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Predictive Prophecy


Unlike any other collection of books, the Bible makes accurate predictions about the future -- demonstrating that it is inspired by an all-knowing God, rather than invented by deceitful men. Although there are far too many fulfilled prophecies to list here, consider the following few.

Prophecy #1

"A voice of one calling:  'In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness, a highway for our God'" (Isaiah 40:3).
                

Prophecy #1 Fulfilled

 

"In those days, John the Baptist came preaching in  the desert of Judea and saying, 'Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.'  This is He who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:  'A voice of one calling in the  desert,  "Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him."'" (Matthew 3:1-3).  "And this was his message: 'After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop  down  and  untie.   I  baptize  you  with  water,  but  He will  baptize  you  with  the   Holy  Spirit.'" (Mark 1:7-8).

Prophecy #2

"But you, Bethlehem Ephratha, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient time" (Micah 5:2).

Prophecy #2 Fulfilled

"Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod" (Matthew 2:1).  "Does not the Scripture say that the Christ will come from David's family and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?" (John 7:42).  "When he had called together all the people's Chief Priests and teachers of the Law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born.  'In Bethlehem, in Judea,' they replied, 'for this is what the prophet has written:  "But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel"'" (Matthew 2:4-5).

"So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judah, to Bethlehem the town of David.  He went there to register with Mary, who was expecting a child.  While they were there the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.  She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manager,  because there was no room for them in the inn" (Luke 2:4- 7).

Prophecy #3

"Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!  Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!  See, your King comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey" (Zechariah 9:9).

Prophecy #3 Fulfilled

"They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it.  As He went along, people spread their cloaks on the road . . . the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen" (Luke 19:35-37).  "'Do not be afraid, Daughter of Zion; see, your King is coming, seated on a donkey's colt.'  At first His Disciples did not understand all this.  Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about Him and that these things had been done to Him" (John 12:15-16).

Prophecy #4

"As Jesus was walking away from the Temple, His Disciples called His attention to its buildings. 'Do you see all these things?'  He asked.  'I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another, every one will be thrown down (Matthew 24:1-2).

Prophecy #4 Fulfilled

The Romans destroyed the Jewish Temple in 70 AD.  The destruction was so complete that the stones that made up the Temple were literally thrown off the Temple Mount.  The destruction of the Jewish Temple is still mourned today with an annual fast; the Tisha B'Av.

Prophecy #5

"Evil men have encircled me, they have pierced my hands and feet, I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me.  They divide my garments among them and   cast   lots  for  my  clothing" (Psalm 22:16-18).

Prophecy #5 Fulfilled

"This man was handed over to you by God's deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross" (Acts 2:23).  "Now Thomas (also known as Didymus)  one  of  the  Twelve,  was not  with  the  Disciples  when  Jesus  came.   So  the other  Disciples told  him, 'We have seen the LORD!'  But he said to them, 'Unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hands into his side, I will not believe'" (John 20:24-25).

"The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at Him.  They said, 'He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is God's Messiah, the Chosen One.'  The soldiers also came up and mocked Him" (Luke 23:35-36).  "Those who passed by hurled insults at Him, shaking their heads and saying, 'You who are going to destroy the Temple and build it in three days, save yourself!  Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!  In the same way the Chief Priests, the teachers of the Law and the elders mocked Him.  'He saved Israel!  Let Him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in Him'" (Matthew 27:39-42).

"When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took His clothes. One . . . garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.  'Let's not tear it,' they said to one another.  'Let's decided by lot who will get it'" (John 19:23-24). 




Statistical Probability


God gave us fulfilled prophecies for a number of reasons.  First, He wanted to reveal the Bible's divine authority, to set it apart from competing religious literature; many of which are replete with false prophecies.  Second, He wanted to point to the identity of the Messiah beyond any dispute.  And third, He wanted to make an imposter's task impossible.

 

Indeed, the Messianic prophecies that Jesus fulfilled are impossible for anyone else to duplicate.  How could Jesus have arranged to be born in Bethlehem?  How could Jesus have arranged to be born from the tribe of Judah?   How could Jesus have arranged to be pierced in the side after His death?  How could Jesus have arranged to be a descendant of David? How could Jesus have arranged to be betrayed for thirty pieces of silver?  How could Jesus have arranged to be buried in a rich man's tomb?

To put it in perspective, your chance of getting hit by lightning is 1 in 250,000,000. Now consider that the odds of Jesus fulfilling even eight of the Messianic prophecies is 1 in 1017, or 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000.  The chances of Jesus fulfilling just forty-eight of the Messianic prophecies; as estimated by Peter W. Stoner, Professor emeritus of Science at Westmont College -- is 1 in 10157.  That's a one with one hundred fifty-seven zeros behind it!





Archaeology


The field of Archaeology has done much to authenticate the existence of the people and places mentioned in the Bible.  Accordingly, as Archaeology has advanced, so has the historical credibility of both the Old and New Testaments.  Let's look at some examples.

Governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate

"In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar -- when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea" (Luke 3:1).  Archaeology has confirmed the historicity of Pontius Pilate by uncovering bronze coins struck with Pilate's inscription (29 AD - 32 AD).  And, more recently -- while excavating a Roman theater near Caesarea Maritima -- Archaeologists have unearthed a limestone block with both Pilate's and Caesar's name on it. 

The Temple of the Goddess Artemis

Identified as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Bible makes numerous references throughout The Acts of the Apostles to the temple of the goddess Artemis "A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in a lot of business for the craftsmen there" (Acts 19:24).   "And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia.  He says that gods made by human hands are no gods at all.  There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited; and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty.'  When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: 'Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!'" (Acts 19:26-28).  "The city clerk quieted the crowd and said:  'Fellow Ephesians, doesn't all the world know that the city of Ephesus is the guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of her image which fell from heaven?'" (Acts 19:35).       


The Pool of Siloam

The Pool of Siloam is mentioned several times in the Old Testament book of Isaiah.  But its most famous reference comes from Jesus healing the blind man in The Gospel of John.  Two pools, fifty meters apart, are both identified as being The Pool of Siloam.  One is a rectangular channel supplied by water from Hezikiah's tunnel (right).  The other, devoid of water, was discovered in 2004, during a public works project in Jerusalem.  It is not known which pool was in operation during the time of Jesus' ministry.  "As He went along, He saw a  man blind from birth.  His Disciples asked  Him, 'Rabbi,  who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?'  'Neither this man nor his parents sinned,' said Jesus, 'but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.  Having said this, He spit on the ground, made some mud with the Saliva, and put it on the man's eyes.  'Go' He told him, 'Wash in the Pool of Siloam.'  So he went and washed, and came home seeing'" (John 9:1-3; 6-11).

 

The Wall of Nehemiah

As a cup bearer to the King Artaxerxes, in the Citadel of Susa, Nehemiah learned from his brothers that the walls of Jerusalem had been destroyed.  "They said to me, 'Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace.  The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and tis gates have been burned with fire" (Nehemiah 1:3)Moved by the Holy Spirit to rebuild the walls, Nehemiah repented of his sins before God.  "I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father's house, have committed against you (Nehemiah 1:6).  Gaining permission from King Artaxerxes, Nehemiah returned to Judah.  Once there, despite being virtually surrounded by resistance, he gathered a force of workers and managed to rebuild the walls in just fifty-two days.  The wall was later discovered by a team of Archaeologist who were seeking a way to shore up a tower in Jerusalem's ancient City of David.

Sir William Ramsay

Archaeologist, and Biblical skeptic, Sir William Ramsay, set out to disprove the historical reliability of the books of The Gospel of Luke, and The Acts of the Apostles (both of which were written by the Apostle Luke).  When, after many years of research and exploration, Ramsay found Luke's writings to be unerringly accurate, he followed the evidence, and became converted to the Christian Faith.

 

The Walls of Jericho

First excavated in 1907, the city of Jericho was -- not surprisingly for an ancient site -- found to be reduced to rubble.  Re-excavated in the 1950's, the rubble was identified as being the collapsed walls that had once fortified the city; exactly in keeping with the Biblical account. "When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed" (Joshua 6:20).

The excavation went on to discover that the collapsed city had been blackened by fire.  "Then they burned the whole city and everything in it" (Joshua 6:24).

According to the Joshua account, a prostitute named Rahab had hidden the spies that Joshua had previously sent into the city.  Leaving no doubt about her faith, she declared, "The LORD your God is God in Heaven above and on the Earth below" (Joshua 2:10).  Before helping the men escape from the pursuing Jericho army, she exacted a promise.  “'Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that you will show kindness to my family, because I have shown kindness to you.  Give me a sure sign that you will spare the lives of my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who  belong to them — and that you will save us from death.'  'Our lives for your lives!' the men assured her.  'If you don’t tell what we are doing, we will treat you kindly and faithfully when the LORD gives us the land.' So she let  them down by a rope through the window, for the house she lived in was part of the  city  wall" (Joshua 2:12-15).

"But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho — and she lives among the Israelites to this day" (Joshua 6:25).  Incredibly, the excavation found only one part of the wall still standing.  It was a section that had been protecting the north side of the city -- a section that had houses built up against it.




Light of Christ


If we are to be followers of Jesus Christ, then it is important to recognize His opinion of Holy Scripture.  What did Jesus think of the Old Testament?  Did He want to change it?  Eliminate it?  "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets;   but to fulfill   them"(Matthew 5:17).  "All this was done that the Scriptures of the Prophets might be  fulfilled  (Matthew 26:56).Everything that is written about Me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and  the  Psalms" (Luke 24:4). "Everything the is written by the Prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled" (Luke 18:31).

