Who Saw the Risen Christ?

Some Special Cases,
Including Visions

James, 1 Corinthians 15:7
Stephen – in a Vision, Acts 7:44-56
Saul aka Paul – Although Strictly Speaking, “Heard,” Acts 9:3-8
Ananias – in a Vision, Acts 9:10-16
Paul – in a Second Vision, Acts 22:6-21

Others Who Saw the Risen Christ

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James, 1 Corinthians 15:7 (4/26/2010)

Jesus’ family was somewhat ambivalent about his choice to leave carpentry and become an itinerant rabbi and superstar.  On the one hand, his mother urged him to do something about the lack of wine at a wedding and told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”  His brothers urged him to go to Jerusalem and show everybody what he could do.  On the other hand, when the crowds got so thick that his mother and brothers couldn’t get near him, they decided he was crazy and needed to come home for a rest cure.

So it is perhaps not surprising that none of Jesus’ family members were a part of his earthly ministry.  Nevertheless, James, brother of the Lord, became prominent in the very early Church and was in fact the leader of the church in Jerusalem.  Jude, who calls himself only the “brother of James and slave of Jesus Christ” was well-known enough in the Church that his letter was accepted at scripture.  What caused this change?   Most likely, I think, it was Jesus’ private visit with James after the resurrection. 

Stephen – in a Vision, Acts 7:44-56 (4/27/2010)

We are going to round off our study of the appearances of the risen Christ with three very early visions, or possibly two visions and one appearance.  Now, you may not think visions are exactly on a par with bodily appearances, and you could be right, but we’re going to look at them anyway. 

Stephen, as you recall, was one of the seven men appointed as deacons in the very early Church.  One day as he was preaching on a street corner in Jerusalem, he summarized the history of the children of Israel, which takes a few chapters in the book of Acts.  At the end of this sermon, he was granted a vision of the risen Christ, standing at the right hand of God.

Saul aka Paul – Although Strictly Speaking, “Heard,” Acts 9:3-8 (4/28/2010)

Yesterday I said we would look at either two or three visions.  Today’s appearance to Saul is almost universally taken to be an appearance, not a vision, although it has vision-like qualities.  Saul doesn’t actually see Jesus, because he is instantly blinded by a light that isn’t present in the other appearances.  Those with him hear the voice, but apparently they don’t see either Jesus or the blinding light.  Since the Greek word phonay means both voice and sound, it’s not a hundred percent certain what they heard, either. In all the other appearances, everybody sees and hears the same thing.  This incident has always been taken to be an appearance, probably because apostles are generally taken to be people who saw the risen Christ, and Paul was considered by his contemporaries to be an apostle.  It is the last recorded appearance.

The Greek word kurios means sir, master, or Lord, so sometimes it’s difficult to know how to translate it when people are speaking to or about Jesus.  Paul definitely wasn’t a disciple in the first part of his conversation with Jesus, so I have translated it “sir” when Paul is speaking and “Lord” when Luke is telling what happened.

Ananias – in a Vision, Acts 9:10-16 (4/29/2010)

One thing that distinguishes visions from dreams is that the person having a vision very often is able to engage in a conversation with God.  The Old Testament prophets, for example, typically engaged in conversations with God during their visions, e.g., Amos and the basket of summer fruit; Isaiah in front of the altar; and Ezekiel in the valley of dry bones.  Ananias, although he is not considered to be a prophet, also engaged in conversation with Jesus in his vision.  Although he is reluctant to argue, he does feel compelled to ask whether Jesus is sure, sure, sure that he is sending Ananias to the right guy.

Paul – in a Second Vision, Acts 22:6-21 (4/30/2010)

After the Lord restored Paul’s sight through the hands of Ananias, Barnabas took Paul in hand and brought him to the apostles in Jerusalem.  They were skeptical of Paul’s sincerity, as well they might be after he had arrested and persecuted so many in the early Church.  Years later, the Church leaders met to decide what to do about Gentiles who converted to Christianity.  Many argued that these people should be required to convert to Judaism as well, and Paul, supported by Peter and Barnabas, argued that they should not be.  (This meeting of apostles and church leaders later came to be called the the Council of Jerusalem.) In the course of the discussion, Paul recounted a second conversation he had with Jesus, this time definitely in a vision, to explain why he had been away from Jerusalem for so many years.

Others Who Saw the Risen Christ
Mary Magdalene
The Twelve Disciples
Other Disciples
Special Cases and Visions

Copyright 2010, 2013 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved.

Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the Bible-study participants.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers for their support and enthusiasm.  All errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.

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