“How do we know what Jesus did when he was alone?”


In the biographical gospel accounts we find that some words and actions are attributed to Jesus when he was said to be alone. In other words, how did a gospel author know what Jesus said or did when alone? For instance, in Mark 14 Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane where no eyewitnesses were present, yet his prayer is recorded in Mark’s account. This provides an enigma.

1. Due to Inspiration.

First off, if we are to combat Christianity on its own turf then we need to embrace its alleged truth claims to do so, and one of those is that of God’s spirit, the Holy Spirit. It is entirely possible that if the Christian God exists that he could convey his message, in whatever form he would prefer, to the author of the Gospels who were writing under inspiration. In John 14:26 it is alleged that the spirit will teach in his name “and will remind you of everything I have said to.” It is also affirmed by the author of 2 Timothy 3:16 that the scripture they are writing is “God breathed,” hence an indication of interaction with God’s spirit. And when Paul wrote to those in Galatia he told them that his teachings came to him “through revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:12), as well as “revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets” (Ephesians 3:5). This would be the supernatural answer to the question.

2. Due to Jesus’ Own Explanations.

A second possible explanation would be that Jesus himself would have let the disciples know what he had done in his time alone. It is possible that Jesus could have relayed the events that occurred since he spent much time with  them.  This could have been what happened in John 4 where Jesus speaks to a woman at a well. No-one else was around to witness this but somehow we seem to have Jesus’ conversation quoted in full. It is probable that Jesus relayed to the disciples the events that took place.

3. Jesus’ Post-Mortem Appearances.

Thirdly, assuming the historicity of his supernatural post-mortem appearances, Jesus also appeared to the disciples over a period of 40 days. In that time he was “speaking to them about the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3), and if he so wanted to he could have filled the disciples in with the details about what happened to him when they weren’t there to see it.  So, in finishing there are, essentially, four possibilities:

1 – That the Holy Spirit revealed to the disciples what Jesus did when he was alone.

2 – That Jesus himself told the disciples what he did when he was alone.

3 – That Jesus revealed what he did when he was alone during his 40-day appearance after his crucifixion (Acts 1:3).

4 – That the information was provided via the Holy Spirit, via Jesus during his Earthly ministry, and during the 40 days in which he appeared and spoke about the Kingdom of God.

21 responses to ““How do we know what Jesus did when he was alone?”

  1. Or … the anonymous gospel writers simply made it up as they considered the theological message much more important than historical accuracy thus using such examples, known as plot devices, helped move the tale along at a brisk pace while still giving an overall air of authenticity without actually need to be historically accurate.

    • That’s possible too. In fact I believe that the authors did emphasise certain traits of Jesus in order to answer current problems in their communities. That doesn’t necessitate against the work of the Holy Spirit, God, or Jesus naturally or supernaturally informing his disciples about what happened when he was alone.

      • Well, one has to believe </em in the supernatural first, doesn't one?
        So the theist will start from the erroneous presuppositional position and work from there. This makes such nonsense palatable and easy to swallow.
        But without any verifiable or corroborating evidence whatsoever all one is left with is faith.
        And faith is not evidence, as well you ought to know.

        • I disagree for the reason that there are good reasons to view the Bible as God’s word, so why could the work of the Holy Spirit not be an option? I think it is, so in essence, the faith i have in the Holy Spirit comes from other evidences (prophecy, Jesus’ resurrection, miracles etc.) and therefore is evidence based – thats not blind faith.

          On the other hand the skeptic comes with his bias against any supernatural intervention, and as long as he cannot disprove the supernatural, which he can’t, I see his stance as unwarranted and overly critical especially since he hasn’t weighed the other positive evidences for the Bible.

          • Of course you disagree,: you are an indoctrinated fundamentalist. This is what indoctrination does.
            Prophecy? What prophecy are you talking about?
            None of it is valid and all can be explained – quite easily as well.
            I am not biased at all. I say all along to anyone who makes such claims, show me the evidence. So far no one has. Maybe you do have evidence?
            If so ….. show me!

            • Harsh words, Ark. I disagree to being called an indoctrinated fundamentalist. But somehow you are exempt from being a fundamentalist, even though you consistently post on my articles in order to combat what I write on?
              I think for you only religious people can be fundamentalists, is that correct?

