The Righter Report

Eyewitnesses to Jesus

June 18, 2020

Conservative scholars have largely agreed that a great deal of eyewitness testimony is recorded in the first century New Testament accounts. For starters, the gospels of Matthew and John were written by two of Jesus’ original disciples. The early church fathers were UNANIMOUS in the authorship of the four traditional Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Early church tradition claims that Mark’s gospel was based on the preaching of the apostle Peter (another eyewitness of Jesus’ life and ministry). And Luke’s gospel begins by noting the importance of eyewitness testimony to the ministry of Jesus:

Luke 1:1-4 has the following:

“Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.”

Peter (in his second epistle) wrote: “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”

In addition, the apostle John begins his first epistle this way:

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:1-4).

Next was the Apostle Paul, who wrote about seeing Jesus after his resurrection: “Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not the result of my work in the Lord?” (1 Corinthians 9:1)

What’s more, there were over 500 individuals who reportedly saw the risen Jesus.

Paul wrote about this in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8:

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also…”

The 1st Corinthian passage above is one of the oldest creeds in Christianity and is said to have originated just a handful of years after the resurrection of Jesus.

Liberal theologian John Dominic Crossan writes,

“Paul wrote to the Corinthians from Ephesus in the early 50’s C.E. But he says in 1st Corinthians 15:3 that “I handed on to you as of first importance that which I in turn received.” The most likely source and time for his reception of that tradition would have been Jerusalem in the early 30’s when – according to Galatians 1:18 – he “went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas (Peter) and stayed with him fifteen days.”

Regarding the early dating of 1 Corinthians 15, Scholar Dr. Gary Habermas notes:

“Even critical scholars agree that it has an exceptionally early origin.” Ulrich Wilckens (German historian and New Testament scholar) declares that this creed “indubitably goes back to the oldest phase of all in the history of primitive Christianity.” Joachim Jeremias (German Lutheran theologian and scholar of Near Eastern Studies) calls it “the earliest tradition of all.” Even the non-Christian scholar Gerd Ludemann says that, “I do insist that the discovery of pre-Pauline confessional foundations is one of the great achievements in the New Testament scholarship.”

Even Atheist and New Testament critic Bart Ehrman reached the following conclusion about the eyewitness testimony in the Gospels: “This (the Gospels) is as close to eyewitness testimony as we can get.”

God bless

– The Righter Report

June 18, 2020 - Posted by | Evangelical, God, History, Human Interest, Theology, Theology Articles | , , , ,

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