Seventh-day Adventists believe in the physical, or bodily,
resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead as verily as they believe in His
atoning death on Calvary. This is a cardinal doctrine of the Christian faith,
for Christianity rests upon the indisputable fact that Christ rose from the
dead (1 Cor. 15:17).
The resurrection of Christ is not to be understood merely in a spiritual sense.
He actually rose from the dead. He who came from the tomb was the same Jesus
who lived here in the flesh. He came forth in a glorified body, but it was
real—so real that the women who went to the sepulcher, as well as the
disciples, saw Him (Matt. 28:17; Mark 16:9, 12, 14). The two disciples on the
way to Emmaus talked with Him (Luke 24). He Himself said to the disciples,
"Behold my hands and my feet" (Luke 24:39). He had "flesh and
bones" (verse 39). He ate with them (verse 43).
Thomas had reason to know it was the same Jesus, for he was invited to
"reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand,
it into my side" (John 20:27). Yes, it was the Saviour
Himself. It was not a spirit, not a ghost. It was the real divine Son of God
who came forth from the grave. The resurrection of Jesus our Lord was a vital
part of the message of the early church. When the apostles preached, they
preached of Christ the Messiah, who was raised from the dead. "They . . .
preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead" (Acts 4:2); they
"gave . . . witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus" (verse 33);
Paul "preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection" (Acts 17:18).
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is of vital importance in God's great plan of
salvation. Even the death of Jesus, sublime as it was, would have been of no
avail, were it not for His resurrection from the dead. The great apostle to the
Gentiles makes this clear in his ringing testimony to the living Christ. In
that wonderful chapter on the resurrection, in his message to the Corinthian
church, we see the vital place that this great transaction has in the purpose
of God. Note what the situation would be if Christ had not been raised from the
1. There would be no benefit from preaching the gospel: "And if Christ be
not risen, then is our preaching vain" (1 Cor. 15:14).
2. There would be no forgiveness of sins: "And if Christ be not raised. . . .
ye are yet in your sins" (verse 17).
3. There would be no purpose in believing in Jesus: "And if Christ be not
raised, your faith is vain" (verse 17).
4. There would be no general resurrection from the
dead: "Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some
among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?" (verse 12).
5. There would be no hope beyond the grave: "If Christ be not raised, . .
. then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished" (verses
This is a message of power, for it is by the power of His resurrection that we
live the Christian life, and His life is lived out in the life of the believer.
Those who are buried with Christ in baptism are represented as rising with Him
in His resurrection (Rom. 6:5, 8, 11; Eph. 2:4, 5; Col. 2:12, 13). As a result
of this union with Christ, a new life is imparted to the believer (Rom. 6:4; 2
Cor. 4:10, 11; Col. 3:10). The power of Christ's resurrection is thus made
available to him (Eph. 1:19, 20; Phil. 3:10; Heb. 7:16).
Once we were dead in sins; now we are alive in Christ. We were crucified with
Christ; now Christ lives in us (Gal. 2:20). Our personal experience of this
quickening of the soul, this liberating action of the Spirit of life, is the
inward witness and the supreme evidence of the reality of the resurrection.
Above all, the resurrection of our Lord is the assurance that we, too, shall be
resurrected at His second coming (1 Cor. 15:20, 23).
The Historicity of the Resurrection
Many evidences of this astonishing event were given to the early Christians.
There were at least ten appearances of Jesus after His resurrection. (1) To
Mary Magdalene: Mark 16:9; John 20:14-17. (2) To the women on the way to tell
the disciples that Christ had
risen: Matthew 28:9. (3) To Peter: Luke 24:34. (4) To the
two disciples on the road to Emmaus: Mark 16:12; Luke 24:15, 31. (5) To the
assembled disciples on the evening of the resurrection day: Mark 16:14; Luke
24:36; John 20:19. (6) To the assembled disciples a week later: John 20:26-29.
(7) To the disciples at the Sea of Galilee: John 21:1-22. (8) To the eleven on
a mountain in Galilee, five hundred brethren being present: Matthew 28:16; Mark
16:7; 1 Corinthians 15: 6. (9) To James: 1 Corinthians 15:7. (10) To the eleven
disciples at the time of the ascension: Mark 16:19; Luke 24:50-52; Acts
A. T. Robertson comments on the meeting with the five hundred disciples:
The strength of this witness lies in the fact that the majority (hoi
pleious) of them were still living when Paul wrote this Epistle, . . .
not over 25 years after Christ's resurrection.—Word Pictures in the New
Testament, 1931, vol. 4, p. 188.
Besides the testimony of the apostles and the witness of the women, there is
the testimony of the Jewish council (Matt. 28:11-15), and also of the Roman
authorities, according to early church writers. Pilate became acquainted with
the facts, and recorded them in his regular report to the emperor. Eusebius,
fourth-century bishop and church historian, wrote:
And when the wonderful resurrection and ascension of our Saviour were already
noised abroad, in accordance with an ancient custom which prevailed among the
rulers of the provinces, of reporting to the Emperor the novel occurrences
which took place in them, in order that nothing might escape him, Pontius
Pilate informed Tiberius of the reports which were noised abroad through all
Palestine concerning the resurrection of our Saviour Jesus Christ from the
dead. He gave an account also of other wonders which he had learned of him,
and how, after his death, having risen
from the dead, he was now believed by many to be a god.
That Pilate made an official report to Tiberius is stated also
by Tertullian (Apol. 21), and is in itself quite probable. Justin Martyr
(Apol. I. 35 and 48) mentions certain Acts of Pilate as well known in his day, but the
so-called Acts of Pilate which are still extant in various forms are spurious,
and belong to a much later period. They are very fanciful and curious.—Nicene
and Post-Nicene Fathers, second series, vol. l, p. 105.
The populace must have known about it, for at the time of
the resurrection there was an earthquake and many of the saints arose. These
were the antitype, in part at least, of the wave sheaf that was offered in
olden days. The record says: "And the graves were opened; and many bodies
of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his
resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many" (Matt.
Commenting on this experience, Ellen G. White has written:
As Christ arose, He brought from the grave a multitude of captives. The
earthquake at His death had rent open their graves, and when He arose, they
came forth with Him. . . . Now they were to be witnesses for Him who had raised
them from the dead. . . . These went into the city, and appeared unto many,
declaring, Christ has risen from the dead, and we be risen with Him. Thus was
immortalized the sacred truth of the resurrection.—The Desire of Ages, p.