Why did Paul say Jesus appeared to the twelve when Judas was dead?


Good morning Jeffrey,

I have a question on what Paul meant in I Corinthians 15:5 when he said Christ appeared to Peter and the 12. If Judas had died by that time, there were only 11. Can you please explain this to me? It has been bugging me for a while now.


"For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also" (I Corinthians 15:3-8).

Jesus' resurrection was a fact, testified to by numerous witnesses:

  • Peter (Luke 24:34)
  • The twelve apostles (Luke 24:36; John 20:26)
  • Seen by over 500, most of who were still alive at the time of this writing and could be interviewed.
  • James
  • All the apostles again (Luke 24:50; John 21:14; Acts 1:2-12)
  • Paul (Acts 9:3-5, 17; 22:14-18)

Yet, as you noted Judas Iscariot died before witnessing the resurrection. But Judas was replaced by Matthias: "Therefore it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us -- beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us -- one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection." So they put forward two men, Joseph called Barsabbas (who was also called Justus), and Matthias. And they prayed and said, "You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place." And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles" (Acts 1:21-26). Therefore, there were at least two additional disciples who were present when Jesus appeared to the eleven apostles. Luke and John's account (Luke 24:36; John 20:26) doesn't limit it to just the eleven in his description. Since Matthias was then an apostle at the time of Paul's writing, Paul could rightly say that Jesus appeared to the twelve.

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