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External Evidence Tests: Contemporary Testimony
Page 3: Confirmation by Believers - the Persecuted Christians

In other cases these contemporaries were followers of Christ. Herein we find a most interesting piece of evidence. It is virtually common knowledge that Christianity was rampant in the Roman Empire in the first century. Additionally, it is well documented that Christians suffered great persecutions, even death, as a result of professing their faith in Jesus Christ. Why? If the very people in a position to know the facts about Jesus - since they witnessed it - found this man to be a fake would they risk their lives to support and defend Him?

Instead of challenging these writings, many of the eyewitnesses became believers and suffered persecution. The apostles, who were closest to the facts, suffered the greatest. Tradition holds that every apostle but John suffered death as a result of their unrelenting faith in Christ, yet they had every reason to tell the truth if the New Testament documents were untrue. Dr. Simon Greenleaf, Royall Professor of Law at Harvard University, said,

"They [the apostles] had every possible motive to review carefully the grounds of their faith, and the evidences of the great facts and truths which they asserted; and these motives were pressed upon their attentions with the most melancholy and terrific frequency. It was therefore impossible that they could have persisted in affirming the truths they have narrated, had not Jesus actually risen from the dead, and had they not known this fact as certainly as they knew any other fact." 4

Would you die for a lie?

Greenleaf, Simon. Testimony of the Evangelists, Examined by the Rules of Evidence Administered in Courts of Justice, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1965 (reprinted from 1847 edition).

 Article info: 
By: Bill Smith
This article is adapted from Bill's book Firmly Rooted. Click here to learn how to get a copy.
 This Series: 
1 Contemporary Testimony
2 Confirmation by Non-believers
3 Confirmation by Believers - the Persecuted Christians

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