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Theology > Jesus > Resurrection and Ascension > Personal Appearances


The Text states that numerous individuals, the ones chosen before by God, saw Christ, even sharing meals with Him, and are therefore witnesses to the fact that He did indeed rise from the dead:

God anointed Jesus of Nazareth . . . and we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead (Acts 10:38-41);

The Scriptures affirm that the following witnesses saw Jesus after He rose from the dead:

Mary Magdalene (Mk. 16:9; Jo. 20:11-18) – she saw Jesus standing close to her; she had a brief conversation with Him, and He instructed her to stop clinging to Him, meaning she was touching Him.

The women (Matt. 28:1, 9) – the Text states they saw Jesus and heard Him speak.

Peter (Lu. 24:34) – details of the meeting are not given.

Disciples on the Emmaus road (Mk. 16:12; Lu. 24:13-35) – they saw Jesus and walked some distance with Him; had a discussion with Him, shared a meal with Him and heard Him give thanks.

Ten disciples (Lu. 24:36-42; Jo. 20:19-23) – they saw Jesus and talked with Him; Jesus invited them to touch Him, and He had a meal with them.

Eleven disciples (Mk. 16:14; Jo. 20:20-29 – they saw Jesus and heard Him speak; Thomas was given special invitation to touch Jesus, thereby verifying that Jesus was real, and not a spirit; Jesus showed them His hands and feet, meaning He called attention to the scars.

Un-named disciples (Jo. 20:30-31) – the Text affirms Jesus performed signs in their presence.

Those in Galilee (Matt. 28:16-17; Jo. 21:1-14) – they saw Jesus, heard Him speak, and had a meal with Him, after He had given them instruction regarding their fishing; Jesus had an extended conversation with Peter.

Five hundred (I Cor. 15:6) – no details are given.

James and the apostles (I Cor. 5:7) – no details are given.

Those present at the Ascension (Mk. 16:19-20; Lu. 24:50-53; Acts 1:4-12) – they saw Him and heard Him speak; they saw Him leave this earth.

Stephen (Acts 7:55-56) –he saw the ascended Christ in heaven as he was dying.

Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-6; 22:1-10; 26:12-18; I Cor. 9:1; 15:8) – he states that he saw and heard Jesus.

In addition to these earthly witnesses the Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is a witness of the resurrection of Christ: “we are witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him” (Acts 5:32). It is the Spirit that certifies the fact of the resurrection of Christ to the mind of believers.

The Jesus of history the witnesses saw was and is the Christ of faith; the concepts should not be separated or set over against each other. Rather, they are one and the same: the Jesus of history is the Christ of faith. If Jesus is not “of history” then He cannot be the Christ “of faith.” According to the New Testament Jesus is the Christ. Any attempt to divorce or to separate the two—Jesus from Christ or Christ from Jesus—is an indication of a prior mindset that brings into question the teaching of the New Testament by separating faith from the historical. The proper perspective is that the faith is anchored in the historical (see: Jesus of History or Christ of Faith).

It should be noted that the early believers were not reporting what they had come to believe on their own, or some mystical experience they may have imagined that they had, but they were reporting what they believed God had literally and historically done in the life and death of Jesus Christ—God had shown Himself strong and had raised Him from the dead. For them they were reporting an actual event.

He was seen for many days
by those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem,
who are His witnesses to the people.
Acts 13:31

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