What follows is the content a Power Point that I will be using to teach today at my Church’s youth and adult apologetics class at 9 AM:
Scared, aren’t you? We’re going to try something a little different here today – I hope this works out like I think it will.
We’re going to start off with a little exercise – a test if you like – to see if we can remember the details of an event that I’m sure we’re all very familiar with.
It is very important that as you work on this, you work completely independently. Don’t collaborate, look at each other’s answers or talk to yourself out loud as you do this… I want to make sure that your work is original – not because I’m trying to test your ability, but just because I want to know what you specifically remember about this event. The “test” has one question, and here it is (remember, don’t answer out loud):
Pens down!!!! OK, so, how did you? Was that difficult? Let’s go around the room and you can each tell me what facts you included about 9-11-2001 (write the facts on the board). [Take note of how (hopefully) each person reported different things in the account depending on what they remembered and their individual perspectives.] Even though the details varied, we all agreed on the big event – that the planes hit the buildings. If you had just one person write the account, you’d invariably miss some of those details… But with the multiple independent accounts, just like there’s 4 Gospels, you get a much richer picture of the historicity of what happened on 9/11 and likewise, with the historicity of the events surrounding Jesus. Everybody agreed upon the big picture, but they differed on the minor details. We all agreed that each account is an eyewitness account and its an independent eyewitness account. There’s no way to contrive 4 fictional accounts and have them agree on so much (as the Gospels agree on)! If they’re true though, it makes sense.
That exercise will hopefully help drive home the point of this message today, which is the Tapestry of New Testament history – How “undesigned coincidences” point to the historicity of the New Testament accounts. This is a fascinating area of study and one that rarely gets talked about in Apologetics, but never-the-less, these “undesigned coincidences” that we’re going to be talking about today, show beyond any reasonable doubt that the new testament authors were actually telling the truth – that they really were recording eyewitness testimony of historical events that actually happened.
As usual, when examining these objections, we want to first take a look at what the skeptics are saying… Here are a few of them. First, Sir Ian McKellen of Lord of the Rings fame says, “I’ve often thought the Bible should have a disclaimer in the front saying, ‘This is fiction’.”
And of course, our old friend, Richard Dawkins says, “The Bible should be taught, but emphatically not as reality. It is fiction, myth, poetry, anything but reality. As such it needs to be taught because it underlies so much of our literature and our culture”.
Blogger J.M. Green of the “Debunking Christianity” blog says “Claiming the Bible is true because it mentions some historical people and places is like saying that Sherlock Holmes stores are true because they contain descriptions of Victorian London.”, So, these skeptics, and many others want you to believe that the Bible and specifically the Gospels are nothing more than fiction – something like a historical novel.
I would like to start by reading a passage to you from the Gospel of Luke …
This is a wonderful passage from a historian’s perspective because it puts “historical crosshairs” in the biblical text. By historical crosshairs, I mean that Luke here references real historical figures and their timeframes. He’s nailing down so many different things historically in this passage. It is highly unlikely that this writing could be fiction – kind of like a historical novel – because it contains too many historically confirmed characters (give handout). The New Testament writers would have blown their credibility with their contemporary audiences by implicating real people in a fictional story, especially people of great notoriety and power. There is no way the New Testament writers could have gotten away with writing outright lies about Pilate, Caiaphas, Festus, Felix, and the entire Herodian bloodline. Somebody would have exposed them for falsely implicating these people in events that never occurred. The New Testament writers knew this, and would not have included so many prominent real people in a fictional story that was intended to deceive. Again, the best explanation is that the New Testament writers accurately recorded what they saw.
He’s talking about the beginning of John the Baptist’s ministry. We know from history that the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar is 26 A.D. (he began a co-regency with Augustus Caesar in the year of 12 A.D.) So you take 12 and you add 14 and a bit to it and you’re into the year 26. And about a year later than that, Jesus begins his public ministry. What is the first miracle worked by Jesus in His public ministry?
It’s in Cana of Galillee… It’s where He turns water into wine. Luke doesn’t report this miracle, but John does.
And right after that, He goes to Jerusalem and He cleans out the Temple for the first time. Some of the people who’s tables He’s overturning are not happy with Him and they ask Him, “By what authority do you do this?” and He says “Destroy this temple and I’ll raise it up in 3 days”. That’s probably as much of it as most of us remember.
