Here are links to our best questions and answers on Easter and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the past:
Here’s a great article by William Lane Craig, professor of philosophy at Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, California.
“To answer the question of Jesus’ resurrection from a historical standpoint, we must first determine what facts concerning the fate of Jesus of Nazareth can be credibly established on the basis of the evidence and second consider what the best explanation of those facts is. At least four facts about the fate of the historical Jesus are widely accepted by New Testament historians today.”
As a special for this Christmas season, here are links to all of the Christmas Q & A’s from our archives:
1. First the Christmas story itself:
2. What about Christmas itself- is it really a Christian Holiday?:
3. There seems to be a lot of interest in the ‘Wisemen’ (Magi) that visited Jesus:
Merry Christmas. May you and your family have a blessed Christmas season in 2012. *Top
Q: Can you tell me the first spoken words of Jesus in the gospels. What version you used? Thanks Brad
A: The first words of Jesus recorded in the Gospels are found in Luke 2:49. The context is Luke 2:41-52.
Jesus was 12 years old at the time and he and his family went up to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. When his family left to travel back home Jesus stayed behind and conversed with the teachers in the Temple for three days. His parents finally discovered that he was not traveling with their caravan and went back to Jerusalem looking for him.
The First words spoken by Jesus were his response to the query of his parents. basically Jesus told his parents that he is where he should be doing the things of his Father (God). Here’s two versions of the answer:
49 And He said to them, "Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business? NKJV
49 And he said to them, "Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?" ESV
After reading the two versions, you might be asking which is it? The Father’s business or his house? Actually if you look at the original Greek, either translation is correct. There is no specific Greek word in the phrase that identifies the subject. Literally the Greek reads:
“Not know that in –(that or the things)- of my Father I must be?”
This leaves the context to determine the meaning. Is the reference about “doing” the things of my father or being “in” that which my father owns?
In the vernacular of the day, the unstated reference in this verse usually would have meant the residence or business and most of the time in that culture they were one and the same. Therefore either house or business is correct.
Personally I prefer ‘business’ since that is the way I memorized the passage as a child. In that case he is doing the things or business of His Father. However, the Early Church Fathers (2nd-4th century) understood the passage to be pointing to the Temple or House of God. The emphasis in that understanding is on location. In that case, Jesus is telling his earthly parents that they should have known where he would be- in His Father’s House-the Temple.
Most of the modern versions have chosen to interpret the passage as being “in” the Father’s house following the earliest understanding of the Church Fathers. It also makes the most sense in the context of the question Jesus poses to his parents- “Why did look for me?” -which naturally points to a subject of location rather than action. The KJV and NKJV interpret the context to be one of action or doing.
In final analysis, I believe that a possible double meaning here in the vernacular actually brings a fuller and more complete meaning to the passage. On one hand, Jesus was doing the things or business of his Father in his conversations with the Priests and Rabbis while at the same time he was literally in his Father’s House. *Top
Q: Did Jesus ever claim to be God? This was not a question sent to us but one I hear all of the time and the following is our response to this issue published in a recent post on our Apologetica site:
A: It has become culturally fashionable to make the claim that “Jesus never said he was God.”
Lots of folks would like to claim Jesus as their own but his divinity gets in the way. The Muslims claim Jesus was a great prophet to the Jews but far less than even their prophet Muhammad. Some Jewish folks would like to acknowledge him as an ancient Jewish rabbi teacher if they could leave out the God thing and ignore the terrible treatment many Jews have received from some of his misguided followers over the centuries.
Even Hindu and eastern gurus like to make the claim that Jesus traveled to India and learned everything from them. Then there is the strange case of Richard Dawkins who wants to claim that Jesus Would Be An Atheist Today.
The real problem is that the Bible gets in the way and supports the divinity of Jesus. Not only that, but Jesus clearly indicated on a number of different occasions that he was the “I am” God of the Old testament. The response of those who heard him at the time confirms it. <<Read the rest on my Apologetica page>> *Top
Q: Isn’t Christmas a pagan holiday? After all it originated with the Romans cerebrating the birth of their god Saturn on December 25.
A: No. But a lot depends upon what you are celebrating.
If you are celebrating the birth of Saturn then it is. If you are focused upon Santa Claus and his reindeer then it is something else. But if you are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ then it is Christian, no matter what day it is celebrated on.
The Bible doesn’t really tell us what day Jesus was actually born on. The only scriptural clue is that there were shepherds in the fields tending their sheep that night. That means the first Christmas Eve happened sometime during a span from May to early October. So we can be somewhat certain that it did not happen on the 25th of December.
