Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. – 1 Peter 1:3
Jesus Lives! During His lifetime and ministry, Jesus had claimed that He was:
- The Christ, the Son of God (Matt 16:16-20, Matt 26:63-63),
- The Son of Man (Matt 16:13; Mk 14:62),
- Sent by God (John 8:42),
- The Savior (John 3:14-16),
- The Messiah (John 4:26),
- The Light of the World (John 8:12),
- The Future Judge (John 5:22-23),
- One with the Father (John 10:30),
- Deserving honor (and worship) equal with the Father (John 5:23),
- The One with authority to forgive (your) sins, which is something only God has authority to do (Matthew 9:2-6, Mark 2:10),
- Able to give eternal life, and further, the ONLY way to truth and life (John 10:28, John 14:6),
- King and Lord (John 18:37, Luke 6:46),
- The Great “I AM” [i.e., God Himself] (John 8:58).
However, we have also read that Jesus died (was crucified) on a cross, so how could Jesus be the Savior, Redeemer, King, and future Judge if He was (and is) just a dead man? But Jesus lives! After being dead for three (3) days, Jesus rose again to life, as it is written:
“Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man [Jesus] whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” – Acts 17:30-31
These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He [God] raised Him [Jesus] from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. – Ephesians 1:19b-21
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. – 1 Peter 1:3-5
For He [Jesus] was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. – 1 Peter 1:20-21
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me [Paul] also. – 1 Corinthians 15:3-8
…so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. – Romans 6:4
During Jesus’ life and ministry on earth, His miracles and command over nature testified about Him – that He was the Messiah, the anointed one of God, the Christ and also God incarnate (God in the flesh), fully man but also fully God. But it was His resurrection that proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that He was Who He said He was to the world: God. This is why Jesus is the one “living and true God.” In fact, Christianity is unique among all the religions of the world as it is the only one to have a living God! All other religions have a dead god or a god that is simply an impersonal “force” or feeling.
Without Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, none of His claims would have meant anything – and there would be no Christianity, no hope, no victory over sin, Satan and death, and no future of eternal life. When Jesus was crucified on the cross, Satan and his evil forces thought they had won victory; the forces of evil thought they had defeated Him. In fact, if Jesus had remained dead, they would have been correct, and all of Jesus’ promises and claims would have been nullified and proven false. That is why it is written that “if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain”:
Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. – 1 Corinthians 15:12-19
It was also Jesus’ resurrection that broke the power of sin, Satan, and death over us:
“Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know— this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.” – Acts 2:22-24
Wayne Jackson writes: 
The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the foundation of the Christian system (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:14ff). If there was no resurrection, Christianity is a hoax, and we are wasting our time. …
First, the resurrection is one of the major evidences that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Paul affirmed that Christ is “declared to be the Son of God with power . . . by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4).
Second, Jesus’ resurrection represents an assurance that we can have forgiveness from our sins. Paul contended: “[I]f Christ hath not been raised, our faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). The reverse of the apostle’s affirmation would be this: if Jesus was raised, sins will be forgiven when we obey the gospel (Acts 2:38; 22:16).
Third, the resurrection tells the world that the kingdom of God is ruled by a living sovereign. The founder of Islam is dead and his bones lie dormant in the earth. But the founder of Christianity—sixty years after his death—appeared to John on the island of Patmos and said: “I am the first and the last, and the Living one; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore” (Revelation 1:17-18).
Fourth, Jesus’ resurrection proves that physical death is not the termination of human existence. God, who is the giver of life (1 Timothy 6:13), has the power to reanimate the human body. Christ’s triumph over the grave is Heaven’s pledge to us that we too shall be raised. This is why Jesus is referred to as the “first fruits of them that are asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20,23).
Fifth, the Lord’s resurrection previewed the ultimate victory of Christianity over all its enemies. In the book of Revelation, Jesus is depicted as a lamb that had been slain, but was standing again (5:6). This same Lord was “the lion of the tribe of Judah” that had overcome his foes (5:5). Christians too will overcome as a result of the Lamb’s sacrifice and victory over death (cf. Revelation 12:11).
