Christian apologist Walter Martin used to say that the real death rate is one per person, meaning that each person’s death is a matter of when, not if. Therefore, because we are mortal creatures and thus stalked by death, if Jesus Christ actually conquered death through his resurrection, then this is the most important news for all human beings to hear and to reflectively consider. The inevitability of death should motivate Christians to share the message of the resurrection.
In part 1 of this series, I briefly addressed two evidences for Jesus’s resurrection. In this article I’ll present one more reason in our series of 12 evidences for believing that Jesus Christ’s bodily resurrection from the dead actually happened.
3. Short Time Frame between Actual Events and Eyewitness Claims
Support for the factual nature of Jesus’s resurrection from the dead comes from eyewitness testimonies that were reported soon after the events happened. The apostle Paul claims both that he saw the resurrected Christ (Acts 9:1–19; 22:6–16; 26:12–23) and that others witnessed the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:3) prior to his personal encounter. Paul asserts in his writings that he received the firsthand testimony from Jesus’s original apostles who were witnesses of Jesus’s resurrection even before him.
In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he employs a creedal statement about the resurrection that dates to the earliest period of Christianity.1 This creed is believed, even by critical scholars (those who doubt the supernatural), to be part of the original Christian kerygma (“proclamation”—representing the earliest preaching and teaching message of Christianity). This early statement of faith that Paul relays mentions by name two of Jesus’s apostles who said they had seen the resurrected Christ. These two apostles are Peter (one of the original 12 apostles and principal spokesperson of primitive Christianity) and James (the brother of Jesus who was also an early apostolic leader).
Here is that early creedal statement as the apostle Paul weaved it into his first Corinthian epistle: