Did Christ Really Rise From the Dead?6 min read
When considering the validity of Biblical Christianity, it is essential to know the truth of Christ’s death and resurrection. If He did not rise from the dead, the Christian faith has no validity and everything Christ claimed to be is false. Without His resurrection, the Bible is just another book filled with errors and false information. The faith of every Christian is in vain if Christ did not rise from the dead.
One of the most common proofs for the resurrection is the reality of sudden and radically changed lives, whether now or in the past. Peter was the disciple who denied Christ three times before Christ died; yet after he saw his risen Lord, he preached boldly even when His life was at stake. The Apostle Paul persecuted Christians out of hatred for their claims. He was a devout Jew, a Pharisee. Yet, his life was radically changed after he saw Jesus Christ risen from the dead; such was the impact of that experience, that nothing would change his mind of what he saw, even when it meant death. So many others were willing to die for what they knew was truth, because something genuinely changed them. People never die for what they know is a lie; they die for a passion. Before the resurrection, the disciples were fearful and timid; but after the resurrection, they preached boldly for Christ, because they knew assuredly that He was alive.
Testimonies of Others
In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul lists a few who saw Christ after His resurrection: Peter, five hundred brethren (plus women and children), James, all the apostles, and Paul himself. Most of these people were still alive at the time of writing, and they could attest to the fact that Christ did rise. The ancient renowned historian Josephus also recorded that many saw Him. When the Bible, which has been proven to be most historically accurate, records these testimonies and tells of Christ’s resurrection, we have no reason to deny it.
But it doesn’t end there, for modern historians also cannot deny the resurrection. Defining if something is historically sound depends on how many documents support the event, how many documents contradict the event, and how soon after the event these documents were written. The Iliad by Homer has just under 650 manuscripts, and the earliest was written by 500 years after. Historians consider this writing absolutely accurate. However, the New Testament has over 24,000 manuscripts, and the earliest copies were written within 100 years after Christ’s death. And no contradictory documents are found from that time. Historically, the resurrection is sound.
Alleged Arguments Against the Resurrection
The following theories are excuses made by men who desire with their whole being to deny Christ’s resurrection. Realize, though, that the theories are not based off of proof (as will be seen), but rather on excuse and efforts to in some way discredit the Bible and it’s testimony. We’ll soon see that it is more historically sound to accept the Bible’s account.
The Swoon Theory. The Swoon Theory states Christ merely fell unconscious on the cross, was buried, and nursed back to health after an escape from the tomb. However, this defies all logic, for it is physically impossible for a man who was crucified/beaten as Christ was to live through it, let alone after it. Some men would die from the intense scourging (whipping with a leather strap which had metal and bones on the end of it) even before making it to the cross. So Christ was scourged, crucified, nearly suffocated (this is how you were killed when crucified), and had His heart pierced. Not only that, but He was pronounced dead by experts of murder. Yet skeptics say He lived through it? This is neither historical nor logical. He could not have survived, nor would he have wanted to after such an event.
Stolen body. Some also use the unfounded excuse that the body of Christ was stolen after it was buried. However, we must realize that the grave was sealed by a stone of a few tons, it was guarded by two Roman soldiers, and the disciples would have been too fearful to even attempt such a feat. If they were so undevoted enough to flee from their Master when He was arrested, why would they steal His body and die for what they knew was a lie?
Hallucination. Another objection made is that the disciples and other witnesses were merely hallucinating, because they so desired that the Lord did not die. However, there is no indication of this anywhere in historical writings; this only exists as an objection today. Also, many at a time saw Christ when He was risen, and it is scientifically impossible for several to hallucinate the exact same event. Five hundred men plus women and children cannot hallucinate as a group, yet they still saw Him. This also doesn’t give reason for the empty tomb. Did they hallucinate that the tomb was empty? Science clearly does not back this theory.
It wasn’t Christ Who died. The objection is also raised that a look-alike took Christ’s place on the cross, which would give reason for His appearance to others. Let’s consider this: 1). All reliable historical texts say otherwise (Bible, Josephus, Talmud, Roman historic writings). It is not historical to believe this. 2). Historians recognize that Christ died. 3). Pilate condemned Jesus to death, and there was no point at which Judas or another look alike could take Christ’s place. 4). The look-alike would have known what crucifixion involved and would never have chosen to die that way for a lie. In reality, there is far more proof against this than for it.
Disciples didn’t know Christ’s burial place. Finally, some would raise the argument that the disciples did not know where Christ was buried. In Matthew 28:12-15, the elders and chief priests (who knew where He was buried) even recognized that the grave was empty; they claimed the body was stolen. Furthermore, Joseph of Arimathaea was rich and buried Christ in a special tomb (a fulfillment of prophecy – Isaiah 53:9, fulfilled in Matthew 43-46). In those days, for a woman’s testimony to be trusted, the testimony had to come from two witnesses: Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus saw where Jesus was laid. Of course the tomb’s location was known. There is no reason to deny it.
If Christ is not risen, according to Paul in 1 Corinthians 15, Christians are false witnesses who deserve to be eternally damned for their claims, and they are some of the saddest examples of human beings. Christ had to have risen; how else did Christianity explode in the early centuries? It was not done by force, but because of the power of the message and the boldness of the disciples. If Christ is not risen, not only is history and logic contradicted, but every person on the face of the earth is without hope.