Did the Apostles Have a Resurrection Faith?

by Sean McDowell

In The Fate of the Apostles, I argue that the willingness of the apostles to die for their faith provides convincing evidence that we can trust their testimony. However, as critics have pointed out, this rightly assumes that the apostles had a resurrection faith. If the apostles believed for some other reason, then their willingness to suffer and face martyrdom would be inconsequential to the truth of Christianity.

So, how do we know the apostles had a resurrection faith?

While some critics doubt the centrality of the resurrection, the majority of scholars accept that Christianity was a resurrection faith since its inception. In The Resurrection of The Messiah, New Testament scholar Christopher Bryan begins his inquiry with the assumption that three established facts can be considered “historical certainties,” one of which is the centrality of the resurrection in the earliest Christian self-definition.[1] Bryan is not alone in his estimation. According to ancient historian Paul Barnett, “It was this twin conviction, that Jesus was the Christ and that God had raised him alive from the dead, that drove and energized the first disciples and that alone accounts for the rise of Christianity as we encounter it in the historical records.”[2]

What gives these scholars such confidence? The centrality of the resurrection can be seen from early creeds, the apostolic kerygma, Paul’s letters, and the Apostolic Fathers.

Early Christian Creeds

Early Christological creeds, verbal proclamations of the faith that circulated before their inclusion in various New Testament books, are often considered the most promising glimpse into the earliest Christian beliefs before the composition of the New Testament writings…

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Did the Apostles Have a Resurrection Faith? – Sean McDowell