Saint Paul's words in his letter to the Corinthian church in the first century reveal the true essence of what happened just a few years before he wrote:
Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which you also received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which preached to you --- unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,
and that He was seen by Peter, then by the twelve.
After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep.
For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is in vain; you are still in your sins. Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.
--- from I Corinthians 15
Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?
But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen, and if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.
Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up --- if in fact the dead do not rise.
There's more commentary here:
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