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10 Historical Facts About Jesus

10 Historical Facts About Jesus From Non-Christian Sources

 – 3/27/2017
If you have ever been involved in religious discussion on Facebook or Twitter, you have probably come across some version of the comment below:

I just think it’s interesting that the only book that even talks about Jesus is the Bible! I’m not even sure we can prove he actually existed.

Although this assertion is largely rejected by scholars in all spheres of historical and biblical studies, it tends to pop back up on social media like a never-ending game of digital whack-a-mole. The truth is that Jesus is not only documented in the eye-witness testimony compiled in the New Testament, but He is mentioned as a historical person by several non-Christian sources within 150 years of His life. From those sources, we can learn 10 things about Jesus without even opening a Bible:

1. He was known to be wise and virtuous. 

This fact was reported by Jewish Historian Josephus, who was born around AD 37. In his Antiquities of the Jews, he reports: 

At this time there was a wise man named Jesus. His conduct was good, and [he] was known to be virtuous. (1)

2. He had a brother named James. 

In recounting the stoning of James, Josephus records:

So he assembled the sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned. (2)

3. He was known to perform miracles. 

Celsus was a  2nd-century Greek philosopher and a fierce opponent of Christianity. In what is known to be the first comprehensive intellectual attack on Christianity, he tried to resolve why Jesus was able to perform miracles. The story is wild—but the main point is that by trying to explain away the miracles of Jesus, he is actually affirming that they happened:

Jesus, on account of his poverty, was hired out to go to Egypt. While there he acquired certain powers which Egyptians pride themselves on possessing. He returned home highly elated at possessing these powers, and on the strength of them gave himself out to be a god.(3)

4. He was crucified under Pontius Pilate. 

This fact comes to us from one of the most trusted historians of the ancient world. Cornelius Tacitus was born in AD 56 and served as a respected senator and proconsul of Asia under Emperor Vespasian. He wrote a history of the first century Roman Empire, which many historians consider to be the “pinnacle of Roman historical writing.”(4) He notes:

Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus. (5)

Josephus confirmed:

Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die.(6)

5. His crucifixion was accompanied by darkness and an earthquake.

This fact was originally recorded by a Samaritan historian named Thallus, who was alive at the same time Jesus was (AD 5-60). He wrote a 3-volume history of the 1st-century Mediterranean world, which unfortunately no longer exists.  But before his writings were lost, he was cited by another ancient historian, Julius Africanus, in AD 221. Africanus  described Thallus’ account of what happened during Jesus’ crucifixion:

On the whole world there pressed a most fearful darkness; and the rocks were rent by an earthquake, and many places in Judea and other districts were thrown down. (7)

6. He had many Jewish and Gentile disciples.

Josephus wrote:

And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon discipleship.(8)

7. He lived during the time of Tiberius Caesar.

Julius Africanus also reported that another ancient historian, Phlegon, confirmed the darkness at the time of Jesus’ death and that Jesus was alive “in the time of” Tiberius Caesar:

Phlegon records that, in the time of Tiberius Caesar, at full moon, there was a full eclipse of the sun from the sixth hour to the ninth. (9)

8. His disciples believed that He rose from the dead.

In his commentary regarding the disciples’ reaction to Jesus’ death, Josephus recorded:

[Jesus’ disciples] reported that He had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion; and that he was alive…. (10)

9. His disciples believed He was God, and they met regularly to worship Him.

Pliny the Younger lived from AD 61-113 and was an influential lawyer and magistrate of ancient Rome. In a letter to Emperor Trajan he wrote:

They [Christians] were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up. (11)

Lucian of Samosata was a 2nd-century Greek satirist known for his wit and sarcasm. Even though Christians were the object of his snark, he affirmed certain details about them:

The Christians, you know worship a man to this day—the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rights, and was crucified on that account….it was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws. (12)

10. His disciples were willing to suffer and die for their beliefs.

The persecution and suffering of early Christians was recorded by Suetonius, the official secretary of the Roman Emperor Hadrian around AD 121. He documented that they were expelled from Rome in AD 49 by Claudius:

Because the Jews at Rome caused constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus (Christ), he expelled them from Rome. (13)


Nero inflicted punishment on the Christians, a sect given to a new and mischievous religious belief.  (14)

Tacitus also confirmed Nero’s persecution of early Christians:

Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace.  (15)


From non-Christian and even anti-Christian sources, we can be sure that Jesus in fact existed, was crucified, was believed to be resurrected from the dead, and His many followers were willing to suffer and die for that belief.

