Who was Jesus?

by Matt Slick

Jesus1, the founder of Christianity, lived approximately 2000 years ago and is the most influential person in history. What we know about him is found mainly in the New Testament, particularly in the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Of course, there are critics who would say that Jesus never existed and there are others who say that the gospel accounts are exaggerations and myth. However, the New Testament documents are extremely reliable and are dated very early. For example, the book of Acts is a book of history of the early church. It does not contain the historical markers of the death of Paul and Peter, which occurred no later than 67 A.D. (some say 64 A.D). But Luke, who wrote the book of Acts and was a companion of Paul, also wrote the gospel named after him. The latest it was written was 64 A.D., but possibly around 61 A.D. The gospel of Mark was written a few years before that, in the 50's. This would put the gospel writings at a very early date, which would mean they were written at the time the apostles were alive. In other words, what was written about Jesus was written early and did not have enough time for legend and myth to creep in to the accounts.

Jesus taught many things and is widely considered to be one of the most wise people who ever lived.  Of course, within Christianity it would say he was the greatest teacher. His parables, the sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-7: 27), and his miracles set him apart from all other religious leaders.

According to Scripture, Jesus Christ is the Messiah, second person of the Trinity, God in flesh (John 1:1, 14), who came to earth, was born under the law (Galatians 4:4), and was the proper sacrifice for our sins (1 Pet. 2:24). He was crucified, buried, and rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Following is a list of some of the major events in the life of Jesus according to the Gospels.

  1. Birth, 5-6 B.C., in Bethlehem2
  2. Went with his parents who were fleeing to Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15)
  3. At 12 years old he went to the temple (Luke 2:41-50), remains with his parents (Luke 2:52)
  4. He began his public ministry at the age of 30 (Luke 3:23) when he was baptized (Matt. 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11)
  5. Jesus is tempted by Satan (Matthew 4:1; Luke 4:1-2)
  6. He calls his disciples (Matthew 9:9; Mark 2:13-14; Luke 5:27-28)
  7. Turned water into wine ( John 2:1-10)
  8. Cleanses the Temple (John 2:13-16)
  9. Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-7:29)
  10. Feeding of the 5000 (Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15)
  11. Moved to Caesarea Philippi (Matthew 16:13-20; Mark 8:27-38)
  12. Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-8)
  13. Goes to Jerusalem (Matthew 21: 1-11; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19: 29-38; John 12:12-15)
  14. Passover meal (Matthew 26:17-30; Mark 14:12-25)
  15. Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:30-46; Luke 22:39-46)
  16. Crucifixion and resurrection in roughly the year 26 or 27 (adjusting for the Gregorian calendar)
  17. Ascension into heaven (Luke 24:50-53)
  • 1. We chose the title "Who was Jesus?" rather than "Who is Jesus?" because that is the question that would be more commonly asked by unbelievers searching to know more about him.
  • 2. BC means "Before Christ" and is based on the Gregorian calendar that was established in 1582. The "before Christ" birth of Christ is due to the correction in leap years.

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.