The Resurrection Of Christ
1 Corinthians 15:1–19
We have at this time given consideration to a number of issues related to Jesus Christ and we have largely presented him from the scriptures as the very subject of our faith.
We have considered the Statement of Faith that we hold and given testimony that our faith is well founded as that which comes directly from the scriptures, to this we consent.
But, there is one element that we have not given as much consideration regarding Jesus Christ, and that is that he is a real person of history!
Yes, we have alluded to him in the last message as a part of history, indeed we considered him and his death as the very pivot on which the door of history swings, all that is since his death is reflected in each of our birthdays, the dating system of the western world has its reference point in Christ.
(Though this is something I believe may change under the antichrist who “think to change times and laws” (Dan 7:25) as he tries to Reset the world according to his image).
But have we really given due consideration to Christ, and especially his resurrection with the light of history?
Have we yet shown Christ as a true historical figure?
1 Corinthians 15 is one of the most important passages in the New Testament declaring the reality of all we believe.
It is accounted by Theologians AND sceptical Scholars as a passage so fundamental to the Christian faith, not least of which because of WHO WROTE IT…Paul, the one-time enemy of Christ.
Within the passage we find;
- The Declaration of an Oral Tradition via a memorised Creed specifically in verses 3-7.
- That it testifies to those things as having their primary origins in The Scriptures, that is, The Old Testament Scriptures.
- That it is reflected in SECULAR History by writings OUTSIDE the Bible.
- -That its truthfulness was evident through the WITNESS of those both once sceptics and enemies AND the witness of those persecuted for that faith.
1 Corinthians 15:1–7
1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.
The early Church did not have access to a Bible as you and I do today. It was not a “Click” away and ready to be hand-delivered on our doorstep the following day. The Scriptures were all “Manuscripts”, copied by hand.
It was both tedious, time-consuming AND expensive.
In the first few years before the New Testament came together, it was through memory that the doctrines that were taught would be retained and that through what is known as a “Creed”.
We see in verse 2 that Paul mentions the keeping in mind of those things he taught them.
1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
The manner of memory through which those things are taught is through “Creeds”.
What is a “Creed”?
In short, it is a relatively short statement of faith around a given topic. Some look to summarise the entire Christian doctrine in a single creed such as the famous “Apostles Creed” and “Nicene Creed”, but what we see in the scriptures are a handful of very short statements that are indeed Creeds passed on from one person to the next and memorised.
Keep your finger here, but turn with me to Philippians
5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Verses 6 to 11 is commonly believed to have been an early creed passed on by word of mouth, if not from before Paul, certainly from Paul to the Philippine Church and on.
Colossians 1:12–20 Is also believed to be a creed, and indeed when you read carefully, it has all the hallmarks of a creed, in both doctrine and poetry respecting Jesus as both creator and above all, pre-eminent.
Therefore, the early testimony of the early Church is verified through these creeds that were passed on Orally before they were written down in the Letters of the New Testament.
In our 1 Corinthians passage is also expresses the single most important creed of all concerning Christ, a passage that gives the full motivation of the disciples of the Lord to give their all, to the work of Christ;
1 Corinthians 15:3–7
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.
1 Corinthians was written in the early 50’s, and yet we see that the Resurrection of Jesus Christ was testified much earlier through this creed, obviously during the lifetimes of the people who lived in the very days of Christ and could easily have refuted the truth of the creeds presented had they been false.
1 Corinthians 15:3–4
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
We note that in the creedal statement, Paul is making is that the truth of that which pertains to Christ was FIRST AND FOREMOST a FULFILMENT of that which had its origin “according to the Scriptures” that had gone before it, that is, the Old Testament
Now many were the prophesies in the Bible about the coming of Christ, only a handful concerning his suffering and death, (Isaiah 53 being the most evident).
But how many do we know of respecting his resurrection? And that particularly, on the third day?
There are a small handful, one is clear to the student of the scriptures, another not so clear until the Lord himself spoke of it.
