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Don Stewart :: How Does the Apostle Paul Testify to the Accuracy of the Four Gospels

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Don Stewart

While the gospels were written a relatively short time after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ what about the letters of the Apostle Paul? When were they composed? How do they help with the reliability of the Four Gospels?

Paul's Writings Were Possibly Earlier Than The Gospels

Some of the letters of the Apostle Paul may actually have been written earlier than the gospels. For example, First Thessalonians was written approximately A.D. 51, while the first letter to the Corinthians was penned about A.D 56. Obviously, all of his letters were written before A.D 67, when he died.

Paul Confirmed Some Of The Events Recorded In The Gospels

The testimony of the Apostle Paul confirms the evidence presented in the gospel accounts concerning Jesus Christ.

1. Jesus Is The Creator Of The Universe

John tells us that Jesus was the Creator of the universe.

All things came into being by him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being (John 1:3).

Paul also testified that Jesus was the Creator of the universe:

For by him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on the earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through him and for him (Colossians 1:16).

2. Jesus Was Without Sin

Jesus was always obedient to the law of God. He asked if anyone had ever seen Him sin.

Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe me? (John 8:46).

No one could give an example - because He did not sin. In the same way, Paul emphasized that Jesus did not ever commit a sin.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).

3. He Was Betrayed By Judas Iscariot

All four gospels agree that Jesus was betrayed by Judas Iscariot record the fact. Paul also spoke of Jesus' betrayal by Judas:

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you; that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread (1 Corinthians 11:23).

4. Jesus Died By Means Of Crucifixion

All four gospels are consistent that Jesus died by means of crucifixion. Paul mentions Jesus' death by crucifixion as the cornerstone of his message: "But we preach Christ crucified" (1 Corinthians 1:23).

5. Jesus Rose From The Dead On The Third Day

Again, all four gospels testify that Jesus rose from the dead on the third day. Paul also confirmed that Christ rose from the dead:

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for ours sins, according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3,4).

There Are A Number Of Important Points To Remember

Three points must be emphasized concerning the testimony of Paul. They include the following.

1. Paul Was A Contemporary Of The Disciples

The Apostle Paul, though not an eyewitness to the events of the life of Christ, was living at the same time as the disciples who were eyewitnesses. Therefore he was their contemporary.

2. He Wrote Within Thirty Years Of The Events

Paul's letters were composed within thirty years of the events of the life and ministry of Jesus. This is far too short a time for him to have radically changed the message of Jesus without receiving criticism from both believing and non-believing eyewitnesses of the events.

For example, First Thessalonians is probably the earliest letter that Paul wrote. It can be dated around the year A.D. 51 - about twenty years after the death and resurrection of Jesus.

3. Paul Challenged His Readers To Investigate The Evidence

Paul challenged his readers to investigate for themselves the evidence concerning the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

He was seen by over five hundred people at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present (1 Corinthians 15:6).

Many eyewitnesses to Jesus' resurrection were still alive when Paul wrote to the church at Corinth. Anyone doubting the fact of the resurrection could check out their testimony.

Summary

The testimony of the Apostle Paul adds further evidence to the trustworthiness of the gospel's picture of Jesus. Paul confirmed the gospels testimony of Jesus' creating the universe, His total obedience to the Jewish law without ever committing a sin. Paul also confirmed Jesus was betrayed, crucified, and had risen from the dead on the third day.

Although he was not an eyewitness of the life of Christ his testimony is important because he was a contemporary. Paul wrote within thirty years of the events recorded in the New Testament. He also challenged his readers to investigate the truth for themselves. He therefore is a helpful witness in confirming the reliability of the account of Jesus as found in the gospels.

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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