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An Argument for the Resurrection from Paul’s letters

April 6, 2014

An Argument for the Resurrection from Paul’s letters

by Kevin Rogers

1         Introduction

This is an argument for the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth based primarily on Paul’s letters. Most arguments for the resurrection are based on the gospel accounts, but this one is based almost entirely on Paul’s writings (mainly Galatians and 1 Corinthians). I believe this is quite a strong argument that is quite evident from a close examination of Paul’s letters. However, most people (Christian or non-Christian) are almost totally unaware of it.

Before I commence the argument I will remind you of the nature of the NT.

codex sianaitcus

If we construct an argument from the NT, then some may object, “Oh you can’t believe that. That is written in the Bible.” Some may envisage that the Bible was constructed by a committee to fool gullible 21st century people. However, that is not the case. Neither did the NT suddenly emerge out of heaven. The New Testament is a collection of 27 separate documents written by the following 9 authors:

  • Matthew
  • Mark
  • Luke
  • John
  • Paul
  • The writer of Hebrews
  • James
  • Peter
  • Jude

All of the authors were Jewish, except for Luke who was probably a highly educated, Greek God Fearer who attended synagogue prior to his Christian conversion. The New Testament documents were written at different times mostly in the latter half of the first century, from different places and to different readers. It is debatable whether the authors were conscious that they were writing sacred scripture. They may have simply been writing to meet local needs at that time. However, the readers perceived their value, copied and distributed them to other churches and also formed them into collections for reading within local congregations and for personal use. For instance, Paul wrote 13 letters to various churches. It is likely that they were formed into a collection near the end of the 1st century and then widely distributed to churches. Scrolls were expensive and laborious to produce. Thus it would have taken a significant number of years for them to be widely distributed within the Roman Empire and to gain acceptance by the churches. The New Testament documents are both independent and interdependent. Paul’s letters are very early and he probably had no access to any of the 4 gospels. For this argument I am not treating the NT as the divinely inspired word of God. I am simply using it as the work of men, like any other ancient document.

2         The Argument

Most arguments for the resurrection are based primarily on the 4 gospels with significant support from Paul. For example, historical arguments are raised to claim that Jesus was crucified, died and was buried in a tomb by Joseph of Arimathea. However, when the women visited the tomb on Sunday morning, it was empty. It is then argued that many saw appearances of Jesus and that they genuinely believed that Jesus had risen from the dead. I fully support this mode of argument. However, sceptics often claim that the gospels were written late and they were not written by eyewitnesses or by people with access to eyewitnesses. Thus their testimony is the result of exaggerated legendary development. However, these objections don’t work with Paul and I will explain why later.

I will use a little supporting information from Acts to gain information on Paul’s conversion, but can Acts be trusted? It is traditionally believed that Luke is the author of the gospel of Luke and Acts. The authorship of Acts is not critical to my argument. The critical point is that the author (let’s call him Luke) knew Paul very well. Luke accompanied Paul on a number of his missionary journeys and would have often heard Paul retelling the story of his conversion on the road to Damascus. Thus we can take Luke’s testimony about Paul seriously. Paul does not describe his conversion in narrative form in his letters and so we have to rely on Acts for this information.

The core of my argument from Paul is:

  • Paul had excellent access to information about Jesus
  • He claims Jesus appeared to him
  • He was converted from persecutor to follower
  • He was sincere unto death
  • Why die for a belief you know is false?

I will now expand on each of these points.

2.1        Paul’s Letters

Paul wrote 13 letters out of the 27 books in the NT, just less than 30% of the whole New Testament, and in each of his letters Paul identifies himself as the author in his initial greeting. Virtually all historical and biblical scholars accept that the majority of Paul’s letters were indeed written by Paul. His style is strongly personal, spontaneous and even controversial. There is no way that his letters were constructed or contrived by a committee. Galatians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Romans, Philippians and Philemon are virtually undisputed by scholars of all persuasions as being originated by Paul.

We can also be very confident that we have a good record of what he wrote. Many copies of Paul’s letters were disseminated widely, diverging into multiple branches like leaves on a tree. Scholars can compare multiple copies and derive a very reliable text. Thus, there is scholarly agreement that we know what Paul wrote.

