Tag: What if Jesus did not rise from the dead

What if Jesus did not Rise from the Dead?

What if Jesus did not Rise from the Dead?

The resurrection of Jesus ChristThe resurrection of Jesus Christ is the foundation of Christianity. Everything in the Christian faith rests on the historical truth that Jesus was raised from the dead. But what if this was all a lie? What if Jesus did not rise from the dead?

When the apostle Paul came to Corinth, an integral part of the gospel message that he preached was the fact of Christ’s resurrection. After all, a dead Savior cannot save anybody. The believers at Corinth received the Word, trusted Christ, been saved, and their faith had transformed their lives.

But then again, what if Jesus did not really rise from the dead? What if this was just a myth that the apostle Paul made up to gain a number of followers? It is interesting to note that Islam, one of the three major world religions, has held on to this theory up until today.

Evidence for the Resurrection

Before laying out the evidence of the resurrection, it must first be established that Jesus really died. After all, a resurrection can only be authentic if the person really died. In other words, only a dead person can actually come back to life.

The gospel authors record that Jesus was beaten and scourged terribly by the Roman soldiers before finally nailing him to the cross. Killing was an expertise of the Roman soldiers, their job was to kill and to make sure that the victim was really dead or they themselves will lose their lives.

It’s also inconceivable to believe that Jesus survived the crucifixion, considering that the physicians who studied closely the historical events of the crucifixion unanimously concluded that Christ died from this process. Furthermore, the Roman historian Tacitus and the Jewish historian Josephus confirmed in their writings that Jesus indeed died from the crucifixion.

A. The Empty Tomb

1) The Bible tells us that Jesus’ tomb was found to be empty by the women who first visited it very early on the first day of the week (John 20:1-2; Matthew 28:1-2; Mark 16:1-4 & Luke 24:1-3).

Did you know that the testimony of women in the first-century Jewish culture was regarded as so worthless that they were not even permitted to serve as legal witnesses in a court of law? Yet, the gospel authors unanimously recorded that women, whose testimony was worthless, rather than men, are the chief witnesses to the empty tomb.

2) The historical reliability of the burial story because of the inclusion of Joseph of Arimathea as the one who buried Christ in his own tomb (Mark 15:43; John 19:38), strongly supports the empty tomb.

Joseph was a prominent member of the Jewish Council, which means that the burial site was well-known to both the Jews and Gentiles. This means that no one would have believed that Jesus had risen, neither the disciples nor the thousands of others who did believe, unless that tomb was really empty.

Jesus’ resurrection was preached by His disciples in the same city where Jesus had died and been buried. They could not have done this if Jesus was still in His tomb because no one would be foolish enough to believe that a man had raised from the dead when his body lay dead in the tomb for all to see.

3) In Matthew 28:11-15, the Jews made an attempt to refute the fact of Jesus’ resurrection by saying that the disciples stole the body. Why is this significant? Because this shows that the Jews did not deny the empty tomb. By making up a story about the stolen body of Jesus, they were admitting that the tomb was in fact empty.

“He is not here; for He is risen!”

B. The Post-Mortem Appearances of Jesus

There is enough evidence that the disciples and followers of Jesus had real encounters with the one whom they believed was the risen Christ. In the table below is a chronology of the appearances of the resurrected Christ.

1) Mary Magdalene          John 20:11-18
2) The women returning from the tomb Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:1 & Luke 24:10
3) Simon Peter Luke 24:34 & 1 Corinthians 15:5
4) The two disciples on the road to Emmaus Luke 24:13-16
5) To the eleven disciples with Thomas absent Luke 24:36-43
6) To the eleven disciples with Thomas present John 20:26-29
7) To the seven disciples at Lake Tiberius John 21: 1-23
8) To the disciples and a large gathering on a mountain in Galilee Matthew 28:16-17
9) James 1 Corinthians 15:7
10) To the disciples at the ascension Luke 24:49-53 & Acts 1:3-11


1 Corinthians 15:3-8 is a record of an ancient creed concerning Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection appearances that is much earlier than the letter in which the apostle Paul is recording it. Critical scholars generally agree that Paul received this creed from Peter (Cephas) and James (the Lord’s brother) between 3-5 years after the crucifixion.

