Chapter Fifteen


Secular History

The historical fact that Jesus the Messiah lived cannot be doubted. The Roman historian Carius Cornelius Tacitus wrote about A.D. 100 in his book, Annals:
They had their denomination from Christus, who in the reign of Tibertius was put to death as a criminal by the procurator Pontius Pilate. Annals 15.44.

Tacitus did not like Christians; however, he did record the death of Jesus. Men who try to say that Jesus was a myth are unscientific. They are either ignorant or dishonest.

Bitter enemies of Jesus wrote against him in the Jewish Talmud.1 This proves that Jesus lived. A Greek by the name of Celsus wrote against Jesus. He also accepted the fact that Jesus lived.

History of the Life of Messiah

Four men wrote separate histories of the life of Jesus. While they recorded common events, each of the four recorded events and details which were not recorded by the others. Together, the four give us a sum of historical data. You need to read all four histories.

Matthew was a tax collector. He left a well paying work in order to follow Jesus. Matthew was an eyewitness of the life of Jesus. He recorded what he saw and heard. Matthew, an apostle was inspired by the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; 16:13).

Mark was an evangelist, who worked with Paul and Peter (1 Peter 5:13). Papias, an early Christian, said that Mark wrote the history of Jesus from the apostle Peter.2 Peter was an eyewitness.

Luke was a Greek medical doctor. He wrote as a historian. Let us read his introduction:
Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word have handed them down to us, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you might know the exact truth about the things you have been taught. Luke 1:1-4.

Luke wrote the gospel history before he wrote the book of Acts. Acts ends abruptly in A.D. 63. The Gospel of Luke was written before A.D. 63.

John had been a fisherman. He left his work to follow Jesus. He was an eyewitness of the life of Jesus the Messiah. The Dead Sea scrolls have shown that John was accurate concerning conditions at that time.3 You need to read the history of the life of Jesus that the apostle John recorded.

The Works of Messiah

As you read the four gospels you will have a history of the works of Jesus the Messiah. He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind and raised the dead. These works proved to Jews that Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus said:

John 5:36:
"But the witness which I have is greater than that of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish, the very works that I do, bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me. John 10:36-38:

Do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, `You are blaspheming.' because I said, `I am the Son of God'? "If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; But if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.

The Teaching of Messiah

As you read the four gospels, you will have the teaching of Jesus the Messiah. The teaching of Jesus is a witness for you.

John 7:15-17:
The Jews therefore were marveling, saying, "How has this man become learned, having never been educated?" Jesus therefore answered them, and said, "My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me. "If any man is willing to do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from Myself.

John 7:45, 46:
The officers therefore came to the chief priests and Pharisees, and they said to them, "Why did you not bring Him?" The officers answered, "Never did a man speak the way this man speaks."

Jesus Died on the Cross

. . . but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs; but one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water. And he who has seen has borne witness, and his witness is true John 19:33-35.

The blood solids had already begun to separate from the liquid. This was a definite sign that Jesus had already died. The Roman centurion certified Pilate that Jesus was already dead (Mark 15: 44,45).

The Tomb Was Empty

The chief priests and Pharisees were afraid that the disciples of Jesus would steal the body, since they knew that Jesus had said, "After three days I will rise again." The Jewish leaders sent guards to make the sepulcher secure. They sealed the great stone door of the grave (Matthew 27:62-66). The disciples would have had to go past the watchmen, to break the seal on the stone, to roll back the great stone, and to carry out the body past the guards; all this, without awakening the guards. Can you believe that? No, impossible! Consider also, that if the disciples had taken the body of Jesus, they surely would NOT have given their lives for preaching what they would have known to be a lie. However, most of the apostles died because they preached that Jesus died for our sins and was raised from the dead, which is what they had witnessed. You can understand that the disciples of Jesus did not take the body of Jesus. What happened to the body? The tomb was empty. The Jewish leaders did not have the body. How do you account for this? Yes, He was raised.


