In the beginning of the Christian movement, opponents converted attesting to have witnessed Jesus risen from the dead. Historians recognize that Paul converted having been a persecutor of the church, saw Jesus alive, and became a preacher and apostle (Gal 1:13–16). Early Christians attributed Paul as the author of 13 of the 27 writings of the New Testament of the Bible. Likewise, historians also note that Jesus’s brothers especially James did not believe Jesus was the Son of God, but they came to convert because of Jesus’s resurrection. They became preachers and leaders in the church too (1 Cor 9:5; Gal 1:18–20). To secular historians, these events are unexplained phenomena.
In AD 54, Paul reported the gospel message from his conversion two or three years after Jesus’s crucifixion. That first Christian message is the gospel that Jesus died, was buried, and resurrected (1 Cor 15:3–4). Paul listed numerous eyewitnesses seeing Jesus alive from the dead even 500 at one time (1 Cor 15:5–8). Secular historians admit that the Christian faith began because of the belief that Jesus rose from the dead. According to history, various people experienced Jesus bodily alive from the dead. In other words, their experience was that they saw, heard, touched, and ate with Jesus alive and bodily restored after three days having been crucified and confirmed dead (Luke 23:36–42).
What is the best explanation for various people experiencing Jesus risen bodily from the dead? To secular scholars, the experiences of Jesus’s resurrection are phenomena — events for which they cannot explain the cause. Explanations built on possibilities cannot suffice as such scenarios ignore and do not explain basic historical facts. The most plausible explanation cannot ignore the eyewitness experiences. Those whose minds are open to belief find the best explanation is that Jesus bodily rose from the dead.
Citing eyewitnesses of Jesus's resurrection was the preaching that established the church — God's people. In the physician Luke’s writing of “Acts of the Apostles,” Luke recorded early speeches from Peter and Paul that secular historians date before the book of Acts. In Luke's ancient record, Peter presented evidence that Jesus rose from the dead confirmed by predictions in the Jewish Scriptures, Jesus’s empty tomb, and eyewitnesses of Jesus resurrected (Acts 2:14–36). Likewise, Luke recorded that Paul preached the same evidence of people seeing Jesus alive and becoming witnesses to the people (Acts 13:26–41; cf. 1 Cor 15:1–11).
From the beginning of the church, the experiences of Jesus’s resurrection changed people's lives. They would not recant their faith even in the face of death. That life-changing faith has passed through centuries transforming many people and eventually the world. Because of faith in Jesus’s resurrection, Christians believe that on the last day they will resurrect like Jesus rose from the dead in glorified bodies for eternal life (Rom 8:11; 1 Cor 6:14; 15:51–53). Today, these followers of Christ urge everyone to read the words of Jesus in the Gospels, meet with a church of Christ, and believe, repent, and be baptized (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38).