Tag Archives: apologetics

Did Jesus Really Exist?

 

BibleQA(new)

Introduction:

  1. One of the many attacks against Christianity and the validity of the Bible is that Jesus Christ never even existed.
    1. Albert Schweitzer said “Jesus never had an existence.”
    2. One of the founders of our nation, Thomas Paine, said Jesus was not a real person.
  2. This accusation truly cuts to the core of belief in the Bible.
  3. If Jesus did not exist, then there is no justification for Christians or Christianity.
  4. If Jesus did not exist, the entire NT is useless!
  5. If Jesus did not exist, we have wasted our lives in studying about Him.
  6. The purpose of today’s lesson is to examine the evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ.

The Gospel records show the existence of Jesus Christ.

Intellectual honesty demands that all ancient documents be treated as historically accurate until proven otherwise.

  1. This is the standard used for all other historical records.
  2. It is this standard that gives us an enormous part of our knowledge of history.
  3. We know of wars and dates from history because of documents and inscriptions.
  4. The Bible should be given the same assumption of authenticity.
    1. It is an ancient document.
    2. It claims to be a reliable historical account.
    3. It has NEVER been proven false by archaeology or other historical documents.

The gospel records all attest to the existence of Jesus.

    1. His birth is recorded (Matthew 2:1).
    2. His earthly parents are described (Luke 2:48).
    3. His friends are mentioned (Matthew 10:1-4).
    4. Many of His teachings are recorded (Matthew 5-7).
    5. He was hungry (Matthew 4:2).
    6. His hometown is mentioned (Luke 2:52).
    7. His trials are recorded (John 18-19).
    8. His death is described (Mark 15:24-37).
    9. His burial is recorded (Mark 15:42-46).

The gospel records were written by reliable historians.

  1. Matthew was a disciple of Jesus Christ.
    1. Matthew wrote, giving his occupation: a tax collector (Matthew 10:3).
      1. If Matthew was not a reliable historian, he would have left that bit of information out.
        1. Tax collectors were seen as traitors to the Jewish people because they took money from Jews and paid it to Rome.
        2. Matthew’s primary purpose in writing was to show the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah.
        3. If Matthew was willing to lie about anything in his writing, he would have lied about his occupation.
        4. Lying about his occupation would have taken away some animosity towards his writing by the Jews.
    2. Being a disciple (one of the 12 apostles) of Jesus Christ, Matthew had first-hand knowledge of the things he wrote.
    3. He was an eye-witness to the life and teachings of Jesus.
  2. Mark was a companion to two different apostles.
    1. Mark was a nephew of Barnabas (Colossians 4:10); Barnabas was a close associate of the apostles in Jerusalem (Acts 4:36) as well as a close friend of Paul (Acts 9:26-28).
    2. Mark was with Paul on his first missionary journey (Acts 12:25), though not on the second (Acts 15:37-39).
    3. Mark was requested to come to Paul while he was in prison (II Timothy 4:11).
    4. Mark was also a companion of Peter (I Peter 5:13).
    5. The church in Jerusalem gathered at his mother’s house, indicating that he was possibly familiar with all the apostles (Acts 12:12).
    6. Some believe Mark mentions himself in Mark 12:51-52, which—if true—would have Mark following Jesus while he was on earth.
    7. The evidence shows that Mark would have been a person who could easily ascertain the facts from multiple eyewitnesses, and may have even been an eyewitness to many of the events himself.
  3. Luke was a dedicated historian and a companion of an apostle.
    1. Luke declares that his gospel account came from eyewitness accounts (Luke 1:2).
    2. He declares that he writes because he has “perfect understanding” of the events
      • ASV says “have traced the course of all things.”
      • This is to say that Luke claimed to have done extensive research to make sure his account was true.
    3. He states that his account is trustworthy (Luke 1:4).
    4. He was a travelling companion of the apostle Paul (Colossians 4:14, II Timothy 4:11).
    5. His second book (Acts) has been said to be written by a “historian of the first-degree” by a man who was an atheist intent on proving Acts false (Sir William Ramsay).
    6. Because of his historical reliability (especially seen in the people and places mentioned in Acts), Luke gains instant credibility as a historian.
    7. Though Paul was not an apostle during the lifetime of Jesus, he was likely in Jerusalem during much of Jesus’ ministry, and would have been able to pass on eyewitness accounts as well.
  4. John was one of Jesus’ most trusted and beloved apostles.
    1. He is called “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:20-24).
    2. He was one of the first disciples to follow Jesus after His baptism (Mark 1:16-20, possibly John 1:35-41).
    3. He was one of only three (the others being James and Peter) who were chosen to see Jesus transfigured (Luke 9:28-36).
    4. He was one of the three taken to keep watch while Jesus prayed (26:36-38).
    5. He was possibly at the trial of Jesus (John 18:15).
    6. He was at the cross while Jesus was dying (John 19:25-27).
    7. He claimed to teach only what he heard, saw, examined, and touched (I John 1:1-4).
    8. John was an eyewitness, a companion with Jesus during his entire ministry, and would be in a perfect position to write about the life of Jesus.

Early Christian writers attest to the truth of the existence of Jesus.

