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Gospel Authors Lying? | Are the Gospels Reliable?
Hey everyone! Welcome back. In previous videos we focused on the Gospel stories written purposely to document history, by authors with the authority and capability of recording it accurately. But, how do we know the Gospel authors weren’t lying? How do we know they didn’t make stuff up?
Here’s one fact to consider: If you or I were writing a story in which we want our subject (Christianity) to look good, would we include details that make its early leaders look bad? No. That would be really dumb.
Yet the Gospel writers frequently make it clear that Jesus’ disciples were consistently clueless, often failing to grasp His teachings. And they argued amongst themselves as to which of them was the greatest disciple — an attitude at odds with the humility Jesus modeled daily. On many occasions, the disciples lacked faith. They were gobsmacked by Jesus’ abilities — whether He was casting out demons, multiplying a few fish and loaves to feed crowds of thousands, walking on water, or commanding tempestuous waves to be still. Some even initially doubted when told Jesus had appeared to others in His resurrected body! Poor “Doubting Thomas,” the poster child for lack of faith: “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25).
Too, the Gospel writers depicted Peter — the steady “rock” upon whom Jesus declared He would build the Church! — as both impetuous and a coward. On the night leading to Jesus’ crucifixion, Peter rashly drew his sword and cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest as the Temple guards made to arrest Jesus. Peter was a fisherman, not a master swordsman; I don’t think he was aiming for the ear! Jesus healed the man. Only hours later, Peter denied even knowing Jesus three times, to save his own skin.
Why would the Gospel writers include embarrassing stories about the disciples? The only conceivable reason is because the authors were committed to sharing the truth.
The writers also didn’t hold back from presenting the hard, difficult teachings of Jesus. They didn’t try to sugarcoat Christianity. They wanted readers to understand who Jesus is, what He asks from His followers — and why choosing Him is worth any cost. One hard teaching: If someone looks at a woman lustfully, that person commits adultery in his or her heart. Another hard teaching: If someone demands your tunic, offer up your cloak, too. A third: Love your enemies, don’t seek revenge. Hard, indeed. The ego must go!
The Gospel writers also acknowledged that Jesus admitted that His followers might suffer greatly for their commitment. If they wanted to easily attract a following, would they admit the hard parts of being a Christian? No. But they did. Because their motive was to tell the truth.
Many of the early followers of Jesus were, indeed, persecuted — as many are today, in parts of the world hostile to Jesus. Beaten. Tortured. Denounced by their friends and family. Killed for proclaiming the Good News. The Gospel writers themselves personally endured persecution for refusing to be quiet.
It doesn’t make sense that the Gospel writers stuck with Jesus, unless knowing Him had made all the difference for them. Over the centuries, the Bible, written by men, but inspired by God, has proven its incredible staying power.
As Hebrews 4:12 states, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
2 Timothy 3:16-17 adds, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
So were the Gospel authors lying? I hope you are starting to see that the Gospels are reliable and accurate documents. Let’s keep going! See you in the next video!
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Matthew is a Christian writer and speaker with a passion for the church to be united, strengthened, and unleashed to spread the good news of Jesus to every corner of the world. With a focus on apologetics and spiritual growth, Matthew offers a fresh voice. Matthew holds an M.Div from Talbot School of Theology.
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