Friday, 27 February 2015
…and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 1 Corinthians 15:5
After the resurrection, and as a proof of the resurrection, Paul now gives (which were at his time still-living) witnesses by name who were trustworthy to speak of what they saw. He says that “He was seen.” It is a common word, ophthe, which demonstrates that an actual appearance took place; He was literally seen.
First, it is noted that, “He was seen by Cephas.” This is the Aramaic form of Peter’s given name and it means “the Rock.” It is used nine times in the New Testament and only by John and by Paul in their writings. John uses it in John 1:42 when he explains that the name was given to him by Jesus. Paul uses it eight times it in the books of 1 Corinthians and Galatians. Including his name in the Aramaic form lends credibility to the testimony because it would have been the common form of address in Israel at that time; Aramaic was the commonly spoken language then. Further, noting him as “the Rock” was intended to show the stability and reliability of his testimony.
It is to be noted that women actually appeared to Jesus before Peter did, but Paul excludes their testimony, probably for two specific reasons. One is that at this time, women’s testimony did not bear the same weight as that of men. He is establishing reliable testimony and wanted nothing to interfere with that. Secondly, in the previous chapter, he noted that it was shameful for a woman to speak in church. Should he now designate these women as witnesses of Christ’s resurrection, they may then have been asked to verify that testimony. If a church were to call them for that witness, then it would cause them to violate the very words he had just written. Rather, Paul sticks to witnesses that were culturally accepted as reliable, and also acceptable to be speakers to the congregation.
After noting “Cephas,” he then shows that Jesus was seen “by the twelve.” Judas was already dead by then, but the term “twelve” is a title designating the office of the Apostles. Thus, it would be better rendered in the capitalized form as “the Twelve.” This use of the term is not unique to Paul. In John 20:24, we read this –
“Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.”
Judas was dead, and Thomas wasn’t around at this event, and yet John calls them “the twelve.” Thus, just like the term, “the twelve sons of Israel,” it is a designation for the collective whole.
Life application: God’s word is sure. It is reliable in every way. If you have doubts about a portion of it, research the matter, praying for guidance. The Lord will alleviate those doubts as you honestly seek to know the truth.
Thank You, O God! History, archaeology, internal witnesses, external witnesses, and even the sure test of fulfilled prophecy, all show me that Your word is true and reliable. Even in my own life, I have seen evidences for it come to pass. I can look to Israel and the Jew and know that what You said would happen would surely come about. I know that the Bible is God’s word and there is no other. Sixty-six precious little books which have come together to form Your word. I will proclaim its truths, even at the expense of my own life, should that be required of me. I stand on Your word. Amen.