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Witnesses and Resurrection

Updated: May 6, 2023

Acts 2

Julius Caesar's history of the Gaelic wars is considered among the best ancient documents we have. The earliest copy is more than 800 years after he wrote it. There are only ten surviving manuscripts.

There are 20 copies of Tacitus' The Annals written about 100AD and the oldest copy is dated to 1100 AD.

There are 193 copies of Sophocles written between 500-400 BC and the oldest copy we have is from about 1000 AD as well.

The granddaddy of them all is the Iliad by Homer written in 900 BC. The earliest copy we have is from 400 BC which is 500 years after it was written. We have more than 1000 copies of this book. This number of copies and the early dates of the copies we have shown tremendous reliability, among the very best of all ancient writings. This is the single most textually accredited book other than the New Testament in history.

Now consider the New Testament.

We have 20,000 documents ranging from as early as 64 AD all the way through the Middle Ages to present. That is as early as 35 years after it was written.

you can find a list at The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts.

And another at The Library at Southeastern.

https://library.sebts.edu/texts

This does not mention the 1 million+ tertiary documents. These would be documents we have that are not copies of the scriptures but letters and sermons we have that cite specific passages. The early church leaders were prolific in the references to the scriptures. There is no other book in the entirety of humanity that has remotely as many verifiable facts, ancient manuscripts, documents, and as much historical accuracy as the Bible. We also have more than 1 million documents we have not deciphered yet stored at Cambridge. The reason we have not gotten to them is because it is extremely labor-intensive to handle these ancient documents without them falling apart. Some of them must be examined using x-rays.

Anyone questioning the date of the book of Acts should read the following from Zondervan.

https://zondervanacademic.com/blog/when-was-acts-written






"Luke records an abundance of details, and this allows the careful student to check the ancient historian for credibility. For instance, the physician/historian mentions 32 countries, 54 cities, and nine Mediterranean islands. In addition, he alludes to 95 different people, 62 of which are not mentioned by any other New Testament writer. Twenty-seven of these are unbelievers, chiefly civil or military officials" (Bruce Metzger, The New Testament – Its Background, Growth, and Content, Nashville: Abingdon, 1965, 171-172).

Bruce Metzger was Bart Ehrman mentor and professor as well as the most gifted textual critic of the 20th century. We also know that the book of Acts was written between 50 and 62 AD. These dates are not disputed among scholars except by the extreme fringe. Even atheistic and agnostic scholars agree to these dates for the book of acts.

Now let us pay special attention to the second chapter of Acts. Here we have Peter giving the first sermon after the ascension of Jesus.

Peter calls the crowd of Jewish people into account using the commandment to not bear false witness.

The entire crowd therefore is witnesses of everybody within the crowd both individually and collectively as to the accuracy of what he says.

If they lie it is punishable by stoning. If Peter lies, he too is to be killed by stoning.

Time and again he says, "you yourselves are witnesses to these events" & "you yourself know".

This is the people that were in the crowd chanting "crucify him crucify him".

Now at the very strongest evidence one can provide is when your enemy or your adversary provides the proof of your claim directly. These that cried out for the crucifixion of Jesus are the ones here bearing witness according to the second commandment that these things occurred.

22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men,[d] put him to death by nailing him to the cross.

32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it.

36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”

There is no evidence that can compete with this in terms of its reliability and strength of argument.

Acts chapter 2 says that Peter held the crowd to account of the things they themselves had witnessed.

14Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It is only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke.


20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’[c] 22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, [d] put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. 25 David said about him: “‘I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. 26 Therefore my heart is glad, and my tongue rejoices. my body also will rest in hope, 27 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, you will not let your holy one see decay. 28 You have made known to me the paths of life. you will fill me with joy in your presence.’[e] 29 “Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. 32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. 33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, “‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand 35 until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”’[f] 36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” 37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” 40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.


This is consistent with everything we know from the destruction in 70AD, the records of the first century Christian writings, and the swift spread of Christianity. A breakdown of this passage goes something like this:

V 14 Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem This establishes the audience.

V17-21 is the most prophesied verse in the entirety of the bible. This alone is prophesied no less than 17 times in the Old Testament. This had a tremendous impact on the crowd of Jews as this is the one sign they could not ignore and is always associated with the coming of the messiah.

V 22 alone has the following references: "Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know." In this one verse three times does Peter hold them to account of what they themselves witnessed. Given the commandment to not bear false witness this had now the effect of placing them in the hot seat as it were. They could either choose to break the commandment or testify as to the truth of what they had witnessed. The placement in Jewish law and custom was now established. You see the law was their religion and sacred to them. They now were in the position that they themselves were the very witnesses against themselves where the entire crowd was also testifying against the entire crowd both individually and collectively. Individually they could have lied but in a gathering of this size where everyone knew what had transpired Peter calls into account each of them individually to bear witness to these events of all persons there. If Peter was lying, they stone peter for bearing false witness. That is not what occurred. These men under pain of death testified to the fact of the risen messiah, these men who chanted "crucify him! crucify him!" time and again were called into account for their actions and these enemies of Jesus testified that Jesus had raised from the dead.

V23 is even stronger and places these men in the crowd who were paid by the chief priest to chant for the crucifixion of Jesus. Peter is accusing them directly of the death of Jesus. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, [d] put him to death by nailing him to the cross.

V24-31 Peter is referring to the prophecies and making the strong case again for the Messiah. These passages and the account of David is very strong evidence of the Messiah in the Hebrew tradition and Judaism. The people instantly knew Peter was speaking of the Messiah when quoting these verses.

V 32 needs no explanation: 32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it.

Vs 33-35 Peter circles back to what is going on right in front of the crowd, the speaking in native tongues and the holy spirit coming on the men.

V 36 Peter tells them very plainly Jesus is the Messiah and you crucified Him. “Therefore, let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”

V41 is the clencher. 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.






This is the very beginning of Christianity. The very first Christians that were not disciples or Apostles but believed that Jesus rose from the dead and was the Messiah that was to come were also the very ones that killed him. Christianity started right here in the middle of Jerusalem with the very people that chanted "crucify Him" repeatedly and sided with the Pharisees and Sadducees against the man that came to save them from their sins. This is another parallel in the account as the fact that the very first Christians were also those that chanted for his death is a perfect parallel to the salvation narrative. In fact, Peter being the one to deliver the message is even another level of parallel and irony as Peter was the one that denied knowing the Christ.

Here we have 3,000 people who they, themselves, were witnesses to all the events of Jesus’ arrest, crucifixion, and resurrection called into account upon pain of death to testify to the truth.

3,000 people of that crowd became followers of Jesus Christ that day.

Now given this argument you have no options but to either dismiss everything in ancient history as unreliable If you are going to dismiss this account or accept that 3,000 eyewitnesses to the events described in the Gospels became followers of Jesus when they were put to the test according to the Jewish law.


The Resurrection occurred, it happened. These are the enemies of Christ, not only confirming these events, but dedicating their lives to Christ in the face of Jewish persecution. This is recorded by one of the most accurate and verified books in all of ancient history. Christ rose from the dead. The other option is that Christianity arose from Judea in spite of eye witness testimony of the entire area and first hand knowledge of the ministry of the Nazarene. Not only did this occur despite the first hand accounts but also despite the Jewish rulers and Roman law.

Now do you believe it is plausible that those Hebrews who chose to crucify Jesus later chose to join against the rulers and all of Rome based upon eyewitness testimony as a lie or the truth? Did these men choose to rebel against everything in their life due to a fact they witnessed or due to a lie that they knew was a lie?


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