[This post is a work in progress as part of the CAA Catechism.]
[Add the title only in the title field, not in the body of the post.]
Summary in 400 words or less:
Eyewitness testimony has been a vital part of family and community life for thousands of years. Moses told Israel – “by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established” (Deuteronomy 19:15). Jesus told His disciples – “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established” (Matthew 18:15-16).
There are two kinds of eyewitness testimony described in the Bible: ‘true’ witness and ‘false’ witness. One of the ‘Ten Commandments’ is, ‘You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor’ (Exodus 20:16). Jesus and His apostles warned many times about ‘false’ witnesses. This is important to note because much of the evidence for Christianity is based on eyewitness testimony. Jesus and the apostles would not tolerate falsity in eyewitness testimony.
Eyewitness testimony is an important aspect of Christian apologetics, especially in the area of truth claims in the New Testament to the Person of Jesus Christ. The four accounts of the life of Jesus, accepted as true by the early Church, were written by two of Jesus’ closest disciples (Matthew and John) and two trusted associates of other close disciples (Mark and Luke). These four accounts of the ‘Gospel’ of Jesus Christ include hundreds of people who were ‘eyewitnesses’ of the Lord’s miraculous ministry. The Apostle Paul wrote that more than 500 people (many still alive) were eyewitnesses of the ‘physical’ Jesus ‘after’ He was raised from the dead, Paul being one of them (1 Corinthians 15).
The disciples of Jesus Christ didn’t say they ‘heard about’ Him; they said they ‘saw’ Him and ‘heard’ Him. Peter testified that he was a ‘witness of the sufferings of Christ’ (1 Peter 5:1). John testified that he had ‘seen’ Jesus with his own eyes (1 John 1:1). The Gospel of Jesus Christ is based on ‘eyewitness’ testimony, which is admissible in courts of law around the world, not on ‘hearsay’ testimony, which is not admissible in courts of law. Simon Greenleaf, one of the principle founders of the Harvard Law School and a renowned expert on legal evidence, became a Christian in large part based on the reliability of eyewitness testimony in the Gospels. As Paul said in context of the many ‘eyewitnesses’ to the resurrected Christ – ‘Christ died .. was buried .. rose again .. was seen’ (1 Corinthians 15:3-8).
Scripture for YouVersion: 1 Corinthians 15:3-8
Three questions (one fill-in-the-blank, one multiple choice, one discussion question):
1. Eyewitness testimony is an important aspect of ________________ .
2. Jesus and His apostles warned against this type of eyewitness testimony:
- True testimony
- False testimony
- All of the above
3. Why do you think the disciples were able to keep the core details of their stories straight despite persecution and (in most cases) martyrdom?
References for further reading:
Collaborators: Mark McGee, Christopher Riggs, Z. E. Kendall
[Add your name here only if you have created this topic or contributed valuable content or editing to this topic.]
[Add a copyright-free, relevant image to the body of the post (click the Add Media button), as well as going back in and selecting it as the featured image.]
Type “YES” and contact Maryann when at least three collaborators agree this is ready to be shared with YouVersion: