Growing up, we moved so often that we would use “where we lived” as an excellent milestone to remember when something happened. ‘That was in the Louisiana house so that must have been in 77’. Or ‘That was the second summer in Orlando so must have been 79’. Using these milestones that all of us could connect with was much more valuable of a reference point that simply saying a year. In fact, when we stopped moving so much and spent a decade in one house in Oregon, this little trick became much more difficult.
Then as a young family, this was easy again as my wife and I (and eventually our kids) moved often again. However we’ve now been in the same home for 8 years so many of the last years have started to blend together. Still we use other milestones all the time to help us remember, often with a grade that one of the kids was in school. Telling stories about ‘when Emma was 8th grade’ is so much more valuable to everyone listening than sharing the particular year the event occurred.
As we read Luke, we see he uses the same concept on a very regular basis. “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness.”
As Luke was writing this Gospel, it was a bit of a history lesson. After extensive interviews and research, he was writing the Gospel of Luke about 70 years after Jesus’ crucifixion. Using milestones like ‘the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar’ allows others to reflect on the time he is referencing. At this point, anyone still alive from that time would have been very young at the time of Jesus. So providing historical milestones that were outside the Jewish faith, milestones that can be verified by any other Roman historical reference, allowed people to cross reference or verify factual data included in the Gospel.
Luke is not the only one to use this technique. In fact, since our calendar system has changed several times between Adam and Christ, had the Old Testament authors used any sort of calendar based reference points, they would have become useless by now. But since the Spirit led the authors to write as they did, verifiable historical reference points were used instead.
In fact, these references point to events that are also referenced in other historical documents beyond the Bible. This is critical to the verification process of the events contained in the Bible. What’s amazing is that there is no other document in existence that has more external support for its authenticity than the Bible. This does not presume that every event in the Bible has extra-biblical supporting material. But it does mean that the work as a whole, the Bible in its entirety, is more verifiable than any other document. Thousands of other manuscripts, writings, excavations and archaeological findings continue to support the documented events in the Bible. And milestones like the ones Luke uses (inspired by the Spirit himself) serve to continue to prove the validity of the Bible text.
For a more thorough walk through some of this supporting material, check out “Evidence that Demands a Verdict“. Be comforted that as you read the Bible, it is actually more supported than the text books you read in history class in school.
I pray that you appreciate my blogs. They are my way of journaling as I read His word. If you do like them, please be sure to click the Follow Hisfamily Ministries button left of this post AND to spread the word. Share these posts with others and perhaps they will be blessed too.