8 I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. 9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. 10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. 11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
This passage before us certainly speaks of Christ and is testified to by the disciples in the Book of Acts; Turn to the Book of Acts
At the birth of the Church in Acts chapter 2 we find Peter preaching with incredible boldness to the throng of people who had come. In verse 23, as he addresses the death of Christ, Peter begins to enter into the promise that was made long ago;
23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: 24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. 25 For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: 26 Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: 27Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. 28 Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.
Now he brings the explanation to those who have come;
29 Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. 30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; 31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. 32 This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.
Much more could be said of that passage and it is of much more study, but suffice to say it addresses Paul’s statement of the promise “according to the scriptures” (v4).
But it was in Jonah that we find a prefigure of Christ;
17 Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
Jesus is the one who affirmed this to be a figure of himself just as he did with other events of the Old Testament, saying;
40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
What are we to say beloved?
Could this really have actually occurred in history?
Is the resurrection of Jesus Christ the single most provable fact of ancient history as we are told by a number of historians?
When a court of law is employed to give consideration as to the guilt of a suspected criminal, it must give consideration to a range of evidence concerning him. Until then, the criminal is always to be considered “innocent until proven guilty”.
The level of proof that is required to condemn a suspected criminal is one where he is proven guilty “beyond any reasonable doubt”.
It will consider the Evidence of
- Circumstantial Evidence.
- Corroborating Evidence.
Such has been the standard of law for centuries, such has condemned people even to death. The Evidence must be “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt”
When we view the people of history it is the same, we are to give consideration to the history of the individual and to the events concerning them.
Ancient history is one where live witnesses are long gone, we do not have any audio or video footage (even though the ‘Deep Fakes’ of today even make that information unreliable), but we do have a compilation of information that gives to us hope that we can piece the information together to know the truth “beyond any reasonable doubt”.
Beloved, as you study and give consideration to the comparisons of history you will soon discover what many historians have discovered, that the truth of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ has the greatest compilation of evidence surrounding it than ANY ANCIENT HISTORICAL EVENT the world over!
Alexander the Great and many of his achievements is doubted by no historians, yet he died 323 years BC.
The two EARLIEST BIOGRAPHIES of Alexander the Great were written by Arrian and Plutarch in the 1st century after the death of Christ.
In other words, the closest record that we have of ANYTHING concerning the Life of Alexander the Great is around four hundred years AFTER HIS DEATH. “yet historians consider them to be generally trustworthy”.
1/ None of the people who knew Alexander the Great were alive to confirm or deny the information in these biographies. There were no living witnesses four hundred years after the death of Alexander to affirm the information written of him.
2/ Plenty of time had elapsed between the first written biography his life for Legend to have developed.
Yet, historians consider the information concerning Alexander the Great credible.
Yes, there is other information that surrounds the history that builds the case for credibility, but I wanted to first demonstrate that the ONLY true early sources of his life were four hundred years to late to confirm or deny.
Compare that to what we know of Christ.
Jesus is said to have died between 30-33AD, the earliest writing concerning Jesus is believed to be 1 Thessalonians by Paul, the latest realistic date is before 48AD, that is 15 to 18 years after the death and resurrection of Christ.
In 1 Thessalonians 1:10, Paul mentions that Jesus was “raised from the dead”.
Beloved there were still people alive who had seen Christ. The apostles were still around, few had died at this time, at any point, information could have been given to refute this claim.
The definitive writings of the Gospels were all completed well before 60AD, again, less than 30 years after the death of Christ, at a time when the witnesses of Jesus were alive and able to put to bed ANY erroneous claims concerning him, none did.
In fact, so affirming was the writings of Jesus by the disciples, that we have no less than 9 SECULAR SOURCES that confirm it.
Josephus, known as a traitor of the Jews when he aligned with the Romans, lived during the time of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD and was favoured by the Roman Emporer (he took on the Family name Flavius”.
His histories are a regular source of information concerning the years after the death of Christ,
Listen to what he wrote and keep in mind this testimony is a secular writing OUTSIDE THE BIBLE;
3. (63) Now, there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works—a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was [called] Christ; (64) and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day. 
