Should I Trust What the Bible Says About Jesus?
Billions of people around the world today consider themselves Christians, meaning they believe that Jesus was God in human form, that he died to forgive people of their sins, and that he rose from the dead three days later to defeat death so that his followers can have eternal life. These billions of people are convinced of these things primarily because of one source: the Bible.
You might be thinking, “is the Bible trustworthy?” After all, it says some pretty radical things about Jesus – things that sound straight up mythological. “Aren’t there other religious books that say equally radical things? What makes them any less true?”
These are good questions, and there are good answers to them. Below is a list of reasons why we can trust what the Bible says about Jesus.
- The New Testament documents that tell of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection were written by eyewitnesses who were willing to die for what they had written and taught. In fact, 11 out of the 12 disciples would die for their faith, as would countless others who heard the message of his death and resurrection. Would so many people be willing to die for a lie they made up?
- The New Testament authors wrote embarrassing material about themselves (like when the disciples abandoned Jesus when he was arrested and crucified), making it less likely that they made it all up and more likely that they decided truth-telling was more important than their reputations.
- All of the books of the New Testament were written within 60 years of Jesus’s life. That means people who had seen Jesus were still alive when all the documents were written and could have refuted them strongly had they been untrue. Yet, we have no record of that happening, and instead we see explosive growth in the early years of Christianity.
- 1 Corinthians, a letter written by the Apostle Paul only 20-25 years after Jesus’s life, claims that 500 people saw Jesus after he had risen from the dead. Paul implies that the Corinthians should ask these people about it, which would be a really stupid idea if the entire thing was made up.
- Luke, the author of the books of Luke and Acts, was a well-respected historian. Both of his books of the Bible are filled with historical information that have been confirmed time and time again by archeological and textual data from the ancient world. The miracles, death, and resurrection of Jesus are interwoven with his extremely accurate historical narrative, giving more credence to the claims about Jesus.
- We have a lot of evidence that the writers of the four gospels did not conspire with each other to write their material. There is good evidence that there were at least three unrelated sources that the four gospel writers drew from, as well as their own personal recollections, to pen their biographies of Jesus. In all of the New Testament, we have a lot of people coming from different backgrounds and streams of knowledge who provide a diverse, yet unified account of Jesus.
- The amount of manuscripts we have of the New Testament documents numbers over 24,000, many of them dated within 50 years of when the originals were written. In comparison, we trust historical sources that only have 10 manuscripts written over 1,000 years after the original documents were penned. Why not trust the New Testament as well?
- With over 24,000 manuscripts, we can observe how accurately the Bible has been transmitted over time, and we can also refer back to earlier manuscripts to correct small grammar and vocabulary mistakes made in later manuscripts. The transmission of the Bible has not been a game of telephone; rather, it’s been a painstaking and extremely accurate process that has preserved the original texts. We can trust that the Bible we have today is virtually the same Bible that was written thousands of years ago.
- Jesus is talked about in dozens of Christian and non-Christian sources within 100 years of his life, and many of them corroborate details in the New Testament: Jesus was crucified by Roman authorities, he performed miraculous signs (which non-Christians regarded to be by the power of Satan or dark spirits rather than God), he claimed to be God, the tomb was empty, the disciples claimed he rose from the dead, etc.
None of the above points PROVE beyond a doubt that Jesus is God, the Bible is true, and so on. Yet it is apparent that the Bible has a lot going for it, and it is worthy of your consideration. Maybe you’ve always thought the Bible was a fairy tale that wasn’t worth your time. However, there’s good evidence to back up what Christians have said for millennia – Jesus died for you, and if you call on his name, you will be forgiven of your sins and have eternal life. Will you accept him?
Want to learn more? Check out this book: The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? By F.F. Bruce.