The Resurrection of Christ

“The Resurrection was God’s vindication of Christ’s teaching and earthly ministry, the demonstration that Christ has defeated sin, death, and the Devil.”[1] Each aspect of the doctrine of Christ is vitally important to the salvation of sinners, but according to Paul, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). We will examine the biblical evidence, nature, and significance of the resurrection.

Biblical Evidence for the Resurrection

The historical Resurrection carries significant biblical evidence including four specific Gospel presentations between Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.[2] Preceding these accounts include Christ’s resurrection as prophesied in the Old Testament. Psalm 16:10 speaks of God not allowing “the Holy One” to undergo decay, correlating this same salvation with the believer. Peter quotes this same text in Acts 2:27, and the Apostle Paul also utilizes this same text saying, “You will not allow thy Holy One to undergo decay” (Acts 13:35). His usage of Psalm 16:10 is only moments after addressing “the fact” that God raised Christ from the dead (Acts 13:34).

Jesus himself predicted his bodily resurrection in Matthew, showing his disciples the path of suffering, death, and resurrection “on the third day” to come (Matthew 16:21). In addition, the disciples of Christ also testified to his resurrection as eyewitnesses. The criteria for selecting an apostle included being an eye-witness of the resurrection, and Paul declared the appearance of the risen Savior to “all the apostles” (1 Corinthians 15:4).

The Nature of the Resurrection

In regards to the nature of the Resurrection, one must infer it was physical. This inference relies on Jesus’ own self-affirmation to the disciples, “Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have” (Luke 24:36-39). The famous scene where Jesus invites Thomas to stop doubting by touching his hands and feet also affirms a physical resurrection (John 21:12-13). Defining the word resurrection as the reunification of the physical and spiritual natures further confirms the physicality of Christ’s resurrection.

The Significance of the Resurrection

According to 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, the gospel is directly associated with the resurrection. The apostle Paul implores that without the resurrection, our faith is futile, and we are still in our sins (1 Corinthians 15:12). In other words, the resurrection is pivotal to the good news of Christ because of salvation (Romans 10:9), and guarantees faith that saves (Ephesians 2:7). Also, the resurrection of Christ is the assurance of the believer’s hope in eternity. Paul says, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:19). The implication here is an apparent and blatant hope for believers, secured in eternity and in the believer’s heart through the resurrection.

[1] Davis, Handbook of Basic Bible Texts, 81.

[2] Grudem, Systematic Theology, 608.

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