12 Groups saw Jesus Resurrected


Jesus appeared 12 times to different group sizes ranging from just one person to 500 people.

1) Mary Magdalene (Mark 16.9-11; John 20.11-18), Peter in Jerusalem (Luke 24.34; 1 Cor. 15.5), Jesus' brother (insider skeptic) James (1 Cor. 15.7). "And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any [man]; for they were afraid" (Mark 16.8). Some of the New Testament authors explicitly claimed to be eyewitnesses to Jesus' resurrection (and transfiguration). Peter said, "We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty" (2 Pet. 2.16). John also said, "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched...we proclaim to you what we have seen and heard" (1 John 1.1,3).


2) The other women at the tomb (Matthew 28.8-10).

3) The two travelers on the road (Mark 16.12,13; Luke 24.13-34).

4) Ten disciples behind closed doors (Mark 16.14; Luke 24.35-43; John 20.19-25).

5) All the disciples, with Thomas, excluding Judas Iscariot (John 20.26-31; 1 Cor. 15.5).

6) Seven disciples while fishing (John 21.1-14).

7) Eleven disciples on the mountain (Matthew 28.16-20).

8) A crowd of 500 "most of whom are still alive" at the time of Paul writing (1 Cor. 15.6). This may have been the same group as in Matt. 28.16: the rendezvous was to "to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them." Unlike the other accounts which were unexpected and by surprise, and to gather such a large number of people, this meeting was held outdoors. The women were told to tell the disciples to meet Jesus in Galilee as well. "And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted" (Matt. 28.17) may be a reference to many present, both believers and non-believers. Paul had firsthand contact with them. So it was not a legend. He knew some of the people had died in the interim, but most were still alive. He is saying in effect they are still around to be questioned. You can talk to some of the witnesses. He never could have made this challenge if this event had not occurred.

9) "Then to all the apostles" (1 Cor. 15.7) which includes the Twelve plus all the other apostles.

10) Jesus appeared to the disciples in Jerusalem (Luke 24.44-49).

11) Those who watched Jesus ascend to heaven (Mark 16.19,20; Luke 24.50-53; Acts 1.3-8).

12) Least of all Paul (outsider skeptic) with others present and as though he was not living in the proper time (1 Cor. 15.8-9; Gal. 1.13-16; Acts 9.1-8, 22.9, read all of chapters 22 and 26; 13.30-37; 1 Cor. 15.10-20; Gal. 2.1-10).


The Brother of Jesus was a Leader of the Church of the Resurrected Jesus


It's interesting that the two people Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 15 and Galatians 1 are the first two original Apostles he met in Jerusalem after he had spent three years in Damascus. For two weeks in Jerusalem on a fact finding trip he met with Peter and James. We have good evidence in the gospels none of the brothers of Jesus believed he was the Messiah, until that day James saw Jesus resurrected. In fact, Jesus' brothers tried to goad him into a deathtrap by showing himself publically at a feast when they knew the Jewish leaders were trying to persecute and kill him. But then James emerges as one of pillars of the NT church and one of its leaders.


Even if Paul didn't mention James seeing Jesus resurrected, you would have to invent something to account for his transformation and leadership in the church. What would it take to make you believe your brother was the Lord if you didn't see him alive from the dead? He willingly went to his death in AD 67 by the Jewish Sanhedrin for his belief Jesus was Lord, Son of God, resurrected Messiah!


Peter Said He Saw Jesus Alive from the Dead


With John in the Temple Peter said, "You killed the author of life, but God raised him to life. And we are witnesses of this fact!" (Acts 3.15). Not just Peter, but "all the Apostles" (1 Cor. 15.7).


Again, Peter said, "Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead" (Acts 10.40-41). This verse does not say He showed Himself only to those who he ate and drank with before He died, but He ate and drank with those He appeared to after He was resurrected.


It Would Make No Sense Paul Would Convert to Christianity Unless He Saw Jesus Resurrected


Paul entered a life of incredible hardship as a Christian when he didn't need to. He had a successful career going on in Judaism as a Pharisee.


Luke Makes No Mention of Paul's Death His Two Books

Paul died in the Neronian persecution in 64-65 AD. Luke set forth the biography of Paul in Acts and his mission activities but makes no mention of his death. At the end of the book Paul had not yet died. So Acts had to have been written before his death. Had he died the author would have mentioned it especially considering Paul almost died seven times in the Scriptures. Death is important in a biography so that places Acts around 55 A.D.

Luke said in the book of Acts: "The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence" (1.1-5).

The former treaty by Luke to Theophilus was the Gospel of Luke: "Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed" (1.1-4).

