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Is Jesus real?

Many people in the world have heard of the historical figure of Jesus. Maybe you grew up hearing about Him in Sunday school, or maybe you've only just heard about Him. In any case, yes, Jesus was (and is!) a real person.

Almost Everyone Agrees

A couple thousand years ago, Jesus existed in the flesh. Even most non-Christian historians acknowledge that Jesus was a real historical person. Jesus is recorded as being one of the most controversial historical figures of all time by Christians and non-Christian alike. From Old Testament prophecy to the writings of ancient historians like Josephus and Tacitus to the cross-referenced accounts in the gospels: the evidence is rock-solid for Jesus Christ's earthly existence in Israel during the first century.

Old Testament Prophecy

The Old Testament predicted the coming of the Messiah, a physical, tangible savior who'd rescue Israel from her enemies. The Old Testament predicted this Savior would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2) and a descendant of King David (Genesis 49:10). He'd be a prophet like Moses (Deuteronomy 18:18), He'd bring good news (Isaiah 61:1), heal people of many different ailments (Isaiah 35:5-6), and He would suffer immensely before being glorified (Isaiah 53). Jesus matched up to each prophecy perfectly.

Facts About Jesus

Jesus was...

  • ...born in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1)
  • ...in the lineage of David (Matthew 1:1-17)
  • ...similar to Moses (Acts 3:17-26)
  • ...brought good news about God's forgiveness (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)
  • ...healed people of many different things (Matthew 15:30)
  • ...suffered and died before being glorified (John 19:1-42; Luke 24:50-53)

New Testament Testimonies: Firsthand Accounts

There are a lot of references to Christ as an actual person throughout the New Testament—many being firsthand accounts. Mark’s Gospel is the earliest of the four Gospels, being written within 10 years of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Paul’s earliest letters came 25ish years after the death of Jesus. These early dates verify that there were still plenty of living eyewitnesses to Jesus’ life who could verify the authenticity of the Gospels when they were first circulating (1 Corinthians 15:6).

Archaeology & Literature

The individual books that make up our compiled Bible are copies of original ancient manuscripts. In those times, scribes were responsible for carefully copying and re-copying writings to preserve them throughout history. The more manuscripts you have that agree with one another, the more historically reliable and legit the document is considered.

The New Testament? Well, it has over 25,000 authenticated manuscripts. Just for a contrast, Julius Caesar's Gallic Wars, originally written in the first century, only has 10 existing, authentic manuscripts today—the earliest of which was written 1,000 years after the original writing. Another example is Aristotle's Poetics—only five early manuscripts still exist, and the earliest still dates 1,400 years from the original writing. From this data, Jesus' existence is significantly more likely than even Julius Caesar or Aristotle.

In addition to the radical evidence of the early authenticated manuscripts, other religious texts also confirm the human existence of Jesus. In the sacred texts of Judaism, Hinduism, Gnosticism, and Islam, Jesus is mentioned as being a real person. One famous account of Jesus is that of Jewish historian Flavius Josephus in his work, Antiquities of the Jews. Roman historian Tacitus talks about the followers of Jesus in his own texts. Suetonius, Emperor Hadrian's chief secretary, Greek writer Lucian of Samosata, Pliny the Younger, Mara Bar-Serapion, and Julius Africanus (quoting Thallus) all talk about Jesus' existence in their writings.

The Western Calendar Hinges on Jesus

As of this publishing, we are in the year of 2021 AD (Anno Domini, "the year of our Lord"). Anything dated before Jesus’ birth is marked as BC (Before Christ) or BCE (Before Common Era). Regardless of which label you use, the turning point in history has remained Jesus' birth. The entire Western-style of dating hinges on that pivotal event: the birth of the very real person, Jesus Christ. Schools, colleges, hospitals, orphanages, rescue missions, and other organizations have all been named after Jesus due to His real impact on history.

Jesus Changes Hearts Through History

The early church experienced mass martyrdom because of their testimony about Jesus. The apostles died horrible deaths for their faith in Jesus Christ. Not many people would die for something they believed was false, and few would die for something they weren't 100% sure about. Jesus continues to change hearts today. There are people who choose to die for their faith in Jesus even today. Though we haven't met Jesus, tangibly, in-person, we see the continued realness of His presence in the actions of those who follow Him. Jesus tells us, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). (That's US!)

Call to Faith

The evidence is all there: Jesus is real, and He placed evidence throughout history so we would know He is real and the good news of His sacrifice for us is true. Jesus is real, and He did indeed die in our place, taking on the punishment for our sins. He buried dead, then came back to life to prove His sacrifice was accepted by God. By accepting His sacrificial gift, we can have forgiveness of sins and eternal life with God (John 3:16).

One of Jesus' names while on earth was Immanuel, which means "God with us" (Matthew 1:22-23). The Bible tells us He was God the flesh (John 1:14), and by having authentic, historical proof that Jesus is real, we know that God did come to live among humanity. We can confidently believe He came to save us from our sins (Romans 5:8).

The One who calls the stars by name came to earth to die as a ransom for us (Matthew 20:28; Romans 6:23). Jesus is a real Person who was born into the world, died on the Roman cross, was buried in a real Jewish tomb, and physically rose from the dead to save us from our sins and give us eternal life.

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TL;DR

Yes, Jesus is a real person, and He is the Savior of the world. We know this because of the Old Testament prophecies, New Testament writings, firsthand eyewitness accounts, 25,000 authenticated manuscripts, accounts of Christian and secular historians, ancient writings, arrangement of the western calendar, countless testimonies of believers, and the martyrdom of the early church. The Bible tells us He was God the flesh (John 1:14), and by having authentic, historical proof that Jesus is real, we know that God did come to live among humanity. We can confidently believe He came to save us from our sins (Romans 5:8). By believing that everything Jesus said and did is true (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), you can receive forgiveness for your sins and eternal life with God (John 3:16).

By: Vivian Bricker

Vivian loves learning, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She is dedicated to helping people learn more about Jesus and is ready to help in any way she can. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, cooking, drawing, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, you can find her soaking up the sunshine or going on an adventure.

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