Numbers 21: 4-9
4 And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the
5 And the people spake
against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egyptto die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there
any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.
6 And the Lord sent fiery serpents
among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.
7 Therefore the people
came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against theLord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the
8 And the Lord said unto Moses, Make
thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that
every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.
9 And Moses made a
serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a
serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.
As we look at the story presented here
before us, we see that God has delivered his people out of Egypt, parted the
red sea, provided them food and water and yet the Children of Israel still
complained so God sent snakes that bit the people and God told Moses to make a
snake and put it upon a pole and if the people would look on that snake, they
would be healed.
There is another story in the New Testament and we see in the
fulfillment of Bible prophecy, the Messiah who was nailed to a cross and who
took on himself the sins of all humanity so that whoever would call upon the
name of the Lord would be saved.
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,
that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his
Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might
Prophecies Fulfilled in One Person:
1. Betrayed by a
friend. (Psalms 41:9; Matthew 26:49).
2. Thirty pieces of silver
(Zechariah 11:12; Matthew 26:15).
3. Betrayal money cast to
the floor of the temple (Zechariah 11:13; Matthew 27:5).
4. Betrayal money used to
buy the potter’s field (Zechariah 11:13: Matthew 27:7).
5. Forsaken and deserted by
his disciples (Zechariah 13:7; Mark 14:50).
6. Accused by false
witnesses (Psalms 35:11; Matthew 26:59-60).
7. Silent before His
accusers (Isaiah 53:7; Matthew 27:12).
8. Wounded and bruised
(Isaiah 53:5; Matthew 27:26).
9. Hated without a cause
(Psalm 69:4; John 15:25).
10. Struck and spat upon
(Isaiah 50:6; Matthew 26:67).
11. Mocked, ridiculed and
rejected (Isaiah 53:3; Matthew 27:27-31 and John 7:5, 48).
12. Collapse from weakness
(Psalms 109:24-25; Luke 23:26).
13. Taunted with specific
words (Psalms 22:6-8; Matthew 27:39-43).
14. People will shake their
heads at Him (Psalms 109:25; Matthew 27:39).
15. People will stare at Him
(Psalms 22:17; Luke 23:35).
16. Executed among “sinners”
(Isaiah 53:12; Matthew 27:38).
17. Hands and feet will be
pierced (Psalms 22:16; Luke 23:33).
18. Will pray for his
persecutors (Isaiah 53:12; Luke 23:34).
19. Friends and family will
stand afar off and watch (Psalms 38:11; Luke 23:49).
20. Garments will be divided
and won by the casting of lots (Psalms 22:18; John 19:23-24).
21. Will thirst (Psalms
69:21; John 19:28).
22. Will be given gall and
vinegar (Psalms 69:21; Matthew 27:34).
23. Will commit Himself to
God (Psalms 31:5; Luke 23:46).
24. Bones will be left
unbroken (Psalms 34:20; John 19:33).
25. Heart will rupture
(Psalm 22:14; John 19:34).
26. Side will be pierced
(Zechariah 12:10; John 19:34).
27. Darkness will come over
the land at midday (Amos 8:9; Matthew 27:45).
28. Will be buried in a rich
man’s tomb (Isaiah 53:9; Matthew 27:57-60).
29. Will die 438 years after
the declaration of Artaxerxes to rebuild the temple in 444 BC (Daniel 9:24).
30. Will be raised from the
dead (Psalms 16:10; Acts 2:31), ascend to heaven
(Psalms 68:18; Acts 1:9) and be seated the right hand of God in full majesty
and authority (Psalms 110:1; Hebrews 1:3).
Peter W. Stoner who authored “Science Speaks” stated that the probability of
just eight particular prophecies being fulfilled in one person is 1 in 1017,i.e.
1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000). The eight prophecies used in the
1. Messiah is to be
born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2;
fulfilled in Matt. 2:1-7; John 7:42; Luke 2:47).
2. Messiah is to be
preceded by a Messenger (Isaiah 40:3; Malachi 3:1; fulfilled in Matthew 3:1-3; 11:10; John 1:23; Luke 1:17).
3. Messiah is to
enter Jerusalem on a donkey
(Zechariah 9:9; fulfilled in Luke 35-37; Matthew 21:6-11).
