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Observations and confirmations

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Who observed Jesus' resurrection, according to the Bible?

Actually, nobody actually viewed the resurrection process as it happened. The Gospels report that Jesus' body was missing from the cave where he was buried. A missing body would have been consistent with the corpse being stolen, or with Jesus not having died on the cross but having recovered in the tomb. But the Bible talks about Jesus' resurrection, and records that witnesses either learned that Jesus had risen, or observed Jesus alive after his resurrection. These included:

bullet The woman/women who visited the tomb on Sunday morning:
bullet Mark 16: A man told three women: Mary Magdalene, Salome and Mary the mother of James that Jesus had risen.
bullet Matthew 28: An angel told two women: Mary Magdalene and "the other Mary," that Jesus had risen. Later, they met Jesus near the tomb.
bullet Luke 24: Four or more women: Mary the mother of James, Joanna and at least one other women went to the tomb and found it empty. Two men told them that Jesus had risen.
bullet John 20: Mary Magdalene, alone went to the tomb and was told by two angels that Jesus had risen. Later, she met Jesus, originally mistaking him for the gardener.
bullet Luke 24:13-24: Jesus appeared to two of Jesus' followers on the road to Emmaus.
bullet Luke 24:36-43: Eleven apostles and the two from the road to Emmaus saw Jesus in Jerusalem. It was reported that Jesus had previously appeared to Peter, presumably alone.
bullet John 20:19: Jesus appeared to 10 of the apostles -- all except Thomas -- in Jerusalem.
bullet John 20:26: Jesus appeared to all of the apostles, in Jerusalem. (See also Mark 16:14).
bullet John 21: Jesus appeared at the Sea of Galilee while the disciples were fishing.
bullet 1 Corinthians 15:6: First to Peter, then to the twelve apostles, more than 500 followers, James and then to all of the apostles. The location(s) are not mentioned. Finally, Jesus' voice was heard by Paul on the road to Damascus.
bullet Mark 16:19: The disciples watched while Jesus rose into the sky at Mount Olivet. See also Luke 24:50 and Acts 1:4.
bullet Acts 9:3: The disembodied voice of Jesus appeared to Paul. See also 1 Corinthians 15:8.

Followers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and other related Mormon denominations believe that Jesus later appeared in the Western hemisphere where, according to the Book of Mormon, he was seen and touched by 2,500 men, women and children (3 Nephi 11:15). They also believe that he appeared to their founder, Joseph Smith, and others in the late 19th century. 1

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Biblical confirmations of Jesus' resurrection:

There are numerous references in the Christian Scriptures to the resurrection of Jesus, in addition to the passages listed above. Many also confirm that Jesus reappeared after his death in a physical body.

Twelve books in the the King James Version of Christian Scriptures (New Testament) contain the word "resurrection:"

bullet Matthew contains 5 references
bullet Mark 2
bullet Luke 5
bullet John 4
bullet Acts 10
bullet Romans 2
bullet 1 Corinthians 4
bullet Philippians 2
bullet 2 Timothy 1 *
bullet Hebrews 2
bullet 1 Peter 2
bullet Revelations 2 references.

* Many liberal Christians doubt that any of the pastoral epistles (1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus) were written by Paul. They believe that the epistles were written circa 100 to 150 CE by an unknown author assuming the identity of Paul. Identity theft was quite common and acceptable in ancient times.

Some of the key references to Jesus' resurrection are:

bullet 1 Corinthians 15:12-23 is perhaps the most important linkage of Jesus' resurrection to the later resurrection of all Christians: "Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, 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. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming."
bullet I Corinthians 15:3-5: "...I [Paul] passed on to you...that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the twelve."
bullet I Timothy 3:16" "...was taken up in glory."
bullet Matthew 26:29: "...I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom."
bullet Luke 24:39: "Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have."
bullet Luke 24:46: "He told them, 'This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day...'"
bullet John 20:27: "Then he said to Thomas, 'Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.'"
bullet John 21:12: "Jesus said to them, 'Come and have breakfast.' None of the disciples dared to ask him, 'Who are you?' They knew it was the Lord."
bullet The Book of Acts, which is generally regarded as having the same author as the Gospel of Luke, contains many references to the resurrection: Acts 2:24-36; 3:15; 4:10, 4-33; 5:30; 10:40-41; 13:30-34; 17:32; 24:15; 25:19; 26:8, 26:23.
bullet Among the Epistles, some of which were written by Paul, the resurrection is also mentioned. e.g.:
bullet The three references from 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy, mentioned above,
bullet 1 Peter 1:3: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."
bullet And Romans 1:3; Romans 6:9-10; Ephesians 1:20; Philippians 2:9; Colossians 2:12; I Thessalonians 1:10; II Timothy 2:8; Hebrews 13:20; I Peter 1:21.

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  1. Tad Callister, "The Resurrection of Jesus Christ," at:

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Copyright 1998 to 2002 incl. by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Essay last updated: 2002-MAR-30
Written by. B.A. Robinson

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