But there’s a peculiar finishing line… In John 2:20, the Jews say to Him “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” So, there’s just this strange detail (46 years to build the temple) stuck in there. What does that mean? Turns out that in the year 18 B.C., Herod the Great began building the Temple. So, using the Jewish method of reckoning (they count a year even if it is not complete), 46 years means 45 + something, and we move 45 years forward, we find that we’re in the year 27, which is 1 year after the year 26, which is the year that is the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar. So these 2 verses (from Luke and John) which have nothing else in common, both nail down, with a chronological specificity, that’s really quite remarkable, exactly the right time periods for the beginning of John the Baptist’s and of Jesus’ ministries.
So, this is one example of what is called an undesigned coincidence… An undesigned coincidence (so-named by J.J. Blunt from his book and first discovered by William Paley) occurs when one account of an event leaves out a bit of information which is filled in, often quite incidentally, by a different account, which helps to answer some natural questions raised by the first.
JJ Blunt was a Cambridge Professor and a Pastor, who had a kind of detectives eye… When he looked at the New Testament documents, particularly the Gospels and Acts, he could see that the New Testament documents were true just by reading and comparing them.
Frank Turek refers to this subject as “Elaborate Testimony” or “Interlocking Puzzle Pieces”. This refers to evidence that is lying just below the surface of the New Testament narrative. It is an elaborate series of interlocking puzzle pieces that reveal that the New Testament documents contain independent eyewitness testimony of actual historical events
This material is so compelling, and yet, so few people know about it, that we really need to highlight it and that’s why I felt it was important to focus on this for one week. Believe me this is so extensive and in-depth, we could go on about this for a month!
Now let’s cover another example of one of these “undesigned coincidences”. It’s one of those things where you see a puzzling statement and you go, “Hmmm, that’s puzzling, That doesn’t make any sense… I wonder why that’s in there?” Or, it raises a question and then you read another Gospel and it gives you the answer.
Let’s take a look at Jesus before Pilate – In Luke chapter 23, the Jews accuse Jesus before Pilate. They say “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.”
And Pilate asked Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” And He answered him, “You have said so.”
Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man” Now, let’s assume, for the sake of argument that you only had Luke’s account of this incident – Now if this account is not puzzling to you, it should be… The Jews say Jesus is basically guilty of sedition for claiming to be a king. Pilate says “Are you the King of the Jews” and Jesus basically says Yes. (He says, you’ve said so – He didn’t try to defend Himself). Then Pilate said “He’s not guilty!” Wait a minute! How could he be not guilty??? He just admitted what Pilate asked Him and what the Jews accused Him of! It’s puzzling if you just read Luke…
But, if you go over to John… You see that there’s a missing puzzle piece that solves what Luke says. Here’s John’s account (starting in verse 33): Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?“ … Then if you skip down to verse 36, Jesus says, “My kingdom is not of this world….” Aha!! – now you can see why Pilate (at least temporarily) let Jesus go and said “I find no guilt in this man”.
He did so because Jesus said “My kingdom is not of this world”, so He’s not claiming to be in some way trying to overthrow Caesar. That was really the charge that the Jews were trying to bring up – or trying to get Pilate to believe anyway, in hopes that Pilate would do away with him. When Pilate sees he’s saying, “My Kingdom is not of this world”, he’s probably thinking, “He might be a loony or something, but he’s no threat to Caesar! Hey Jews, I find no guilt in him!” But you only get that by reading John!
So John helps verify, or fill in details that are missing in Luke. He fills in a question that reading just Luke’s account may raise. Now, I say this is “inadvertent” because, its not like John is trying to give a different account than Luke, or that he’s trying to solve what Luke says – he just gives more detail, he just gives a little more of the narrative that actually occurred. Perhaps John actually saw the incident, it doesn’t say he was in the room, but who knows? Maybe he was close enough to see what was going on, or maybe Jesus later told him.
It’s worthy to note here that John is different than what are called the Synoptics, Matthew Mark and Luke, John appears to have inside information. He’s traveling with Jesus and appears to have a lot of private conversations that the rest of them don’t have, such as the woman at the well, or with Pilate or with the disciples in the upper room, with Nicodemus, they’re more private conversations. And remember … John is an eyewitness, Luke is not –
Luke is creating an orderly account. And by the way, he may be creating an orderly account because perhaps the other accounts were not in chronological order. For example, Matthew is more thematic than chronological. Even though Luke is not an eyewitness himself, he is interviewing eyewitnesses. So he leaves out the details maybe he didn’t know about. John fills these details in so, just reading these two you ought to walk away saying, “they’re witnessing the same event, but one is giving more detail than the other.”
After you go through these elaborate testimonies, these interlocking puzzle pieces you realize that it would take more faith to believe that these accounts were contrived, than to believe that you actually have four independent eyewitness accounts of the same events and that’s why you get different details.
Let’s do another one here. It involves Herod Antipas – he’s the son of Herod the Great. After Herod the Great died in 4 BC his kingdom got divided up and Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great, got a portion of the kingdom. This Herod that you read of in the New Testament is the Herod that beheaded John the Baptist and also tried Christ.
Now, when you read the Gospel of Matthew, you have a puzzle arise, when he talks about Herod. Here’s what Matthew says in Matthew chapter 14 verses 1 & 2 about Herod:
At that time, Herod the Tetrarch heard about the fame of Jesus, and he said to his servants “this is John the Baptist”, (referring to Jesus), “he has been raised from the dead, That is why these miraculous powers are in him.” Now, here’s the question, how would Matthew know what Herod had said to his servants? Matthew is not in the room when Herod speaks to his servants! You say, well, maybe God told him. Well, yeah, you could say that. You could say this is revelation directly from God, but you don’t need to even go there …
Because, if you compare Matthew’s account with Luke’s account, you’ll see that, in an unrelated story, there is a detail in Luke that helps us solve the puzzle that Matthew leaves. Here’s what it says in Luke 8:1: “and the twelve were with Jesus, “
“and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary, called Magdalene, out of who had come seven demons, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for him from their substance.” There it is! Just a passing detail! You can see here how it is possible that Matthew knew what Herod said to his servants, because one of his the women traveling with Jesus, is married to Herod’s steward (Chuza). Do you think maybe a little pillow talk may have ensued?
Herod’s steward Chuza is saying to Joanna, (whisper) “this is what Herod is saying about Jesus. He thinks he’s John the Baptist – just resurrected.” That’s why Matthew knows it, because Matthew is following Him around too. The twelve were with Him, as this passage says! This is so inadvertent. It’s such a passing detail! It’s not like Luke says explicitly, “Here’s how Matthew knew what Herod said to his servants about Jesus.” He just mentions that Joanna the wife of Herod’s steward is one of the ones following Jesus and this Chuza guy is one of Herod’s steward. So here, Luke helps solve Matthew.
Here’s another one – a puzzling question that arises in Luke. Here’s what it says in Luke chapter 9: “And they kept silent and told no one in those days that any thing of what they had seen.” So, what’s the context of this…
Peter James and John had just seen Jesus transfigured along with Elijah and Moses. And it says, “and they kept silent, and told no one in those days anything off what they had seen.” (Luke 9:36) So, what’s the puzzle (Again, assuming you only had Luke)? Why would they keep silent about this amazing event? They just seen the Transfiguration! Why would they not have told everybody? But, they kept silent, so Luke kind of leaves a puzzle.
But you go over to Mark, and here’s what Mark account says, “As they were coming down the mountain, He gave them orders not to relate to anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man rose from the dead.“ Mark 9:9. Aha! Now you can see why Luke says they told no one. Mark gives us the command not to tell anyone, but he doesn’t say whether they obeyed it. Luke records their obedience to the command, but he doesn’t tell us what the command was, so Mark gives us what Jesus told them not to do. And Luke records that they obeyed what Jesus said! But, both accounts together give you a more complete picture. The puzzle raised by Luke, is solved by simply reading Mark
Now, let’s take a look at a puzzle that is raised by Matthew. Matthew records Jesus pronouncing the following judgments. This is in Matthew 11:21 (ESV). He says, “woe to you Chorazin, woe to you Bethsaida, for if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.” Here’s the puzzle: what mighty works had been done in Bethsaida? Matthew doesn’t record Jesus doing any! It’s kind of a puzzle. Well, in order to answer this one, we’ve got to another puzzle before we answer this one. So, let’s move over to John for a second, then will come back to Matthew.
John leaves a puzzle as well, because at the feeding of the 5000, John records Jesus asking Philip in John 6:5, “where are we to buy bread so that these people may eat?” Now here’s the puzzle: why is Jesus asking Philip, a relatively minor character, where to get a lot of money and food , instead of asking a leader, such as Peter or John or perhaps even Judas, because Judas was the keeper of the money, right? I mean, it just seems odd that he would ask Philip. Well, John leaves a puzzle, but Luke solves it.