The next time someone claims that there is no evidence for Jesus outside the Bible, be sure to share these 10 facts with them!

(1)Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 18.3.3 (There are more specific, fantastical, and supernatural versions of this quote in antiquity that are believed to have been interpolated. The quote I cite in this article is the one that most scholars agree is authentic. See Shlomo Pines, An Arabic Version of the Testimonium Flavianum and Its Implications, Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities: Jerusalem, 1971, cited in J. Warner Wallace, Cold Case Christianity)
(2) Josephus, 20.9.1

(3) Origen, Contra Celsum, 1.28
(4) Ronald Mellor, Tacitus’ Annals, p. 23
(5) Tacitus, Annals, 15.44
(6) Josephus, 18.3.3
(7)  Ante-Nicene Christian Library: Translations of the Writings of the Fathers Down to A.D. 325, eds. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, vol. 9, Irenaeus, Vol. II— Hippolytus, Vol. II— Fragments of Third Century (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1870), 188. (Cited in J. Warner Wallace, Cold Case Christianity.)
(8) Josephus, 18.3.3

(9) Ante-Nicene Christian Library, eds. Roberts and Donaldson, vol. 9, 188. (Cited in J. Warner Wallace, Cold Case Christianity.)
(10) Josephus, 18.3.3
(11) Pliny the Younger, Book 10, Letter 96
(12)Lucian, The Death of Peregrine, 11-13
C. Suetonius Tranquillus, Divus Claudius, 25.4
(14) Suetonius, The 12 
Caesars, Nero Claudius Ceasar, XVI
(15)  Tacitus, Annals, 15.44

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Demons Believe in God


Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble,” James 2:19.


 “They [the demons] cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?” (Matt. 8:29). 


Like the demons, I believed in Christ a long time before I was saved.  I believed He died to pay for my sins, but if I had died before I was fifteen years young, I would have gone to hell as an unbeliever.  One can believe that Jesus Christ was a historical person who died on the cross to pay the cost of people’s disobedience. That kind of belief will not save the sinner’s soul. Salvation only comes after repentance of sin, asking forgiveness and asking Christ into one’s life, total surrender, depending on nothing else but Jesus’ sacrifice.


Satan and his demons know they have only a short time to build Satan’s kingdom. Satan is not omnipresent, but he has enough demons who know his agenda to aggravate every one of us. In Ezekiel 28:11-19, God teaches that Satan was created full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. He was created the most beautiful, talented angel. God never took that wisdom and beauty from him. His demons use the devil’s music to trap souls for hell. Polls tell us that young people get their culture and attitudes from their music. James said, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). However, resisting is a conscious act, and Satan hypnotizes the mind with his musical vibrations, then plants wretched lyrics in the mind which forms the character of young people and adults.  Try listening to good Christian music for a week and see if it does not make a world of difference because you receive a different message of peace and salvation.



JUST A THOUGHT – One must trust Christ if he wants to be saved.


Robert A. Brock



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123 –May 03 – This Day in History Past


Young in the Ministry, Aged in Theology


Little could Rev. Cantlow realize the spiritual and historical significance of the baptismal service on May 3, 1850, when he immersed the teenager, Charles Haddon Spurgeon in Isleham, England.  The teenaged lad had walked seven miles from Anew Market to Isleham because he had become firmly convinced that believer’s immersion was an ordinance of the Lord and not a sacrament.  Desiring to serve, the young man made himself available to the Lord.  Though he had received limited formal education, within a year he was called to the pastorate of the small Baptist church in Waterbeach, England.  Quickly his fame spread to London, and on April 28, 1854, he accepted the call to pastor the New Park Street Chapel where famed Baptist predecessors had served.  Charles Spurgeon was still a teen, but soon his name would be known throughout Great Britain, and he would be addressing thousands of people every Lord’s Day. Charles Haddon Spurgeon was soon targeted for criticism by the press in London.  He was made the subject of political cartoonists, and the general Christian public examined his doctrine closely. As Spurgeon grew older, he shifted some of his emphasis in theology.  His doctrinal emphasis moved more to the fundamentals of the faith concerning the person and work of Christ, the substitutionary atonement, and similar central doctrines. This speaks highly of the man. He matured as a Christian; he matured as a theologian.
Dr. Dale R. Hart adapted from: “This Day in Baptist History III” David L. Cummins. pp. 256 – 257



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113 – April 23 – This Day in Baptist History Past


Did the Baptists Begin in 1641?


