How do we know that the Biblical accounts are true? How do we know that
the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) are reliable? How do we know
that the Bible is the inspired, infallible, and authoritative Word of God?
How do you know that the “other gospels” are not inspired?


This is a very broad question! One answer is to ask you to simply spend a
few hours at random reading articles at the web site, as this is exactly
what is proven through the hundreds of articles you can find there. I
will give you a brief outline answer to your question below, but my
strongest advice is for you to buy a copy of my book, “Reasons for Belief:
A Handbook of Christian Evidence.” It is available at
This book gives you detailed answers to each of your questions–with a lot
more info than I can give in a short answer here.

Having said that, let me give you an outline of the reasons I believe the
biblical accounts, and specifically the gospel accounts of the life of
Jesus. First of all, there is the overwhelming historical and
archaeological evidence that the Bible is by far the most reliable book of
history we have from the ancient world. Archaeological finds such as the
Ebla Tablets (supporting the accounts of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), the
Tel el Amarna letters (supporting the account of the exodus from Egypt and
the conquest of Canaan), the Tel Dan inscription (supporting the fact that
David was a real person), the Lachish Letters (which prove the account in
Jeremiah and 2 Kings of the destruction of Jerusalem to be true) and
literally dozens of other significant historical and archaeological finds
which support belief that the Old Testament is accurate. A more detailed
article at the web site, Historical and Archaeological Evidence expands
on this theme.

What about the gospel accounts? The article just mentioned above includes
many examples in which the accuracy of the gospels as history is
confirmed. Besides, both Jewish (Josephus and Talmud writers) and Roman
(Tacitus, Pliny and others) historians mention and confirm such gospel
claims as the crucifixion of Jesus, the martyrdom of James, the claim of
miracle-working and of the resurrection. The gospel writers were
eye-witnesses to the events they record, with the exception of Luke. Luke
was an amazingly careful historian himself, whose account was clearly
based on interviews with eye-witnesses. These accounts were all written
by AD 70, with the possible exception of the book of John, when hundreds
of witnesses to the events were still alive. No contemporary questioned
the basic accuracy of the gospel accounts as far as we know. The fact is
that the earliest Christians definitely claimed that Jesus was raised from
the dead right there in Jerusalem almost immediately after it happened,
and thousands of people were convinced because of the facts. Everyone
knew that Jesus was a worker of miracles. He healed thousands of people.
Even his enemies indirectly confirm this. In the Talmud, Jesus is called
a worker of false miracles. We know that many of the apostles and early
eye-witnesses were killed for their faith, yet not one of them ever denied
their faith. Clearly Jesus’ close friends–the eye witnesses to the
events–believed that Jesus was raised from the dead. Otherwise, it is
impossible to explain their actions.

You should understand that the church started with thousands of converts
who were eye-witnesses to the life and ministry of Jesus. As the gospel
spread, any account which was not accurate would have been revealed for
what it was. This will explain the fact that it was not for about one
hundred years until the first of the false, apocryphal “gospel” accounts
were produced. The Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Judas and other false
gospels were not written until well into the second century or later. If
anyone had written a false gospel earlier, it would have been instantly
and universally rejected by the church. By the second century, the
situation had changed significantly. By this time, a heretical teaching
known as Gnosticism had gained a significant following. These heretical
Christians were very strongly influenced by Greek philosoply and the
“Mystery Religions.” They taught that Jesus was never a physical person,
that the God of the Old Testament was an evil god, and many other clearly
non-biblical things. Members of these groups produced false gospels, some
of which are now getting some play, at least partly due to the notoriety
of the Da Vinci Code. I would suggest that you find the texts of some of
these false gospels for yourself. All you have to do is read the supposed
“Gospel” of Thomas or Judas or Phillip alongside with Matthew or Luke.
You will instantly see for yourself that there is no comparison. These
books have ridiculous stories of Jesus doing miracles as a baby. They
contain made up events which are blatantly created, not because they are
true, but because they support the gnostic agenda. Anyone who attempts to
put these bogus gospels on par with the canonical books is either a very
poor scholar or he or she has an agenda, and that agenda is certainly not
to support the truth.

We know from literally thousands of citations from the very early church
fathers, such as Polycarp, Ignatius, Origen, Justin Martyr and many
others, that the four gospels, as well as the letters of Paul were
accepted by consensus of the church as inspired by the early second
century church. They were accepted because they had apostolic authority
and because they were consistent with the accounts of hundreds and even
thousands of eye-withesses who were Christians. There is zero evidence
that any of the apocryphal letters, such as the books of the Nag Hamadi,
were given any authority at all by the early church. Anyone who claims
differently must deal with the evidence. The only time the early church
writers referred to such books was to show why they were heretical.
Please do not be confused by those whose goal in not to spread the truth,
but whose goal is to confuse the minds of those who would put their faith
in the Bible as the inspired Word of God.

In summary on that question, I suggest you simply read these false gospels
for yourself. The difference will be self-evident.

On the inspiration of the Bible, a lot more can be said. The historical
accuracy of the Bible is only a tiny fraction of the evidence for biblical
inspiration. I will again refer you to my book, and also three others I
have written, all available at My book From Shadow to
Realilty is jam packed with prophetical information which proves beyond a
reasonable doubt that the Bible is inspired by God. Is There a God is on
the evidence from science for inspiration of the Bible (it will be
available in a new edition in about two months). The prophecies of the
Messiah in the Old Testament provide wonderful proof of the inspiration of
the Bible. I suggest the article at my web site titled Prophecies in the
Old Testament Predict Events in the Life of Jesus of Nazareth. for
details on this topic. In addition, there is the overwhelming evidence
supporting the actual, historical resurrection of Jesus. If Jesus was
resurrected from the dead, then the entire gospel message is confirmed,
and the inspiration of the Bible is strongly supported. I suggest an
article at my web site titled The Resurrection of Jesus for more
information on that. I could go on almost indefinitely. The internal
consistency of the Bible, the lack of contradiction, the evidence for the
miracles of Jesus, the non-messianic prophecies and so forth. The
idence for the inspiration of the Bible is simply overwhelming–so much
so that there is no excuse for not accepting that the Bible is indeed the
Word of God.

John Oakes, PhD

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