HIS DEATH & RESURRECTION WAS FORETOLD
His death on the cross and subsequent resurrection had been foretold (prophesied) way back in Genesis 3, written thousands of years before His birth, where it was written that Satan would “bruise his [Jesus’] heel,” but that Jesus would “crush the serpent’s [Satan’s] head,” delivering victory to us over sin, Satan and death. Furthermore, during his life and ministry, Jesus had repeatedly foretold (prophesied) both His own death and resurrection:
Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking of the temple of His body. – John 2:19-21
[Jesus speaking] “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up [crucified]; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.” – John 3:14-15
And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And He was stating the matter plainly. – Mark 8:31-32a
“Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” And they remembered His words. – Luke 24:5b-8
From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. – Matthew 16:21
As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man has risen from the dead.” – Matthew 17:9
And while they were gathering together in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men; and they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day.” And they were deeply grieved. – Matthew 17:22-23
As Jesus was about to go up to Jerusalem, He took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and on the way He said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, and will hand Him over to the Gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify Him, and on the third day He will be raised up.” – Matthew 20:17-19
“But after I [Jesus] have been raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.” – Matthew 26:32
…saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day.” – Luke 9:22
“For this reason the Father loves Me, because I [Jesus] lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.” – John 10:17-18
Now on the next day, the day after the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate, and said, “Sir, we remember that when He [Jesus] was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I am to rise again.’ Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, otherwise His disciples may come and steal Him away and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go, make it as secure as you know how.” And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone. – Matthew 27:62-66
LITERAL BODILY RESURRECTION WITNESSED BY MANY
Scripture is clear that Jesus rose in a literal bodily resurrection, not just as a “vision” (spiritual) or a “ghost”:
While they were telling these things, He [Jesus] Himself stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be to you.” But they were startled and frightened and thought that they were seeing a spirit. And He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish; and He took it and ate it before them. – Luke 24:36-43
After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then He [Jesus] said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” – John 20:26-29
And that Jesus was seen by hundreds of people after His resurrection:
To these [the disciples] He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. – Acts 1:3
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. – 1 Corinthians 15:3-8
[Now after He had risen early on the first day of the week, He first appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons. She went and reported to those who had been with Him, while they were mourning and weeping. When they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they refused to believe it.] – Mark 16:9-11
And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they will see Me.” – Matthew 28:9-10
God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible, not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. – Acts 10:40-41
And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. And they were talking with each other about all these things which had taken place. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them. – Luke 24:13-15
And they approached the village where they were going, and He acted as though He were going farther. But they urged Him, saying, “Stay with us, for it is getting toward evening, and the day is now nearly over.” So He went in to stay with them. When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight. They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?” And they got up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found gathered together the eleven and those who were with them, saying, “The Lord has really risen and has appeared to Simon.” They began to relate their experiences on the road and how He was recognized by them in the breaking of the bread. – Luke 24:28-35
To these [the apostles] He [Jesus] also presented Himself alive after His suffering [death on the cross], by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. – Acts 1:3-9 [Note: He ascended into heaven to be seated at the right hand of God the Father. Jesus lives and reigns today!]
Matthew Henry writes on Acts 1:3: 
The great evidence of his resurrection was that he showed himself alive to his apostles; being alive, he showed himself so, and he was seen of them. They were honest men, and one may depend upon their testimony; but the question is whether they were not imposed upon, as many a well-meaning man is. No, they were not; for,
1. The proofs were infallible, tekmēria – plain indications, both that he was alive (he walked and talked with them, he ate and drank with them) and that it was he himself, and not another; for he showed them again and again the marks of the wounds in his hands, and feet, and side, which was the utmost proof the thing was capable of or required.
2. They were many, and often repeated: He was seen by them forty days, not constantly residing with them, but frequently appearing to them, and bringing them by degrees to be fully satisfied concerning it, so that all their sorrow for his departure was done away by it. Christ’s staying upon earth so long after he had entered upon his state of exaltation and glory, to confirm the faith of his disciples and comfort their hearts, was such an instance of condescension and compassion to believers as may fully assure us that we have a high priest that is touched with the feeling of our infirmities.
