Answering The Atheist
June 13, 2004 / Volume 4, Issue 24
THE ATHEIST'S COMPLAINT:
How many believers were there at the time of the ascension? Acts 1:15 tells us that there were 120 believers after the ascension, while 1 Corinthians 15:6 says that there were more than 500 believers before the ascension. Is there a contradiction?
The number of disciples who were in Jerusalem were 120 (Acts 1:15). That does not mean that the total number of disciples was 120. The apostles had specifically been told by the Lord to stay in Jerusalem, awaiting the coming of the Promise of the Father (Acts 1:4), which was the power they would receive from the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). Other disciples (who were not apostles) had not been commanded to be in Jerusalem.
The 500 which are spoken of in 1 Corinthians 15:6 were likely in Galilee, and may have seen Jesus on the mountain where He had appointed His apostles to meet at (Matthew 26:32; 28:7, 10, 16-17).
There is no contradiction.
This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible