The Apostle Paul talks a lot about faith in his epistles. He tells us we must believe by faith that we are saved. We must believe by faith that we will be resurrected. We must believe by faith that we will have eternal life in heaven. But does Paul ask us to believe in the Resurrection of Jesus by faith, the historical event that Christians say proves that he is the Christ?
I don’t think so.
Paul specifically states that if Jesus was not raised from the dead, then we Christians are fools. If Jesus was not resurrected then our faith and hope is in vain. So did Paul ever say that we should believe in Jesus’ resurrection by faith, or by evidence?
I believe that Paul teaches in I Corinthians 15 that we should believe in the resurrection of Jesus by evidence: by the fact that he, Paul, has seen the risen Christ.
So the question upon which the entire Christian faith rises or falls is this: Did Paul really see, with his eyes, the real, living, breathing, resurrected body of Jesus of Nazareth in his “heavenly vision”, as he himself describes this event in Acts chapter 26, or did he only see a bright light and hear voices…and believed based on this “vision” that he had seen the resurrected Christ?
1 Corinthians 15
The Resurrection of Christ
3 For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4 and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters<sup class="footnote" data-fn="#fen-NRSV-28709c" value="[c]”>[c] at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died.<sup class="footnote" data-fn="#fen-NRSV-28709d" value="[d]”>[d] 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe.
The Resurrection of the Dead
12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ—whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. 17 If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have died<sup class="footnote" data-fn="#fen-NRSV-28721e" value="[e]”>[e] in Christ have perished. 19 If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died.