The Evidence for the Empty Tomb.


Tom’s Corner is a space where close friend and aspiring apologist Thomas Hinson can articulate his views on theological, biblical, philosophical matters. The views expressed in Tom’s Corner are not necessarily the views of website owner, James Bishop.

Christianity is a religion based on the faith that Jesus Christ was the Son of God who died on the cross and rose from the grave on third day of His death. This article will be the first in a 3-part series that discusses some vital pieces of evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. I can separate the evidence into the following for now:

A) The Empty Tomb
B) Post-Mortem Appearances
C) The Origin and Spread of Christianity

Part 1: The Empty Tomb

The crucifixion and burial was widely known (Luke 24:18-20) by those living in Jerusalem. This implies that if the tomb were not empty anyone living in the city could simply point out that Jesus Christ’s body was still there. To the 1st century Jew a resurrection was physical, and there was no concept of only spiritual resurrection. As long as a physical body remained in the tomb, any movement based the resurrection would be ludicrous and quickly stamped out. It would an open invitation to the Jewish authorities to destroy the early Christian movement. According to Matthew 28:11-15 the Jewish high priests accuse the disciples of stealing the body. The earliest Jewish polemic (or attack) against the Christian faith was one of trying to explain away an empty tomb. The Jewish teachers instruct the guards to tell people that they fell asleep and that the disciples stole the body while they were asleep. This is so important because it presupposes that the tomb was empty.

Also importantly Paul writes in 1 Cor 15:3-8 that Jesus was crucified, buried and then He was raised. Why is this significant? It is significant because 1 Cor 15:3-8 is an early creed that Paul received less than five years after Jesus died. This means we have good information and historical evidence of the empty tomb.

Another compelling piece of evidence is the people who first discover the tomb to be empty: women. Matt 28:1, Mark 16:1-4, Luke 24:1-3 and John 20:1 all say that it was some of Jesus’ female followers who discover the empty tomb. The society of the time was highly patriarchal, so much so, that Josephus writes that women were viewed as unfit to serve as witnesses in the law courts and yet we have women being the first to lay eyes upon the empty tomb of Christ. If the empty tomb was made up then the author wouldn’t make its firsts discovers a group of women. Any story of the time that wanted to be respected would have used male disciples instead of women but there is simply no way for Christians to deny that it was women who discovered the tomb.

I believe this is the most compelling evidence for an empty tomb. Just from this alone we have good evidence for the empty tomb. Next time on Tom’s Corner, I will be discussing the Post-Mortem/Resurrected Appearances of Christ.

2 responses to “The Evidence for the Empty Tomb.

  1. The “evidence” seems to be extremely weak. All the accounts were written by members of the Jesus cult, decades after his supposed death, and most/all by people who had no first-hand knowledge of the events.

    And the argument that the fact that it was women who discovered it also overstates the significance, since their accounts were then verified by Peter and others.

    But while we’re on the subject of the apparent authenticity of the stories, one part of them doesn’t make sense to me. A couple of the gospels indicate that the women went to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body. Given that they expected the VERY heavy stone to be in place, how would they have planned to move that stone, so they could anoint his body?

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