My name is Matthew. I’m a speaker and author with Josh McDowell Ministry. After you watch this video, feel free to leave a comment here or via my social channels, listed below. I’d love to hear from you and be a small part of your wrestling with these important questions about Jesus. I also invite you to subscribe to my channel!
Enemies Refute Gospels? | Are the Gospels Reliable?
Welcome, everyone, to our final video in this series on the historical reliability of the Gospels. We’ve covered a lot in the previous nine videos, but there’s one last question I want us to explore: Do the enemies of Christianity claim that the gospels contain false information?
Obviously, those opposed to Christianity deny that Jesus rose from the dead, as claimed by the Gospel writers. No surprise there. But there are other details that these critics admit are true. Let’s look at just three examples that substantiate historical facts about Jesus.
Tacitus wrote: “Therefore, to squelch the rumor, Nero created scapegoats and subjected to the most refined tortures those whom the common people called ‘Christians,’ hated for their abominable crimes. Their name comes from Christ, who, during the reign of Tiberius, had been executed by the procurator Pontius Pilate. Suppressed for the moment, the deadly superstition broke out again, not only in Judea, the land which originated this evil, but also in the city of Rome, where all sorts of horrendous and shameful practices from every part of the world converse and are fervently cultivated.”
It’s obvious that Tacitus was not friendly towards Christianity. But notice the details he confirms: that Jesus existed and was called Christ, that He lived during the reign of Tiberius, and that He was executed under Pilate. The Christian movement ended after Jesus was killed, but suddenly started up again and spread rapidly.
Two: The Jewish Talmud accuses Jesus of leading the Jews astray via sorcery. This implies that the Jews believed Jesus actually did supernatural things.
Granted, the Talmud was written roughly 500 years after the time of Jesus, but its writings preserve the oral communication of the Jews passed down through history. So it likely reflects an argument that the Jews made many years earlier. The Bible books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke tell us that the Jews accused Jesus of performing miracles from demonic power, rather than power from God. The writings of Josephus, a Jewish historian who lived in the first century, also recorded that Jesus was a doer of startling deeds. Clearly, these sources confirm that Jesus evidenced supernatural powers.
Three: The final detail I want to show you comes from Matthew 28:11-15. In this Bible passage, Jesus had just resurrected. Matthew tells us how the Roman guards responded.
“While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.”
Why do you suppose Matthew writes this? Likely because the Roman guards were spreading this lie. Matthew’s details served to help people know the truth. Don’t miss this critical point: If the guards were claiming that the disciples had stolen Jesus’ body, it meant that Rome was admitting that the tomb was empty — and they didn’t know how it happened.
I hope by now that you recognize that there are plenty of historical facts that substantiate the trustworthiness of the four Gospels, and that we can confidently place our trust in Jesus. “Gospel,” by the way, means “good news.” The resurrection story of Jesus, the central message of Christianity, is definitely good news!
Our sin once separated us from God, but Jesus changed that! Jesus lived among us, selflessly died a horrific death on the cross as payment for our sins, and resurrected to show His supernatural power. You and I are fully reconciled to God, both now and forever, when we choose to trust in the saving power of Jesus. Will you consider inviting Jesus to be Lord of your life today?
Thank you for journeying through this series with me. I love sharing this information in person. Consider inviting me to speak at your church or youth event! Click on my Josh McDowell Ministry Speakers Page link below.