Jesus Sets Forth His Case
The Christian worldview, set forth in the Bible, is the culmination of biblical revelation resulting in the affirmation and defense of the proposition that the true meaning of life is not merely discovering a principle, or principles, but it ultimately is the discovery of a Person. This Person is identified as the Logos, and this Logos (the WORD) is God (John 1:1).
In a 2013 book, Encounters with Jesus—Unexpected Answers to Life’s Biggest Questions, Timothy Keller says the Greeks in the ancient world thought the meaning of life was to contemplate the rational and the moral order of nature, which they identified as the Logos (1). Keller observes that the well-lived life, according to the Greeks, involved conformity to this “principle” through philosophical and intellectual pursuits. However, Keller opines that it is good that the ultimate (true) purpose of life is not merely intellectual and philosophical pursuit, because this would leave out many people (2-3). If the true purpose of what life ultimately is all about involves a relationship with an omnipotent, omnipresent, and omnibenevolent Person, then it is possible for any person anywhere, and from any background, to experience the fulfillment of life’s purpose.
THE GOSPELS: Christological Compositions
The four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), or better described as the four accounts of the one gospel, were challenged in the 1800’s and early 1900’s by scholars who saw these documents merely “as popular folk literature, collections of short literary units (pericopae) handed down through the oral tunnel, strung together . . . like beads on a string” (Burridge 336). This “higher criticism,” for all practical purposes, shredded the Gospels—denying their authority and historicity. Burridge describes these attacks of higher criticism as follows:
Far from being coherent biographies of Jesus, the Gospels were unique forms of literature “of their own genre,” sui genesis. . . . [R]ather than being biographical accounts of the human life of Jesus of Nazareth . . . not read as whole or coherent narratives . . . the author was regarded as a mere stenographer, recording the stories from oral tradition, rather than as a historian or writer with any literary intentions. . . . [F]orm critics concluded the Gospels were not really about Jesus. . . . (336, 338)
In somewhat dramatic fashion, since the end of the twentieth century, there has been a major shift in how the consensus of scholars now look at the Gospels. Instead of the old form-critical approach of the Gospels being disjointed collections of pericopae strung together most Gospel scholars and commentators of today see the Gospels more like historical monographs with formal similarities to ancient Greco-Roman biographies. (For an account of how this consensus has changed see the work of Burridge, Richard. What Are the Gospels? A Comparison with Greco-Roman Biography. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004, pp. 252-88).
In his recent work in the area of the historicity of Jesus Christ, Roy Abraham Varghese well summarized the significance of this shift from liberal form-criticism approach to the Gospels to a genre of the Gospels being primarily like that of ancient Greek-Roman biography:
. . . [T]he Gospels belong to a biographical genre common in the Greco-Roman world. The form-critical Bultmannian quest for the historical Jesus, it is now widely recognized, was simply a wild goose chase.
According to Richard Burridge, author of a path breaking work . . . the very literary structure of the Gospel is a testimony to the evangelists’ central claim about Jesus: “The shift from unconnected anecdotes about Jesus . . . to composing them together in the genre of an ancient biography is not just moving from a Jewish environment to Greco-Roman literature. It is actually making an enormous Christological claim . . . that God himself is uniquely incarnate in this one life, death and resurrection.” (23)
THE GOSPELS: Court-Case Compositions
In addition to being Christological compositions, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (though each, by miraculous intervention, wrote from a different viewpoint, and for different original readership) each wrote for the purpose of providing evidence that sufficiently enables one to conclude that Jesus Christ is deity (the Son of God). The Four Gospels harmoniously affirm that Jesus is uniquely God incarnate, and such ultimately is evidenced through His death and resurrection. He is worthy of the trust and worship reserved for God alone.
The presentation of the evidence provided by the Four Gospels is set in the motif (design, theme) of the term “witness.”
The [witness] concept is laden with overtones of the law court and is often used forensically by the biblical authors . . . . Using terms such as martyrs (“witnesses” [noun]), martyria (“testimony”), and martyreo (“to witness, testify”), the gospels feature the witness theme within the matrix of truth and judgment surrounding Jesus’ earthly ministry and claims. Each Gospel also testifies to Jesus’ gathering and commissioning of followers who would in turn serve as witnesses to Jesus in the early church. The witness theme is most prominent in John and Luke (Luke-Acts), but it is a significant motif in all four Gospels. (Kӧstenberger 1000, emp. added).
