Recap: In the previous entries on apologetics, I’ve shared the emphasis God puts on knowledge and the unique composition of the the bible. In this entry, I’ll share the next reason I believe what the bible says and why I think you should too. The bible was not written in a vaccuum. No one just made up stories and convinced people to believe them. The bible was actually written by eye witnesses during the lifetime of other eye witnesses.
The most common book of the bible people refer to a person that’s interested in the claims made of Jesus is The Gospel of John. Why? Because John’s purpose of writing was so that we might believe. He says it outright (John 20:31). It’s the most popular testimony concerning Christ, but that one isn’t my personal go to. What I like to refer people to is The Gospel of Luke followed by The Acts of the Apostles. Why? Because unlike the other gospels, Luke actually was NOT an eye witness.
That may seem strange. Why pick the guy that wasn’t there? It’s antithetical to what I claimed this post is going to be about, right? Well, no. Just the opposite. Luke wasn’t there, but he had access to a lot of people that were. He was a companion of Paul and a brother of Titus (the latter claim is disputed by some). In addition to these uniqute relationships, Luke was both a physician and historian. He wasn’t going to take anyone’s word for anything. He went on an investigation.
Let’s get some context for the political climate of the day. There were some serious consequences for proclaming Christ as Lord in His day. People were being crucified, stoned, fed to lions, flogged, boiled in oil, set ablaze and suffering other horrendous punishments (It’s a testimony in and of itself that there were people that witnessed the power of Christ that went from shouting “crucify Him” to being willing to be so brutally murdered, but that’s another post by itself). Yet, Luke had been hired by a dignitary of the day to present the original “Case for Christ”. Both Luke and Theophilus, whom the former refers to the latter as “excellent” (ESV), had something to lose. Not only their reputations, but their lives as well.
In the results of Luke’s investigation, he opens with stating that he wrote an “orderly account”. As a historian, accuracy, structure and chronology are important to his presentation. This is what he’s alluding to. As you read along, you’ll see things about Jesus’ close relatives. Luke had to have interviewed them for his report. Mary was likely one his primary sources. Luke also had a relationship with other eye witnesses and referenced his knowledge of the other accounts given by them (possibly a reference to Matthew & Mark’s gospels that were likely already circulating).
After Luke’s account of the life, death and ressurection of Christ, He continues in The Book of Acts. In that second work, also written for Theophilus, Luke records the post ressurection encounters with Jesus and the explosive growth of the early church. He’s not only documenting the difficulties and persecutions the early Christians are facing, he’s assuring someone of affluence that he can be sure that what he has heard is true. It was worth the risk of losing everything up until life to follow Jesus. Differing from The Gospel of Luke, the author was present for events documented here.
Learning all this, I ask myself a few questions. Why aren’t there any documents of antiquity disputing what Luke and the other authors of the New Testament proclaim? Where are the publicly disputed objections? How could the apostles go from running scared after Jesus was arrested and brutally murdered to proclaiming His name just days after His execution? How does one go from hiding and meeting in secret to boldly preaching and being crucified upside down? Why would the authors of the bible publicly address the churches they were building with so much risk at stake? Paul lays it out in 1 Corinthians 15:17.
I’ll finish this with some verses alluding to eye witness testimony of Christ.
This is just scratching the surface. I suggest reading Luke’s gospel as well as the book of Acts. Jesus’ ministry was public. There were literally thousands of eye witnesses to things He said and did before and after His execution. The miracles done in His name post resurrection were public. This did not happen in a vaccuum!