  1. The epistles of the apostles state that Jesus truly existed.
    1. Paul spends an entire chapter dealing with the resurrection of Jesus (I Corinthians 15).
      1. In order for one to be raised from the dead, he had to have died.
      2. In order for one to have died, he would have to have been alive.
      3. Paul, therefore, asserts that Jesus lived.
    2. Paul states that Jesus came to earth as a man and died on a cross (Philippians 2:5-8).
    3. John states that he was an eyewitness to Jesus (I John 1:1-4).
    4. Peter describes being on the mount of transfiguration with Jesus (II Peter 1:16-18).
    5. Jude condemned those who denied Jesus as Master (showing He existed – Jude 4).
      1. He spoke of the apostles of Jesus Christ (showing he believed in the truth of the gospel accounts – Jude 17).
      2. He called himself the brother of James (likely James, the brother of Jesus – Matthew 13:55).
    6. James calls himself a servant of Jesus Christ (James 1:1), and was likely the brother of Jesus (Galatians 1:19).
  2. The post-Biblical writings of Christians show that Jesus actually existed.
    1. Christianity had spread across the Roman Empire, and it was being fought tooth and nail by the leaders of Rome.
    2. Still, Christians wrote in order to convince the heathen (Jews and Gentiles) that Jesus was indeed the Christ.
    3. Justin Martyr wrote trying to convince Trypho (a Jew) that Jesus was the Christ prophesied about in the OT, and that he was resurrected (indicating He had actually lived).
    4. Papias claimed to get some of his information from those who were disciples of Jesus Himself, as well as from those who studied under the 12 apostles.
    5. Quadratus spoke of knowing some of those who were healed or raised from the dead by Jesus and His disciples, showing a historical belief that Jesus existed.

Non-Christian writings prove that Jesus existed.

  1. Josephus mentions Jesus Christ as a real person.
    1. In Antiquities of the Jews, he states, “About this time came Jesus, a wise man, if indeed it is appropriate to call him a man. For he was a performer of paradoxical feats, a teacher of people who accept the unusual with pleasure, and he won over many of the Jews and also many Greeks. He was the Christ. When Pilate, upon the accusation of the first men amongst us, condemned him to be crucified, those who had formerly loved him did not cease to follow him, for he appeared to them on the third day, living again, as the divine prophets foretold, along with a myriad of other marvellous things concerning him. And the tribe of the Christians, so named after him, has not disappeared to this day.
      1. Some textual critics say that part of that quote was added or embellished by later Christian scribes in order to make their case for Jesus.
      2. Other manuscripts have been found which read differently, but still they mention Jesus: “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 their loyalty to him. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion, and that he was alive. Accordingly they believed that he was the Messiah, concerning whom the Prophets have recounted wonders.
    2. In another passage of the book (one which is not disputed), he mentions James, the brother of Jesus.
      1. “Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the Sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned.”
      2. Josephus did not believe in Jesus as the Christ, but fully acknowledged that there was a man named Jesus who was crucified (as in the earlier passage) that was called by many “Christ.”
    3. This report is from a Jew, who was opposed to Christianity; yet, he still admits that Jesus was a real person.
  2. Pliny the Younger mentions followers of Christ.
    1. Pliny was a governor of sorts in Bithynia shortly after the first century.
    2. He wrote to the emperor asking what to do with the Christians, and stating what he had been doing up to that point.
    3. In a letter to the emperor Trajan, he stated, “Those who denied that they were or had been Christians, when they invoked the gods in words dictated by me, offered prayer with incense and wine to your image, which I had ordered to be brought for this purpose together with statues of the gods, and moreover cursed Christ — none of which those who are really Christians, it is said, can be forced to do — these I thought should be discharged. Others named by the informer declared that they were Christians, but then denied it, asserting that they had been but had ceased to be, some three years before, others many years, some as much as twenty-five years. They all worshiped your image and the statues of the gods, and cursed Christ.”
    4. For some to be a follower of Christ, even at a time in the past, they must have believed He was a real person.
  3. The Talmud says that according to early rabbis, Jesus was a transgressor in Israel which led the people astray, claiming not to destroy the Law, but to add to it.
    1. This is a Jewish source, which was very hostile to Christianity.
    2. They still admitted Jesus was an actual person.
  4. Tacitus, a Roman historian (wrote in 116), admits Jesus existed.
    1. He said: “Nero fastened the guilt of starting the blaze 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 Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular.” (Annals)
    2. The Roman Empire persecuted the Christians, but they also were very aware that Jesus was an actual person.
  5. Suetonius (Lives of the 12 Caesars) describes an event involving Christians.
    1. As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he [ Claudius ] expelled them [the Jews] from Rome“.
    2. This event has its Biblical parallel in Acts 18:2 – “And found a certain Jew named Aquilla, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome), and come unto them.”
    3. At this point in time (AD 49), Christianity was viewed by many as a sect of Judaism.
    4. Because of the riots which came about from the Jews persecuting the Christians, all Jews were forced to leave Rome.
    5. That there were Christians 19 years after Jesus died is confirmed by historical record.
    6. This shows that less than two decades after His death, people believed Jesus was a real person, and that belief had spread all the way to Rome from Jerusalem.
  6. Lucian, a satirist (AD 125-180), acknowledges the belief that Jesus was a real person around 100 years after His death.
    1. “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 on 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.”
    2. He shows that he is not in agreement with the actions of the Christians, but he does acknowledge that Jesus lived and was crucified.
  7. Mara bon Sarpion alludes to Jesus.
    1. This man was in prison, and wrote a letter to his son asking him to pursue wisdom (approximately 73 AD).
    2. What advantage did the Athenians gain from putting Socrates to death? Famine and plague came upon them as a judgment for their crime. What advantage did the men of Samos gain from burning Pythagoras? In a moment their land was covered with sand. What advantage did the Jews gain from executing their wise king? It was just after that that their kingdom was abolished. God justly avenged these three wise men: the Athenians died of hunger; the Samians were overwhelmed by the sea; the Jews, ruined and driven from their land, live in complete dispersion. But Socrates did not die for good; he lived on in the teaching of Plato. Pythagoras did not die for good; he lived on in the statue of Hera. Nor did the wise king die for good; he lived on in the teaching which he had given.”
    3. The only person who fits the description of the “wise king” is Jesus.
      1. This would fit in perfectly with the time period in which this letter was written.
      2. Jesus was well-known as “the King of the Jews,” for Pilate even had heard of it before meeting Jesus.
    4. This is a non-Jewish, non-Christian reference to the existence of Jesus, written in the first century!