The witness theme “may be regarded in the first place apologetic. . .” (Scott 196). By apologeticis meant a connection with the word apologia. Peter wrote that Christians should always “be prepared to make a defense [apologia] to anyone who asks for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15, ESV). Apologia “was often used of the argument for the defense in a court of law” (Rogers and Rogers 575). The Gospels should be read as biographical material, but they also should be read as material that has an apologetic purpose (i.e. a rational defense of the deity of Jesus Christ). These two characteristics of the basic literary nature of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John cause us to describe them as Christological apologetical treatises.
The Greek-Roman biography connection and similarity imply the Christological-biographical nature of the Gospels. The witness motif implies the apologetic nature of the Gospels.
Simon Greenleaf was called by some “the greatest of the nineteenth century common-law experts in legal evidence” (Montgomery 753). Greenleaf authored a work titled The Testimony of the Evangelists Examined By the Rules of Evidence Administered in Courts of Justice (1874). The purpose/thesis of this volume, concerned with the Four Gospels, was described by Greenleaf as follows:
Let the witnesses be compared with themselves, with each other, and with surrounding facts and circumstances; and let their testimony be sifted, as if it were given in a court of justice . . . the witnesses being subjected to a rigourous cross-examination. The result, it is confidently believed, will be an undoubting conviction of their integrity, ability, and truth. In the course of such an examination, the undersigned coincidences will multiply upon us at every step in our progress; the probability of the veracity of the witnesses and of the reality of the occurrences which they relate will increase until it acquires, for all practical purposes, the value and force of demonstration. (46)
One of the “great key-words of the Fourth Gospel [John] . . . is the word witness” (Barclay 29). John uses the verb form of witness (martyreo) thirty-five times constituting 43 percent of its usage in the New Testament, and he uses the noun form (martyria) fourteen times, which is 38 percent of its use in the New Testament (Kӧstengerger 1002; see also Hailey 85). These are words of “the Legal Sphere” (Strathmann 476). The term witness is set in the court-case theme, and the basic question undergirding the composition is: “What evidence can you [Jesus] adduce that your claims are true?” (Barclay 194). Uniquely, Jesus, in one sense, is on trial, but in another sense He is also the Judge. He “acts as both witness and judge” (Kӧstenberger 1003). In an excellent literary contribution to the entry on “Witness” in The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Allison Trites wrote:
The Fourth Gospel provides the setting for the most sustained controversy in the N. T. Here Jesus has a lawsuit with the world. . . . John has a case to present, and for this reason he advances arguments, asks juridical questions and presents witnesses after the fashion of the OT legal assembly. (1048)
A Conjunctive Proposition (Deity Plus Humanity)
The basic thesis of the Christian faith is captured in the conjunction of two propositions: (1) The WORD (Logos) was God, and (2) The WORD (Logos) became flesh and possessed characteristics incarnated in a human body that provide evidence that the Person in this human body was God (cf. John 1:1-3, 14). In order to prove this thesis, John sets forth a sufficient (though not exhaustive) amount of the available evidence (cf. John 20:30-31; 21:25). John, as each of the Gospel writers, intended for his readers to use their reasoning powers, weigh rationally the data presented, and through this process be brought to the point where the readers, from an act of will, trust in Jesus and with an obedient faith (cf. Rom. 1:5; 16:26) come to possess eternal life in promise and hope (John 20:30-31; Titus 1:2; 1 John 2:25).
Varghese says, “. . . [T]he entire edifice of Christianity from its inception rested on the affirmation that Jesus was human and divine” (41). Today, we know that DNA encoded in each single cell of the estimated 100 trillion cells in an average adult human body is an absolutely awesome revelation of the power and glory of God. A single cell contains such vast information that, if written out, the information would fill a set of 1000 encyclopedias, each volume containing 600 pages (Brand and Yancey 45)! However, as impressive as DNA encoded in a human body is, Deity incarnated in a human body (i.e. Jesus Christ) is an even more obvious awesome revelation of the power and glory of God (cf. John 1:14)!
The Case for Christ: A Discourse of Deposition (John 5:17-47)
One of the foundational New Testament discourses of Jesus Christ, in which there is provided a summation of the case for His claim that He was fully the majesty of deity and fully the manhood of humanity, is John 5:17-47. In his standard work, The Christ of the Gospels, J. W. Shepard called this discourse an “apologetic address” (159). Leon Morris says it is a discourse “of critical importance, the significance of which is not always realized” (311). The great textual scholar, Henry Alford, affirmed: “This discourse is a wonderful setting forth of the Person and Office of the Son of God in His Ministrations as the Word of the Father” (746). J. B. Phillips inserted in his translation before this entire discourse the subheading: “Jesus makes His tremendous claim” (196). Perhaps J.C. Ryle penned one of the greatest tributes to this text when he wrote:
Only one thing is certain. Nowhere else in the Gospels do we find our Lord making such a formal, systematic, orderly, regular statement of His own unity with the Father, His Divine commission and authority, and the proofs of His Messiahship, as we find in this discourse. To me it seems one of the deepest things in the Bible. (285)
There are three keys in this discourse concerning the nature of the deposition (testimony, witness) for the case of the deity of Jesus Christ. The text can be outlined with these three keys serving as the main points. They are (1) Jesus’ unification with God, (2) Jesus’ authorization as God, and (3) Jesus’ substantiation (proof) from God.
Open hostility to Jesus in John’s narrative becomes obvious from this time in the ministry of Christ (cf. John 5:16, 18). “From this point the blood red line of conspiracy against the life of Jesus runs through this Gospel” (McGarvey and Pendleton 198). The subsequent discourse (John 5:19-47) is Jesus’ answer to this increasing hostility. The discourse is a powerful apologetic (defense) of His “character, mission, authority, and credentials as the Son of God” (199). First, He affirms and defends His person and His work (John 5:19-29). Secondly, He sets forth evidence that proves or substantiates the veracity of His claims (John 5:30-47). The first and second keys establish the former (i.e. His person and work). The third key establishes the latter (i.e. the truth of His claims).
Jesus’ Unity with God (John 5:19-23)
Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise” (John 5:19, ESV). The text says Jesus “answered” (verses 17, 19, ASV). The Greek construction here “indicates a legal force . . . to make a defense” (Rogers and Rogers 193). Jesus’ defense of why He had healed the lame man on the Sabbath (John 5:1-10) was that He was bound in action with God. He said, “. . . My Father is working until now, and I am working” (John 5:17, ESV). Jesus said He did nothing of Himself, but only what “My Father” does. Barclay elaborates:
To see Jesus in action is to see God in action. The things that God did are the things Jesus does; and the things that Jesus does are the things that God does. . . . Jesus never did what He wanted to do; He always did what God wanted Him to do. . . . His identity is not based on independence, but on submission. (186).
Jesus was not working independently of the Father. He cannot act in independence of the Father. He did what He saw the Father doing. Dodd captures the power and beauty of this community of action with His Father in the figure of “a son apprenticed to his father’s trade. He does not act on his own initiative; he watches his father at work, and performs each operation as his father. . . . The affectionate father shows the boy all the secrets of his craft” (qtd. in Morris 312).
Jesus says, “For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing . . .” (John 5:20, ESV). Jesus’ unity with His Father involves not only being bound in action but bound in affection. Barclay eloquently describes it:
The unity between Jesus and God is unity of Love. We speak of two minds having only a single thought, and two hearts beating as one. In human terms that is a perfect description of the relationship between Jesus and God. The love between Father and Son is so intimate, so close that Father and Son are one. There is such complete identity of mind and will and heart, that Father and Son are one. (186-87)
Jesus’ Authority as God (John 5:24-29)
The stress of the preceding section of Jesus’ discourse concerns His relationship with the Father—His unity with God. Now, He proceeds to affirm His authority over men, which is the result of the divine authority inherent in His very nature (deity). To Pilate’s claim that he (Pilate) had the authority to release or crucify Jesus (cf. John 19:10), the Lord replied that Pilate would have no authority unless it had come “from above” (John 19:11). Jesus affirmed God as over all. The expression “from above” ultimately means from God (cf. Mark 11:28-30; John 3:3, 7, 27, 31).
The actions of God that manifest the most obvious expression of His divine sovereign authority are (1) the impartation of life, (2) the execution of judgment, and (3) the resurrection of the dead. Only God can give life, execute judgment, and resurrect the dead in the absolute, final, and ultimate sense. God is the Giver of life and breath (cf. Acts 17:25). God is the Judge of all the Earth (Gen. 18:25). God has the keys of death and Hades (cf. Rev. 1:8, 17-18).
Contextually, these three actions, inherent in divine authority, are the “greater works” that Jesus claimed His Father would “show Him” [the Son] (John 5:20). All three of these works (imparting life, executing judgment, and resurrecting the dead) are works Jesus claimed He would do (John 5:24-29). Hailey summarizes in the following:
In summary, the three claims show that all judgment, present and future, is now in the hand of the Son; decisions of judgment are to be made by Him. The final judgment will be determined by His word (12:48-50). The responsibility of giving spiritual life and of raising men from death in sin is now His and is to be effected by His word. And finally, the raising of all the physically dead, the righteous and the wicked, is committed to Him and likewise will be accomplished by His word. These claims definitely relate Him to the Father as equal with Him. (104)
Jesus’ Substantiation from God (John 5:30-47)
The Christ as Witness (verses 30-31).
Jesus did not wait for the Jews to recover from His stunning declarations. Immediately, He launched into the proofs for His case. “The magnitude of Jesus’ claims called for substantiation” (Tenney 107). He affirms, “If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony [witness] is not deemed true” (John 5:31, ESV). Some see a contradiction between this statement in John 5:31 and what Jesus said as recorded in John 8:14: “. . . [E]ven if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true . . . .”
The alleged contradiction cannot be proved. Lenski explains: “Legally a man’s unsupported testimony regarding himself or his own case cannot stand and be accepted as true” (402). Robertson further elaborates, “In law the testimony of a witness is not received in his own case (Jewish, Greek, Roman law). See Deut. 19:15. . . . [H]ere Jesus yields to the rabbinical demand for proof outside of himself” (88).
John 8:14 does not contradict this when Jesus says, “Even if I bear witness of Myself, My witness is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I came from and where I am going” (NKJ). Jesus agreed “with the Pharisees that unsupported testimony has no legal value. . . . [Here] He has two points. . . . He is qualified to bear witness though His enemies are not, and. . . His teaching is not unsupported” (Morris 440). In 5:31 Jesus acknowledged the legal principle from Deuteronomy 19:15, making His testimony legally competent through the deposition of another witness, the Father, and in 8:18 He does the very same thing, which qualifies 8:14.
John 5:32ff and John 8:17-18 are parallel passages attesting powerfully to our Lord’s deep concern for proof—adequate evidence. No less than eleven times does Jesus use a word from the word family representing witness, testimony, etc. in John 5:31-39. Herein is the record of His emphasis on substantiating the case for His Messiahship/Sonship/Deity. He established it by proof or competent evidence.
A Cry in the Wilderness (verses 32-36).
Jesus basically is concerned here about marshaling evidence from two primary sources—i.e. His own witness (testimony) and the witness (testimony) of His Father. He implied the former in 5:19-31, and the latter in 5:32ff. “Before exhibiting the Father’s testimony Jesus meets them on their own ground” (Dods 743). He references their deputation of John from chapter one—“You have sent to John and he has borne witness to the truth” (John 5:33). This statement is a summation of John 1:19ff.
The deputized delegation sent by the Jews to John came with the question: “Who are you?” (John 1:19, 22). He said, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness; Make straight the way of the Lord” (John 1:23). This was as the prophet Isaiah had written (Isa. 40:13). John’s testimony was negative and positive. He “was not the Christ, Elijah, or the prophet [John 1:20-21]. The positive testimony was that he was simply ‘voice,’ the definite article being omitted in the original. John’s testimony of himself was who he was not, and who he was” (Hailey 86).
John “has borne witness” (5:33) is perfect tense, thus indicating “the testimony preserves its value notwithstanding the disappearance of the witness” (Dods 743). The testimony of John still has value (cf. Rogers and Rogers 194). It is “in effect still standing for the present moment” (Lenski 404).
Jesus notes that had the Jewish authorities heeded the truthful witness of John—“a burning and shining lamp” (Jn 5:35)—they would have accepted the more extensive testimony of Jesus’ own deeds, Moses and the Scriptures, and indeed the Father himself. To the extent that they do not, it is they, not he, who stand on trial and under judgment. (Cummins 443)
Of course, Jesus received John’s testimony (cf. 5:33, 35). However, there is a sense in which Jesus did not receive (take) John’s testimony (5:34). Lenski says such means “take” in the sense of “to use it against his opponents. . . . Jesus, as the defendant facing these Jews as his accusers, does not call on [John] to bring in the decisive testimony. . . . Jesus’ great witness is God himself” (405). And so Jesus says, “But the witness I receive is not from man . . . [and] is greater than that of John. . . . [T]he Father that sent me, he hath borne witness of me” (John 5:34, 36-37, ASV). “Good as the witness of John is, Christ has superior testimony” (Robertson 90). As great as John and his witness was (cf. Matt. 11:1-11), Jesus has a greater witness—His Father. In this text Jesus implies the essence of the Father’s witness as two-fold. The two-fold witness of the Father set forth in this great apologetic discourse consists of: (1) the confirmatory works, and (2) the Christological writings.
- The Confirmatory Works (verses 36-37). Jesus stated: “. . . [T]he very works that I do—bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me. And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me [i.e. through the works] (John 5:36-37, NKJ). The word for words here is ergon. It means the “sundry signal acts of Christ, to rouse men to believe in him and to accomplish their salvation” (Thayer 248). It is used here to refer to “the deeds of God and Jesus, specif. the miracles” (Arndt and Gingrich 308). In the text of John 5, the Father witnesses through the works. This parallels the statement of Jesus when He said, “. . . [T]he Father who dwells in Me does the works” (John 14:10, NKJ). Is this not the same as the affirmation of the writer of Hebrews who stated that “so great a salvation . . . first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles . . .” (Heb. 2:3-4, NKJ, emp. added)?
The works (miracles) performed by Jesus demonstrated His deity.
His works demonstrate the divine attributes of omnipresence, omniscience, and omnipotence (John 1:48-49; 2:1-11; 2:24-25; 4:17-19). His works demonstrate His power over nature (John 2:1-11), disease (John 5:1-9), material things (John 6:5-14), the devil (John 12:31-33), and death (John 11:41-46; 20:1-29). Truly, because “such mighty works are performed by His hands” (Mark 6:2), we must conclude, even as He affirmed, that the same works bear witness that the Father has sent Him (John 5:36). Both the words and the works of Jesus constitute sufficient evidence that He is “The Revelation of the Father.” (Pugh, Things 77)
- The Christological Writings (verses 39-47). Hailey well describes the flow of the passage before us in which this powerful apologetic discourse of our Lord is contained. He wrote:
In defense of His claim to judge, raise the dead, and give life (John 5:19-29), Jesus affirmed that He had greater witness than that of John the Baptist. The Father was bearing witness through the works which He had given Him to do (John 5:36-37). Jesus then appealed to a second testimony of the Father when He said, “Ye search the scriptures, because ye think that in them ye have eternal life; and these are they which bear witness of me; and ye will not come to me, that ye may have life. The life was not in Scripture, but in the “me” to whom Scripture testified. (116)
Search in John 5:39, can be either imperative or indicative. Some good scholars hold to the former (imperative) sense, which interprets the statement as a command to search the Scriptures. Other reputable scholars hold to the latter (indicative) sense, which makes the matter be taken to indicate the state of the situation of these Jews. Regardless of whether imperative or indicative, the basic point made by Jesus remains the same: The Father bears witness to the deity of Jesus Christ through the Scriptures.
The present tense of search “emphasizes the contemporaneous aspect of the witness [as] . . . the Scriptures continue to witness to the claims of Christ. . . . [I]t is a comprehensive hermeneutical key” (Rogers and Rogers 195). A “thorough search (see also 1 Pet. 1:11) into the contents and spirit of Scripture” (Alford 741) evidences this great keynote of God’s written revelation.
