5 “and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.”
Beginning in verse five, we have a partial catalogue of the witnesses of the resurrection. Paul does not name all here. If we read the four gospels, we will see some not named here. The gospels do not name some that Paul names here. Many people saw Jesus crucified, some saw Him buried, but hundreds saw Him after He rose from the dead. There were 17 appearances of the resurrected Jesus in different situations. Paul only lists some of them in chapter 15.
and that He was seen
The proof that Jesus rose from the dead was that “He was seen.” This phrase indicates evidence of Christ’s resurrection outside the claims of Scripture.
“Cephas” is Peter (Jn 1:42). John 1 gives the account of how Andrew led Peter to Christ. Peter’s original name was “Simon.” Jesus appeared to Peter in Luke 24:34 (Jn 20:19,20). Peter was not the first to see Jesus resurrected. The first person who saw Him resurrected was Mary Magdalene (Mk 16:9). Jesus appeared to Peter with a personal interview after Peter denied Him. Peter needed that, for he may have felt that the Lord would never have confidence in him again, yet the Lord sought him out. Luke 24 tells about two disciples who met the resurrected Lord on the Emmaus Road, then Jesus left them to go to Jerusalem. When they arrived in Jerusalem, the apostles said, “The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon (Peter)” (Lu 24:34).
Note the words “then,” “after that,” and “last of all.” The “last” are those Paul enumerates in chapter 15. Paul does not insinuate that he was the last to see the resurrected Son of God. John saw the glorified Son of God while imprisoned on Patmos.
by the twelve.
The “twelve” refers to the 12 disciples as a group (Jn 20:19, 20; Lu 24:36; Ac 1:22). Judas was not alive at the resurrection of Christ from the dead. The fact that Peter and the twelve saw Jesus was objective evidence of His resurrection. He was not resuscitated (from a state of being not fully dead) but resurrected.
One evidence of the resurrection is the actions of those who personally saw the resurrected Christ.
A few weeks after Peter’s denial and personal interview with the resurrected Jesus, Peter boldly preached the gospel to thousands in Jerusalem. We can hardly believe it was the same fellow. It is a deep encouragement to those out of fellowship that the Lord will use them greatly after they have repented from a fall.