In 1993 I started working for Simon Greenleaf University (now Trinity Law School) which offered an M.A. in Christian apologetics (Craig Hazen was the director). Much of my job was to promote the school and although I had studied Christian apologetics since my sophomore year in high school, I decided I needed to see whether an apologetic witness had strong Biblical precedence.
As I poured through the Scripture I found that Jesus and the apostles preached the resurrection of Christ as the sign of the truth of Christianity.
What follows are some of the passages which support the resurrection witness.
Jesus to a wicked and adulterous generation
Mat. 12:39-40: A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Notice two things. First, Jesus said that it is characteristic of wicked and adulterous people to always seek more evidence. Second, Jesus said He was only going to give the world one sign and that sign would be His resurrection.
Jesus to Thomas
John 21:27-28: 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.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Luke to Theophilus
Acts 1:1-3: 1 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 showed himself to these men 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 choosing an apostle
Acts 1:21-22: Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.
Peter’s Pentecost address
Acts 2:22-24: Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead….
Acts 2:31-32: Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses to the fact.
Peter before the rulers and elders
Acts 4:10: Know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.
Acts 4:20: For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.
The apostles to all who would listen
Acts 4:33: With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
The apostles before the Sanhedrin
Acts 5:30: The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead—whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree.
Peter at Cornelius’ house
Acts 10:39: We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem.
Acts 10:41-43a: But God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. All the prophets testify about him….
Paul in Antioch
Acts 13:30-31: But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he was seen by those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to his people.
13:34a: The fact that God raised him from the dead….
13:37: But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay.
Paul in the synagogue
Acts 17:2-3: As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead.
Paul in Athens
Acts 17:31-34: For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead. When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” At that, Paul left the Council. A few men became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.
Paul before Felix
Acts 24:21: I shouted as I stood in their presence: “It is concerning the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you today.”
Paul before Agrippa
Acts 26:22-23: And so, having obtained help from God, I stand to this day testifying both to small and great, stating nothing but what the Prophets and Moses said was going to take place; that the Christ was to suffer, and that by reason of His resurrection from the dead He should be the first to proclaim light both to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.
Paul to the Romans
Romans 1:4b: Declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord. (ESV)
Paul to the Corinthians
1 Cor. 15:3-8: 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 Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers 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.
So, Jesus appealed to the evidence of His resurrection, and when the apostles witnessed, they also appealed to the evidence of Jesus’ resurrection.
We should too.
By the way, in my classes in our M.A. in Christian Apologetics program at Biola University, I encourage the students to formulate their own 150 word resurrection witness.
I’ll share mine soon.
1 John 1:1-2: That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us. (ESV)