Surprisingly, some skeptics claim that Jesus didn’t exist, though to do so they have to reject the entire New Testament historical record. The New Testament contains hundreds of references to Jesus Christ, and in terms of ancient manuscript evidence, this is extraordinarily strong proof of the existence of a man named Jesus of Nazareth in the early first century A.D.
While skeptics may choose to reject the Bible’s moral message, they cannot deny its historical accuracy. Over 25,000 archaeological finds demonstrate that the people, places, and events mentioned in the Bible are real and are accurately described. No archaeological finding has ever refuted the Bible. In fact, the descriptions in the Bible have often led archaeologists to amazing discoveries. Non-Christian journalist Jeffery Sheler, author of the book Is the Bible True?, concluded, “In extraordinary ways, modern archeology is affirming the historical core of the Old and New Testaments, supporting key portions of crucial biblical stories.”
In addition, a surprising amount of information about Jesus can be drawn from secular historical sources. According to Richard M. Fales, “Writings confirming His birth, ministry, death, and resurrection include Flavius Josephus (A.D. 93), the Babylonian Talmud (A.D. 70–200), Pliny the Younger’s letter to the Emperor Trajan (approx. A.D. 100), the Annals of Tacitus (A.D. 115–117), Mara Bar Serapion (sometime after A.D. 73), and Suetonius’ Life of Claudius and Life of Nero (A.D. 120).”
The first-century Roman Tacitus, considered one of the more accurate historians of the ancient world, mentioned superstitious “Christians,” named after Christus (Latin for Christ), who was executed by Pontius Pilate during the reign of Tiberius. Suetonius, chief secretary to Emperor Hadrian, wrote of a man named Chrestus (Christ) who lived during the first century (Roman Annals 15.44). Renowned Jewish historian Josephus wrote:
Now, there was about this time Jesus, a wise man [if it be lawful to call him a man], for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. [He was the Messiah.] And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him [for he appeared to them alive again at the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him]. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this date.
1 John 4:2 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God.