The most extensive treatment of the doctrine of the resurrection in all of Scripture is found here in I Corinthians 15. Verse 1 tells us that the doctrinal problem in the church at Corinth was not their disbelief in the resurrection of Christ. Their confusion was concerning their own resurrection from the dead. In verses 1-11 Paul reviews the evidence for Christ’s resurrection so that he could later show how their own hope for resurrection is tied to the fact of Christ’s resurrection from the dead. Paul gives us five evidences here for the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
I. THE CORINTHIAN CHURCH (verses 1-2)
Paul’s first evidence for the resurrection of Christ is the Corinthian Church, the recipients of this letter. The fact that these Corinthian Christians had received the Gospel message, believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, and were living changed lives, is a strong evidence for the resurrection of Christ. Every group of believers across the face of the earth that meets together for worship is evidence that Jesus Christ is alive and is building His church.
II. THE OLD TESTAMENT SCRIPTURES (verses 3-4)
The second evidence for the resurrection of Christ is the Old Testament Scriptures. They clearly predicted Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. In Luke’s Gospel, chapter 24, Jesus used the Old Testament Scriptures to identify Himself as their risen Lord. For example, Luke 24:27 says, “And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures”. Psalm 22:16-18 is one of the Scripture passages that prophesies Christ’s crucifixion, and Psalm 16:10 prophesies His resurrection. The prophet Isaiah says in Isaiah 25:8, “He will swallow up death for all time.”
III. THE TESTIMONY OF EYE-WITNESSES (verses 5-7)
The third evidence for the resurrection of Christ is the testimony of eye-witnesses of the resurrected Christ. The list given in verses 5-7 is not exhaustive, but includes those who were most prominent in the Church at that time. Peter is mentioned, as well as the twelve apostles, more than 500 brethren at one time and place, James, and all the apostles over a period of 40 days. A prominent lawyer, Sir Edward Clarke, did a prolonged study of the resurrection of Christ. He said, “To me, the evidence is conclusive, and over and over again in the High Court, I have secured the verdict on evidence not nearly as compelling.”
IV. THE APOSTLE PAUL (verses 8-10)
The fourth evidence for the resurrection of Christ is the testimony of the writer himself: the apostle Paul. He refers to himself as “one untimely born”. He was too late to be one of the 12 apostles, and yet he was called by Christ to be an apostle. What a turn-around in his life! What a testimony to the truth and power of Christ’s resurrection!
V. THE TESTIMONY OF A COMMON MESSAGE (verse 11)
The fifth evidence for the resurrection of Christ is the testimony of a common message. Without exception, the teaching and preaching of the New Testament church centered around the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. This message was declared as objective facts based on the testimony of eye-witnesses, and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
But there is a sixth evidence that isn’t mentioned specifically in this passage of Scripture. That evidence is our own lives. Have you repented of your sins, turned your life over to Jesus Christ, and invited Him to be your Savior and Lord? If so, is your joy, your peace of mind and heart, and the power of the resurrected Christ obvious to those around you? If the answer is “yes”, then you are a living, visible evidence of the resurrection of Christ to the world around you.