4. Messiah is to be
betrayed by a friend (Psalms 41:9; 55:12-14; fulfilled in Matthew 10:4;
26:49-50; John 13:21).
5. Messiah is to be
sold for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12; fulfilled in Matthew
6. The money for
which Messiah is sold is to be thrown “to the potter” in God’s house (Zechariah
11:13; fulfilled in Matthew 27:5-7).
7. Messiah is to be
silent before His accusers (Isaiah 53:7; fulfilled in Matthew 27:12).
8. Messiah is to be
executed by crucifixion as a thief (Psalm 22:16; Zechariah 12:10; Isaiah 53:5,12;
fulfilled in Luke 23:33; John 20:25; Matthew 27:38; Mark 15:27,28).
statement was validated by the American Scientific Affiliation. This
number has been illustrated as follows:
If we take 1 X 1017 silver dollars and lay
them on the face of Texas, they'll cover all of
the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the
whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he
can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say
that this is the right one. What chance would he have of getting the right one?
Professor Stoner went on to consider 48 prophecies and says,
“… We find the chance that any one man fulfilled all 48 prophecies to be 1 in
“This is a really large number and it represents an
extremely small chance. Let us try to visualize it. The silver dollar, which we
have been using, is entirely too large. We must select a smaller object. The
electron is about as small an object as we know of. It is so small that it will
take 2.5 times 1015of them laid side by side to make a line, single
file, one inch long. If we were going to count the electrons in this line one
inch long, and counted 250 each minute, and if we counted day and night, it
would take us 19,000,000 years to count just the one-inch line of electrons. If
we had a cubic inch of these electrons and we tried to count them it would take
us, counting steadily 250 each minute, 19,000,000 times 19,000,000 times
19,000,000 [nineteen million times nineteen million times nineteen million] or
6.9 times 1021 years.
This is approximately the total number of electrons
in all the mass of the known universe. In other words the
probability of Jesus Christ fulfilling 48 prophecies is the same as one person
being able to pick out one electron out of the entire mass of our universe.
is the chance of any one man fulfilling any 48 prophecies. Yet Jesus Christ
fulfilled not just 48 prophecies, not just 61 prophecies, but more than
324 individual prophecies that the Prophets wrote concerning the
Messiah. I haven’t been able to find the statistical projection
representing the possibility of Jesus Christ fulfilling 324 prophecies but I
really don’t think it matters given the illustrations set forth above.
it really take faith to come to salvation through Jesus Christ? Absolutely
but that faith is not a blind faith as some would want you to believe but
instead, it is a faith based upon facts. How much faith? Maybe
not very much if one really takes the time to look at the facts and take into
consideration the statistics and probability of the prophecies concerning the
someone tries to tell you that Christianity is a religious faith based upon
ignorant acceptance of certain precepts that have no basis in fact, they are
sadly mistaken. Christianity only makes sense. It is a
faith that not only can be an emotional faith (which it is), it is also an
the odds, I wouldn’t bet against it. Would you?
HISTORIANS OF THE PERIOD:
CORNELIUS TACITUS (55 - 120 A.D.) Tacitus was a 1st and
2nd century Roman historian who lived through the reigns of over half a dozen
Roman emperors. Considered one of the greatest historians of ancient Rome, Tacitus verifies
the Biblical account of Jesus' execution at the
hands of Pontius Pilate who governed Judea from 26-36 A.D.
during the reign of Tiberius.
"Christus, the founder of the [Christian] name, was
put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of
Tiberius. But the
pernicious superstition, repressed for a time, broke out again, not only
through Judea, where the mischief originated, by
through the city of
Rome also." Annals XV, 44
this passage reveals and how it confirms the Biblical account:
Jesus did exist
Jesus was the founder of Christianity
Jesus was put to death by Pilate
Christianity originated in Judea (With Jesus)
Christianity later spread to Rome (Through the
Apostles and Evangelists)
Interjection: Could Tacitus have taken his information from Christian sources?
