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Don Stewart :: What Observations Can Be Made about Jesus' Resurrection Appearances?

Don Stewart

As we examine the New Testament account of the appearances of Christ after His death, we can make the following observations:

1. The Appearances Were Convincing

The different appearances of Jesus convinced His disciples that He had truly risen from the dead. The first chapter of Acts makes this statement about Jesus' appearances.

To these he also presented himself alive, after his suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days, and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3).

When describing Jesus' appearances, Luke uses a Greek word translated as "convincing proof." This term refers to the strongest type of legal proof imaginable. The case for Jesus' resurrection would stand up in a court of law.

2. He Appeared To Many Different People

We note that Jesus appeared to a number of different people after His death. The multiple appearances that are recorded in the New Testament range in size from one individual (Peter) to over five hundred people (1 Corinthians 15). These various appearances to different numbers of people testifies to the fact that He did indeed come back from the dead.

3. He Appeared At Different Times And Places

There was no specific time or place when the resurrected Jesus appeared. His appearances include: in a locked room, on the road to Emmaus, on a mountain in Galilee, on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, and at the empty tomb. Jesus was able to appear wherever He wished, He was not limited to one geographical area.

Jesus' appearances consisted of brief encounters with people (the women returning from the tomb) to long periods of time (the two disciples on the road to Emmaus).

He also appeared at different times of day - morning (to Mary Magdalene at the tomb), afternoon (the two disciples on the road to Emmaus), and night (the disciples in the locked upper room).

4. The People Were Not Expecting Him To Appear

Jesus' followers were surprised by the events that occurred in those few short days. Beginning with His betrayal by one of their own - Judas Iscariot - to the arrest, trial and crucifixion, these rapidly occurring events shocked the disciples. They were not expecting any of this to happen. However, the one thing that surprised them most was seeing Christ alive after His death.

The women who arrived at the tomb were not expecting Jesus to rise. Their intention was to embalm His body. They went to the tomb expecting to find someone there. This shows they did not expect a resurrection.

When the disciples were first told of the empty tomb, and the reports that Jesus was alive, they did not believe them. They thought the women making these reports were mad.

When Thomas first heard that Jesus had risen, he did not believe it. Until he saw Jesus for himself, and touched the scars of His wounds, he would not believe.

All of these facts testify to the state of mind of the disciples - they were not looking for Him to appear.

5. His Appearances Suddenly Stopped After He Ascended Into Heaven

The New Testament says it was for only forty days that Jesus showed Himself after His resurrection before ascending into heaven. After His ascension, Jesus did not appear any longer to His disciples - except for one episode on the isle of Patmos to John. In that instance He appeared as the glorified Christ.


From an examination of the New Testament accounts of Jesus resurrection we can conclude the following. His appearances were convincing. Those who saw the risen Christ were convinced that it was truly him. Jesus appeared to many different people. One appearance there was over five hundred people. Jesus also appeared at different times and places. We know for a fact that the people were not expecting Him to appear. Finally his appearances suddenly stopped after He ascended into heaven.


The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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