The Gospel Observer
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the
nations...teaching them to observe all that I commanded you,
and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age"
October 9, 2016
1) Question About Judas and Jesus (Keith Sharp)
2) News & Notes
Question About Judas and Jesus
"You can't show Jesus existed. There is no historic record. Judas is
the 'sacrifice' in the Gospel of Judas, so what does it say about
Jesus being sacrificed? It was just a scam to start a new religion."
Of course, the canonical gospels, those accepted by believers in
Christ for twenty centuries as the inspired, accurate record of the
life of Jesus, present Judas as the evil (John 6:70-71), covetous
(John 12:5-6) betrayer of Christ (Matthew 26:14-15, 21-25, 47-50;
Mark 14:10-11, 18-21, 43-46; Luke 22:3-6, 21-22, 47-48; John
13:10-11, 18, 21-30; 18:2-5) who subsequently committed suicide
(Matthew 27:3- 5; Acts 1:16-18) and is lost (Acts 1:25).
Should we believe the canonical gospels or the "Gospel of Judas"?
Luke, a physician, was Paul's traveling companion (Colossians 4:14;
2 Timothy 4:11). He probably wrote the account of the life of Christ
that bears his name in A.D. 60, toward the end of Paul's
imprisonment in Caesarea, when he had the opportunity to interview
Judean eye witnesses of the life of the Lord (Luke 1:1-4). Early
Christians characteristically considered the account by Matthew to
be the earliest record of Jesus' life, so the apostle Matthew
probably wrote before A.D. 60.
Mark was as close to Peter as Timothy was to Paul (1 Peter 5:13).
Writers of the second century believed that Mark recorded Peter's
sermons about the life of Jesus Christ. In fact, Peter's sermon on
Jesus to the Roman centurion Cornelius is almost a very brief
version of Mark (Acts 10:36-43). Early Christians generally believed
his account of Christ was third in time order.
John lived longer than the other apostles, though he was exiled to
Patmos for the cause of Christ (Revelation 1:9). He wrote five New
Testament books: John, First, Second, and Third John, and
Revelation. They were probably written toward the end of the first
We have the first hand testimony of Matthew and John (Matthew
28:16-17; John 20:1-10, 19-29, 21:1-24), who were intimate with the
Lord during His ministry. We have the historical record of Luke, who
researched his subject by interviewing the eyewitnesses (Luke 1:1-4,
New American Standard Bible; Luke chapter 24; Acts 1:1-11), and the
testimony of Mark, who was probably the spokesman for Peter, the
In history as well as in a court of law, the most powerful witnesses
are those who, while confirming the testimony in question, are
either disinterested or hostile. The apostle Paul qualifies as a
hostile witness, for, as Saul of Tarsus, he "persecuted...to the
death" the disciples of Christ and, before those who could refute
his testimony if it were false, called upon the high priest and
elders of the Jews as his witnesses to this fact (Acts 22:4-5). Yet,
Paul's own letters confirm the truth of the gospel story (cf. 1
Josephus, the great Jewish historian contemporary with Paul,
qualifies as a neutral witness. Leaving out the part of his notice
of Jesus that negative critics claim Christians later added,
"At this time there appeared Jesus, a wise man..... For he was a
doer of startling deeds, a teacher of people who receive the truth
with pleasure. And he gained a following both among many Jews and
among many of Greek origin.... And when Pilate, because of
accusation made by the leading men among us, condemned him to the
cross, those who loved him previously did not cease to do so.... And
up until this very day the tribe of Christians, named after him, has
not died out" (Johnson. 114).
The parts of the quote from Josephus which are omitted confess Jesus
to be more than a man, to be the Messiah, and to have appeared to
the disciples after His death in fulfillment of the Old Testament
prophets. The quote actually reads smoother with those portions
still intact, and there is just as much textual evidence for them
being the words of Josephus as to the portion quoted. But the quote
which even the negative critics allow testifies that Jesus lived,
was a wise teacher who worked great deeds, taught the truth, gained
a wide following, was crucified by Pilate at the instigation of the
Jewish leaders, and still had a wide following of people named after
Finally, the unbeliever cannot account for the most important fact
of all concerning the witness of the gospel writers. Why were they
willing to be savagely persecuted and even killed for their
testimony, when they had nothing earthly to gain for telling it? (cf
Acts 4:1-31; 5:17-42; 6:8-8:4) Not even one of the apostles of
Christ ever changed or recanted His testimony, although tradition
assigns a violent death at the hands of persecutors to all but John,
who was exiled to a lonely, barren, rocky ancient Alcatraz (the
island of Patmos) for his faith.
The writings of many early Christians and heretics, particularly
Gnostics, from the second and third century have been preserved, are
available in English translation, and bear witness to Matthew, Mark,
Luke, and John as the true historical records of Jesus. In the first
generation after the apostles there is Clement (letter to Rome, A.D.