Answer: Because of his position as a professional historian and not
as a commentator, it is more likely Tacitus referenced government
records over Christian testimony. It is also possible Tacitus received some of
his information from his friend and fellow secular historian, Pliny
the Younger. Yet, even if Tacitus referenced some of Pliny's
sources, it would be out of his character to have done so without critical
investigation. An example of Tacitus criticising testimony given to him even
from his dear friend Pliny is found here: Annals XV, 55. Tacitus
distinguishes between confirmed and hearsay accounts almost 70 times in
his History. If he felt this account of Jesus was only a rumor or
folklore, he would have issued his usual disclaimer that this account was
Skeptic Interjection: Could this passage have been a Christian
Answer: Judging by the critical undertones of the passage, this is
highly unlikely. Tacitus refers to Christianity as a superstition and
insuppressible mischief. Furthermore, there is not a surviving copy
of Tacitus' Annals that does not contain this
passage. There is no verifiable
evidence of tampering of any kind in this passage.
Skeptic Interjection: Why is this passage not quoted by the early
Answer: Due to the condescending nature of Tacitus' testimony,
early Christian authors most likely would not have quoted such a source
(assuming Tacitus' writings were even available to them). However, our actual
answer comes from the content of the passage itself. Nothing in
Tacitus' statement mentions anything that was not already common knowledge
among Christians. It simply provides evidence of Jesus'
existence (a topic not debated at this point in history) and not his divinity.
Skeptic Interjection: Does the incorrect use of title procurator instead
of prefect negate Tacitus' reliability?
Answer: No. Evidence is provided in both secular and Christian
works which refer to Pilate as a procurator:
"Now Pilate, who was sent as procurator into
Tiberius..." The Jewish Wars, Book II
"Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea, in the times of
Tiberius Caesar..." First Apology XII
It has been suggested by both Christian and
secular scholars that Tacitus was either using an anachronism for the sake of
clarity or, since
Judea was a relatively new and insignificant Roman province, Pilate might have
held both positions.
GAIUS SUETONIUS TRANQUILLUS (69 - 130 A.D.) Suetonius was a
prominent Roman historian who recorded the lives of the Roman
Caesars and the historical events surrounding their reigns. He served as a
court official under Hadrian and as an annalist for the Imperial
House. Suetonius records the expulsion of the Christian Jews from Rome (mentioned in Acts18:2) and confirms the
Christian faith being
founded by Christ.
"As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of
Chrestus, [Claudius] expelled them from Rome." Life of Claudius 25.4
Interjection: Because Suetonius misspells Christus as Chrestus,
is it possible he was referring to someone else?
Answer: Because Chrestus was an actual Greek name,
critics speculate Suetonius may have been referring to a specific civil
agitator. I would
like to present a few arguments as to why I feel this is a reference to Jesus.
In order to get as close to the author's intent as possible, this is
the passage as it exists in the original Latin:
Jews) impulsore (the instigation) Chresto (Chrestus) assidue (upon) tumultuantis (making
a disturbance) Roma
(Rome) expulit (were expelled)."
1. Suetonius seems to
imply the word Chrestus as a title- not as a reference to
a particular rebel. Though I have seen critics cite the
passage as "a certain/one Chrestus" we
can see this is incorrect by the lack of the word quodam in
the original Latin.
2. Suetonius uses the
word instigation- not instigator. The Latin word referring to an
instigator is impulsor but the term referring to
instigation is impusore- and this is the word Suetonius
uses, thus affirming the belief he is using the word Chrestus as
a title and not as
3. It was common for
both pagan and Christian authors to spell the name using
either an e or an i- and we know the Christian authors
were obviously referring to Jesus when they spelled the name as Chrestus.
criticises pagan disdain for Christianity and points out the fact they
can't even spell the name correctly. He implies the
common misspelling of Chrestus by their use of the
term Chrestians: "Most people so blindly
knock their heads against the hatred of the
Christian name...It is wrongly pronounced by you as "Chrestians"
(for you do not even know accurately the name you hate)...
the special ground of dislike to the sect is, that
it bears the name of its Founder." Apology,
5. We also see
Justin Martyr (a Christian apologist, nonetheless!) using the incorrect
spelling of Chrestian. First Apology IV
6. Lactantius repeats
the lament of Tertullian with his statement, "But the meaning
of this name must be set forth, on account of the error
of the ignorant who by the change of a letter are accustomed to
call Him Chrestus." Fathers of the Third
and Fourth Centuries
7. Chrestus was a Greco-Roman
slave name but Suetonius tells us "foreigners" were not
allowed to adopt such names. Knowing the Jews
were a close-knit community, the idea of them following the revolt
of a gentile slave to such an extent to get them (and only them!)
expelled from Rome is quite a
Skeptic Interjection: How could this passage refer to Jesus. He was
never said to have travelled to Rome.
