Black Spirituality Religion : Archaeology and the New Testament

Early Extra-Biblical Sources Affirming Paul's Apostleship

If Paul was not a true Apostle then we would not expect to find numerous instances of the earliest extra-biblical writers (who were often students of the original Apostles) affirming Paul’s apostleship and viewing his writings as Scripture. If Paul was not a true Apostle, but was instead a false usurper, we would expect at least some evidence from the 1st century followers of Jesus and the Apostles to state their case in opposing Paul relegating him to the status of imposter. However, the earliest evidence is conclusive in affirming Paul’s reliability.

Ignatius of Antioch (A.D. 35-110)

Ignatius of Antioch was a 1st century pupil of the original Apostles.(23) This is important because if Paul was a false teacher and usurper, Ignatius, being a follower of the Apostles and their Gospel (he often quoted the Gospels of Matthew and John as well), would have pointed out Paul’s supposed theological errors or commented on Paul being a supposed false Apostle. However, this 1st century martyr Bishop offers early data in support of Paul's
association with the other Apostles as well as Paul’s rightful authority in the church. ....

Polycarp of Smyrna (A.D. 69-155)

Polycarp was a 1st century Bishop like Ignatius. He was also a student or pupil of John and the other Apostles. We know this from his writings as well as his contemporary who knew him, Irenaeus (A.D. ?-202). We also know this from Tertullian (A.D. 160-220). Polycarp’s contemporary Irenaeus makes mention of the fact that Polycarp was a Pupil of John and a Pupil of the Apostles being appointed Bishop of the church in Smyrna by the Apostles themselves. Irenaeus also mentions that Polycarp was a martyr for the Christian faith:

Clement of Rome (A.D. ?-101)

Clement of Rome was a 1st century Christian secretary of the church at Rome responsible for correspondence with other churches.(27) There is also evidence to suggest that he was a prominent presbyter of the Roman church. Some believe he was the “fellow worker” Paul mentioned in Philippians 4:3. In his work Against Heresieschapter 3, book 3, section 3 Irenaeus, the 2nd century early writer, notes that Clement of Rome knew the original Apostles:

"...after him, in the third place from the apostles, Clement was allotted the bishopric. This man, as he had seen the blessed apostles, and had been conversant with them, might be said to have the preaching of the apostlesstill echoing [in his ears], and their traditions before his eyes. Nor was he alone [in this], for there were many still remaining who had received instructions from the apostles."

In his letter The First Epistle of Clementalso known as First Epistle to the Corinthians written in A.D. 96 Clement states the following about Paul:

“Owing to envy, Paul also obtained the reward of patient endurance, after being seven times thrown into captivity, compelled to flee,and stoned. After preaching both in the east and west, he gained the illustrious reputation due to his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, and come to the extreme limit of the west, and suffered martyrdom under the prefects. Thus was he removed from the world, and went into the holy place, having proved himself a striking example of patience.”(28)

“Take up the epistle of the blessed Apostle Paul. What did he write to you at the time when the gospel first began to be preached? Truly, under the inspiration of the Spirit, he wrote to you concerning himself, and Cephas, and Apollos, because even then parties had been formed among you.”(29)

.....complete here:

The city of Derbe in Turkey
The Bible records, in Acts chapter 14 verse 6, how Paul and his friends went to the city of Derbe, in southern Turkey. Paul and Silas visited Derbe again in Acts chapter 16 verse 1.


Photo: BiblePlaces.comThis large mound (or 'Tell') at Kerti Hüyük, 24 km north of Karaman, may not look very impressive, but in 1956, archaeologist M. Ballance identified it as Derbe. The site has not yet been excavated.
This inscription dating from 157 AD, confirms that Kerti Hüyük is Derbe. The inscription is now in the museum at Konya, Turkey.

Archaeologists have also found an inscription on a tombstone dating from the fourth century AD that mentions Michael, bishop of Derbe.

Yet again, archaeology confirms that the Bible documents are about real people and real places.

Cover ArtThe Archeology of the New Testament by Jack Finegan
Call Number: eBook
ISBN: 9781400863181
Publication Date: 2014-07-14
The Archeology of the New Testament is the authoritative illustrated account of what is presently known about the chief sites and monuments connected with the life of Jesus and the history of the early church. To follow the order of the New Testament, it first investigates sites connected with John the Baptist and then proceeds to Bethlehem and Nazareth, Samaria and Galilee, Jerash, Caesarea, Jericho, the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem, and Emmaus. Each site is illustrated, and the accompanying text, numbered to facilitate cross-reference, contains a bibliography. This edition has been completely revised to reflect the most recent scholarship and excavations, and it contains many new entries. Anyone concerned with the historical, geographical, and cultural background of the New Testament will want to study this classic work as it retraces the steps of Jesus....

Another archaeological find is called “Gallio’s Inscription”, or is also referred to as the Delphi Inscription. Gallio was a proconsul (proconsul was an official in Ancient Rome who acted on behalf of a consul). His inscription was found in 1905, in Delphi, Greece. The inscription is pictured below.

Gallio's Inscription

The inscription is from Claudius Caesar, who was emperor of Rome from 41-54 AD. We will talk more about Claudius below.

The inscription (again, from Claudius Caesar) says, “To Gallio, my friend and proconsul…” You will remember Gallio, mentioned in the New Testament, from Acts 18:12.

Acts 18:12 - Gallio's Inscription

This inscription has been dated to about 52 AD.

This discovery is SUPER important because it allows us to definitively date the Apostle Paul's writings. The proconsulship was generally a 1 or 2-year position, which means that Paul was first in Corinth preaching the Gospel around AD 51 or 52.

Therefore, we can date his writing of 1 Corinthians, as well as give approximations for many of his other writings (all between around 49 and 64 AD), very soon after Jesus was crucified (around 30 or 33 AD).

In 1920, they found what’s called “Rylands Papyrus P52” (pictured below), the oldest universally accepted manuscript of the New Testament, which papyrologists have dated to about the year AD125.

Rylands Papyrus P52



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