The Resurrection of Jesus (9): The 500 Eye Witnesses


In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul writes of some 500 people who were eyewitnesses of the resurrected Christ (1Cor. 15:3-8). Paul’s seemingly offhand comment is actually a challenge to the skeptic. He says they all saw him “at the same time”, hardly the stuff that hallucinations are made of. He says that most of them are still living, though some had since fallen asleep, that is, died. It is as if Paul is saying: “Most are still alive and if you don’t believe me go and ask them.” This kind of testimony, testimony that presumes that the hearer can check the details for him or herself, is very convincing.

I am reminded of Paul’s defence before King Agrippa, where he said: “The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner”. On the basis of what was public knowledge Paul was able to challenge the King, “Do you believe the prophets? I know you do.” Agrippa replied, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” Paul’s passion is evident. “Short time or long—I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains” (Acts 26:26-29).

I know where Paul is coming from.  

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