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"Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon him while He is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon." (Isaiah 55:6-7)


Mar 28, 2019

In this episode Brother Jonathan talks about the Resurrection of Christ, Jesus predicting His death and resurrection, harmonizing the accounts, supposed "contradictions", and arguments against the resurrection of Jesus.


Remnant Bible Fellowship


The Resurrection of Christ


  1. This is a very basic episode, and I’m going to repeat things that I’ve done in the episode on Defending the Resurrection of Jesus. If you want a more detailed look at the apologetics for defending the resurrection then you should go listen to that episode. I wanted to not go super in-depth about that here. But, there are questions that get raised sometimes that make it unavoidable to deal with. So I had to repeat some things. There’s no harm in hearing it again if you’ve been listening to the podcast for a while.
  2. I would recommend that you read Gary Habermas and Michael Licona’s book The Case for the Resurrection if you want to study the subject though. It’s very basic and on a level that a non-scholar get grasp easily.
  • Jesus Foretold His Resurrection
    1. In Mark 8:31 we read:
      1. “And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.” (Mark 8:31)
        1. There are significant things in the context of this passage to support it as being authentic to the words of Christ. The term “Son of Man”, though used over eighty times in reference to Christ in the Gospels, was not used by the early Christians later to refer to Him. Critics call this the principle of dissimilarity. It’s one of the most skeptical criteria that they use to judge the scriptures, and this passage passes the test. It means that this statement is most likely not something that was added after-the-fact by Christians because it uses a title for Christ that the early Christians didn’t.
        2. Also, this statement is repeated in the parallel passages of Matthew 16:21-23 and Luke 9:22. Those two passages contain Semitic elements in the language that Mark does not include. This shows that multiple sources were most likely used to verify this quote from Christ. They didn’t just copy this passage from one another. This is the critical criteria called multiple attestation. It is verified by more than one source.
        3. Lastly, there are two rebukes in the context of this verse that would have greatly embarrassed the early Christians. The first being that Peter, who would become a leader in the early church, rebuked Jesus for saying that He would die—which is the point of the entire Christian faith. The second being that Christ in turn rebuked Peter for rebuking Him about it. When evidence is presented that would greatly embarrass the person presenting it, in this case the apostles, it is more likely to be true. If it had been made up, such as some claim the gospels are, these types of things would’ve hurt the cause of Christianity and been a source of embarrassment. Therefore, it’s most likely true. This is called the principle of embarrassment.
      2. In Mark 9:31, we read:
        1. “For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day.” (Mark 9:31)
          1. Many scholars hold that this passage may be quite early because the language used shows an Aramaic influence. Anywhere in the Gospels where Aramaic is used or insinuated (e.g. “talatha cumi”), it is believed to predate the text and be original. The common spoken language by the Jews in the first century was Aramaic. Their ancestors had learned it when they were in Babylon hundreds of years before. Also, Jesus is also referred to as Son of Man. This passage therefore is supported by early attestation and dissimilarity.
        2. Thirdly, Jesus’ last supper statements about His body being broken and His blood being shed as found in 1 Corinthians 11:24-25 and Luke 22:15-20 support Christ’s claim for vindication after His resurrection. Both Luke 22:20 and 1 Corinthians 11:25 appearing nearly identical shows that they most likely draw from some independent source predating them both.
          1. In the parallel passage in Mark 14:22-25 we read of Christ saying that He will not drink any more of the fruit of the vine until He drinks it new in the Kingdom of God. In the passage in Luke we read that Christ said that His Father had appointed Him a kingdom in Luke 22:29. His language in Mark 14:25 implies that He expected to be raised and vindicated, but He goes on to directly state that He would rise from the dead in v.28. This text is supported therefore by multiple attestation, early attestation, and dissimilarity.
        3. Fourthly, we see in Jesus’ prayer and conversation with his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane that He was expecting a violent death. This is shown in Mark 14:32-41; Mathew 26:36-45; Luke 22:39-46.
          1. The fact that Jesus showed fear and apprehension about facing death actually bears witness to its truthfulness. Jewish writings were filled with examples of people dying martyrs’ deaths with great bravery, however manufactured some may be. Even the early church had the record of Stephen’s stoning where he showed no fear. The fact that Jesus showed fear and apprehension was quite embarrassing to early Christianity. If the claims for Jesus’ divinity were made up to support an idea for a new religion that the disciples were simply pushing, then why would they make their Savior appear to be afraid and apprehensive? This embarrassing inclusion shows that it is most likely true. These statements are supported therefore by the principle of embarrassment; also, it is supported by multiple attestation.
