The Case for the Reliability of the New Testament (Free Bible Insert)

The Case for the Reliability of the New Testament (Free Bible Insert)I’ve written quite a bit about the reliability of the New Testament eyewitness accounts in Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels and at I believe there are many good reasons to accept the Gospels as eyewitness accounts, and I’ve focused on four characteristics of reliable eyewitness testimony to demonstrate the trustworthy nature of the Gospels. In an effort to summarize the case for the New Testament in a different way, I’d like to offer the following brief outline:

(1) The New Testament Has Been Faithfully Transmitted
The overarching content of the New Testament Gospels can be tested over time as we examine the writings of those who learned from the apostolic eyewitnesses:

(a) Ancient Sources Confirm the Early New Testament Canon

1. Clement of Rome (c. A.D. 95)
2. Ignatius of Antioch (c. A.D. 115)
3. Polycarp, a disciple of John, (c. A.D. 108)

(b) It Was Recognized in Geographically Independent Areas

1. Irenaeus (in Asia Minor)
2. Origen (in Alexandria, Egypt)
3. Hippolytus (in Rome)
4. Eusebius (in Cæsarea, Palestine)
5. Athanasius (in Alexandria, Eqypt)

(c) The Informational Content of the New Testament is Reflected in the Writings of the Students of the Apostolic Eyewitnesses

(d) The New Testament Documents are Larger in Number and Closer in Proximity to the Events than ANY Other Ancient Record

(2) The New Testament Has Been Verified with Archeology
The “touch point” corroboration of archaeology affirms the New Testament narratives. We don’t have to verify every detail of the New Testament to be confident in its reliability:

(a) The Gospels and Writings Have Been Verified By Archeology

1. The Census – by the Quirinius Inscription
2. Lysanias – by the Damascus Inscription
3. “The Pavement” – by the Tower of Antonia
4. Pontius Pilate – by the Pontus Pilate Rock
5. Crucifixion – by remains of Yohanan Ben Ha’galgol
6. The Iconium – by the William Ramsay monument
7. “Politarch” – by Thessalonican Inscriptions
8. Sergius Paulus – by the Sergius Paulus Inscription
9. Gallio – by the Delphi Inscriptions

(b) The Gospel of Luke Includes True Accounts of Roman Culture

1. A correct description of ways to gain Roman citizenship
2. An accurate explanation of provincial penal procedure
3. A true depiction of invoking one’s roman citizenship
4. A true description of being in Roman custody

(3) The New Testament Has Been Confirmed by Prophecy
The fulfilled prophecy in the New Testament places the text in a category of its own, elevating it from reliable historical record to Divinely inspired communication:

(a) The New Testament Contains Accurate Predictions From Jesus

1. That Peter Would Deny Him Three Times
2. That Jerusalem and the Temple Would Be Destroyed
3. That the Church Would Survive and Grow
4. That the Gospel Would Be Preached to the World
5. That His Words Would Never Be Forgotten

(b) The New Testament Contains Accurate Predictions Fulfilled by Jesus Himself

As Christians, we’re all called to be Case Makers (1Peter 3:15). We need to be ready to explain (sometimes very quickly) why we believe the New Testament is reliable. While I hope you’ll follow the links on this page to the longer articles describing the evidence listed in this outline, this brief summary may come in handy as well. I’ve already provided a free Bible insert for the cumulative case for the reliability of the Gospels (based on the four characteristics of reliable eyewitness accounts I’ve described elsewhere). This summary of the case for the reliability of the New Testament (based on transmission, archaeology and prophecy) is available at the link in the right column at the homepage.

J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of Cold-Case Christianity

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22 replies
  1. moose says:

    mr wallace–why do you say just the new testament? what about the old? is the old not reliable? the new makes amazing claims just like the old–the demon posessed pigs, the 7 headed monster, etc, etc-on and on. how about the so called virgin birth–how did that happen?–did god just flop a switch and out popped the magical being jesus? did god send some magical sperm to earth that somehow entered mary and she became impregnated? this is not sarcasm-just asking how it suposedly happened–for me any belief is “jesus” can’t even get off the ground unless the virgin birth is explained and is supported with evidence.

