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God new evidence

GOD: new evidence

Contents

'Testing Luke'

What's in the series?

(1) Luke and Acts

For a lot of what the Bible tells us about Jesus, there is no direct evidence outside the Gospels. But this does not mean that we just have to accept it with blind faith. The Bible also includes the book of Acts, which records how the Christian movement grew and spread during its first thirty years.

The same person wrote the book of Acts and the Gospel of Luke, and in the book of Acts there are many places where we can confirm the background details. In these places, the author proves to be reliable. If he's reliable where he can be tested, surely this means that we can trust him where we can't test him too?

 

(2) An Accurate Account

Luke intends us to take what he writes seriously. He talks about using the reports of eyewitnesses, about investigating things carefully, about writing an accurate account, and about being certain of the truth.

 

(3) First Hand Knowledge

In Luke's account of the spread of Christianity in the book of Acts, in the Bible, there are several places where he changes from saying 'they did this or that' to saying 'we did this or that.' The implication is that he was there. What he writes is based on first-hand knowledge – he was an eye witness.

 

(4) Real people: Sergius Paulus in Cyprus

In the book of Acts, in the Bible, Luke describes how the apostles Paul and Barnabas visit Cyprus. He writes about their encounter with the governor, Sergius Paulus, who lived at Paphos. Inscriptions that have been discovered in Cyprus and Rome confirm the reality of the Sergius Paulus family, and that they were prominent at this time in history.

 

(5) Real places: Antioch of Pisidia

Luke records that after Paul and Barnabas the apostles left Cyprus, they came by ship to southern Turkey, and landed at Perga. They travelled on, through the Tauros mountains, to the city of Antioch of Pisidia, near the modern town of Yalvac. A stone inscription on display in the museum in Yalvac contains the name of the Sergius Paulus family, who we met last time. They were important land-owners around Antioch.

 

(6) Local details: Zeus and Hermes in Lystra

The book of Acts, in the Bible, records that the apostles Paul and Barnabas visited Lystra, in south central Turkey. While they were here, Paul healed a man who couldn't walk. The local people mistook Paul and Barnabas for the Greek gods Zeus and Hermes, and started to offer a sacrifice to them – at which, Paul and Barnabas were horrified. This all fits in with what we know about Lystra: There are several inscriptions from this area, dating from the third century AD, which confirm that the people here made a point of worshipping Zeus and Hermes.

 

(7) Neapolis and the Via Egnatia

The book of Acts, in the Bible, records how Paul the apostle and his companions came through Neapolis (modern Kavala) in northern Greece, on their way to Philippi. From Neapolis, Paul and his companions travelled along the Via Egnatia to Philippi. There are several places where you can still see this ancient Roman road today. Luke does not specifically mention the Via Egnatia – but he does get it right that the nearest port to Philippi was Neapolis. In Luke's description of Paul's visit to Philippi, he gets local details like this right again and again.

 

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