First of all I would like to point out something for those who reject the New Testament because it claims to be the word of God.
We have already given conformation for a lot of events surrounding the crucifixion in historical writings outside of the Bible. Yet
there is much more conformation for the historical accuracy of the New Testament through other ancient writings and
archeology. In fact the New Testament or the entire Bible for that matter has never been proven historically wrong
on any point.
People generally disbelieve the Bible because it claims to be the word of God and records miracles that took place in history.
Since it has been proven accurate time and time again and has never been proven wrong, it is not logical to reject it merely
because it records also what may be beyond a persons philosophical presuppositions. Due to these facts, the person that
rejects the Bible, because its claims to be the word of God should consider the idea, that possibly the Bible is true and it is
their philosophy that is wrong. A former Oxford lecture William Wand stated this very well when he said, "there is no scholarly
reason for rejecting possibilities before an investigation. An a priori dismissal cannot be allowed, even if we do not like the
conclusion that is indicated by the facts. One must decide on the basis of the known evidence." (pg.59,"The Historical Jesus",
Habermas) And as Habermas points out in the same reference " conclusions that are drawn before and against the facts are
both non-historical and non-scientific."
The conclusions in this case should be determined from what most critics would consider the minimal known historical facts
that were previously listed.
The following names are people that were followers of Jesus that he visited after he was resurrected from the dead.
He appeared to his original disciples who were Simon Peter, James the son of Zebedee, John the brother of James, Andrew,
Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot, Mark 3:16-18,
John 20:24-31. Jesus appeared also to Mary Magdalene, Salome, Mary the mother of James, Mark 16:1, Matthew 28:1-10.
Jesus also appeared to Cleopas Luke 24:13-34 and Joseph and Matthias, Acts 1:16-26. There are of course, repeated
visitations where Jesus appeared to some of the same people more than once. There are at least 17 different people
mentioned by name that I can count that were his followers and that Jesus appeared to after his resurrection.
As I already mentioned earlier, Jesus also appeared to unbelievers namely Paul, James and very likely Jude as well.
Making a total of 20 people mentioned by name that Jesus appeared to and were eyewitnesses to the fact that Jesus was
alive again after he was killed and buried. This would be a lot of eyewitnesses in any court of law as to an event that took place.
Furthermore those opposing Christianity in that era, played the role to some extent of the prosecuting attorney. They could not
disprove the testimony of these eyewitnesses and they certainly had motive to try to refute them. Should a jury be satisfied by
an opposing lawyer claiming that, maybe all of these eyewitnesses did not see what they thought they saw? These are only the
eyewitnesses that we know by name consider what Paul said in the following passage.
1 Cor 15:3-8 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the
Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared
to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain
until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as it were to one
untimely born, He appeared to me also.
Paul was telling these people that there were more than 500 eyewitness most of whom were still alive.
Many scholars believe that Paul here was citing an actual creed here that pre-dated his letter to the Corinthians. These people,
if they wished to could question all of these eyewitnesses to see if what Paul was saying was true. This would be a very foolish
claim for Paul to make, if in fact these eyewitnesses did not exist. Yet we have no evidence of anyone in that era refuting this
Concerning the disciples one must consider they claimed to be eyewitnesses of the fact that they seen, heard, touched and ate
with Jesus after he arose from the dead. We only have two possibilities here. Either they really believed this to be true or they
were lying. Next we need to ask what motive would the disciples have to be willing to be persecuted and die violently for a lie?
They did not die altogether at once but separately on different occasions. For those interested, the names of the original 12
Apostles is listed in Mark 3:16-19.
Unless otherwise stated the following information concerning how they died can be found in Fox's Book Of Martyrs, 1973,
Peter was crucified in Rome. Peter was crucified upside down at his own request because he said he was unworthy to be
crucified in the same manner as the Lord was. Andrew the brother of Peter was crucified on an X shaped cross. James the
son of Zebedee, was beheaded in Jerusalem by the sword Acts 12:1-2. Philip was scourged, thrown into prison, and
afterwards crucified at Heliopolis in Phrygia, 54 A.D. Bartholomew was at length cruelly beaten and then crucified, 52 A.D.
