The Case for Jesus the Messiah – Incredible Prophecies that Prove God Exists/Part 24

By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon; ©{{{copyright}}}
How the Early Jews Who Believed on Jesus Proved That He Was the Jewish Messiah

Editor’s Note: This material was first published in book form in 1989 by the John Ankerberg Evangelistic Association (now known as the Ankerberg Theological Research Institute).

Previous Article



The Gospels comprise four books written by Jewish people who knew Jesus personally for over three years. All of the writers claimed their books were based on firsthand testimony of those who were witnesses of Jesus’ life. Because of this, these authors were qualified to ascertain whether or not Jesus really did fit the facts predicted about the Messiah.

We should remember that the most powerful and persuasive testimony that Jesus was the Messiah was written by Jews. In fact, the entire New Testament was written by Jews (although, according to tradition, Luke was a Greek).

Today, Christians are only following the testimony of the earliest Jewish converts that Jesus was in fact the Messiah. What is presumptuous is for anyone 2,000 years after the facts to think they know more than the eyewitnesses and state Jesus could not be the Messiah without even considering the evidence.

It is true that not all of the Jews during Jesus’ time accepted Him as the Messiah. Because of this, there are some today who claim there is no reason why anyone ought to believe Jesus was the Messiah. But such persons have a hard time explaining why literally thousands of Jews did accept Jesus as their Messiah (Acts 21:20). Not only is it hard to explain why this happened in Israel during that time, but why it continues to happen all over the world today (Acts 2:15-16, 32, 36-41; 4:2-4[1]).

Certainly the evidence must have been persuasive to convince so many Jews and Gentiles all over the world that Jesus alone, among the scores of other claimants, was the Messiah.

What is even more remarkable is that the Jewish writers of the Gospels proved that Jesus was the Messiah on the basis of the Hebrew Scriptures and thousands of other Jews believed them. The only reason the early Jewish converts were successful in persuading other Jews to believe in Jesus was because (1) the prophecies were clearly present in the Hebrew Scriptures and (2) because only Jesus fulfilled them.

Prophecies of Hebrew Scripture

Here are a few examples of how often the early Jewish converts appealed to the prophecies from the Hebrew Scriptures as recorded in the book of Acts: (1) In Acts 2:22-37 at Pentecost, the Apostle Peter quotes the Messianic prophecies in Psalm 16 and Psalm 110. He cites Psalm 16 as proof of Christ’s resurrection, reasoning that since King David died and his body did see corruption, the last part of the Psalm could not fully apply to David. It applied to Christ. Peter explained, “Seeing what was ahead, he [David] spoke of the resurrection of the Christ [Messiah], that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay” (Acts 2:31). Peter quoted Psalm 110 where it says the Messiah was not only David’s son, but his Lord and predicts the Messiah will ascend to sit at God’s right hand (God says to him, “Sit at my right hand”). Peter concludes, “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ [Messiah]” (Acts 2:36). (2) In Acts Chapter 3, Deuteronomy 18:15-19, Genesis 12:3, and Isaiah 52 are quoted. In referring to these Hebrew passages as Messianic prophecies, the apostle shows he believes Jesus is (A) “the prophet like Moses” in Deuteronomy 18; (B) the promise to Abraham that through him all people on earth would be blessed in Genesis 12; and (C) the “Servant” of God in Isaiah 52. He concludes by saying: But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ [Messiah] would suffer…. Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days. And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers (Acts 3:18, 24, 25, emphasis added). (3) In Acts 10:43, we find the Hebrew Scriptures cited in the statement: “All the prophets testify about him [Jesus the Messiah] that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through His name.” (4) In Acts 13:23-41, the Apostle Paul explains to his listeners that Jesus is the Messiah using the Messianic prophecies found in 2 Samuel 7, Psalm 2, Psalm 16 and Habakkuk 1:5. Paul is convinced that “in condemning him [Jesus] they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath” (Acts 13:27). But he is also convinced the Hebrew Scriptures offer hope: “What God promised our fathers he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus” (Acts 13:32); further, “God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus, as he promised” (Acts 13:23). There are many more examples that could be given. But from these it can be seen that the constant appeal of the Jewish Christians in the New Testament was to what “the prophets” had spoken about the Messiah. Because Jesus fulfilled many incredibly precise prophecies the prophets had spoken and because Jesus promised to return and fulfill all the rest (Acts 3:21; Mt. 24:30; 25:31-33), He had to be the Messiah. This is the only reason why so many Jews accepted Jesus as their Messiah. The following passages further document and show this was so. (Emphasis added by the authors.) (5) Acts 14:1—”At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed.” (6) Acts 17:2-4—”As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Christ [Messiah] had to suffer and rise from the dead. ‘This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ,’ he said. Some of the Jews were persuaded….” (7) Acts 17:10-12—”[Paul and Silas] went to the Jewish synagogue. Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. [As a result] Many of the Jews believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.” (8) Acts 18:4-5—”Every Sabbath he [Paul] reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks…. Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ [Messiah].” (9) Acts 18:28—”[Apollos] vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ [Messiah].” (10) Acts 26:22-23,27—”But I [Paul] have had God’s help to this very day, and so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen—that the Christ [Messiah] would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would proclaim light to his own people and to the Gentiles…. King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.”

It is apparent that thousands of Jews (Acts 21:20) accepted Jesus as their Messiah solely on the basis of the Hebrew Scriptures. The brightest Jewish minds of the day could not dissuade them otherwise. Simply put, these new Jewish converts firmly believed that the Scriptures had been fulfilled in Jesus. In fact, because of the scriptural prophecies, even many of the Jewish leaders came to believe Jesus was the Messiah (John 12:42).

Read Part 25


  1. Cf. Gartenhaus, Famous Hebrew Christians, pp. 23,24; Zola Levitt, Some of My Best Friends Are Christians (Glendale, CA: Regal, 1978), p. 120.

Leave a Comment