We keep moving back from the 64-65 A.D. Since Acts was written about 55 A.D., Luke would be even earlier around 45 A.D. Even more, Luke took in part from Mark so that places Mark around 35 A.D. just 2 years after the cross. And Mark worked closely with Peter so that places Peterís two books quite early as well. These primary sources are all within a decade or two after the cross exactly what historians like to see. Amen.

The Origin of the Disciples' Beliefs was Jesus Resurrected

What was the origin of the disciplesí beliefs? It couldn't have been the result of Christian influences for the simple reason, there wasn't any Christianity yet and they were the first believers. The origin of their beliefs can't be pagan such as Adonis and Osiris since the disciples don't make the claim they are attached to any of these mythical gods. Rather, they are just symbols for passage of the seasons. The god dies in the winter and comes back to life as a new crop in the spring. It would be simply unthinkable for the disciples to believe this is what Jesus meant. There is actually not only no causal relationship, but in first century Palestine these myths of dying and rising gods was a later invention added in, and the disciples had no contact with these sorts of things. Therefore, the best explanation is Jesus rose from the dead.

Highest Standards of Historical Record in Antiquity with Multiply Corroborated Facts


To the best of my knowledge, there is nothing recorded in antiquity so close to the events that happened and number of sources. Therefore, it is holding the highest of standards of historical record. Jesus has 45 sources of Him within 150 years of His death. Tiberius died on just 4 years after Jesus and only had 9 sources. Actually, Jesus has more sources about Him than any ten figures from antiquity.


Paul said in Gal. 1 & 2 he met James and Peter a few years after the cross as indicated in 1 Cor. 15 in which he says he is delivering what he received from them. Scholars place his conversion two years after the cross. Galatians says it was "3 years" after his conversion he met James and Peter, so that's five years after the cross he met original eyewitness Apostles. And it's safe to say they talked about more than just the weather.


Altogether, there is Paul's writings, oral traditions in creeds, hymns and sermon summaries in various NT books, and writings of the early church fathers such as Polycarp and Clement of Rome who personally knew the Apostles John and Peter. Polycarp was a student of John and Clement of Rome was a friend of Peter. Clement is mentioned in the Bible in addition to extra-Biblical sources.


Paul's Extensive Testimony and Interaction with the Apostles


Luke has no problem between Paul's appearance and those made to the disciples in Luke 24 and Acts 1.1-11. Luke records both types of appearances of Jesus to the disciples and to Paul.


"Last of all he was seen of me also" (1 Cor. 15.8). "Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?" (1 Cor. 9.1). Others saw the light, heard the voice and fell to the ground during when Paul saw Jesus bodily, however because Paul's experience was post-ascension, it may be slightly different.


"And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man" (Acts 9.7). This presumes that Paul saw the Man.


"To reveal His Son in me" (Gal. 1.16,18) took three years following the Damascus road experience. Don't mistake this portion as being the bodily appearance. Paul got to know Jesus for three years before becoming an Apostle.


Paul reports knowing some of the disciples personally who had seen Jesus resurrected including Peter, James, and John. Acts confirms this (Acts 9.26-30; 15.1-35). And Paul says in 1 Cor. 15.11 that whether "it was I or they, this is what we preach" referring to the resurrection of Jesus.


"Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother" (Gal. 1.18,19). Suffice it to say, they talked about more than just the weather. Years later Paul met up with John. Peter and James present then also.


"Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain. And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision. But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed" (Gal. 2,1-2,9,11). This was regarding circumcision. James and Barnabas were also at fault with Peter.


"I said to Cephas before them all, If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?" (Gal. 2.14) They continued long in discourse.


The Evolution of the Resurrection Devolved


Evolution of a resurrection theory actually devolved from the accounts of the 40 days with the disciples to when Paul saw Jesus (Gal. 1.15-16). Paul's experience was more like a vision, yet a vision that affected those with him on the road to Damascus. 


Many years after Paul saw the vision on the Damascus road, he testified, "Wherefore . . . I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision" (Acts 26.19).


No Naturalistic Explanation Since All Possibilities Have Been Exhausted 


Now if so many people saw Jesus resurrected (see even more compelling testimony), is it really so hard to believe the saved will be resurrected at the consummation of the age of the dispensation of grace, the end of the mystery age of the Church? As Christians died with Christ we shall be resurrected in a resurrection like His. Even the unsaved will be resurrected though a thousand years later to the Great White Throne to be sentenced to burn for eternity in the Lake of Fire. They would rather burn and be tortured than to be saved by accepting Christ as their Savior.


Troy Brooks