Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 1, 1962

Jesus' Claims To Divinity

Robert H. Farish, Lufkin, Texas

The Testimony Of The Witnesses Is Worthy Of All Acceptation

The large number of witnesses is evidence in proof of the third proposition of the gospel. The improbability of getting such a large number of people to agree to testify to a lie, when all they could hope to gain for their efforts was suffering and sacrifice, cannot properly be called an improbability — it is an impossibility. Furthermore, the possibility of the eye-witnesses being mistaken diminishes as the number of witnesses increases. The possibility of their being mistaken disappears when the number of witnesses is as great as the number claimed by the writer of the Corinthian letter.

The fact of the large number of witnesses cannot be reasonably questioned. The apostle Paul was certainly qualified to give testimony as to the number of witnesses, and the number of witnesses was a thing which could have been checked by the ones who read the claim. This claim to more than five hundred witnesses can only be overthrown by proving that Paul was dishonest or that he was deceived. His honesty is proved by the jeopardy which he faced and his ability to know how many witnesses there were must be admitted with the admission that he was endowed with the five senses held in common by all men.

It needs to be remembered that this miracle of the resurrection of Jesus had not occurred at a time so testimony was recorded as to make it difficult to check with the witnesses. "The claim of a large number of living eye-witnesses to the fact is evident that the document (Corinthian letter) containing the claim was written soon enough after the alleged event to come within an average life span. If this were not the case, the evidence of its falseness would be apparent to all who read or heard read the original document.

The Witnesses And The Five Senses

These witnesses were capable of testing and correctly reporting the facts in the case. They had the powers of observation which are common to men. They could see, hear, touch, smell and taste even as you can see, hear, touch, smell and taste. There is no reason to think that if you had the opportunity, your senses could detect any fact which theirs were unable to detect. What they reported is exactly what you would have detected with your five senses. Are you willing to trust the combined evidence of the five senses?

One of the witnesses, named by Paul, is Cephas (Peter). He claimed "we did not follow cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eye-witnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there was borne such a voice to him by the Majestic Glory, this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: and this voice we ourselves heard borne out of heaven...." (2 Pet. 1:16-18)

John, another of the witnesses, wrote. "That which was from the beginning, that which we have heard, that which we have seen with our eyes, that which we beheld, and our hands handled, concerning the Word of life that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you also..." (1 John 1:1-3)

Thomas said, "Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe." (John 20:25) After eight days Jesus appeared unto the disciples again and this time Thomas was present. Jesus invited Thomas to "reach hither thy finger, and see my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and put it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing." (John 20:27) This demonstration caused Thomas to exclaim, "my Lord and my God." What would you have said, had you been in Thomas' place?

On one of his appearances, the disciples "were terrified and affrighted and supposed that they beheld a spirit. And he said unto them, why are you troubled? and wherefore do questionings arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye behold me having. And when he had said this he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, have ye here anything to eat? And they gave him a piece of broiled fish. And he took it and ate it before them." (Luke 24:37-43.)

It should be kept constantly in mind as this testimony is examined that it is the testimony of witnesses whose honesty can't be reasonably questioned. But what about their ability to detect the essential things in the situation presented in this passage! The essential things are things which identify this one as Jesus of Nazareth who was killed on the cross. If they have the powers to positively identify this animated body as the same body which was taken from the cross and placed in a tomb then there remains no proper basis for questioning their testimony.

Can the evidence of sight be relied upon? Did they just think that they saw his hands and his feet? Did they just imagine the mutilated condition of those hands and feet? What about the sense of touch? They report that he invited them to handle him to convince themselves that it was not a spirit. No, this was not an hallucination. They saw, heard and touched him. They were urged to test the matter with their senses — the same senses that you have in common with them. He ate in their presence, not some food whose reality could be doubted but a piece of broiled fish which the witnesses themselves provided. This account requires that all the five senses be exercised and this evidence is the evidence of all five senses. They saw him — they heard him, for they responded to his request for food by giving him a piece of fish which was broiled — they apparently had tasted the fish and the nature of the food suggests that their sense of smell contributed to the identification of the food. They had the evidences of their senses that he actually ate food. The combined evidence of the five senses prove that this is that Jesus of Nazareth who was dead but is alive. No human being can properly claim to be better equipped to detect the physical facts to which they testified. In order to disqualify these witnesses it must be shown that they were deficient in sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell for this is all they need to detect the facts to which they testify. They were honest and they had the faculties to detect the existence of these facts which they report; their testimony is therefore worthy of all acceptation.

The witness, Paul, asserted that he had formerly "persecuted the church of God" (1 Cor. 15:9) That this assertion is true, is seen in the possibility of his deceit being exposed if he were falsely claiming former enmity. This claim is recorded in a number of places in the New Testament. (Acts 26:4-11; Gal. 1:11-16; Phil. 3:4-8; 1 Tim. 1:12, 13) Everyone of these recorded claims and all the others provide additional opportunities for the exposure of his dishonesty if he were not telling the truth when he claimed that he was formerly opposed to the doctrine of the Sonship of Jesus.

When the fact of Paul's former enmity is accepted, his testimony to the resurrection of Jesus gains strength. The fact that he was so suffering and sacrifice which they en-strongly opposed to the gospel supports his statement that "he appeared to me also." For such a miracle would have been necessary to change him from a persecutor to a proclaimer. When it is further considered, that he gave up friends and influential associates, position and all things which he must give up with his change of conviction, it is unthinkable that he was either dishonest or deceived.

The miracle of the resurrection of Christ from the dead is a matter of fact proved by the evidence of the testimony of eye-witnesses, who detected the facts which proved his being alive after his death by their five senses. They saw him with their eyes — they touched him to see that he was flesh and bones and to assure themselves that his hands and feet were mutilated from the spikes which had been driven through them. They heard him speak and saw him eat broiled fish, the nature of which their sense of smell and taste could identify. The fact of the resurrection of Jesus is proved by the combined evidence of the senses of over five hundred witnesses whose honesty cannot be questioned in the face of the proved

Chart Goes Here ( Same As In Copy, Part Seems To Be Missing) Dured And Experienced On Account Of Their Testimony.

The third proposition of the gospel that "he hath been raised on the third day according to the Scriptures" is proved.

This proposition is proved to be a true proposition; thus the deity of Jesus is proved. He was declared to be the Son of God by the Resurrection from the dead. (Rom. 1:4) Belief in the miracle of the resurrection of Jesus and doubt of his claim to be the unique Son of God cannot exist together in the same heart.

This Jesus did God raise up thereby reversing the decision of the Jewish court and restoring the judgment which in his humiliation was taken away from him.

Jesus of Nazareth claimed to be the Son of God and God proved the claim to be a true claim by raising him from the dead. And this miracle, along with many other signs which Jesus himself performed, is "written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye may have life in his name." (John 20:31)