12 Evidences for the Resurrection of Jesus, Part 2

Cross and Dramatic Sky with sun rays and dark clouds

Christian apologist Walter Martin used to say that the real death rate is one per person, meaning that each person’s death is a matter of when, not if. Therefore, because we are mortal creatures and thus stalked by death, if Jesus Christ actually conquered death through his resurrection, then this is the most important news for all human beings to hear and to reflectively consider. The inevitability of death should motivate Christians to share the message of the resurrection.

In part 1 of this series, I briefly addressed two evidences for Jesus’s resurrection. In this article I’ll present one more reason in our series of 12 evidences for believing that Jesus Christ’s bodily resurrection from the dead actually happened.

3. Short Time Frame between Actual Events and Eyewitness Claims

Support for the factual nature of Jesus’s resurrection from the dead comes from eyewitness testimonies that were reported soon after the events happened. The apostle Paul claims both that he saw the resurrected Christ (Acts 9:1–1922:6–1626:12–23) and that others witnessed the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:3) prior to his personal encounter. Paul asserts in his writings that he received the firsthand testimony from Jesus’s original apostles who were witnesses of Jesus’s resurrection even before him.

In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he employs a creedal statement1 about the resurrection that dates to the earliest period of Christianity. This creed is believed even by critical scholars (those who doubt the supernatural) to be part of the original Christian kerygma (“proclamation”—representing the earliest preaching and teaching message of Christianity). This early statement of faith that Paul relays mentions by name two of Jesus’s apostles who said they had seen the resurrected Christ. These two apostles are Peter (one of the original 12 apostles and principal spokesperson of primitive Christianity) and James (the brother of Jesus who was also an early apostolic leader).

Here is that early creedal statement as the apostle Paul weaved it into his first Corinthian epistle:

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas [Peter], and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.

– 1 Corinthians 15:3–7

Paul’s statement gives us a fourfold formula of the primitive Christian proclamation as it relates to Jesus’s death and resurrection:

1. Christ died.
2. He was buried.
3. He was raised.
4. He appeared.

This time frame evidenced in the early creed places the original proclamation by the first apostles about Jesus’s resurrection very near to the time of Jesus’s death and resurrection. This development has led even critical New Testament scholars to be amazed at the early and reliable testimony evident in Paul’s writings. In fact, distinguished New Testament scholar James D. G. Dunn states, “This tradition [of Jesus’s resurrection and appearances], we can be entirely confident, was formulated as tradition within months of Jesus’s death.”2

Therefore, given the short interval of time between the early eyewitness testimonies about Jesus’s resurrection and the actual event itself (a mere matter of months), these accounts must be considered historically credible. There was clearly no time for myth, legend, or embellishment to accrue around the initial resurrection reports.

Watch for the next article in this series as we continue briefly considering 12 evidences for the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Reflections: Your Turn

Since death is one of the big questions of life, doesn’t that make the message of Jesus’s resurrection a topic relevant to all people? Is this a probative philosophical way of approaching evangelism?

Resources

Endnotes

        1. For more about these primitive Jewish-Christian creeds, see Ralph P. Martin, New Testament Foundations: A Guide for Christian Students, vol. 2 (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 1999), 268.
        2. James D. G. Dunn, Jesus Remembered: Christianity in the Making, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003), 855.

  One thought on “12 Evidences for the Resurrection of Jesus, Part 2

  1. Esther
    March 21, 2017 at 5:47 am

    I just found your post today. What a wonderful way to start spring, with the discussion on the necessity of the resurrection! Yes, redemption is embedded in plain sight throughout history reaching the vortex in this act. Then, the new creation burst into human history! Thank you for this blog!… Volunteer apologist in N E Ohio

    • March 21, 2017 at 9:41 am

      Thank you, Esther.

      Ken Samples

  2. March 21, 2017 at 5:59 am

    Reblogged this on Talmidimblogging.

    • March 21, 2017 at 9:42 am

      Thanks for the reblog, Vincent.

      Ken Samples

      • March 21, 2017 at 1:11 pm

        You’re very welcome Ken and God bless you 😎🙏

  3. Rita Gorski
    March 21, 2017 at 9:50 am

    I have a friend who believes that when she dies there’s nothing further – it will all be over and she’s fine with that. I hadn’t thought of suggesting the authenticity of the resurrection of Jesus, which could be a game-changer. Who is this Person that could possibly do that without changing the equation for everything? Yes, perhaps an evangelistic tool. Thank you, Ken.

    • March 21, 2017 at 9:56 am

      Thank you, Rita.

      Ken Samples

  4. March 21, 2017 at 12:03 pm

    Is (talking about death and Jesus’ resurrection) a probative philosophical way of approaching evangelism?
    Yes, asking someone their thoughts about what happens when we die can provide information on how to best present the Gospel to them. If they believe death is the end of our existence, you can try to appeal to our innate longings for love, purpose, and justice, and how death (and the eventual expiration of the universe) don’t resolve mankind’s longings. If they believe there is some type of afterlife, the discussion can move into the nature of God and His power to create, and how we as imperfect finite beings can possibly be unified to that eternal purity. If they have a working knowledge of the Bible, you can hone in on their willingness to believe all of it, the evidence in support of it and the progressive revelation it contains regarding the history of Israel leading to the arrival of Jesus, finalizing God’s message of salvation by grace alone through faith in Christ alone.

    • March 21, 2017 at 12:11 pm

      Appreciate your comments, MFD.

      Ken Samples

  5. March 22, 2017 at 11:03 am

    This is a wonderful evangelistic topic to discuss,read,and listen to, Everything thing in the beginning,,had to face the fate of death, all creation under the heavens would find corruption including the creation that didn’t sin like Adam, they all partook on the curse , But our hope begins with the resurrected savior Jesus Christ who conquered death through His death on the cross and for that reason we have no fear of death but we see it as an opportunity to meet our lord in glory , Thank you so much KENNETH God bless you

    • March 22, 2017 at 11:18 am

      Thank you, Silas.

      Best regards.

      Ken Samples

    • March 22, 2017 at 1:03 pm

      Thank you, Stephen.

      Ken Samples

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