Jesus Christ on the historicity of the Old Testament

He [Jesus] consistently treats the historical narratives as straightforward records of fact. We have references to: Abel (Lk. 11:51), Noah (Mt. 24:37-39; Lk. 17:26, 27), Abraham (Jn. 8:56), the institution of circumcision (Jn. 7:22; cf. Gn. 17:10-12; Lv. 12:3), Sodom and Gomorrah (Mt. 10:15; 11:23, 24; Lk. 10:12), Lot (Lk. 17:28-32), Isaac and Jacob (Mt. 8:11; Lk. 13:28), the manna (Jn. 6:31, 49, 58), the wilderness serpent (Jn. 3:14), David eating the shewbread (Mt 12:3, 4; Mk. 2:25, 26; Lk. 6:3, 4) and as a psalm-writer (Mt 22:43; Mk. 12:36; Lk. 20:42), Solomon (Mt. 6:29; 12:42; Lk. 11:31; 12:27), Elijah (Lk.4:25, 26), Elisha (Lk. 4:27), Jonah (Mt 12:39-41; Lk. 11:29, 30, 32), Zechariah (Lk. 11:51). This last passage brings out his sense of the unity of history and his grasp of its wide sweep. His eye surveys the whole course of history from ‘the foundation of the world’ to ‘this generation’. There are repeated references to Moses as the giver of the law (Mt. 8:4; 19:8; Mk. 1:44; 7:10; 10:5; 12:26; Lk. 5:14; 20:37; Jn. 5:46; 7:19); the sufferings of the prophets are also mentioned frequently (Mt. 5:12; 13:57; 21:34-36; 23:29-37; Mk. 6 14 (cf. Lk. 4:24; Jn. 4:44); 12:2-5; Lk. 6 :23; 11:47-51; 13:34; 20:10-12); and there is a reference to the popularity of the false prophets (Lk. 6:26). He sets the stamp of his approval on passages in Genesis 1 and 2 (Mt. 19:4, 5; Mk. 10:6-8).

Although these quotations are taken by our Lord more or less at random from different parts of the Old Testament and some periods of the history are covered more fully than others, it is evident that he was familiar with most of our Old Testament and that he treated it all equally as history. Curiously enough, the narratives that are least acceptable to the so-called ‘modem mind’ are the very ones that he seemed most fond of choosing for his illustrations.

John W. Wenham, Christ and the Bible, pp. 12, 13.

Το παράδοξο της χαράς του Χριστού /The paradox of the joy of Christ

When we come to the public ministry of the last days of our Lord we are face to face with a most astonishing fact, namely that it was in the last twenty-four hours of Jesus’ life on earth, that He spoke more frequently both of peace and joy than He did in all the rest of His three years of preaching and teaching combined, as far as the records inform us. It was on this last night that Jesus Himself was betrayed by Judas, He was denied by Peter, He was hated by the world, He was rejected by His own brethren, He was mistreated by the soldiers, He was about to suffer every indignity physical and mental. He knew within twenty-four hours He would be nailed to a cross, He was Him­self in such agony that He shed as it were drops of blood and cried out that His own soul was exceeding sorrowful even unto death. And yet it was in this very twenty-four hour period, which in many ways may be called the darkest night in human history, that Jesus spoke exclusively of His own joy. I do not find Him speaking of His own joy in any other passage in the New Testament. Let us recall his words: “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” “And ye therefore now have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no one taketh away from you . . . Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be made full.” “But now I come to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy made full in themselves.”[1] At the same time our Lord continually referred to His own peace: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be fear­ful.” “These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye may have peace. In the world ye have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”[2] After He was raised from the dead it was this peace that He so desired His disciples to possess. “When therefore it was evening, on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. And when he had said this, he showed unto them his hands and his side. The disciples therefore were glad, when they saw the Lord. Jesus therefore said to them again, Peace be unto you: as the Father hath sent me, even so send I you . . . And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them. Jesus cometh, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.”[3] What gave our Lord this peace and joy? I think the same thing that gives us peace and joy. Paul says we have these two precious things in believ­ing. Christ as a Man had them likewise in believing, in the things He knew, in the things He was sure of, in His knowledge of His father, of Himself, His work and of the future.

[1] Ιωά. 15:11· 16:22-24· 17:13.

[2] Ιωά. 14:27· 16:33

[3] Ιωά. 20:19-21, 26.

Wilbur Smith, Therefore Stand, σελ. 470, 471.

What are the implications of the reality of Christ’s Resurrection / Τι συνεπάγεται η πραγματικότητα της Ανάστασης του Κυρίου Ιησού Χριστού;

The Testimony of Christ’s Resurrection to the Truthfulness of His Previous Utterances.

One cannot speak to many audiences concerning the Resurrection of Christ without realizing that, before the message is finished, some will be asking, “Well, if it is true that Christ rose from the dead, what is the practical result of that historical event for us today?” I think there are at least four things which we should always remember that the Resurrection guarantees to us. The first is one which is rarely discussed in works dealing with this subject, namely the truthfulness, the dependability of all of Christ’s utterances. If our Lord said, frequently, with great definiteness and detail, that after He went up to Jerusalem He would be put to death, but on the third day He would rise again from the grave, and this prediction came to pass, then it has always seemed to me that everything else that our Lord ever said must also be true. If the words concerning His Resurrection were true, then when He said that His precious blood was to be shed for the remission of sins, that is true also. When He said that He came down from the Father above, that the words He spoke the Father had given Him, that He and the Father were one, that He was indeed the Son of God, He was speaking the truth. When our Lord said that whoever would believe on Him would have everlasting life, and whoever refused to believe on Him would be eternally condemned, He spoke the truth. That empty tomb, and the fact of the risen Lord, should assure us forever that when the Lord said He was going to prepare a place for us, that He would come again and receive us to Himself, and also that when the dead heard the voice of the Son of God, they would come forth from their graves, and that He will, Himself, be the Judge of all mankind, He was speaking the truth. There are many difficult things in the New Testament, there are many difficult and profound things in the Gospels, but whether we fully understand every phrase in the Gospels or not, and I am frank to say that I do not, I at least believe that what Christ said was true. We can never accept the Resurrection of Christ, and have any doubt about the truthfulness of any utterance that ever proceeded from His lips.