Since Jesus’ resurrection is so vital to the Christian faith (i.e., Christianity is pointless without it), you will find skeptics abounding on all sides, with many liberals, atheists, agnostics, sects, and cults denying that Jesus was raised from the dead. They deny His resurrection in an attempt to defeat and discredit Him and to discourage others from following Him and declaring Him as their Lord and Savior. The most common claims made by skeptics trying to deny Jesus’ bodily, literal resurrection are:
- Science can’t prove it; therefore, it didn’t happen. Many will claim that there was no physical, literal bodily resurrection on the basis of science, that it had to be a “spiritual” resurrection, if you will,
- The disciples came and stole His body so they could claim that He was resurrected and continue their popularity,
- Jesus’ enemies (the Pharisees et al.) stole His body to quash all the resurrection talk and claims,
- Jesus was just a “vision” or a “ghost” and not really bodily raised from the dead. However, you have already read that the disciples didn’t hallucinate in seeing Him – for they touched Him and also saw Him eat in their presence.
Regarding science can’t prove it, this topic was already addressed in the chapter on Science vs. The Bible – science cannot explain many things about life and death, and furthermore, many of the works of God are simply supernatural. He is God, and we are the created beings (of immeasurably inferior and finite intellect); and yet because the science that our limited, finite minds have thought up can’t measure the things of God, man feels justified in denying that there is a God or that He can work supernaturally. In effect, the clay pot (man) is telling the potter who created it (God) what the reality and truth actually is – how bizarre is that logic!
Regarding “the disciples stole the body” theory, all of the disciples except one died horrible, gruesome deaths for preaching Jesus resurrected. This is hardly something one (or all of them) would do if they were simply perpetuating a lie/hoax. One must also understand the times in which He was crucified. After death, His body was buried in a tomb by Joseph of Arimathea. The tomb was closed in with a huge stone, and the seal of the Roman governor was affixed to it, declaring it off-limits. Anyone tampering with the tomb would be subject to the penalty of death! Even further, Roman guards were stationed outside to make sure no one stole the body. Now the important part: if a prisoner (or a dead body in this case) escaped or were allowed to be carried away, the guards in charge would be put to death. So, you see, it was no light matter or a simple mistake that the guards would make in allowing Jesus’ body to be taken/stolen from the tomb by the disciples – it would mean the guard’s very own death! The guards would not succumb to a simple bribe from the disciples (or anyone else) to allow them to “steal the body” due to the severity of their punishment if they did so.
Regarding the “Jesus’ enemies stole the body” theory (e.g., the Romans, the Jewish Pharisees, etc.), if they did, in fact, steal the body to quash the resurrection claims, why didn’t they then just produce (show) the dead body to do just that? That would have ended Christianity right then and there – but they could produce no body, for Jesus Himself was raised from the dead, and He was seen by and interacted with hundreds of witnesses.
And now the part that I find absolutely astounding in all this: not only did the disciples die gruesome deaths for Christ, but even further, Scripture tells us that they were skeptical of Jesus’ resurrection – even they didn’t believe it at first! In fact, no one expected that He was going to be raised from the dead – not even His own disciples:
And he said to them, “Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you.’” They went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had gripped them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
[Now after He had risen early on the first day of the week, He first appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons. She went and reported to those who had been with Him, while they were mourning and weeping. When they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they refused to believe it.] – Mark 16:6-11
While they were telling these things, He Himself stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be to you.” But they were startled and frightened and thought that they were seeing a spirit. And He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish; and He took it and ate it before them. – Luke 24:36-43
Matthew Henry writes on Luke 24:41: 
So far was it from truth that the disciples stole Jesus’ body to fake his resurrection, nay, they at first didn’t even believe his resurrection even when they saw him! … It was their infirmity that they believed not, that yet they believed not, eti apistountōn autōn – they as yet being unbelievers.
This very much corroborates the truth of Christ’s resurrection that the disciples were so slow to believe it. Instead of stealing away his body, and saying, He is risen, when he is not, as the chief priests suggested they would do, they are ready to say again and again, He is not risen, when he is.
Their being incredulous of it at first, and insisting upon the utmost proofs of it, show that when afterwards they did believe it, and venture their all upon it, it was not but upon the fullest demonstration of the thing that could be.