Conclusion:

  1. Did Jesus really exist?
  2. The consensus of historical writings says that He did.
  3. Both friends and foes of Christianity speak in favor of His existence, all within 100 years (some even earlier) of His death.
  4. One admitted unbeliever in the Jesus of the Bible admits that “It was a group of French philosophers during the French Revolution in the late 18th century who first suggested that Jesus was a mythical character” and “The vast majority of historians and theologians have always believed in the reality of Jesus’ life.”
  5. We can have confidence that Jesus Christ did indeed exist!
  6. We do not follow cunningly devised fables!
  7. What are you doing with Jesus?
    1. Are you with Him or against Him?
    2. You cannot be neutral!
    3. Come to Jesus today!

-Bradley S. Cobb

Jesus’ Inner Circle: James (Part 1)

We now come the point in our study where we begin to focus our attention on the men who writers call Jesus’ “inner circle”1 of the apostles: Peter, James, and John.  These men enjoyed a close relationship with Jesus, and as such, the Bible gives us more information about them than any of the other original apostles.

James and His Relations

James is unique among the “inner circle” in that every time he is mentioned in the Bible, he is always mentioned in connection with at least one of his relatives.

He is known as one of the “sons of Zebedee.”  In part, this is to distinguish him from another apostle, “James, the son of Alphaeus”; but there is also something noteworthy about Zebedee himself.  Zebedee was almost certainly a very devout child of God.  He raised two sons who later became apostles, and who left their business at a moment’s notice to follow Jesus.  His own wife was a firm (though misguided) believer in the coming kingdom,2 most likely a personal financier of Jesus’ ministry,3 and was present at the crucifixion of Jesus.4  These facts point to the likelihood of Zebedee being a very faithful child of God who worked hard to instill a love of the Lord in the hearts and minds of his family.

There is not a single passage in Scripture that mentions James without also mentioning his brother John.  And with only one exception, James is always mentioned first.5  This shows that these two brothers worked well together.  They were fishermen together,6 they were sent out as a pair to preach the gospel together,7 they were told together about the suffering they would endure for Jesus,8 and were in Jerusalem together until James was put to death.9

James was most likely Jesus’ cousin.  Matthew 27:56 lists three women who were at the cross:

  • Mary Magdalene
  • Mary the mother of James and Joses [also known as Mary, the mother of Jesus],10 and
  • The mother of Zebedee’s children.

John 19:25 mentions four women:

  • Mary, the mother of Jesus,
  • Mary’s sister [Salome],11
  • Mary, the wife of Cleophas, and
  • Mary Magdalene.

The mother of Zebedee’s children (his wife) could not be the same as the wife of Cleophas.12  Thus, the only other possibility is that James’ mother was Salome, the sister of Mary.13  Therefore, James and John were cousins of Jesus and His brothers.

James the Apostle

James was one of the first disciples to be called to be a permanent follower of the Lord.14 The fullest account of his calling is given by Luke:

It came to pass, that as the people pressed on Him to head the word of God, He stood by the lake of Gennesaret [Sea of Galilee], and saw two ships standing by the lake.  But the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets.  And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and asked him that he would thrust out a little from the land.  And He sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.

Now when He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught [a catch].”

And Simon, answering, said to Him, “Master, we’ve toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at your command, I will let down the net.”  And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net broke.  And they beckoned to their partners which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them.  And they came and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink.

When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”  For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fish that they had taken.  And so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon.

And Jesus said to Simon, “Fear not; from now on, you shall catch men.”  And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed Him.15

Matthew and Mark both record that James was “called” by Jesus at this time.16

James, along with his brother John, followed Jesus to Capernaum, entered with him into the synagogue, and listened to Him teach with authority.  James must have turned with surprise when a man in the synagogue screamed out, “Leave us alone!  What do we have to do with you, you Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us?  I know you, who you are, the Holy One of God!”  And James watched with amazement as Jesus said, “Hold your peace and come out of him,” which was immediately followed by the man convulsing17 as a demon fought a hopeless battle to keep from being cast out of him.18

The same day, James accompanied Jesus as they went to Peter and Andrew’s house, where the Lord healed Peter’s mother-in-law.  That evening, James saw a crowd of people coming to Jesus from all over Capernaum, bringing all the sick, and all the demon-possessed people to Him—and Jesus healed them.  The next morning, James awoke from sleep and found that Jesus had left, so he accompanied Peter and looked until they found Him on a mountain where he had gone to pray.19

Some days later,20 James was called by Jesus to come to a mountain, and was selected to be part of a special group of twelve men, whom Jesus named “apostles.”21

-Bradley S. Cobb

1 The King James Commentary, on Luke 9:28, says, “Peter, James, and John made up the inner circle of disciples. At the outer perimeter was the group of five hundred who saw Christ after His resurrection (1 Cor. 15:6 ). A bit closer were the seventy disciples who were sent out two by two to preach and heal (Luke 10:1, 17 ). Still closer were the Twelve, of whom these three were specially selected to witness this event [the transfiguration], the raising of Jairus’ daughter, and Jesus’ agony in Gethsemane.”

