By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)
As New Testament Christians, our faith is dependent upon the identity of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the foundation of the church of Christ (Matthew 16:13-18; 1 Corinthians 3:11; Ephesians 2:20-22).
In this article, we are going to carefully examine and explicate the basic argument which shows that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
The Argument Stated
Let’s carefully notice the the argument that we will be studying:
If the New Testament Scriptures are genuine and credible, and if they teach that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, then Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
The New Testament Scriptures are genuine and credible, and they teach that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
Therefore, Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
Clearly Defining Our Terms
By “the New Testament Scriptures,” reference is made to the twenty-seven Books which have been inspired of God and have been handed down to the church from the time of their writing by the Apostles of Jesus and their companions, who were inspired by the Holy Spirit, as also the evidences which they provided clearly demonstrate and prove (John 14:26; 16:13; 1 Corinthians 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; Hebrews 2:1-4).
By “genuine,” I am referring to the fact that the New Testament Scriptures are indeed written by their traditionally accredited authors, the Apostles and Prophets of Christ, and their close companions. Hence, the Gospels and New Testament Epistles are not anonymous documents, nor are they from an era postdating the first century A.D.
By “credible,” we are discussing the fact that the New Testament Scriptures are true in their reporting, in that their writings are historically objective and authentic. Their authors are not guilty of lying or of false reporting; but these Books are instead trustworthy in the historical details which they set forth and narrate.
By “Son of God,” we are asserting that the New Testament Scriptures teach (through direct statement, approved example, and necessary inference) that Jesus of Nazareth is indeed, Deity, the Second Person of the Godhead, also known as the Son of God. Due to the confusion of the phrase “Son of God,” in our modern religious context, the following linguistic comments are quite helpful:
“Perhaps no name or title of Christ has been so misunderstood as the title Son of God.[ 22] Some have taken this term to mean that Christ came into existence at a point in time and that he is in some way inferior to the Father. Some believe that since Christ is the Son of God, he cannot possibly be God in the same sense as the Father. Such an understanding is based on a faulty conception of what “Son of…” meant among the ancients. Though the term can refer to “offspring of” in some contexts, it carries the more important meaning, “of the order of.”[ 23] The phrase is often used this way in the Old Testament. For example, “sons of the prophets” meant “of the order of prophets” (1 Kings 20: 35). “Sons of the singers” meant “of the order of singers” (Neh. 12: 28). Likewise, the phrase “Son of God” means “of the order of God,” and represents a claim to undiminished deity. Ancient Semitics and Orientals used the phrase “Son of…” to indicate likeness or sameness of nature and equality of being.[ 24] Hence, when Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, his Jewish contemporaries fully understood that he was making a claim to be God in an unqualified sense.” (Ron Rhodes, Christ Before The Manger: The Life And Times Of The Preincarnate Christ, 446-459 (Kindle Edition))
Having defined our proposition, let us now turn our attention to a careful investigation of these matters.
Are The New Testament Scriptures Genuine?
Many in our modern day overly skeptical world have been taught that the New Testament Scriptures (especially the canonical Gospels) are anonymous forgeries, perhaps written by religious zealots in the second or third century A.D. (long after the time of Jesus Christ). It is further claimed that these Books are therefore unreliable in anything which they teach about Jesus, and that because of their alleged uncertain authorship, these Books cannot be trusted in the slightest.
However, the facts themselves demonstrate clearly that the New Testament Scriptures are not anonymous forgeries, but were written by their traditionally ascribed authors. Matthew and John were Apostles of Christ, while Mark was a close companion of the Apostle Peter and Luke a confidant of the Apostle Paul.
Let’s start by noticing what the Gospels themselves claim. Far from being anonymous, the Gospels clearly identify themselves as being the work of their respective authors!
“The first and perhaps biggest problem for the theory of the anonymous Gospels is this: no anonymous copies of Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John have ever been found. They do not exist. …Instead, as New Testament scholar Simon Gathercole has demonstrated, the ancient manuscripts are unanimous in attributing these books to the apostles and their companions…When it comes to the titles of the Gospels, not only the earliest and best manuscripts, but all of the ancient manuscripts without exception, in every language— attribute the four Gospels to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John….Second, notice that there is some variation in the form of the titles (for example, some of the later manuscripts omit the word “Gospel”). However, as New Testament scholar Michael Bird notes, there is “absolute uniformity” in the authors to whom each of the books is attributed….In fact, it is precisely the familiar names of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John that are found in every single manuscript we possess!…Third— and this is important— notice also that the titles are present in the most ancient copies of each Gospel we possess, including the earliest fragments, known as papyri (from the papyrus leaves of which they were made). For example, the earliest Greek manuscript of the Gospel of Matthew contains the title “The Gospel according to Matthew” (Greek euangelion kata Matthaion ) (Papyrus 4). Likewise, the oldest Greek copy of the beginning of the Gospel of Mark starts with the title “The Gospel according to Mark” (Greek euangelion kata Markon )…In short, the earliest and best copies of the four Gospels are unanimously attributed to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. There is absolutely no manuscript evidence— and thus no actual historical evidence— to support the claim that “originally” the Gospels had no titles.” (Brant Pitre, The Case For The Real Jesus: The Biblical And Historical Evidence For Christ, 17-19 (Kindle Edition); New York, NY: Image, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House).
Another evidence of genuineness which is also worth noting comes from the early Christians: disciples of Christ who carefully studied the matters of Apostolic authorship very carefully. They continually affirmed the genuineness of the New Testament Scriptures from the earliest of times. For example, please consider the following quotations from some of the early Christians:
“It is not possible that the Gospels can be either more or fewer in number than they are. For, there are four zones of the world in which we live, and four principal winds. Now, the church is scattered throughout all the world, and the “pillar and ground” of the church is the Gospel. Therefore, it is fitting that she should have four pillars, breathing out immortality on every side, and renewing men afresh.” (Irenaeus (c. 180, E/ W), 1.428)
“I say, therefore, that in those [apostolic] churches, the Gospel of Luke that we are defending with all our might has stood its ground from its very first publication. And it has stood its ground not simply in those churches that were founded by apostles, but in all the churches that are united with them in the fellowship of the mystery of the gospel of Christ. . . . The same authority of the apostolic churches will afford defense of the other Gospels also, which we possess equally through their means, and according to their usage. I mean the Gospels of John and Matthew—while that which Mark published may be affirmed to be Peter’s, whose interpreter Mark was. For men usually ascribe Luke’s form of the Gospel to Paul.” (Tertullian (c. 207, W), 3.350.)
“Concerning the four Gospels which alone are uncontroverted in the church of God under heaven, I have learned by tradition that the Gospel according to Matthew (who was at one time a tax collector and afterwards an apostle of Jesus Christ) was written first. He composed it in the Hebrew tongue and published it for the converts from Judaism. The second one written was that according to Mark, who wrote it according to the instruction of Peter. For Peter, in his general epistles, acknowledged Mark as a son, saying, “The church that is in Babylon, elect together with you, salutes you. And so does Mark, my son.” And third, was the one according to Luke, which he composed for the converts from the Gentiles. This is the Gospel commended by Paul. Last of all, there is the one according to John.” (Origen (c. 245, E), 9.412.)
Commenting on some of the quotations from the early Christian writings, Kruger has observed:
“The question we have been asking in this chapter is a simple one. At what point did Christians consider their own books to be “Scripture”? Was this a late- second- century phenomenon largely due to the influence of Irenaeus, as some scholars suggest? The historical evidence surveyed here suggests a very different picture than the one that is typically presented. Not only do others in Irenaeus’s own time period already receive many of the New Testament books as Scripture (for example, Muratorian Fragment, Clement of Alexandria, Theophilus of Antioch), but this trend can be traced even further back into the second century. Justin Martyr appears to know the four canonical Gospels and indicates that they were used as Scripture in worship alongside the Old Testament during his day. In addition, Papias, Barnabas , Ignatius, Polycarp, 1 Clement , 2 Peter, and 1 Timothy also seem to regard a number of Christian writings as Scripture. They often refer to them expressly as “Scripture” (sometimes introducing them with “it is written”) or regard them as possessing apostolic authority— which, functionally, would be on par with the authority of Scripture. While the boundaries of the church’s Scriptures during this early time were still fairly fluid (and would not be resolved for centuries), there seems to be little doubt that the church did, in fact, have Scriptures…One should also not forget that the evidence above is not just from a single church father, but from a variety of sources spread over a number of different regions. While any individual piece of evidence might be contested or questioned, it is the extent of the evidence that proves to be the compelling factor. If we are correct that Christians began to view their books as Scripture much earlier than Irenaeus— perhaps even by the turn of the century— then this provides noteworthy confirmation of the arguments we have been making throughout this volume. We have argued that canon was not a late ecclesiastical development but was something that would have grown naturally and innately out of the earliest Christian movement. Moreover, we argued that even the authors of the New Testament appeared to have some awareness that they were writing Scripture. All of these factors together serve to challenge the “big bang” theory of canon that argues that the canon was forcibly planted within the soil of the church by later ecclesiastical powers (whether Irenaeus or others) who were keen to refute the heresies of their day. Instead, the evidence we have seen here suggests the canon began more like a seed that was present in the soil of the church from the very beginning, growing gradually and consistently over time.” (Michael J. Kruger, The Question Of Canon: Challenging The Status Quo In The New Testament Debate, 202-203 (Kindle Edition, emphasis added, M.T.); Downers Grove, Illinois; InterVaristy Press)
All of the evidence thus far demonstrates the genuineness of the New Testament Scriptures.
However, please notice one final proof of the genuineness of the New Testament : the testimony of the earliest enemies and adversaries of the church!
“Infidel writers of the first four centuries also wrote favoring our authors. The Emperor Julian, known as “the apostate,” wrote in 361 a work against Christianity; but he nowhere expressed a doubt as to either the books of Christians or their authors. It is almost certain that had occasion admitted of it, he would have challenged the genuineness of the books. Porphyry, universally conceded to have been the most formidable opponent to Christianity, wrote in 270, and spoke of Matthew as “their evangelist.” In 176, Celsus, esteemed by modern infidels as a wonderful philosopher, wrote a book against Christianity entitled A True Discourse, of which Origen has preserved fragments. But so unlike was he to his modern infidel brethren that he admitted the existence of the Christian or New Testament writings, and their genuineness…Whatever the reason, it must be apparent to every unprejudiced mind that earnest seekers after truth, who ignore such testimony accessible to the average scholar, are inexcusably guilty of trifling with indisputable evidence which would be convincing in any civil court. Such testimony has been provided in abundance by the friends and foes of the lowly Nazarene- our Lord in glory- and it proves that these”…holy men of God,” to whom their writings were assigned, “spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:21).”” (James Todd, quoted by W.E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of Old Testament Words, 167-168,; Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Company)
Everest sheds more light on these fascinating topics:
“All the early adversaries of Christianity granted the genuineness of the New Testament books. These adversaries were men of talent and learning. By worldly interests and intense hatred of Christianity they were urged to use against it every possible weapon. The fact that they did not show its sacred books to be spurious is proof that they were not able to do so….”Testimony of Julian. The Emperor Julian composed his work against Christianity in 361. He united talent, learning, power, and persecuting zeal. If anything could have been said against the genuineness of the New Testament he would have been eager to make his attack from this side, but he did not. He bore witness to the genuineness of the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. He concedes their early date and quotes them as the genuine works of their reputed authors. He quotes Romans, Corinthians, and Galatians. His whole attack assumes the genuineness and credibility of the New Testament…”2. Testimony of Hierocles. In 303 he was president of Bithynia; a cruel persecutor, and a sarcastic writer. He concedes the genuineness, and confines his efforts to the hunting up of internal flaws and contradictions. He refers to six of the eight authors of the New Testament. 3. Testimony of Porphyry. He was the most severe and formidable adversary of the primitive church…”He wrote about 270. He was well acquainted with the New Testament. He has plain references to Matthew, Mark, John, Acts, and Galatians. There is no trace of a suspicion that the sacred books were spurious. That he would have made this point, if possible, is evident from the fact that he did attack the book of Daniel in this manner…4. “Testimony of Celsus. He flourished about 176, and about 76 years after the death of the Apostle John. What we know about his work entitled ‘The True Word’ has been preserved by Origen. More than eighty quotations, made by him from the New Testament, have been thus preserved. His whole argument proceeds upon the concessions that the books he quoted were in existence, were held in high esteem by the churches, and were genuine. Thus by a plain and independent path we can trace the New Testament back to the Apostolic Age. It is also a remarkable fact that these bitter enemies are made to bear this unwilling, but decisive, testimony.” Harvey W. Everest, The Divine Demonstration: A Textbook Of Christian Evidence, 54-55; Nashville, TN; Gospel Advocate Company)
When the evidence is carefully weighed, we see that the New Testament Scriptures are, indeed, genuine.
