Is Jesus Real?
Shirley, an evangelist at heart, shares how she knows that Jesus is real in a tangible way.
In 2015, a survey for the Church of England suggested that 40% of people in England do not believe that Jesus was a real person. However, the evidence is overwhelming. Jesus was written about by ancient historians, including Josephus and Tacitus. From an historical standpoint, there is hardly any question: there really was a man named Jesus who lived in first-century Israel.
The New Testament contains hundreds of references to Jesus Christ as a real person. The earliest gospel may have been written within 10 years of Jesus’ death, and the earliest of Paul’s epistles was written about 25 years after Jesus’ death. This is important because it means that, as the gospels were circulating, there were plenty of eyewitnesses still alive who could verify the truth of the gospel accounts (1 Corinthians 15:6).
In the Bible, John 20:24-29, the story of Thomas and Jesus is told:
“Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
The manuscript evidence for the authenticity of the New Testament is overwhelming: there are about 25,000 early manuscripts of the New Testament. In comparison, the Gallic Wars written by Caesar in the first century BC, only has 10 early manuscripts existing—and the earliest one of those was written 1,000 years after the original. Similarly, Aristotle’s Poetics only has five early manuscripts in existence, dating to 1,400 years after the original. Those who doubt that Jesus is real must also question the existence of Julius Caesar and Aristotle.
Outside of the Bible, Jesus is mentioned in the Quran and in the writings of Judaism, Gnosticism, and Hinduism. Early historians considered Jesus to be real. The first-century Roman historian Tacitus mentioned the followers of Christ.
No other historical figure has had as much impact on the world as Jesus Christ. There is overwhelming evidence that Jesus is real, both in secular and biblical history. Perhaps the greatest evidence that Jesus existed and that He did what the Bible says He did is the testimony of the early church. Literally thousands of Christians in the first century, including the twelve apostles, were willing to give their lives as martyrs for the gospel of Jesus Christ. People will die for what they believe to be true, but no one will die for what they know to be a lie.
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