A-1 - Encouraged by What You Read?

It is hard to exaggerate the importance of Jesus’s resurrection to Christianity, for Christ’s resurrection truly stands at the very center of the Christian faith. It serves both as a crucial Christian doctrine and as the faith’s most potent argument: If Jesus actually conquered death, then there is no more important news for all human beings to hear and to reflect upon. Easter really matters.

Having thus far covered seven evidences for Jesus’s resurrection (see part 1part 2part 3part 4, and part 5), let’s now briefly consider two more.

8. Plentiful Early References to Jesus’s Resurrection in the Apostle Paul’s Letters

Some critics of Christianity have asserted that the four canonical gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) appear too long after the events of Jesus’s life to carry credible testimony. There is also the concern that there are too few claims to Jesus’s resurrection made by the early eyewitnesses.

While I addressed the short time span between the events of Jesus’s life and the eyewitnesses claims back in my post on evidence #3, a little more explanation is helpful here. First, the four gospels are much closer in time to Jesus’s life than are other ancient testimonies to both religious figures (Gautama, Confucius) and secular figures (Socrates, Caesar).

Second, not only are Paul’s references to the resurrection early (considerably earlier than the four gospel accounts), but they are abundant in nature. Paul’s epistles contain numerous references and descriptions of Jesus’s resurrection.

Third, some of Paul’s statements about the resurrection reflect primitive Christian creeds and hymns (see Philippians 2Colossians 1) that date much earlier than even his earliest written letters. For example, Paul’s earliest epistles were written about 20 years after Jesus’s resurrection. But the creeds and hymns that he weaved into his writings were being recited and sung by Jewish Christians back to within a few months or years of Jesus’s resurrection.

9. The New Testament Accounts of Jesus’s Resurrection Do Not Resemble Later Apocryphal Stories

The accounts of Jesus’s resurrection came from eyewitnesses and close associates of eyewitnesses. The recollections of these witnesses involve descriptions of historical, factual events. And the narrative of Jesus’s resurrection involves his physical body being raised and empirically examined, not merely rising as a spirit as in later apocryphal stories of subjective religious visions.

The apostolic reports of Jesus’s resurrection are early, plentiful, and very different than other so-called resurrection accounts.

Reflections: Your Turn

Why is it important that the sources that stand behind Jesus’s resurrection be early, plentiful, and distinct from other religious accounts? Visit Reflections on WordPress to comment with your response.

Resources

Subjects: Jesus Christ, Resurrection

Check out more from Reasons to Believe @Reasons.org

About The Author

Dr. Tony Evans

Dr. Tony Evans is one of the country’s most respected leaders in evangelical circles. As a pastor, teacher, author and speaker, he serves the body of Christ through his unique ability to communicate complex theological truths through simple, yet profound, illustrations. While addressing the practical issues of today, Dr. Evans is known as a relevant expositor. New and veteran pastors alike regard him as a pastor of pastors and a father in the faith.


At the heart of this vision is the use of church and school partnerships to effect spiritual and social change in communities. Dr. Evans’ church and school outreach philosophy has been attributed as a catalyst for former President George W. Bush’s Faith Based Initiative, which was his first formal act of office. Dr. Evans seeks to train churches, schools and volunteers in this philosophy, as well as in the functional practicalities, through the National Church Adopt-A-School Initiative which is a ministry underneath the umbrella of The Urban Alternative.


Dr. Evans serves as president of The Urban Alternative, a national ministry that seeks to restore hope and transform lives through the proclamation and the application of the Word of God. His daily radio broadcast, The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans, can be heard on more than 850 radio outlets throughout the United States and in more than 80 countries.


Dr. Evans has written numerous books and booklets including his legacy work, Oneness Embraced, as well as his vision work, The Kingdom Agenda. Some of his most recent books includes, Kingdom Man, A Moment For Your Soul, Marriage Matters, and Victory in Spiritual Warfare.

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