Did Jesus Really Rise From the Dead?

Did Jesus really rise from the dead? Well, if he didn’t then the Christian faith is seriously the most elaborate hoax of all time.

I recently told my students, “If I thought there wasn’t enough historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, I wouldn’t be a Christian.”

Think about that for a minute. Let that simmer in your saucepan a bit.

The apostle Paul said that if Christ wasn’t raised from the dead then our faith is “useless” and all of the apostles are just a bunch of dirty liars—to be pitied more than anyone else in the world (1 Cor 15:12-20).

In 1 Corinthians 15:3-5, Paul quotes an early Christian creed:

“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 Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters 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.”  1 Cor 15:3-8 NIV

Last year I wrote a meaty 3-part post, for Christians and skeptics alike, on Why I Believe in the ResurrectionI discussed three categories of reasons that have convinced me of the historical resurrection of Jesus from the dead. I encourage you to read that post if you missed it last Easter.

In the following video, historian John Dickson shares a brief challenge for us to consider the historical evidence for the resurrection.

John Dickson (PhD) is the co-director of Centre for Public Christianity, an independent research and media organization promoting the public understanding of the Christian faith. With a degree in theology (Moore Theological College, Sydney) and a doctorate in ancient history (Macquarie University, Sydney), he is a senior research fellow of the Department of Ancient History, Macquarie University, where he teaches courses on Christian origins and the world religions. Check out his Life of Jesus DVD.

Have you given serious thought to the historical evidence surrounding the resurrection claims? It has become increasingly important in our post-Christian culture to offer up an intellectual defense for the hope that we have in the resurrection of Jesus. Are you prepared to answer the skeptics?

D.D. Flowers, 2013.

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About David D. Flowers

David received a B.A. in Religion from East Texas Baptist University and a M.T.S. in Biblical Studies from Houston Graduate School of Theology. David was in student ministry for 7 years, taught Biblical Studies & Latin at The Woodlands Christian Academy for 5 years, and now pastors an Anabaptist congregation in Virginia. View all posts by David D. Flowers

10 responses to “Did Jesus Really Rise From the Dead?

  • bryanpattersonfaithworks

    Well put David. I often ask my agnostic friends a similar question: What if it’s all true?

  • Robert Martin

    Note that there is an underlying assumption: That there is a God who could actually do this… Agnostics and atheists alike have to overcome that hurdle before any of this other evidence can have credence.

  • Sean Durity

    Yes, the Resurrection is a reasonable conclusion for the evidence we have. It is no blind leap of faith. It is the event that changes everything. Good video, too!

  • Sean Durity

    Just a little sidetrack for you, David. In the Corinthians passage that you quote, what does Paul mean by “the Scripture?” Wouldn’t that be the Old Testament? Seems like Paul has a high regard for the teachings of the OT…

  • Michael Fleming

    If something was witnessed multiple times, and one of those times 500 people witnessed it, and they all recalled the same details, there would be no trial. It would be case-closed every time.

  • thom waters

    If there wasn’t enough historical evidence to suggest that the Resurrection of Jesus most likely did not occur as commonly believed I wouldn’t be a skeptic

  • Aaron

    I recently had this “did it happen” discussion with a co-worker. He likes some of the teachings of Jesus, but isn’t sure about the whole resurection thing. I told him what David already pointed out, Paul says if you don’t belive Christ raised from the dead, your faith is useless.

    Some may think I’m wrong here, but I told him if he didn’t think Jesus Christ rose from the dead, than he might as well throw his Bible away, because his faith was useless. If Jesus Christ was not the Son of God, he is no more signficant than Ghandi.

  • thom waters

    Jesus in response to the lawyer said that the greatest commandment was to love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. And the second is like unto it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. To adopt the Pauline approach to life with the emphasis on faith in the Resurrection is to miss and ignore Jesus’ own admonition with regard to life and how to live it. It seems reasonable to conclude to some extent that I can reasonably ignore the Pauline dictate and still touch the central essence of who Jesus was and what he taught. It seems that Jesus himself might have taken issue with Paul. Paul is correct it appears to suggest that if all your faith is founded upon the Resurrection and there is none, then your faith truly has been in vain. Perhaps faith is overstated and overemphasized and even misplaced. Paul seems to contradict himself when after establishing in I Cor 13 that Love trumps both Faith and Hope, he resorts to the primacy of Faith over Love. What should it matter about what you believe with regard to Faith, when Jesus suggests that Love and the Rule of Love is primary, not Faith? Perhaps your Faith should be directed in the Belief that Love is the correct path upon which to travel. It is always the correct and right thing to do. After that, let come what comes.

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