THE RESURRECTION IS VITAL
The resurrection of Christ is such a vital topic, and central to your future hope in Christ and eternal life (for what hope is there in a dead man?), that I’ve included what Wayne Jackson has written on it so you can hear what I’ve written expressed and reinforced by a different writer: 
What Does the Bible Say About Christ’s Resurrection?
Unquestionably the Bible affirms the bodily resurrection of the Lord. Let us note three areas of information.
The Old Testament
The Old Testament by means of typology and prophecy announced the resurrection. When Abraham offered up “his only begotten son,” he believed that God was able to raise him from the dead, “whence he did also in a figure receive him back” (Heb. 11:17-19). This was typical of the resurrection of God’s only begotten Son.
Jonah’s three days and nights in the belly of the great fish were typical of the Lord’s entombment for the same period prior to his resurrection (Jon. 1:17; Mt. 12:40).
Also, David prophesied:
For thou wilt not leave my soul to Sheol; Neither wilt thou suffer thy holy one to see corruption (Psa. 16:10).
The inspired apostle Peter showed that this prophecy cannot refer to Israel’s great king personally, for his body did experience decay and his tomb was testimony to that fact. Rather, the prophet spoke of the resurrection of Christ (cf. Acts 2:29-31; Acts 13:33ff.).
On numerous occasions, Jesus foretold his coming resurrection from the dead. For instance, to the Jews Christ said: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” John adds, “he spake of the temple of his body” (Jn. 2:19-21).
See his other predictions:
• Matthew 16:21; 17:9, 22-23; 20:18-19; 26:32 27:63
• Mark 8:31-9:1; 9:10, 31; 14:28, 58; 10:32
• Luke 9:22-27
• John 10:17-18
Either Christ was raised from the dead, or else he was a false prophet!
Theme of the New Testament
The declaration of a risen Lord is the very heart and soul of apostolic preaching and writing. Everywhere the apostles went they shamelessly announced that the scandal of the cross was negated by the victory of the empty tomb.
The careful New Testament student will want to study the following passages:
• Acts 1:3; 2:2ff.; 3:15; 4:10, 33; 5:30; 10:40-41; 13:19-37;
• Romans 1:4; 4:25; 6:4-11; 7:4; 8:11, 23; 14:9;
• 1 Corinthians 15;
• 2 Corinthians 1:9-10; 4:14; 5:14-15;
• Ephesians 1:19-23;
• Philippians 3:10;
• Colossians 1:18; 2:12;
• 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 4:14; 5:10;
• 2 Timothy 1:10; 2:8;
The New Testament is saturated with confident declarations of Christ’s resurrection.
Where Is the Lord’s Body?
Since it is an unassailable fact that Jesus lived in first-century Palestine, and that he was crucified and buried (so asserts Christian, Jewish and pagan history), the intriguing question is this. What happened to the body of Jesus Christ? No honest historian can avoid this query.
Actually, there are but four possible explanations for the absence of the Savior’s body:
1. It is still buried in some unknown Palestinian grave.
2. It was removed from the tomb by the Lord’s enemies.
3. It was removed from the tomb by the Lord’s friends.
4. It arose from the dead and is now in heaven.
Let us briefly consider each of these.
Still buried in Palestine?
It is simply not historically tenable that Christ’s body is still interred somewhere near the city of Jerusalem. Why? For this reason.
When the apostles began to fill that city with the teaching of a risen Lord (Acts 5:28), the Jewish or Roman authorities could simply have produced the body and thus exploded the gospel “myth.”
It will not do to suggest that the officials did not know where Jesus’ body had been buried, because they had assigned soldiers to guard it.
Further, the tomb had been sealed (see Mt. 27:62-66), and records would have been available to document where the body of Christ had been lain.
Did Christ’s enemies steal his body?
It is equally absurd to argue that the enemies of Christianity stole the body of Jesus.
On the day of Pentecost, Peter and the other apostles proclaimed the resurrection of Christ. Those enemies could have abruptly dumped the corpse of the Lord in the midst of that crowd and the Christian Way would have died with but a whimper … right on the spot!
Did the apostles hide the body?
The common allegation of infidelity has been that the disciples of Christ confiscated his body and contrived the story of the resurrection.
