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
- 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.
- 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
- In Mark 8:31 we read:
- “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)
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- In Mark 9:31, we read:
- “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
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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;
- 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.
- 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
- Harmonization of Resurrection Morning
- 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.
- 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”.
- Mary Magdalene arrives and finds the tomb open and empty.
- She goes to tell Peter and John that they have stolen the
- 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;
- The angel who spoke told them to go tell the disciples that
Jesus was risen and would see them in Galilee.
- The women obeyed (Mat.28:8-10). They were very afraid
- Peter and John, being retrieved by Mary Magdalene, run to the
tomb and see that it is empty. They leave while Mary stays behind
- 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)
- Mary Magdalene tells the disciples and they don’t believe
- 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.
- By this time, the eleven disciples and all the rest had heard
from all the women (including Mary Magdalene) and still didn’t
- 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.
- 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.
- Jesus proceeds to eat in their presence, and invites them to
touch His resurrection body for them to see that it is
- John 21 and Matthew 28:16-17 record later appearances by Christ
to the disciples.
- Also, Jesus appeared to Saul of Tarsus when he was traveling to
Damascus in Acts 9. Albeit, this was most likely not a physical
- At some point also, James, the half-brother of Jesus, saw the
risen Lord also. This is recorded in 1 Corinthians 15:7.
- 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.
- “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)
- It’s believed by some that the appearance to over 500 disciples
at once was on a mountain in Galilee.
- We may conclude this list of appearances by reminding ourselves
of what Luke said:
- “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)
- 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.
- Supposed Contradictions
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- But like I said, I don’t want to belabor the point now.
- Was Jesus’ resurrection body a physical body?
- “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)
- 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:
- “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)
- Jesus was resurrected with a physical and yet spiritual
- What does this mean for believers’ resurrection?
- It gives us a pattern for what believers’ resurrection will be
like. His resurrection body is what ours will be like.
- “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)
- 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.
- “And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also
bear the image of the heavenly.” (1Cor 15:49)
- “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)
- “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.”
- The significance of the Resurrection?
- Unquestionable proof of His deity.
- Unquestionable proof of the Christian faith.
- The proof of His redemption.
- Skeptics Arguments
- 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
- Jesus died by crucifixion.
- 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.
- 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.
- The tomb was empty the third day after Jesus’ death.
- 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.
- 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.
- Legend Theory
- 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.
- Legend Theory: Embellishment
- 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
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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:
- “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?
- “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.
- “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
- “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.
- “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.
- 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