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Paul and the Resurrection

Submitted by on Thursday, 28 May 2009No Comment


NAB HomepageToday’s Readings

This episode should be called “Paul at the Docks”, and yet, as the trial goes on one wonders who is being tried? We’ve seen how Jesus, though tried before the Sanhedrin, actually becomes the occassion for the judgment of the Sanhedrin. Here, Paul becomes the occassion for the trial of the Pharisees and Sadduccees.

The Pharisees are lay religious leaders; the Sadducees are made up of priests. And both groups are rivals. Paul was a Pharisee. In a way Paul exploited the rivalry of these two groups when he said that he is being tried because of his hope in the resurrection. The Pharisees believed in the resurrection, but not the Sadducees, and so “the uproar” that followed. But looking at the issue more closely, all Paul actually did was to assert the truth. He was indeed being tried because of his particular belief in the resurrection. Paul can be emphatic about this

If Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then neither has Christ been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then empty (too) is our preaching; empty, too, your faith. Then we are also false witnesses to God, because we testified against God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, neither has Christ been raised, and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins. Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all. (1Corinthians 15:12-19)

We must remember that Paul’s christian belief is based on the resurrection of Jesus. He has had a personal experience of the Risen Lord (Acts 9) and from that moment on the road to Damascus, he has been proclaiming that this Jesus is the Messiah. The resurrection of Jesus means that the last days prophesied by the prophets has begun. The statements of Jesus about himself — however circumlocutional they may be — has been confirmed by God who raised him from the dead. He is the Messiah, the one whom David called “Lord”.

The same Lord now appears to Paul telling him that he will have to go to Rome to bear witness (v. 11). Thus with Paul, the command of the Lord to the disciples to be his witnesses to all the world will find its fulfillment. Rome is the center of the known world at the time. Thus, from Jerusalem to Rome and to the rest of the world is the trajectory of the proclamation of the gospel.

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