Here we have corroborating evidence outside the Bible for the resurrection of Christ.
But there is one more respecting Josephus, and its found a little later in his writing as he mentions James, the brother of Christ and his martyrdom;
Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the Sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned; 
Now this incredible passage tells us something that adds even greater weight to the truth of the resurrection.
You will recall that James was once a sceptic, he did not believe that Jesus, his older brother, was the Christ. In fact, the Bible tells us that none of his brethren believed, “For neither did his brethren believe in him” (Jn 7:5)
What does it take for a sceptic to first be turned to the subject of his doubt, but then also be willing to DIE FOR THE TRUTH OF IT?
Of the burning of Rome under emperor Nero, the historian Tacitus wrote this account;
But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order. Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace.
Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular.
Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.
With respect to this testimony of history and rejecting on the resurrection of Christ, Historian Edwin Yamauchi said,
“…the passage … does provide us with a very remarkable fact, which is this: crucifixion was the most abhorrent fate that anyone could undergo, and the fact that there was a movement based on a crucified man has to be explained. “How can you explain the spread of a religion based on the worship of a man who had suffered the most ignominious death possible? Of course, the Christian answer is that he was resurrected. Others have to come up with some alternative theory if they don’t believe that. But none of the alternative views, to my mind, are very persuasive.”
He goes on to say;
“This is an important testimony by an unsympathetic witness to the success and spread of Christianity, based on a historical figure—Jesus—who was crucified under Pontius Pilate,” he said. “And it’s significant that Tacitus reported that an ‘immense multitude’ held so strongly to their beliefs that they were willing to die rather than recant.”
That point is vital; for what is one so willing to die, but to believe the truth of Christ and his resurrection?
It is another testimony of SECULAR history affirming all that occurred.
Pliny the Younger, in his letters to Emperor Trajan, speaks of Christianity and his perplexity concerning Christians and why they were willing to expire for the name of Christ.
In interviewing them he writes;
“They affirmed the whole of their guilt, was, that they met on a stated day before it was light, and addressed a form of prayer to Christ, as to a god, binding themselves by a solemn oath, not for the purposes of any wicked design, but never to commit any fraud, theft, or adultery, never to falsify their word, …; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble, to eat in common a harmless meal.”
Lucian of Samosata, the Greek satirist, writes, “The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day—the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account.”
Mara Bar-Serapion, writing to his son from prison comments against the jews after the destruction of Jerusalem, saying, “Or [what advantage came to] the Jews by the murder of their Wise King, seeing that from that very time their kingdom was driven away from them?“
The highly critical sceptic and agnostic founder of the Jesus Seminar, John Dominic Crossan writes of Christ saying, “That he was crucified is as sure as anything historical can ever be.“
Scholar, Gary Habermas is the preeminent theologian who has written extensively on the Resurrection of Christ and has amassed a collection of over 1600 Historic writings in multiple languages, was a non-believer when he wrote his doctoral dissertation on the Resurrection and came to faith in Christ sometime after.
He debated the great philosophic atheist Antony Flew (A man whose intellect makes men such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchins, and Sam Harris look like kindergarten children) on the John Ankerberg show in the late 1990s, who failed to answer the incredible historical and logical testimony of the Resurrection of Christ, and simply said
“Certainly given some beliefs about God, the occurrence of the resurrection does become enormously more likely.“
Charles Hartshorne was considered by many philosophers to be one of the most important philosophers of religion and metaphysicians of the twentieth century.
In seeing the debate between Habermas and Antony Flew wrote;
“I can neither explain away the evidence to which Habermas appeals, nor can I simply agree with Flew’s or Hume’s positions. . . . My metaphysical bias is against resurrections.”
1 Corinthians 15:3–9
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
Beloved there is simply so much more to speak about respecting the historical proof of the resurrection of Christ, many books have been written of it and the proof is simply overwhelming, but none demonstrate it more than the WITNESS.
Many people had seen the risen Christ, when Paul wrote this letter he stated that “the greater part remain unto this present”, and that truly is the key.
