Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, Herod being Tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip Tetrarch of Iturea and the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, while Annas and Caiaphas were high priests, the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. (Luke 3:1-2)
Road Markers In Scripture
Luke is known as a physician, fellow-worker of Paul in his journeys and author of the gospel by his name and the author of the Acts of the Apostles. The gospel of Luke is a treatise on the humanity of Jesus Christ, revealing more details about the life of Jesus than any other writer. Writing his second account to Theophilus, Luke details the beginning and early years of the New Testament church. One of the characteristics of Luke’s writings is the detail of history sprinkled through all of his writings.
After telling the story of Jesus’ birth and early life, Luke begins to unfold the ministry of Jesus, beginning with the preaching of John the Baptist. Setting the scene for the coming of Jesus into the public conscience, Luke places historical road markers on the pages of his account to prove the validity of his claim that Jesus was a real person. Historical road markers are vital to the authenticity of the gospel of Luke. The beginning of the ministry of Jesus was the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar. According to Fausset Bible Dictionary, Caesar was Tiberias Claudius Nero, Augustus’ step-son and successor as emperor. He reigned from A.D. 14 to 37. Tiberius Caesar was the son of Tiberias Claudius Nero and Livia; born at Rome, November 16, 45 B.C. Luke establishes a real time in the life of a real historical character.
Pontius Pilate was the Procurator (Governor) of Judea, under the Proconsul of Syria, from A.D. 26–36. Early writers, including Philo, Josephus, and Tacitus, mention Pilate. In 1961 a stone at Caesarea Maritima was discovered with the inscription, “Pontius Pilatus, Prefect of Judea, has dedicated to the people of Caesarea a temple in honor of Tiberius.” Luke’s historical road marker was accurate. The Herod mentioned by Luke was of the Herodian family. He was Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great and Malthace. Herod was Tetrarch or ruler of a fourth part of the country. His brother Philip (Tetrarch of Iturea and the region of Trachonitis) was the half-brother of Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great and Cleopatra. Philip reigned from B.C. 4 to A.D. 32. Lysanias was the Tetrarch of Abilene, the district round Abila, in the 15th year of Tiberius’ reign.
Sir William Ramsey was one of the most eminent archeologists of all time. He did not believe the accounts of Luke were accurate and, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, traveled to the Holy Land to disprove what Luke wrote. Ramsey reversed his position and went on to say, “Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy, he is possessed of the true historic sense. In short, this author should be placed along with the greatest of historians.” Luke did not put the historical markers there to fill space. He confirmed what he wrote was about a true story of a real man who lived in a real time of history. Luke was not an eyewitness of much of what he wrote, but he confirmed to Theophilus that he had carefully investigated everything from the beginning. He was writing an accurate account for Theophilus to be certain of the truth of everything he was taught about Jesus.
The story of Jesus is real. It does not take historical markers to prove Jesus is the Son of God, but the Holy Spirit placed these markers in text to show and prove the accounts historically speaking can be found in the writings of human history. Archeology proves the Bible to be accurate. The rulers found in the Bible can be found on numerous reliefs and records. Luke was affirming his examination of the life of Jesus was based on historical fact. These road markers identify the proof of the divine history and are found throughout the word of God. Jesus is real!