Historicity of Christ

The New Testament and the Blood of the Saints

Would you sacrifice your life for a lie? All the disciples, with the exception of John, died horrific martyr’s deaths in order to tell the gospel. “All” that was required to escape death was to renounce Jesus. The obvious question is, “Why would anyone, let alone all twelve, die for what they would certainly have known was a lie?”
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The New Testament and the Blood of the Saints

Article#: 1434

Whether man likes it or not, Jesus Christ is central to everything:  every thought, every deed, even to every molecular function and all the laws of life.  Consider that every thought and, consequently, deed revolves around Jesus Christ.  It is either pro-Christ or anti-Christ.  All good and fruitful thoughts are pro-Christ, while all bad and destructive thoughts are anti-Christ—it is just that simple. 

GodSaidManSaid has spent a considerable amount of time establishing that everything is made out of words, even as the Scriptures declare.  Jesus Christ spoke this world and its universe into existence with the Words of His Father.  Scientists were shocked to discover that the building instructions for life housed in your DNA is a four-letter alphabet structured as words, sentences, paragraphs, chapters, and books.  Revelation 19:13 declares of Jesus, “…and his name is called The Word of God.” 

Only Christ can create matter.  The Bible teaches that you cannot add to or take away from what He has done.  Science knows this principle as the first law of thermodynamics.  Jesus Christ is the center of all that is.  Colossians 1:16-19:

16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;

Making Jesus Christ the center of your life will yield a life that is true, purposeful, satisfying and everlasting—never ending—yes, even a life that lasts forever. 

Have you been born again as Jesus defines it—born a second time, this time of the Spirit of God?  Are you ready to make Jesus Christ the center of your life?  Are you ready to have all your sin and shame expunged, and are you ready to receive power over all your bondages?  Today is your day of salvation.  Click onto “Further With Jesus” for childlike instructions and immediate entry into the Kingdom of God.  NOW FOR TODAY’S SUBJECT.

GOD SAID, Jude 1:4, 10, 14-15:

4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

10 But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.

14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,

15 To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.

GOD SAID, Luke 1:1-4:

1 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,

2 Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;

3 It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,

4 That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.

MAN SAID:  The New Testament is a hodge-podge of hand-me-down writings not actually written until late in the second century and laden with myths and legends. 

Now THE RECORD.  Jesus calls them wolves in sheep’s clothing.  Matthew 7:15:

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep''s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

These devouring wolves masquerade as harmless, docile sheep.  The ranks of purported Christendom are teeming with these wolves whose only purpose is to devour the sheep—the childlike of faith.  Many of the academic wolves are dubbed “higher critics” and they have challenged every Biblical structure laid out in the Word of God.  One of their assertions is that the New Testament was not written in the days of the apostles, but was a hand-me-down, and often inaccurate, embellished record written 100 years or more after the ministry of Jesus Christ.  Keep in mind that when there is doubt, hard, life-changing decisions are not made, and the mountain doesn’t move.  Satan knows that the foundation of our salvation is our faith in Christ Jesus.  He is fully aware that where there is doubt, Christianity does not work. 

Concerning the debate on when the New Testament was penned, you’ll find the following in McDowell and Wilson’s book, Evidence for the Historical Jesus:

I was speaking at Arizona State University and a professor who had brought his literature class with him approached me after a “free-speech” lecture outdoors.  He said, “Mr. McDowell, you are basing all your claims about Christ on a second-century document that is obsolete.   I showed in class today how the New Testament was written so long after Christ that it could not be accurate in what it recorded.” 

I replied, “Your opinions and conclusions about the New Testament are twenty-five years out of date.” 

That professor’s opinions about the records concerning Jesus found their source in the conclusions of a German critic, F. C. Baur.  Baur assumed that most of the New Testament Scriptures were not written until late in the second century AD.  He concluded that these writings came basically from myths or legends that had developed during the lengthy interval between the lifetime of Jesus and the time these accounts were set down in writing. 

By the twentieth century, however, archaeological discoveries had confirmed the accuracy of the New Testament manuscripts.  […]

Millar Burrows of Yale says, “Another result of comparing New Testament Greek with the language of the papyri [discoveries] is an increase of confidence in the accurate transmission of the text of the New Testament itself.”  Such findings as these have increased scholarly confidence in the reliability of the Bible. 

