The first 34 verses of this chapter are basically taken up with answering the question, “Is there a resurrection?” Paul believed that part of the work of preaching the gospel was the proving of the resurrection of Christ.
In our consideration of the verses 1-4, we have seen that Paul indicated that the Holy Scriptures teach the resurrection of Christ. The opening words of verse 5, And that, shows that proof of the resurrection was part of the message he was required to preach.
The resurrection of Christ is a historical fact that may be proved by historical data. The gospel is not mere theory. It is a message based upon the evidence of competent and credible witnesses. I wish to quote from the commentary of Charles Hodge, page 314.
Let no one say that the gospel message of Christ crucified is a mere fancy or myth. There are five instances of eye witness reports given here by Paul. Peter's testimony shortly before he gave his life, II Peter 1:14-16.
Observe some conclusions drawn from these witnesses and the nature of their testimony.
I. THE FAVOUR CHRIST BESTOWED UPON A FAILURE
1. The grace and mercy of Christ.
The first apostle Christ showed himself to was the one that failed Him most miserably. There is complete forgiveness and cleansing from the vilest and most shameful of sins through the blood of Christ, I John 1:7, 9. Past failure need be no hindrance for present and future service.
2. There was more than kindness at work.
After Peter's denial, his testimony is all the more valuable. He speaks even though it would bring ridicule and shame upon his head. For him to reverse his testimony indicates a powerful moral persuasion at work.
II. THE SIGHT OF THE RISEN SAVIOUR WAS NOT JUST FOR THE ELITE.
If two witness under the law provide sufficient testimony for the taking of a life (Deut 17:6), of what value must 500 be? The appearance of Christ before so many most likely took place in Galilee, Mark 16:7. Galilee was the place where the most of the Saviour's time was spent. A crowd of 500 gathering upon news of His resurrection would not have been unusual therefore. Furthermore, Matt 26:32 and our Mark 16:7 indicates that it was a pre-arranged meeting. The Saviour had many more disciples than was believed.
III. WHAT A DESPAIRING CHURCH NEEDS IS A SIGHT OF THE RISEN CHRIST
1. It will stem the despair.
2. It will strengthen their witness.
John 1:40-41. How lively is the testimony of the one who has just seen the Lord. Paul's life of tireless and powerful witnessing is explained by the sight of Christ that he was given and which he never forgot, Acts 22:6, 26:13.
3. Revival has ever been depicted as a fresh revealing of Christ to His church.
Malachi 4:2. Is it not what is lacking in our witness today?
IV. THE PRACTICAL AND PROPHETIC SIGNIFICANCE OF PAUL'S CONVERSION
1. Paul's conversion shows the power of Christ to subdue His enemies.
Paul was persecutor of the church, verse 9.
2. Paul is a demonstration of what the grace of God may do with a sinner.
Never consider a sinner too sinful for salvation.
3. Grace is bestowed in order to bring about a desired end.
It was not in vain in Paul's case. Grace works labour in us. By such terms what is the measure of your grace? The word labour means to be exhausted with toil.
4. Paul calls his conversion premature.
Born out of due time. I believe Paul saw himself as an early example of the great ingathering of the Israelites that shall take place when Christ returns, Isa 2:1-4, Rom 11:26.
Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed, verse 11. Paul returns to the theme that he digressed from in verses 9-10. The united testimony of the apostles was that they all believed and preached that Christ rose from the dead.