ago I asked this kind of question and felt a certain skepticism about the supposed love of Christ for us. The apostles were Jesus' best friends and they carried on the faith just as he had asked. If the Bible is an accurate portrayal of history and of Christ, I wondered how he could have let them suffer and die as they did.

Christ did love these men, and these men loved Christ. These men could have denied their belief in Jesus and he probably would have forgiven them. But they loved the truth of God literally more than earthly life. Even one denial just to spare themselves from the moment might have become popularized as the "awful truth about Christ", and the worship of Christ then greatly curtailed.

By the apostles' obedience and sacrifice, Christ has allowed their deaths to become an extremely powerful witness to us of his person. They died because they loved Christ, and Christ let them die for him because he loves us. Belief in Christ is that important, and those who died knew it. So it is not God who devalues the apostle's deaths, but us whenever we ignore the truth of Christ for which they surrendered their lives.

The deaths of Jesus' closest followers are speaking to us. Their deaths have become evidence of Christ's deity and ministry on earth. This is evidence of the Bible's believability that no historian, scientist, or skeptic can ignore in clear conscience.

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