2 Matthew 20:20-21.  More will be said on this passage later in this chapter.

3 Matthew 27:55-56 shows that Mrs. Zebedee (whose name was Salome) was among those who “followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to Him.”  Luke 8:2-3 describes certain women, and “many others” who ministered to Jesus out of their own substance.  Most likely, then, Salome was one of the women who personally financed Jesus’ ministry.  See also the Dictionary of Christ in the Gospels, ed. James Hastings, “James” (second footnote).

4 Matthew 27:55-56.

5 That one exception is Luke 9:28, where Jesus takes “Peter and John and James” to the mount where He is transfigured.  Both Matthew and Mark, when describing the same event, say “James and John.”  There are also some Greek manuscripts which also have James listed after John in Luke 8:51 and Acts 1:13 (see ESV at those verses), but the manuscripts that God saw fit to providentially preserve throughout the past two millennia read “James and John.”

6 Matthew 4:18-22.

7 See Matthew 10:1-4, and Mark 6:7.

8 Matthew 20:20-23.

9 Acts 8:1, 14; 12:2, 12; 13:13; Galatians 2:1, 9.

10 Matthew 27:56 and Mark 15:40 do not describe Mary as “the mother of Jesus,” because Jesus had died, whereas John 19:25 mentions her prior to Jesus’ death, thus calls her “His [Jesus’] mother.”

11 See Mark 15:40.

12 John refers to himself as one of “the sons of Zebedee.”  It is beyond credulity to believe that he would then identify his mother as the wife of some other man when his father was in all likelihood still alive (see Mark 1:20).

13 As discussed in the chapter on “James, the Son of Alphaeus,” the Catholic Church wants to make Mary, the wife of Cleophas, the same as the sister of Mary (mother of Jesus).  This suggestion has been thoroughly disproven both in that chapter, as well as in writings from other individuals, and as such is not even mentioned as a possibility here.

14 See Matthew 4:18-22.  It is generally believed that, like Peter and Andrew, the two sons of Zebedee followed Jesus prior to their official calling.  Many think that John (the brother of James) refers to himself in John 1:35-37, and that after being told that Jesus was “the Lamb of God,” he would have run to tell his brother.  Behind this supposition is the fact that John never mentions himself or his brother by name in his gospel account, though it is obvious (based on the other gospel writings) that both were present.

15 Luke 5:1-11.

16 Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20.

17 Mark 1:26, Modern Literal Version.

18 These events are recorded in Mark 1:21-28, as well as Luke 4:31-37.

19 These events are recorded in Mark 1:29-36, as well as Luke 4:38-44.

20 We are not told how much time elapsed between the events in Luke 4 and in Luke 6.  It could have been several months, considering that Jesus went around Galilee preaching in the synagogues prior to selecting the apostles (Mark 1:39, see also 2:1, 3:13-19).

21 Luke 6:12-16.

Contradictions in the Bible?

Introduction

All Scripture is inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16).  If God is as the Bible presents Him, as an all-knowing, infinite Being who cannot lie, then when we read the word of God, we should be able to find no contradictions, no mistakes in the Scriptures.

Atheists and others who want to tear down the credibility of the Bible will scour its pages looking for passages that seem to disagree with each other, and will proudly pronounce, “Here is a contradiction!”  And when they present these potential problems, they proclaim the Bible to be a fraud, uninspired, and worthless.  By doing so, they have actually overturned the faith of some, causing them to deny the Lord who bought them with His own blood.

It’s easy to understand an atheist or someone like him trying to take things out of context to try to show supposed contradictions in God’s word.  But there are times when an honest, sincere Christian will read passages of Scripture and honestly has a difficult time reconciling perhaps two different records of the same event which don’t seem to agree with each other, or worse yet, some which seem to completely oppose each other.

What is a Christian to do when faced with what looks like a contradiction in the Bible?

What is a Contradiction?

It’s extremely important that we understand what a contradiction is and what it is not.  When we grasp the true meaning of what a contradiction is, and what it is not, most of the so-called “contradictions” of the Bible disappear.

A contradiction only exists when two (or more) statements cannot both be true at the same time and in the same manner.  For example: (1) My only pets are two cats. (2) I own a dog.  These two statements are a contradiction, for if my only pets are cats, then I cannot own a dog.

The Manner

It is not a contradiction if two statements, which might seem contradictory, are true in a different manner.  For example: (1) I am a father. (2) I am a son.  These are referring to two different relationships, and so they are both true at the same time.  If I were to say (pointing to a man), “I am his son,” and then (pointing to the same man) say, “I am his father,” it would be a contradiction if it was speaking of only physical relationship, for both statements could not be true at the same time and in the same manner.  But I have heard of a man who converted his father to Christ.  So, in that instance, his dad could point to him and say, “I am his father, but I am his son in the faith.”

