A-1 - Encouraged by What You Read?

Some people attempt to justify their unbelief of Christianity on the grounds that the Bible contains irreconcilable difficulties and contradictions. One important role Christians serve in an apologetics-evangelism context is to try to remove obstacles that people have to believing in the truth of Scripture and thus in the truth of historic Christianity.

I once heard an atheist ask how the Gospel writers could conceivably know the nature of the private conversation between Jesus and Pontius Pilate before his condemnation and crucifixion (e.g., John 18:28–40). After all, the apostles—the proposed authors of the four Gospels—were not privy to this confidential dialogue.

This is a reasonable question. So, how can the Christian respond? There are two explanations to this objection, one purely natural and the other supernatural (or theological), but the two are not mutually exclusive.

First, given the nature of the controversy in Jerusalem surrounding Jesus of Nazareth and his public trial by the Romans (Luke 24:13–24), Pilate may simply have spoken to others about the content of his conversation with Jesus. These verbal details may have been conveyed to other Roman leaders and/or to the Jewish religious leaders and then to the followers of Jesus themselves. Jesus also had secret followers among both the leaders of the Romans (the centurion, Matthew 8:5–13) and the Jews (Nicodemus, John 3:1–15).

Undoubtedly, the apostles were interested in all the details of Jesus’s arrest, trial, and execution. It is not difficult to see how the nature of this conversation may have leaked out, especially to key people involved in the events. Though people today may object that this is “hearsay,” the ancients wouldn’t have shared that objection. They may well have interpreted the conversation as part of the important details conveyed by reliable sources concerning Jesus’s public trial and crucifixion. Furthermore, if the details of this alleged conversation were factually wrong, hostile critics who may also have been knowledgeable about the exact nature of the conversation could have falsified them (serving as a type of unofficial cross-examination).

Second, the content of this private conversation between Jesus and Pilate may have come to the writers of the Gospels through the process of divine inspiration. In the Gospel of John, chapters 14–16, Jesus informed the apostles that the Holy Spirit would come and guide them, inform them, and give them exact recall of the truthful events on Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection. Consider two biblical statements about the Holy Spirit’s role in inspiring the biblical authors:

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

–John 14:26

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.

–John 16:13

Biblically speaking, divine inspiration could serve to give the apostles new information or to confirm the truth of information drawn from another source. Therefore, from the Christian perspective, both of these explanations could be correct.

So this skeptical objection has a plausible answer and thus doesn’t constitute a viable reason to doubt either the truth of Scripture or the ultimate truth of historic Christianity.

Resources

For the resolution of other common Bible challenges and difficulties, see:

Check out more from Dr. Kenneth Samples @Reasons.org

About The Author

Kenneth R. Samples

I believe deeply that "all truth is God’s truth." That historic affirmation means that when we discover and grasp truth in the world and in life we move closer to its divine Author. This approach relies on the Christian idea of God’s two revelatory books - the metaphorical book of nature and the literal book of Scripture. As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. My writings and lectures at RTB focus on showing how the great doctrinal truths of the faith (the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Atonement, creation ex nihilo, salvation by grace, etc.) are uniquely compatible with reason. This approach reflects the historic Christian apologetics statement - "faith seeking understanding." I work to help myself and others fulfill Peter's words in 2 Peter 3:18: "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen." As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. • Biography • Resources • Upcoming Events • Promotional Items Kenneth Richard Samples began voraciously studying Christian philosophy and theology when his thirst for purpose found relief in the Bible. He earned his undergraduate degree in philosophy and social science from Concordia University and his MA in theological studies from Talbot School of Theology. For seven years, Kenneth worked as Senior Research Consultant and Correspondence Editor at the Christian Research Institute (CRI) and regularly cohosted the popular call-in radio program, The Bible Answer Man, with Dr. Walter Martin. As a youth, Kenneth wrestled with "unsettling feelings of meaninglessness and boredom," driving him to seek answers to life's big questions. An encounter with Christian philosophy in Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis led Kenneth to examine the New Testament and "finally believe that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God, the Lord and Savior of the world." From then on, he pursued an intellectually satisfying faith. Today, as senior research scholar at Reasons to Believe (RTB), Kenneth uses what he's learned to help others find the answers to life's questions. He encourages believers to develop a logically defensible faith and challenges skeptics to engage Christianity at a philosophical level. He is the author of Without a Doubt and A World of Difference, and has contributed to numerous other books, including: Lights in the Sky and Little Green Men, The Cult of the Virgin, and Prophets of the Apocalypse. He has written articles for Christianity Today and The Christian Research Journal, and regularly participates in RTB's podcasts, including Straight Thinking, a podcast dedicated to encouraging Christians to utilize sound reasoning in their apologetics. He also writes for the ministry's daily blog, Today’s New Reason to Believe. An avid speaker and debater, Kenneth has appeared on numerous radio programs such as Voice America Radio, Newsmakers, The Frank Pastore Show, Stand to Reason, White Horse Inn, Talk New York, and Issues Etc., as well as participated in debates and dialogues on topics relating to Christian doctrine and apologetics. He currently lectures for the Master of Arts program in Christian Apologetics at Biola University. Kenneth also teaches adult classes at Christ Reformed Church in Southern California. Over the years Kenneth has held memberships in the American Philosophical Association, the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the Evangelical Press Association. The son of a decorated World War II veteran, Kenneth is an enthusiastic student of American history, particularly the Civil War and WWII. His favorite Christian thinkers include Athanasius, Augustine, Pascal, and C. S. Lewis. He greatly enjoys the music of the Beatles and is a die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan. Kenneth lives in Southern California with his wife, Joan, and their three children.

Email Sign-up

Sign up for the TWR360 Newsletter

Access updates, news, biblical teaching and inspirational messages from powerful Christian voices.

Thank you for signing up to receive updates from TWR360.

Required information missing