This is not something that I had planned on posting here. But in looking for something relating to Judas I came across this blog “Atheist Nexus” and the first post caught my eye. So after a bit of reading and writing I prepared a reply to “Tezzie” but when I tried to post my reply I was blocked because I am not an atheist.
So I decided to post it here. For anyone ever facing the same question from one who says they are an atheist, here is some valid and substantial arguments in defense of our faith in Jesus Christ.
First, here is Tezzie’s Q. “I know the Jesus that we atheists know is most likely just a myth but I would like to find out if, and only if, Jesus did exist (the man, not the god that did miracles) would these gospel writers have actually met him? I saw a you tube video (not entirely sure which one it was) that was showing someone from the Islamic religion debunking the Christian religion. He said that none of them had ever met Jesus as they only wrote the gospel 40-80 years after Jesus’ supposed death.
Can anyone verify this for me, it would be an interesting point to make when arguing with a christian.”
And my reply:
“Before saying anything about Matthew, Mark, Luke or John, I want to mention Ignatius. Known as Ignatius of Antioch, his DOB is between 35 & 50 AD, and he died in about 108 AD (according to Eusebius of Caesarea (c. AD 263-339) also called Eusebius Pamphili, a historically proven Roman historian). Ignatius did not meet Jesus face to face, but along with his friend Polycarp (69-155 AD) were probably disciples of the Apostle John. Based on the testimony of John, these two men believed in Jesus Christ as Lord. Because if they didn’t they were insane, and nothing in any of their writings indicated that.
Ignatius was sentenced to die in the Colosseum being eaten by lions for refusing to recant his faith in Jesus Christ. And Polycarp who is recorded as saying on the day of his execution, “eighty-six years I have served Him, how then can I blaspheme my King and my Savior? Bring forth what thou wilt.” For refusing to burn incense to the Emperor of Rome, he was burned at the stake.
The reason I mentioned those two men was to, first of all, show you that there were those in those times who not only believed what they had heard and read, but were willing to die for that faith. But also, I wanted to mention Ignatius specifically because the earliest quote from Matthew is found in his letters. This being said, then considering that Ignatius died in about 108 AD, Matthew’s gospel must have been in circulation before 108 AD. But I’ll narrow it down further by mentioning a prophesy given by Jesus and recorded in Matthew 24; Mark 13 and Luke 21. Jesus prophesied that the Jewish temple in Jerusalem would be torn down, leaving not one stone upon another and that did not occur until 70 AD when the Romans sacked Jerusalem and burned the temple. The gold that was part of the structure melted down into the walls and the Romans were forced to take it apart stone by stone to retrieve the gold. (historical fact)
It would seem to me that if this had already happened when Matthew mentioned the prophesy (Matt. 24:1) or in Mark or Luke from a second-hand report of the prophesy, or from John who would have known of the prophesy, perhaps even heard Jesus say it, one or the other of them would have mentioned the destruction of the temple. That would have been significant news of the day. But no where in any of the gospels is that mentioned.
If the gospels were merely fabricated, wouldn’t you think that the perpetrators of the spurious writings would have added into them, anything historically significant in order to substantiate them?
So this is solid evidence that the gospels were penned before 70 AD.
Both Luke and Mark were disciples of Paul that is sure. They had never seen Jesus. But as far as their gospels are concerned, I would compare their authorship to the likes of any historical work, penned by someone who though not alive at the time the history presented itself, wrote based on facts reported by those who had been there.
Luke, who also penned the Book of Acts, did not mention in his gospel or Acts, Nero’s persecution of Christians in 64 AD (historical fact). This was significant news in the world, but specifically in Christendom, were the deaths of James in 62 AD, Paul in 64 AD and Peter in 65 AD, none of which is mentioned by Luke. Luke was a doctor of sorts and all of his writing indicates a person of good education, very perceptive and detail oriented. So based on all of that, it is obvious that the book of Luke and Acts were penned before 62 AD.
And as for John, well, if you have time and are so inclined, google “John Rylands papyrus fragment 52“ which is a fragment of John’s gospel dated to be about 135 AD. it contains portions of chapter 18, verses 31-33, 37-38. Considering that the fragment was found in Egypt, it would have taken quite a while for the papyrus gospel to have reached Egypt. History relates that John was born in about 6 AD making him about 9 years younger than Jesus. According to Polycarp’s own words, he was taught by John. If Polycarp was born in about 69 AD, when Polycarp was 15, John would have been about 63 years old. How old John was at the time of his exile is not quite sure, but the event is historically factual to have occurred during the time of the roman Emperor Domitian (According to Tertullian) who reigned from 81 AD until his assassination in 96 AD. He is historically a persecutor of the Christian church. And upon his death, it is likely that John was freed from exile though he may not have left Patmos immediately. John would have been about 90 years old by then.
When he did leave, it is likely that he returned to the area near Ephesus and lived out the rest of his life, living to the age of about 94 or 95.
So yes, Tezzie, you can honestly say that Mark and Luke never met Jesus which makes their faith in Him as their Savior and LORD even more remarkable. The funny thing is, I find it rather odd that those who speak of second-hand knowledge in regards to Jesus Christ, are quick to believe second-hand reports of other individuals. For instance, and I know this will date me as being sort of old, but I once met Frankie Avalon. Got a kiss on my cheek in fact. And he was a looker for sure. I had all of his records. But I know many a woman who never saw him in person, let alone heard him sing in person, who will swear by their own mother’s life that he was the cutest thing since sliced bread. Do you get my drift?
Yes, for nearly 2000 years millions of people have believe in Jesus Christ. They never saw Him or heard Him yet thousands, perhaps millions, even today are willing to die for their faith.
If the New Testament was all a contrived bit of fantasy, how could it have survived for that long? How could it be that prophesies that were written more than a thousand years before His birth have been fulfilled by Him?
Many scholars estimate that there are nearly 300 prophesies that foretold of His birth, His death and His resurrection. Most anyone would have doubts if there had been only a few but when they can be listed from the OT and shown in the NT, to consider them to be contrived is really farfetched. It’s as doubtful as someone saying that the lunar landing in 1969 was a hoax. Considering how many people would have had to be in on the hoax, it is ludicrous to even think that. One or two people may be able to keep a secret, but considering the hundreds of people involved in the launch, the landing, and the return to earth, that would be a real test of secrecy. And the same goes for the NT.
What do we do with all those who say that saw Jesus after His resurrection? Were they insane? Were they bewitched or in a trance? Or were they just so simple-minded that they fell for the hoax?
I don’t know if you are a guy or a girl but I will suggest that if you want to disprove the NT, read it. Don’t take what anyone else has to say about it, especially someone of Islam. Their hatred of the Jews makes them a very risky and unreliable witness!
I wish I had come across this blog a couple of years ago, as it is, it is likely that you will never read my reply. But if by chance you do, I pray that you will have the same open mind that those who do not believe accuse believers of not having!!”