Within his letters Paul refers incidentally to dateable events. Thus the contextual information that is contained in these letters enable some of them to be dated quite accurately. Paul’s letters were also written very close to Jesus’ ministry. His earliest letter may be within 15 years of the crucifixion. All of his letters were completed prior to Paul’s death in about 65 AD. There are 2 theories for the destination for the Galatian letter (the South and North Galatian theories), which result in authorship dates of 49AD or 55 AD respectively. 1 Corinthians was written in approximately 53 AD.

In summary, for most of Paul’s letters, we know who wrote them, what he wrote and when he wrote them. We also know they were written within a generation of Jesus’ crucifixion. Thus sceptics cannot claim that Paul’s letters were the result of legendary development. They need another ploy.

2.2        Biographical Information

2.2.1       Paul’s conversion

Paul makes numerous allusions to his conversion in his letters, but he does not provide a narrative description. Three narrative descriptions of his conversion on the road to Damascus are provided in the book of Acts. On his way to Damascus, Paul claims he had an encounter with the risen Christ. According to Acts a bright light appeared from heaven, Paul fell to the ground and he heard the voice of Jesus. This appearance was more than a vision that occurred in his brain. His companions saw the light and heard a sound, but they could not understand the voice. So something physical happened. Paul was temporarily blinded by the light. So Paul was also physically affected. (This is the only information from Acts that I use. The rest comes directly from Paul’s letters.)

Paul's Conversion

Even though Paul does not provide a narrative description of his conversion in his letters, he does refer to it on a number of occasions. A couple of Paul’s allusions to an appearance of Jesus to him are as follows:

  • Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? (1 Corinthians 9:1)
  • Last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. (1 Corinthians 15:8)

2.3        Paul’s letters

We can get a huge amount of biographical information about Paul from his letters. However, I will just make use of Galatians and 1& 2 Corinthians.

2.3.1       Galatians

The biographical information that Paul provides in his letter to the Galatians has little to do with the resurrection. He provides this information incidentally to justify his authority as an apostle and to validate the content of his gospel message. Since this information is provided incidentally, it increases its credibility. You will see what I mean.

Paul starts his letter as follows:

Paul, an apostle sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— and all the brothers and sisters with me, To the churches in Galatia: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Galatians 1:1-5)

The points to note from this section are that Paul identifies himself (which is common to all of his letters) and that he highlights that he received a special call from God. He then goes on:

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse (Galatians 1:6-10).

Note Paul’s provocative style. He is driving his point home in a very emphatic way. This is the voice of a distinct individual, not the consensus of a committee.

I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus. (Galatians 1:11-17)

Paul affirms the Acts account that he persecuted the church prior to his conversion but then he received a unique and special revelation from Christ. This special revelation probably corresponded with his conversion experience and it was sufficient for him to completely change and to commence preaching the gospel without any reference to the other apostles.

Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas [Peter] and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother. I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie. (Galatians 1:18-20)

Paul visited Jerusalem 3 years after his conversion, stayed with the apostle Peter for 15 days and also met James, the brother of Jesus. What did they discuss? He does not say, but we can safely assume that they did not just have cups of tea and talk about the weather. This meeting is extremely significant. On this extended occasion, Paul had the opportunity to have in-depth discussions with a key disciple and also with one of Jesus’ blood brothers. Paul later visited Jerusalem again and met John the son of Zebedee, another key disciple. For the sake of space, I will not list the passage. Trust me; or look it up yourself.

2.3.2       Paul and the Corinthians

Corinth is a city in Greece, where Paul established a church. Paul stayed in Corinth for 18 months from late 49 AD to mid-51 AD. This can be dated fairly precisely from 2 key events. When he first arrived, he was joined by Prisca and Aquilla who had recently left Rome due to the expulsion of Jews from Rome by Claudius. The Roman historian Suetonius dates that as occurring in late 49 AD. Acts also records that Paul appeared before Gallio. Gallio was proconsul of Achaia (Greece) from the 1st of July 50 AD to the 30th of June 51 AD. Paul wrote 1 Corinthians from Ephesus in about 53 AD. 1 Corinthians is mainly of interest due to Paul’s discussion of the resurrection in chapter 15, but this letter also contains other interesting incidental information. Consider this:

Do we not have the right to eat and drink? Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living? (1 Corinthians 9:4-6)

Obviously Paul was acquainted with the other apostles and Jesus’ blood brothers. This passage also tells us that Jesus’ brothers are now believers (including James) and are also itinerant preachers (like Paul). This information is just dropped incidentally but the implications are quite stunning. Jesus’ 4 brothers are named in the gospels. During Jesus’ ministry they did not believe in him. As a matter of fact, they thought he was crazy and on one occasion they wanted to quietly take Jesus back to Nazareth where they could look after him or perhaps consign him to a loony bin. Subsequently their worst fears were realized and their crazy brother got himself executed. So, he claimed to be the Messiah. Well crucifixion was a great encouragement. But now they believe in him. What caused the change? Something dramatic must have happened for them to change their mind.

