Why Jesus is the Most Likely Candidate to Rise from the Dead

Some people think the resurrection of Jesus is impossible to believe or they think the entire story just doesn’t make sense. I think if there is anyone who would rise from the dead, it would be Jesus. In other words, when I look at the entire ministry of Jesus, he is perfect candidate to be raised from the dead. Here are five reasons that help explain what I am saying about this topic:

First, Jesus viewed Himself as the Son of Man/The Elect One

“Son of Man” was Jesus’ favorite title for Himself throughout His ministry. First of all, “Son of Man ” is employed to Jesus’ earthly ministry (Mk. 2:10,28; 10:45; Matt. 13:37); Second, the Son of Man was to suffer and die and rise from the dead (Mk. 8:31;9:31;10:33). Third, the Son of Man would serve an eschatological function (Mk. 8:38;13:26;14:62; Matt.10:23;13:41;19:28:24:39;25:31). In other words, there is a correlation between the returning Son of Man and the judgment of God.

The term “Son of Man” in the time of Jesus was a most emphatic reference to the Messiah (Dan. 7:13-14). The title reveals divine authority. In the trial scene in Matthew 26:63-64, Jesus provoked the indignation of his opponents because of His application of Dan. 7:13 and Ps. 110:1 to Himself. Jesus’ claim that he would not simply be entering into God’s presence, but that he would actually be sitting at God’s right side was the equivalent to claiming equality with God. By Jesus asserting He is the Son of Man, he was exercising the authority of God.

As Randall Price notes:

“ The concept of the Messiah as a “son of man” after the figure in Daniel 7:13 is expressed in a section of the apocryphal book of 1 Enoch known as Similitudes, which has been argued to have a date as early as 40 B.C. While we will deal more with this messianic title in the next chapter, it should be noted that scholars have found in Similitudes four features for this figure: (1) it refers to an individual and is not a collective symbol, (2) it is clearly identified as the Messiah, (3) the Messiah is preexistent and associated with prerogatives traditionally reserved for God, and (4) the Messiah takes an active role in the defeat of the ungodly. New Testament parallels with Similitudes (e.g., Matt. 19:28 with 1 Enoch 45:3 and Jn. 5:22 with 1 Enoch 61:8) may further attest to a mutual dependence on a common Jewish messianic interpretation (or tradition) based on Daniel’s vision.” (1)

Secondly, Jesus viewed Himself as The Son of God

One of the most important Christological titles for Jesus is “Son of God.” There are numerous passages in the New Testament that attest to Jesus and His authority as the Son of God. The first is seen in John 5:22-23: “For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.”  In Psalm. 2:2-7 we see the relationship between the term “Son of God” and the King of Israel. “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed [that’s the word for Messiah]. . . . Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.” Therefore, when the Jewish people heard the term “Son of God” they mostly associated it with a king. The God of Israel is identified as King: (1 Sam. 12:12; Ps 24:10; Is. 33:22; Zeph. 3:15; Zech. 14:16-17), as ruler over Israel (Ex. 15:18; Num. 23;21; Deut. 33:5; Is. 43:15), and ruler over the entire creation, his reign is ongoing (Ps.10:16; 146:10; Is. 24:23), and rule and kingship belong to Him (Ps. 22:28). The Son of God was to be a descendant of King David who will rule Israel during the age of perfection: (Isaiah 11:1-9; Jeremiah 23:5-6, 30:7-10, 33:14-16; Ezekiel 34:11-31, 37:21-28; Hosea 3:4-5).

Dead Sea Scroll specialists such as Craig A. Evans and Peter W. Flint have shown that the writings that were found at Qumran show that divine sonship was clearly a part of the Royal- Christian rhetoric of pre-Christian Judaism. In relation to the “Son of God” term, these passages that were read during this period were referring to the Davidic King. The “Son of God” term is seen in the fragment known as (4Q246), Plate 4, columns one and two. In relation to this issue, within the Psalms, we see that God and His anointed king are described in ways that are equal in status and they are both qualified to be worthy of the same worship and reverence. (2)

Thirdly, Jesus was a Prophet like Moses

There is no doubt that Moses spoke of a prophet that would come who would be like him (see Deut. 18:1518).  Moses was a sign prophet. We see this is an important feature with Moses: God says, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you” (Exod. 3:12).