There are examples of Jesus using language that would seem contradictory until you understand that He is describing physical things in one place and spiritual things in another.  For example, Jesus says “He that lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:26), but then tells Peter, “Verily, verily I say to you, When you were young, you dressed yourself, and walked wherever you wanted; but when you are old, you will stretch forth your hands, and another will dress you, and carry you where you do not want to go.”  He spoke this signifying by what death [Peter] should glorify God (John 21:18-19).  Jesus said the faithful would never die spiritually, and that Peter would die physically.

The Time

It is not a contradiction if two statements, which might seem contradictory, are true at different times.  According to George DeHoff, some skeptics of the Bible use Genesis 1:31, “God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good,” and 6:6, “It repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart.”  They claim that these two statements are contradictory, but there are over a thousand years of history that have passed between the two statements.  Each of them was true when it was spoken, but after the fall of man and the continual thoughts of evil that gripped all of mankind—except for Noah—it was no longer “very good.”

For the one who believes in God, we must never just accept someone’s word on something being a contradiction without a thorough investigation.  We must remember some principles as well that, when put into practice, answer most—if not all—of the allegations of contradiction.

The Translation Issue

Some supposed contradictions are a result of the translation(s) one uses.  If you use the King James Version, Galatians 6:2 and 5 seem to be a contradiction: “Bear ye one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ,” vs. “For every man shall bear his own burden.”  Well which one is it?  Are we to bear one another’s burdens or are they supposed to bear their own burdens?  The answer is that there are two different Greek words translated “burden” in those passages.  One of them is personal responsibility, while the other one is struggles, trials, difficulties that come upon someone.

The same thing could be said for Galatians 1:1:6-7: “I marvel that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ into another gospel which is not another…”  Is it another gospel or is it not?  Again, the problem here is eliminated by knowing that there are two different words translated “another” in that passage.  Paul says, literally, “into a different gospel [one of a different type], which is not another [one of the same type].”

The solution when you come some apparent contradictions is to consult some other translations and see how they translated it.  It is possible that the contradiction is one created by the word choice of the translators, and not in the text itself.

The Audience Issue

Some people have alleged that the Bible contains contradictions because in answer to the same question, different responses are given.  For example, when the question “What must I do to be saved?” or one that means the same thing is asked, there are different answers given.  The people on the Day of Pentecost were told “repent and be baptized,” but the Philippian Jailor was told, “only believe” (no mention of repentance of baptism in their answer), and Saul of Tarsus was told, “Go into the city…” where Ananias told him, “arise and be baptized” (but there was no mention of belief or repentance.

The answer to this allegation and others like it is that there is a difference in the audience.  Each of the ones being spoken to were at different levels of understanding, and at different points in their journey towards salvation.  The Philippian jailor in Acts 16 was not willing to believe in Jesus Christ until after the earthquake that opened all the prison doors, yet none of the prisoners fled.  He realized that Paul and Silas were sent by the most powerful God, and he wanted to be right with them and with the Lord.  So the response that Paul gave him was the first thing he needed to do: believe.  They then taught him what he needed to believe (which, incidentally, included the urgency of baptism), and went from there.

The people on the Day of Pentecost already believed in God, and by the time they asked their question, “What shall we do?” they believed that Jesus was the Christ.  So Peter had no need to tell them to “believe,” since they were already at that point.  He gave them what they needed for where they were in their journey: repent and be baptized.

Saul of Tarsus believed in Jesus by the time Ananias got to him; and Saul had been fasting for three days and prayed—showing he had already repented.  So Ananias told him what he needed to do next: arise and be baptized, wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.  There was no need to tell Saul to believe or to repent, because those had already been done.

Some call it a contradiction, but it isn’t, because these statements were made to different people at different stages in their journey to salvation.

The Covenant Issue

Closely connected with the difference in audience is the statements made to people under different covenants.  The most famous one is the thief on the cross vs. the Jews on the day of Pentecost.  It is alleged that the example of the thief trumps (i.e., contradicts) the commands given on Pentecost.  But that ignores that the people lived under two totally different covenants.

The thief on the cross lived and died under the Old Testament.  Baptism was never a part of the Old Testament commands for salvation or forgiveness.  Baptism into Christ was something that was ordained by the Lord after His death, burial, and resurrection—that is, under the New Testament (see Mark 16:15-16, Matthew 28:19).  Since the thief on the cross never lived under the New Testament, he was never answerable to the command to “repent and be baptized…in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.”  He, like David, Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and literally millions of other Jews before him, lived and died under the Old Testament, and were never under the command to be baptized into Christ.

As a side note, we can also add to this example that when Jesus was on earth, He could do whatever He wanted regarding the forgiveness of sins.  But since He has ascended, His written covenant is what we have to guide us.  And His written covenant—His will—says “repent and be baptized.”