William Albright, at one time the world’s foremost Biblical archaeologist, writes:  “We can already say emphatically that there is no longer any solid basis for dating any book of the New Testament after about AD 80, two full generations before the date between 130 and 150 given by the more radical New Testament critics of today.”  He reiterates this view in an interview for Christianity Today:  “In my opinion, every book of the New Testament was written by a baptized Jew between the forties and the eighties of the first century AD (very probably between about AD 50 and 75).” 

Sir William Ramsay is regarded as one of the greatest archaeologists ever to have lived. He was a student of the German historical school that taught that the Book of Acts was a product of the mid-second century AD and not the first century as it purports to be.  After reading modern criticism about the Book of Acts, he became convinced that it was not a trustworthy account of the facts of that time (AD 50) and therefore was unworthy of consideration by a historian.  So in his research on the history of Asia Minor, Ramsay paid little attention to the New Testament.  His investigation, however, eventually compelled him to consider the writing of Luke.  He observed the meticulous accuracy of the historical details, and his attitude towards the Book of Acts began to change.  He was forced to conclude that “Luke is a historian of the first rank…this author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians.”  Because of the accuracy of the most minute detail, Ramsay finally conceded that Acts could not be a second-century document, but was rather a mid-first-century account. 

Many liberal scholars are being forced to consider earlier dates for the origination of the New Testament.  British theologian and New Testament scholar John A.T. Robinson reveals some startlingly radical conclusions in his book Reading the New Testament.  His research led him to the conviction that the whole of the New Testament was written before the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70.   

Sir Frederic Kenyon, who was the director and principal librarian at the British Museum and second to none in authority for issuing statements about manuscripts, concludes:

The interval then between the dates of original composition and the earliest extant evidence becomes so small as to be in fact negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt that the Scriptures have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed.  Both the authenticity and the general integrity of the books of the New Testament may be regarded as finally established. 

[End of quotes]

Our confidence in the Word of God must be absolute because where there is doubt, the mountain won’t move and hard, life-changing decisions will not be made or maintained. 

Consider the saints of old.  In past features, GodSaidManSaid has published the history of the martyrdom of the apostles.  All they had to do to escape the spoiling of their goods and death was to renounce Jesus Christ.  More detail is recorded in Ralph O. Muncaster’s book, Examine the Evidence.  All of the apostles were put to death for spreading the Gospel of Christ with the exception of John.  Church records report that they tried to kill John by casting him into boiling oil, but he did not die.  He penned the Book of Revelation while exiled on the isle of Patmos. 

The first account in Examine the Evidence was written around 190 AD by Clemens Alexandrinus.  Muncaster writes:

Salome, sobbing uncontrollably, tears in her eyes, clung tightly to her husband, Zebedee.  She’d seen it before.  She’d seen what someone with absolute power could do.  First it was her Lord, Jesus Himself.  Then it was Stephen, who gave up his spirit as people threw stone after stone (Acts 7:54-60).  Now it was her eldest son, James, a disciple of Jesus, who was being dragged through the streets like a piece of garbage to be disposed of.  Salome knew she should be forgiving, but this was her own son.  She held King Herod Agrippa I in angry contempt. 

Finally they reached the site of execution.  Then a shocking event happened.  To everyone’s astonishment, one of the Roman guards suddenly fell to his knees and cried out to James for forgiveness.  He had seen such incredible courage from the apostle that he too began to weep uncontrollably and asked James to allow him into the kingdom of God. 

“Don’t kill him alone,” the guard said.  “Take me too.  James, quickly, tell me what to do!” 

“Just believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved,” James cried as his head was being positioned on the executioner’s block.  As the seconds dragged by, Zebedee held Salome tightly.  She didn’t want to look—oh, how she didn’t want to look.  But this was her last chance to see her son. 

James looked over at his mother with an expression of serenity and deep love that only a mother would recognize.  He smiled.  And then it was over. 

