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Investigating and Defensive the Gospels #4: 

Do the Witnesses Pass the Test? 

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • October 7, In the year of our Lord, 2015

  1. Apostles Saw Themselves as Witnesses 
    1. John 21.24
    2. Acts 1.21–22
    3. Acts 2.32
    4. Acts 3.14–15
    5. Acts 4.20
    6. Acts 4.33
    7. Acts 10.39
    8. 1Co 15.5–8
    9. 1Pe 5.1
    10. 2Pe 1.16–18
    11. 1Jo 1.1–4
  2. How Do the Witnesses Come Across? 
    1. Each will give his perspective.
    2. Each will give his personal experience.
    3. They will have some agreement.
    4. Later ones will fill in the gaps.
  3. Are They Reliable? 
    1. How do we explain apparent contradictions?
    2. What would we say, if they agreed in every way?
    3. The first century church could have:
      1. eliminated all the accounts but one; or
      2. harmonized them.
  4. The Human Memory 
    1. Can you remember the details of every birthday of your children?
    2. Can you remember the details of the day they were born?
    3. Why the difference?
      1. Annual birthdays happen regularly.
      2. The day of birth is unique and unrepeatable, hence it influences us more.
  5. The Unique Events of Jesus 
    1. How often had the apostles witnessed something like the ministry of Jesus?
    2. How unique was the resurrection of Jesus?
    3. They only experienced one Jesus.
      1. Have you experienced something that change your life forever?
      2. What the apostles saw changed them forever.
      3. Then they changed the world.

Investigating and Defending the Gospels #5 

Pay attention to every word 

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • October 14, In the year of our Lord, 2015


  1. Are words important? Does it matter how we say things? 
    1. Compare the following sentences, taken from Cold-Case Christianity.
    2. What does each one communicate?
      1. I took Amy, my beautiful wife of 31 years, out to dinner and a movie.
      2. I took my wife out to dinner and a movie.
      3. I took the wife out to dinner and a movie.
      4. I took the old lady out to dinner and a movie.
        1. Some of these could just be normal for a culture or person.
        2. Some of these might indicate different thoughts of the husband.
  2. John never mentioned the mother of Jesus by name. 
    1. Why do you think that is?
    2. John is the only Gospel writer to mention the instructions Jesus gave John.
      1. John 19.25–27
      2. Does that answer the question?
    3. Words convey much meaning.
  3. We know that Matthew and John were eyewitness accounts. 
    1. What about Mark?
    2. The common belief is that Mark wrote down Peter’s preaching.
      1. Papias (c. AD 70–163), leader in Turkey
      2. Irenaeus (c. AD 115–202), he was a student of Ignatius and Polycarp, both of whom were students of John
      3. Justin Martyr (c. AD 103–165)
      4. Clement of Alexandria (c. AD 150–215)


  1. Mark Mention Peter Often 
    1. Mark = 26x
    2. Matthew = 29x
  2. Mark Appears More Familiar with Peter 
    1. Mark never used “Simon Peter.”
    2. John = 17x
  3. Mark Used Peter as Bookends 
    1. First disciple named – 1.16
    2. Last disciple name – 16.7
    3. Used in ancient texts as a way of pointing to the eyewitness.
  4. Mark Included Details that Peter Would Know 
    1. Shows Simon looking for Jesus – 1.35–37
    2. Shows Peter pointing out the withered tree – 11.20–21
    3. Shows Peter asking about timing of the destruction of the temple – 13.1–4
  5. Mark Used Peter’s Outline 
    1. In Acts, Peter leaves out details of the private life of Jesus
    2. Mark left out the birth narrative and other details.


  1. Mark recorded the words of an eyewitness. 
  2. Putting this together with the words of the early church confirms Peter as the eyewitness behind Mark’s account of the Gospel. 
  3. Hang on every word of the Bible as you would a letter from a loved one.