  2. Terry L says:

    any belief is “jesus” can’t even get off the ground unless the virgin birth is explained and is supported with evidence.

    And once again, Moose, you show your willful rejection of God.

    Tell you what… you explain to me how life can come from non-life. Again, not sarcasm, but just asking how it supposedly happened. We’ve never seen it happen since it supposedly happened millions or billions of years ago. We have no explanation for it. Yet, I daresay you believe it happened. But for me, any belief in life from non-life can’t even get off the ground unless it’s supported by evidence.

    Now the question I’ve asked you is actually much simpler than the one you’ve asked Jim Wallace. The answer to my question only requires natural causes and effects. The answer to your question on the other hand requires a finite being to explain the workings of an infinite God.

    If it were explainable, it wouldn’t be a miracle!

    If you can’t answer my question, what possible expectation could you have for anyone to answer yours.

    And will you be honest enough to abandon your belief that life can come from non-life, since you cannot explain it?

    We all accept things every day that we cannot explain. You live your life with faith just as much as theists do… it’s just that your faith is in something different.

    • moose says:

      terry–what on earth do you mean when you say my willful rejection of god? i don’t reject the possibility that a god exists.–if that god exists i dont know anything about that god–and neither do you. why are you changing the subject to how life arose? i don’t have the answers to that, i dont claim life can from non life, i am not making any claims. i am just asking about the virgin birth–that is the claim that your faith makes, but no one ever explains how it happened, but we are supposed to just believe it right? if it’s true i will believe it, just need to see the evidence first.

      again–your statement “will you abandon your belief that life came from non life since you cannot explain it”–where are you getting the idea that i have that belief?

  3. Toby says:

    “We’ve never seen it happen since it supposedly happened millions or billions of years ago.”

    Would you concede that we live on a planet with lifeforms that are far from simple. Assuming that life started with very basic self replicating chemicals wouldn’t it be fair to say that the more evolved self replicating chemicals (us and everything else) have changed the landscape so much that any of these simpler lifeforms have no chance to form at all because the world is less hospitable for their formation. So saying, “we haven’t seen it, so it must be false” is really dismissing it and not thinking about it hard enough.

    “If you can’t answer my question, what possible expectation could you have for anyone to answer yours.”

    It’s a scientific question, not a theological one. There are scientists working on simulating the beginnings of life. It’s not a question that can be answered from an armchair.

    • Louie says:

      Yes, all life is far from simple, as science has proven without question. So, to jump from chemicals to life is way to large a stretch for me. I think about this stuff often, and I just do not see it being reality. We can’t even do it in the lab where we can control/guide it, so for it to happen out in nature doesn’t compute.

    • Louie says:

      Just as with you and I, Terry was not there, and the bible does not go into great detail on this matter. So, knowing that, Terry has no more proof than you and I do. I’m pretty sure that Terry believes in the God of the bible and takes the word of God as it is. Therefore, Terry believes God made everything(including Adam), for that same God to cause a woman to give birth without intercourse is not even a challenge. Especially when it is compared to creating everything from nothing.

        • Louie says:

          God sent the Holy Spirit upon her, is what the text reads. Again, the main point is that none of us were there and the bible does not detail this out. I cannot imagine how one would scientifically prove or disprove such a thing? If we found medical records that Mary’s hymen was in tact, people would question the reliability of the record anyway. The God of the bible that created the whole universe and everything in it would be more than capable of such an act. The bible says God made Adam from dirt for crying out loud, compared to that, a virgin birth seems simplistic.

          • moose says:

            louie-“the bible says god made adam from dirt”–ok, great, and fred flinstone said yabba dabba doo. what does it matter what some ancient holy book claims. you also say “god sent the holy spirit upon her”–what does that mean? the (un) holy bible claims a lot of amazing things. but we are supposed to believe all these things or be sent to god’s divine torture chamber, right?

          • Louie says:

            Not just believe (even satan believes), there must be worship involved too, as I understand it. I agree, there are leaps of faith involved in believing the biblical world view. But there are just as many leaps of faith in any other world view, so I would not disclude the belief in Jesus based on that.