The premise of the authors of this devotional, historical volumes has been that history vindicates the succession of Baptist principles from the days of the New Testament.  In other words, Baptists did not spring from the Reformation.  They preceded it, and the New Testament principles that we call distinctive have long endured.  “In the report of the Council of the Archbishop of Cologne about the ‘Anabaptist movement, ‘ to the Emperor Charles V,  it is said that the Anabaptists call themselves ‘true Christians,‘  that they desire community of goods, ‘which has been the way of Anabaptists for more than a thousand years, as the old histories and imperial laws testify.‘  At the dissolution of the Parliament at Speyer it was stated [of] the ‘new sect of the Anabaptists‘ . . . ‘It is a fact that for more than twelve centuries baptism in the way taught and described in the New Testament had been made an offense against the law, punishable by death.’”   The full report of the Council was presented to Emperor Charles V, and on April 23, 1529, the Decree of the Emperor against the Anabaptists was issued.  In the decree one reads language such as the following: “.  .  . yet do we find daily that, contrary to the promulgated common law and also to our mandate issued, such ancient sect of the Anabaptists condemned and forbidden many hundred of years ago more and more advances and spreads.”  The decree called for the following penalty:  “ .  .  .that all and every Anabaptist and re-baptized man or woman of intelligent age shall be sentenced and executed by fire, sword, of the like .  .  .”  When reading this decree, it is apparent that the so-called “anabaptists” did not spring from the Reformation.  They long preceded it.




Dr. Dale R. Hart, adapted from:  This Day in Baptist History  III (David L. Cummins) p.p.  235   –   236



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They had no other ambition but the glory of God.
 On Jan. 21, 1788, one of the most, humble, yet historically significant events took place in the study of the College Lane Baptist Church in Northamptonshire, England that this old world ever know.  Four Baptist ministers met together for a day of prayer and fasting.  Neither of these four men knew that each, in years to come, would be memorialized in the history of the Christian world as well as the Baptists.  They simply met as four friends who shared a longing for greater personal godliness, holiness in their churches, and the evangelism of the world.  They had no other ambition but the glory of God.  They were none other than John Ryland, Jr. John Sutcliff, Andrew Fuller, and William Carey.  In that room were the founders of the modern missionary movement.  Ryland recorded the holy event.  “… read the Epistles to Timothy and Titus; Abraham Booth’s charge to Thomas Hopkins; Richard Blackerby’s Life, in John Gillies; and John Rogers of Dedham’s sixty memorials for a Godly life: and each prayed twice.  Carey [prayed], with singular enlargement and pungency.  Our chief design was to implore a revival of godlinesss in our souls, in our churches, and in the churches at large.”  God surpassed their expectation when He used them to start a missionary movement that continues to this very day.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. IIII: Cummins, pp. 43-44.

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The whole Bible is to be studied under right divisions, as indicated in the previous part of this chapter. But this does not mean that men are to practice today everything taught in the whole Bible. Parts of both the Old and New Teatament have been fulfilled, that is some of their divisions or distinct teachings, and are not to be practiced by children of God now.

It has been pointed out that there are three divisions of the Old Testament:

1.the law of Moses,
2.the Prophets, and
3.the Psalms,

the first two of these divisions are declared to have been fulfilled, as a rule and guide for men. That is, the Law and the Prophets, two of the three distinct divisions of the Old Testament, are not to be sought or leaned upon as a rule and guide for faith in practice of any person during this present church age – Col. 2:14-17; II Cor. 3:7-11.

The Law of Moses was given solely as a rule and guide for the Jewish people in view of the coming of Jesus, the Messiah – Exodus 20:1,2,22; Lev. 27:34; Mal 4:4. In like manner the prophets admonished, wrote, and instructed the Jews, not the Gentiles. Their teachings were directed, not to the people of this age, but the age in which they lived. It is true that many principles that guided their ministry, lives, and testimonies are still operative today. But they are stated for man’s following today, in specific instructions, not in either the Law of Moses or the Prophets, but in

1.the Psalms and
2.the New Testament,

which rightly divided, our sole guide for our faith in action today – Matt. 5:17, 18; Luke 16:16; Gal. 3:10, 13, 18-25.

While it is specifically stated that both the Law and the Prophets were fulfilled, abolished, completed their main objective in guiding people to Christ, in no place is it stated the Psalms, the third division, of the Old Testament had fulfilled its purpose, was to last only until Christ, or had been abolished. Rather and instead, the apostles in teaching the doctrines of Christ commanded and admonished New Testament Christians to teach and admonish one another in psalms (evidently the inspired Psalms), – Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16.