95), Ignatius (martyred before 117), Polycarp (letter, 108-117),
Basiledes, a Gnostic (117-139), and the Epistle of Barnabas (not the
New Testament Barnabas, sometime between A.D. 70 and 130). The
second generation includes Marcion, a Gnostic, before 140, Papias,
about 140, and Justin (martyred in 148). Other early witnesses to
the New Testament canon of Scripture are the Muratorion Canon (about
170), the Peshitto (Syriac New Testament, mid second century), and
the Old Latin Version (second century). By the year 170, there is
credible witness to the existence and acceptance of every one of the
twenty-seven books of the New Testament and to no others. As
Professor R. Laird Harris has written:
"It seems clear that the New Testament books arose in the latter
half of the first century A.D., and almost all of them were clearly
known, reverenced, canonized, and collected well before a hundred
years had passed" (202).
This is almost incredible, when we consider that Christians were a
small, persecuted, group of social outcasts without means of
publishing books, communicating, or enforcing a standard on all
believers in Christ. Furthermore, the various books were originally
handwritten parchments produced in a single copy.
By the middle of the third century (about A.D. 250), all the books
of our present New Testament and no others were known and accepted
as Scripture. Origen (185-253) "names the books of the New Testament
as we recognize the canon now" (Frost, 12). This was a lifetime
before the Emperor Constantine or any church councils.
The Gospel of Judas was developed by a Gnostic sect in the second
century A.D. and was originally written in Greek around 130-170.
This fact alone tells us that it was not authored by Judas himself.
The oldest extant copy is a Coptic manuscript written in Sahidic
(last phase of ancient Egyptian) in the fourth or fifth century.
The Gospel of Judas apparently depicts Judas in favorable terms and
commends him as doing God's work when he betrayed Christ to the
Jewish religious leaders. This, of course, contradicts what was
written by the apostles in their gospels of Matthew and John as well
as those gospels written by Mark and Luke who are under the
direction of Peter and Paul.
"The Gospel of Judas falls into the category of pseudepigraphal
writings. This means that the gospel is not authentic but is a false
writing. In fact, the gospel was not written by Judas, but by a
later Gnostic sect in support of Judas. Gnosticism was an ancient
heresy that taught salvation through esoteric (understood by or
meant for only the select few -- K.S.) knowledge. Gnosticism was
known at the time of the writing of the later epistles in the New
Testament and was rejected by the apostle John.
"The ancient writer Irenaeus (A.D. 130-202) in his work called Refutation
of All Heresies said that the gospel of Judas was a fictitious
"We can conclude that the Gospel of Judas is not authentic,
is not inspired, and was properly rejected by the early church as an
unreliable and inaccurate depiction of what really happened
"Of course, the complaint is often raised that this opinion, like
that of the early church, simply rejected anything that opposed a
preconceived idea. But, this complaint falls by the wayside when we
understand that the early church knew which documents were authored
by the apostles and which were not. God did not make a mistake when
he led the Christian Church to recognize what is and is not
inspired. The Gospel of Judas was never recognized by the
church as being inspired" (Slick).
The skeptic through prejudice rejects the only primary sources we
have for the historical Jesus and is thus both confused and ignorant
of Christ. He does not accept the facts of Jesus' life, does not
understand their significance, and fails to acknowledge who the Lord
is. His stubborn adherence to unbelief leaves him incapable of
knowing the real Jesus.
The informed Christian accepts the Jesus of the gospels, not through
blind, unreasoning faith, but because of the evidence from multiple,
unimpeachable, primary sources. Thus, Christians alone truly know
the historical Jesus, the real Jesus, the risen Lord of glory. He is
the Christ the Son of the living God, God who became flesh and dwelt
Skeptics vainly inquire, Will the real Jesus please rise? Christians
triumphantly declare, He is risen!
Gene Frost, History of Our English Bible.
R. Laird Harris, Inspiration and Canonicity of the Bible.
Luke Timothy Johnson. The Real Jesus: The Misguided Quest for
the Historical Jesus and the Truth of the Traditional Gospels.
Matt Slick, "The Gospel of Judas," https:// carm.org/.
-- Via Highway 5 South church of Christ, Mountain Home, AK, October
News & Notes
Two of those whom we have often mentioned for prayer in our bulletin
have recently passed away: Sue Wooten, who had been in the
Baptist Village nursing home for quite some time, left this world
October 14; and Raylee Metts, who was just 6 years old and
had been battling with cancer, passed away October 13. Let
those of us who are Christians be remembering in prayer all of their
Let us also continue in our prayers for the following as well:
LaDonna Andrews (who has now begun her chemo treatments,
following her recent surgery for colon cancer. It was found
that the cancer had also spread to her liver); Kay Byars (as
she heals from her 3rd cancer surgery); Lexi Crawford, Camp
Tatum, and Kelli Fleeman (as they also deal with
cancer); Shirley Davis (as she heals from her toe surgery);
Bennie Medlock (as he heals from infection in his lower back,
which he goes to the hospital for every day and will continue to do
so until the 26th of this month. Prior, he was going twice a
day); Jim Lively and Ray Richards (as they heal from
open heart surgery); and Mary Vandevander who remains
housebound, due to her health.
WordPress version for this week's bulletin:
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom.
10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark
16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if
not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet.
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10
AM & 5 PM (worship)
Tuesday: 7 p.m. (Ladies' Bible class)
Wednesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 614-8593
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