This, in fact, was the tale fabricated by the chief priests who bribed the solders to claim that “His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept” (Mt. 28:13).
How brilliantly imaginative — sleeping witnesses!
And the apostle Matthew, writing at least two decades after the resurrection, observes that this ludicrous rumor “was spread abroad among the Jews, until this day” (Mt. 28:15).
In fact, the story continued many years beyond Matthew’s time. Justin Martyr (c. A.D. 165) referred to it in his Dialogue with Trypho, and it is repeated in a document known as the Toledoth Jesu, thus proving that the Lord’s body was never found (see Edersheim, 637). 
Besides, what possible motive could have possessed the disciples to steal the body and then claim a resurrection when they had not even anticipated the resurrection (cf. Mk. 16:11-13; Lk. 24:1Off; Jn. 20:25)?
And what did they gain by telling the resurrection story? They gained nothing but torture and death! While men may sacrifice their lives because they are deceived, they do not willingly go to their deaths knowing they are perpetrating a hoax!
Finally, there is that inexplicable problem of how the disciples breached that experienced guard of soldiers and made off with the body.
The notion that the Lord’s body was stolen by his friends is at variance with the evidence.
The honest student of history is, therefore, left with but one alternative — Jesus of Nazareth did actually rise from the dead!
Witnesses of the Resurrection
Luke, a physician (Col. 4:14) and first-rate historian, after having investigated the matter carefully, stated that Jesus “showed himself alive after his passion by many proofs” (Acts 1:3). He appeared on numerous occasions during the forty-day span between his death and ascension.
The word “proofs” translates a Greek term that was used by the classical writers to “denote the strongest proof of which a subject is susceptible” (Alexander, 5). 
The post-resurrection appearances of the Lord that are recorded are as follows.
Christ appeared to Mary Magdalene at the tomb after Peter and John had left (Jn. 20:11-17; cf. Mk. 16:9-11).
The Lord appeared to a group of women disciples who had visited his empty tomb (Mt. 28:9-1O).
Jesus appeared to Peter on the afternoon of the resurrection day (Lk. 24:34; cf. 1 Cor. 15:5).
He appeared to two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Lk. 24:13-35; Mk. 16:12).
Christ appeared to ten apostles on the evening of the resurrection [Thomas being absent] (Mk. 16:14; Lk. 24:36-43; Jn. 20:19-23).
The Savior appeared to the eleven disciples on Sunday week following the resurrection [Thomas being present] (Jn. 20:26-29).
The Lord appeared to seven of the disciples beside the Sea of Tiberias, and thrice asked Peter if he loved him (Jn. 21:1-23).
He appeared on one occasion to more than five hundred brethren, most of whom were still alive when Paul wrote the letter called First Corinthians (1 Cor. 15:6), which demonstrates that the resurrection story could be checked.
Jesus appeared to James (1 Cor. 15:7) — probably the Lord’s half-brother who formerly had disbelieved (Jn. 7:3-5).
Christ appeared to the eleven disciples on a mountain in Galilee where he gave what is called the “great commission” (Mt. 28:16-20).
The Lord appeared to his disciples on the Mount of Olives just prior to his ascension into heaven (Lk. 24:44-53; Acts 1:3-9).
The Living One (Rev. 1:18) appeared to Stephen, his first martyr (Acts 7:55-56).
Christ appeared to the apostle Paul at least three times: on the Damascus road (Acts 9:3-6), later when Paul was praying in the temple (Acts 22:17-21), and while he was in prison in Caesarea (Acts 23:11).
Also, the Lord appeared to the beloved apostle John on the isle of Patmos (Rev. 1:12-20).
Are the Witnesses Credible?
Clearly, the witnesses to the resurrection of Christ were manifold. The only remaining questions are these:
• Were the witnesses reasonably intelligent people — and
not fools or wild hysterics?
• Were they honest individuals of worthy character?
One of the foremost authorities on legal evidence ever to live in this country was the renowned Simon Greenleaf (1783-1853). He served as Royall Professor of Law at Harvard and later as Dane Professor of Law at Harvard.
In 1852, he published his famous work, A Treatise on the Law of Evidence, which “is still considered the greatest single authority on evidence in the entire literature of legal procedure” (Smith, 423). 
