10 Facts about Jesus’ Resurrection You Need to Know

10 Facts about the Resurrection.jpg

1. If Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead, then Christianity isn’t true.

The apostle Paul states the following in his first letter to the Corinthians:

And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. (1 Cor. 15:14-15)

2. The gospel writers included embarrassing facts about the apostles.

The fact that the gospels include embarrassing accounts of the apostles, such as the fact that Peter denied Jesus three times and all the apostles abandoned Jesus when he was arrested, points to their authenticity. It is unlikely that people would fabricate an account that places themselves in a poor light (Matt. 27:57-60; Mark 15:42-46; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42).

3. The marble tablet known as the Nazareth Inscription points to Rome’s concerns about the upheaval caused by Jesus’ resurrection in the first century.

While we don't know exactly when and where the tablet was discovered, it became part of a private collection in France in 1878 and has resided in the National Library of France, (Bibliothèque nationale, Paris) since 1925. According to Wikipedia,

The Nazareth Inscription or Nazareth decree is a marble tablet inscribed in Greek with an edict from an unnamed Caesar ordering capital punishment for anyone caught disturbing graves or tombs. It is dated on the basis of epigraphy to the first half of the 1st century AD. Its provenance is unknown, but a French collector acquired the stone from Nazareth. It is now in the collections of the Louvre.

The upheaval in the Roman Empire caused by the rapid growth of the Christian religion could well have been the underlying cause of this Roman edict that forbid grave-robbing.

4. Women were the first witnesses to see Jesus after his resurrection.

The testimony of women was not accepted in court in the first century in Israel. If someone were to fabricate an account of Jesus appearing to people after his death, the choice of women being the first to see him would be a very odd choice and serve only to reduce the credibility of the story (Matt. 28:1-10; Luke 23:55-24:11; Mark 16:1-11; John 20:11-18).

5. Every one of the twelve apostles died a martyr’s death except for John, who was exiled to the island of Patmos, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus and hung himself.

While people have been known to die for a lie because they believed it to be true, it is almost impossible to find someone who would die for a lie with the full knowledge that it was false. It is highly unlikely that the disciples would have given their lives for a claim they had themselves fabricated.

6. Written testimony of Jesus’ resurrection dates back to within approximately 20 years of the event.

According to New Testament scholars D. A. Carson and Douglas Moo in their book An Introduction to the New Testament, historical evidence indicates that the apostle Paul’s letter to the Corinthians in which he writes about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection was written sometime during the early to mid 50s.[1] The fact that Paul wrote about Jesus’ resurrection and that many people (over 500) saw Jesus alive after his crucifixion and burial so close to the actual event is strong testimony to the accuracy of Paul's words:

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. (1 Cor. 15:3-6)

There were most certainly people living in the Roman Empire during the 50s who were around at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion (which most likely occurred between AD 30-33), and they could have challenged Paul’s claim about the resurrection if it were untrue.

7. It is highly unlikely the Roman guards would have slept through the theft of Jesus’ body.

Falling asleep while on post was punishable by death for Roman guards, and they took their job extremely seriously. Additionally, the tomb was covered by a large stone, and the possibility of the disciples being able to move the stone in order to steal Jesus' body without detection by the Roman soldiers is far-fetched, to say the least (see Matt. 27:62-28:15; Mark 16:1-6; Luke 24:1-8; John 20:1-10).

8. The remarkable transformation of the disciples is testimony to the resurrection of Jesus.

According to apologetics scholar Douglas Groothuis in his well-researched book Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith:

These men went from dejected, dispirited and grieving followers of a crucified rabbi to apostles, those who had beheld the Christ and who, on that basis, preached him as the Lord of life and the Judge of history….The actual resurrection of Jesus is the best explanation for the disciples’ transformation from cowardice, despair and confusion to confident proclamation and the willingness to suffer persecution, hardship and even martyrdom for the sake of Jesus and his gospel.[2]

9. Jesus was buried in a known tomb.

Groothuis also cites the work of William Lane Craig (Knowing the Truth About the Resurrection) regarding the fact that it would have been far easier for the disciples to falsely claim Jesus was resurrected if he had been buried in an unknown tomb.[3] The exact location of Jesus’ burial is stated in three of the gospels (Matt. 27:57-61; Mark 14:42-47; John 19:38-42).

10. The respected Jewish historian Josephus acknowledged the historicity of Jesus and his execution at the hands of Pontius Pilate.

Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews (circa AD 93–94) includes two passages about Jesus. The Testimonium Flavianum (Book 18, Ch. 3, 3) specifically mentions Jesus’ execution and resurrection:

About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who performed surprising deeds and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Christ. And when, upon the accusation of the principal men among us, Pilate had condemned him to a cross, those who had first come to love him did not cease. He appeared to them spending a third day restored to life, for the prophets of God had foretold these things and a thousand other marvels about him. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared.

While this passage has been disputed as being entirely original to Josephus, specifically in regard to Jesus’ resurrection, a broad consensus of scholars acknowledges that it contains “an authentic nucleus with a reference to the execution of Jesus by Pilate.”

The resurrection of Jesus is the only plausible explanation for the rapid growth of Christianity in the first three centuries AD.

Benjamin B. Phillips references historian Rodney Stark’s findings of the growth of Christianity in the ante-Nicene period (from the end of the apostolic age to the First Council of Nicaea in 325) in which the church grew by forty percent per decade:

In less than 300 years, Christianity went from being a minority Jewish sect, to being a large enough target to warrant persecution, to being the largest single religion in the Empire, to being a sufficiently large percentage of the population (especially in cities) to prompt the emperor Constantine to adopt it as the primary tool for unifying the Empire.[4]

From the evidence we find in the Bible, the extra-biblical sources written so close in time to the events of the four Gospels, and the rapid growth of the Christian faith after the resurrection, Christians can proclaim with confidence that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God who was born in the flesh, was crucified, and was resurrected from the dead, and he is the firstfruits of all who belong to him.

 

This post contains affiliate marketing links by which BCL earns revenue to help cover its operating costs.

Related Article: 12 Reasons Why Jesus Meant It When He Said, “It Is Finished"

Recommended: Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith by Douglas Groothuis


[1] D. A. Carson and Douglas Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005), 447-48.

[2] Douglas Groothius, Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith (Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, USA, 2011), 551.

[3] Groothius, 543; William Lane Craig, Knowing the Truth About the Resurrection: Our Response to the Empty Tomb (Servant Publications, 1988), 31-34.

[4] Benjamin B. Phillips, “The Attraction of Beauty in an Ugly World: On the Relationship of Discipling and Evangelism,” Southwestern Journal of Theology 50, no. 2 (Spring 2008): 180; see Rodney Stark, The Rise of Christianity: A Sociologist Reconsiders History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996), esp. 73-94).

This page may contain affiliate links through which Beautiful Christian Life may receive a commission to help cover its operating costs.