Saturday, 28 February 2015
After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 1 Corinthians 15:6
After noting that Jesus was “seen by Cephas, then by the twelve” Paul gives us words which should be remembered by every Christian willing to defend the truth of the resurrection account. He says, “After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once.” This is the only recorded instance of this occurrence in the Bible, but it is of the utmost importance concerning the reliability of resurrection testimony.
Where this occurred is unknown, but it could have been in the region of Galilee where much of His ministry occurred. In Matthew 28:10, this is recorded –
“Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.'” Matthew 28:10
Wherever it was, it is recorded and therefore it could have been challenged. But even more than that are Paul’s next words. Not only was he seen by five hundred brethren at once, but he notes that “of whom the great part remain to the present.”
As Paul made this claim, any person who wanted to challenge it could have done so by asking for names or locations. If they did and he declined to give them, the claim could then have been refuted. But no such refutation exists. Further, if he gave a name, that person could have been checked with, who then could have identified others, and so on. If the story weren’t true, it would have quickly become evident because lies tend to break down between false witnesses.
In the end, and one way or the other, the truth of this claim would have been easy to determine or refute. If it was refuted, a simple letter would have been sufficient to call the claim out as false. However, there is no record of such a claim. The written testimony of Paul’s words, therefore, stand as positive and irrefutable evidence that these five hundred existed and testified to the truth of the account. Not only did the apostles, most of whom gave their lives for the gospel, testify to the resurrection, but so did five hundred others.
Finally, of these five hundred, Paul does notes that “some have fallen asleep.” It is another sure testimony to the truth of the account. By noting that “some have fallen asleep,” he is granting that a portion of them could obviously not testify any longer to what they had seen. It is another added point of credibility to the claim.
As a side note, the Greek word for “fallen asleep” is ekoimēthēsan. It is where the word koimeterion comes from, which means “sleeping place.” We translate that into the Christian idea of “cemetery.” For the Christian, there is no true “graveyard” where hope and life ends. Rather, there is the sweet place of rest until that day when we join Jesus with all our other Christian friends.
Life application: If you have doubts about your faith from time to time, stop having doubts. The word is sure and so is your hope.
Wondrous promise, eternal life guaranteed; and so the body planted is but a precious seed. For the soul who has placed their faith in Jesus, there is yet a hope so marvelous. Therefore, though we weep at our own loss; we can also rejoice because of the victory over Calvary’s cross. As Christ rose to life eternal defeating the grave; so will those who follow Him – He is mighty to save. Hallelujah and Amen.