Updated: Nov 22, 2019
This is the oldest copy of a NT fragment known, called P52, “The John Rylands fragment”, from John 18:31-33 and on the back John 18:37-38. (Dated by most scholars as early as 120 AD) It was discovered in Egypt in 1920. The “P” stands for “Papyri”, the plant that grows along the Nile River that people used to write on before the invention of modern paper. We get our English word “paper” from papyri. Some scholars have reported some new finds of even older NT Greek manuscripts that are set to be published sometime in 2013.
It confirms for us the trial of Jesus, the gospel of John as a whole, Pontius Pilate, and the reasons why Christ came and was to die by crucifixion.
This is very interesting that the oldest manuscript we have is about Jesus’ and His statement about Truth (Arabic – Al Haqq ???? ; Farsi – ????? “Haqeeqat” and ?? “Haqq” and ????? “Rasti”); and about His trial before Pontius Pilate and the reference to His death (John 18:32) “the kind of death He was to die”. This is strong evidence against the Qur’an, Surah 4:157, which denies that Jesus was crucified and that Jesus died on the cross.
Even liberals and skeptics like John Dominic Crossan, Bart Ehrman, Marcus Borg, and John Shelby Spong know that Jesus really lived in history and died on the cross, under Pontius Pilate as procurator of Judea while Tiberias was Caeasr of Rome, by the instigation of Caiaphas, the high priest and the Jewish council, the elders, scribes, Pharisees, and Saducees; and when Herod was a puppet king of the Jews under Roman rule.
Again, it is ironic that Muslims believe in the miracle and supernatural work of Allah, and that Jesus was born of the virgin Mary (see Qur’an 3:44-48; 19:19-21); and yet deny real history. The liberals believe the evidence and history, but deny the miraculous events like the virgin birth and the resurrection of Christ from the dead. True believers believe in both the historical truth and reality and that God actually did the miracles in history that the Bible records for us.
31 So Pilate said to them, “Take Him yourselves, and judge Him according to your law.” The Jews said to him, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death,”
32 to fulfill the word of Jesus which He spoke, signifying by what kind of death He was about to die.
33 Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?”
On the Back of the Fragment – John 18:37-38
37 Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”
38 Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews and said to them, “I find no guilt in Him.
In Evangelism and missions efforts with Muslims, it is important to know historical evidences for the crucifixion of Jesus, because Muslims attack and deny the historical reality of the crucifixion.
It is very interesting that the oldest Greek manuscript is from the Gospel according to John, since most liberal scholars don’t believe the apostle John actually wrote the Gospel of John; and they did not believe John was written in 90 AD or earlier (there is good evidence that John was also written before 70 AD. Even a liberal scholar, John A. T. Robinson, in his famous book, Re-dating the New Testament, believed that the Gospel of John was written before 70 AD.) Before this fragment was found, liberals theorized that John was written much later in the second century.
Archeology confirms the Bible and its truth and its historical reality!
It is also very interesting that this fragment, coming to us by the Providence of God; is about Jesus trial and the statement about the kind of death He was going to die (by crucifixion) is a great evidence against Muslim attacks.
John 19:1-7 tells us later, that the Jewish leaders wanted Jesus put to death for blasphemy, “because He made Himself out to be the Son of God”.
6 So when the chief priests and the officers saw Him, they cried out saying, “Crucify, crucify!” Pilate said to them, “Take Him yourselves and crucify Him, for I find no guilt in Him.”
7 The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God.”
Mark 14:61-64 also confirms this for us.
We must equip ourselves in the apologetic issues that come up in our evangelism and missions efforts. I Peter 3:15
And being ready in apologetics, Peter says, first, “set Christ apart in your hearts as Lord” or “sanctify the Lord Christ in your hearts” or “treat Christ with honor and fear as the Lord in your hearts”, in the same way that the Father is Lord (Yahweh) and holy, and we should treat Him as holy and fear Him, in the same way, treat Christ with the same respect. That is what the quote from Isaiah 8:12-13 is alluding to in I Peter 3:13-15. It points to the Deity of Christ. Fear and respect Christ as Lord-God before fearing man. Holiness in our lives, the fear of the Lord, and apologetics will prepare us for evangelism with Muslims.
“O Lord, God Almighty in heaven, You are holy! – may Your name be treated as holy, since You are already Holy, first in my own life, and in my attitudes and thoughts and actions; and then may Your name be treated as holy among all the nations; May Your kingdom come and be spread on earth, may Your will be done here on earth as it is in heaven. Give me the grace to fear You and treat You as holy today in all I do. I need You Lord! Glorify Your name!” Amen
I Peter 3:13-18
In sharing the gospel with Muslims about the crucifixion of Jesus the Messiah (Isa Al Masih), see my previous article here.
Praise God for Tyndale House and the scholars and others who have put together these excellent videos.