The central claim of the NT is that Jesus was physically resurrected after being crucified. If this claim arose from decades of embellishment instead of historical truth, then Jesus is dead, the apostles were liars, and our faith is worthless (1 Cor. 15:14–17). But evidences from the first and second centuries reveal that eyewitness testimony about Jesus emerged rapidly and circulated reliably. The NT texts relied on testimonies from apostolic eyewitnesses, and all of these texts were completed while the eyewitnesses were still alive. That’s why we can declare with confidence: Don’t worry; I read the book. He didn’t stay dead. — Timothy Paul Jones (from, How Do You Know Jesus Really Rose from the Dead?)

At its foundation, Christianity is based on evidence. First Corinthians 15 recounts the critical core of Christianity: the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Without Jesus’ resurrection (a historical event), there is no Christianity and no hope for a future in heaven (a theological assertion). If Jesus is nothing more than an embellished legend, then the hope of heaven is little more than a wish. In order for Christianity to be true, it must include a belief in certain historical facts and a belief that the Bible preserves an accurate account of those events. This establishes the identity of Jesus as the resurrected Savior. In this sense, theology can’t be separated from history. Rather, theology depends on history. — Kenneth Samples (from, 5 Levels of Christian Faith)

After studying the historical origins of the Christian faith, I came to these conclusions: that Jesus died on the cross is as certain as anything historical can be; that he rose from the dead is by far the best explanation of the events surrounding his death; and that Jesus claimed to be God is the best explanation for the immediate Christian proclamation of Jesus’ deity. Putting it all together: Jesus claimed to be God, and he proved it by rising from the dead. The case for Christianity is powerful. Despite my ardent desire to believe in Islam, I had to admit that history was in favor of Christian claims, and even more reluctantly, that it challenged Islamic teachings. — Nabeel Qureshi (from, No God but One: Allah or Jesus?: A Former Muslim Investigates the Evidence for Islam and Christianity)

The wise do not believe in the resurrection of the dead. It is really quite absurd. So everything from the Easter morning to the Ascension had to be made up by the groveling enthusiasts as part of their plan to get themselves martyred. — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (cited in, Evidence for the Resurrection by Josh & Sean McDowell)

The real cover-up [of Watergate], the lie, could only be held together for two weeks, and then everybody else jumped ship in order to save themselves. Now, the fact is that all that those around the President were facing was embarrassment, maybe prison. Nobody’s life was at stake. But what about the disciples? Twelve powerless men, peasants really, were facing not just embarrassment or political disgrace, but beatings, stonings, execution. Every single one of the disciples insisted, to their dying breaths, that they had physically seen Jesus bodily raised from the dead. Don’t you think that one of those apostles would have cracked before being beheaded or stoned? That one of them would have made a deal with the authorities? None did. Jesus is Lord: That’s the thrilling message of Easter. And it’s an historic fact, one convincingly established by the evidence—and one you can bet your life upon. Go ahead researchers—dig up all the old graves you want. You won’t change a thing. He has risen. — Chuck Colson (cited in, Did Jesus Really Rise From the Dead?)

When we turn to the Gospels, we find multiple, independent attestation of this burial story, and Joseph of Arimathea is specifically named in all four accounts. On top of that, the burial story in Mark is so extremely early that it’s simply not possible for it to have been subject to legendary corruption. When you read the New Testament, there’s no doubt that the disciples sincerely believed the truth of the resurrection, which they proclaimed to their deaths. The idea that the empty tomb is the result of some hoax, conspiracy, or theft is simply dismissed today. — William Lane Craig (cited in, Case-Making 101: A Resurrection Apologetic)

There is an important difference between the apostle martyrs and those who die for their beliefs today. Modern martyrs act solely out of their trust in beliefs that others have taught them. The apostles died for holding to their own testimony that they had personally seen the risen Jesus. Contemporary martyrs die for what they believe to be true. The disciples of Jesus died for what they knew to be either true or false. ― Gary Habermas, (from, The Case For The Resurrec
tion Of Jesus

None of [the] major figures who constituted the inner circle of Jesus would have become or remained followers of Jesus after the crucifixion if there was no resurrection and no resurrection appearances of Jesus. The church, in the persons of its earliest major leaders, was constituted by the event of the resurrection, coupled with the Pentecost event! The stories of these figures, especially their post-Easter stories, are the validation of this fact. There would be no church without the risen and appearing Jesus. ― Ben Witherington III (from, What Have They Done with Jesus? Beyond Strange Theories & Bad History)

In order for the Resurrection of Jesus to be a late legend, the story would have to be both late and a legend. It is neither. The earliest New Testament documents include the Resurrection story, and the record of the early Church fathers demonstrates that the story was not altered over time. The truth of the Gospel accounts and the Resurrection of Jesus is still the most reasonable inference from the evidence. — J Warner Wallace (from, Investigating Easter: Is The Resurrection A Late Legend?)

If the Resurrection [of Jesus] had not happened, obviously the disciples would have known it. I can find no way that these particular men could have been deceived. Therefore they not only would have died for a lie—here’s the catch—they would have known it was a lie. It would be hard to find a group of men anywhere in history who would die for a lie if they knew it was a lie. — Josh McDowell (from, More Than a Carpenter)