Colossians 1:18 states, “And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.”
Jesus Christ was not the first person ever raised from the dead, but the first to rise and not die again. Others raised from the dead include: The son of the widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17:17-23), the Shunammite woman's son (2 Kings 4:32-37), the young man laid in Elish's grave (2 Kings 13:21), the widow' son (Luke 7:12-15), Jairus' daughter (Luke 8:49-55), Lazarus (John 11:43, 44), Dorcas (Acts 9:37-40) and Eutychus (Acts 20:9-12).
All of these people ultimately succumbed to death, but Jesus Christ is still alive today. Romans 6:9 says, “knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.” Revelation 1:18 records Jesus' words to the Apostle John. “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore.”
Jesus knew from prophecy written in Scripture that he would die, and that God would raise Him from the dead. He shared this with His disciples. “From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.”
A second time in Galilee Jesus spoke of this upcoming event, and again a third time Jesus foretold his death. “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.” (Matthew 16:21; 17:22, 23; 20:17-19) All of these events came to pass, just as He had prophesied, just as Scriptures foretold (Acts 16:8-11).
All four Gospels record Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection after three days and three nights. Each Gospel records significant appearances to people after the resurrection. Years later, Paul wrote of some of these resurrection appearances in an apologetic discourse in 1 Corinthians 15:1 and following. “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.”
When Peter and the others sought to replace Judas, of the men considered, the criterion was “one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.” (Acts 1:22) In all the sermons recorded in Acts by Peter and Paul, the resurrection was always the key point “This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses.” (Acts 2:32; 3:15; 4:33; 10:40; 13:30,33,37) Indeed, salvation is contingent upon believing in Jesus Christ's resurrection. “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)
Professor Thomas Arnold, author of the famous History of Rome and appointed to the chair of modern history at Oxford, said: “I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times, and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the great sign which God hath given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead.”
E. M. Blaiklock, Professor of Classics at Auckland University, said: “The evidence for the life, the death, and the resurrection of Christ is better authenticated than most of the facts of ancient history.”
The most poignant testimony of all is the lives of the early Christians who traveled the then-known world declaring the risen and living Savior, Jesus Christ. They received neither wealth nor social status from their efforts. Instead, they were beaten, stoned to death, burned alive, fed to lions, tortured and crucified. They were willing to die rather than deny the reality of the resurrected Jesus Christ, the Preeminent One.