Though we cannot state with perfect accuracy the date either of the birth or death of the great Apostle of the Gentiles, both may be inferred within narrow limits. When he is first mentioned, on the occasion of Stephen’s martyrdom, he is called a young man, and when he wrote the Epistle to Philemon he calls himself Paul the aged.
The records of this year which we possess are extremely meager, comprising only two or three incidents, which may be here enumerated, especially as they form a kind of program of His future work.
Little could the Jewish people know that He about whom they were speculating, and praying was growing up in a carpenter’s home away in despised Nazareth. Yet so it was. There He was preparing Himself for His life, ministry, and death.
It might have been expected that He would find a nation saturated with the ideas and inspired with the visions of His predecessors, the prophets, at whose head He might place Himself, and from which He might receive an enthusiastic and effective cooperation. But it was not so.
The records which we possess up to this point are, as we have seen, comparatively full. But with the settlement at Nazareth, after the return from Egypt, our information comes to a sudden stop, and over the rest of the life of Jesus, till His public ministry begins, a thick covering is drawn, which is only lifted once.
Jesus made his entry on the stage of life so humbly and silently; the citizens of Bethlehem dreamed not what had happened in their midst; the emperor of Rome knew not that his decree had influenced the nativity of a king who was yet to bear rule.
The whole land was set in motion; for, in accordance with ancient Jewish custom, the census was taken, not at the places where the inhabitants were at the time residing, but at the places to which they belonged as members of the original twelve tribes.
Throughout the first 17 centuries of Christianity, the reliability of the Gospels was never really questioned in any serious way. However, especially from the 19th century forward, a number of scholars have viewed the Gospels, not as the inspired, inerrant Word God, but as being invented by men. Also, they have rejected that the Gospel writers had firsthand knowledge about Jesus Christ.
As Christian apologetic evangelists who must reason, explain, prove, persuade, and defend, Christians show that Jesus Christ did live by using sources other than the Bible and the writing of the early Church Fathers. For those who question Christian the authority of the New Testament documents, examine carefully what the secular historians and other writers have written that, in fact, corroborates the testimony of the Bible.
There were three basic classes of religious personnel in ancient Israel: prophets, wise men, and priests, and Levites. The priests and Levites fulfilled a variety of essentially religious duties and were equivalent approximately to the clergy in modern times. They were professional men and were supported for their full-time religious work.