Answer: If Chrestus does refer to a title and not
a specific name (as we are asserting), there is no need for Him to have been in
leader can still be "an instigator" for a cause without being in the
vicinity. There are many causes that survived long after the lives of those
who initiated certain movements.
(~ 52 A.D.) Although his works exist only in fragments, Julius Africanus
debates Thallus' explanation of the midday darkness which
occurred during the Passover of Jesus' crucifixion. Thallus tries to dismiss
the darkness as a natural occurrence (a solar eclipse) but Africanus
argues (and any astronomer can confirm) a solar eclipse cannot physically occur
during a full moon due to the alignment of the planets.
Phlegon of Tralles, a 2nd century secular historian, also mentions the darkness
and tries to dismiss it as a solar eclipse. He also states the
event occurred during the time of Tiberius Caesar.
"On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness. The rocks
were rent by an earthquake and many places in Judea and other
districts were thrown down. This darkness Thallus, in the third book of his
History, calls, as appears to me without reason, an eclipse of the
sun. For the Hebrews celebrate the passover on the 14th day according to the
moon, and the passion of our Savior falls on the day before the
passover. But an eclipse of the sun takes place only when the moon comes under
the sun. And it cannot happen at any other time... Phlegon
records that, in the time of Tiberius Caesar, at full moon, there was a full
eclipse of the sun from the sixth hour to the ninth-manifestly that one
of which we speak. Chronography XVIII, 47
Interjection: Why doesn't Pliny the Elder or Seneca mention this event in
Answer: Pliny focused his writings on natural astronomical
events that had physical, scientific explanations. It is doubtful he would have
it necessary to record an event of supernatural origin. I can also find no
mention of him being in Judea at the time so it is
doubtful he would
have mentioned it if he did not witness the event first hand. Seneca focused his
writings on dramas, dialogues, and tragedies but also wrote a
meteorological essay, Natural Questions, composed of
theories pertaining to ancient cosmology. However this was by no means a
scientific almanac of events- it was a literary work. And like
Pliny, it is doubtful Seneca was in Judea during this event.
Skeptic Interjection: Because Thallus' and Phlegon's works exist
only in fragments, can their testimonies be considered reliable?
Answer: This is something the reader will have to determine on
their own. Africanus was an honest, qualified author who did not alter the
quotes to serve his own purpose. This is very likely considering what we know
about Africanus. Africanus' methods were highly
respected by his peers, he was often quoted by other authors, and he even
chastises his friend and fellow Christian, Origen, for citing
information from a spurious/unreliable source! (See: Africanus' letter to
It also must be noted that Thallus never said this eclipse did
not happen but instead was trying to actually come up with a scientific explanation
to the eclipse instead of assigning it divine origins.
THE YOUNGER (63 - 113 A.D) Pliny the Younger admits to
torturing and executing Christians who refused to deny Christ. Those who
denied the charges were spared and ordered to exalt the Roman gods and curse
the name of Christ. Pliny addresses his concerns to Emperor
Trajan that too many citizens were being killed for their refusal to deny their
"I asked them directly if they were Christians...those who persisted, I
ordered away... Those who denied they were or ever had been
Christians...worshiped both your image and the images of the gods and cursed
Christ. They used to gather on a stated day before dawn and
sing to Christ as if he were a god... All the more I believed it necessary to
find out what was the truth from two servant maids, which were
called deaconesses, by means of torture. Nothing more did I find than a
disgusting, fanatical superstition. Therefore I stopped the examination,
and hastened to consult you...on account of the number of people endangered.
For many of all ages, all classes, and both sexes already are
brought into danger..." Pliny's letter to Emperor Trajan
Pliny states some of the accused denied the charges, a recurring theme in the
correspondence between Pliny and Trajan is the
willingness of the true believer to die for Christ. This would hardly be
reasonable if they knew He never existed!
Interjection: How does dying for one's belief verify the actual existence of
Jesus? The sincerity of a belief does not necessarily
make the belief true. How does this passage specifically confirm a historical
Jesus and not just the existence of Christians in Rome?