The Author Issue

Some skeptics have claimed that since the Gospel writers place events in different orders, they can’t be inspired.  The problem here is one that arises from the author and the author’s purpose.  Only one of the gospel writers makes the claim that he was giving events in chronological order, and that is Luke, who wrote as a detailed historian (see Luke 1:3).  Matthew’s purpose was not to give a strictly chronological sequence of events, but to show that Jesus was the Messiah foretold in the Old Testament.  As such, he often groups similar events (miracles, parables) together.  We do the same thing today on occasion, telling people things we remember which remind us of other similar stories.  Then we might go on to some other things that took place between the stories, or even before.  In short, Matthew wasn’t concerned with strict chronology.  Mark was the same way, grouping some events together because there were similarities (see Mark 3:20-35, whereas they appear in Luke three chapters apart, and in different order).  John’s account was written to show the deity of Christ and to cause people to believe.

One of the examples of a supposed contradiction in chronology comes from the temptations of Jesus in the wilderness.  Matthew 4 records them in this order: (1) turn the stones to bread, (2) jump off the temple, (3) bow down and worship me.  Luke’s record switches the second and third ones.  It’s not a contradiction, for both writers agree the same things happened, and Matthew made no claim that he was giving everything in a strictly chronological order.

The Complementary Issue

Most of the alleged contradictions come from incidents where one writer gives details that others don’t.  One of the best illustrations of this is found in Jesus’ speaking to Peter about his impending denial of the Lord.

Matthew, Luke, and John all record Jesus saying, in essence, “Before the cock crows, you shall deny me thrice.”  But Mark 14:30 adds a detail, “Before the cock crows twice, you shall deny me thrice.”  And in case someone wondered if the inclusion of that word was a mistake, verse 72 repeats it.  It’s not a contradiction, for Mark just gives Jesus’ statement in a bit fuller detail than the other writers did.  Matthew, Luke, and John each gave a slightly more summarized version.

Another example of this kind of supposed contradiction is found in the number of women at the cross.  Matthew 27:56 mentions only three specific women, Mark mentions three, Luke mentions none specifically, and John mentions four.  John just goes into more detail than the other writers at this point.

The Same Words, Different Meanings Issue

Just like in English, there are Greek words that have different meanings, depending on how the writer or speaker was using them.  The word “spirit” is a prime example, for it can mean “breath,” “attitude,” “the Holy Spirit,” “the human spirit,” or even “wind.”

I read a debate (read it free HERE) between a preacher of the gospel and a Mormon (one of the “seventy”), and in order to cast doubt on the validity of the Bible, the Mormon said that Acts 9:7 and 22:9 showed that there were contradictions in the Bible.  In the first passage, Luke tells us “the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.”  In the second passage, Paul (relating the same event) says, “they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid, but they heard not the voice of Him that spoke with me.”

In this instance, it’s not the fault of the translators.  It’s not being said differently because of a different audience, a different covenant, or because the accounts are complementary to each other.  Luke uses the words “hearing (ἀκούω) a voice (φωνή),” and Paul uses the same words, “they heard (ἀκούω) not the voice (φωνή) of Him who spoke to me.”

The word φωνή “voice” can also be translated “sound,” and is indeed translated that way several times in the New Testament.  It is possible, then, that Luke meant that the men heard a sound when he used the word in Acts 9, but not necessarily the voice of Jesus.

In the same way, the word ἀκούω, “hearing,” can also carry the meaning of “understanding” or “comprehending,” like when Jesus says, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”  Jesus doesn’t mean just recognize that there is a sound, but to understand the words.  So it is legitimate to have Paul, in chapter 22, saying that the men didn’t understand the voice of Jesus.  Certainly they heard something, according to chapter nine, but that doesn’t mean they understood it.

There is an incident elsewhere in the Bible which sheds some light on this as well: John 12:20-29.  Some Greeks wanted to see Jesus, and Philip and Andrew went to Jesus to let Him know.  Then Jesus prayed a prayer which ended with the words, “Father, glorify thy name.”  Then there came a voice from heaven, saying “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.”  Then John says, “the people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said an angel spoke to Him.”

These people “heard” (ἀκούω) the “voice” (φωνή) from heaven, but to some, it was a sound, a noise like thunder, and not an actual understandable voice.

So back to the supposed contradiction in Acts 9 and 22.  In chapter nine, Luke said they heard a sound, but in chapter twenty-two, Paul is saying that they didn’t understand the voice of Jesus.  Both Paul and Luke used the same words, but they had slightly different meanings when they used them.

Conclusion

There are many other places that atheists and others like them point to as contradictions in the Bible, and if there is interest in looking at these, showing how they can be easily explained, we will do more lessons like this in the future.

The main point to remember throughout all of this, however, is that the Bible is trustworthy.  If just one mistake, one contradiction was made in the original writings of the apostles and prophets, then the Bible isn’t inspired by God.  It’s that simple.  But my friends, there are no contradictions in the word of God.  Not one.  This book is given by the inspiration of God and is able to make us “perfect” (2 Timothy 3:16-17), because He has given us everything regarding “life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3).

He’s given us the answer to the most important question we could possibly ask: what must I do to be saved?  The Philippian jailor, one who was not a believer and who had not heard the gospel before, was told to “believe” and then the gospel was preached to him, which resulted in his being baptized that very night!  The people on the day of Pentecost believed the gospel, so when they asked “men and brethren, what shall we do?” the answer was “repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.”

You have to believe in Jesus Christ, repent of your rebellion against God, acknowledge Jesus as the Christ, and submit to His command to be baptized in order to be forgiven of your sins.  We ask that you would please make the decision to do that today if you haven’t already.

