In 1 Corinthians 15:5-7, Paul gives a list of occasions when people saw Jesus alive after his death. This began to happen on the third day after Jesus’ death, and continued during a period of 40 days.
Paul’s list does not include every occasion when this happened. That is clear from such passages as John 20:11-18, Luke 24:13-32 and John 21:1-2. Perhaps Paul selected the most important occasions to give evidence that Jesus is alive.
The first disciple who saw Jesus again was Peter. Here, Paul calls him Cephas. Jesus became alive again early on the Sunday morning after his death. Soon afterwards, Peter and John went to the grave, but they did not find Jesus there (John 20:1-10). However, later that same day, Jesus met Peter (Luke 24:34).
On that same evening, Jesus met with his special students whom we call the disciples (Luke 24:36-43; John 20:19-23). Paul simply calls them ‘the twelve’; probably all the first Christians understood that phrase. However, on that occasion, only 10 of them were present. Judas had killed himself (Matthew 27:3-8). Thomas was elsewhere (John 20:24). Another week passed before Thomas saw Jesus (John 20:26-29).
During those 40 days, Jesus was teaching his disciples (Acts 1:3; Luke 24:44-45). He did not remain with them constantly, but he returned to them on several occasions. Originally, their attitude was unbelief (Mark 16:9-14). However, by the end of the period, they were ready for Jesus to send them out to declare God’s good news. Then they were able not just to speak the message, but also to act as witnesses that Jesus is alive.
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© 2014, Keith Simons.