“I am going to use 4 historical facts so strongly attested historically that nearly every scholar that studies the subject agrees, even the skeptical ones”
Fact 1: Jesus died by crucifixion. (this is uncontroversial)
Fact 2: Jesus’ disciples believe he rose from the dead and appeared to them.
What is the evidence that this is true?
- They claimed it
- Paul reported that he knew at least some of the other disciples, even the big three, Peter, James, and John.'”‘ Acts reports that the disciples and Paul knew and fellowshipped with one another.
- Oral Traditions
- 1 Corinthians 15
- “I passed on what I received”
- He wrote in 15:3-5, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.”-” Several factors mark this as an ancient creed that was part of the earliest traditions of the Christian church and that predate the writings of Paul.” In fact, many critical scholars hold that Paul received it from the disciples Peter and James while visiting them in Jerusalem three years after his conversion. If so, Paul learned it within five years of Jesus’ crucifixion and from the disciples themselves.2′ At minimum, we have source material that dates within two decades of the alleged event of Jesus’ resurrection and comes from a source that Paul thought was reliable.-”
- 500 people saw
- What if you had one trustworthy friend say this?
- What about 10 or even 100? Paul claims around 500 people who are still alive?
- Gospels (4x)
- Not everyone believes they were eyewitnesses, but every serious scholar will accept that they were written from oral traditions within the 1st century.
- Written Traditions-
- Clement of Rome
How to use the Pow
- For example, if someone challenges you to establish that the original disciples really made the claim that the risen Jesus had appeared to them, you might respond with the following: “That’s a great question. Let me give you three categories of evidence. First, we have Paul who claims to have known and fellowshipped with the disciples firsthand. He says that they said it. Second, we know of some very early oral tradition that was circulating within the church before the New Testament was even written and points to the disciples saying it. Third, we have written tradition that portrays or assumes the disciples saying that Jesus had appeared to them after he rose from the dead. In all, we have nine independent sources. So you can see why there is a virtually unanimous consensus among scholars today who hold that Jesus’ original disciples said that he appeared to them risen from the dead.”
- They Suffered
- Clement of Rome:
- Because of envy and jealousy, the greatest and most righteous pillars have been persecuted and contended unto death. Let us set the good apostles before our eyes. Peter, who because of unrighteous envy endured, not one or two, but many afflictions, and having borne witness went to the due glorious place. Because of envy and rivalries, steadfast Paul pointed to the prize. Seven times chained, exiled, stoned, having become a preacher both in the East and in the West, he received honor fitting of his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, unto the boundary on which the sun sets; having testified in the presence of the leaders. Thus he was freed from the world and went to the holy place. He became a great example of steadfastness.”
- Polycarp, in the above cited letter to the church in Philippi, mentioned the “unlimited endurance” the church had seen in Ignatius, Zosimus, Rufus, the apostle Paul, and the rest of the apostles, among others. He added, “They are in the place due them with the Lord, in association with him also they suffered together. For they did not love the present age….”.’ Through Polycarp, we know that Paul, other apostles, and other believers suffered for their faith. Polycarp himself would follow their example of strength and conviction in the face of martyrdom.
- Critical Scholars
- Even the highly critical New Testament scholar Rudolf Bultmann agreed that historical criticism can establish “the fact that the first disciples came to believe in the resurrection” and that they thought they had seen the risen Jesus
- Atheistic New Testament scholar Gerd Ludemann concludes, “It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus’ death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ.”
- Paula Fredriksen of Boston University comments, “I know in their own terms what they saw was the raised Jesus. That’s what they say and then all the historic evidence we have afterwards attest to their conviction that that’s what they saw. I’m not saying that they really did see the raised Jesus. I wasn’t there. I don’t know what they saw. But I do know that as a historian that they must have seen something.””
OBJECTION: Many people will suffer and die for what they believe in.
- Terrorist die for what they believe. They cannot verify it
- The disciples died for what they claim to see. They knew if it was true. They were in a unique position to know if it was true
- Liars make bad martyrs.
- Watergate lie was only held for 2 weeks. (risk wasn’t even death)
Why does it matter?
Romans 4:25- He was handed over to die becuase of our sins and he was raised to life to make us right with God.
– The resurrection shows that sin was paid for. If he was still dead it would mean that he was still paying for our sins. God raised Him and it demonstrates that you are free from the penalty that you deserve.