GOD'S WORD THE BIBLE: New Testament Documents

When examining the New Testament to try and determine if it is accurate, reliable and trustworthy consideration should be given to the amount of detail provided in the written record regarding time and location, along with people and events. The amount of detail given in this regard tells the reader that the information being offered is not to be taken as some symbolic "tale" to inspire one in "faith" but as very real historic events rooted in space and time. Furthermore in the many places where this record can be checked by independent sources the New Testament has proved to be reliable. This fact gives further credibility to the written record of the life of Jesus and the early church. If the authors of the New Testament were accurate in their record of the people, places, times and events of which they wrote we have good reason to trust in the record they give regarding the life of Jesus and the early church.

To illustrate this point a brief summary of the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus will be given based on the various portion of scripture applicable to each. The amount of detail given as to time and location will be quite evident. The scriptures used for the basis of each description will be listed at the end of each paragraph.


1. Jesus Birth: A careful study of the scriptures yields the following facts regarding the birth of Jesus. In the days of King Herod the great Joseph and Mary lived in the region of Galilee in a city called Nazareth. During that time a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that a census be taken. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. Joseph and Mary left Nazareth and went to the region of Judea to a city called Bethlehem to register for this census. After the baby was born the parents took the baby and went to Egypt to protect him from Herod who sought to kill Him. When Herod the Great died they went back to Judea to find that Herod's son Archelaus was ruling in his fathers place. Fearing danger they moved back to Nazareth where they lived until the child was of age. Luke 1:1-5; 11-13; 26-31; 2:1-7; 21-22; 39-40; Matthew 1:18-25; 2:1-8; 2:13-16; 19-23

2. Jesus Ministry: A study of the relevant scriptures regarding the beginning of the ministry of Jesus reveals the following facts. John the Baptist began a ministry of preaching repentance for the forgiveness of sins in the 15th year of the reign of Tiberias Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip was tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene. This all took place in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas. This ministry took place in the wilderness of Judea in the region of the Jordan river attracting people from Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. Jesus, who at the time was around 30 years old, came down from Nazareth to be baptized by John and begin His own ministry. The Gospels, as they continue to chronicle the ministry of Jesus, are filled with specific references to times, places and people which cause us to see the historical nature of these documents. (Luke 3:1-3); (Luke 3:21-23); (Matthew 3:13-17); (Mark 1:1-11)

3. Jesus Death: While Jesus was visiting in Jerusalem and teaching in the temple the chief priests and scribes took advantage of an offer by Judas to betray Jesus and had Him arrested one evening while He was up in the mount of olives. Jesus was brought to the house of the high priest and the next morning brought before a council of elders. When the council asked Jesus if He was the son of God Jesus answered yes which resulted in a charge of blasphemy. The Jews, being prohibited by law from carrying out capital punishment, brought Jesus to Pontius Pilate the governor of Judea to have Him condemned and executed. When Pilate heard Jesus was from Galilee he sent Him to Herod because this was Herod's jurisdiction. Herod mistreated Jesus and sent Him back to Pilate, who while proclaiming His innocence at the insistence of the people assembled, condemned Him to death and had Him had Him crucified.
Luke 22 - 23; Matthew 26 - 27; Mark 14 - 15; John 18 - 19; Acts 4:27

4. Jesus Resurrection: After the crucifixion of Jesus, Joseph of Arimathea a city of the Jews, requested the body of Jesus from Pilate. Joseph along with Nicodemus prepared the body of Jesus for burial and placed the body in a new tomb which Joseph had recently carved out of a rock for himself. Joseph is described as a good and righteous man who was wealthy and a prominent member of the council of the Jews. However because of his fear of the Jews Joseph was described as a secret believer in that he did not openly confess his belief in Jesus as the son of God and promised Jewish messiah.

In the early dawn of the third day Mary Magdalene and Mary mother of James and Salome went to the tomb only to find the stone had been rolled away by an angel of the Lord. Mary left to tell Peter and the disciples. Peter returned to the tomb with another disciple ( believed to be John ) and after finding it empty left evidently believing the body had been taken away. Mary stayed at the tomb and was crying when two men in bright apparel appeared to her to tell her not to seek the living among the dead and to go tell the disciple to meet Jesus in Galilee as was told them. At that time Jesus also appeared to Mary and told her He was preparing to ascend to the Father.

After his death and resurrection Jesus appeared alive over a period of forty days to more than five hundred people speaking about the kingdom of God and proving the reality of His resurrection by many convincing proofs. The following events are recorded. Two disciple were on their way to a city called Emmaus about seven miles from Jerusalem when Jesus appeared to them to explain in detail all the ways in which the old Testament had foretold His suffering and His coming ascension to glory. On the evening of the first day of the week the disciple were gathered together behind closed doors for fear of the Jews and Jesus appeared to them and spoke with them. After eight days, in the same way, Jesus again appeared to the disciple at which time Thomas saw Jesus, inspecting His wounds and confessing his belief in the risen Savior. Some time after that Jesus appeared to His disciples by the sea of Tiberius while they were fishing. Following Jesus instructions they caught a multitude of fish and then had breakfast with Him. John in his gospel writes that Jesus demonstrated many such signs before and after His resurrection which were far too many to be able to give a written account of them all. Matthew 28; Mark 16; Luke 24; John 20-21; Acts 1:1-9 ; 1 Cor 15:3-10