Jesus Christ’s resurrection is at the core of Christianity, without the resurrection there is no Christianity. Each of the gospel’s speaks of Jesus’ resurrection, and Paul states, “if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.” 1 Cor 15:14. Though Christians may disagree on many topics, the belief in a resurrection is synonymous with Christianity. Despite this common belief there is dissent regarding the details of this core belief. Disagreement arises from not from believing in a resurrection, but in what form he arose. Craig argues that Christ’s body was resurrected and He left the tomb. He counters the numerous conspiracy theories, (the idea that the disciples stole the body), the apparent death theory (Jesus did not die on the cross), and the wrong tomb theory (the women went to the wrong tomb) are untenable in light of the historical evidence. His position is that the resurrection is the best explanation for the empty tomb.
Many cults including Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe that Jesus rose in the flesh, but that he merely rose spiritually. Craig dedicates this writing to disputing this incorrect point of view. Among the many reasons he proffers that every gospel appearance of Jesus is narrated is a physical appearance and the contemporary use of the term resurrection during early Christianity meant physical burial and rising, therefore it stands to reason that Paul’s use of the term would refer to the same. Craig stated that, “it must be said that despite the disdain of some theologians for the gospel’s conception of the nature of the resurrection body, it is nonetheless true that like Paul the evangelists steer a careful course between gross materialism and the immortality of the soul. On the one hand, every gospel appearance of Jesus that is narrated is a physical appearance.” The Gospels confirm this position in John 20, where Jesus shows His hands and feet where the nails had been driven. Jesus ate in Luke 23. The story of doubting Thomas is renowned because Jesus allowed him to put his hand into His side. These as well as other Scriptures detail instances post resurrection that require a physical presence.
Complimenting his thesis on the gospel’s agreement with a bodily resurrection, he discusses Paul’s writings. Craig states that Paul was a Pharisee before his conversion. He was educated as such and though he disclaimed those beliefs, he was none the less a product of Pharasiac education. Therefore it would follow that Paul would understand and use the term resurrection as the Pharisee’s of his time would have, in reference to physical rising. Jesus, a rabbi held that the tomb is the place where the bones repose and that the dead in the tombs would be raised (Matt 23.27; John 5.28). So Craig lines up Paul’s belief with the Pharisees and Jesus who all asserted that the resurrection was a physical action. Based on the details laid out in the Gospels and Paul’s writings one can definitively repute the contention that Jesus’ resurrection was merely a spiritual activity without flesh. Jesus said in John 2:19-22, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews therefore said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” Jesus was speaking of the temple of His body. Therefore when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had spoken.” There are some who contend that the verses above do not prove that the resurrection was physical. Despite the above proof, Jehovah’s Witnesses and others contend that Christ was not raised alive in the same body in which he was put to death? (You Can Live Forever on Paradise Earth, pp. 143-144). They declare that Jesus, the man is dead forever and that the body he manifested himself to the disciples post resurrection was not the body with which he was nailed to the cross. They contend when pressed that the body was not found in the tomb because God dissolved it into atoms. A strong indictment against their position is the Gospels and Paul’s writings which Craig references. Further negating this position is the absence a single Scripture that supports their belief that God disposed of Jesus body in some way.
Craig concludes that Jesus rose as a body, not a disembodied soul. Paul’s evidence confirms the gospels’ discussions of Jesus’ bodily resurrection which is historically logically well-tenable.