When Moses asks God, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me?” the Lord gives Moses two “signs”: his rod turns into a snake (Exod. 4:3) and his hand becomes leprous (Exod. 4:1–7).

Moses “performed the signs before the people, and they believed; … they bowed down and worshiped” (Exod. 4:30–31).

Jesus was a sign prophet as well in that He gave his prediction of his resurrection when he was asked for a sign (Matt. 16:1, 4). Not only was the resurrection a miracle, but it was a miracle that Jesus predicted (Matt. 12:40; 16:21; 20:19; John 2:19).  Nicodemus said of Jesus “We know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him” (John 3:2).  “Jesus the Nazarene was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know” (Acts 2:22)

A very important messianic text is seen here:

“And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read.  And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,  “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,  because he has anointed me  to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives  and recovering of sight to the blind,  to set at liberty those who are oppressed,  to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”- Luke 4: 18-19

A published scroll from Qumran has helped confirm this theme:  According to 4Q521,

“Heaven and earth will obey his Messiah and all that is in them will not turn away from the commandments of the holy ones … for (the Lord) will honor the pious upon the throne of the eternal Kingdom, setting prisoners free, opening the eyes of the blind, raising up those who are bowed down…. For he will heal the wounded, revive the dead, proclaim good news to the poor.”  (3)

Fourth, Jesus is the Shechinah

In the Bible, the Shechinah is the visible manifestation of the presence of God in which He descends to dwell among men. While the Hebrew form of the glory of the Lord is Kvod Adonai, the Greek title is Doxa Kurion. The Hebrew form Schechinah, from the root “shachan,” means “dwelling” while the Greek word “Skeinei” means to tabernacle.

The Shechinah glory is seen in the Tankah in places such as Gen.3:8; 23-24; Ex.3;1-5; 13:21-22; 14;19-20; 24; 16:6-12; 33:17-23; 34:5-9. In these Scriptures, the Shechinah is seen in a variety of visible manifestations such as light, fire, cloud, the Angel of the Lord, or a combination of all of these. The ultimate manifestation of the Shechinah was seen in the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai (Ex.19:16-20).

The story of Jesus has tremendous parallels to the Shechinah story in the Hebrew Bible. In the Hebrew Bible, the Shechinah would appear and disappear at certain times while eventually making a permanent home in the tabernacle and the temple; the Shechinah also departed from the Mount of Olives. Likewise, in the New Testament, Jesus as the visible manifestation of the Shechinah, also appeared and disappeared; He also departed from Israel from the Mount of Olives. (4)

Remember, the rabbis could speak of taking upon oneself the yoke of Torah or the yoke of the kingdom; Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me.” (Mt 11:29). Also, the rabbis could say that if two or three men sat together, having the words of Torah among them, the shekhina (God’s own presence) would dwell on them (M Avot 3:2) ; Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I will be among them.” (5)

Fifth, Jesus had the authority to forgive sins and became the Temple in person

According to Mark 14:62, Jesus affirmed the chief priests question that He is the Messiah, the Son of God, and the Coming Son of Man who would judge the world. This was considered a claim for deity since the eschatological authority of judgment was for God alone. Jesus provoked the indignation of his opponents because of His application of Daniel 7:13 and Psalm 110:1 to himself.

Also, many parables, which are universally acknowledged by critical scholars to be authentic to the historical Jesus, show that Jesus believed himself to be able to forgive sins against God (Matt. 9:2; Mark 2: 1-12). Forgiving sins was something that was designated for God alone (Exod. 34: 6-7; Neh.9:17; Dan. 9:9) and it was something that was done only in the Temple along with the proper sacrifice. So it can be seen that Jesus acts as if He is the Temple in person. In Mark 14:58, it says, “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this man-made temple and in three days will build another, not made by man.’ The Jewish leadership knew that God was the one who was responsible for building the temple (Ex. 15:17; 1 En. 90:28-29).(6).


These are just a few reasons why I think Jesus is the most likely candidate to rise from the dead.


1. See Randall Price, See The Concept of the Messiah in the Old Testament at http://www.worldofthebible.com/Bible%20Studies/The%20Concept%20…

2. See Craig Evans and P. W. Flint. Eschatology, Messianism, and the Dead Sea Scrolls ( Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1997).