        4. There are other texts that can be used, but these are the texts that have the supporting evidence of historicity by the standards of critical scholarship. The fact that these claims have such support also greatly raises the probability of the many others as being reliable also. What should be remembered when considering the fact that Christ predicted His own death and resurrection is that the disciples were not convinced of His resurrection because He predicted it. On the contrary, they continued to misunderstand His prediction and not believe it (Mark 8:31-33; 9:31-32; 14:27-31; Luke 24:13-24). Even when people claimed to have seen Him raised, and went to see the empty tomb, the disciples continued to still not believe (John 20:2, 13-15; Luke 24:10-12; John 20:24-25). The question that should be on your mind is: what then caused them to believe it?
      3. Harmonization of Resurrection Morning
        1. A group of women began to go to the tomb to finish the burial custom for Jesus’ body. Mary Magdalene seems to have gone on ahead and while it was still dark.
        2. The Angel of the Lord descended from heaven and rolled away the stone from the tomb—this frightened the guards who were watching the tomb. They most likely passed out because the scripture says they became “as dead”.
        3. Mary Magdalene arrives and finds the tomb open and empty.
        4. She goes to tell Peter and John that they have stolen the Lord’s body.
        5. The other women arrived around sunrise and looked into the tomb and see the two angels sitting. Matthew and Mark only mention one angel because only one spoke (Mat.28:5-7; Mk.16:5-7; Lk.24:4-8)
        6. The angel who spoke told them to go tell the disciples that Jesus was risen and would see them in Galilee.
        7. The women obeyed (Mat.28:8-10). They were very afraid (Mk.16:8).
        8. Peter and John, being retrieved by Mary Magdalene, run to the tomb and see that it is empty. They leave while Mary stays behind weeping.
        9. Mary Magdalene looks into the tomb and sees the two angels. Then she sees Jesus and doesn’t initially recognize Him. After He says her name she recognizes Him. He tells her to go to tell the disciples that He has risen. She obeys. (John 20:17-18)
        10. Mary Magdalene tells the disciples and they don’t believe her.
        11. The other women, while on their way, are met by Jesus. It’s likely that He appeared to them at that time because of how afraid they were. Now, after seeing Him, they go and tell the disciples joyfully that they had seen Him risen from the dead. (Lk.24:9-11)
        12. By this time, the eleven disciples and all the rest had heard from all the women (including Mary Magdalene) and still didn’t believe.
        13. During the day, Jesus later appears to the two disciples who were on their way to Emmaus. They returned to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples and are informed that Christ had appeared to Simon Peter. We don’t get much detail about Him appearing to Peter, but it is corroborated by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:5.
        14. It’s said in Luke 24:33 that the two disciples found “the eleven” gathered together. Jesus then appears to them. But in John 20:24 we’re told that Thomas wasn’t with them. This is most likely an instance of synecdoche. Synecdoche is a figure of speech where a part of something is referred to as the whole, or vice versa. It’s like saying, “Germany invaded France.” The entire country of Germany did not literally walk into France to fight. No, certain soldiers of the Germany army were sent to invade France. The phrase “the eleven” most likely referred to the group of disciples known as the apostles. It is also possible that Thomas left before Christ appeared. One of the reasons speculated is because Thomas was worried his twin brother might be arrested being mistaken for him. His given name in John 20:24, “called Didymus”, means “the twin” in Greek. Either of these explains the text.
        15. Jesus proceeds to eat in their presence, and invites them to touch His resurrection body for them to see that it is physical.
        16. John 21 and Matthew 28:16-17 record later appearances by Christ to the disciples.
        17. Also, Jesus appeared to Saul of Tarsus when he was traveling to Damascus in Acts 9. Albeit, this was most likely not a physical post-resurrection appearance.
        18. At some point also, James, the half-brother of Jesus, saw the risen Lord also. This is recorded in 1 Corinthians 15:7.
        19. In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul states what is believed to be an early Christian creed by scholars. Scholars are beginning to recognize some places in the NT that seem to reference these, or early Christian hymns, because of the peculiar cadence and style of the Greek in these places.
