The only reason I would take the time to sit down and write articles like this for Excel Still More or any other publisher is because I believe in the resurrection of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. To most of the world, that is an outlandish claim. This is nothing new.

Paul said that this faith in Jesus was,

to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness”…1 Corinthians 1:23

When we are trying to provide a “defense (APOLOGIA) to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15), we have a long road to travel before we can even begin to convince them that the dead body of Jesus came to life and that He is still alive today especially since there are critics who still challenge whether or not Jesus ever existed.

Others who agree that Jesus was a real historical person claim that He never actually died but that His resurrection was some trick or even an ancient medical misunderstanding. So, is there any evidence that can be used to prove any of this?

Self-professed biblical scholar Joseph Atwill, in his 2011 book titled “Caesar’s Messiah,” makes the claim that Roman Aristocrats manufactured the idea of Jesus Christ,

“to offer a vision of a “peaceful Messiah” who would serve as an alternative to the revolutionary leaders who were rocking first-century Israel and threatening Rome.”

His claim is that since the Jews, as well as many other conquered peoples throughout the Roman Empire, were beginning to rise up more and more to challenge Rome’s presence and authority, Rome created an imaginary character who taught peace, love, and submission, to settle all of the rebellious attitudes among the people. Atwill and many other skeptics have raised numerous theories, trying to discredit the existence of Jesus the Nazarene.

We don’t have to look far beyond the pages of the Bible to see pieces of evidence that verify the factual reality of Jesus, and it is interesting to note that it is not just Christians who believe it.

In a lecture given by H.G Wells, a self-proclaimed atheist, concerning “A Short History of the World,” he is quoted saying,

“I am a historian; I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.”

Will Durant, a professor of history at Columbia University and an atheist, in his book, “The Story of Our Civilization,” spends two entire chapters depicting Jesus as a historical figure. Even the Encyclopedia Britannica offered over 20,000 words to describe Jesus. What is interesting is that there is more attention given to Jesus than any other important historical person, such as Aristotle, Cicero, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Mohammed, or Napoleon. Now, the statements and conclusions of these sources don’t prove anything, but to see that even non-Christians have acknowledged Jesus’ existence is compelling evidence.

So what, if any, evidence is there that led these sources, and many others, to the conclusion that Jesus, a man living 2,000 years ago, was real? Again, some of the strongest evidence comes from those who would not have had any reason to make up a story about a fictitious man in the first century.

There are several pagan sources that mention Jesus.

  • In a letter from Thallus, a Samaritan historian, in 52 A.D., he tries to explain the darkness that occurred during Jesus’ crucifixion. This means that he is writing about Jesus in a time when he, or those he has personally spoken to, could have witnessed this bewildering event themselves.

  • In a letter written by a Syriac Stoic philosopher in the Roman province of Syria, named Mara Bar Serapion, written to his son around 73 A.D., he describes the deaths of three individuals: Socrates, Pythagoras, and Jesus. Concerning Jesus, he says, “What advantage did the Jews gain from executing their wise king?… Nor did the wise king die for good; he lived on in the teaching which he had given.”

  • Forty years later (112 A.D.), the Roman Historian Cornelius Tacitus wrote, “Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberias.” If Jesus was a fictional character, then why would such historians write about someone like Jesus and do so with such factual information that confirmed what was written by the gospel writers?

  • At almost the exact same time Cornelius Tacitus was writing, the Governor of Bythynia, Pliny the Younger, wrote in a letter to Emperor Trajan, describing all of those who still follow a man named Jesus. None of the pagans had anything to gain by acknowledging the existence of Jesus, yet they do, giving credible evidence to the fact that Jesus and the events of His life and death were well known in the first and second century A.D.

Of all the people who had tried to eliminate the teachings and even the name of Jesus from the face of the earth, even His Jewish enemies have provided us with valuable evidence concerning the man they loathed.

If Jesus was not real, the Jews would never have mentioned Him in any of their writings.

However, when you open the pages of the Talmud, the two books containing Jewish Law written between 100-500 A.D., there are several places where they speak of Jesus, albeit in unfriendly terms. And then there was Flavius Josephus, the Jewish general and Roman historian who was born in 37 A.D. Even he could not keep from making many references to this man named Jesus in his writing titled “The History of the Jews.” Why? Because it was impossible for him to write an accurate account of what happened in history without recording the events surrounding the man named Jesus.

What are the implications of all this evidence? We do have to recognize that this doesn’t prove anything concerning the deity of Jesus, but it does provide solid testimony from many voices in antiquity who verified that Jesus did exist. As many of the skeptics try so hard to discredit our Lord, we have to make sure that we keep the ball in their court and require that they prove that Jesus didn’t exist and show us why so many who wrote about Jesus, some within 30 years of His death, were wrong.

There is no reason for us to be on the defensive when we have ample sources that substantiate the testimony of the Bible.

But the greatest implication of all of this is…

If Jesus was exactly who the Bible says He was, then what are you going to do with it? It really all comes down to answering the question that Jesus asked His disciples in Matthew 16:15.

“Who do you say that I am?”

How you answer that question will have eternal consequences, no matter what your answer is!

Steve Schinnerer
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Steve Schinnerer was raised in the church in Scott City, KS where his father served as an elder for 25 years.  Steve attended Oklahoma Christian for one year where he met his wife, Jennifer, of Yukon, OK.  Steve and Jenni have four children: Ajay, Jagger, Liberty, and Jase, they also have 4 grandchildren. Jenni is a stay-at-home mom where she homeschools and is focused on raising her children in the Lord.

Steve and Jenni both attended Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver where they graduated: Steve with a Bachelor’s degree in Biblical Theology, and Jenni with and Associates degree in Bible. 

Following Bear Valley, Steve and his family moved to Porter, OK where he served as their pulpit minister for six years, and then another six years as the pulpit minister for the Cherokee Hills church of Christ in Oklahoma City before coming to Cave Springs in the fall of 2013.

Steve and Jenni have a passion to teach the saving message of Jesus Christ and do so whether it be in their home congregation, at summer camps, gospel meetings, lectureships, or in the foreign mission field.  Steve has been able to preach in eight different countries around the world with most of his time abroad spent in Africa and Australia.  Steve and Jenni have recently been focusing on young families, trying to help strengthen marriages, encouraging parents to utilize Biblical discipline and training with their children and especially in helping men in their battle to become the husbands and fathers that God desires for them to be.