{10}     Christ (2): Resurrection of Jesus


Ø       Jesus’ resurrection is just a story. It never happened.

Ø       Resurrection is not scientific. Maybe Jesus did not really die on the cross.

Ø       Christians don’t need to believe in the resurrection to be a Christian.

Ø       There are many possible explanations to the “apparent” resurrection.

39.            How much is Christianity depended on Jesus’ bodily resurrection?

a.  This is the cornerstone of Christianity. If it is removed, all Christian belief will crumble into ruin (1Co 15:14). It is the major message of the early Christians (see Ac 2:14-36; 3:14-15; 4:10).

     Christianity is the only religion grounded in the fact of resurrection, unlike other religions which are grounded in just philosophical propositions or personalities.

b.  It shows that Jesus is God. Jesus claimed many times that He would be raised from the dead (e.g. Mt 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:18-19).

c.  It confirms our hope of bodily resurrection.

d.  It demonstrates the acceptance of the redemption by God and declares victory over sin and death (penalty of sin paid, second death conquered, 1Co 15:55-57).

40.            Was Jesus’ resurrection genuine?

a.  Jesus’ resurrection is genuine and can be proved “by many infallible proofs” (Ac 1:3, Greek word for proofs means demonstrable proofs).

b.  Disappearance of Jesus’ body:

(1)  The tomb was guarded by Roman soldiers and sealed by the king (Mt 27:64-66) to stop the disciples from stealing the body.

(2)  Jews bribed the guards afterwards to cover up the fact (Mt 28:11-15).

c.  Graveclothes in order: the graveclothes and the napkin not disturbed, body appeared to pass through the graveclothes (Jn 20:5-7); that is why the angel said: “Come, see the place where He lay.”(Mt 28:6)

d.  Appearance of Jesus for at least 10 times after resurrection

     It is difficult to imagine that someone inventing this story would choose to have women discover the tomb.

e.  Change in the disciples:

(1)  The disciples fled after Jesus was arrested.

(2)  They were afraid, totally lost, utterly dejected (Jn 20:19).

(3)  Yet, a few days later, all the disciples were suddenly changed; they defended their faith even unto death (martyrs) and caused great change in the world.

(4)  Hypocrites do not become martyrs. They must have strong belief in the resurrection.

F.   Conversion of the skeptics:

     James, the brother of Jesus, became a leader in the Jerusalem Church. Paul, the persecutor of Christians, became a missionary.

G.  Changes to key social structures of Judaism:

     The Jewish people believed that these age-old and theologically-backed institutions were entrusted to them by God. Abandoning these institutions would be to risk their souls being condemned to hell after death. Yet they did make the changes.

     Changes include: [1] no more animal sacrifice, [2] no longer separated from the uncircumcised Gentiles, [3] no longer scrupulously kept the Sabbath, instead worshipping God on Sunday, [4] believed in a Triune God, [5] no longer believed the Messiah is a political and military deliverer.

     Communion and baptism became the two ordinances that celebrate the Messiah’s death. Only when resurrection occurred would they celebrate His death.

H.  History:

(1)  Josephus, a non-Christian Jewish historian, wrote “he (Jesus) appeared to them alive on the third day”. He was writing for the Romans and would not have included it if he thought it was groundless.

(2)  Silence of the Jews: They did not contradict the claim of resurrection although they physically attacked the disciples. The Jewish leaders would have produced the body for all to see if they began hearing stories of Jesus’ resurrection.

I.    Emergence of the church: The main message of the early church was the resurrection. It triumped over competing ideologies.

J.   The existing facts even convinced the truthful non-believing investigators such as Frank Morison who wrote the book Who moved the stone?

41.            Can the theories opposing resurrection be refuted?



Jesus died but didn’t rise

--- the apostles were deceived

® Hallucination



--- the apostles made a myth

® Myth



--- the apostles were deceivers

® Conspiracy



--- the apostles were mistaken

® Wrong Tomb


Jesus didn’t die


® Swoon


Jesus died & Jesus rose


® Christianity


a.  Hallucination Theory: Those who saw Jesus after He died had hallucinations.

(1)  Only particular kinds of people have hallucinations, especially those with hopeful expectancy. But there was a variety in mood of the people (including the doubting Thomas).

(2)  Hallucinations are linked in one’s subconscious and past experiences. They are very individualistic and extremely subjective. But the appearances were seen by many people, at different locations, and at different times.

(3)  The appearances could not have been erroneous perceptions because of accurate descriptions of events and actual touch of Jesus.

b.  Myth Theory: The disciples created a myth, not meaning it literally.

(1)  Myths are normally developed a long period after the actual events but the belief of resurrection existed soon after Jesus died.

(2)  The disciples would not have sacrificed themselves for a myth.

(3)  The Bible clearly rejects the mythical interpretation (2Pe 1:16).

c.  Conspiracy Theory: Jesus’ dead body was stolen and hidden.

(1)  Stolen by disciples not possible:

(a)  Depression and cowardice of the disciples after crucifixion would not allow them to carry out such act.

(b)  It was extremely difficult to break the seal, move the stone, and avoid the Roman guards.

(c)  The graveclothes were left behind.

(d)  The disciples were not apprehended and questioned.

(e)  The disciples would not have believed the resurrection and experienced such great changes. They would not die for a lie.

(2)  Stolen by Jews or Romans not possible:

(a)  They would not want unnecessary agitation to arise.

(b)  They would have shown the body when the disciples preached resurrection or at least came out and refuted the claim.

d.  Wrong Tomb Theory: The women, the disciples and everyone else went to the wrong tomb.

(1)  The women and the disciples all went to the same tomb.

(2)  The presence of the angels and the graveclothes prove that the tomb was the correct one.

(3)  The Jews would have shown the correct grave and the body.

e.  Swoon Theory: Jesus never actually died on the cross, but only swooned. He was revived by the cool air of the tomb, arose and departed.

(1)  Jesus did die according to the judgment of the soldiers, Joseph and Nicodemus (Mk 15:44-45).

(2)  blood and water (Jn 19:34) -- death not due to physical exhaustion or pains of crucifixion but to agony of mind producing rupture of the heart (unusual phenomenon, causes not known at that time)

(3)  Jesus was hanged on the cross, then taken down into a tomb, without food or water for over 30 hours. It would not be possible for Jesus to wiggle out of the graveclothes and leave without disarranging them.

(4)  After such turmoil, Jesus would not have the strength to move the heavy stone, avoid the Roman soldiers, escape, and never get caught.

f.   Bodily Resurrection: The only valid alternative that agree with all the facts is that the bodily resurrection of Jesus was real.





Kreeft and Torcelli

       Former Chief Justice of England Lord Darling: “There exists such overwhelming evidence, positive and negative, factual and circumstantial, that no intelligent jury in the world could fail to bring in a verdict that the resurrection story is true.”


       (1)  Frank Morison: “Who moved the stone?” (1930)

       (2)  Gilbert West: “Observations on the history and evidences of the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1747), quoting Ecclesiasticus 11:7: “Blame not before thou hast examined the truth.”


Swoon Theory (9 arguments)

Conspiracy Theory (7 arguments)

Hallucination Theory (14 arguments)

Myth Theory (6 arguments)