He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve. After that, He was seen by more than 500 of His followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then He was seen by James and later by all the apostles. Last of all, as though I had been born at the wrong time, I also saw Him.1 Corinthians 15:1-8
- The Twelve (Disciples)
- 500 followers at once
- All the Apostles
An impressive list! Why does Paul say this? Did you catch the significance of “most of whom are still alive”? Paul was making it clear that these witnesses are truly eye witnesses. When Paul writes these things he was writing his testimony of being a part of what happened. Many claim now that the essential elements of Christian belief are not true. That Jesus didn’t really die, He only swooned and was revived in the cold tomb. That he certainly wasn’t resurrected, that just doesn’t fit with natural human experience, does it? That is why people come up with all sorts of theories and suppositions to explain it away. The FACT remains that these 513 plus people saw the resurrected Christ with their own eyes, some of them more closely than others. All were eye witnesses to the events that happened. That Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead is indisputable in my mind. I once was an arch-skeptic but not anymore.
I won’t rehash all that has been written regarding the proofs for the resurrection which stem from the eye witnesses Paul lists. That is readily available to you. I would like to add something to connect the previous gem with this one. Over the years many have challenged the lateness of the appearance of documents or writings that are designed to defend the basics of the Gospel. The issues that Paul lists as of prime importance. Those essentials that are included in the Nicene Creed or the Athanasian Creed. Why did it take so long for such things to be written? It is a simple answer really. While you still have hundreds of people who were eye witnesses to the events or were in contact with people who had been part of it or knew someone who was there was no need to defend the faith. It was widely known what happened. It is not until a number of generations go by that misled people start to challenge the essentials, such as Arius from Libya. Then the church fathers write down the essentials and discuss the implications of the wording. This is what gives rise to the series of written defences of the Gospel and Christ’s resurrection that begin to surface from the 4th century onward. Before that there was no need because of the influence of the eye witnesses. Hence Paul’s comments in 1 Corinthians 15 concerning the fact that most of those were still alive at the time of writing the Corinthian epistles.
When you have a bunch of people who were present and witnessed the events you don’t need to defend the faith because there are people around who can say, “Hey I was there, I saw it happen.” “I saw Him die and I saw Him when He appeared afterward.” “I saw Him afterward and I have heard Thomas talk about seeing him and putting his fingers in the holes in his hands and side.”
That is irrefutable evidence. Furthermore there are 12 disciples and even more apostles who were witness to the transforming power of God upon the lives of the twelve disciples. It totally transformed the region and the then known world.
You can’t be an eyewitness of Jesus now, but you can certainly experience His work in your life just as real on the basis of trusting Him and experiencing what He does. So that when people ask you, “Do you believe Jesus is real?” you can answer, “I know He is real and fulfils everything He promises because He has done it countless times before for me.”
You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt.Samuel Ullman
You don’t have to constantly doubt or defend the faith when you know the Faith Giver.Ian Vail