Testimony for the Resurrection
by Stephen E. Schlarb
The resurrection is the most important event in the Jesus story, & the reason for faith in Him:
1 Corinthians 15:16-20 (scholars agree by Paul):
“For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.”
How reliable is Paul’s testimony concerning the resurrection? The following statements by Paul make a convincing case.
Galatians 1:18 (indisputably by Paul):
“Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas, and stayed with him fifteen days.”
Galatians was written in early 50’s CE. Using Acts & the letters, we can compute the time of Paul’s staying with Peter (Cephas) to be c. 40 CE.
Paul stayed with Peter, who had seen the empty tomb (John 20:1-10). Then Paul spent the rest of his life preaching the resurrection, being whipped, abandoned by friends, imprisoned, and finally executed – he never backed off his testimony.
1 Corinthians 15:3-5 (Written by Paul in 55 CE, according to most scholars):
“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.”
Let’s see – that’s the same Cephas whom Paul met with for 15 days c. 40 CE. This is as solid a witness testimony as anyone could want, of the resurrection and the basics of the Christian faith.
This is THE Christian faith, then and now. It doesn’t change.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 (all NASB)