2.3.3       Biographical Summary

The information that we have gathered so far establishes the following facts with a high level of certainty. Paul was probably not an eye-witness to Jesus’ earthly ministry. Prior to his conversion, Paul was a Pharisee who was zealous for the Jewish traditions. He saw the rise of Christianity as a threat to Jewish traditions and obtained authority to persecute the church. He had Christians put in jail and even executed. However, on the road to Damascus a dramatic event occurred where he believed that Jesus appeared to him. This appearance was not just a vision inside his brain, but was accompanied by various physical phenomena that were visible to his companions. This appearance was sufficient to completely change his attitude such that he suddenly began to teach that Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah and the Son of God. The revelation that he received was clear enough that he commenced preaching the gospel without any reference to the other apostles. Three years later he went to Jerusalem and stayed with the apostle Peter for 15 days and also met James the brother of Jesus. At a subsequent visit he also met John the son of Zebedee and also other apostles. He also knew of Jesus’ other brothers. Thus Paul had access to key eye-witnesses of Jesus’ family life and ministry. He was very close to the action.

Paul’s main record relating to the death and resurrection of Christ is contained in 1 Corinthians 15. We will examine some sections of this chapter.

2.4        1 Corinthians 15

1 Corinthians chapter 15 is Paul’s main account of the resurrection.

Verses 1 – 8 are as follows:

Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

The section in red is a creed where Paul is quoting a prior record. Most scholars believe that Paul received this creed when he stayed with Peter and met James 3 years after his conversion. Thus this creed originated within 5 years of the crucifixion/resurrection.  Paul passed this creed onto the Corinthian church in 50 AD during his 18 month stay. There are a number of interesting aspects to this passage.

  • Paul lists the essentials of the gospel, such as the death, burial, resurrection and appearances of Jesus. Considering the early date, the general format of the gospel, including belief in the resurrection, cannot be due to legendary development.
  • Jesus appeared to Cephas, The Twelve, more than 500 at one time, James, all the apostles, and finally to Paul. This list includes Cephas (Peter) and James the brother of Jesus. These are the exact same people with who he stayed or met on his first visit to Jerusalem.
  • The list also includes 500 people at one time. Strangely, this is not mentioned in the gospels, although some have suggested that it corresponds to the great commission at the end of Matthew’s gospel. However Paul mentions that most of the 500 are still living although some have died. He seems to be suggesting to the Corinthians that they can still consult many of those 500.

Verses 12 – 19 are as follows:

But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.

What Paul is saying here is that if Christ is not raised then:

  • Our preaching and your faith is useless and futile,
  • We are liars,
  • Those who have died are lost, and
  • We are to be pitied more than all people.

Verses 29 – 32 are as follows:

Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them? And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? I face death every day—yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus our Lord. If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”

Paul knew what was at stake. If Christ is not raised then why suffer for the gospel? Rather, why not eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.

2.5        Paul Suffered for his Beliefs

Just to emphasize this last point, consider the following passage from 2 Corinthians 11:21-29 (written in 55 AD):

Whatever anyone else dares to boast about—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast about. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have laboured and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?

Obviously Paul devoted his life to the gospel and endured enormous suffering, but note also his unique and personal style. Eventually Paul was arrested and put in prison for the 7th time. The NT does not record his death. However, there is strong testimony from other sources that Paul was eventually beheaded just outside of Rome during the Neronian persecutions in about 65 AD.

3         Objections

The crux of our argument is that Paul was in a good position to know whether the resurrection occurred and yet he affirmed its truth in the most emphatic terms and was willing to pay for his profession with his life. We will now briefly consider some objections to this argument, as summarised below:

  • Paul was not an eye witness of Jesus’ ministry
  • Paul had little knowledge of the earthly Jesus
  • Paul did not actually meet Peter and James the brother of Jesus
  • Paul was crazy and deluded
  • Witnesses suffered hallucinations
  • Resurrection was non-physical
  • Many people suffer and die for false beliefs
  • Dead people do not rise

3.1        Paul not an eye witness

It is probably true that Paul had not encountered Jesus during his earthly ministry, but Paul was familiar with the Christian message prior to his conversion. He also had his own experience of Jesus and had significant contact with direct eyewitnesses. Thus, even though the objection is probably true, Paul was still close enough to the events to know whether Jesus rose from the dead.