What does it mean to fulfill the Scriptures?  It means that by personally fulfilling the prophecies that were made about Him in the Old Testament, Jesus was identifying Himself as the Messiah.  "Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself" (Luke 24:27).

All told, Jesus quoted from twenty-four Old Testament books.  In doing so, Jesus not only affirmed the authority of Scripture, but He confirmed that people mentioned in Scripture were real, rather than allegorical.  "But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be" (Matthew 24:37-39).  "For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation" (Luke 11:30).  "Now no one greater than Solomon is here" (Luke 11:31).  Other references include David, Abel, Adam, Zechariah, Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, and numerous others.  Jesus also confirmed that the Old Testament books were written by the Prophets they are credited to.  "So when you see standing in the Holy Place 'the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken  of   through   the  Prophet   Daniel -- let  the  reader  understand'"

(Matthew 24:15).  "You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you"  (Matthew 15:7).  "For Moses said, 'Honor you father and your mother'" (Mark 7:10).

Finally, Jesus also promised us the coming of new Scripture (what we call the New Testament) to be guided by the Holy Spirit.  "But when He, the Spirit of Truth comes, He will guide you into all truth.  He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come (John 16:13).  "When the Counselor comes, whom I will sent to you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth who goes out from the Father, He will testify about me.  And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning" (John 15:26-27).




Manuscripts
 

Quotations from the New Testament by the Early Church Fathers


Norman Geisler and William Nix, in their book, A General Introduction to the Bible, explain the importance of the writing of early Church leaders.  The following list of quotations demonstrates the Biblical coverage of the writers, and the light they have shed on the New Testament and its historical accuracy.  It's important to note that we have all but a few verses in the Bible preserved in the writings of the early Church Fathers.

 

 

Church Fathers

 

Quotes from the Gospels

 

 Quotes from

Acts

 

Quotes from the Pauline Epistles

 

 

Quotes from the General Epistles

 

Quotes from Revelation

 

Totals

 

Justin

Martyr

 

 

268

 

10

 

43

 

6

 

3

 

330

 

Irenaeus

 

 

1,038

 

194

 

499

 

23

 

6

 

1,819

 

Clement of Alexandria

 

 

1,017

 

44

 

1,127

 

207

 

11

 

2,406

 

Origen

 

 

9,231

 

349

 

7,778

 

399

 

165

 

17,922

 

Tertulian

 

 

3,822

 

502

 

2,609

 

120

 

205

 

7,258

 

Hippolytus

 

 

734

 

42

 

387

 

27

 

188

 

1,378

 

Eusebius

 

 

3,258

 

211

 

1,592

 

88

 

27

 

5,176

 

 

Totals

 

 

19,368

 

1,352

 

14,035

 

870

 

644

 

36,189




Complete and Partial New Testament Manuscripts

The Bible has stronger written manuscript evidence than any other work of antiquity.  The New Testament alone has more than 5,000 partial and complete early manuscript copies. A General Introduction to the Bible, presents some of the most prominent.

 

 

Manuscripts

 

Date

 

Contains

 

Chester Beatty Papyrus (P45)

 

3rd Century

 

4 Gospels; Acts 4 - 17

 

Chester Beatty Papyrus (P46)

 

3rd Century

 

10 Pauline Epistles; Hebrews

 

Chester Beatty Papyrus (P47)

 

3rd Century

 

Revelation 9:10 - 17:2

 

Bodmer Papyrus (P66)

 

3rd Century

 

Gospel of John

 

Bodmer Papyrus (P75)

 

3rd Century

 

Luke and John

 

Sinaiticus

 

4th Century

 

Most of the New Testament

 

Alexandrinus

 

5th Century

 

Most of the New Testament

 

Claromontanus

 

6th Century

 

Pauline Epistles, Hebrews




A Comparison of Time Spans from Original Texts to Earliest Copies


It is sometimes alleged that the Bible has been changed over the centuries.  The truth is that the literary transmission process was done with painstaking vigilance.  Scribes would count the number of letters and words in each line, and record in the margins the letter at the center of each line.  Other scribes would then verify these checks. 


Moreover, any variation in the text would have stood out sharply from among the thousands of copies then in circulation.  Finally, the brief time span from the original autographs to the earliest copies that we possess is so short, that any changes could well have been contradicted by eyewitnesses to the events recorded.


 

Text

 

Timespan from Original Text

to Earliest Copies

 

Number of

Copies

 

Aristotle

 

1,400 years

 

5

 

Homer

 

500 years

 

643

 

Sophocles

 

1,400 years

 

193

 

Plato

 

1,200 years

 

7

 

Herodotus

 

1,300 years

 

8

 

Caesar

 

900 years

 

10

 

The New Testament

 

35 years - 100 years

 

5,400

             

 

 

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