Did Jesus Really Live on the Earth?

From Issue: Discovery 10/1/2001

Hercules. Snow White. Cinderella. Peter Pan…. Jesus? What is Jesus doing in a list of make-believe characters? Did someone make a mistake, or is this really where Christ belongs? Believe it or not, some people actually think that Jesus is nothing more than a fantasy figure that we have all imagined. Some skeptics believe that Christians have been deceived into thinking that there really was a man named Jesus, when actually there wasn’t.

So, how do we know that there ever was a man named Jesus who lived upon the Earth? Is there any evidence available that proves Jesus actually walked the streets of Jerusalem nearly 2,000 years ago?

Even though the New Testament proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that Jesus actually lived, it is by no means the only historical evidence available. Around the year A.D. 94, a Jewish historian by the name of Josephus mentioned Jesus’ name twice in his book, Antiquities of the Jews. In section 18 of his book, Josephus wrote: “And there arose about this time Jesus, a wise man, if indeed we should call him a man; for he was a doer of marvelous deeds, a teacher of men who receive the truth with pleasure.” Then, in section 20, Josephus documented how a man named Ananus brought before the Sanhedrin “a man named James, the brother of Jesus who was called the Christ, and certain others.”

About 20 years later Tacitus, a Roman historian, wrote a book surveying the history of Rome. In it he described how Nero (the Roman Emperor) “punished with every refinement the notoriously depraved Christians (as they were popularly called).” He went on to write that “their originator, Christ, had been executed in Tiberius’ reign by the governor of Judea, Pontius Pilatus” (Annals 15:44). Even though Tacitus, Josephus, and other historians were not followers of Christ, they did have something to say about Him—and they even verified that Jesus was a real person Who was so famous that He attracted the attention of the Roman Emperor himself!

A final reason to believe that Jesus actually lived upon the Earth is because our entire dating method is based upon His existence. The letters “B.C.” stand for “before Christ,” and the letters “A.D.” (standing for Anno Domini) mean “in the year of the Lord.” So when a history teacher says that Alexander the Great ruled much of the world by 330 B.C., he or she is admitting that Alexander lived about 330 years before Jesus was born.

All of this evidence proves that Jesus was a real person, and not just some imaginary character.


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