Paul commended the members of the church at Corinth for each having a psalm when they came together to worship – I Cor. 14:26. In rightly dividing the Bible and learning what divisions of the Bible present an harmonious view of what and how God wants men to work today, there is wisdom. It is the Psalms that specifically authorize all men to praise God in connection with the use of musical instruments in worship the New Testament endorses and admonishes this.

Three things are called to the reader’s attention and should be remembered in rightly dividing the Bible:

1.The Bible is one harmonious whole, without any discordant note or contradiction, between the two grand divisions, the Old and the New Testaments.

2.The Old Testament is to be studied under the three specific divisions our Lord recognized:

2.Prophets, and,

3.The New Teatment’s contents fall logically into three divisions:

1. the historical,
2.doctrinal, and
3.prophetic books.

Let it be remembered that the Bible specifically states that the Law and the Prophets, were till John or Christ, but in no instance is such said of the Psalms. Rather and instead the New Testament authorizes that they be taught and men admonished in them in this age. These are the general divisions of the Bible, rightly divided, that enable men to teach and preach and testify in a way that they need “not to be ashamed” – II Tim. 2:15.

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The New Testament is also to be studied for right divisions.
Paul instructed Timothy:

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Tim. 2:15)

Follow the meaning of this passage. If there is a way to rightly divide the word, there is a way to wrongly divide the word. We, each and every one stands responsible for proper division and for teaching others what we think we know. We will stand before a righteous and sinless Jesus and give account for our knowledge or lack of knowledge. There are many that take this responsibility too lightly and blithely lead some to destruction.

When men study under right divisions they are likely to come to right conclusions and arrive at truth on any particular subject. But when men study the Bible under wrong divisions they are likely to come to wrong conclusions, hence become entangled in error on any particular Bible subject. Much of the world’s confusion in religious error is due to a disregard for intelligent rules and principles of Bible interpretation. If it was necessary for Timothy to study the Bible under right divisions, that he might not be ashamed rightly dividing (or dissecting) the Word of truth, is it not reasonable that men should still give much thought to a study of the Bible under right divisions?

Although there is no inspired statement concerning what the right divisions of the New Testament are, it seems logically to fall under three divisions, manifesting the trinity of things alike in the Old and New Testaments, as in the Bible as a harmonious whole. The three ligical divisions into which the New Testament falls are:

1.The historical books
2.The doctinal books
3.The prophetic books.

1.The Historical Books

The first five books of the New Testament compose the historical books. They may be so classified because, in the main, they give an inspired historical record of two things:

1.the ministry of John the Baptist in preparing the way for Christ to come and establish His church, and

2.the personal ministry of Jesus and His establishing the church and how it began to function in carrying out the great commission after He returned to heaven.

For instance, the four gospels all give divine records of both the lives and works of John the Baptist and jesus in establishing and commissioning the Lord’s church. Then the book of Acts, the fifth book of the New Testament gives a history of how th Lord’s church began to function in carrying our Lord’s message to all nations, after she had been empowered by the Holy Ghost. There is some doctrine and some prolphecy in these five books, but in the main, their contensts are matters of divine historical record.

2.The Doctrinal Books

Every book of the New Testament from Romans through Jude was written to some person or group of persons concerning some particular doctrine or doctrinal matter. There are twenty-one of these books and their contents are primarily divinely inspired instructions on some specific subject.

For instance, the book of Romans was written to explain that justification came to Jew and Gentile alike, by faith in Jesus Christ, without one’s subscribing to the ceremonies of either the Law of Moses or laws of Christ, as means of acquiring salvation. Then the book of I Corinthians was written to correct some moral and doctrinal evils that had crept into the church at Corinth.

There is some history, authentic history, and some prophecy in these twenty-one doctrinal books, but they are primarily doctrinal and were not given for specific prophetic or historical reasons.

3.The Prophetical Books

The book of Revelation is the third logical division of the new Testament and is to be considered the New Testament guide for a study of things concerning the coming of our Lord and the end of this age. It has some history and some doctrine in it (for instance, the doctrine of the second coming of Christ), but it deals primarily with matters of prophetic nature and is therfore termned prophetic. Blessed is the person who reads, understands, and tries to abide by the teachings of this book of prophecy, the third logical division of the New Testament for purposes of study in rightly dividing the Word of truth.

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