In this episode of The Christian Philosopher we go over the argument for the Resurrection Of Jesus.
This is the third video in a series entitled 10 Reasons to think Christianity is true.
In earlier videos I talked about the argument from the character of Jesus and how Jesus fulfilled Messianic prophecy.
In this video we are going to build on this cumulative case.
I want to claim that not only did Jesus claim to be God (and if He is wrong about that He was either a compulsive liar or a raving lunatic).
And not only did Jesus back up that claim by fulfilling miracles and prophecy…
But He also rose from the dead to prove it as well.
This argument from the Resurrection of Jesus is another all time favorite.
That The Claim That Jesus Rose From The Dead Was Not A Later Invention
Now before we get into the argument we have to deal with a common misunderstanding.
This is the mistaken idea that the claim that Jesus rose from dead arose much later in history and so it was not a claim made by the first generation disciples of Jesus.
This is not true. It is important to know that the claims of Jesus rising from the dead did not arise later in history. The claim is very early and can be dated back to Jerusalem within a few years of Jesus’ death.
How do we know this?
Paul attests to the Resurrection in an early creedal passage found in 1 Cor.15:3–8.
This is the most important text when talking about the Resurrection. Why? There is significant detail here, and Paul is referring to an earlier belief or creed that he assumes his Christian audience already knows and he mentions the resurrection of Jesus:
“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 brethren 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. (1 Cor 15:3–8)
1 Corinthians itself was probably written within 25 years of Jesus’ death (around AD 54), and it was written by Paul, a prominent church leader who actually knew many of those who spent time with Jesus himself.
This makes Paul a very important source for understanding what the early Christians believed regarding the resurrection of Jesus.
The second reason is 1 Thessalonians. It is difficult to overstate the importance of 1 Thess for modern day apologetics. Why?
1 Thessalonians is arguably the earliest document of Christianity (before 50) and GIVES US A WINDOW INTO EARLY CHRISTIANITY because it refers to mission work in Judea in the mid-30's.
Pauline authorship is not even disputed.
Paul is appealing to past oral teaching and this epistle is full of high Christology (the idea that Jesus was a divine being) since this letter contains phrases like:
- "Lord Jesus"
- "Son of the Father"
- The second coming of Jesus is mentioned
- The "Gospel of God" is equated to the "Gospel of Christ"
Also the RESURRECTION OF JESUS IS MENTIONED TWICE and is introduced by a "WE BELIEVE" suggesting again, a reference to an EARLIER CREED (Like in 1 Cor).
"Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him."
- 1 Thessalonians 4:13-13
Paul assumes his audience knows these things, hence these beliefs were well-established BEFORE the writing of this epistle - dating back to the earliest period after Jesus.
So the EARLIEST DOCUMENT OF CHRISTIANITY:
- Was written by a former enemy of Christianity who now suffers for his beliefs
- It mentions the Resurrection in a creedal “we believe” statement
- All of this is a DOCUMENT THAT CANNOT BE REASONABLY ACCUSED OF BEING AN APOLOGETIC - The purpose is to remind believers not to convince unbelievers
That means all of these teachings, including the Resurrection, must pre-date the writing of 1 Thessalonians.
So where might Paul have gotten this belief? The disciples in Jerusalem is the best answer.
The Argument For The Resurrection Of Jesus
Now that we see the claim that Jesus rose from the dead was not a later invention, we can make an argument for it.
There are many formulations of this argument, here is a simple one:
If Jesus rose from the dead, then the religion He taught was true
Jesus rose from the dead
Therefore, the religion He taught was true.
The first premise is true since the resurrection would be a miracle that would confirm the teachings of Jesus.
The second premise may sound far-fetched, but if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead then the Disciples who said he did were either lying or deceived.
It doesn’t seem like they would lie given that by preaching the resurrection they put there lives at risk. Many were tortured and killed. Nobody dies for what they know is a lie.
It doesn’t seem like they could be deceived either since the enemies of Jesus could have easily disproven their belief that Jesus rose from the dead by exhuming the body and exposing it for all to see. That never happened.
If the disciples were just hallucinating, the body would still be in the tomb.
The body wasn’t still in the tomb.
Therefore the disciples were not just hallucinating.
So it is reasonable to think that Jesus rose from the dead.
And it is therefore reasonable to think that Christianity is true.
Again this is the third video in the Ten Reasons To Think Christianity Is True series