Proofs for the Resurrection
A Guest Post from Tobi England
– I’m excited today to introduce a great friend and co-laborer in ministry as my guest blogger. Tobi England was once my student; today he is my friend and peer. He challenges me to think and he is passionate about biblical truth and apologetics. He is the director of the apologetics minor at West Coast Baptist College, the chief academic officer, and a favorite instructor among students. I know you will enjoy his topic!
Five Proofs for the Resurrection
Christianity is a unique faith for many reasons. One of the most remarkable is the fact that its spiritual truths are based on historical events. Christianity is not just a set of beliefs; it is a record of God’s unfolding plan of redemption through real events. At the apex of all historical claims is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Here are five evidences that support this critical Christian belief:
(1) The Conversion of Critics
Paul and James had very little in common early in their life. Paul’s life seems to reflect first century privilege and the finest learning available. He grew to become an influential leader who was well-known and respected in his community. On the other hand, James was the son of a carpenter whose eccentric brother was executed for claiming to be the messiah. Yet both Paul the Pharisee and James the brother of Jesus abandoned their disbelief once they had an encounter with Jesus after His death.
(2) Early Testimony to Christian Belief
Both religious and secular writings confirm that the first century church boldly professed the resurrection.
- The preaching of the early church centered around the message that Jesus rose from the dead. See Acts 2:22-24; 3:26; 4:2; 5:30-32; 10:39-41; 13:29-34; 17:3; 23:6; 23:23; Romans 4:25; 8:11; 10:9; 1 Corinthians 15; Ephesians 1:20; Philippians 2:10-11; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 13:20; and 1 Peter 1:3.
- The resurrection is recorded in the gospels. See Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20.
- Early church fathers, including Clement of Rome, Ignatius, and Irenaeus refer to the resurrection.
- Secular accounts of early Christianity written by Tacitus and Josephus also verify that first century Christians believed in the resurrection.
Based on this evidence, any suggestion that the resurrection account was a myth added centuries later simply is not viable. While the fact that first-century Christian believed in the resurrection does not prove it happened, it does show that this is a core component of the Gospel and was not a late addition.
(3) Women were the first witnesses
Many aspects of the resurrection accounts found in Scripture would not make sense if the story were fabricated. There are just far too many embarrassing details. For instance, while the men were hiding for fear of the Jews, the women disciples were the ones to discover the empty tomb. Given the cultural disregard for the testimony of women in the first century, this would not be unexpected unless it were true.
(4) Coverup by enemies
Matthew records that the chief priests devised a plot to explain what happened to the body of Jesus. This account is collaborated by Justin Martyr and Tertullian. The Jews gave the Roman soldiers money to lie and say that the disciples stole His body while they were asleep. It has always struck me as strange that they would claim to know what happened while they were asleep! (Also, why were the grave clothes still there?) But beyond that, the very fact that there was coverup underscored the central point: the body disappeared.
(5) Empty tomb
No single fact is more significant than the empty tomb. Christianity had many adversaries in the first century, both political and ideological. However, there is no record of anyone claiming that the tomb still contained His body. Many people believe 1 Corinthians 15:3-7 is the earliest creed of the Christian church. Here Paul writes, “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve…”
In conclusion, Paul understood the importance of the resurrection. If it didn’t happen, we would be the most miserable of all men and still in our sins…But, it did happen – go tell someone about it today!