-Bradley S. Cobb

Atheism and Arithmetic

The apostle Paul informs us that we can know the invisible God exists by looking at the things which do exist, and there’s no excuse for ignoring it.  David said, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1).

With those thoughts in mind, we are happy to announce the latest addition to the Jimmie Beller Memorial eLibrary: Atheism and Arithmetic, by H.L. Hastings.

Originally written in 1884, this book is filled with evidences of mathematic design in nature, in plants, in the planets, in time, in chemicals, in science, and even in music itself.  There is also a valuable section which debunks some of the atheists’ arguments regarding God and pain and suffering.

Here’s a sample of what you’ll find in this book:

The appetite for religion is as universal as the appetite for bread, and as natural.

It is true that many men make a living out of religion, but so do many men make a living by baking bread; but no one proposes to go without bread because bakers get their own bread by furnishing bread to others. It is equally true that there is much poor religion in the world, but there is also much poor bread; and if Pharaoh’s baker baked no better bread than some men bake in these days, it is not strange that his master hung him. But people will have bread, though it be poor; and if the supply be scanty they still insist that “half a loaf is better than no bread.” And so people will have a religion, though it may be small in quantity and inferior in quality. And this inclination for religion is not an acquired and debasing appetite, like the appetite for opium and tobacco; it is the spontaneous and universal uplifting of the soul to adore something higher and greater than mortal man; and the higher the nations rise in virtue and excellence, the more firmly are they established in their religious convictions. And this appetite for religion is older than the priests, just as the appetite for bread is older than the bakers; the demand existed before the supply was provided. The instinct of worship is a natural instinct, indicating an actual need inwrought in the human constitution, for some wise purpose, by the Creative Hand.

As always, we have taken the time to proofread, update, and completely reformat this book to give you the best possible reading experience.

Just click the link below to read this book online or to download to your device for later enjoyment!

Atheism and Arithmetic (H.L. Hastings)

-Bradley Cobb

(FREE) Why We Believe the Bible by George DeHoff

While we’re trying to get more work done on our book on the apostles of the Bible, we thought we would add some more books to the Jimmie Beller Memorial eLibrary.

Today’s new addition is a book by George DeHoff entitled “Why We Believe the Bible.”

It is a good basic book on apologetics.

The chapters include:

  1. Why We Want to Believe the Bible
  2. Why We Believe in God
  3. Genesis 1
  4. The Origin of Religion
  5. The Bible and Scientific Foreknowledge
  6. Archaeology and the Bible
  7. The Influence of the Bible
  8. Prophecy and Its Fulfillment
  9. The Messianic Prophecies
  10. Proof from Secular Writers
  11. The Other Sacred Books
  12. Internal Evidences of Inspiration
  13. The Indestructibility of the Bible

As always, this book has been edited, corrected, and formatted for your reading pleasure!

Just click the link to download this book or to read it online.

DeHoff, George – Why We Believe the Bible

Ingersoll’s Mistakes About Moses

D.R. Dungan is best known for his enduring book, “Hermeneutics,” which is still a standard textbook in the study of biblical interpretation, even though it was written over a hundred years ago.  But that’s not the only book that he wrote.

Several months ago, we shared another book by brother Dungan called “The Sabbath or the Lord’s Day: Which?”  And today, continuing the theme of books defending the authenticity of the Bible, we present to you another.  This one is called “Ingersoll’s Mistakes about Moses.”

If you read yesterday’s post [you did, didn’t you?], you’ll remember that there was a man in the late 1800s who went around the country giving a speech called “Some Mistakes of Moses.”

The report of this speech in the Chicago Tribune of March 24th, has laugh­ter eighty-one times; frequently it is preced­ed by such words as “continued,” “renew­ed,” “great,” “prolonged,” “uproarious.” Applause also occurs twelve times.

Like many of today’s comedy personalities, Ingersoll got his kicks by making fun of Christians and Bible-believing people.  Things have not changed all that much, have they?  His tactics were described as:

Mr. Ingersoll is a most extraordinary man. His wit is sparkling and original; his invective is withering, and the undercurrent of blasphemy hisses through almost every paragraph; his humor protrudes, and if ever put on the background comes to the front again on the slightest provocation. He is reckless in his statements; he is irreverent —not to say impudent—in his treatment of believers.

D.R. Dungan, a writer, professor, preacher, and scholar, possessed a quick wit himself, and was a master in the use of sarcasm and humor.  He had quite the knack for “turning phrases.”  For example, here is a quote from today’s book, describing the atheist Robert Ingersoll:

His logic is suffering from paraly­sis and gives no signs of recovery. To make half-statements of facts and create false issues respecting them, he is the peer of any man, living or dead. He is not a slave to truth, but a free man. When he wishes to take a position, he takes it, and if the facts are ad­verse, it is all the worse for them. It would be unreasonable to ask such a man to descend to the dull routine of logic. If he were compelled to establish his premises by the in­duction of facts and reach his conclusion in a legitimate way, the opportunities for the dis­play of genius would be gone, and he would become as tame and dull and stupid and plat­itudinarian as clergymen whom he repre­sents as occupying the caverns of darkness, and, like the owls, “hooting the hoots that have been hooted for the last 1800 years.”

We think that you will enjoy and be benefited by today’s addition to the Jimmie Beller Memorial eLibrary: “Ingersoll’s Mistakes About Moses” by D.R. Dungan.  Simply click the link below and read it online or save for later reading on your favorite device!