And here’s how Luke solves it – inadvertently by the way. Luke, and only Luke, mentions that Bethsaida was the location of the feeding of the 5000. In a passing comment in Luke 9:10, he writes that Bethsaida is the location of the feeding of the 5000. Now in other contexts in John chapters 1 and 12, John records that Philip was from Bethsaida in Galilee. Yet, in John chapter 6, where the feeding of the 5,000 is recorded, Jesus asked Philip where to get food. So, John and Luke interlock to help us solve the puzzle. Philip is from Bethsaida. He would know where to get food and money because he’s in his hometown! Now, we wouldn’t know that from John alone. John tells us “the who”, while Luke tells us “the where”, thus the accounts are complementary here. These are passing details. John never says that Jesus asked Philip because Philip was from Bethsaida, because he never even says that they’re in Bethsaida! So Luke solves John.
Matthew leaves a puzzle in his account of Jesus being beat by the Roman guards (this is chapter 26 from verse 57-67). After Jesus basically declares that he is the Messiah, it says (v65) “the high priest tore his clothes and said he has spoken blasphemy, why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy, what do you think?” And they answered, “He’s worthy of death!”
Then they spit in His face and struck Him with their fists. Others said to Him, “prophesy to us Christ! Who hit You?”
As an aside… Imagine this… The Creator of the universe putting on human flesh, coming here to earth, living a perfect sinless life in order to save the very people who are beating and spitting on Him! Amazing love…
Now back to the puzzle, why are they asking, “who hit you?” He can see them right in front of him, can’t he? Matthew kind of leaves a puzzle. Why would they be asking him to prophesy? He’s looking at them as they’re hitting him! Well, in order to solve the puzzle, you need to go over to Luke.
Here’s Luke’s account (Luke 22:63-65): “Now the men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating Him. They blindfolded Him and demanded, ‘Prophesy, who hit You’? And they said many other insulting things to Him.” So in Luke’s account, he gives the detail that Matthew doesn’t give. What’s the detail? That he was blindfolded! That’s why they were asking, who hit you? You don’t get that just from Matthew’s account. This is just kind of inadvertent, it doesn’t appear to be contrived, that Luke would solve a puzzle that Matthew leaves. So here we have another internal, undersigned coincidence, or interlocking puzzle piece.
Now we’re going to look at some interlocking puzzle pieces from non Christian writers, these are called extra-biblical writers – writers such as Josephus, Tacitus and Sutoneous.
If you go to Matthew, he says this: Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus were in Egypt, to avoid Herod (the homicidal maniac), who is trying to kill the babies in Palestine. Then Matthew says that Joseph had a dream in Egypt, to return to Israel with Mary and the Child Jesus. But when Joseph heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there.
Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth , this is in Matthew chapter 2. Now here’s the puzzle piece. Why is Archelaus so scary? Why would Joseph want to avoid Archelaus ? Matthew doesn’t explain! He doesn’t even say who Archelaus is! He just says, when Joseph heard that Archelaus was reigning there, he was afraid, so he went north, he went up to Galilee. Galilee is north of Jerusalem. He didn’t go to the Jerusalem area, he went to Galilee. Well, who can actually tell us why Archelaus is so scary?
Josephus, the Jewish historian, who lived from about 37ad – 100 ad. He tells us that
Archelaus was one of the sons of Herod the great (older brother of Herod Antipas), and that Archelaus got a piece of Herod’s Kingdom, which happened to include Jerusalem. And even before he’s completely installed by Cesar, he decides to assert his authority. There’s a disturbance at the temple.
Archelaus orders Roman troops into the temple, and he actually slaughters 3000 Jews. Passover was cancelled because of what Archelaus had done!
So, imagine, Joseph is on the road from Egypt back up toward Israel, and there are Jews, who were at the Passover, returning to their homes maybe in Egypt, and they’re coming down from Israel, and
Joseph says, why are you guys coming down from Passover? Why aren’t you still at Passover? We can imagine them saying, haven’t you heard? Archelaus ordered troops into the temple, and 3000 of our brethren have been killed! Passover has been cancelled! So, Joseph is thinking to himself, I left Israel to escape a homicidal maniac! I’m not going to go back there to another homicidal maniac the son of the first homicidal maniac, I’m going to go to another district, where he’s not in charge.
So he goes to Galilee. Now, Matthew doesn’t give you all this detail, he just tells you the truth, that Archelaus was someone to be avoided, and that Joseph was afraid of him! Josephus gives us the detail! Josephus is writing probably 40 years after Matthew. How could Matthew control with a Jewish historian writes 40 years later? Mathews dead! He can’t! That’s why this is an undesigned coincidence. That’s why this is an interlocking puzzle piece. This elaborate testimony can’t be explained by some sort of contrivance. So Josephus comes in and actually verifies what Matthew is saying.
