Since, it’s Resurrection Day, I figure I would make an easy post and spend time with the family. The following is a collection of objections and answers to the resurrection of Jesus. It has been a slowly growing as I read more and add things to the Pile. I will cite the authors and books at the end. Many books have the similar information.
The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:17 “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” As a Christian, EVERYTHING hangs on the resurrection. Everything. IT has turned many skeptics into followers. I hope this will add to your faith and make it stronger.
OBJECTION 1: IT IS UNREASONABLE TO BELIEVE IN THE RESURRECTION
Because of the beliefs of many atheists and skeptics it is the last option that they would accept because of their presuppositions about the Bible, miracles, or belief in the existence of God.
1. Because the resurrection was a physical resurrection and not just a spiritual one, there are many difficulties to faking the resurrection by stealing the body or some other means of trickery. You have the following points. Wrapped in a linen cloth and about 100 pounds of spices. (Mixed together they form a gummy substance) Placed in tomb with a large stone weighing anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 pounds. There were Roman guards placed at the tomb to guard against any chance of trickery. A Roman seal was placed on the tomb that if broken, would call for an investigation and death by crucifixion of the one responsible. If a Roman Guard left his post he would face strict punishment. There must have been a good reason for the guards to flee.
2. The Biblical account of the resurrection has the women to be the first ones appearing at the tomb. This seems to be issue if you believe that the claims of the resurrection were made up. During the Biblical times women had no right to much anything, they were not given the ability to testify in court except in a few cases. If someone wanted people to believe a lie that Jesus really was alive, then why weaken the argument with women. The reason the women were the first to the tomb and to witness Jesus is perhaps, because it actually happened that way.
3. Another issue is the reaction of the disciples. The disciples had scattered after the arrest of Jesus for fear of their own lives. Annas the high priest had been asking questions about Jesus followers also. They had locked themselves in a room in fear of persecution that Jesus had warned them about. (John 15) Jesus had appeared to them and shown them his hands and side. (Proof) What followed then was the transformation of their lives. They went from hiding to boldly proclaiming the news of his resurrection. They were also willing to face opposition, cynicism, ridicule, hardship, prison, death, and death.
4. After the resurrection, the Christian faith exploded and many Jews had become followers of Jesus. In doing so they left several key tenants of their faith behind. Below are a list of some of the major ones.
- The animal sacrifice system.
- The binding supremacy of the laws of Moses.
- Strict monotheism to a belief in the Trinity.
- The Holiness of the Sabbath.
- Belief in a conquering messiah to a humble, servant in Jesus.
5. The conversion of “hardcore” skeptics in NT times. There are 3 mentioned in the section. The apostle Paul, James the half-brother of Jesus, and Thomas who was not with the disciples when Jesus appeared to them in the room. Each of the 3 are listed with the scripture references within the Bible that show their conversion. Paul is of course the strongest example because he was a well-known figure and his letter to the Corinthians is dated the earliest written and he is well-known outside to the Bible many with his writings.
6. Only the resurrection would explain the growth and survival of the church. It is well documented about the persecution of the Christians in the first century. Nero was well-known for his hatred for the Christians and Nero blamed the burning of Rome on the Christians. So, if the resurrection was fake and made up why would all the Jews and Gentiles have placed their lives in so much danger and trouble in less it was true?
7. There were too many appearances of Jesus to have the resurrection easily dismissed. The 1 Corinthian letter from Paul lists the great number of people whom Jesus revealed himself too. (Chapter 15 , also Acts 1:3) At the time of Paul’s letter which is about 55-57 A.D. Paul included that many of those witnesses were still alive. This was most likely 20 years or so after the death and resurrection. There would have been plenty of voices of opposition to Paul’s claim that Jesus had resurrected.
This proof reminds me of the Elvis or now, Michael Jackson example I have used for many years. Imagine today that people started claiming that Elvis or Michael Jackson was not dead but had come back to life. What if the number of people started growing and more and more people joined the band wagon. All the families or government would have to do is open the casket or dig up the body to silence the critics. One objection might be, “well the families wouldn’t want to do that.” Maybe, but keep in mind that the government in Jesus day was not like that of today. If they wanted to put an end to the Christian movement, all they had to do was produce the body. They didn’t because they could not produce the body, it was gone.