Wilbur Smith, Therefore Stand, σελ. 418, 419.

The implication forced upon us by the multiplicity of theories proposed to rationalistically explain away the miracle of the resurrection of Christ / Η σκέψη που γεννιέται αβίαστα από τις πολλαπλές θεωρίες/προσπάθειες αποδόμησης του θαύματος της ανάστασης του Χριστού

No doubt what we are about to say in this brief paragraph has already come into the minds of all my readers. If so many different theories have been proposed to rationalistically account for the faith of the early church in the Resurrection of our Lord, e.g., that it is all a fraud, that the body was stolen either by the disciples or by Joseph, or by somebody else, that after all the Lord was never in this tomb, or that He never died, or that the women went to the wrong tomb, the vision hypothesis, the telegram theory, and all the others proposed at different periods during the last nineteen centuries, by minds of different capacities, and different temperaments, winning followers for a time, and then being laid up on the shelf of the museum of Christological speculation, does not all this really show that no theory has ever been proposed that has been able to win the consent and approval of the great body of men who have predetermined in their own minds that there could not be such an event as the bodily Resurrection of Christ? If after 1.900 years of such theories and hypotheses, beginning with a lie the Sanhedrin concocted that first Easter morning, right down to the present, not one is accepted today as the conception generally held by those who deny the miraculous aspects of Christianity, are we not forced to conclude that no really satisfactory theory is going to be found, even with centuries more of denial, scheming, criticizing, and theorizing? The reason why no theory has ever been proposed, which meets the needs of an unprejudiced, rational person, is because the Lord did rise from the dead, and the evidence for His Resurrection is so overwhelming that by no honorable intellectual device can the evidence be set aside. I do not want to be sarcastic, or mention anything of a fantastical nature, but after looking at this problem myself for about thirty years, I have about come to believe that theories which attempt to explain away the faith of the early church in the bodily Resurrection of Christ are about as foolish as the theory held by a few strange persons in this world that the earth is flat. I do not know how you feel in the matter, but the author, now in middle life, with perhaps not more than a quarter of a century yet to live, cannot afford to take time to read a book attempting to set forth the foolish idea that the earth is flat, and does not see why any of us, after years of study, are under moral obligation to continue to read and study and ponder every new work that comes from a rationalist’s brain that refuses to give honest, full, deserved consideration to this stupendous miracle which has moved the world, established the church, destroyed paganism, quickened the lives of millions, and proved a light that no wind of infidelity has ever been able to extinguish.

Wilbur Smith, Therefore Stand, σελ. 405, 406.

Συνεπαγόταν ο χριστολογικός τίτλος «Κύριος» οντολογική ταύτιση με τον Θεό για τους πρώτους χριστιανούς; / Did the Christological title “Lord” mean an ontological identification with God for early Christianity?

We have already seen that on the basis of the Kyrios title, the first Christians could apply all statements about God also to Jesus. We would oversimplify the problem, however, and fall into a heresy condemned by the ancient Church if we were to attribute to the New Testament a complete identification between God the Father and Jesus the Kyrios, and maintain that the faith of early Christianity made no distinction at all between the two. The ancient two-part confession in I Cor. 8.6, to which we have already referred in another context, indicates that the early Church by no means forgot the distinction—not even when Christ was recognized as the mediator of creation: ‘. . . for us there is one God, the Father, from (εξ) whom are all things and for (εις) whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through (διά) whom are all things and through whom we exist.’ The use of prepositions makes clear the distinction: εξ and εις with reference to God; διά with reference to Christ. We shall seek in vain for a more precise definition of the original relationship between God the Father and Christ the Kyrios.

Even with the titles ‘Logos’ and ‘Son of God’ we approach a closer definition of this relationship only in so far as they refer directly to the pre-existence of Jesus, his being ‘in the beginning’. But we shall see that these names too do not indicate unity in essence or nature between God and Christ, but rather a unity in the work of revelation, in the function of the pre-existent one. As we have seen, this is also the meaning of the transfer of the divine Kyrios name to Jesus. God and the exalted Jesus are one with regard to world dominion, which is one aspect of God’s self-revelation. It is true that Kyrios has to do primarily with the divine rule of Jesus in the present phase of Heilsgeschichte. But I Cor. 8.6 and Heb. 1.10 ff., for instance, extend the scope of this tide to include also Jesus’ original function as mediator of creation.

We do hear concerning the Logos that ‘In the beginning was the Word . . . the Word was with God, was God.’ But, almost as if the writer of the prologue of John feared further ontological speculation, he moves immediately from being to the act of revelation: ‘All things were made through him… and the Word became flesh.’ The situation is similar with the Son of God concept. Looking at the end rather than at the beginning of time, Paul leads us in I Cor. 15.28 to the very threshold of a complete eschatological absorption of the Son in the Father: ‘When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things under him, that God may be all in all.’

It is possible to speak of the Son only in connection with the revelation of God, but in principle at least one can speak of God also apart from revelation. But the New Testament is interested only in revelation. This is the source of the New Testament paradox that the Father and Son are at once one and yet distinct—a paradox which the later Christian theologians could not explain because they attempted to do so by speculative philosophical means.

Οscar Cullmann, The Christology of the New Testament, σελ. 247, 248.