              • So what type of Christian are you?

                By that, I mean which sect do you belong to? Anglican, Baptist , Seventh day Adventist, Catholic Jehovah’s etc …

                I think for you only religious people can be fundamentalists, is that correct?

                Not in the least. Such obtuse attitudes one finds in every sphere.

                And I <strong< did say did I not, if you have evidence then please show me?

                So now’s your chance to demonstrate you are not all ”tell” but have the goods to back the claims.
                Any time you are ready, I am waiting.

  2. Every Christian is subject to a greater or lessor degree of indoctrination, (even if simply by having a cultural awareness). The ”full-blown” born again type usually arrive at this point via some form of emotional trauma, often involving alcohol, drugs or sexual abuse. And,these days, so-called ‘porn-addiction’ seems to be popping up on the lists of converts more frequently for some reason.

    I was what one might call a Cultural Christian – raised in a C of E home by parents who were generally laissez faire about all things religious – thought did the Sunday School thing and other such religiously related past-times as expected. I eventually kicked it all into touch once I discovered that the Pentateuch was historical fiction.

    Few people,if any in fact, come to it via sound, verifiable evidence, as there is none, as well you know, so there is always a point where faith takes over.

    The degree of fundamentalism, seems to depend on the degree of emotional vulnerability and general credulity of the individual.
    Only you know how extreme of fundamental your views are.
    The worst kind are those that believe in a literal understanding of the bible, including such nonsense as Hell and Original Sin, ( and preach and teach it to kids) of which there is no biblical evidence , merely being church doctrine.

    But I reiterate. if you do have verifiable evidence then please, let me see it?

    • I think you are making a lot of assumptions (Pentateuch being fiction, that non-believers only become Christian because of emotion, that Hell and Original sin are nonsense, etc.). I wont answer to assumptions.
      Secondly, I don’t think you can use the ’emotions-based-reasoning’ charge against many Christians out there, including me, as they think they have good reason to believe in what they do.
      So you cant use the charge of fundamentalism simply because I, and others, have come to believe in something we previously rejected because we think we have good reasons to do so, and happen to disagree with you.

      To me your story sounds a sad one, you were a cultural Christian and lost your faith, I was a non-believer and became a Christian because I though I had good reason to do that.
      However, based upon our previous discussions it seems that you have no interest in the judging the truthfulness of the Christian claims but have only set out to disprove them (this is why you repeatedly ask me for evidence of which I am ignoring because I know the game you are trying to play, we’ve been through this before.)

      • First, it is not an assumption that the Pentateuch is Historical Fiction – it is based on sound research and a belief echoed by pretty much every notable archaeologist in the world and a belief also shared by the vast majority of Jewish scholars and Rabbis.

        Second. Every piece of written testimony I have encountered involved one or more of such emotional issues and all involved a ridiculous confession of ”Sin” ( sic).
        Not a single one suggested the person had sat down and done a thorough, unemotional appraisal and simply arrived at the conclusion that the bible and all its claims were irrefutable fact.

        Third Nothing sad about my story in the least, I assure you. The vast majority of Christians would reckon themselves simply cultural , especially in England,and stay this way for their entire lives, largely due t ambivalence and ignorance regarding the historical matters . I simply took my ambivalence one step further and accepted what the evidence revealed.

        If you are not willing to offer up any sort of evidence and dismiss my statements regarding emotional issues and conversion then may I ask exactly what were the circumstances surrounding your conversion?

    • I would disagree with you on the whole Pentateuch being fiction. There are some Egyptologists that don’t view it as entirely fictional, but rather as hyperbolized beyond what actually happened. It is also true that some scholars view it as entirely fictional, but to say that the entire narrative is fictional is presumptuous. All this amounts to is an argument from silence, just because we haven’t found direct evidence of say 40 000 Jews in straddling desert doesn’t mean it never happened. This is fallacious. I don’t agree with your point of view, and I am sure you don’t get most of your information from reliable sources.

