This article will explain the significance of these events, and show how they reaffirm the Christian acknowledgement that Jesus truly is who he said he was. In fact, each of these events would be difficult to explain if Jesus wasn’t who he claimed to coincidence. The writing of the Bible ceased During the first century of this era, Jesus announced that he was the fulfillment of scripture.
And the writing of the Bible, which had spanned as many as 1,500 years from the lifetime of Moses until the death of John the Apostle, had come to a close. Jesus, who is the subject and purpose of the New Testament, proclaimed in Matthew 5:17, John 4:25-26, and in other verses, that he was the Messiah promised by the Old Testament writers. In effect, he was announcing that the process of writing the Old Testament was already finished. Because, if Jesus was not who he said he was then he would have had no way of knowing, for sure, that Malachi would be the last and final book of the Old Testament. After all, Malachi never said he was writing the last and final book.
Messiah era would come to an end before the first century, or that it would not continue into the first century or beyond. The Old Testament, and its 39 books, were written over a period of time spanning as many as 1,000 years, from the time of Moses through the time of Malachi. Malachi lived about 400 years before Jesus. The Old Testament has hundreds of prophetic verses that spoke of a future Messiah. The New Testament, and its 27 books, were written during the first century, during the lifetimes of the eyewitnesses and contemporaries of Jesus.
The New Testament was written by people who acknowledged that Jesus is the Messiah. History has never provided us with another messiah or new testament that was ever widely embraced by people over a sustained period of time. If Jesus was not the Messiah, or if God was not controlling the writing of the Bible, then we could expect a lot of different scenarios involving the writing of the Bible. If Jesus was not the Messiah who was being promised by the Old Testament prophets, then why didn’t God continue to raise up prophets, as he had already done for many centuries, and let us know who the real Messiah was? If the New Testament was not the true continuation and fulfillment of the Old Testament, then where is the real New Testament and why hasn’t it become widely accepted as being the word of God? And if there was no God controlling the writing of the Bible, well, then anything could have happened. We could have dozens or hundreds of competing Old Testaments.
We could have dozens or hundreds of internationally, or nationally, or regionally, or locally accepted messiahs, scattered throughout the world, each claiming to be the fulfillment of scripture. Christianity was evangelized throughout the Roman world During the first century of this era, there were evangelists who claimed to be eyewitnesses of the resurrected Jesus. These people, including Paul and the Apostles, were willing to travel throughout the Roman world, by land and by sea, to evangelize a religion that wasn’t legally recognized by the Roman government. Paul, in particular, was willing to travel thousands of miles to evangelize in the name of Jesus, whom Paul claimed to have seen with his own eyes, to people throughout western Asia and southern Europe.
And, as we learn from the Bible’s book of Acts, he continued to travel and evangelize even after being beaten and flogged, shipwrecked and injured, arrested and imprisoned, pursued by mobs and threatened with death. Many of first evangelists were in the unique position of being able to know, because of what they had seen with their own eyes, whether Jesus truly had been resurrected. And we can’t hook them up to a polygraph test. There was a risk in evangelizing Christianity. It wasn’t legally recognized by the Roman government. We know this from secular history and we know this from Acts 16:20-21, in which Christianity is described from a Roman point of view as «customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice. Many of the first evangelists were Jewish, and Jews were sometimes treated with prejudice within the Roman world.
We see examples of this within the writings of Tacitus, a first-century Roman historian. We also see two possible examples of prejudice directed against the Jewishness of Paul in Acts 16:20 and in Acts 19:34. Christianity, at least initially, was so new that it often meant that converts would be breaking away from the beliefs of their parents, their siblings, their friends, their neighbors, their co-workers and their employers. Christianity is inflexible, exclusive, and non-syncretic, whereas the religions of the ancient world were very willing to change, include and combine.
The Roman world was full of fertility-cult religions and other practices that grew out of traditions from Greece, Egypt and Mesopotamia. Christianity was very different than what people were accustomed to. Despite these and other obstacles, the first-century evangelists were able to promote a religion to people who had never encountered a religion like Christianity before. And these evangelists were able to do this through evangelism, a method of promotion that many people had never encountered before.
The first-century evangelists provided the foundation on which Christianity later became the first religion to spread to each of the world’s inhabitable continents. Even today with the widespread use of worldwide mediums of television, radio and the Internet, Christianity continues to be the only religion with a truly significant and influential presence on each of the continents. It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations — Matthew 24:14a. Christians were martyred for their beliefs The events of the first century began a process by which two words would become uniquely associated with Christianity: evangelism and martyr.