OBJECTION 2: JESUS WAS NOT REALLY PHYSICALLY RESURRECTED FROM THE DEAD, BUT RATHER IT WAS HIS ESSENCE – SOME PART OF HIM THAT LIVED AMONG THEM.
Many times critics will claim that the disciples did not see a real physically resurrected Jesus but rather a spiritual one or something to the equivalent.
This would imply that the disciples went on and on about the resurrection of Jesus dishonestly and new it was a lie. Or at the least ALL had hallucinations of Jesus resurrection to believe it was real. I will look at the second part of the last sentence in another Objection next. In Paul’s letters to the churches he specifically uses the word “Soma” which is translated body. His repeated use of the term implies very much that Jesus had a physical resurrection. Rhodes lists the scriptures that show us Jesus had a special glorified resurrected body, in which I will list for reference.
- Luke 24:39 – See my hands and feet, touch me to see.
- John 2:19-21 – Jesus told about destroying the temple in 3 days and building it back up again.
- Luke 24:30, 24:42-43, John 21:12-13, Acts 1:4 – Jesus ate food 4 different times.
- John 20:17, Matthew 28:9, Luke 24:39 – He was touched and handled by many different people.
- 1 Corinthians 15:35-44 – Paul talks of the body that goes down into the grave, and the body that comes up.
OBJECTION 3: JESUS WAS NOT PHYSICALLY RESURRECTED BUT SEEN BY HIS FOLLOWERS IN A SPIRITUAL SENSE.
This objection comes from the objection of skeptic Keith Parson, where he notes that the famous scripture in 1 Corinthians 15:5-7 uses the word “ophthe” which has the meaning of either “seeing” with the literal eye or “seeing” with mind or spirit. In other words because we do not know the clear meaning of that word, we can assume that it was a spiritual vision they saw and not a physical one.
This objection does not fit well with the rest of the Bible and the use of others who saw the resurrected body of Jesus. The numerous passages in the gospels as well as the other Pauline epistles. It also does not work within the context of the same letter of Corinthians. Paul also uses the phrase heaven vision to make a vision of a different type.
You can also look at the same answer above for more of the same evidence of Jesus having a physical resurrection and not just a spiritual one.
OBJECTION 4: THE DISCIPLES OR OTHER PEOPLE STOLE THE BODY OF JESUS, AND THE DISCIPLES ASSUMED HE HAD RISEN FROM THE DEAD. Because we have tons of evidence that bodies don’t just rise from the dead or disappear into nothing or Heaven. The only two options that we are left with is that someone stole the body or the tomb was not empty.
There are several issues that make the likelihood of the disciples taking the body of Jesus. Below are some listed from the first objection above.
Wrapped in a linen cloth and about 100 pounds of spices. (Mixed together they form a gummy substance) Placed in tomb with a large stone weighing anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 pounds. There were Roman guards placed at the tomb to guard against any chance of trickery. A Roman seal was placed on the tomb that if broken, would call for an investigation and death by crucifixion of the one responsible. If a Roman Guard left his post he would face strict punishment. There must have been a good reason for the guards to flee.
It also is worth pointing out that the disciples were in no shape to steal His body. There were hiding and on the run from the Jewish rulers. It also goes back to the basic principle that “no sane person” would die for something they knew was a lie. It was not worth all the trouble or persecution they received.
OBJECTION 5: THE FOLLOWERS OF JESUS HALLUCINATED THAT JESUS ROSE FROM THE DEAD.
Hallucinations generally happen to individuals and not large groups or multiple people. The 1 Corinthians 15 passage says that Jesus appeared to over 500 people at one time. Did all these people have a hallucination at one time? The answer is not likely.
McDowell, Josh; Evidence That Demands a Verdict, second edition.
Zacharias, Ravi; Can Man Live Without God
Sherrod, Chris; Faith, Fact, and Reason Study #4 Jesus is ALIVE
Rhodes, Ron; Answering Objections of Atheists, Agnostics, and Skeptics