John the brother of James was the only disciple that escaped a violent death, although they once tried to boil him in oil, he was
later banished to the Isle of Patmos Rev.1:9. Matthew was slain with a halberd (a type of battle- ax and pike mounted on a
handle about 6 feet long) 60 A.D. Thomas was thrust with a spear. James the son of Alphaeus was beat and stoned by the
Jews; and finally his brains dashed out with a fuller's club. Simon the Zealot was crucified 74 A.D. Thaddaeus according to a
card containing the fate of the Apostles that I got at a bookstore was shot to death by arrows, 72 A.D. Judas of course killed
himself before Jesus was resurrected, Mat.27:3-5. Judas who was one of the original 12 disciples was replaced by Matthias
Acts 1:16-26. Matthias was stoned at Jerusalem and then beheaded. Paul was not part of the original 12 but his words are
recorded in the New Testament. He also should be mentioned since he likewise was an eyewitness of seeing the resurrected
Jesus. Paul was executed by soldiers they allowed him to pray then he gave his neck to the sword.
The remarkable thing is these men were killed separately over a period of about 30 years because of what they
believed and taught. None of them ever recanted their story about the resurrection of Jesus Christ! What motive
could they possibly have to die for what they knew to be a lie? On the contrary, it is because they knew the resurrection to be
true that they were willing to give their lives!
There is an interesting contrast in history of another group of 12 men and their leader and how they stood up for what they
had said was true. The men I am speaking of are the followers of Joseph Smith who was the founder of the Mormon church.
Jesus willingly laid down his life (Acts 8:32-35, 1 Pet.2:23) while Joseph Smith died in a gun fight in which he was fighting for
his life. (History of the Church Vol.6, pg.617-618, Vol.7, pg. 100-103)
The following is a quote from Ezra Taft Benson who is a former President of the Mormon church.
(Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p.89)
"Six of the original Twelve Apostles selected by Joseph Smith were excommunicated. The Three Witnesses to the Book of
Mormon left the Church. Three of Joseph Smith's counselors fell--one even helped plot his death."
So why is there such a contrast between the followers of Jesus who seen him after he rose from the dead and Joseph Smith
and his followers? I believe the answer is because one group was standing for what they knew to be true. The other group was
standing for what they did not know to be true. This fact can be seen in the following quote by Brigham Young a former Prophet
of the Mormon church.
Journal of Discourses, Vol.7, p.164, Brigham Young, June 5, 1859
"Some of the witnesses of the Book of Mormon, who handled the plates and conversed with the angels of God, were
afterwards left to doubt and to disbelieve that they had ever seen an angel. One of the Quorum of twelve--a young man full of
faith and good works, prayed, and the vision of his mind was opened, and the angel of God came and laid the plates before
him, and he saw and handled them, and saw the angel, and conversed with him as he would with one of his friends; but after all
this, he was left to doubt, and plunged into apostacy, and has continued to contend against this work."
(These witnesses are listed in the preface of the Book of Mormon)
I find it interesting that these men were not sure if they seen an angel or not. One of the twelve is said that he seen this angel
and the plates that were later translated into the book of Mormon and he even handled them. Later he is not sure if this was true
and argues against the Book of Mormon. In contrast, the disciples of Jesus and Paul never doubted that they seen Jesus after
he was resurrected from the dead. They were even persecuted and eventually killed for this belief. Would you stand under
persecution and even death for something that you were not thoroughly convinced was true? If you were to trust the testimony of
a group of men, which group of testimonies would you consider more credible, those followers of Jesus or the followers of
It is true, others in history have died for a lie, however you will find they usually believed their cause was the truth in most
cases. Others would have a highly motivated reason to die for what they knew to be a lie.
The disciples believed the resurrection to be true because they seen Jesus after being resurrected. The disciples seen Jesus
off and on for a period of 40 days (Acts 1:3). They talked with him, they touched him, they ate with him. They never doubted or
denied their testimony of these facts. There seems to be no motive for their willingness to die for this testimony other than they
really believed it to be true!
Acts 5:30-32 (Peter's statement) "The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a
cross. "He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and
forgiveness of sins. "And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey
2 Pet 1:16 (Peter's statement) "For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and
coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty."
I Jn 1:1-2 (John's statement) "What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we
beheld and our hands handled, concerning the Word of Life, and the life was manifested, and we have seen and bear witness
and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us"
Acts 4:33 (comment from Luke) And with great power the apostles were giving witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus,
and abundant grace was upon them all.
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