Are The New Testament Scriptures Credible?
Now, we must examine whether or not the Apostles of Christ and their companions were accurate in the histories which they recorded.
One of the first evidences of the credibility of these Books is found in the early dates of their writings. While many teach that the Books of the New Testament were written late in the first century, the facts show that they were actually written very early on in the first century.
What kind of evidences are we talking about?
Let’s first consider this unpopular and oft criticized detail: there have been manuscripts of the New Testament Scriptures found among the well-known Dead Sea Scrolls! Cooper tells us:
“The caves at Qumran are famous for the hoard of Old Testament and other manuscripts that have been found there. But the thing which receives the least publicity (if any publicity at all) is the fact that the caves have also yielded fragments of New Testament books. This absence of publicity – this blanket denial of their identity is not to be wondered at. The fact of the matter is this, that these manuscripts were deposited in the caves at Qumran by the year AD 68 at the very latest, when Qumran and the surrounding area was overrun by the Roman 10th Legion, and according to the critics, the New Testament – especially the Gospels – had not yet been written by that time…Cave 4 at Qumran is of some interest to us here. In that cave was discovered a particular fragment known today as 4QAlpha. Though not actually a fragment of Mark’s Gospel – it was originally thought to be a medical text it does reflect the healing miracle of the blind man recorded in Mark 8:22- 26, and moreover contains the New Testament names of Caiaphas, Peter (the first time that this name has been found in an Hebrew/Aramaic document), and Aquila…Fragments of various New Testament books were themselves found in the caves of Qumran, most notably in Cave 7. One that is of particular interest is called 7Q5, and carries nothing less than a passage from Mark 6:52- 53. 3…identifying other fragments from Cave 7 as parts of the New Testament, especially fragment 7Q4 which contains 1 Timothy 3:16- 4:3….The discoveries in Cave 7 at Qumran – and the commendable diligence of O’Callaghan who identified them – proves that what the critics have been teaching all these years is wrong, misinformed and mistaken on all levels. Archaeology has never spoken plainer than it speaks right now. Copies of the New Testament books of Mark, 1 Timothy, James, Acts, Romans and 2 Peter (at least) were all in circulation by AD 68 at the very latest, and clearly years before. But what is more, they were in circulation internationally and not just locally amongst Christian groups or churches….We spoke earlier of the lack of publicity which surrounds the discovery of New Testament books – or rather their fragments – at Qumran, and their omission is pointedly displayed by Emanuel Tov, who has issued a ‘complete’ list of all the Biblical texts discovered in the Qumran caves. 22 It is indeed a prodigious and comprehensive list, except that when it comes to Cave 7 he omits all reference to the New Testament fragments which were discovered there….As we have seen, represented amongst these ‘unclassified’ fragments are the New Testament books of 1 Timothy (7Q4); Mark’s Gospel (7Q5) (7Q6, 1) (7Q7) (7Q15); James (7Q8); Acts (7Q6); Romans (7Q9); and 2 Peter (7Q10). How these can all be omitted from a list which claims to be ‘complete’ is something to be wondered at. (Bill Cooper, The Authenticity Of The New Testament: part One-The Gospels, 300-470 (Kindle Edition))
Speaking of these facts, Geisler has written:
