1 Corinthians 15:6, the Pentecost according to Paul

After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.

//In this curious verse, Paul mentions how the resurrected Jesus was seen by 500 people at the same time, an event mentioned in none of the other writings of the New Testament. An event, were Jesus truly spied in the flesh, we most definitely would have corroborating writings for. More likely, Jesus was “seen” in the same manner as Paul saw him: in a vision, perhaps as a light from heaven.

Could this event possibly have really happened? I’d like to call your attention to a passage in Acts, chapter 2, 50 days after Jesus resurrects:

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Could this be the event, and the crowd of 500, Paul describes?

Let’s break down the Pentecost experience according to Luke. He relates back to the scripture read by the Jews each Pentecost, where Ezekiel describes a great rushing of wind and fire (see Ezekiel 1:4). Moreover, on the first ever Pentecost, at Mount Sinai, God spoke to Moses in every language of every land, seventy languages in all. Thus in Luke’s version of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit arrives with a rush of wind and fiery tongues speaking in many foreign languages, filling a room full of many nations. It’s certainly a midrashic story, and quite a creative one at that, not meant to be interpreted literally. Once we scoop the supernatural frosting off Luke’s writings, we see underneath a match to Paul’s description of Jesus appearing to 500.

What do you think?

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