          1. “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 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. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.” (1Cor. 15:3-8)
        20. It’s believed by some that the appearance to over 500 disciples at once was on a mountain in Galilee.
        21. We may conclude this list of appearances by reminding ourselves of what Luke said:
          1. “The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.” (Acts 1:1-4)
        22. Luke states that Christ had appeared to them after his death (his passion) by “many infallible proofs”. Luke also records that the disciples—probably not just the eleven disciples called apostles—saw Jesus physically ascend to heaven.
      4. Supposed Contradictions
        1. I strongly recommend Jason Lisle’s book Keeping Faith in an Age of Reason. It’s the best book on supposed Bible contradictions that I’ve come across. He is thorough, and doesn’t compromise the text to give answers. He also uses logic as he normally does.
        2. I was originally going to go over some supposed contradictions in the resurrection accounts from the gospels but I decided against it. Firstly, because I don’t want to discourage people who might not have a deep enough knowledge of the scriptures by going into logical fallacies and stuff. I may in the future, if requested, do a whole episode on this topic, but I don’t believe it’s necessary right now in this series.
        3. Suffice to say about the matter that most so-called “bible contradictions” don’t even meet the definition of the word “contradiction”. Let me take a minute to explain what I mean by that. A contradiction occurs when two statements cannot be simultaneously true. If I was to say “All S are P” and “Some S are not P” then I have made a contradiction. If all S are P, then it is impossible that some S are not P. This becomes clear when we plug terms in for the symbols. “All Snickers are candy bars” and “Some Snickers are not candy bars”. That is a contradiction. Both of those statements cannot be simultaneously true. If ALL Snickers are candy bars then it is impossible that some of them are not. This is a contradiction.
        4. Most of the time though when someone claims that “the Bible is full of contradictions” they don’t know the definition of the word. So ask them to explain to you what a contradiction is. They’ll probably say that when two statements are different then they are contradictory. Yes, they might be; but different does not mean contradictory.
        5. A common example that is brought up is how many angels did the women see when they were at the tomb of Jesus, one or two? If I said that I saw two cars today would I be incorrect if I then said that I saw one car? Actually, no. One is part of two. There is no contradiction. If I saw two cars, then I necessarily saw one car. In fact, I saw two sets of “one car”. This supposed “bible contradiction” is the subset fallacy. Sometimes amongst the gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) one of the evangelists says one person/angel and the other(s) say two. Which is it? Both. If only one person spoke then why mention the other one? People forget that the way that Greco-Roman bios and histories were written back in the day was not like how we do it today. They did leave things out and shift around events chronologically and such things. They did emphasize things more than others sometimes depending on who they were writing for.
        6. This is how many supposed bible contradictions are claimed for the NT. In addition to that, many times people will read (for example) passages and take them out of context claiming a contradiction. This would be like me picking up a book about Sally who had red hair in chapter one and turning to chapter five where she has blonde hair and claiming that the author is a dunce because of so obvious an error. When I would be the real fool because I didn’t read chapter three and read where it says that she dyed it blonde. This is how most people handle the Bible. They’re not looking for truth they’re looking for any excuse to toss it aside. Their motto is, “I’ll believe anything but Jesus.” So, professing themselves to be wise they will commit themselves to foolishness.
        7. So, if you’re a young Christian especially, I’ve yet to find a supposed “contradiction” in the text that is not explained by logic, textual transmission, or translation procedure.
        8. But like I said, I don’t want to belabor the point now.
      5. Questions
        1. Was Jesus’ resurrection body a physical body?
          1. Yes.
            1. “And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet. And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them.” (Luke 24:36-43)
            2. There is no room in Christianity for the Greek philosophical idea that the physical is evil and spirit is always good. This is the notion that the physical is a limitation that the spirit must escape. It’s a Gnostic idea and not a Christian one. When Jesus rose from the dead He went out of His way to show them that He had a physical body. The disciples touched Him and He ate food in their presence. The difference between that body is that it was not a carnal body. It was, as Paul states:
              1. “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.” (1Cor 15:42-47)
            3. Jesus was resurrected with a physical and yet spiritual body.
          2. What does this mean for believers’ resurrection?
            1. It gives us a pattern for what believers’ resurrection will be like. His resurrection body is what ours will be like.
              1. “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” (Php 3:20-21)
            2. When we are physically born we bear the image of Adam, and when we are born again we are molded into the image of Christ. At the resurrection of believers we will see the fulfillment of this. This is the “already/not yet” principle of the scriptures. Christ has already purchased these things, and so they are as good as done, but the total fulfillment of them has not yet come.
