Very many people were witnesses of the fact that Jesus became alive again after his death. Here, Paul mentions an occasion when 500 men were present. (We do not know whether any women were with them.) During their meeting, Jesus came among them. Probably, he used the opportunity to teach them.
We know nothing more about this event than the facts that appear here. There is no other account of it in the Bible. However, because so many people were present, the incident would be well-known among the first Christians.
Paul calls the men who saw this event ‘brothers’. That was a word that the first Christians used to describe each other. Clearly, these 500 men all became Christians.
They could not all be there when the first Christians received the Holy Spirit. Only 120 people were present then (Acts 1:15). However, they could be among the 3000 people in Acts 2:41, or the 5000 men in Acts 4:4.
We do not know the reason why those 500 men met. Perhaps they met to pray. Probably they had heard the reports about Jesus; perhaps they wanted God to show them whether these things were true. These men were not merely curious; it mattered very much to them whether God was carrying out his promises to his people in the Bible.
If the reports about Jesus were true, then God had sent Jesus to save his people. It is a very terrible thing to neglect such a serious and important message from God (Hebrews 2:3-4).
At their meeting, those 500 men saw Jesus; and they too became witnesses of the fact that he is alive. Paul probably wrote about this event about 25 years after it happened. For those 500 men, this was the most wonderful event in their lives. They continued to speak about it for the rest of their lives. Clearly, Paul had heard the report from several of them.
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© 2014, Keith Simons.