How Jesus’ Resurrection Changed the World

This is an excerpt from Pastor Mark’s book “Alive: 21 Reasons to Believe in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ ” as we countdown to Easter. 

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“Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” – 1 Corinthians 15:12

Reason #18: There was no concept of individual resurrection prior to Jesus. 

The ancient Jews had a concept of all of God’s people rising together at the end of history, but no concept of one person rising alone in the middle of history as Jesus did (Daniel 12:2).

In the ancient world, Greek philosophy believed the physical body was bad, but the spiritual soul was good. The goal was to die, leave the body, and live in the soul. 

The Greeks had no desire for a resurrection and, in fact, the exact opposite was true. Oxford graduate and St. Andrews professor N.T. Wright has published the most thorough academic work on the concept of resurrection throughout history. 

He says, “Christianity was born into a world where its central claim was known to be false. Many believed that the dead were non-existent; outside Judaism, nobody believed resurrection….” (1)

N.T. Wright continues, “Nobody in the pagan world of Jesus’ day and thereafter actually claimed that somebody had been truly dead and had then come to be truly, and bodily, alive once more.” (2)

Noted historian and professor Edwin Yamauchi, who has immersed himself in twenty-two languages, ancient archeology, and history says that there is no possibility that the idea of a resurrection was borrowed by Christians from pagans because there is no definitive evidence for the teaching of a deity resurrection in any of the mystery religions prior to the second century. Apparently, the pagans stole the idea of resurrection from the Christians, and not vice-versa. (3)

Do a word study on the word “resurrection” and compare the contexts for which it’s mentioned throughout the Bible.  

  1. N. T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003), 35.
  2. Ibid, 76.
  3. Edwin Yamauchi, “Easter: Myth, Hallucination, or History?” Christianity Today, March 15, 1974 and March 29, 1974, 4–7, 12–16.

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