  4. Robert says:

    “And once again, Moose, you show your willful rejection of God.”

    I don’t know what Moose believes about the God question but a person cannot reject something that they don;t believe exists. What really bothers you Terry, is that Moose and others are rejecting YOUR claims and beliefs about God. So you pretend that we are just rejecting God instead of you and your claims and beliefs. It really hurts you to be rejected and mocked and this you cannot accept. Pretending we are rejecting God is just burying your head in the sand and ignoring the truth. Something Bible believers are very practiced at.

  5. Robert says:

    And by the way Terry, you believe life came from non-life. You just think Christian hocus-pocus was involved somehow. It wasn’t. Life arose naturally to bridge the gap between the heat of the sun and the cold of space. Have you ever picked up a science book and actually looked into the subject? Our purpose is to move heat. So while I’m doing that I’m going to have as much fun as I can. You can waste your time in intellectual servitude to false beliefs. No one cares. Go ahead be my guest.

  6. Thinker says:

    “No one cares.” – I care. Thanks for you comments Terry.

    Robert – are you really proposing that science (sans God) has proven the origins of life? There are many, many theories out there, but as far as I have read, nothing has been proven yet in terms of how life started.

    • Louie says:

      I care as well.

      Your are correct Thinker, I’m not aware of any world view that can be scientifically proven. As you dig for truth, you eventually find leaps of faith. If that were not the case, we would not be discussing this.

  7. Robert says:

    Christians are jumping the gun with their clams about the reliability of their fairy book. They point to the mentions of a few historical places and people and expect us to just accept that everything else in the stories is factual. However almost all historical fiction mentions real places and people. Historical narratives NEVER contain dialog, conversations with people all speaking to each other in complete sentences. Only fictive narratives are written with dialog and there are no exceptions to this rule in literature. So when we hold the gospels to standard literary criticism they fail every test there is for historicity and pass all the tests for fiction.

    So the argument goes like this: ” The gospels mention a real king (Herod) and a real place (Palestine) and so you MUST believe that angels, demons, Satan, giants, dragons, heaven and hell are all real or you will burn in hell forever!” Basically the dumbest argument ever made.

  8. Thinker says:

    “Historical narratives NEVER contain dialog, conversations with people all speaking to each other in complete sentences.”

    I can think of two off the top of my head. A book I read recently “Fearless” was a historical biography / narrative that had a lot of conversations in complete sentences between two people. The main character int he book was a military member who died in Afghanistan and was already passed away when it was written, so it historical. Also, there are innumerable examples in grand-jury testimony (which is historical in nature).

    “Only fictive narratives are written with dialog and there are no exceptions to this rule in literature.” – Do you have a reference for this? I know I asked you about this in another post and you gave me some rhetorical reply. Since I have not read all non-fiction narratives ever written (nor have you), I don’t see how either of us could confirm or deny this statement (especially in the light of my counter-examples above). What information do you base this statement on; as “no exceptions” is very strong wording. I would assume you do have some reference as you would clearly not expect us to commit the fallacy of appeal to authority just by believing your word 🙂

  9. Bob says:

    I find it very interesting that right off the bat “Moose” briefly mentions the topic of the article, then immediately changes the subject and begins throwing out off the wall questions that he believes cannot be answered and therefore proves his point. Then he goes on to accuse others of changing the subject. Mr. Pot, meet Mr. Kettle.

    More importantly, however, in spite of the evidence presented in the article, not one of the “I-Gotta-Disprove-The-Bible” group even makes an attempt to disprove any of the presented evidence! They just ignore it. Talk about sticking one’s head in the sand.

    Is this the standard method of disproving the Bible or Christianity or God used by atheists?

    • moose says:

      no bob, it is about challenging the claims that the un holy bible makes–the ones that you all duck and dodge.

      • Mike says:

        “the ones that you all duck and dodge.” Moose, there are some things that none of us have an answer for, but that dilemma doesn’t make them either true or false. Same thing goes for many things you may accept that you cannot provide evidence for. There is enough evidence, as noted in the blog article, that the books of the NT are reliable for many of us to conclude that indeed they are, and therefore, because Jesus affirmed the OT, it is as well.


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