Five reasons to believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead

Professor Gary Habermas had the following piece in the Washington Post (of all places).  It’s not often that a politically-left leaning media outlet allows content which shines positive light onto Christianity.

(Washington Post) — I will assume nothing special about the New Testament writings whatsoever. I will use only the historical information that is accepted as historical by virtually all scholars who have studied this material today-no matter how skeptical or liberal they are. That means, for example, that I will only cite New Testament passages, ones that pass the customary skeptical standards and are recognized as such. Using only these “minimal facts,” I will still maintain that Jesus’ resurrection is the most likely explanation for what we know.


(1) Most scholars agree that Jesus’ tomb was discovered empty shortly afterwards. With almost two dozen reasons favoring this report alone, what best explains this? Other hypotheses do not account for all the data.

(2) Many eyewitnesses assert that they saw the risen Jesus, both individually and in groups. Even apart from the Gospels, we can establish this totally from just two passages in Paul’s “undisputed writings”:

–Paul told the Corinthians that he had received the Gospel resurrection report from others (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).

–The consensus critical view is that Paul probably obtained this material in Jerusalem, when he visited the eyewitness apostles Peter and James, the brother of Jesus (Galatians 1:18-24).

–Paul returned to Jerusalem 14 years later and specifically checked out the nature of the Gospel message, again with eyewitnesses Peter, James, and now John (Galatians 2:1-10).

–All the apostles agreed that Jesus appeared to them after his death (1 Corinthians 15:11).

(3) Further, critical scholars also agree that Paul received this material from the other apostles at an exceptionally early date-only about five years after the crucifixion. But since the others knew the reports before Paul did, we are right back to the events themselves. Even the best-known critical scholar today, non-Christian specialist Bart Ehrman, dates several Christian traditions as early as just a year or two after the crucifixion!

(4) But why should we believe that these eyewitnesses were being honest? We have first century sources that the three apostles mentioned above were all martyred: Paul, Peter, and James the brother of Jesus. Of course, people die for all sorts of ideas, but only for what they are convinced is true. But unlike others, the apostles were in a position to know whether or not they had seen Jesus Christ alive after his death. By being willing to die, scholars agree that they were convinced that Jesus had indeed appeared to them. At the very least, this addresses their honesty and conviction.

5) Of these eyewitnesses, Paul was a persecutor of the early Christians, and James was an unbeliever. Skeptical scholars accept this in both cases. But why did they become believers? Again, they were certainly in a position to know whether the risen Jesus had appeared to them.

Lest anyone assume this is meant to be an exhaustive outline of reasons, it’s not.  There are many.  This, however, is a brief summary which is expounded upon in other published writings by Habermas and others.

Habermas is known for making a case for the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus from only information granted as true by the majority of New Testament scholars and historians both sympathetic to the Christian message and hostile toward it.


  1. So here’s the summary:

    1. Empty tomb, therefore the subject rose from the dead.
    2. People say they saw it, therefore it must have happened.
    3. Others wrote about it as well, so it must be true.
    4. Why would people lie? They must have been honest about it.
    5. Paul and James ended up believing it happened, so you should too.

    Good enough for me – see you in heaven!

    Seriously, if you were half as critical on the Jesus story as you are against the evidence for climate change you probably wouldn’t believe it either. Just sayin’

    • Your problem is you take them in isolation. You also don’t consider the real implications if their being true and the reasonable explanations possible. You know these points are substantiated far more indepth than here in the article too.

  2. TerranceH says:

    Few people have trouble believing that Julius Caesar was betrayed by Brutus and Cassius – yet we have more evidence for Jesus’ existence, crucifixion, and resurrection. People have to stop looking at the Bible as though it were a single source. It’s not. The Bible is comprised of many different books that stood alone and apart from each other at one time in history.

    There is more evidence for Jesus’ life than is required by scholars to label something a “historical fact.”

  3. TerranceH says:


    Find a letter in which early Christians admit to lying and falsifying data, then your comparison might be semi-valid.

  4. Here is an example of Early Church Pioneer, Eusebius

    Eusebius is notoriously the author of a great many falsehoods – but then he does warn us in his infamous history:

    “We shall introduce into this history in general only those events which may be useful first to ourselves and afterwards to posterity.”

    – Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, Vol. 8, chapter 2.

  5. M. Rodriquez,

    Maybe not. See here.

  6. TerranceH says:

    Nice try, Rodriquez. Nice try.


  1. […] news: Five reasons to believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead – it isn’t just that I love the “minimal facts” argument for explaining […]

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