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Don Stewart :: Why Should We Trust the New Testament Account of Jesus' Life?

Don Stewart

The story of Jesus as recorded in the New Testament is miraculous. From His birth through His resurrection, Jesus is portrayed as someone who is from heaven. He is the eternal God who came down to earth and became a human being. We have already demonstrated that the existence of Jesus is beyond question. Granted that He did exist, could the New Testament story be only a legend? Is it possible that what we have in the New Testament is a fabrication or exaggeration of what occurred?

They Were Eyewitnesses To The Events

There are several problems with the view that the New Testament is an exaggeration of the deeds of Jesus. First, is the testimony of the disciples of Jesus. They contended that Jesus did these miraculous deeds in their presence. The Apostle John wrote,

And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe (John 19:35).

Simon Peter made it clear that the disciples knew the difference between myth and reality.

For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty (2 Peter 1:16).

It is the united testimony of the New Testament that Jesus performed miracles in front of multitudes of people.

The Same Disciples Gave Us The New Testament

These same disciples are the ones who gave us the New Testament record. The Gospel writers, Matthew and John, were disciples of Jesus and eyewitnesses to the events. Mark and Luke recorded eyewitness testimonies. Thus, we have individuals who were with Jesus and witnessed these events firsthand. They are not passing down a story to us that they had been told. They were there!

They Would Have Memorized His Teachings

In the world that Jesus lived people relied on their memory much more than we do today. The spoken word was extremely important. People were trained to listen carefully and memorize. Consequently we find the authors of the Four Gospels composing their works in a way that would be easy for memorization.

For example, even a modern English version of the Sermon on the Mount or the Lord's Prayer reveals an obvious pattern of rhythm and sentences that have a parallel structure. This would have made these teachings easy to memorize.

There Were Specific Qualifications For An Apostle

Furthermore, memorization also seems to have played a part in selecting an apostle to replace Judas. After the death of Judas and Jesus ascension into heaven, a twelfth apostle had to be chosen. The criterion is listed in Acts 1:21-22.

Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from John's baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection (Acts 1:21,22).

The candidate had to have been someone who was with Jesus from the beginning-he heard everything that Jesus taught. This would imply that this disciple had memorized Jesus' words.

They Give A Consistent Portrait Of Jesus

In addition, these same disciples are united in their portrait of Jesus. From the first statement until the last, everything that they record about Jesus testifies to His supernatural ability. They all agree that Jesus performed miracles in their presence.

There Was No Objection From Unbelievers

Finally, if the New Testament account of Jesus were merely an invention or exaggeration, then why didn't His enemies say so? Those who hated Christ would have denied His miracles if they could have. Yet they attempted to explain His miraculous character by attributing His works to the power of Satan. Rather than deny that Jesus was a miracle worker, His enemies tried to say His power was demonic.

Summary

To say the New Testament portrait of Jesus was an invention or exaggeration does not fit the facts. The testimony we have from the New Testament is from firsthand sources. The disciples recorded what they heard and saw. The New Testament testimony is consistent. Jesus is pictured as supernatural from the beginning of His life to the end. The enemies of Jesus also testified to His supernatural abilities. Instead of denying His miracles, they argued that Jesus' power was not from God but from Satan. The Gospels can be trusted to give us an accurate account of Jesus life because people who actually saw what Jesus did and heard what He said composed them. They wrote what they heard and what they saw - they are not giving us second hand reports.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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