“Therefore God exalted him in a sovereign way and gave him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven, on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Christians celebrate Easter this Sunday, proclaiming the cornerstone of their faith, that Jesus Christ rose from the tomb through a bodily resurrection. Alone among the world’s religions, Christians believe that on the third day after his public execution on Good Friday, the founder and center of their faith rose from the dead.
The Bible contains four gospels containing this historical account outside of Jerusalem, Israel, in the year 30, but the New Testament is full of additional chapters and passages on the subject of the resurrection.
One chapter is found in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. The apostle Paul – who at the beginning of his career was called Saul – had been a zealous persecutor of the new church, hunting down Christians. But on the road to Damascus – traveling there in the next leg of his crusade against the early church – Paul experienced a radical conversion to Christianity, claiming that the risen Christ had appeared to him and spoken with him, and that Jesus had appeared to five hundred people at a time, inviting his readers to speak to them if those readers doubted his story.
Paul’s message in this chapter is that Christianity is not about becoming a better person. He says that Jesus of Nazareth was not a wise philosopher, a great example of moeal or an inspiring leader. Instead, Paul claims that Jesus is divine, that after his crucifixion and burial, his body came back to life a few days later, and that hundreds of people saw him afterwards. Then – in a statement that would shock many today – Paul says that if Jesus is not physically raised from the dead, then Christianity is worthless, and Christians should be pitied because they are wasting their lives on a lie.
Paul lost his comfortable life in Judaism when he became a Christian, but then became the most prolific of all New Testament writers, and years later he was martyred for his faith – he said whom he welcomed, for the resurrection of Jesus meant that one day Paul would also be resurrected.
From the first epistle of Paul to the church at Corinth:
I would now like to remind you, brethren, of the gospel which I have preached to you, which you have received, in which you stand and by which you are saved, if you hold fast to the world which I have preached to you, unless you did not believe in vain.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that ‘he appeared Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at once, most of whom are still alive, although some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Finally, as for a premature baby, he also appeared to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I have persecuted the Church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace towards me was not in vain….
Now, if Christ is claimed to have risen from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection from the dead, then even Christ has not risen. And if Christ has not risen, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We even find ourselves misrepresenting God, because we have testified of God that he raised Christ, that he did not raise if it is true that the dead do not rise. For if the dead are not resurrected, even Christ is not resurrected. And if Christ has not risen, your faith is vain and you are still in your sins. So also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope only in this life, we are the most to be pitied of all.
But in fact, Christ rose from the dead, the firstfruits of those who fell asleep. For as death came by a man, so also by a man came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall live again. But each in his order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after having destroyed all rule, all authority and all power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death… When all things are subject to him, then the Son himself will also be subject to him who subjected all things to him, so that God may be all in all.
—1 Corinthians 15:1–28 (ESV).
“Come see the marvelous mystery, killed by death the God of life;
But no grave could ever hold him, praise the Lord, he is alive!
What a foretaste of deliverance, how unshakable our hope;
Christ in risen power, as we will be, when he comes!”
—Matt Boswell, Come contemplate the marvelous mystery (2013)
Ken Klukowski is a contributor to Breitbart News.