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Four Questions About the Resurrection

Hello, my name’s Sam. I’m a freshman student in Mt. Vernon High School, Illinois. I greatly admire your passion to defend our faith. I think my favorite “subject” to defend is Jesus’ Resurrection. Christianity has proven to be true for thousands of years and its core foundation, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, after many assaults from the enemies, still stands strong to this day. YEAH!!

Now, I have some questions concerning the resurrection:

1. I want to know how it is that Jesus has been there for three days in the tomb. Some believe that he has not been buried in the tomb for there days but less.

That’s one that some people stumble over. We have to understand that the ancients numbered a different way than we do today and they used different expressions for time. For instance, if you are 18-years-old, a first century Jew would say you are “in your nineteenth year.” They would say that even if you were 18 and one day.

Likewise the phrase “three days and three nights” is found in Matthew 12:40.

“An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

The Hebrew way of numbering days was from sunset to sunset. “Days and nights” does not mean a 24-hour period. The Jews counted any part of a day as a “day” or even using the idiom “a day and a night” whether it was a full 24-hour period or not.


“Days and nights” doesn’t mean a literal 24-hour period. For instance, in Genesis it says that it rained for 40 days and 40 nights.

“For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth” (Genesis 7:4)

I can remember hearing the story as a child and wondering why the “nights” were significant. Why not just say it rained for 40 days?

Another example is Exodus 24:18: “And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights.”

The answer is simply that it is an idiom or a figure of speech not a literal 24 hours. We use non-specific time references today as well.

“Can you give me just two more minutes to explain this?”

If I took one minute and 30 seconds, then was I lying? No one nitpicks over idioms that we all understand.

Further proof that this is an idiomatic expression is backed up by the fact that in other places the Gospels say Jesus was raised “on the third day,” and “after three days.”

In a strict literalist English rendering “on the third day” could be the Sunday after a Friday. But “after three days” would be Monday. Why two different idioms here? This is explained by the fact that Matthew was writing to a Jewish audience and Mark is writing to a Roman Gentile audience.

“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 on the third day be raised” (Matthew 16:21).

“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” (Mark 8:31).

2. Some people say that there are contradictions in how the events took place. Ex: on how Jesus was buried. (Lk. 23:50-56). The passage doesn’t seem to show that Jesus’ burial was complete. So, does it give a chance that Jesus could have easily unwrap himself since he wasn’t properly wrapped? Also, they say that just because the tomb was empty doesn’t mean that Jesus was resurrected.

Yes, they do say that! I answered this objection on another forum earlier today. My response is that there were eyewitnesses to the events. John was present, according to his Gospel, as were other disciples mentioned by name. Matthew records that because Jesus claimed he was going to rise from the dead, Roman soldiers guarded the tomb to keep His followers from stealing the body (Matthew 27:65).

If this were not true, then the simple way to dispel rumors after the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) when the resurrection was preached would have been to simply produce the body.

“And he that saw it (John) bears record, and his record is true; and he knows what he says is true, that you might believe” (John 19:35).

John is speaking about himself. He calls himself the “disciple whom [Jesus] loved” (19:26).

The skeptics conjecture that Jesus was not crucified and that He lived past the time of what is recorded in the book of Acts is everywhere else refuted. There’s simply no evidence or record of that Jesus lived beyond the time of Acts 2, but only to the contrary.

To claim otherwise is hyper-skepticism beyond reason.

3. Some people say that the Gospel Mark since doesn’t say anything about the 500 witnesses (note that Mark is the first written Gospel), then the 500 witnesses are just made up stories.

This is a good example of where the modern critics have influenced evangelicals beyond reason. To state emphatically that Mark was the first written Gospel is mere conjecture. This became a popular idea in the 1800s when traditional church teaching on just about everything came into question. The historical view is that the Gospels appear in the canon in the order written.

