Throughout the gospels and Acts, we see Jesus proclaiming that the 12 apostles will be Jesus’s witnesses to the world; Jesus prophesied that they would teach the world of his life, ministry, death, and resurrection.
• Lk 24:45-48 — [Jesus said], “So it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.
• Mt 10:18 — and you will even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles.
• Mk 13:9-13 — ‘But be on your guard; for they will deliver you to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them. The gospel must first be preached to all the nations. When they arrest you and hand you over… Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all because of My name,….
• Acts 1:8 — but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and as far as the remotest part of the earth.”
Peppered throughout the book of Acts are rich and loud proclamations of the apostles working essentially full-time to teach about Jesus’s life, ministry, death, and resurrection.
• Acts say the apostles were devoted to teaching “the word.”1
• Acts 2:32 — It is this Jesus whom God raised up, a fact to which we are all witnesses.
• Acts 3:15 — but put to death the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, a fact to which we are witnesses.
• Acts 4:20 — for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
• Acts 5:32 — And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.”
• Acts 10:39-41 — We are witnesses of all the things that He did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross. God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He be revealed, not to all the people, but to witnesses who had been chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead.
• Acts 13:31 — and for many days He appeared to those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, the very ones who are now His witnesses to the people.
But so what? Plausibly...
• Acts is too unreliable. [Forthcoming]
We read both in 1 John and 1 Peter assertions that the apostles act as witnesses to Jesus's life and ministry.
• 1 Peter 5:1 — Therefore, I urge elders among you, as your fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and one who is also a fellow partaker of the glory that is to be revealed:
Irenaeus, writing in c. AD 185 records how Clement (c. 30-100 AD) was a disciple-student of the apostles, being specifically taught by them.
But so what? Plausibly...
• Clement was not well-connected to the apostles. [Forthcoming]
The Jerusalem church pass-down Jesus-bio, delivering to their successors and even other churches.
In the 1st century, while witnesses were still alive, the number of people converting to believing in Jesus's claim to be Messiah as well as his resurrection was massive. This is relevant because it is near impossible to explain if Jesus’s own apostles abandoned the faith or were otherwise lacking zea in their teaching of others. The growth is far easily to explain if they apostles were actively teaching.
The earliest Christians honored the “The Twelve” (apostles) as leaders of all Christendom, as long as those apostles were still alive and active.