12 Evidences for the Resurrection of Jesus, Part 6

Crown of Thorns

It is hard to exaggerate the importance of Jesus’s resurrection to Christianity, for Christ’s resurrection truly stands at the very center of the Christian faith. It serves both as a crucial Christian doctrine and as the faith’s most potent argument: If Jesus actually conquered death, then there is no more important news for all human beings to hear and to reflect upon. Easter really matters.

Having thus far covered seven evidences for Jesus’s resurrection (see part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, and part 5), let’s now briefly consider two more.

8. Plentiful Early References to Jesus’s Resurrection in the Apostle Paul’s Letters

Some critics of Christianity have asserted that the four canonical gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) appear too long after the events of Jesus’s life to carry credible testimony. There is also the concern that there are too few claims to Jesus’s resurrection made by the early eyewitnesses.

While I addressed the short time span between the events of Jesus’s life and the eyewitnesses claims back in my post on evidence #3, a little more explanation is helpful here. First, the four gospels are much closer in time to Jesus’s life than are other ancient testimonies to both religious figures (Gautama, Confucius) and secular figures (Socrates, Caesar).

Second, not only are Paul’s references to the resurrection early (considerably earlier than the four gospel accounts), but they are abundant in nature. Paul’s epistles contain numerous references and descriptions of Jesus’s resurrection.

Third, some of Paul’s statements about the resurrection reflect primitive Christian creeds and hymns (see Philippians 2Colossians 1) that date much earlier than even his earliest written letters. For example, Paul’s earliest epistles were written about 20 years after Jesus’s resurrection. But the creeds and hymns that he weaved into his writings were being recited and sung by Jewish Christians back to within a few months or years of Jesus’s resurrection.

9. The New Testament Accounts of Jesus’s Resurrection Do Not Resemble Later Apocryphal Stories

The accounts of Jesus’s resurrection came from eyewitnesses and close associates of eyewitnesses. The recollections of these witnesses involve descriptions of historical, factual events. And the narrative of Jesus’s resurrection involves his physical body being raised and empirically examined, not merely rising as a spirit as in later apocryphal stories of subjective religious visions.

The apostolic reports of Jesus’s resurrection are early, plentiful, and very different than other so-called resurrection accounts.

Reflections: Your Turn

Why is it important that the sources that stand behind Jesus’s resurrection be early, plentiful, and distinct from other religious accounts?


  One thought on “12 Evidences for the Resurrection of Jesus, Part 6

  1. davejakes
    March 17, 2017 at 10:09 am

    Parts 2-5??

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. April 18, 2017 at 4:41 am

    Reblogged this on Talmidimblogging.

    • April 18, 2017 at 8:23 am

      Vincent, thanks for the reblog.

      Ken Samples

  3. Brendon
    April 18, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    I think with all the ancient myths that were available in that time period (as mentioned in Acts 17) the account of Jesus would have stood out because of the style of writing(i.e historical narrative) and bold claims and invitation to investigate rather than just another wild myth like the others. Acts mentions a group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers in Acts 17:18 not recognizing what Paul was saying and that Paul was presenting “strange ideas to our ears” but they stayed for long periods of time listening. Maybe if it was just a created myth from once upon a time they would have set it aside for reading later. It seems they were fascinated that Paul was stating the accounts as fact and recent and to go check it out. That had a big impact.

    In so many versus the authors are using real names of the people who received healing or were raised from the dead or were important to the narrative so skeptics could simply check out the claims. You cant do this with other holy books that were written long after the actual events. Jesus miracles seem to have a specific purpose. I was looking at a site that had supposed miracles from Mohammed and they were things like he made a palm tree cry or made himself invisible to sneak away at night or he made camels feet get stuck in the sand. Sort of nonsensical. They were more like showing off with magic. No names or any way to check them out. Luke 1 is a great intro whereby he states he “carefully investigated everything..” and the Bible seems to invite one to do the same which people could do with the early writings.

    Also in versus like 1 Tim 5:18 – refers to Dt 25:4 and Luke 10:7 so Luke was already written and assumed scripture early on. They wrote the accounts like a historical narrative being reported and were claiming this was God-breathed scripture early on and they were given authority for the teachings from the one who was raised from the dead. This was far different than pagan myths for entertainment.

  4. Rita Gorski
    April 20, 2017 at 3:02 pm

    I appreciate Brandon’s remarks and would add that in God’s wisdom He knew that these early accounts were necessary, and orchestrated them thusly as opposed to other holy writings, and so not be reasons/excuses to be used by skeptics who end up rejecting their Creator. They can create their own without help from Scripture.

    • April 20, 2017 at 3:06 pm

      Thanks, Rita.

      Ken Samples

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