3. Ibid.

4.These points were laid out systematically in Fruchtenbaum, A.G, The Footsteps of  Messiah: A Study of Prophetic Events (Tustin CA: Ariel Press, 1977), 409-432.

5. Skarsaune,O, In The Shadow of the Temple: Jewish Influences on Early Christianity (Downers Grove, ILL: Intervarsity Press, 2002), 331.

6. William Lane Craig. Reasonable Faith: Third Edition. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2008, 307.


9 thoughts on “Why Jesus is the Most Likely Candidate to Rise from the Dead

  1. Ed Atkinson November 11, 2014 / 9:56 am

    Hi Chab

    I appreciate the piece. I am listening to the discussions on Unbelievable regarding how Jesus came to be viewed as divine – which is similar material. Also great stuff

    I think the framework of your argument is a bit strange. There were a few people who had some Messiah-like features around the time of Jesus. John the Baptist maybe, and you list some more in

    Only one of these ended up with widespread resurrection beliefs and a strong following decades after their death. For only one, it seems, do we have copious material written about him … by his the believers. How is it possible to assess the claim that “Jesus is the Most Likely Candidate to Rise from the Dead”? It is not possible to even begin to assess the likelihood for the other candidates on an anything like a similar basis.

    Even when you say “In other words, when I look at the entire ministry of Jesus, he is perfect candidate to be raised from the dead.”, this seems back to front. The entire ministry of Jesus is given to us 30-plus years after his death by authors who have been steeped in their belief of his resurrection for all that time. How could it be other than the story will show that Jesus was the perfect candidate to be raised from the dead?

    Can you give me an OT reference to the Messiah or Suffering Servant or similar person actually rising from the dead and then still being a human on earth for a while? Then you could say something remarkable: “Rising from the Dead is the Most Likely Candidate for How God Would Demonstrate His Messiah”.

    Minor point – in your last paragraph you say that the parables show that Jesus believed himself to be able to forgive sins. But the only reference was a healing story.

    As ever, all the best


  2. Ed Atkinson November 12, 2014 / 10:41 am

    Hi Chab

    Thanks for the links, which I’ve read with interest.

    Your memory is short. I agreed with you in our earlier discussion on resurrection appearances. Resurrection belief started very early due to the appearances. I agree to it accounts for the NT Christology. I depart from you in that I think some details developed in the traditions after that start. Even in the post I made here it was clear that I agree with you on this point. I said “The entire ministry of Jesus is given to us 30-plus years after his death by authors who have been steeped in their belief of his resurrection for all that time.” I spend a lot of space in our discussions clearing up your misunderstandings of what I say.

    Thanks for guiding me to Isa. 52-53, Psalm 22, and Psalm 16.

    · In Ps 22 there is no hint of the sufferer even dying

    · Ps16 has nothing to hint that it is a prophecy; it is David’s personal song of praise and appreciation. It contains evidence that Jewish views of death were developing at the time as it points to surviving death, ending at God’s side in heaven.

    · Is 52-53 also has the sufferer also surviving death, we assume too ending at God’s side in heaven.

    So, in anything here, there is no hint of a rising from the dead in the way Jesus did, in a body and walking about. By the 1st C some kind of general resurrection for all the Jewish faithful was believed, so a life after death of some kind is not remarkable. I need to be careful because everyone tells me that scholarship is clear on the matter: a 1st C Jew who experienced an appearance of Jesus would assume that the body as well as the soul was still alive, and the body no longer in the grave. So that view must have come from somewhere.

    I don’t get the relevance of your point that Jesus was divine before he came to this earth.

    As ever you don’t get what I said on the healing and forgiveness. You had earlier claimed it was a parable, I pointed out it was a story. As I said, just a minor point.

    Thanks for the Ehrman book discussion links. It seems the area of disagreement is fairly small. This comes out in the Unbelievable show discussion I mentioned.

    Regarding “Is the Resurrection a Requirement for Being the Messiah?” your answer in the link is that the Messiah must live on eternally. OK but that is not a raising from the dead in the way Jesus did.

    Finally – I have the Wright book and have read it.

    Cheers Ed

  3. chab123 November 13, 2014 / 3:23 pm

    Ed, the Psalm 22 link is about the crucifixion which is about suffering. Being pierced is suffering.

