1 Corinthians 15:5–8—Why did Jesus appear to only a select few?

Problem: Some critics have suggested that the fact that only a few saw Jesus after His resurrection indicates that He was essentially invisible to the human eye, and only materialized to a few people on select occasions. But this is contrary to the orthodox contention that Jesus’ resurrection was literal and physical.

Solution: First of all, Jesus did not appear to only a few people. He appeared to over 500 people (1 Cor. 15:6), including many women, His own apostles, His brother James, and to Saul of Tarsus (the chief anti-Christian of the day).

Second, Jesus did not simply appear on a few occasions. He appeared on at least 12 different occasions. These were spread over a 40-day period of time (Acts 1:3) and in many different geographical locations. (See chart on Matt. 28:9.)

Third, Jesus did not allow just anyone to lay hands on Him even before His resurrection. On one occasion, an unbelieving crowd tried to take Jesus and “throw Him down over the cliff. Then passing through the midst of them, He went on his way” (Luke 4:29–30; cf. John 8:59; 10:39).

Fourth, even before His resurrection, Jesus was selective about those for whom He performed miracles. He refused to perform miracles in His own home area “because of their unbelief” (Matt. 13:58). Jesus even disappointed Herod who had hoped to see Him perform a miracle (Luke 23:8). The truth is that Jesus refused to cast pearls before swine (Matt. 7:6). In submission to the Father’s will (John 5:30), He was sovereign over His activity both before and after His resurrection. But this in no way proves that He was essentially invisible and immaterial either before or after His resurrection.

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.