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January 6, 2012 / Daniel

Explanations for the Empty Tomb

Here is a list of possible explanations for the empty tomb.

1) The disciples stole the body.

This is the explanation given by the Jewish religious leaders in Matthew 28:11-15.   However, this explanation does not explain the change in the disciples’ demeanor.  Prior to the resurrection, the disciples were frightened, little wimps.   Each one denied Jesus.  They didn’t want to be crucified with him.  They were terrified.   After the resurrection, the disciples were filled with boldness as they proclaimed the gospel and called people to repentance.  Each of these men (save John) died on account of their witness for Christ.  Why would they die for a lie?  If they stole the body, why would they lay down their lives for something that they knew to be false?

2) The Jewish religious leaders (or the Romans) stole the body.

However, this does not explain the rise of early Christianity.  The Jewish leaders wanted to end Christianity.  If they had the body of Christ, why didn’t they just show people the body?  Then, everyone could see that the disciples were wrong about the resurrection.

3)  The swoon theory (Jesus did not really die on the cross).

This theory under-estimates the Romans’ ability to kill people.  Roman soldiers were professional killers.  They were experts at crucifying people.

4)  The wrong tomb. 

Mary and the other women went to the wrong tomb.    However, skeptics could have easily pointed this out when the disciples began to proclaim the resurrected Christ.

5)  The word “resurrection” refers to a spiritual resurrection.  When the disciples said, “Jesus is alive,” they really meant, “Jesus died and went to heaven.” 

The gospel accounts insist that the tomb was empty (John 20:1-10; Matt 28:11-15).  Moreover, the “resurrection” language in the Bible is connected to the end of the age (Dan 12:1-3; John 5:28-29).  So, the very term “resurrection” implies the resurrection of the body (NT Wright).

6)  God raised Jesus from the dead.  


One Comment

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  1. Christian Morrison u / Jan 13 2012 11:07 pm

    Only a spiritual being is immortal by virtue of the fact that it cannot possibly die and this condition is promised to us in the resurrection.

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