A Defense for the Hope #2: True or False Witnesses

  • Why would eleven Jewish men (thirteen including Matthias and later Paul) follow, live, and preach a Hebrew prophetic message that they knew they would be killed for, just as the one who taught it to them was, if they didn't believe it to be true (fulfilled)?
  • Why would they lie about something as serious as the prophesied Messiah?
  • What would be their reason for lying?

People lie or are deceitful to gain something or to avoid something. These eleven had nothing to gain or avoid from this message if it was a lie. No money, property, respect, power, and so on, was to be gained. They had no reputation to lose if it was false. They had no reputation to gain if it was true. There was nothing to be gained, lost, or avoided from the message they were preaching/teaching—except their deaths. So why risk their lives, unless they knew what they knew was worth the consequences of preaching/teaching it.

We can see during the first century that even though every Jew was taught of and awaited the promised Messiah, nobody was really analyzing each person to see if they were He. The Jewish people then went about their lives normally just as we do today—same stuff, different day. Again, why would normal, everyday Jews put all their eggs in one basket and risk their lives for a false Messiah who did numerous miracles, feats, and such just as it was prophesied of Him to do? Why would normal, everyday Jews teach/preach the prophetic message (that they had come to learn) to every other Jew they came across (even the teachers), if what they had personally witnessed in the life of Jesus was not in accordance with the prophetic Scriptures taught by the teachers of the Law? Why would the writers of the Gospels misquote or manipulate prophetic Scriptures? Again, they had nothing to gain or avoid from this alleged deception. These Jewish writers, with the exception of Luke, were no more educated then whom they were originally writing to. To misquote or manipulate the holy Hebrew Scriptures simply to get other Jews to believe the message or follow their cause was truly not worth the consequences they would inevitably face if they were wrong.

These Jewish followers of Jesus had a prime opportunity to let this blasphemy die out. Right after Jesus' crucifixion they were no longer in the public eye. They had all scattered. This was a perfect set-up to lay low and let everything die down if Jesus was a false Messiah. So, as for the many who deny Jesus as the Messiah and only way to God, why would His followers further risk their life and steal His body just to cover up the so-called lie? No one was looking for them. They could've stayed in hiding rather than risk Roman imprisonment, ex-communication from their cultural society, and death. But no, they say three days later an angel rolled the stoned away and their so-called Messiah rose from the dead. He even had the nerve to come to them and over 500 others as well (1Cor. 15:3-8). That's an over-reaching lie right there isn't it? If this wasn't true, they were making the situation way worst then what it was already with just Jesus doing and saying all that He did. Either they were the dumbest Jews alive, or again, they knew what they knew was unquestionably true and they were willing to die to tell everyone.

Fifty days after Jesus' crucifixion, these normal, yet seemingly senseless Jewish followers of Jesus, arose from what appeared to be humiliation of their fallen false Messiah and took their region by storm. They went from outcasted nobodies to speaking multiple languages, prophesying, and doing similar miracles attributed to their so-called false Messiah. These ordinary Jews were doing extraordinary things. They had their life to lose but nothing to gain or avoid from preaching Jesus as the promised Messiah. To them they had already gained that which mattered most, eternal life. And all they wanted to do was offer that same life given to them to everyone else for free. No deceit needed. Nothing intended to be gained. They just preached what they knew and what they witnessed, the Truth of God revealed.

The most notable convert to the so-called prophesied Messiah's message was Saul of Tarsus, later known as Paul. Paul was a teacher of the Law and an original persecutor of Jesus' followers. Why would this man, who knew the Scriptures much much more then his eventual counterparts, risk his reputation, status, and life on something he didn't know for certain to be true? No follower converted Paul. Luke records Paul's story saying Paul was converted by the One who claimed to be the Messiah Himself (Acts 9:1-22). Who else could have converted Paul? Paul watched and assisted in the stoning of one of Jesus' followers. He wasn't moved by Jesus' follower's words. He knew too much to be won over by a nominal follower. Only one smarter than Paul could've convinced him that Jesus, who they called the Christ, was the prophesied Messiah. And Paul eventually came to the same conclusion, without any interference or influence of Jesus' followers, that Jesus was the promised Messiah. He then went on (by way of person and writing) to preach and teach Jews, and for the first time non-Jews (Gentiles), the now revealed Truth of God found in Jesus.

The same that was said for Jesus' first followers can be said for Paul. Why would Paul misquote or manipulate the holy Hebrew Scriptures, which he held to much stricter than the others being a former teacher of the Law, simply to get other Jews and non-Jews to believe Jesus' message or follow Jesus' cause? What would Paul have to gain from preaching/teaching a false Jewish message? Paul, just as the others, had no reason to lie, nothing to gain, and everything to lose, preached what he knew was the Hebrew Scriptures fulfilled in Jesus.

Now you tell me, why would these men (and women) risk their lives and their family's lives on a lie? Why would they preach lies to other Jews who would be able to tell if it wasn't in accordance with the Hebrew Scriptures? What did they have to gain from preaching/teaching their so-called false message? How did they do all the extraordinary things they did, which had not been seen before among the Jews except that of Jesus (and the prophets of old), if what they witnessed and knew was not the Truth? There is no other logical answer to how they came to believe and do what they did or why, except that Jesus is the promised Messiah, the Truth of God revealed.