Jesus (c. 4 BC – AD 30 / 33), also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus Christ, was a first-century Jewish preacher and religious leader.
The quest for the historical Jesus has yielded some uncertainty on the historical reliability of the Gospels and on how closely the Jesus portrayed in the New Testament reflects the historical Jesus, as the only records of Jesus’ life are contained in the Gospels.
The Nicene Creed asserts that Jesus will judge the living and the dead either before or after their bodily resurrection, an event tied to the Second Coming of Jesus in Christian eschatology.
The name Jesus
Thus, in the New Testament, Jesus is commonly referred to as “Jesus of Nazareth”.
In the Gospel of John, the disciple Philip refers to him as “Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth”.The English name Jesus is derived from the Latin Iesus, itself a transliteration of the Greek Ἰησοῦς (Iēsoûs).
The etymology of Jesus’ name in the context of the New Testament is generally given as “Yahweh is salvation”.Since the early period of Christianity, Christians have commonly referred to Jesus as “Jesus Christ”.
“Jesus Christ” is the name that the author of the Gospel of John claims Jesus gave to himself during his high priestly prayer.
The four canonical gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) are the foremost sources for the life and message of Jesus.
In the undisputed Pauline letters, which were written earlier than the Gospels, Jesus’ words or instructions are cited several times.Some early Christian groups had separate descriptions of Jesus’ life and teachings that are not in the New Testament.
The authors of the Gospels are all anonymous, attributed by tradition to the four evangelists, each with close ties to Jesus: Mark by John Mark, an associate of Peter; Matthew by one of Jesus’ disciples; Luke by a companion of Paul mentioned in a few epistles; and John by another of Jesus’ disciples, the “beloved disciple”.One important aspect of the study of the Gospels is the literary genre under which they fall.
According to a broad scholarly consensus, the Synoptic Gospels (the first three—Matthew, Mark, and Luke) are the most reliable sources of information about Jesus.According to the Marcan priority, the first to be written was the Gospel of Mark (written AD 60–75), followed by the Gospel of Matthew (AD 65–85), the Gospel of Luke (AD 65–95), and the Gospel of John (AD 75–100).
While the flow of some events (such as Jesus’ baptism, transfiguration, crucifixion and interactions with his apostles) are shared among the Synoptic Gospels, incidents such as the transfiguration do not appear in John, which also differs on other matters, such as the Cleansing of the Temple.
This gospel includes well-known parables, such as the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son.The prologue to the Gospel of John identifies Jesus as an incarnation of the divine Word (Logos).
Matthew and Luke each describe Jesus’ birth, especially that Jesus was born to a virgin named Mary in Bethlehem in fulfillment of prophecy.
Both accounts state that Jesus was born to Joseph and Mary, his betrothed, in Bethlehem, and both support the doctrine of the virgin birth of Jesus, according to which Jesus was miraculously conceived by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb when she was still a virgin.
After the presentation of Jesus at the Temple, Joseph, Mary and Jesus return to Nazareth.
His other family members—his mother, Mary, his brothers James, Joses (or Joseph), Judas and Simon and his unnamed sisters—are mentioned in the Gospels and other sources.The Gospel of Mark reports that Jesus comes into conflict with his neighbors and family.
The Gospels indicate that Jesus could read, paraphrase, and debate scripture, but this does not necessarily mean that he received formal scribal training.When Jesus is presented as a baby in the temple per Jewish Law, a man named Simeon says to Mary and Joseph that Jesus “shall stand as a sign of contradiction, while a sword will pierce your own soul.
Then the secret thoughts of many will come to light.” Several years later, when Jesus goes missing on a visit to Jerusalem, his parents find him in the temple sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions, and the people are amazed at his understanding and answers; Mary scolds Jesus for going missing, to which Jesus replies that he must “be in his father’s house”.
Likewise, Luke says that John had the spirit and power of Elijah.In the Gospel of Mark, John the Baptist baptizes Jesus, and as he comes out of the water he sees the Holy Spirit descending to him like a dove and he hears a voice from heaven declaring him to be God’s Son.
Jesus’ baptism in the Gospel of Matthew is similar.
Here, before Jesus’ baptism, John protests, saying, “I need to be baptized by you.” Jesus instructs him to carry on with the baptism “to fulfill all righteousness”.
Jesus’ baptism and temptation serve as preparation for his public ministry.The Gospel of John leaves out Jesus’ baptism and temptation.
John publicly proclaims Jesus as the sacrificial Lamb of God, and some of John’s followers become disciples of Jesus.
Before John is imprisoned, Jesus leads his followers to baptize disciples as well, and they baptize more people than John.
The first takes place north of Judea, in Galilee, where Jesus conducts a successful ministry, and the second shows Jesus rejected and killed when he travels to Jerusalem.
Notably, Jesus forbids those who recognize him as the messiah to speak of it, including people he heals and demons he exorcises (see Messianic Secret).John depicts Jesus’ ministry as largely taking place in and around Jerusalem, rather than in Galilee; and Jesus’ divine identity is openly proclaimed and immediately recognized.Scholars divide the ministry of Jesus into several stages.
In Matthew and Mark, despite Jesus only briefly requesting that they join him, Jesus’ first four apostles, who were fishermen, are described as immediately consenting, and abandoning their nets and boats to do so.
In John, Jesus’ first two apostles were disciples of John the Baptist.
The Baptist sees Jesus and calls him the Lamb of God; the two hear this and follow Jesus.