Peter was meticulously condemned and thrown into the infamous Mamertine Prison in Rome.  The Mamertine was a deep, dark vault carved into solid rock, consisting of two chambers, one atop the other.  A narrow slit on the roof provided the only access and light to the upper chamber.  The lower chamber, known as the “death cell,” was in total darkness—and was never cleaned.  A horrid stench filled the prison, so great that it fatally poisoned many inmates. 

In the Mamertine “living hell,” Peter was chained upright to a post, in a physically exhausting position that didn’t allow him to recline.  There, alone, wallowing in filth, in total darkness, Peter awaited his death for nine long months—the monotony broken only by periods of intense torture.  All Peter had to do to be set free was to renounce Jesus. 

One day in 67, Peter was led into Nero’s circus to be executed.  There the apostle demanded that he be crucified head down, as he was not fit to be crucified in the same position as his Lord Jesus Christ.  The taunting Romans granted his request.

As Peter was led away to be crucified, he looked over at his wife, who likewise was being led away to be executed.  In his volume Church History, Eusebius quotes Peter’s last words of encouragement to his wife:  “O thou, remember the Lord.” 

In Patras, Greece, tradition (confirmed by several non-Biblical sources) indicates that Andrew angered the governor of the region because he converted the governor’s wife to Christianity, causing their estrangement.  As a consequence, the governor had Andrew crucified on a cross in the form of an “X,” not the traditional cross of Jesus.  (This form of cross is now referred to as the St. Andrew’s cross.)

Details of Thomas’ ministry vary, but accounts generally agree regarding his martyrdom.  Apparently Thomas had discredited the Brahmins, a Hindu sect, before the king.  They became envious of his missionary success and set out to kill him.  It is reported that one day, Thomas was deep in prayer in a cave on the slopes of Mount Antenodur.  The Brahmins attacked him, tortured him, thrust a spear through his side, and then fled.  Thomas left the cave in agony and dragged himself up the slope, where he died. 

Tradition has it that Matthew traveled to Ethiopia and became associated with Candace (see Acts 8:27).  Reports of his martyrdom vary.  The Jewish Talmud indicates he was pinned to the ground and beheaded for his faith in about 60. 

Records indicate that Philip was martyred at the age of 87 in the city of Hierapolis in Phrygia.  It is reported that pagan priests crucified him upside down by piercing him through the thighs.  He was then stoned as he hung upon the cross.  Before yielding up his spirit, Philip is said to have prayed for his enemies like Jesus did.

From Hierapolis, Bartholomew traveled to Armenia, where he is said to have started the Christian church in that region.  He was martyred at Albana (now Derbend, Russia).  One account indicates that pagan priests and the king’s brother, Astyages, became hostile as Bartholomew spoke out against the local idols (and healed the king’s daughter).  Bartholomew’s enemies eventually were able to have him arrested, beaten, and crucified in 68. 

The early church historian Nicephorus Callistus reviews the ministry of Jude in Syria, Arabia, Mesopotamia, and Persia.  Other sources document extensive involvement of Jude with the Armenian church from 35 to 43.  It is believed that he served with Bartholomew and Thomas in the region for several years.  Sources indicate that Jude was martyred by a barrage of arrows on Mount Ararrat.

James, son of Alphaeus, often called “James the Less,” is sometimes confused with James the brother of Jesus. 

Sources indicate the James the Less traveled to Syria soon after the resurrection, where he became the first “bishop” of the Syrian Church.  (Jesus’ brother James, on the other hand, became the first chairman of the church of Jerusalem.)  Tradition further indicates that James the Less later returned to Jerusalem, where he was stoned to death by the Jews for preaching the gospel of Christ. 

Simon became a disciple at the Sea of Tiberius, along with Andrew, Peter, James (the Great), John, Thaddaeus, and Judas Iscariot. 

Ancient documents describe Simon as having to endure “infinite troubles and difficulties.”  In Persia, Simon was eventually sawn in two for preaching about the resurrection of Jesus.

Of the 12 disciples, only John died a natural death (but he was exiled for his faith in Jesus)

James, brother of Jesus.  James was the early leader of the church in Jerusalem (Acts 12:17; 15:13-29; 21:18-24) and the author of the Book of James.  The Jewish historian Josephus records the martyrdom of James by stoning.  It is believed to have occurred in about 66.