“Jose *O’Callahan, a Spanish Jesuit paleographer, made headlines around the world in 1972 when he announced that he had translated a piece of the Gospel of Mark on a DSS fragment. This was the earliest known piece of Mark. Fragments from cave 7 had previously been dated between 50B.C. and A.D. 50 and listed under “not identified” and classified as “Biblical Texts.” O’Callahan eventually identified nine fragments….A date beforeA.D. 50 leaves no time for mythological embellishment of the records. They would have to be accepted as historical. It would also show Mark to be one of the earlier Gospels. Further, since these manuscripts are not originals but copies, it would reveal that the New Testament was “published”—copied and disseminated—during the life time of the writers. Itwould also reveal the existence of the New Testament canon during this early period, with pieces representing every major section of the New Testament: Gospels, Acts, and both Pauline and General Epistles.” (Norman Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia Of Christian Apologetics, 188 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Books)
Friends, the evidence is clear that the New Testament Scriptures started to be written at a very early date, well in the Eyewitness period. This is especially interesting when we consider the history of the Magdalene Papyrus (also known in some circles as the Jesus Papyrus):
“The Magdalen Papyrus includes three fragments which contain a total of 24 lines, written on both sides in the format of a codex rather than a scroll….In 1995, however, German archeologist and professor of New Testament history Carsten Peter Thiede argued that the Magdalen fragments were older than previously thought.  Yes, they were written as a codex rather than a scroll, he said, but that didn’t justify a younger date. He made a case they were written in the first century, during the actual lifetime of the apostles. Thiede had been examining the Magdalen fragments while they were in the custodianship of the Oxford library. He used a new scanning laser microscope to measure the height and length of the ink and even the angle of the stylus the scribe had used. Thiede did a paleographic comparison of the Magdalen fragments with four other first century manuscripts dated A.D. 58 from Qumran, ca A.D. 79 from Herculaneum, A.D. 73-74 from Masada and A.D. 65-66 from Oxyrhynchus. Thiede concluded from careful comparison of the letter shapes that P64 had been wrongly dated too late and was more likely written in the first century. If Thiede is correct, then P64 was copied while Matthew and the other eyewitnesses were still alive….These ancient fragments of the New Testament are one of the many pieces of evidence we have that the Gospels and epistles were written very early, by the apostles themselves, and certainly not by drunk monks in the Middle Ages.” (Chuck Missler, How We Got Our Bible, 1051-1080 (Kindle Edition); Coeur d’Alene, ID; Koinonia House)
Well, how early into the first century was the Magdalene Papyrus written? Cooper has well written:
“Our attention is drawn to the work of Dr Carsten Thiede, and his book, The Jesus Papyrus (see Bibliography). Suffice it here to say that a thorough and scientific analysis undertaken by Dr Thiede of the Gospel fragments known to scholars as the Magdalen Papyrus (named after Magdalen College Oxford, where it is kept), dates this particular copy of Matthew’s Gospel to times so close to the Resurrection, that it could easily have been copied or read by an eyewitness of our Lord’s entire ministry. To be brief, the Magdalen Papyrus was copied out between the mid-40s and AD 50. But we must also bear in mind that this particular papyrus was itself but a copy of an even earlier original, though by how many removes we cannot know.” (Bill Cooper, Old Light On The Roman Church: A Consideration In Four Parts Of Certain Neglected Areas Of Church History, 599-605 (Kindle Edition))
Many have, sadly, been weaned on the notion that the New Testament was not written and known for centuries after the time of Christ, when a council of the Roman Catholic church (allegedly) declared some of the books “inspired.”
Yet if this is true, how is it that the Apostle Paul refers to the Books of Luke and Matthew as “Scripture” (1 Timothy 5:18; Luke 10:7; Matthew 10:10)? Furthermore, if the Apostles did not know that their writings were inspired Scripture, why does the Apostle Peter refer to the writings of Paul as such (2 Peter 3:14-6)?
