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CHAPTER THREE

The Early Eyewitnesses of Jesus
Evidence for the Early Dating of the Gospel Eyewitness Accounts

Thus if Jesus' public ministry and crucifixion and resurrection took place within the above period we are now ready to look into the possible eyewitness accounts within a life span of the eyewitnesses.  As a general standard when the canon of the New Testament was determined it was taken that the last of the document must have been completed within the first century so that these are attested by sufficient eyewitnesses.

The author of Acts claims to have been present during some of the events described in that book as evidenced 
by the "we" statements 

The " we " statements  

Act 16:11-12  Having sailed therefore away from Troas, we went in a straight course to Samothracia, and on the morrow to Neapolis,   and thence to Philippi, which is the first city of that part of Macedonia, a colony. And we were staying in that city certain days.

In the same way the author of the Second Epistle of Peter claims to have been an eyewitness of the Transfiguration 
- 2Pe 1:16-18


 

2Pe 1:16-21  For we have not made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, following cleverly imagined fables, but having been eyewitnesses of his majesty.  For he received from God the Father honour and glory, such a voice being uttered to him by the excellent glory: This is my beloved Son, in whom I have found my delight; and this voice we heard uttered from heaven, being with him on the holy mountain.

Of course it is possible that these authors were balant liars.  That is something we have to decide for ourselves.  
But what likelihood that would be, if these were written within the century, while other hundreds of witnesses 
were still living?   Or as some would like to have it, these were written much later by forgerers.


 
Internal Evidence 

The historical presentation of the New Testament books is practically ends with Acts of Apostle.  
Luke the writer of the Gospel according to Luke is continued in the Acts of Apostle.  
The general evidence for the early existence of the New Testament documents up to the end of historical time 
which ends in the Acts of Apostles can be determined from the internal evidence.  



1. The Ending of the Book of Acts   

The book ends abruptly with Paul in prison, awaiting trial - Ac 28:30-31.  

Acts 28:30,31:  Book of Acts end, stating: “And he stayed two complete years in his own rented quarters, and was welcoming all those who were coming to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, without hindrance.”

This can be explained only by assuming that Luke wrote the book of the Acts of the Apostles during the time 
of the trial of Paul. Historically Paul finally appeared before Nero around the period of  62-63 A.D.  
This will give us the time of writing the Acts of Apostle to a period before 62 AD

The following events did impact the Christians.  But there is no mention of them in the Bible

·         There is no mention of Nero's persecutions which began A.D. 64/65.

·         There is no mention of any persecution at the hands of Rome.

·         There any mention of the Jewish revolt of A.D. 66 which eventually resulted in the fall of Jerusalem.

The following events are mentioned in the Acts which will help fix the date of writing the historical portion of the Bible.

These are referred to in the Acts:

·         A.D. 45 - Herod Agrippa dies suddenly (Acts 12:20-23).

·         A.D. 49 - Emperor Claudius issues an edict banning all Jews from Rome (Acts 18:2).

·         A.D. 51 - Gallio appointed as proconsul of Achaia for a one-year term (Acts 18:12-17).

·         A.D. 59 - Porcius Festus takes the office of Procurator of Judea (Acts 24:27). Paul has already been imprisoned in Caesarea for two years. 


 
2. No Mention of the Destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.


 
We do have definite statements of Jesus in Matthew, Mark and Luke  regarding the destruction of the temple within that generation (Mt. 24:1-2, Mk 13:1-4,14,30; Lk 21:5-9,20-24,32).  

"And Jesus went out, and departed from the Temple: and His disciples came to Him for to shew Him the buildings of the Temple. And Jesus said unto them, "See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, there shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down." (Matthew 24:1-2)

"The Jewish zealots, reacting in opposition to Caligula’s campaign began a revolt against Rome, a revolt which led to Roman legion soldiers from Syria destroying the food stocks of the Zealots and the local Jewish population. The inhabitants of the city of Jerusalem died in great numbers via starvation. (Luke 21:20-23) Roman General Titus encircled the city, (later became Caesar) and began the siege of Jerusalem in April, A.D. 70. He posted his 10th legion on the Mount of Olives, directly east of and overlooking the Temple Mount. The 12th and 15th legions were stationed on Mount Scopus, further to the east and commanding all ways to Jerusalem from east to north. On the 10th of August, in A.D. 70 – (the 9th of Av) -- in Jewish calendar reckoning, the very day when the King of Babylon burned the Temple in 586 B.C., the Temple was burned again. Titus took the city and put it to the torch, burning the Temple, leaving not one stone upon another.

Thus, Jerusalem was totally destroyed and as Jesus had predicted, and not one stone was left upon another. When the Temple was set on fire the Roman soldiers tore apart the stone to get the melted gold. The Menorah and vessels were carried to Rome and the treasury was robbed. But perhaps the most astonishing prophecy about the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome is that it happened just as Daniel had predicted, in that the Temple was destroyed only after the Messiah had come, and not before he had presented himself to Israel! (Daniel 9:26) (Luke 19:41-45)" http://focusonjerusalem.com/thefallofjerusalem.html

Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD and the temple was destroyed and all the valuables were taken to Rome.
 Jews went into exile a second time until 1900 AD.  Yet New Testament is totally silent about this.  S
o it is most likely that the historical portions of the New Testament were written before 70 AD.  

This excludes the epistles which were directed to specific church situations and the Revelation of John at Patmos 
where the subject matter under consideration is focused and different.  

 


The Titus Arch in Rome that celebrates the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD 

by Titus

 as Matthew 24 prophesied.