‘” Other ethical teachings of Jesus include loving your enemies, refraining from hatred and lust, turning the other cheek, and forgiving people who have sinned against you.John’s Gospel presents the teachings of Jesus not merely as his own preaching, but as divine revelation.
John the Baptist, for example, states in John 3:34: “He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure.” In John 7:16 Jesus says, “My teaching is not mine but his who sent me.” He asserts the same thing in John 14:10: “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?
When his opponents suddenly accuse him of performing exorcisms by the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons, Jesus counters that he performs them by the “Spirit of God” (Matthew 12:28) or “finger of God”, arguing that all logic suggests that Satan would not let his demons assist the Children of God because it would divide Satan’s house and bring his kingdom to desolation; furthermore, he asks his opponents that if he exorcises by Beel’zebub, “by whom do your sons cast them out?” In Matthew 12:31–32, he goes on to say that while all manner of sin, “even insults against God” or “insults against the son of man”, shall be forgiven, whoever insults goodness (or “The Holy Spirit”) shall never be forgiven; they carry the guilt of their sin forever.
In John’s Gospel, Jesus is presented as unpressured by the crowds, who often respond to his miracles with trust and faith.
The gospel episodes that include descriptions of the miracles of Jesus also often include teachings, and the miracles themselves involve an element of teaching.
These two events are not mentioned in the Gospel of John.In his Confession, Peter tells Jesus, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus affirms that Peter’s confession is divinely revealed truth.
After the confession, Jesus tells his disciples about his upcoming death and resurrection.In the Transfiguration, Jesus takes Peter and two other apostles up an unnamed mountain, where “he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white.” A bright cloud appears around them, and a voice from the cloud says, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him.”
The description of the last week of the life of Jesus (often called Passion Week) occupies about one third of the narrative in the canonical gospels, starting with Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem and ending with his Crucifixion.
Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve apostles, secretly strikes a bargain with the Jewish elders, agreeing to betray Jesus to them for 30 silver coins.The Gospel of John recounts of two other feasts in which Jesus taught in Jerusalem before the Passion Week.
John next recounts Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples.
Although the Gospel of John does not include a description of the bread-and-wine ritual during the Last Supper, most scholars agree that John 6:22–59 (the Bread of Life Discourse) has a eucharistic character and resonates with the institution narratives in the Synoptic Gospels and in the Pauline writings on the Last Supper.In all four gospels, Jesus predicts that Peter will deny knowledge of him three times before the rooster crows the next morning.
The Gospel of John provides the only account of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet after the meal.
In the Synoptics, Jesus and his disciples go to the garden Gethsemane, where Jesus prays to be spared his coming ordeal.
He kisses Jesus to identify him to the crowd, which then arrests Jesus.
After Jesus’ arrest, his disciples go into hiding, and Peter, when questioned, thrice denies knowing Jesus.
In Matthew 26:62, Jesus’ unresponsiveness leads Caiaphas to ask him, “Have you no answer?” In Mark 14:61 the high priest then asks Jesus, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” Jesus replies, “I am”, and then predicts the coming of the Son of Man.
In Matthew and Luke, Jesus’ answer is more ambiguous: in Matthew 26:64 he responds, “You have said so”, and in Luke 22:70 he says, “You say that I am”.The Jewish elders take Jesus to Pilate’s Court and ask the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, to judge and condemn Jesus for various allegations: subverting the nation, opposing the payment of tribute, claiming to be Christ, a King, and claiming to be the son of God.
Pilate sends Jesus to Herod to be tried, but Jesus says almost nothing in response to Herod’s questions.
Pilate writes a sign in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek that reads “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews” (abbreviated as INRI in depictions) to be affixed to Jesus’ cross, then scourges Jesus and sends him to be crucified.
Jesus’ crucifixion is described in all four canonical gospels.
Above Jesus’ head on the cross is Pilate’s inscription, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews”.
Jesus tells the latter: “today you will be with me in Paradise.” In John, Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the beloved disciple were at the crucifixion.
Jesus tells the beloved disciple to take care of his mother.The Roman soldiers break the two thieves’ legs (a procedure designed to hasten death in a crucifixion), but they do not break those of Jesus, as he is already dead (John 19:33).
In Matthew and Mark, terrified by the events, a Roman centurion states that Jesus was the Son of God.On the same day, Joseph of Arimathea, with Pilate’s permission and with Nicodemus’s help, removes Jesus’ body from the cross, wraps him in a clean cloth, and buries him in his new rock-hewn tomb.
Mary Magdalene (alone in the Gospel of John, but accompanied by other women in the Synoptics) goes to Jesus’ tomb on Sunday morning and is surprised to find it empty.
Despite Jesus’ teaching, the disciples had not understood that Jesus would rise again.
1 Peter 3:22 states that Jesus has “gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God”.The Acts of the Apostles describes several appearances of Jesus after his Ascension.
On the road to Damascus, the Apostle Paul is converted to Christianity after seeing a blinding light and hearing a voice saying, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” In Acts 9:10–18, Jesus instructs Ananias of Damascus in a vision to heal Paul.
The New Testament’s Acts of the Apostles and Epistle to the Galatians record that the first Christian community was centered in Jerusalem and its leaders included Peter, James, the brother of Jesus, and John the Apostle.After the conversion of Paul the Apostle, he claimed the title of “Apostle to the Gentiles”.