In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
- Acts 1:1-5
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
- 1 Corinthians 15:3-8
“With a frequency that is amazing, the Bible affirms the fact of the bodily resurrection of Christ. Perhaps the most direct of all its statements is Luke’s account in the book of Acts, where he reports, ‘To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days’ (Acts 1:3). What are we going to do with these ‘many infallible proofs’? Someone asked my colleague George Beverly Shea how much he knew about God. He said, ‘I don’t know much, but what I do know has changed my life.’ We may not be able to take all of this evidence into a scientific laboratory and prove it; but, if we accept any fact of history, we must accept the fact that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.”
- Billy Graham, Day by Day with Billy Graham, devotion for 13 August
I could have also quoted Lee Strobel. Strobel, being a former investigative journalist sought to discredit the Christian faith that his wife had accepted after they were married for some time. He was convinced that he could prove her wrong, but in the end, he accepted Jesus as his Savior. As an investigative journalist, he pointed to two things that kept bothering him. While many poke at the Gospels that disagree with one another, Strobel took solace in that there was disagreement in the eyewitness reports. If one Gospel says that one blind man received his sight on the road from Jericho to Jerusalem and another Gospel says that there were two blind men (the third saying one and giving the one a name), then Strobel knowing that no two eyewitnesses are going to agree on every detail, he knew these were eyewitness accounts. If they all said the exact same thing in every story, then Strobel would think that Matthew, Mark, and Luke got together and colluded to form one story.
The other point Strobel made was that all the Apostles died as martyrs. Any of them could have avoided death by simply stating that the Apostles made up the story about the resurrection. None recanted their story. But when we read 1 Corinthians 15, 500 people saw Jesus, a ballpark number, but many were still alive when Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, and no one wrote a message saying that they might have been mistaken, so make that 499.
What were these convincing proofs, as stated in the NIV and most other English translations? It is the King James that states “infallible,” along with the Amplified Bible. We will never know, but we can be confident that some of those 500 mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15 were among the eyewitnesses that Luke interviewed before writing the book of Acts. We kind of get the idea from what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15 that Jesus could have appeared at an amphitheater where there were 500 people gathered. Luke’s “many infallible or convincing proofs” sounds like a lot of witnesses in a lot of different settings. Could it not be both? With the accounts in the Gospels, you have Jesus walking with disciples and then breaking bread. You have Jesus cooking fish over a fire on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. And you have Jesus appearing in the middle of a room with the doors locked, yet He was not a ghost. He had substance. You could touch His wounds.
Whatever your interpretation of these verses is, we know that the Bible is true, and we know that the resurrection of Jesus occurred, or the eyewitnesses would have denied it and Christianity would have fizzled. And today, there would be no talk of the subject.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.
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