And how about Jesus going to the temple at 12 years old? Luke says, every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. When he was 12 years old, they went up to the feast according to the custom. Now, here’s the question: why did his parents go without him, and then bring Jesus when he was 12? Why didn’t they bring Jesus when he was 10 or 11? Well, I think Josephus has the answer again. Josephus says this: in the 10th year of Archelaus government both his brother and the principal men of Judea and Samaria, not being able to bear his barbarous and tyrannical usage of them, they accused Archelaus before Caesar.
Caesar, upon hearing what certain accusers of his had to say, and what reply Archelaus could make, banished Archelaus to Vienna, a city of Gaul. Gaul is present day France. So, the reason His parents are bringing Jesus to the temple when he is 12, is because that’s the year that Archelaus is no longer in charge. That’s what it appears to be anyway, we are reading between the lines here. Again, this is from Josephus, 30 years after Luke is writing! How could Luke control what Josephus says 30-40 years later? He can’t!
So we’ve got Josephus not only verifying Matthew with regards to Archelaus – he solves a puzzle in Luke as well, it seems, as to why Jesus’s parents would wait until he was 12 to bring him to the temple. That’s the first year Archelaus is not in power. They’ve been avoiding Archelaus for Jesus’s first 12 years, now Archelaus is deposed by Caesar, so, hey, now we can bring Jesus to the temple this year.
Now how about another undersigned coincidence. Why did Claudius order the Jews out of Rome? In Acts 18, of course written by Luke, it says after these things Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth and he found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome. So there is this kind of parenthetical comment, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart from Rome. That’s why Aquila and Priscilla where in Corinth, because they had been basically booted out of Rome by Claudius. The puzzle is this: who’s Claudius and why did he command and all the Jews to leave Rome? In other words, Luke doesn’t tell you who Claudius is or why he commanded all the Jews to leave Rome.
But Suetonius, a Roman historian, writing about the 12 Caesars, (you know there were 12 Caesars, he did biographies of them) – he’s writing about 117 AD. Luke is writing about 60 AD (the book of Acts), no later than 62 AD. So writing 50 something years later, along comes the Roman historian Suetonius, and
in the section on Claudius, Suetonius writes this: “the Jews at Rome had caused continuous disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, so, Claudius expelled them from the city.” What? That’s why Luke parenthetically notes that Priscilla and Aquila were in Corinth because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to depart Rome. Now why do you think you would have commanded the Jews to depart Rome? Maybe the Jews were not happy that the Christians we’re claiming that Jesus was the promised Messiah! And so there was a disturbance there. You know there was a disturbance wherever Paul went, particularly when he went into the synagogue. The Jews didn’t like what he was saying. They may have tried to beat him… Or they may have tried to kick him out… There was a disturbance. Claudius said get these people out of my city! By the way, we know that there was a church there (in Rome). That’s why Paul wrote the book of Romans!
He’s writing to the church at Rome! And, non Christian writers will tell you that Christianity spread rapidly as far as Rome. Why? Because there is a resurrection! So, now you have another outside source , Suetonius, who affirms Luke when he gives us the explanation as to why Luke would say that Claudius expelled the Jews from Rome. Amazing – these are eyewitness details that are not contrived, as if the writers were writing fiction.
How about another external elaborate testimony? The question is, did Herod really kill John the Baptist? Now, which Herod? Herod Antipas, another son of Herod the Great, who beheaded John the Baptist and he also tried Christ. Whenever you see Christ is on trial, before Herod, this is the Herod – Herod Antipas. Here’s what Mark says about Herod beheading John the Baptist: the king, Herod Antipas, was greatly distressed. Because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he did not want to refuse her, so he immediately sent an executioner. By the way, who’s “her”? We’ve got to set the context here. Do you remember that Herod’s wife Herodias used to be married to Herod’s step brother, and he, Herod Antipas, got Herod’s step brother’s wife to marry him and John the Baptist said, this is an illegitimate marriage, you shouldn’t be doing this.