Answer: Pliny states the Christians worshiped Christ as
if he were a god. This indicates one who would not normally
be considered a god,
such as a human who was exalted to divine status. Also, the early Christians
would have been in the position to know if Jesus was a historical
figure or not.
Though critics can claim these martyrs took Jesus' existence
solely on faith, common sense tells us there would have been a lot
more evidence of a historical Jesus at this time than what has been preserved
until today. According to early historians, Jesus' great-nephews
and other relatives were still alive as well as the associates of the original
apostles. Such individuals could easily verify His existence. Also,
documents which have been lost to us were still in existence (such as Jesus'
trial records and the census records of His birth) and were even
referenced by early authors who wrote about Jesus. These individuals had every
reason to be certain of Jesus' existence and were willing to
die because of it.
Skeptic Interjection: Pliny also states some recanted their
testimony. Perhaps they did so because they knew Jesus was a myth.
Answer: There are several rational explanations as to why some
would recant their Christian beliefs:
Pliny readily admits to torturing some of the accused (are admissions/denials
really credible under torture!?).
The accused knew if they did not recant they would be put
to death (fallible human rationalization: confess ...
go home [and work out
the hard feelings with Jesus later] or suffer crucifixion?).
Some of the accused could have been lackadaisical Christians who
half-heartedly accepted Christianity because of a spouse, parent, or
friend (and would have had no problem reverting back to paganism upon facing persecution). There
were half-hearted Christians 2,000
years ago just like there are half-hearted Christians today.
New Christians may have recanted to escape persecution if
they were not familiar with or did not understand the
severity of Jesus'
warning regarding those who deny their Christian beliefs).
The correspondence between Pliny and Trajan implies many of the
accused were being turned in falsely by their enemies. Some were
never Christians to begin with while some had already left&nbs...;
prior to their interrogation.
Just because there were some who may have recanted out of fear
or poor judgment doesn't dismiss the deaths of the other individuals
who were certain of Jesus' existence and died because of
(~ 178 A.D.) Celsus was a second century Roman author and avid
opponent of Christianity. He went to great lengths to disprove the
divinity of Jesus yet never denied His actual existence. Unfortunately for
Celsus, he sets himself up for criticism by mimicking the exact
accusations brought against Jesus by the pharisees which had already been
addressed and refuted in the New Testament. There are two very
important facts regarding Celsus which make him one of the most important
witnesses in this discussion:
Though most secular passages are accused of being Christian
interpolations, we can accept with certainty this is not the case
Celsus! The sheer volume of his writings (specifically designed
to discredit Christianity) coupled with the hostile
in his work dismiss this chance immediately.
The idea of Celsus getting his information entirely from Christian sourc...
recurring accusation against secular evidence) is&n...;
wholly absurd. Though he is obviously aware of his opponents' beliefs
(as anyone who is engaging in a debate should be), Celsus wrote
his exposition in the form of a dialogue between a "Jewish Critic"
and himself. This gives us cause to believe he used non-Christian
(probably Jewish) sources.
On Jesus' Miracles: "Jesus, on account of his poverty, was
hired out to go to Egypt. While there he
acquired certain [magical] powers... He
returned home highly elated at possessing these powers, and on the strength of
them gave himself out to be a god... It was by means of
sorcery that He was able to accomplish the wonders which He performed... Let us
believe that these cures, or the resurrection, or the feeding
of a multitude with a few loaves... These are nothing more than the tricks of
jugglers... It is by the names of certain demons, and by the use of
incantations, that the Christians appear to be possessed of [miraculous] power..."
Not only does Celsus confirm Jesus' existence, he also tries to debate the
source of Jesus' miracles. Like the pharisees of Jesus' day, Celsus
tries to dismiss these miracles as both demonic possession and cheap parlor
tricks. However, he is clearly grasping at straws: On one hand
Celsus accuses Jesus of performing magic learned in Egypt, then later states
it is by the power of possession, then states the miracles were
not really miracles at all but were illusionary tricks performed by a deceiver,
then finally states the miracles never occurred!
On the Virgin Birth: "Jesus had come from a village in Judea, and was the son of
a poor Jewess who gained her living by the work of her
hands. His mother had been turned out by her husband, who was a carpenter by trade,
on being convicted of adultery [with a Roman soldier
named Panthera]. Being thus driven away by her husband, and wandering about in
disgrace, she gave birth to Jesus, a bastard."
acknowledges Jesus' birth and existence but does not accept the concept of a
virgin conception. He tries to dismiss Mary's premarital
pregnancy as the result of an affair she had with a Roman soldier. Strangely
enough, there is a very similar passage in the Jewish Talmud
which makes the same accusation. This gives us reason to believe Celsus might
have referenced Jewish sources for some of his arguments.