Matthias.  Matthias was elected to fill the vacancy created by Judas.  It is said he was stoned and then beheaded.

Mark.  Tradition indicates that Mark was dragged to pieces in Alexandria after speaking out against the local idol Serapis. 

Paul.  Paul spent a great deal of time in the prisons of Rome, where he wrote many of his epistles.  In 66, Emperor Nero condemned Paul to death and had him beheaded. 

Barnabas.  Barnabas spread the gospel to many countries, yet on a return to Cyprus, he was martyred by the Jews for his evangelism.  History records that John Mark secretly buried his body in an empty sepulcher outside the city of Salamis.  [End of quotes]

Would you sacrifice your life for a lie?  A final comment from Muncaster follows:

All the disciples, with the exception of John, died horrific martyrs’ deaths in order to tell the gospel.  “All” that was required to escape death was to renounce Jesus.  The obvious question is, “Why would anyone, let alone all twelve, die for what they would certainly have known was a lie?”  [End of quote]

Church tradition reports that the little child Jesus speaks of in Matthew 18:1-3 is the second bishop of Antioch, Ignatius. 

1 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,

3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

The following paragraphs are found at OCA.org, a website of the Orthodox Church in America:

St. Ignatius was a disciple of the Apostle John the Theologian, together with St. Polycarp of Smyrna.  As Bishop of Antioch, St. Ignatius was zealous and spared no effort to build up the church of Christ.  To him is attributed the practice of antiphonal singing (by two choirs) during church services.  He had seen a vision of the angels in heaven alternately singing praises to God, and divided his church choir to follow this example.  In the time of persecution, he was a source of strength to the souls of his flock, and was eager to suffer for Christ. 

In the year 106, the emperor Trajan (98-117), after his victory over the Scythians, ordered everyone to give thanks to the pagan gods, and to put to death any Christians who refused to worship the idols.  In the year 107, Trajan happened to pass through Antioch.  Here, they told him that Bishop Ignatius openly confessed Christ, and taught people to scorn riches, to lead a virtuous life, and preserve their virginity.  St. Ignatius came voluntarily before the emperor, so as to avert persecution of Christians in Antioch.  St. Ignatius rejected the persistent requests of the emperor Trajan to sacrifice to the idols.  The emperor then decided to send him to Rome to be thrown to the wild beasts.  St. Ignatius joyfully accepted the sentence imposed upon him.  His readiness for martyrdom was attested to by eyewitnesses, who accompanied St. Ignatius from Antioch to Rome. 

On December 20, the day of the pagan festival, they led St. Ignatius into the arena, and he turned to the people:  “Men of Rome, you know that I am sentenced to death, not because of any crime, but because of my love for God, by Whose love I am embraced.  I long to be with Him and offer myself to Him as a pure loaf, made of fine wheat ground fine by the teeth of wild beasts.” 

After this, the lions were released and tore him to pieces, leaving only his heart and a few bones.  Tradition says that on his way to execution, St. Ignatius unceasingly repeated the name of Jesus Christ.  When they asked him why he was doing this, St. Ignatius answered that this Name was written in his heart, and that he confessed with his lips Him Whom he always carried within. 

When the saint was devoured by the lions, his heart was not touched.  When they cut open the heart, the pagans saw an inscription in gold letters: “Jesus Christ.” [End of quotes]

Another record of that conversation reported that Bishop Ignatius went on to say that he was convinced that if they cut his heart in pieces, that they would find the name of Jesus on every part.  

The record of the New Testament was signed with blood.  They did not die for a lie. 

GOD SAID, Jude 1:4, 10, 14-15:

4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

10 But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.

14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,

15 To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.

GOD SAID, Luke 1:1-4:

1 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,

2 Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;

3 It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,

4 That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.

MAN SAID:  The New Testament is a hodge-podge of hand-me-down writings not actually written until late in the second century and laden with myths and legends. 

Now you have THE RECORD.

       

 

References:

Authorized King James Version

McDowell, J., and Wilson, B., Evidence for the Historical Jesus, Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR, 1993

Muncaster, R., Examining the Evidence, Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR, 2004

Orthodox Church in America, “Hieromartyr Ignatius the God-Bearer, the Bishop of Antioch,” OCA.org

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