The Resurrection of Christ and the Inspiration of the Scriptures

by Robert H. Farish
via Gospel Guardian, April 14, 1960

The evidence by which the resurrection of Christ is proved is the testimony of the apostles. This testimony was originally given orally and later put into writing by the apostles. This testimony asserts not only the miracle of the resurrection (I Corinthians 15:20), but also the miracle of inspiration (I Corinthians 2:12-13). In spite of this well known fact that the testimony affirms both of these miracles, it has been asserted that if the resurrection of Christ "can be proved, it would be no firm basis for verbal inspiration and the infallibility of the scriptures." In this article it will be shown that the proof of the resurrection of Christ is a firm basis for the verbal inspiration and the infallibility of the apostles' testimony.

If the evidence possesses the sufficiency to prove the resurrection of Christ, that same sufficiency prevails with reference to the claim of inspiration. In each instance the integrity of the witnesses plays the vital role. When it is shown that the integrity of the witnesses cannot be doubted in the one instance, there is, to say the least, a strong presumption that the same integrity exists in the other instance. To see the force of this point, just think of the effect that would be produced upon the mind if it could be proved that the witnesses were dishonest in their testimony to the resurrection of Christ. Would anyone contend that this is no firm basis for rejecting their claim of inspiration? Skeptics are unwilling to allow that the integrity of the witnesses with reference to other superhuman events gives firm basis to their claim to inspiration. Such an attitude reveals a woeful lack of intelligence. Consistency in such an attitude would require as much confidence in the testimony or a notorious liar as in the testimony of a man whose honesty was well established.

Ways by Which Inspiration May Be Proved

There are several routes by which one may travel to come to the conviction that the witnesses were inspired, that their claim to be inspired is true. The superhuman restraint seen in the writings of the witnesses could be studied with great profit. Such a study in which the style of human genius is contrasted to the style of divine inspiration will make a very positive contribution to conviction of the inspiration of the scripture. Another line of study is to note the boldness with which details are given with reference to local customs, political arrangements, names and actions of public figures, etc. All of which could be checked, and if proved false, would discredit the witnesses. The course of one who sets out to deliberately deceive is to avoid particulars and deal only in generalities. One could also collect and examine the evidence of the integrity of the witnesses in cases where their testimony is the evidence in proof of a superhuman even. Their integrity being established in these instances, all their claims must be regarded as the claims of honest men. These and other courses could be followed, but in this article we shall confine our efforts to the last named course. The integrity of the witnesses, in connection with their testimony to the fact of the resurrection Christ, will be proved. This proved, the question of veracity enter the picture to create doubt.

The possibility of an apostle being honest but mistaken can have very little weight when considered in connection with his claim of such a large number of living eye-witnesses. He could not have been "honestly mistaken" about this fact. Furthermore, the improbability of this large number of eye-witnesses being "honestly mistaken" about the fact of the resurrection of Christ, is so great that it could be properly called an impossibility. This brief notice on this point will have to suffice for this time.

This study will be confined to the testimony of I Corinthians 15.

Some Facts In I Corinthians 15

  1. The fact that Christ "hath been raised from the dead" (I Corinthians 15:4) is the bold affirmation of this testimony.
  2. Witnesses to this fact are cited and in some cases identified by name. "He appeared to Cephas; then to the twelve; then he appeared to above five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater remain until now, but some are fallen asleep; then he appeared to James; then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to a child untimely born he appeared to me also" (I Corinthians 15:5-8).
  3. All the witnesses preached the resurrection of Christ. "Whether then it be I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed" (I Corinthians 15:11).
  4. The apostle frankly states that if Christ hath not been raised, "we are found false witnesses of God" (I Corinthians 15:15).
  5. The apostle makes an argument for his integrity based upon his actions in relation to the resurrection of Christ. "Why do we also stand in jeopardy every hour? I protest by that glorying in you, brethren, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. If after the manner of men I fought with beasts at Ephesus what doth it profit me? If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die" (I Corinthians 15:30-32).

Some Observations On These Facts

The integrity of this witness is seen in his claim of a large number of witnesses to the fact and the possibility of these witnesses being consulted as most of them were still alive according to the apostle's testimony. The truthfulness or falseness of this could be readily established by those of Paul's day. To contend that the people of Corinth, Athens, and other centers of culture and learning of that day were too dull or lacking in interest to check up on this claim and expose the apostle as dishonest, thus disproving the fact which he affirmed, is to reflect most unfavorably upon the intelligence of the successors of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. It seems that modern skeptics are lacking in respect not only for the intelligence of those who believe the Bible, but that this lack of respect extends to their own kind as well.

This claim of a large number of living eye-witnesses to the fact is evidence that the document containing the claim was written soon enough after the event, to come within an average life span. If this were not the case, then the evidence of its falseness is on the surface. This evidence lends weight to the generally accepted date of the writing of I Corinthians as 56 or 57 A.D. Considering the later date in relation to the date of Christ's death A.D. 33, we see that twenty-four years had elapsed since the resurrection of Christ, the fact about which the testimony is concerned. The testimony being put into writing in such close proximity of time to the alleged fact is strong evidence in proof of the truthfulness of the testimony. Not enough time had elapsed to make it difficult to establish the character of the witnesses.

The dangers to which the giving of this testimony exposed the witnesses are proof of the integrity of the witnesses. If they were not fully convinced of the truth of what they testified, they could never have sacrificed their material interest and jeopardized their very lives as they did. "If Christ hath not been raised", what worthy explanation can be given for the actions of the witnesses? Paul makes this very argument in proof of the fact of the resurrection. "Why do we also stand in jeopardy every hour? I protest by that glorying in you brethren, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. If after the manner of men I fought with beasts at Ephesus, what doth it profit me? If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die" (I Corinthians 15:30-32). Let the skeptic grapple with Paul's argument: Here he presents the two courses open to him. He could pursue the course of fleshly gratification and that is the course that anyone will pursue who does not believe that "Christ hath been raised from the dead," or he could follow the course of suffering sacrifice and finally death. His following the latter course proved his depth of conviction that Christ hath been raised from the dead.

These considerations establish the integrity of the witnesses in this instance. Anyone who would question the honesty of a witness in these circumstances must surely have rendered himself incapable of conviction by closing his eyes and stopping his ears and hardening his heart. If the integrity of the witness be granted in this instance, upon what basis can it be withheld in the other instances? If the apostle is honest in his claim that Christ hath been raised, why should it be thought that he is dishonest in his claim of inspiration?

The proof of the resurrection of Christ is a firm basis for the verbal inspiration and the infallibility of the Scriptures.