The New Testament presents the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead as a historical fact. What evidence can be found to support this claim? Can we really prove Christ's resurrection?
Was Jesus resurrected? How can you prove Christ's resurrection?
First, Jesus appeared to many eyewitnesses over a period of 40 days. First Corinthians 15:5-8 records, "he appeared to Cephas [Peter], 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. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me [Paul]." More than 500 people claimed to see Jesus alive again, most of whom were still alive 20 years later when Paul wrote this letter.
Second, those who saw the resurrected Jesus lived changed lives. The apostles all faced persecution and many faced death for teaching Jesus was alive again. History records that not one of the apostles (other than Judas Iscariot) recanted their faith in the resurrection of Jesus. The apostle Paul transformed from a persecutor of Christians to a missionary who endured persecution for his faith in the resurrected Jesus.
Third, the body of Jesus was never found. The Jews claimed the disciples had stolen the body (Matthew 28:11-15). Yet Peter preached only weeks after the resurrection in the streets of Jerusalem that Jesus had risen. Those who opposed him could have easily disproven his message by revealing the body of Jesus. Yet they were unable to do so; the disciples had not stolen the body as they could not have overtaken the Roman guards at the tomb nor have hidden His body without someone finding out the truth.
Fourth, the rapid growth of the church offers evidence that the message is true. Many lives were changed and churches quickly sprang up across the Roman Empire and beyond as a result of the teachings of Jesus' followers. Still today, Christianity is the largest faith in the world.
Fifth, no viable alternative exists. There is ample evidence Jesus was a real person who lived and then was put to death on a cross in public display during Passover Week. Roman guards confirmed His death, plunging a spear into His side. He was then buried by two Jewish leaders in a tomb guarded by several Roman guards. Yet three days later the tomb was empty. Soon, many claimed appearances of the risen Jesus. These appearances came to followers who did not expect to see Him alive again and were surprised at the event. Yet these followers lived and often died for this belief.
Peter noted, "For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty" (2 Peter 1:16). The apostle John wrote, "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life" (1 John 1:1-2). Their testimonies were based on what they had seen, heard, and touched—the risen Jesus.
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Do the gospel resurrection accounts contradict each other?
Truth about Jesus Christ