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Jesus' Resurrection

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“This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses” (Acts 2:32 Acts 2:32This Jesus has God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.
American King James Version×
).

Jesus’ resurrection a consistent theme in the apostles’ writing

Jesus’ resurrection and its life-giving purpose is a consistent theme in the writings of His apostles. One of the most incisive passages concerning His resurrection is found in one of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians:

“This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses” (Acts 2:32 Acts 2:32This Jesus has God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.
American King James Version×
).

Jesus’ resurrection a consistent theme in the apostles’ writing

Jesus’ resurrection and its life-giving purpose is a consistent theme in the writings of His apostles. One of the most incisive passages concerning His resurrection is found in one of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians:

“Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain.

“We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ—whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised.

“If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have died in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:12-19 1 Corinthians 15:12-19 12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: 14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; you are yet in your sins. 18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
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, New Revised Standard Version).

This is one of the most powerful statements in the Bible on the significance and indisputability of Jesus’ resurrection .

Highlights on Jesus’ resurrection

There is rich detail of Jesus’ resurrection and crucifixion in the Gospel accounts. The four Gospel accounts must be read together in order to get the full story. Our in-depth research into the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus has been documented in a booklet available for free online, Jesus Christ – The Real Story .” A much more thorough explanation of the events, timeline and historical record are contained in this booklet.

Here we will highlight a couple points of interest on the topic, including the acknowledgement of Jesus’ resurrection by His enemies, an overview on when He died and when Jesus was resurrected and nonbiblical sources that verify Jesus’ life.

Jesus’ enemies acknowledged that the tomb was empty

What was the reaction of Jesus’ enemies to the disciples’ stunning declaration that Jesus was alive again after having been publicly executed?

Their reaction is very revealing. Did they respond that the disciples were lying, that Jesus’ body still lay in the rock-hewn tomb? No . Did they claim that the disciples were hallucinating? No. Instead, they bribed the Roman soldiers responsible for guarding the sealed tomb to spread what they knew was a lie . They told them to spread a cover story, to claim that Jesus’ disciples had come and stolen His body while they slept, and that they would cover for the soldiers if they got in trouble with the Roman governor.

Read the account in Matthew 28:11-15 Matthew 28:11-15 11 Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and showed to the chief priests all the things that were done. 12 And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money to the soldiers, 13 Saying, Say you, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. 14 And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. 15 So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.
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. This was the best excuse the authorities could come up with to explain why Jesus’ body was missing and could not be found!

Here we have evidence from the very enemies of Christ that His tomb was empty. The best rationale they could come up with they knew to be a lie . There is no other explanation for how the tomb became empty except that Jesus was resurrected bodily and left the tomb .

On multiple occasions and under various circumstances individuals and groups of people saw Jesus alive after His resurrection, knowing that He had died.

When did Jesus die and when was Jesus resurrected?

Although controversial to many, the chronology in the following section is accurate when you corroborate the Gospel accounts. Common misunderstanding of the first “Sabbath” as mentioned in Luke 23:46-54 Luke 23:46-54 46 And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into your hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. 47 Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man. 48 And all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned. 49 And all his acquaintance, and the women that followed him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things. 50 And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counselor; and he was a good man, and a just: 51 (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God. 52 This man went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. 53 And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulcher that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid. 54 And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on.
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lead many to believe that He died on Friday. But John 19:31 John 19:31The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) sought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.
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shows that this approaching Sabbath “was a high day”—not the weekly Sabbath (Friday sunset to Saturday sunset) but the First Day of Unleavened Bread, which is one of God’s annual high, or Sabbath, days (Exodus 12:16-17 Exodus 12:16-17 16 And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you. 17 And you shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall you observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever.
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; Leviticus 23:6-7 Leviticus 23:6-7 6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread to the LORD: seven days you must eat unleavened bread. 7 In the first day you shall have an holy convocation: you shall do no servile work therein.
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). These annual Holy Days could—and usually did—fall on days of the week other than the regular weekly Sabbath day.

This high-day Sabbath was Wednesday night and Thursday, since Luke 23:56 Luke 23:56And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.
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shows that the women, after seeing Christ’s body being laid in the tomb just before sunset, “returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils” for the final preparation of the body.

Such work would not have been done on a Sabbath day since it would have been considered a violation of the Sabbath. This is verified by Mark’s account, which states, “Now when the Sabbath was past , Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices [which they would not have purchased on the high-day Sabbath], that they might come and anoint Him” (Mark 16:1 Mark 16:1And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.
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).

The women had to wait until this annual “high day” Sabbath was over before they could buy and prepare the spices to be used for anointing Jesus’ body. Then, after purchasing and preparing the spices and oils on Friday, “they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment” (Luke 23:56 Luke 23:56And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.
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). This second Sabbath mentioned in the Gospel accounts is the regular weekly Sabbath, observed from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset.

By comparing details in both Gospels—where Mark tells us the women bought spices after the Sabbath and Luke relates that they prepared the spices before resting on the Sabbath—we can clearly see that two different Sabbaths are mentioned. The first, as John 19:31 John 19:31The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) sought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.
American King James Version×
tells us, was a “high day”—the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread—which, in A.D. 31, fell on a Thursday. The second was the weekly seventh-day Sabbath.

After the women rested on the regular weekly Sabbath, they went to Jesus’ tomb early on the first day of the week (Sunday), “while it was still dark” (John 20:1 John 20:1The first day of the week comes Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, to the sepulcher, and sees the stone taken away from the sepulcher.
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), and found that He had already been resurrected (Matthew 28:1-6 Matthew 28:1-6 1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher. 2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. 3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: 4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. 5 And the angel answered and said to the women, Fear not you: for I know that you seek Jesus, which was crucified. 6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
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; Mark 16:2-6 Mark 16:2-6 2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came to the sepulcher at the rising of the sun. 3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulcher? 4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. 5 And entering into the sepulcher, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. 6 And he said to them, Be not affrighted: You seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.
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; Luke 24:1-3 Luke 24:1-3 1 Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came to the sepulcher, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulcher. 3 And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.
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).

When we consider the details in all four Gospel accounts, the picture is clear. Jesus was crucified and entombed late on Wednesday afternoon, just before a Sabbath began at sunset. However, that was a high-day Sabbath, lasting from Wednesday sunset to Thursday sunset that week, rather than the regular weekly Sabbath, lasting from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset.

Get a chronological overview of the crucifixion and Jesus’ resurrection here.

Do other nonbiblical sources confirm Jesus Christ’s existence?

Cornelius Tacitus (ca. 56-120) was a Roman senator, consul and governor of the Roman province of Anatolia (covering most of modern-day Turkey) as well as one of ancient Rome’s greatest historians. Late in his life he wrote a 16-volume history of the Roman emperors, the Annals.

No friend to either Nero or Christians, Tacitus writes that Nero blamed “a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace.” He goes on to explain that “Christus [Christ], from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty [crucifixion] during the reign of Tiberius at the hand of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome …” (Annals, 15:44, quoted by Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ, 1998, p. 82).

Other nonbiblical references to Jesus’ life can be referenced here, including testimony from Josephus, a prominent Jewish historian of the first century.

Assurance of Jesus’ resurrection

We can be assured that the length of His entombment that Jesus gave as proof He was the Messiah was exactly as long as He foretold. Jesus rose precisely three days and three nights after He was placed in the tomb.

Because most do not understand the biblical high days Jesus Christ and His followers kept, they fail to understand the chronological details so accurately preserved for us in the Gospels. (For more details, download or request our free booklet Holidays or Holy Days: Does It Matter Which Days We Observe? )

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