3.2        Paul knew little of Jesus

Paul provides little narrative information about Jesus’, as is contained in the 4 gospels, and so some claim that Paul neither knew nor was interested in Jesus’ earthly ministry. This is an argument from silence, which is always a suspect form of argument. Even then, consider the following.

  • Paul’s ignorance of Jesus’ ministry is exaggerated. Paul shows familiarity with Jesus earthly ministry. In Romans 12 Paul teaches ethics that are very similar to Jesus’ sermon on mount. Paul also provides a description of the Last supper (1 Cor 11), the fact of the crucifixion, his trial before Pontius Pilate (1 Tim 6:13), and of course the resurrection.
  • None of the letters by other authors contain narrative information. The purpose was to encourage churches and address problems and so including narrative information would have being “going over old ground”. Consider John’s letters (1 John, 2 John & 3 John). These letters do not contain any narratives about Jesus. If these letters were considered in isolation, then we should conclude that John neither knew nor was interested in Jesus’ earthly ministry. However, John is also the author of the 4th gospel, where he demonstrates considerable knowledge and interest in Jesus’ ministry.

3.3        Paul did not actually meet Peter and James the brother of Jesus

George A. Wells is the professor of German at the University of London. He was also the president of the London Rationalist Society and is a strong critic of the reliability of the New Testament.


He claims that the meeting between Paul, Peter and James, the brother of Jesus, 3 years after Paul’s conversion never happened. He claims that Paul stayed with Cephas, who was a church leader in Jerusalem, but that Cephas was a different person from the apostle Peter. He also claims that all Christians were generically called brothers and that the James referred to was not a blood brother of Jesus. However, Matthew specifically equates Cephas with Peter. Also Paul refers to Peter 6 times within Galatians, 3 times as Cephas (Aramaic) and 3 times as Petros (Greek). Peter and Cephas are obviously the same person. Besides this, in Paul’s list of appearances he says that Jesus appeared to Cephas, who is the same person he stayed with, so who cares? As for James, the term “the Lord’s brother” is applied specifically to him, as it is in Acts and a James is identified as one of Jesus’ brothers in the gospels. Thus Well’s argument is particularly weak and can be confidently rejected.

However, what this argument does illustrate is how critical and significant is the meeting between Paul, Peter and James. Wells is an ardent critic of Christianity and he does not like the thought that Paul was in such a good position to know the facts.

3.4        Paul was crazy and deluded

One objection is that Paul was crazy. Maybe Paul had eaten too many magic mushrooms. Indeed, when Paul presented his experience to the Roman governor, Festus interrupted, “You are out of your mind Paul! Your great learning is driving you insane!” Paul replied, “I am not insane, most excellent Festus. What I am saying is true and reasonable”.

On one level, we could conclude that Paul was crazy. He was an extraordinary man who totally dedicated his life to spread the gospel and suffered a great deal. Who in their right mind would do the same? However, if you read Paul’s letters, you will find that they are quite rational and well argued. He does not seem crazy. Antony Flew was one of the most eminent and well-respected philosophers in the 20th century.

Antony Flew

Antony Flew

He was the darling of atheism until he changed his mind in 2004. However, Flew stated that “Paul is an intelligent man and has the mind of a first class philosopher.” So Paul does not seem like a looney.

3.5        Witnesses suffered hallucinations

Another common objection is that the witnesses to the appearances suffered hallucinations. However, there are a number of factors that make this unlikely.

  • Firstly, hallucinations are relatively rare. Personally, the last hallucination that I can recall was as a young child. I was sick in bed with a fever and I cried out to my mother because I thought there were red spiders in my bed. Ever since that time, my life’s experiences have had a good correspondence with the real world. Thus, for me at least, hallucinations are extremely rare.
  • Secondly, it is highly unlikely that multiple people would hallucinate at the same time, let alone 500.
  • Thirdly, a hallucination is internal to an individual’s brain. It is not a shared experience. It is highly unlikely that more than one individual could share the same hallucination. However, the appearances occurred at many times over a period of 40 days to different people and to multiple people on some occasions. Thus is seems highly unlikely that the resurrection experiences could be explained by group hallucinations.