Also, the Apostles clearly establish in other words the authoritative nature of their writings (1 Corinthians 14:17; Colossians 4:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:27; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; 3:13).
The early Christians were very familiar with the New Testament Scriptures, and their authority:
“Here’s another astonishing fact: the early Church fathers—Origen, Clement, Tertullian, Irenaeus, Ignatius, Polycarp, etc.—prolifically cited the New Testament in their writings. Just a few of the early fathers alone account for 36,000 New Testament citations, but the number of such citations from all the Church fathers exceeds one million. “So extensive are these citations,” say Komoszewski, Sawyer, and Wallace, “that if all other sources for our knowledge of the text of the New Testament were destroyed, they would be sufficient alone for the reconstruction of practically the entire New Testament.” 71 And as Sir Fredric Kenyon observes, “The number of manuscripts of the New Testament, of early translations from it, and of quotations from it in the oldest writers of the Church, is so large that it is practically certain that the true reading of every doubtful passage is preserved in some one or other of these ancient authorities. This can be said of no other book in the ancient world.”” (David Limbaugh, Jesus On Trial: A Lawyer Affirms The Truth Of The Gospel, 4060-4066 (Kindle Edition); Washington, DC; Regnery Publishing)
In discussing the interesting development of the New Testament canon, another researcher has clearly pointed out that from the earliest times, the Books of the New Testament were well-known to the early church:
“The question we have been asking in this chapter is a simple one. At what point did Christians consider their own books to be “Scripture”? Was this a late-second-century phenomenon largely due to the influence of Irenaeus, as some scholars suggest? The historical evidence surveyed here suggests a very different picture than the one that is typically presented. Not only do others in Irenaeus’s own time period already receive many of the New Testament books as Scripture (for example, Muratorian Fragment, Clement of Alexandria, Theophilus of Antioch), but this trend can be traced even further back into the second century. Justin Martyr appears to know the four canonical Gospels and indicates that they were used as Scripture in worship alongside the Old Testament during his day. In addition, Papias, Barnabas , Ignatius, Polycarp, 1 Clement , 2 Peter, and 1 Timothy also seem to regard a number of Christian writings as Scripture. They often refer to them expressly as “Scripture” (sometimes introducing them with “it is written”) or regard them as possessing apostolic authority—which, functionally, would be on par with the authority of Scripture. While the boundaries of the church’s Scriptures during this early time were still fairly fluid (and would not be resolved for centuries), there seems to be little doubt that the church did, in fact, have Scriptures.” (Michael J. Kruger, The Question Of Canon: Challenging The Status Quo In The New Testament Debate, 195 (Kindle Edition); Downers Grove, Illinois; InterVarsity Press)
Now, why does the early writing of the New Testament Scriptures argue for the credibility of these Books and what they report?
First, the events which had taken place during the life of Christ would have been fresh and easily recalled within the minds of Christ’s Apostles.
Second, the early writing of these events would have been well within the lifetimes of the eyewitness period. Why would this matter? Simply stated, if the writers of the New Testament had been guilty of editing the facts about Jesus (or “fudging the facts,” as we might say), they would have been immediately exposed as frauds and Christianity would have died in its infancy. However, that is not what you see happening! Instead, the facts show that the enemies of Christianity freely acknowledged the basic facts put forward by the Apostles of Christ, yet simply refused to accept the theological implications of these important matters.
The early writing of the New Testament Books (especially the Gospels) is a strong evidence in favor of the credibility of these Scriptures.
Another important factor which argues for the credibility of the New Testament Scriptures is the fact that the Apostles often appealed to the testimony of clearly hostile witnesses in promoting their defense of the Gospel.
