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Did Jesus Rise From The Dead?


Why it Matters?

  • So what if Queen Elizabeth rose?

  • The context of Jesus life

  • 1 Corinthians 15:14-19


How Can We Know?

  1. The Bible Tells Me So

  2. The Spirit’s Witness

  3. Historical Investigation


The Bible

  •  i.e. 1 Cor 15:3 For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received—that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, 4 and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. (NET)


The Witness of the Spirit

  • The witness of the Holy Spirit personally and directly to you – of a relationship with God and of the truth of the Bible (Rom 8:9; 16; Heb 10:15; Gal 4:9; 1 John 5:6-10).

  • Plantinga – Warranted Christian Belief


Historical Investigation


Criteria of Authenticity

  • Unintentional signs of history

  • Aramaic linguistic features

  • Criterion of the impact of an event

  • Coherence with existing data

See: Bock, Darrell L. Studying the Historical Jesus: a Guide to Sources and Methods. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2002. 220 pages.


Multiple Independent Attestation

  • Having more than one source lends credibility to the account. And not two copies of the same story but two separate accounts that cohere. For instance we have multiple accounts that Jesus performed miracles.


Criterion of Embarrassment

  • Embarrassing details for the disciples are unlikely to have been created by the church. For instance why would the early church make up the story that one of their key leaders Peter, denied Jesus.


Double Similarity and Dissimilarity

  • Similar to Judaism thereby suggesting Jewish roots and yet distinct, suggesting growth; and similar to the early church, showing it appropriately fits and yet distinct, suggesting it was not merely created by them.


The Minimal Facts

See: Wright, N. T. The Resurrection of the Son of God. Christian Origins and the Question of God, vol. 3. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003.


1) Jesus’ Death

  • Whipped and speared. See: Edwards, William D., Wesley J. Gabel, and Floyd E. Hosmer, “On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ” JAMA 1986; 255:1455-1463.

  • Extra biblical sources: 1st Century Roman historian Tacitus, 1st Century Jewish historian Josephus; Mara Bar Sarapion (AD 73) in War 7.219–43; Julius Africanus (AD 170–240) on Thallus (AD 52); Lucian of Samosata’s The Passing of Peregrinus (c. AD 115–200); Rabbinic text (b. Sanhedrin 43a); church fathers Clement of Rome and Ignatius of Antioch.

  • Now, there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of surprising works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named for him, are not extinct to this day. (Josephus, Antiquities 18.63–64)

  • Wrote in early second century, “Their name comes from Christ, who, during the reign of Tiberius, had been executed by the procurator Pontius Pilate.“(Tacitus, Annals 15.44)


2) Burial

  • Multiple independent sources (Matt 27:57; Mark 15:43; Luke 23:51; John 19:38) indicate that Jesus’ body was buried by Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin (embarrassment).  


3) Empty Tomb

  • Discovered by women (Talmud, Rosh Hashannah 1.8; (osephus, Antiquities, 4.8.15) and others (Peter and John).

  • Jewish leaders acknowledged this fact by admitting the body was missing (Matt 28:11-15; Justin Martyr, Trypho 108; Tertullian, De Spectaculis 30).


4) Belief of Appearances

  • The disciples (and skeptics/enemies) believed they saw appearances of Jesus (1 Cor 15:3-8; Luke 24:13-35, 34l 26-45; 50-53; Acts 1:3-11; 13:31; Matt 28:16-20; Mark 16:9-19).


Criteria to Evaluate a Theory

  • Inference to the best explanation, Explanatory scope, Explanatory power, Plausibility, Less ad hoc


Theories to Explain the Data

  1. The story developed as legend over time; a mere myth

  2. The disciples didn’t see anything but claimed they did (i.e. lied)

  3. All the sightings of Jesus were intra-mental (hallucination theory)

  4. What the disciples saw was extra-mental but was not actually Jesus  (mistaken identity theory)

  5. The disciples saw Jesus but Jesus didn’t actually die on the cross, just fainted and revived naturally in the tomb (swoon theory).


See: Loke, Andrew. ‘The resurrection of the Son of God: a reduction of the naturalistic alternatives.’ Journal of Theological Studies, 60 (2009): 570-584. Oxford University Press. Available at:


1. Myth and Legend over time

  • Accusation that the Bible is written too late

  • The early dating of the gospels ensures they were written during lifetime of the eyewitnesses who could refute legend

  • Copied pagan myths of dying-and-rising deities.


2. Conspiracy Theory

  • The view that the disciples (or Jewish leaders) stole the body and lied

  • Denies the appearances

  • Why die for a lie?

  • Doesn’t explain the conversion of skeptics such as James and Paul


3. Hallucinations

  • Mere visions

  • Does not explain empty tomb

  • Not likely since happen to multiple people including enemies like Saul


4. Twin Brother Theory

  • Jesus must have had an unknown, identical twin brother who was separated from him at birth, and who showed up in Jerusalem at the time of the crucifixion, stole Jesus’ body, and then showed himself to the disciples, leading them to mistakenly infer that Jesus rose from the dead. Robert Greg Cavin


5. Swoon Theory – Apparent Death Theory

  • Jesus didn’t die just fainted

  • A badly wounded Messiah would not inspire followers to say ‘death has been conquered’


The Christian View

  • God raised Jesus from the dead

  •  "But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep." (1 Cor 15:20)

See: Habermas, Gary R. and Michael R. Licona. The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications. 2004.


The Historical Method

  • The earliest Christians believe Jesus rose bodily from the dead.

  • The earliest Christians believe Jesus was raised bodily from the dead by God.

  • Jesus actually did rise bodily from the dead.

  • Jesus was actually raised bodily from the dead by God.


How Do Other Worldviews / Religions Respond?

  • Atheism – no miracles

  • Hinduism and Buddhism - reincarnation

  • Islam – Quran 4.157 Jesus did not die


Modern Resurrection Claims

  • i.e. “Raised from the Dead” DVD by Reinhard Bonnke




  • Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he gave us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Pet 1:3)


Recommended Reading

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