3.6        Non-physical Resurrection

Another objection is that the resurrection that Paul was referring to was spiritual and non-physical. For instance, the Romans believed that the emperor was divine. They even referred to the emperor as the son of God. When Augustus Caesar died it was claimed that his spirit rose to heaven. Could Paul be talking in the same manner? After all when Paul is speaking of our resurrection body he says, “it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” Does spiritual then mean non-physical? Are we reading the gospels back into Paul’s letters and imposing a meaning that is not there?

There are a number of reasons why this cannot be the case.

  • Firstly visible appearances suggest that the resurrection was physical. How can we see a non-physical spirit ascend to heaven?
  • Secondly, Paul defines what he means by spiritual by using a series of parallelisms. Paul says, “The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable”. Thus the natural body is perishable and the spiritual body is imperishable, but he nowhere says that it is non-physical.
  • Thirdly the Jews at that time believed in a physical resurrection of the dead at the last judgement. Paul shared their context and would have had the same thought patterns in his mind.

3.7        Many people suffer and die for false beliefs

Paul died for his faith but so what. Many people die for their beliefs and, in many cases, it seems highly likely that their beliefs were false. So dying for your beliefs does not make them true. However, in Paul’s case, he was in a great position to know whether Jesus in fact rose from the dead. Why suffer and die for a cause that you know is false?


Paul was willing to pay with his life for his belief in the resurrection. Now, dying for your beliefs doesn’t make it true. News reports of suicide bombers dying for their belief in Islam is almost a daily occurrence. But there is a key difference for the apostles. The apostles were eyewitnesses to the events and knew if their claims were true. Likewise, Paul was in an excellent position to know if the resurrection claim was untrue. Why die for a cause if you know it is not true. For this reason, even sceptical scholars that do not believe in the resurrection will still admit that the apostles really did believe that they had seen the risen Christ.

3.8        Dead people do not rise

The final objection is the root of all the others. Many people approach this topic with a materialist view in mind. They believe that everything happens according to the laws of physics and so miracles just do not happen; full stop. Thus it is impossible that Jesus rose from the dead. They think, “I don’t care how strong the evidence is. Any alternate explanation is preferable, no matter how improbable.”

However, if God is able to create the universe and the laws of physics, then it seems quite logical that God can perform miracles, even if they do go beyond our common experience of the laws of physics. If God created the universe, “then the odd resurrection here or there is chicken feed”.

Thus we seem to have very strong historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. So, conversely the resurrection of Jesus seems to imply that we do indeed have a divine miracle on our hand; and so it also reinforces our belief that God exists.

4         Summary

In summary, I believe that Paul provides a solid testimony to the historicity of the resurrection of Christ and the truth of the gospel for the following reasons:

  • Paul had access to eye witnesses to the risen Christ within 5 years of the event.
  • Paul had his own experience where he claims that he had seen the risen Christ.
  • Paul’s conversion was completely unexpected as he was a former persecutor of the church.
  • Paul had no motive to give a false testimony.
  • Paul was willing to endure suffering and death for what he believed. Why do that if you know it is not true?

From the information that we have examined so far, we can conclude the following:

  • We have solid information about Paul regarding when he wrote his letters, the places he visited and whom he met.
  • We know that prior to his conversion, he was a passionate Pharisee who opposed the apostles’ message and persecuted Christians
  • However, on the road to Damascus, he had a dramatic experience where Jesus appeared to him. This experience was sufficient for him to suddenly and completely reverse his prior mission.
  • Three years later he stayed with Peter for 15 days and also met James, the brother of Jesus. Later on he met another key disciple, John the son of Zebedee, and also met other disciples.
  • He also knew Jesus’ other 3 blood brothers
  • He knew many significant eye witnesses to the resurrection
  • He was also fully aware of the criticality of the objective truth of the resurrection. If the resurrection claim was false then his whole mission was futile and he was guilty of a horrible lie.
  • Thus Paul had excellent access to key eye witnesses and was in a good position to know whether Jesus’ resurrection really happened; and yet he was willing to suffer and die for his beliefs. Why die for something you know is false?

This presentation is an argument but it is not a mathematical proof. However, hopefully it does demonstrate that the profession of the Church that Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate and that God raised him from the dead on the following Sunday morning is not just a wishful hope but also rests on strong historical evidence.

This argument may be historically interesting, but what are the implications for us? Well the implications are huge. God demonstrated that Jesus was indeed the Son of God by raising him from the dead. His resurrection is the guarantee of ours.

In John 11:25 Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.