The historical records claim that Jesus appeared to the apostles and other disciples, showing himself alive and raised from the dead. Let us now consider these appearances. Jesus appeared after his resurrection first to Mary Magdalene (John 20:1-18; Mark 16:9). He appeared also to the other women who had gone to the tomb on that first day of the week (Matthew 28:9, 10). The apostles did not believe the women. Luke recorded that Jesus walked with two disciples on the way to Emmaus, and revealed himself to them (Luke 24:13-31). Jesus appeared to Peter who had denied him (Luke 24:34). Then Jesus came into the room where the apostles were, but Thomas was not there (John 20:19-23). Thomas was a scientific person. He did not believe the others. He said, "Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe" (John 20:25). Thomas would not be misled by a vision or hallucination.
And after eight days again His disciples were inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst, and said, "Peace be with you." Then He said to Thomas, "Reach here your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My side; and be not unbelieving, but believing." Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" John 20:26-28.

The apostles had fled and hid in fear of the chief priests and Pharisees, but after having seen Jesus they became bold eyewitnesses of his resurrection. If Jesus had not bodily appeared to the disciples, they would not have risked their lives to preach the resurrection of Jesus. You cannot account for the change in the apostles, except that they had really seen Jesus alive from the dead in his resurrected body. They had even met Jesus at the Sea of Galilee and ate breakfast with him (John 21:1-23). While with him on a mountain in Galilee, he commanded them to preach the good news to all nations (Matthew 28:18-20).

Later, the apostles witnessed the ascension of Jesus from this earth at the mount called Olivet, just outside of Jerusalem (Acts 1:1-12). About ten days later, on the Day of Pentecost, Peter and the apostles preached boldly that Jesus was raised from the dead. They did this in Jerusalem where the people had cried out to have Jesus crucified. If their evidence had not been strong, the chief priests and Pharisees could have stopped them. However, the empty tomb was close by.

Peter said:
"This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses . . . Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ--this Jesus whom you crucified." Acts 2:32-36.

The witness of fulfilled prophecy and the testimony of the apostles were so strong that 3,000 Jews accepted the fact of the resurrection of Jesus. They believed in Jesus the Messiah and were immersed in His name for the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:37-41). The first Christians were Jews.

The Congregation in Jerusalem As A Witness

If the chief priests and Pharisees would have had an answer or real evidence against the testimony of the apostles, the congregation of Messiah could not have been started and grown in Jerusalem. However, the number of Jewish Christians in Jerusalem grew to 5,000 men (Acts 4:4). Even a great number of priests became obedient to the faith (Acts 6:7). How do you account for this? The congregation of Messiah in Jerusalem where Jesus had been crucified shows the validity of the evidence of the resurrection and fulfilled prophecy. The existence of the congregation of Messiah in Jerusalem would have been impossible if Jesus had not been raised from the dead. The first Christians were Jews. The good news of the death of the Son of God for our sins was then taken by Jewish Christians to the nations of the world. My friend this is history. You need to accept the historical evidence. You can have eternal life in Jesus the Messiah.

Will You Believe?

Jesus said:

Mark 16:16:
"He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.

John 8:24:
"I said therefore to you, that you shall die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins."

Acts 2:38:
And Peter said to them, "Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Germaine Lockwood

1 Robert T. Herford, Christianity in Talmud and Midrash (Cliften, NJ: Reference Book Publishers, 1965).
2 Eusebius Pamphilus, The Ecclesiastical History (Grand Rapids:Baker Book House, 1962), p. 127.
3 W. F. Albright, The Archaeology of Palestine (Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1960), pp. 239-249.

Copyright ©1996 by Germaine Charles Lockwood. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Scripture quotations in this work, unless otherwise indicated, are from The New American Standard Bible, Copyright ©1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Scripture quotations from The New King James Bible (NKJB), Copyright ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Nashville, TN. Used by permission.

Published in The Old Paths Archive

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