Irenaeus, writing in the early second century, says: “Matthew published among the Hebrews, in their own tongue, a written form of the Gospel, while Peter and Paul preached the gospel in Rome and founded the Church. It was after his departure that Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, also transmitted in writing what Peter preached. Luke, Paul’s companion, also wrote in a book what Paul preached. Then John, our Lord’s disciple, the same one who laid his face on his breast (John 13:23), also published the gospel while living in Ephesus” (Against Heresies III, 1,1).

Similar commentaries can be found in Papias of Hierapolis and Clement of Alexandria (cf Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesiastical History, 3, 39,15:6, 14, 5-7).

If these accounts are true, then Matthew was written before “his departure” from Jerusalem as a missionary and was later translated into Greek. Mark is an abbreviation of Matthew also making use of Peter’s account, but not a source document for Matthew.

In any case, this is an example of the “argument from silence” fallacy. Just because one New Testament writer mentions an event that another one omits does not mean it did not happen.

4. I’d classify myself as a beginner in apologetics, any tips on how to study them and to put them into use? Also, where can I get more resources for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

“The evidence for our New Testament writings is ever so much greater than the evidence for many writings of classical authors, the authenticity of which no one dreams of questioning. And if the New Testament were a collection of secular writings, their authenticity would generally be regarded as beyond all doubt.”

– F.F. Bruce, The New Testament Books

The following non-believers all set out at one point to either disprove the resurrection or to see if it was historically accurate.

Lee Stroble, The Case for Christ and The Case for Easter

Josh McDowell, Evidence that Demands a Verdict

Dr. Greenleaf, the Royal Professor of Law at Harvard University, An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in the Courts of Justice

Ralph O. Muncaster, A Skeptics Search for God

F.F. Bruce on the New Testament:
http://www.worldinvisible.com/library/ffbruce/ntdocrli/ntdocc02.htm

Overview of Evidence by Ex-Atheist Josh McDowell
http://www.leaderu.com/everystudent/easter/articles/josh2.html

Comments

Your comments are welcome!

This was a helpful post with some great information. Thanks so much for sharing.

Rob

Posted by December Sun Blog on 09/01/2014 09:40 AM #

One more resource is a book recently published by my friend and co-laborer J.P. Holding.

The Impossible Faith
by James Patrick Holding

This is a book available only through Amazon.com. And you can get it for under $7.

The Impossible Faith offers the proposition that Christianity could not have succeeded unless it had indisputable proof of the resurrection of Jesus. Had there not been such evidence, Christianity would have been an "impossible faith."

The author demonstrates the impossibility of Christianity in the eyes of the people of the first century and present an apologetic for Jesus' resurrection. Christians will be encouraged and emboldened by the message of The Impossible Faith, realizing "how firm a foundation" they have in Christ Jesus.

Non-Christians will be challenged to consider the truth of Christianity in a new light. The arguments in this book are so powerful that one atheist paid over $5,000 for a response. It is impossible to estimate the evangelistic impact that is possible because of The Impossible Faith.

Posted by Jay Rogers on 09/01/2014 09:40 AM #

Hi, I have a question about the Resurrection that's been bugging me. Why was the tombstone moved at all? Did Jesus' body need to physically come through the opening in order to ascend to heaven? If so it means that every person who's ever been buried hasn't gone to heaven as they're still buried underground.

Posted by  Curious on 09/12/2007 02:54 PM #

That's the kind of thing that should "bug" you.

I won't go into all the scriptural references here, but I would study first 1 Corinthians 15 the entire chapter.

1. Jesus rose physically from the dead.

2. This physical resurrection body of Jesus is necessary in order for the dead to be raised.

3. We are raised with a real body -- not a mystical ethereal see-through body like a ghost -- but a real body. However, it is not the same as our physical bodies, rather we are joined to the resurrection body of Jesus in our own resurrection.

Posted by Jay Rogers on 09/12/2007 04:53 PM #

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The Abortion Matrix DVD: Update

The Abortion Matrix:
Defeating Child Sacrifice and the Culture of Death

is a 195-minute presentation that traces the biblical roots of child sacrifice and then delves into the social, political and cultural fall-out that this sin against God has produced. You can order this series on DVD, read the complete script and view clips on-line...
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