Dungan, DR – Ingersolls Mistakes About Moses

Was Moses Mistaken?

The past couple days, we’ve made available booklets defending of the accuracy of the Biblical text.  Today, we continue the same general theme, but this time with a slightly different slant to it.

Instead of dealing with the accuracy of the words (supposed corruptions in the text), or the dating of the biblical writings, today’s freebie is a defense of Moses himself as a reliable author.  You might wonder why such a book would be necessary, but if you were to place yourself back in the late 1800s, you would have heard about a man named Robert Ingersoll.  He was an atheist who made a name for himself going around the country giving a speech called “The Mistakes of Moses.”

Tomorrow’s freebie will be a more direct rebuttal to Ingersoll’s speech, but today we’re offering you a book called “Was Moses Mistaken? or, Creation and Evolution.”

This book, like “The Corruptions of the New Testament” (from Monday) and  “The Pentateuch: Its Origin and Authorship” (Tuesday), was written by H.L. Hastings, editor of “The Christian” newspaper and “The Anti-Infidel Library.”  He was highly respected by people in different churches throughout the world for his clear writing on important topics.  He also edited a songbook called “Songs of Pilgrimage: A Hymnal for the Churches of Christ” in which he argued that it cheapens psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to accompany them with instruments.

Contents

  • Who was Moses?
  • Who Created the World?
  • Can a Corn Stalk Count?
  • The Chicken or the Egg?
  • Who Made Man?
  • The Donkey and the Commandments
  • Why People Neglect the Bible

Also included at the end of this booklet are some excerpts from some of Hasting’s other writings and works.

So, take a few moments, if you will, and see what you think about this, the newest addition to the Jimmie Beller Memorial eLibrary.  Click on the link to read it online or download it for reading on your own time.

Was Moses Mistaken? (H.L. Hastings)

Enjoy!

 

The Corruptions of the New Testament

H.L. Hastings was a prolific writer in the late 1800s, with literally millions of his booklets being published.  Most of them dealt with the topic of the reliability and inspiration of the Bible.  He put out a regular publication called “The Christian,” and a series of booklets called “The Anti-Infidel Library.”  Several of these booklets are on list to add to the Jimmie Beller Memorial eLibrary in the coming weeks.

But for now, we’d like to present to you his book called “The Corruptions of the New Testament.”  It shows that the claims of the skeptics are completely overblown when it comes to supposed “corruptions” of the New Testament text.

Contents

  • How Old Is The English Bible?.
  • Old Bibles In Other Languages.
  • Uncial And Cursive Manuscripts.
  • Various Readings.
  • The Most Ancient Manuscripts.
  • The Variations In Different Editions.
  • Various Readings In The Sermon On The Mount.
  • The Preservation Of The Manuscripts.
  • No Record Of Apostles’ Death.
  • What, Then, Are Our Conclusions?.
  • Genuine And Spurious Books.
  • Eusebius On The Sacred Canon,
  • The Testimony Of Origen On The Canon.
  • The Muratorian Fragment On The Canon.
  • The Earliest List Of The New Testament Books.
  • The Disputed New Testament Books.
  • The Epistle To The Hebrews.
  • The Conclusion Of The Matter.
  • The Fountain Head.

To read this book, simply click the link below, or you can download it to save for later reading.  Enjoy!

The Corruptions of the New Testament (H.L. Hasting)

The Oliphant-Smith Debate

In 1929, in Shawnee, Oklahoma (just 10 miles from The Cobb Six Headquarters), there was a debate held between W.L. Oliphant (Christian) and Charles Smith (atheist).  The propositions were:

  1. “There is a Supreme Being (God, Creator).”
  • Affirmative: W. L. OLIPHANT.
  • Negative: CHARLES SMITH.

 

  1. “Atheism is Beneficial to the Race, and is most conductive to Morality of any Theory Known to Man.”
  • Affirmative: CHARLES SMITH.
  • Negative: W. L. OLIPHANT.

 

  1. “All Things Exist as the Result of Evolution, Directed by no Intelligence.”
  • Affirmative: CHARLES SMITH.
  • Negative: W. L. OLIPHANT.

This book is available in print from us or from Amazon, but it is also being made freely available in a digital form as part of the Jimmie Beller Memorial eLibrary.

To read the book online, just click the link below.  Or, if you want to download it to your computer/tablet/smartphone/whatever for later reading, simply right-click on the link below and “save target as…”

Oliphant-Smith Debate (1929)

Why We Believe the Bible

It is Wednesday, which means that saints will be gathering somewhere near you to study the Bible and sing praises to the Lord God.

But some people might wonder, “Why do you believe the Bible?”  George DeHoff wrote a book specifically to answer that question.  It serves as a great brief guide to the inspiration of the Bible.

Table of Contents

  1. Why We Want to Believe the Bible
  2. Why We Believe in God
  3. Genesis 1
  4. The Origin of Religion
  5. The Bible and Scientific Foreknowledge
  6. Archaeology and the Bible
  7. The Influence of the Bible
  8. Prophecy and Its Fulfillment
  9. The Messianic Prophecies
  10. Proof from Secular Writers
  11. The Other Sacred Books
  12. Internal Evidences of Inspiration
  13. The Indestructibility of the Bible

To download it FREE, just click the link below.

DeHoff, George – Why We Believe the Bible

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