Evidence #18 for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ: The Church’s Commitment to Apologetics

Acts 1:3 “Jesus presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs.”

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of if not the greatest historical events that can be demonstrated as true based on the evidence. So far, we have examined 16 independent pieces of evidence over the past year for the Resurrection, from the empty tomb to the transformations of several of Jesus’s followers. But one of the most compelling pieces of evidence is now examined: the early church’s commitment to Apologetics.

Our English word “apologetics” comes from the Greek word “apologia” which means “defense.” In his first epistle to the early church, Peter emphasizes the importance of apologetics: “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense (apologian) to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15). People are going to ask you why you follow Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior – Peter admonishes all believers to equip themselves with reasons.

In his second letter to the early church in Corinth, Paul adds to Peter’s need for apologetics but stressing that the culture will have many false claims against Christianity that, if we as Christians are not prepared, can influence others to reject Christ: “The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, destroying arguments and every proud thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

The early church expected Christians to ground their lives upon Truth that is logically defended, not on the false claims of the day that were naively accepted or emotionally driven. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Here we are, over 2,000 years later, being told many lies that draw people away from Christ: 1) Christians are bigots, 2) racism is everywhere, 3) men and women are biologically the same, 4) objective truth does not exist.

The early church, emphasizing that Christians must be able to defend their faith, grounded this defense in a commitment to the apologetic for the Resurrection. In this article, we’ll look at specifically at Luke.

Luke was a physician and the author of Acts. This week’s verse comes from the very opening of Acts, which is an apologetic for the resurrection. In Acts 1:1, Luke refers to his other book – the Gospel of Luke – saying he had already written down what Jesus did and taught. Luke’s Gospel was also as an apologetic – for the deity of Christ: “It seemed good to me also, having accurately followed all things from the very first, to write an orderly account… so that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed” (Luke 1:3-4). God wants all Christians, whether in 50AD or 2023 AD, to know what the believe and why they believe it.

But in Acts 1:2-3, Luke focuses on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Eric Lyons, in his article ‘Apologetics and the Growth of the Early Church’, explains Luke’s method this way: “How did Luke convey the resurrection of Christ? Was it merely an unverifiable “hope” that he communicated? Did he make an emotionally based appeal using flowery words? Not at all. From the very outset, Luke set an apologetic tone for the book of Acts.”

Luke records that “Jesus presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs” (Acts 1:3). The Greek word “presented Himself” (parestasen) means, as Eric says, “Jesus’ dead body was not stolen and buried elsewhere. He did not just escape the tomb to leave everyone in doubt about a possible resurrection. Over 40 days, Jesus repeatedly presented Himself alive to the apostles, offering ‘many infallible proofs.’”

Scholars explain Luke’s use of the Greek “many proofs” (pollois tekmanriois) as “what causes something to be known in a convincing and decisive manner.” Luke was saying the Resurrection should not be something you just believe as a Christian. it is an historical event to convince you of the deity and majesty of Jesus Christ.

Eric Lyons then examines these ‘many infallible proofs’: “During the 40 days that Jesus was on Earth after His resurrection and prior to His ascension, He appeared to several individuals at different times, including on one occasion to more than 500 disciples (1 Corinthians 15:5-8).

When He appeared to the apostles, He showed them His pierced hands and feet, challenging them to ‘handle’ Him in order to ‘see’ that He was not a mere spirit, ‘for a spirit does not have flesh and bones’ as Jesus had (Luke 24:39). As further physical proof of His bodily resurrection, Jesus ate with the apostles (Luke 24:41-43).

Lastly, Jesus Himself taught them the Scriptures (Luke 24:44-49). Indeed, as Luke testified, Jesus gave an apologia – He ‘presented Himself alive after his suffering by many proofs’ (Acts 1:3).” The Resurrection of Jesus Christ can be defended to your friends as a true, historical event that is your anchor for your hope.
“The Evidence of Faith’s Substance” _ Article #547

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