In discussing especially how some ancient pagan Roman documents confirm the credibility of Christ, Bill Cooper has well written:
“The chances of a local rumour doing the rounds in Jerusalem reaching the emperor’s ears back in Rome are extremely slight. To reach the emperor at all, the rumour would have to hitch a ride to Rome on the back of an official communication, and there is good evidence indeed that just such a communication was sent from Pontius Pilate to the Emperor Tiberius about the Crucifixion and the Resurrection of our Lord. While that is not something that the critics would like to hear, it is important enough for us to consider just what this evidence is. We need firstly to bear in mind the fact that such a communication – an update on events in the province of Judaea – would be nothing extraordinary. Such communications were an expected and everyday occurrence, and woe betide the governor who neglected to send them. At the least, dereliction, treasonous thoughts or sabotage would be suspected. Nevertheless, this report must have been something special, because it seems to have had a profound effect on Tiberius himself who received it, Tiberius putting a motion to the Senate to have this Jesus added to the gods of Rome. Happily, the Senate declined the invitation because they’d hitherto heard nothing about this Man….Now, just who was Tertullian writing to? Was it a friend or colleague? – a sympathiser of the Christians perhaps? No, by no means. He was writing to the magistrates of Carthage, to the very men who were then persecuting the Christians. To invite them to consult the state archives to test the truth of what he was saying was a brave move and a foolish one if the annals had not existed, or had told a story contrary to his own….Again the invitation to consult the state archives. Who was Justin writing to? none other than the emperor of Rome at that time, Antoninus Pius, his sons, and the Senate of Rome. That again is quite a readership, and Justin would have been the most foolish man on earth to invite a hostile emperor to consult the archives on Pontius Pilate if those records had not been there to consult. Moreover, those archives must have held papers on the Crucifixion of Jesus and His subsequent Resurrection, including a report on the rumour that Matthew records about the disciples being thought to have stolen His body. It’s a wonder that the critics forget to mention these things. But there’s more….In other words, what we have just read about the report from Pilate in Justin, Tertullian and Eusebius, would not be there for us to read unless that report had at one time existed, and had been available in the state archives for others to consult some two hundred years or more afterwards. It is as simple and as straightforward as that. The critics can howl that it isn’t true till they’re blue in the face if they wish, but eggs is eggs, and facts are facts are facts!”. (Bill Cooper, The Authenticity Of The New Testament: Part One-The Gospels,1272-1319 (Kindle Edition))
Even the writings of the ancient Jews confirm these same basic facts! In researching the writings of ancient Jewish traditions during the first century, another scholar has pointed out some of the ways that these rabbinic writings confirm the basic tenants of the New Testament:
“We learn from the Jewish sources that Jesus was the firstborn son of Mary (the rabbis). He had followers (Josephus) or gathered disciples (the rabbis); he taught them and worked miracles (Josephus, the rabbis). He was put on trial and died by formal execution (Josephus, the rabbis). Either the Jews alone carried out his trial and execution (the rabbis), or the Romans did in some cooperation with Jewish leaders (Josephus). Jesus’ followers claimed that he rose from the dead (the rabbis), and his movement continued (Josephus, the rabbis). Jesus’ brother James was a leading figure in Jerusalem after Jesus’ death (Josephus). While the main facts about Jesus’ life were known, very little if anything of his teaching was remembered.” (Robert E. Van Voorst, Jesus Outside The New Testament: An Introduction To The Ancient Evidence, 2100-2105 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; William B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company)
Still another important evidence regarding the credibility of the New Testament lies in the fact that the Apostles of Christ encouraged (and at times even commanded) Christians and unbelievers to carefully examine the evidences of the things which they were affirming (1 Corinthians 15:1-8; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 John 4:1). If the Apostles had been trying to present a false manifesto of Jesus of Nazareth, they would not encourage people to carefully track down and examine he evidences; for them they would the risk of the entire scheme falling apart and Christianity being exposed as a deception before the movement even got started!
Finally, please consider that the writings of the Apostles have been carefully examined and scrutinized by the experts in legal representatives and have been found to be historically accurate.
First, please hear the testimony of Simon Greenleaf, who lived from 1783-1853. During his life, he was a professor of law at Harvard University. In fact, he produced the standard three volume set of books that are still used today to teach lawyers the various rules of legal conduct, as well as determining the criteria for determining the credibility of legal documents for examination in courts of law. When he applied his vast expertise and investigative skills to determine whether or not the New Testament Gospels were credible, what did he find?