Nevertheless, anytime is a good time to celebrate the birth of Jesus. One thing for sure, the traditional Christmas season brings the first coming of the Son of God into the cultural mainstream at least once a year regardless of all of the commercialism and the myth of Santa which has also become part of the holiday.
(A question posed on my main blog concerning the reliability of the NT record)
Q: Why the long lag between Jesus’ life and the first writings about him?
A: Long lag? I don’t think so. After all Jimmy Carter recently came out with a book about his White House years and he was President 30-34 years ago. I was married 35 years ago and yet I can recall the events of that day like it was yesterday. Plus what I don’t remember my wife does.
There is a popular myth that the earliest writings about Jesus came a generation or two after his death and therefore can’t be all that accurate. This is simply not true.
The earliest writings that reference Jesus and early Christianity are those of Paul written between 48-60 AD/CE -beginning roughly 15 years after the death of Jesus. In I Corinthians he writes about the Last Supper and the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus. In Chapter 15 he names Peter, James the brother of Jesus, and the Apostles, plus himself and 500 others as those who had seen Jesus after his resurrection. In Galatians he claims that he received the Gospel directly from the resurrected Jesus.
The Synoptic Gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke-Acts were written before 70 AD/CE. Probably between 55-66 (22-32 years afterwards). Internal references and evidence pretty much precludes a later date considering the Jewish War (66-70) and the changes following. Most scholars contend that the 3 Gospels contained earlier common and diverse source material that may have circulated orally.
In the first century, memorization and oral recall of large amounts of material was quite common. Most Judean families maintained a lengthy genealogy in memorized oral form. Also, Rabbis were required to accurately memorize the entire Torah and the more respected were also able to substantially recite the Prophets and the Writings –that is the entire Tanakh (Old Testament).
As long as most of the Apostles and early Christian leaders were all together in Jerusalem and neighboring areas there was little perceived need for a written Gospel. After the movement began to spread to Asia Minor (45) and then on to Greece and Rome (48-60) the need became obvious and more permanent written records of the oral traditions were made.
The Gospel of John did come much later and was written around 90 AD/CE by John the Beloved Apostle who lived a long life and ministered into the 2nd and third generation of Christians. Nevertheless he was a first-hand witness to the life and ministry of Jesus.
Q: Gen 4: 3-5 God looked favorable upon Abel’s offering but not Cain’s. Why? It doesn’t seem fair to me.
A: Actually verse 7 gives us a clue. Cain was really not trying to do what was right but just trying to get by. Verse 3 says that he merely brought some fruit as an offering while it says in verse 4 that Abel selected his offering the best fat portions from the first born of his flock. So on one hand there is an attitude difference.
Secondly, a blood sacrifice was what God instituted as an offering for sin. When Adam and Eve fell in the Garden God gave them the animal skins to wear. That was the first blood sacrifice for sin.
So in essence Cain was really starting his own religion here—the First Church of Fruit Sacrifice.
The blood sacrifice was an important feature of ancient religion instituted by God which was suppose to be a foreshadowing of the ultimate sacrifice of God’s own Son on the cross.
Q: Please who was older between Job and Moses? Where in the Bible can I find verses to show who was older?
A: Are you asking which came first or who lived the longest?
Most Bible scholars believe that Job was written before Moses came along. In fact many think that Job is the oldest book in the Bible though Moses writes about the beginning and a much earlier time in the Book of Genesis.
Other than the Book of Job and a reference in Ezekiel (14:14,20) the man Job is not mentioned anywhere else in the Bible. So there is no particular Bible verse that would prove it one way or another but the culture in the Book of Job reflects an earlier time frame (Patriarch Period) than that of Moses.
Who Lived the longest? Job.
According to the Book of Job (42: 16) he lived 140 years after the trouble recorded in the book and was ‘full of days’ and saw 4 generations of his posterity. Since in the beginning of the book he was already a mature man with adult children he probably lived for more than 180 years at least.
Moses lived to be 120 years old according to Deut. 34:7.
-Q: What if Adam and Eve never ate from the Tree—would they still be in the Garden? Then what about the rest of us since childbirth seems to be a resulting punishment?
-A: It is possible they would still be there. However the Biblical record doesn’t really speak to that possibility one way or another except when they fell they were kicked out of the place.
What about the rest of us?
It merely says in 3:16 that childbearing would now be painful not that it was a punishment. There is no way to tell from the Bible whether or not the rest of us would have been born or not.
But it does seem to imply that before the fall birthing would not have been so painful. This actually lends credence to the possibility that all of us might have eventually been born in the Garden of Eden and in far better conditions than we now live in. Of course this is speculation since the Bible doesn’t actually confirm this anywhere.