To the mind that is taught by the Holy Spirit it matters not where the Bible is opened—Christ will be seen everywhere. He is set forth in prophecy and in type of almost every kind. It was this profound truth that Peter laid such stress on in his address in the house of Cornelius, when he said, “To Him give all the prophets witness” (Acts x. 43). (Collett 190-91)
The Father, through the Scriptures, has testified of the divine nature of the person and work of the Logos—the Word in the flesh, the Son of God. Jesus Christ is the central theme of the Sacred Writings. “JESUS, THE DIVINE, ETERNAL WORD, is inseparable from Scripture, the Word of God made a book . . . [T]he Messiah Savior holds the preeminent place in every part of Scripture” (Pache 215, emp. added). Paul wrote that Timothy from childhood had “been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15, ESV). John wrote, “. . . [The] testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev. 19:10).
Jesus Christ—His person and His work in redemption and salvation—relates to every book that contributes to the sacred canon that forms the Holy Scriptures. “A book-by-book glance at each of the 66 books that comprise the Bible will evidence how the Bible marvelously is a one theme Book, and this theme is in a real sense, Jesus Christ” (Pugh, Bible 11). If it should have been obvious to those before whom Jesus was delivering this great discourse that the Scriptures “bear witness of [Jesus Christ]” how obvious should it be to us today? They had the Old Testament, but today both Old and New Testament writings are available and manifest the Christological thrust of the biblical revelation.
Jesus only gave one writer as an example from the estimated forty biblical writers whose writings bear witness of Him, in some sense. The example Jesus gave was Moses. He said, “Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses . . . If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?” (John 5:45-47, ESV).
Lenski’s comments on Jesus’ reference to Moses are insightful and powerful. He says,
Let the critics who repudiate the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch face this authoritative declaration of Jesus. It is worth more than all the so-called “research” that has ever been put forth and it stands overagainst these critics as Moses overagainst these Jews. . . . Nor did Moses write of Jesus only in a few detached places. . . . [T]he whole center and substance of what he wrote is Jesus. . . . From the story of creation onward, through all the following history, ceremony, prophecy and promise, he is ever in the mind of Moses. Moses in person and in office is even himself a type of the Mediator to come. (425-26)
Jesus, consistent with the court-case motif of the Gospels as Christological apologetic compositions, utilized an ancient legal technical term that meant “to bring charges in court” (Rogers and Rogers 195). He said Moses (through his Christological writings) would accusethem (verse 45). They could not use Moses’ writings to support their rejection of Jesus. Their rejection of Him (Jesus the Christ) was a rejection of Moses and all the Old Testament prophets. His argument, as implied, is as follows:
1. If you believed Moses, then you would believe Me (Jesus Christ).
2. It is false that you believe Me (Jesus Christ).
3. Therefore, it is false you believe Moses.
Disbelief in Jesus is disbelief in Moses. The force of this argumentation is captured in Jesus’ statement: “Moses, on whom you have set your hope.” A true disciple of Moses would be on his way to becoming a true disciple of Jesus Christ (cf. Morris 334). But they had missed it! How stunned this must have left them!
Is it not impressive that John adds no remarks at the end of this apologetic masterpiece delivered by our Lord? “Its testimony is most effective just as it stands” (Lenski 427). What a powerful marshaling of evidence that testifies to the veracity of the claims of the Logos (the WORD)—Jesus Christ. May people everywhere be impressed with the soundness of the case for Christ to the extent that they embrace Jesus as Lord and Savior through obedience to His gospel.
Christians also need to see the practical value of this discourse of our Lord as set forth in this witness-theme. The excellent article by Trites, to which I referred earlier, addresses this value. From this, I draw what seems to me are two extremely significant major points. First, this discourse of Jesus implies the importance of the historical foundations of Christian faith. This emphasis is set in a solid presentation of eyewitness testimony. Trites says, “Unless the testimony of these eyewitnesses can be impugned as spurious, misrepresented or erroneous, their evidence of Christian origins must be taken seriously” (1048). The witness nature of the case for Christ buttresses the historical solidity of the Christian faith.
In the second place, the nature of this material with the witness theme is extremely pertinent to our bewildered skeptical age.
All of this material is suggestive for [twenty-first] century apologists. The person and place of Jesus in the Present pluralistic [philosophical] theological climate is still very much a contentious issue. The claims of Christ as the Son of God are currently widely disputed. In such an environment a brief must be presented, arguments advanced and defending witnesses brought forward, if the Christian case is to be given a proper hearing. To fail to present the evidence for the Christian position would be tantamount to conceding defeat to its opponents. (1048)
Soldiers of Christ, ARISE!
Charles C. Pugh III
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