In 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 the Apostle Paul recalls the creedal affirmation of the early church that Jesus (1) died according the Scriptures, (2) he was buried, and (3) he was raised again on the third day according to the Scriptures. This is followed by grounding his Christ-event interpretation of the Torah on the basis that there were a series of witnesses of the resurrection to whom Paul could appeal including (1) Cephas (Peter), (2) the twelve together, (3) five-hundred disciples, some of whom are still alive as witnesses, and (4) James, the head of the Jerusalem church, and Jesus’ half-brother according to his humanity.
The Apostle then states, “…and last of all, as one untimely born, he appeared also to me” (v. 8). I am wrestling with how to read this statement by Paul. Is he making the claim that he is the last one of this sequence to see Jesus or the last one, period, to see Jesus before the eschaton. What does he mean by ἔσχατον δὲ πάντων: “and last of all these I just mentioned” or “and last all of all until the second coming“?
Throughout church history there have been a few individuals who have claimed to see the resurrected Jesus. Do we discredit those claims on the basis of Paul’s statement? If so, how should we understand such claims to be (1) simply wrong, (2) another form of a vision that does not qualify as actually seeing Jesus in the material realm as the resurrected Christ, (3) or something other? If the author of the Book of Revelation is not John the Apostle, how should we read his claims to see the risen Jesus in light of Paul’s statement?