It is asserted that after Jesus’ resurrection and his subsequent brief ministry on earth, (121)he ascended to heaven (creeds: 1 Tim. 3:16; Phil. 2:6f.; Justin; cf. Quadratus) and (122)was exalted (creeds: Acts 2:33; 5:31; 13:21; Apocryphon of John; Gospel of Thomas). The Earliest Church
As a result of these events, (123)Jesus’ disciples were transformed from persons who were afraid to be associated with him just a short time before to strong witnesses whose lives were changed (Tacitus; Suetonius; Mara Bar-Serapion; Josephus; Clement; cf. Pliny; cf. creed: 1 Tim. 3:16). (124)The gospel became the center of early Christian preaching (creed: 1 Cor. 15:1–4; Clement) and (125) salvation was taught through Jesus Christ (creeds: Acts 2:38–39; 3:19–23; 4:11–12; 5:32; 10:42–43; 13:26; 38–41).
(126)The resurrection of Jesus was the validation of his claims and showed that Jesus was approved by God as an accredited spokesman (creeds: Acts 2:22–24, 36; 3:13–15; 10:42; 13:32–33; Rom. 1:3–4; 10:9–10; Clement; Ignatius). (127)Early Christian preaching took place in Jerusalem, where Jesus had been crucified shortly before. (128)The church began and grew, (129)with Sunday as the primary day of worship (cf. Pliny; Barnabas).
Evaluation of Sources
The Life of Jesus
We have examined a total of 45 ancient sources for the life of Jesus, which include 19 early creedal, four archaeological, 17 non-Christian, and five non-New Testament Christian sources. From this data we have enumerated 129 reported facts concerning the life, person, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus, plus the disciples’ earliest message. This is not to say that all of these sources are of the same quality (for a variety of reasons). But these facts (and those mentioned below) are spread out across all of the categories and types of writers and are rather evenly balanced.