And so, when, her daughter, Salome, danced for Herod Antipas, he said, “Wow, that’s very pleasing to me, I’ll give you up to half of my kingdom, what do you want?” So her mother said tell Herod that you want the head of John the Baptist on a platter. And here’s where we pick it up in chapter 6 of Mark. Herod was greatly distressed because she said give me John’s head on a platter, but because of his oaths & his dinner guests he did not want to refuse her so he immediately sent an executioner with orders to bring John head. And the executioner went and beheaded John in brought back his head on a platter and he presented it to the girl and she gave it to her mother. Now, Mark does not say who the girl was. Who does? Josephus does! So, here, we have an event that is in the New Testament that Josephus says actually occurred and he actually gives us the name of the girl who danced, the daughter of Herodias, Herod’s illicit wife. In fact, Josephus also confirms that this actually occurred, 40 years later in antiquities, the 18th book. It says “now some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod’s army came from God and that, very justly, as a punishment against what he did against John, called the Baptist, for Herod killed him, who was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue both as to righteousness to one another and to piety toward God and so to come to baptism.” So here’s Josephus, again, writing 40 or so years after Mark telling us that Herod killed John the Baptist. The woman who was the daughter of his wife, whose name was Salome. And that he was judged because of this and that John was a good man, and actually got the Jews to live a more virtuous life, and actually baptized them. All this comes all from Josephus! Now, how could Mark, or Luke, or Matthew, (who tell us to same story basically that Herod executed John the Baptist), could they get Josephus to confirm what they said, when Josephus lived long after they died? They couldn’t! That’s why these are undesigned coincidences, uncontrived!
How about the Bible, in its discussion of money? Do you remember when Jesus was about to be trapped? By the Pharisees, and they come to him and asked, should we pay taxes to Caesar? By the way, there was a dual taxation in that culture. There was taxation from the Romans, and also taxation from the Jews, for the temple tax. So there’s a double taxation going on. In the New Testament writers know about this! How would they know about this? Unless they were there, or had access to eyewitness testimonies. How would you know there was a double taxation system? There was also a dual system of justice. Remember, Jesus is tried twice. He’s tried by the Jews and the Romans. How would they know that? If they’re just making all this up? It seems to take more faith to believe that all this was just invented, when they got it all right, there is a dual taxation system, there is a dual system of justice.
Anyway, the Pharisees say to him, should we pay taxes to Caesar? They’re trying to trap him, and he says “show me a denarius. Whose image and description does it have?” And they said, Caesar’s, and he said to them, “then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.” And if you look at archaeology, you can see these coins have been discovered. And on the denarius, it had a picture of “Augustus Tiberius Caesar”, and it said, “Son of the divine Augustus”. Now of course, that’s blasphemy to the Jews, that a man is divine? You shall have no other gods before me Exodus 20:3 says, one of the ten commandments, so that would’ve been blasphemous,
but you find these coins, and yes, Caesar’s image is on the coin, and so Jesus, brilliantly, says, “well give to Caesar what is Caesar’s then”. This is Caesar’s coin, not gods.
By the way, Caesars image was on the coin as archeology reveals, but whose image is on you? God’s image! So, give to God what is God’s. Are you truly giving to God you? That’s really what we’re here to do, to know God and to make Him known! Are you an ambassador for the God who created you? Give to God what is God’s!
Also, Josephus confirms that Matthew is correct about the temple tax, because in Matthew 17, Peter is asked if Jesus pays the two drachma tax, the temple tax. Well, Josephus tells us in antiquities 18, that every Jew paid the two drachma tax each year as an offering to God. That’s about 2 days wages.
And the coin that Peter found in the fish is called a stator. A stator coin is worth about four drachma. So when Jesus says to Peter, throw your hook in the water, the fish you pull out we’ll have a coin in there and it will pay the temple tax for me and you, four drachma, they actually have found these coins. They’re called stator coins, so archaeology confirms the coin Peter found in the fish mouth.
Also, Tacitus another secular writer, a Roman senator and historian, actually confirmed that a denarius was a day’s wages, which is what Jesus says in Matthew chapter 20. Tacitus actually points out that denarius was a day’s wage in one of his works called annals. So now you have not only Josephus and Suetonius confirming Matthew Mark and Luke, now you have Tacitus telling us that something is right in Matthew regarding the use of money,
so the Bible is on the money! I’m telling you, there’s too many details like this for this to be invented friends! this is a witness detail.
That was a lot we covered and I guarantee you – there is at least 10 times as much information out there on this subject. We’ve reviewed examples of both internal and external “undesigned coincidences”. When you look at all these undesigned coincidences, these interlocking puzzle pieces, they present a very compelling argument that the writers of the Gospels and Acts really were recording independent eyewitness testimony of actual, historical events. I think the conclusion is unavoidable – they were telling the truth!