“The great truths which the apostles declared, were, that Christ had risen from the dead, and that only through repentance from sin, and faith in him, could men hope for salvation. This doctrine they asserted with one voice, everywhere, not only under the greatest discouragements, but in the face of the most appalling terrors that can be presented to the mind of man. Their master had recently perished as a malefactor, by the sentence of a public tribunal. His religion sought to overthrow the religions of the whole world. The laws of every country were against the teachings of his disciples. The interests and passions of all the rulers and great men in the world were against them. The fashion of the world was against them. Propagating this new faith, even in the most inoffensive and peaceful manner, they could expect nothing but contempt, opposition, revilings, bitter persecutions, stripes, imprisonments, torments and cruel deaths. Yet this faith they zealously did propagate; and all these [pg 026] miseries they endured undismayed, nay, rejoicing. As one after another was put to a miserable death, the survivors only prosecuted their work with increased vigour and resolution. The annals of military warfare afford scarcely an example of the like heroic constancy, patience and unblenching courage. They had every possible motive to review carefully the grounds of their faith, and the evidences of the great facts and truths which they asserted; and these motives were pressed upon their attention with the most melancholy and terrific frequency. It was therefore impossible that they could have persisted in affirming the truths they have narrated, had not Jesus actually risen from the dead, and had they not known this fact as certainly as they knew any other fact. 53”. (Simon Greenleaf, LL.D., An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists, by the Rules of Evidence Administered in Courts of Justice. With an Account of the Trial of Jesus, 1356-1372 (Kindle Edition); A. Maxwell & Son, 32, Bell Yard, Lincoln’s Inn; W. Smith, 113, Fleet Street; Hodges & Smith, Dublin; T. & J. Clark, Edinburgh. England)
We could also add to this the testimony of J. Warmer Wallace, an expert homicide detective who likewise turned his learned expertise to the study of the New Testament Scriptures:
“We’ve examined the four important areas that jurors must consider when determining the reliability of eyewitnesses. The most reasonable inference is that the gospel writers were present, corroborated, accurate , and unbiased . If this is the case, we can conclude with confidence that their testimony is reliable . We’ve done the heavy lifting needed to determine the reliability of these accounts; we’ve been diligent and faithful as jurors and have considered the evidence. It’s time to make a decision.” (J. Warner Wallace, Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates The Claims Of The Gospels, 4547 (Kindle Edition); Colorado Springs, Colorado; DavidCook)
We could also include along with these criteria the facts of the apostolic suffering for their testimony, as well as the findings of archaeology, and it all together leads to the same inescapable conclusion: the New Testament Scriptures are, indeed, credible.
Do The New Testament Scriptures Teach That Jesus Christ Is The Son Of God?
Having established that the New Testament Scriptures are both genuine and credible, we need only ask one if these documents teach that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (keeping in mind the definition of this phrase that we put forth earlier in this inquiry).
Please consider the following references:
John 1:1-In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 5:18-Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.
John 5:22-23-22 For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, 23 that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.
John 8:58-Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”
John 10:30- I and My Father are one.
Philippians 2:5-7-5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.
2 Peter 1:1-Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:
Hebrews 1:8-But to the Son He says: “YOUR THRONE, O GOD, IS FOREVER AND EVER; A SCEPTER OF RIGHTEOUSNESS IS THE SCEPTER OF YOUR KINGDOM.
These references (and many others could be cited) all demonstrate that the New Testament Scriptures affirm the Deity Of Jesus Christ, and establish that He is, in fact, the Son of God.
Adding all of these facts together, we may conclude that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Since our initial argument is in valid format, and since the premises have been proven true, then the conclusion MUST follow.
Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
Jesus Christ was sent by God to pay the price for the sins of mankind. He died for us, was buried, and arose from the dead on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). Even today, He commands believers (John 8:24), to repent of sin (Acts 17:30-31), confess their faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God (Acts 8:35-39), and be baptized into Christ (Acts 2:38; 22:16).
Why not obey Him today?
If you are a child of God who has turned away from Christ, why not today repent of that sin and confess it to the Lord in prayer (1 John 1:8-2:2)?
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.