              1. “And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.” (1Cor 15:49)
              2. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” (1Jn 3:2)
              3. “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” (Rom 8:11)
  • The significance of the Resurrection?
    1. Unquestionable proof of His deity.
    2. Unquestionable proof of the Christian faith.
    3. The proof of His redemption.
  • Skeptics Arguments
    1. There are certain facts that theories about Jesus’ resurrection must account for. There are four minimal facts that enjoy almost unanimous support from scholars who study the subject, and the one fact that enjoys about seventy-five percent of support. I’ll list them here:
      1. Jesus died by crucifixion.
      2. Very shortly after Jesus’ death, the disciples had experiences that led them to believe and proclaim that Jesus had been resurrected and had appeared to them.
  • Within a few years after Jesus’ death, Saul—who persecuted Christians—converted (and became Paul) after experiencing what he interpreted as a post-resurrection appearance of Jesus to him.
  1. Not too long after Jesus’ death, James the brother of Jesus—who was a skeptic—converted after experiencing what he interpreted as a post-resurrection appearance of Jesus to him.
  2. The tomb was empty the third day after Jesus’ death.
  1. Any explanation that is put forth to account for Christianity has to explain all of these things. That is how well they are supported historically. If you can’t account for these facts, then you don’t have an explanation: you have an excuse. Failure to account for any one fact out of this group shows that it most likely can’t be true.
  2. Now, I am limited by how long I can keep your attention in a podcast episode. There are a number of theories that have been put forth to explain the resurrection claim of Jesus Christ. I may do a more in-depth episode on arguments against the resurrection of Jesus in the near future, but I’m going to limit myself to just a few in this episode—for the reason that they are more common.
    1. Legend Theory
      1. There are three forms of this one: Embellishment, Non-historical genre, and myths in other religions. We’ll talk about the embellishment and myths in other religions now, because I’ve heard them more commonly used.
    2. Legend Theory: Embellishment
      1. If you’ve ever heard a professor or teacher use the “telephone” analogy about how the gospel story grew over time, or that by way of gossip Jesus’ reputation was swelled, etc. There are usually appeals like, “We all know what it’s like to hear how far our grandfather walked in the snow to school, and every time it gets farther.” Or even, “We all understand how the ‘telephone’ game works. If that much distortion could happen in five minutes, how much would happen in hundreds of years!” That’s the embellishment theory.
      2. This sounds really smart in a classroom setting where there is a lot of peer pressure to keep quiet, but it’s a terrible explanation. For one, even critical scholars question very few words in the New Testament. So whatever legend embellishment creeped in it had to do it before the New Testament was written: which is quite quick. Here are some points to consider though:
        1. The resurrection story itself can be traced back to the real experiences of the original apostles. Right out of the gate, fifty days after the death of Jesus, they were preaching the bodily resurrection of Jesus.
        2. The church persecutor Paul was converted through a personal experience that he had apart from what was being preached by the early church. He was converted very early, one to three years after Jesus’ death. His hostility to the resurrection claim of early Christians makes it highly unlikely that he would’ve been persuaded by simple fable.
        3. This also applies to the skeptic James. He had an experience that he believed to be the risen Jesus which led to his conversion apart from any story that he heard.
        4. It also doesn’t account for why the tomb was empty. If it was just embellishment, then the body would still have been in the tomb.
        5. Merely asserting something is not proving it. The resurrection claim has facts that back it up. Any other theory put forth has to have evidence too, otherwise it’s just arbitrary. It’s being made up to deny a conclusion without accounting for the evidence that leads to it. You may want to deny the resurrection of Jesus, but you have to account for the evidence.
  • Myths in other religions
    1. This theory says that the disciples merely copied from other religions which also had claims of resurrection. Skeptics will often cite Osiris, Tammuz, Adonis, Attis, and Marduk as examples of resurrection claims in other religions. There are some notable problems with this theory though.