When it comes to writings of history the New Testament documents, of which contain 27 books and letters, stand head and shoulders above any other writing of history, both in volume, nearness to the events, and accuracy in copying, it is the greatest witness of history.
We have already identified the two biographies of Alexander the Great separated 400 years from his life, what of others compared to the New Testament?
Julius Caesar, The Gealic Wars, the original writing was some time after his birth between 100 – 44 BC, earliest copy is 900 AD, 1000 years later, we have a total of 10 copies.
Plato 427-347 B.C. A.D. 900 1200 yrs, 7 copies
Lucretius died 55 or 53 B.C., earliest copy 1100 yrs later, 2 copies.
Tacitus circa A.D. 100, A.D. 1100, 1000 yrs apart, 20 copies
Aristotle 384-322 B.C. A.D. 1100, 1400 yrs apart, 49 copies
Homer (Iliad) 900 B.C. 400 B.C. 500 yrs apart, 643 copies, 95% accuracy.
New 1st Cent. A.D. Testament (A.D. 50-100), portions of NT less than 50 years later, 5366 copies, 99.5%.
We spoke earlier of James and how he was a Sceptic and yet turned to believe in Christ, this is a testimony of history separate from the Gospel accounts.
What are we to say of Paul, who previously was an ENEMY OF CHRISTIANS, persecuting them to death, HOW ARE WE TO EXPLAIN his conversion if not that he truly believed he had seen the risen Christ?
Enemy attestation is the single greatest evidence of the truth of a given matter.
If your mother said you are an honest person, we would naturally apply bias, you may be honest, but what else can we expect a mother to say of her son? But if your enemy said it, we would take that much more seriously, so too with the examples of Paul and James.
The Witnesses of the Apostles, all willing to be persecuted and die for their faith.
People claim that they may have easily died for a lie, we see this with Islam and other faiths, but the difference here is that the disciples would have KNOWN it was a lie, would you die for something you KNOW is untrue?
In 1972-73 the Watergate scandal toppled the then US President Richard Nixon,
Charles Colton, an American Attorney who served as Special Counsel to President Nixon from 1969-1970 wrote;
Watergate involved a conspiracy to cover up, perpetuated by the closest aides to the President of the United States—the most powerful men in America, who were intensely loyal to their president. But one of them, John Dean, turned state’s evidence, that is, testified against Nixon, as he put it, “to save his own skin”—and he did so only two weeks after informing the president about what was really going on—two weeks!
That nobody’s life was at stake is astounding, two weeks was the best some could do to keep secret that which they know was a lie, and that when only imprisonment is the punishment, what are we to say of death, and cruel death at that?
Paul wrote of the consequence as we conclude this message;
1 Corinthians 15:12–21
12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: 14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
The most confirmed event in history is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, so much more evidence than any other event in history, Paul writes naturally that if Christ was not raised, neither should we be raised, indeed, all the world would yet be in their sin, there would be no hope for any.
But Christ IS RAISED, the Bible tells us, history confirms it, but do you believe it?
Those who say you believe it, do you live it?
The one attests to the truth of the other.
. Strobel, Lee. The Case for Christ (p. 33)
. Tacitus (1990) The Annals and The Histories. Second Edition. Edited by M.J. Adler. Chicago; Auckland; Geneva; London; Madrid; Manila; Paris; Rome; Seoul; Sydney; Tokyo; Toronto: Robert P. Gwinn; Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. (Great Books of the Western World), p. 168.
. Strobel, Lee. The Case for Christ (pp. 82-83). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
. Lucian of Samosata, The Death of Peregrine, 11–13 (c. mid-second century).
. The Ante-Nicene Fathers: Translations of the Writings of the Fathers Down to A.D. 325(Oak Harbor, Ore.: Logos Research Systems, 1997).
. Crossan, Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1991), 145;
. Habermas and Flew, Did Jesus Rise? 142.
. Gary Habermas and Antony Flew, Did Jesus Rise From the Dead? Terry L. Miethe, ed. (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1987), 142.