18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,” (I Peter 3:18).
How do we know that Jesus actually rose from the dead? Aside from what the Bible says in I Peter 3:18, and elsewhere, what evidence do we have for Jesus’ resurrection?
The resurrection is the foundation stone of the biblical theology of the church. It is the primary message the church must communicate to lost sinners. It is also the primary message the church must continue to communicate to the redeemed. Not only was the resurrection preached by the Apostle Peter, but it was also preached by the Apostle Paul.
Beyond what Scripture explicitly says, what other evidence is there which supports the doctrine of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead? The following must be considered.
First, there is the Bibliographical Test. Second, the Existence of the Church. Third, the Change in the Day for Worship. Fourth, the Change within the Disciples.
Finally, the Appearances of Christ. There were some 10 appearances Jesus made after His resurrection. They occurred over a period of 40 days. These appearances represented a great variety with respect to time, place, and location, to particular individuals and to large crowds. They include the following;
- To Mary Magdalene – John 20:11-18.
- To the other women – Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-11. These include (1) Mary the mother of James and Joseph; (2) Salome; (3) Joanna; (4) Other unidentified women.
- To Peter – Luke 24:34.
- To the Ten Disciples (minus Thomas) – Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-25.
- To the Eleven Disciples (including Thomas) – John 20:26-29.
- To the Emmaus Disciples – Luke 24:13-35.
- To the disciples in Galilee – Matthew 28:16-20; John 21:1-24.
- To the 500 brethren – I Corinthians 15:6.
- To James and the apostles – I Corinthians 15:7.
- At the Ascension –Luke 24:50-53; Acts 1:4-12.
Please note the resurrection appearance which the Apostle Paul encountered on the Road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-6; 18:9-10; 22:1-8; 23:11; 26:12-18; I Corinthians 15:8). With the evidence presented it is beyond a reasonable doubt that Jesus Christ indeed rose from the dead. This is the only plausible explanation.
Dr. Don Carson, professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, explains: “As important as the cross is, it is not the end of the story, for all of the New Testament writers focus equally on the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. The resurrection accounts are rich and diverse. There is no way they can be reduced to mass hallucination. Jesus appeared to too many people many times over a period of forty days or so. He appeared to ones and twos; he appeared to as many as five hundred at a time; he appeared to the apostles more than once; he appeared in locked rooms; he appeared on the seashore and ate some fish that he was cooking for them. The witnesses multiply. He shows up when they are not expecting him, and he shows up when they are. He cannot be categorized or dismissed or domesticated. The resurrection appearances are simply too frequent, too diverse, and supported by too many witnesses. What do you do with them?”
It is not only important for Christians to know what they believe, such as the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but it is also important for Christians to know why they believe what they believe.
Have a blessed day.
Soli deo Gloria!