      1. Many of the accounts in these other religions are very unclear. You end up not being very sure about whether or not it is claiming a resurrection at all. They are often vague, and don’t resemble the story of Christ’s resurrection at all. They either rose to heaven on the horse Pegasus, or their names are declared among the stars. The majority of critical scholars today say that these myths in other religions didn’t do what skeptics claim. Remember, there is a difference between a scholar who knows the data, and a skeptic who just denies things.
      2. The first actual account of a dying and rising god that somewhat parallels the story of Jesus is at least 100 years after the death of Jesus’. The earliest being Adonis. Even in the earliest writings about Adonis there is no death and resurrection. It was added later. Contrast this with the fact that the death and resurrection of Jesus was being publicly preached fifty days after His public death and burial. There is not a clear death and resurrection of Marduk. There are conflicting stories about what happened to Osiris. In fact, there are actually no accounts that claim Osiris rose from the dead. The tale of Osiris actually predates Christianity, but it is more a story of becoming a zombie than resurrection. It’s also notable that Osiris is not even the hero of the story.
      3. Secondly, these other accounts in other religions lack any evidence and are easily explainable. Even Islamic scholars regard the tales of miracles done by Muhammad as untrustworthy because they didn’t appear until seventy-five years after His death. Contrast this with the stories of Jesus’ miracles which were widely known while He was alive, and even His enemies have recorded it. These “parallel accounts” consist of long time past events that didn’t circulate when eyewitnesses could be examined.
      4. Thirdly, this still doesn’t account for any of the evidence that we have. Jesus died by crucifixion. The disciples sincerely believed and proclaimed His resurrection. Paul, who was hostile, was converted based on a personal experience. James, who was skeptical, was converted based on a personal experience. Not to mention the tomb was actually empty. This argument actually doesn’t explain anything.
    2. You get the idea of how the facts work. Does the theory actually explain the evidence? Is there actual evidence that the theory is true? Is it just made up to deny the resurrection without dealing with the evidence? We can go through a whole lot more:
      1. “The disciples stole the body…” Then why was Paul converted separately from them by a personal experience? Why was James converted separately by a personal experience? Why would they die for what they knew to be a lie if all the evidence points to the fact that they sincerely believed it?
      2. “It was a hallucination…” Even if we were to grant the first mass hallucination ever recorded—which is contrary to the definition of a hallucination—then how does this account for the evidence? The tomb was empty. Paul was converted separate from the disciples, and later, and was unsympathetic to their cause. James was converted separate, and later, and was unsympathetic to their cause. Also, there is no evidence for this.
  • “Someone else stole the body…” Why was Paul converted then by a personal experience? What was James converted? Also, the disciples didn’t believe based on an empty tomb. They believed when they professed to have seen, and touched, Jesus’ resurrected body. Also, there is no evidence for this.
  1. “They went to the wrong tomb…” Even if this were true, the appearances to the disciples need to be accounted for. They were converted after professing to see Jesus and touch Him, not from an empty tomb. Paul was not convinced by an empty tomb, but was converted based on a personal experience though he was unsympathetic to their cause. That goes for James as well. There is also no source that says that they went to the wrong tomb. Also, the text records that it was the rich man Joseph of Arimethea whose tomb He was buried in. This indicates that the location was known. Certainly the guards who were guarding it would’ve known where it was.
  2. “He didn’t actually die…” This is the swoon theory. The Journal of the American Medical Association, March 21 1986, says that this is impossible given the pathological effects of Jesus’ scourging and crucifixion. Are you honestly going to tell me that given Jesus’ scourging—which historically exposed bones, veins, and internal organs at times—and crucifixion—in which He was nailed through His hands and feet to a cross and stabbed in the side—that He pushed the stone away from the door by Himself, beat up the guards that were watching His tomb by Himself, walked to where His disciples were hiding (because somehow He knew where they were), and appeared in this state and proclaimed Himself the Prince of Life? This contradicts what Paul saw also. Paul records a glorious appearance of the risen Jesus.
  3. “They were just delusional…” That doesn’t explain the empty tomb. It also doesn’t explain the conversion of Paul who was unsympathetic to the Christians and thought that Jesus got what He deserved. The same goes for James who thought that Jesus was a false prophet who got what He deserved.
  1. There is literally no other theory that can account for the data. This leaves us with one conclusion. The strength of the historical facts, plus the failure of these alternative naturalistic theories to account for the data, leads us to conclude that the resurrection of Jesus must be taken as a historical event.