Summary: The five evidences, or testimonies, for the resurrection of Jesus Christ presented in 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 are: 1) the Church; 2) the Scriptures; 3) the Eyewitnesses; 4) a Special Witness, and 6) the Common Message.
The one interesting factor about this time of year is the sudden attention things of faith get. When so many people across this planet meet on one morning to celebrate the most historically verifiable event, it is hard to ignore. Yet every possible explanation about alternative theories in regards to Christ’s resurrection from the dead get a hearing. The radio, TV and print all seem to be scrambling to find the most radical deniers of the resurrection of Christ who want to get a spotlight. These individuals assure us though, that denial of the resurrection is just growing up. It is the casting off of myths and fables to embrace more personal realities like love and fellowship.
If this event did not happen then Christianity falls, we have no hope and we are wasting our time. Because it is the cornerstone of the gospel, the resurrection has been the target of Satan’s greatest attacks against the church. If the resurrection is eliminated, the life–giving power of the gospel is eliminated, the deity of Christ is eliminated, salvation from sin is eliminated, and eternal life is eliminated (1 Cor. 15:19). If Christ did not live past the grave, those who trust in Him surely cannot hope to do so.
1 Corinthians, chapter 15 is devoted entirely to doctrine, and to a single doctrine at that. In these 58 verses Paul gives the most extensive treatment of the resurrection in all of Scripture. Written c. 55 AD, about 20 years after the crucifixion, although most of the Corinthians believed in the resurrection, some, possible influenced by Sadducees, denied that Christ rose from the dead (v.12). Others failed to see the importance of a bodily resurrection.
• It was the common Greek viewpoint of the day. The Greeks believed the body was inherently evil and that it was the prison-house of the soul. When death came, the soul was finally released from its prison. The idea of the body being raised at some later time and reunited with the soul was, to this way of thinking, the most undesirable thing imaginable. (They thought) what joy could there be in the soul being placed in its prison again? (Roger Ellsworth: Strengthening Christ’s Church: The Message of 1 Corinthians. Welwyn Commentary Series. 1995. Evangelical Press. p. 234)
• Others, like Hymenaeus and Philetus (2 Tim. 2:17-18) spiritualized the resurrection by teaching that it was something each Christian experienced in himself when he came to the knowledge of Christ.
What does the resurrection of Christ mean to you? How are you different because of the resurrection? The answers to these questions impact faith, the reliability of scripture, our hope to see loved one’s who have died and to have eternal life ourselves.
The five evidences, or testimonies, for the resurrection of Jesus Christ presented in 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 are: 1) the Church; 2) the Scriptures; 3) the Eyewitnesses; 4) a Special Witness, and 6) the Common Message.
1) THE TESTIMONY OF THE CHURCH 1 Corinthians 15:1-2
1 Corinthians 15:1-2 [15:1]Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. (ESV)
The first testimony or evidence of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, is not stated explicitly but is implied. The very fact that the Corinthian Christians themselves, and all other Christians everywhere, had received the gospel and believed in Jesus Christ and had been miraculously changed, was in itself a strong evidence of the power of the gospel, which power is in the resurrection of Christ.
Quote: Church historian Kenneth Scott Latourette wrote in History of the Expansion of Christianity:”It was the conviction of the resurrection of Jesus which lifted his followers out of the despair into which his death had cast them and which led to the perpetuation of the movement begun by him. But for their profound belief that the crucified had risen from the dead and they had seen him and talked with him, the death of Jesus and even Jesus himself would probably have been all but forgotten”. (vol. 1 [New York: Harper & Row, 1970], p. 59).
By addressing them again as brothers/brethren (cf. 1:10; 2:1; 3:1; 10:1; etc.) Paul assures those to whom he writes that he recognizes them to be fellow Christians. The term not only expresses his spiritual identity with them but also his love (cf. 15:58).
Please turn to Romans 5
Quote: John S. Whale said:
“The Gospels do not explain the Resurrection; the Resurrection explains the Gospels. Belief in the Resurrection is not an appendage to the Christian faith; it is the Christian faith”. (Barton, B. B., & Osborne, G. R. (1999). 1 & 2 Corinthians. Life application Bible commentary (217). Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House).