On the Apostles: "Jesus gathered around him ten or eleven
persons of notorious character... tax-collectors, sailors, and fishermen... [He
was] deserted and delivered up by those who had been his associates, who had
him for their teacher, and who believed he was the savior and
son of the greatest God... Those who were his associates while alive, who
listened to his voice, and enjoyed his instructions as their teacher,
on seeing him subjected to punishment and death, neither died with nor for
him... but denied that they were even his disciples, lest they die
along with Him."
Celsus' intentions were to argue that if the disciples really believed
Jesus was the Son of God, they would not have forsaken Him at His arrest.
Instead, he only ends up confirming the Biblical account! The Bible tells us
when Jesus was arrested, the apostles denied being His followers. It
was only upon Jesus' resurrection they understood the spiritual principles
concerning Jesus' crucifixion and boldly went out to preach the
Gospel. Celsus is also wrong with his statement, [they] neither died
with nor for him. We are told by early historians all but one of the
remaining apostles were killed for their faith.
On Jesus' Divinity: "One who was a God could neither flee
nor be led away a prisoner... What great deeds did Jesus perform as God? Did he
put his enemies to shame or bring to an end what was designed against him? No
calamity happened even to him who condemned him... Why
does he not give some manifestation of his divinity, and free himself from this
reproach, and take vengeance upon those who insult both him
and his Father?"
Celsus ridicules Jesus for the exact same reasons the pharisees of His time
ridiculed Him- if Jesus was the Son of God, why didn't He save
Himself from the cross? Neither Celsus nor the pharisees understood the
spiritual implications of Jesus' death to atone for sin. Celsus also asks
why no judgment came upon the Jews but history shows shortly after His death
Jerusalem was invaded by the Romans, the Jewish temple was
destroyed, and the Jewish people were dispersed for almost 2,000 years!
John the Baptist "If any one predicted to us that the Son
of God was to visit mankind, he was one of our prophets, and the prophet of our
God? John, who baptized Jesus, was a Jew."
Celsus confirms Jesus' baptism by John but asserts that John was the only
one who actually prophesied His coming- not the Old Testament Messianic prophecies.
On the Crucifixion: "Jesus accordingly exhibited after His
death only the appearance of wounds received on the cross, and was not in
so wounded as He is described to have been."
In this statement, Celsus confirms Jesus' death by crucifixion although he
claims the only wounds Jesus received were those inflicted by the
crucifixion (thus denying any previous torture had taken place). But not even
history offers Celsus the benefit of a doubt as floggings were the
standard form of torture given to victims prior to crucifixion. Celsus
contradicts himself yet again when he later states Jesus was
probably never even crucified but instead had an impostor die in His place!
Interjection: Celsus also states, "It is clear to me that
the writings of the Christians are a lie and that your fables are not well
enough constructed to conceal this monstrous fiction." How do we
know Celsus is referring to a historical Jesus and not just
Answer: Evidence which shows Celsus to be refuting aspects of a
historical Jesus is as follows:
Our answer can be found in Cels...He
was therefore a man, and of such a nature, as
the truth itself proves, and reason&...
demonstrates him to be. Satisfied with his presentation
of evidence, Celsus offers his conclusion that Je...man- not a myth
(or a God, as the apostles had&...
2. Instead of denying the alleged event...
the early Christian claims (like the...
up for an illegitimate pregnancy and...
he was discussing a mythical character, he would
not have needed to go to such lengths but merely to
have dismissed Jesus as a myth. After all, there
is no easier way to discredit a
religion than to assert its founder&...
is an argument Celsus never makes.
3. The "fables" Celsus refers to
is his belief that the claims such as a virgin birth and resurrection were e...
Christians- not that Jesus was Himself a myth. Celsus was debating the claims... divinity, not His existence.
OF SAMOSATA (120 - ~180 A.D.) Lucian was a second
century Greek satirist and rhetorician who scornfully describes his views of
early Christianity. Though he ridicules the Christians and their Christ, his
writings confirm Jesus was executed via crucifixion and that He was
the founder of Christianity.
