The Cumulative Case for the Reliability of the Gospels #117

In my Sunday School Class this morning we discussed the writing of most of the New Testament within 30 to 40 years of the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ in 30 AD. Below is J. Warner Wallace’s evidence of the writing of Acts, Luke and Mark by 61 AD or within 15 to 31 years after the ascension of Jesus. By 70 AD most of the New Testament had been written. Only 4 books by John written 90-95 AD were left.

Today Dr Mac Brunson FBC Jacksonville pastor preached on Galatians 2 about the Jerusalem Council, also described in Acts 15. According to Galatians 2 the council was attended by James (half-brother of Jesus), Cephas (Peter), John, Paul and Titus. Dr. Brunson said it is likely that Luke and Mark were also present. If so, all the writers of NT books were present except for Matthew, Hebrews and Jude (those writers might have been there). The council met in 48-50 AD, close to the time of the writing of Mark. Henry Luke Feburary 22, 2015

By J. Warner Wallace a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of Cold-Case Christianity

The case for the reliability of the New Testament Gospel eyewitness accounts is dependent on the reliability of the authors. Eyewitnesses are typically evaluated in criminal trials by asking four critical questions: Were the witnesses really present at the time of the crime? Can the witnesses’ accounts be corroborated in some way? Have the witnesses changed their story over time? Do the witnesses have biases causing them to lie, exaggerate or misinterpret what was seen? We can examine the Gospels and their authors by asking similar questions. Is the Bible true? The cumulative case for the trustworthy nature of the Gospels confirms their reliability:

(1) The Gospels Were Written Early
It’s much harder to tell an elaborate lie in the same generation as those who witnessed the truth. The Gospels were written early enough to have been cross-checked by those who were still alive and would have known better:

(a) The missing information in the Book of Acts (i.e. the destruction of the Temple, the siege of Jerusalem, the deaths of Peter, Paul and James) is best explained by dating Acts prior to 61AD

(b) Luke wrote his Gospel prior to the Book of Acts

(c) Paul’s referencing of Luke 10:6-7 (1 Timothy 5:17-18, written in 63-64AD) and Luke 22:19-20 (1 Corinthians 11:23-26, written in 53-57AD) is best explained by dating the Gospel of Luke prior to 53-57AD

(d) Luke’s reference to his Gospel as “orderly” in Luke 1:3 (as compared to Bishop Papias’ 1st Century description of Mark’s account as “not, indeed, in order”) and
Luke’s repeated references of Mark’s Gospels are best explained by dating Mark’s Gospel prior to Luke’s from 45-50AD

(2) The Gospels Have Been Corroborated
The Gospel accounts of the first century are better corroborated than any other ancient historical account:

(3) The Gospels Have Been Accurately Delivered
The Gospels were cherished and treated as Scripture from the earliest of times. We can test their content and accurate transmission:

(4) The Gospels Authors Were Unbiased
The authors of the Gospels claimed to be eyewitnesses who were transformed by what they observed in Jesus of Nazareth:

The gospel authors were present during the life of Jesus and wrote their accounts early enough to be cross-checked by those who knew Jesus. Their accounts can be sufficiently corroborated and have been accurately delivered to us through the centuries. The authors lacked motive to lie to us about their observations and died rather than recant their testimony. Is the Bible true? The case for the reliability of the Gospels is strong and substantive. We have good reason to trust what the eyewitnesses told us about Jesus of Nazareth.

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