Peter and James are listed in this creed as having seen the risen Christ. Paul also appealed to his audience’s knowledge of the fact that more than five hundred people had seen the resurrected Christ at one time; the majority of which were still alive and could be questioned.

C. The Transformation of Jesus’ Disciples, Skeptics, and Enemies

1) Jesus’ disciples and followers

When Jesus was crucified, His disciples were devastated and defeated. Most of them even ran away because they thought that was the end of their glorious years with Jesus. But after seeing the resurrected Christ, they were transformed from being discouraged, despondent and frightened to being bold, courageous and outspoken.

Peter, who denied Jesus three times, stood up a few weeks later in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost to deliver probably the most powerful Gospel sermon that resulted in the 3,000 souls that were saved and added to the church (Acts 2:14-39).

Peter’s Sermon on Pentecost Day

Thomas who was a doubter and a skeptic did not believe that Jesus has risen from the dead until he saw for himself the nail marks in Jesus’ hands and had put his fingers in them (John 20:24-29).

2) James and Jesus’ other brothers

Jesus’ brothers did not believe Jesus was the Lord during His lifetime (John 7:5). But they later believed. And James not only believed but became the leader of the Jerusalem Church (Acts 12:17; Acts 15:13). According to tradition, James was martyred for his faith in Christ by being thrown off the pinnacle of the temple and was beaten to death by a club.

3) Saul of Tarsus

Before he became the apostle Paul, Saul of Tarsus was the chief persecutor of the early Christians. But after encountering the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, he was totally transformed from Saul, the number one persecutor of Christianity, to Paul, the number one propagator of Christianity.

Paul gave up the prestige and comforts of being a respected rabbi and took on the life of a traveling missionary who has gone through incredible hardships and persecutions, all for the sake of the gospel.

Saul encounters the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus

The transformation of Jesus’ disciples, brothers, and Saul of Tarsus is inexplicable apart from a real resurrection. The only sufficient explanation for the dramatic change in these people’s lives is the fact that Jesus was raised from the dead.

D. The Origin of the Christian Faith

The fact that the Christian Church remained strong and continued to flourish despite suffering intense persecution at the hands of both Jews and Romans during its early years is strong proof of the resurrection.

Many of the first missionaries of the Christian faith died as martyrs. They were willing to die for their belief in Jesus Christ because they were convinced of the historical facts of the resurrection. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, Christianity could have never come into existence.


What if Jesus did not rise from the dead? Then we are still in our sins and our faith is futile. It means we are not forgiven of our sins and are bound to suffer eternally in hell. And not only us but also those who have fallen asleep (died) in Christ (1 Corinthians 15:17-18). There is no salvation without the resurrection!

But Christ is risen from the dead and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. (1 Corinthians 15:20). The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a historical fact, not just a theological myth or some philosophical idea that began circulating 30 years later among the followers of Jesus Christ.

Josh McDowell in his book “Evidence that Demands a Verdict” wrote:

“The resurrection of Christ is therefore emphatically a test question upon which depends the truth or falsehood of the Christian religion. It is either the greatest miracle or the greatest delusion which history records.”

Recommended Resource: The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach by Michael R. Licona

The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical ApproachThe question of the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection has been repeatedly probed, investigated and debated. And the results have varied widely. Perhaps some now regard this issue as the burned-over district of New Testament scholarship.

Could there be any new and promising approach to this problem? Yes, answers Michael Licona. And he convincingly points us to a significant deficiency in approaching this question: our historiographical orientation and practice. So, he opens this study with an extensive consideration of historiography and the particular problem of investigating claims of miracles.

This alone is a valuable contribution. But then Licona carefully applies his principles and methods to the question of Jesus’ resurrection. In addition to determining and working from the most reliable sources and bedrock historical evidence, Licona critically weighs other prominent hypotheses.

His own argument is a challenging and closely argued case for the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus, the Christ. Any future approaches to dealing with this “prize puzzle” of New Testament study will need to be routed through The Resurrection of Jesus.