"The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day- the distinguished
personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that
account... It was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are
all brothers from the moment they are converted and deny the
gods of Greece, and worship the
crucified sage, and live after his laws..." The Death of Peregrinus 11-13
this passage reveals and how it confirms the Biblical account:
Jesus did exist
Jesus was the founder of Christianity
Jesus was worshiped by His followers
Jesus suffered death by crucifixion
Interjection: Can we consider Lucian's testimony reliable due to the
source being a literary work?
Answer: Lucian's commentary revolved around historical events.
In Lucian's work The Way to Write History, he openly criticises his
contemporaries who distort history to flatter their masters or those who fill
in the historical gaps with personal conjecture:
historian's one task is to tell the thing as it happened... He may
nurse some private dislikes, but he will attach far more
to the public good, and set the truth high above his
hate... For history, I say again, has this and only
this for its own. If a man will start
upon it, he must sacrifice to no God but Truth. He must
neglect all else."
Skeptic Interjection: Is it possible Lucian received his
knowledge from Christian sources or that this passage is an interpolation?
Answer: Seeing how adamant Lucian was in regards to historical
accuracy and critical investigation, our answer is an emphatic no.
As to the
passage being a Christian interpolation, chances are the reference to Jesus
would be far more favorable if this were so. Lucian refers to Jesus
only as a man, a lawgiver, and a sage (human- not divine- descriptions).
He never once refers to Jesus as a God. Furthermore, there isn't
anything in the above statement that reveals what wasn't already known- it
merely asserts that Jesus lived, preached, and died. Remember, at
this time Christians were trying to prove Jesus' divinity- not His
BAR-SERAPION (Post 70 A.D) Mara Bar-Serapion of Syria penned this letter
from prison to his son. Though it is obvious he does not
acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God, he does mention aspects of Jesus' life.
There is some criticism regarding this passage but it must be
noted nothing in Serapion's letter contradicts what we know about Jesus.
"What advantage did the Athenians gain from putting Socrates to death?
Famine and plague came upon them as a judgment for their crime.
What advantage did the men of Samos gain from burning
Pythagoras? In a moment their land was covered with sand. What advantage did
Jews gain from executing their wise King? It was just after that their kingdom
was abolished. God justly avenged these three wise men: The
Athenians died of hunger.
The Samians were overwhelmed by the sea. The Jews,
ruined and driven from their land, live in complete
dispersion. But Socrates did not die for good. He lived on in the teachings of
Plato. Pythagoras did not die for good. He lived on in the statue of
Hera. Nor did the wise King die for good. He lived on in the teaching which He
Skeptic Interjection: How do we know this passage is a
reference to Jesus?
Answer: There are several references in this passage which imply
Serapion is referring to Jesus:
He was a wise King (Jesus was mocked by
the Romans as The King of the Jews, the messianic
prophecies fulfilled by Jesus referred to
the coming Messiah as a king, Christian believers believed Jesus was their promised
spiritual king, and Jesus was born from the royal
line of King David).
He was Jewish (Jesus was a Galilean Jew).
He was executed (Jesus was crucified after the
Jews appealed to Pilate to have Him crucified).
After His death Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed
(This occurred in 70 A.D., after Jesus' death).
The Jews were dispersed after His death (The Jews
abandoned Judea after the Roman attack of 70 A.D.).
He was a teacher (Jesus was a rabbi/teacher).
He lived on after death in His teachings (Jesus and
His teachings founded the Christian faith).
Skeptic Interjection: Is it possible Serapion was referring to
Answer: Though critics mention other possible candidates, the
timing is off as Serapion specifically states just after that their
abolished. Only Jesus fits into the appropriate timeline as Titus destroyed
Jerusalem a mere 36 years after Jesus'
crucifixion. The others lived
approximately 170-250 years prior to the desolation.
Skeptic Interjection: Didn't the Romans technically
kill Jesus, though?, The Jews were
under Roman domination which restricted their ability to execute
capital punishment. The Jews rallied the Roman government to crucify Jesus for
the crime of blasphemy as they did not have the legal power
to do so. Even the Bible mentions Pilate's reluctance to punish an innocent man
but that he allowed it to take place to prevent a Jewish revolt
in an already hostile environment.