    Psalm 16 is a typology – see more here: https://bible.org/article/use-psalm-168-11-acts-225-28

    Regarding Isa 53 and the resurrection, I talk more about that here: https://chab123.wordpress.com/2014/01/30/a-closer-look-at-isaiah-5213-53-12-who-is-the-servant-of-the-lord-part-four/

    But if you are looking for a prophecy that says “when the Messiah rises, he will walk around and appear to 500 and all kinds of other people,” no, you wont find it.” But as I have said before, Paul (as a Pharisee) would view resurrection as a physical, bodily resurrection, They wouldn’t be expecting a ‘spiritual’ or a non physical Jesus who is resurrected. Whenever the New Testament mentions the word body, in the context of referring to an individual human being, the Greek word “soma” always refers to a literal, physical body. Greek specialist Robert Gundry says “the consistent and exclusive use of soma for the physical body in anthropological contexts resists dematerialization of the resurrection, whether by idealism or by existentialism.” — See his book on Soma. Furthermore as you know since you read it), in N.T. Wright’s The Resurrection of the Son of God shows that the Greek word for resurrection which is “anastasis” was used by ancient Jews, pagans, and Christians as bodily in nature.

    But just because the OT doesn’t give an exact ‘explicit’ text about Jesus walking around and physically appearing to everyone doesn’t mean the issues with a resurrected Messiah aren’t there.

    The Davidic King would have to be physically resurrected in order for God to assure the promise of the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam.7:12-17; 1 Chr.17:7-15; Ps.89:28-37) which is exactly what Paul speaks of in Romans 1:1-5. A physically resurrected Davidic King= an eternal reign. You can also see this excellent article regarding the need for a resurrected Messiah. http://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/54/54-4/JETS_54-4_749-766_Ortlund.pdf

    You were the one who said this:

    “Only one of these ended up with widespread resurrection beliefs and a strong following decades after their death”

    I was just responding to that. You can say they filled in the details later but the core of the Gospel- Jesus died and rose and he appeared to them was being taught and proclaimed from the start. Not enough time for embellishment which is what you want.

    Glad you read the Wright book. Maybe you can read Licona’s next. He dismantles the hallucination hypothesis which is what you have when you have to keep punting to subjective visions. Remember,

    “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”-Luke 16: 31

    • Ed Atkinson November 13, 2014 / 10:17 pm

      Thanks Chab, I get it and I think we agree. Basically the OT doesn’t give a prophesy that the Messiah would rise, but by the time the NT era came, the understanding was that he would live after death, this would be a resurrection, and it would imply no body left in the grave. This fits with my N T Wright reading that I alluded to in my previous reply: “…a 1st C Jew who experienced an appearance of Jesus would assume that the body as well as the soul was still alive, and the body no longer in the grave.”

      We agree that this does not entail the Messiah would still be on earth after death like Jesus, and where we depart is that I think this constitutes an omission of prophesy. However, you can rightly say that God can prophesy what he wants.

      So we have got there!

      Just to tidy stuff up. You can’t disagree with my sentence “Only one of these ended up with widespread resurrection beliefs and a strong following decades after their death” Immediately after death, the beliefs were not widespread and the following was not strong (in numbers). It was a small group.

      I’ve read Licona on hallucinations in web articles (probably following your links or links from links) and heard him debating using the same material. Does the book go into it more fully? A Licona paper on this perhaps? I agree it is an important issue.

      Thanks for this exchange, cheers Ed

  4. chab123 November 14, 2014 / 8:09 pm

    Oh yes, the book is much more detail. No, I am not saying there is no prophecy saying the Messiah would rise.Go back and read what I said again. It doesn’t matter how widespread the beleif was. It was a oral culture withourt internet, facebook , and twitter. How widespread could it get in a short time? Keep looking for an original argument against the resurrection. There aren’t many out there at all. That includes the disciples stealing the body. I will be taking a break for a while.

  5. Ed Atkinson November 14, 2014 / 8:24 pm

    Thanks, we are in agreement, just slight language use differences.

    Please join in on disciples stealing the body on the invite-only Unbelievable forum, read my OP to see the game I’m playing there. I want to start my debating there with light stuff – it is not the forum to get to the heart of an important topic.

    If you post interesting material here, I am liable to respond, but I get it that we won’t be going deep for a while.

    All the best Ed

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