      You also assume at large that no Christian has an “unemotional appraisal and simply arrived at the conclusion that the bible and all its claims were irrefutable fact.”
      Well, neutrality is a myth, and you are no arbiter of absolute objectiveness who came to disbelieve the Bible. Your story sounds disheartening to me, and I think that has affected you in your approach to an attempt at objectivity when dealing with the Bible, and Christianity. I can’t tell from where I am, but I sure as hell know you are not unbiased, but biased in the way you accuse me, repeatedly, of being.

      • There is no evidence of 40,000 Jews or 2 million or a billion running away from Egypt. It did not happen.
        Not least because evidence shows the entire area was under Egyptian military control
        And there is no evidence whatsoever at places such a Kadesh Barnia.
        And there never will be.
        But there is evidence of how Canaan was settled and how the kingdoms of Judah and Israel came about.
        And there is evidence of how the ‘history’ of the Jews as per the Pentateuch was written.
        Is William Dever a reliable enough source for you to begin with?

        Let’s be clear, there is not a single recognised secular archaeologist or Egyptologist I am aware of that is on record stating the biblical Exodus occurred. Not one.
        If you know of one lease tell me.

        Even Kitchen is not so rash.

        And Woods … well you are surely not going to cite him I hope to the gods?

        What is noticeable throughout our entire dialogue over every post that similar subjects have been raised is that you have not offered a single piece of evidence to even vaguely refute anything I have said.

        Neither have you offered your own testimony, yet have repeatedly dismissed my assertions re: emotional issues regarding conversion.
        I have asked time and again for any sort of evidence and you have ducked and dived.
        Why? My requests are genuine.
        If you have evidence of your claims for the Exodus, let me see them please.

        And if your testimony is without the ”usual suspects” then I would be fascinated to read of your story.

    • I am not an Old Testament scholar, I have briefly looked, and written about, one or two OT subjects, so you are interrogating the wrong person. But even in my amateurish understanding of the OT I see that you are just arguing from silence. This is seen clearly by your own admission: “There is no evidence of 40,000 Jews or 2 million or a billion running away from Egypt. It did not happen.”

      You are also incorrect in saying that “Not least because evidence shows the entire area was under Egyptian military control”
      The Egyptians had many outposts, but they did not have a satellite dome that monitored it daily, every inch of the desert.

      This is also fallacious: “But there is evidence of how Canaan was settled and how the kingdoms of Judah and Israel came about.
      And there is evidence of how the ‘history’ of the Jews as per the Pentateuch was written.”
      Well, saying evidence something is evidence does not make it evidence. In fact, the first mention of Israel is when they were in Canaan, information based off the Merneptah Stele.

      In fact, most schoalrs actually believe that a contingent of people (20 – 40k), possibly the Israelites, left Egypt.
      “The consensus among biblical scholars today is that there was never any exodus of the proportions described in the Bible” (Walton 2003, p. 258), not that it never happened.

      Again, Ark, you are bringing up irrelevancies on my posts, the OT has nothing to do with the subject I blogged about. Please remember that in the future, lest I delete comments for not being relevant. I am also at fault for engaging with you on these topics.

      • Absolute hogwash.
        I challenge you to post the name of a single secular scholar or archaeologist or Egyptologist that believes in an Exodus akin to anything recorded in the bible. This is just tosh.
        And you disregard the total lack of evidence for Kadesh Barnia?
        And you neatly avoid mentioning anything to do with William Dever.

        And still waiting for your reason/testimony for converting

        • Irrelevant, I have no further intention in discussing OT events (we have done that long enough), it is also not the subject of my article. I have many other testimonies for you to go look at under the “testimony” section on the left. I will add my one there some time.

          From now on there are going to be no irrelevant comments on posts, they will be deleted.

  3. Again, Ark, you are bringing up irrelevancies on my posts, the OT has nothing to do with the subject I blogged about.

    I thought we already covered the post topic, and sort of drifted into another.
    It is all relevant – you are a Christian – I can’t see what is the problem especially as I am the only one commenting. I am certainly not disrupting pother commenters.

  4. BTW, an atheist demanding evidence for God is like Hamlet demanding evidence for Shakespeare.

    • But would Shakespeare send one of his fictitious characters to hell? “That is the question!” 😉

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