Biblical Concept:  Witnesses To Christ’s Resurrection


Is the resurrection of Jesus Christ part of the record of human history?


An objection may be raised to even looking at the Biblical accounts of
Christ's resurrection.  After all, don't the Scriptures present a bias account
of  the historical record of Jesus Christ, including His resurrection?  To
guard against charges of bias, the authors of the Biblical record presented
independent witnesses that could be consulted to verify the record.

1) 1 CORINTHIANS 15:3-8

3For I delivered to you as of first importance what is also received,
that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4and that
He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according
to the Scriptures, 5and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the
twelve. 6After that He appeared to more than five hundred
brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some
have fallen a sleep; 7then He appeared to James, then to all the
apostles; 8and last of all, as it were to one untimely born, He
appeared to me also.
Paul made this statement to the Corinthian Church, among whom there
were those doubting the resurrection: "Now if Christ is preached, that He
has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is
no resurrection of the dead? (1 Corinthians 15:12)."  In addition to
Cephas, the twelve, all apostles, and himself; Paul states that the risen
Christ appeared to "five hundred brethren," "most of whom remain until
now. This latter group of witnesses is significant.  These five hundred are
independent witnesses to Christ's resurrection.  They are not portrayed as
full-time Church workers like: Cephas, the twelve, all apostles and Paul
himself.  If the Corinthians were to consult these five hundred witness
they would not be protecting their Church jobs by saying that Christ's
resurrection was a fact.  And consult them they could.  Paul knew these
five hundred people.  He knew that some of them "remain until now" and
that "some have fallen asleep." Paul could give the names and addresses
of these five hundred and the Corinthians could check it out for
themselves!  Paul had provided the skeptical Corinthians about five
hundred independent witness of the historical record of Christ's
resurrection.  I believe that these witnesses were also separated from any
outside religious bias for a logical reason as well.  How hard would it be
for Paul to recruit five hundred people (even "brethren"), have them all
learn the same resurrection story, be willing to lie that it happened to
them all at the same time, and stick with the story some 25 years later?
Logically impossible, I would say.

2) Matthew 27:50-53

50And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice., and yielded up His
spirit.  51And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from
top to bottom, and the earth shook; and the rocks were split, 52and
the tombs were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had
fallen asleep were raised; 53and coming out of the tombs after His
resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many.
To help people believe in Jesus' resurrection, God raised "many bodies of
the saints who had fallen asleep." These risen ones "appeared to many" in
Jerusalem.  Anyone reading the Book of Matthew could confirm though
these independent witnesses (the risen and their observers) the concept
of rising from the dead.1  Logically it would be impossible for Matthew to
fake the deaths of many saints, have public funerals, bury them alive,
sneak these people out of their graves, have them lie about rising from
the dead, and stick to the story.  The only logical conclusion is that God
does raise the dead, including His Son Jesus Christ.  The reader could also
have confirmed Matthew's statements about the torn temple veil,
earthquakes, and a man named Jesus being crucified at this time (cp.
Luke 24:13-20).  Matthew was not hiding anything, he states many
details that could be historically checked (cp. also Matthew 28:11-15,
especially verse 15).


Considering the sufficient independent historical witnesses, “Why is it
considered incredible among you people if God does raise the dead?”
(Acts 26:8). Those who do not believe in Jesus’ resurrection will be
reproached by Him: “And afterward He appeared to the eleven
themselves as they were reclining at the table; and He reproached them
for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed
those who had seen Him after He had risen” (Mark 16:14).