In 1847, professor Greenleaf issued a significant work of more than 500 pages under the title of An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in Courts of Justice (Baker, 1965 reprint). In this remarkable work, Greenleaf concluded that it was:
“… impossible that they [the apostles] could have persisted in affirming the truths they have narrated, had not Jesus actually risen from the dead, and had they not known this fact as certainly as they knew any other fact” (Smith, 424). 
Numerous other highly-competent historical and legal authorities have testified in a similar fashion (see: Smith, 1974, chapter 8; McDowell, 1972, pp. 196ff). 
Many pages could be written on the subject of Jesus’ resurrection, but this book is not meant to be an apologetics work as stated in the introduction. His resurrection has been extensively researched both by Christian advocates and skeptics. There is as much evidence that Jesus’ resurrection was real (it wasn’t faked, or a lie, etc.) as there is that Jesus Himself was actually born and lived as Scripture states – and this evidence exceeds the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard any modern court of law would uphold, but only when the evidence is viewed with no preconceived bias against God, the Bible, and Jesus to begin with. No skeptic has been able to convincingly disprove Jesus’ resurrection – none at all.
In summary, Jesus was seen by and physically interacted with hundreds of people after His death and resurrection – after He had been very publicly crucified on the cross. They talked with Him, ate with Him, and walked with Him. These were real actions done by real men, and not just by one lone witness, but by hundreds. The testimony of many witnesses is in agreement. Old Testament Scripture prophesized not only Jesus’ birth and death, but also His resurrection – and all of those prophesies were fulfilled. The fact of His resurrection is (has been) established beyond a reasonable doubt. It is Jesus’ resurrection that demonstrates His victory over sin, Satan, and death – His resurrection to life “destroyed the works of the devil” and also serve to demonstrate that Jesus is able to reverse the curse that was placed on this world and all mankind (as a result of man’s disobedience of God, see the earlier chapter on Humanity and Sin).
Looking ahead in this book a bit further, know that Jesus is right now “seated at the right hand of God [the Father]” in heaven, ruling and reigning this very moment in His Kingdom, and interceding on behalf of those who call on His name with God the Father – for He is the “one [only] mediator between God and men.” And just as Jesus’ resurrection was a literal bodily one (not “symbolic” or “figurative”), His return on Judgment Day will be just as literal and real for everyone to see (even the dead).
In the next chapter, I bring this section of the book to a conclusion and explain the hope that we have in Jesus – the “good news” of the gospel.
FALSE TEACHING(S) YOU WILL ENCOUNTER:
But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying. And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’” – John 20:11-17
“The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, the one whom you delivered and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him. But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One [Jesus] and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, but put to death the Prince of life [Jesus], the one whom God raised from the dead, a fact to which we are witnesses.” – Acts 3:13-15
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health. He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief corner stone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” – Acts 4:8-12
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing; and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” And they remembered His words, and returned from the tomb and reported all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now they were Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James; also the other women with them were telling these things to the apostles. But these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings only; and he went away to his home, marveling at what had happened. – Luke 24:1-12
After these things Jesus manifested Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and He manifested Himself in this way. Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will also come with you.” They went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing.
But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. So Jesus said to them, “Children, you do not have any fish, do you?” They answered Him, “No.” And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch.” So they cast, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work), and threw himself into the sea. But the other disciples came in the little boat, for they were not far from the land, but about one hundred yards away, dragging the net full of fish. – John 21:1-8
Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord… – Romans 1:1-4
But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. – 1 Corinthians 15:20-26
 Henry, Matthew. Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, London. 1706-1710/1721.  Henry, Matthew. Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, London. 1706-1710/1721.  Edersheim, Alfred. 1947. The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. Vol. 2. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.  Alexander, J. A. 1956. Commentary on Acts, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.  Smith, Wilbur M. 1974 reprint, Therefore Stand! Grand Rapids, MI: Baker.  Greenleaf, Simon. 1965 reprint. An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in Courts of Justice. Grand Rapids, Ml: Baker.  McDowell, Josh. 1972. Evidence that Demands a Verdict. San Bernardino, CA: Campus Crusade for Christ.