The Resurrection of Jesus Christ


No Christian teachings are more vigorously attacked than the deity of Christ, the message of the gospel of salvation, and the fact of Christ’s resurrection. The apostle Paul wrote, in 1 Corinthians 15, that if Christ is not raised, our faith is in vain and we are still in our sins. Without the resurrection, we remain hopeless for eternity, because we remain under the curse of death forever.

“If he said frequently, with great definiteness and detail that after he went to Jerusalem he’s be put to death and on the third day rise from the grave, and this prediction happened, then everything else he said must also be true.” Smith, Wilbur. Therefore Stand: Christian Apologetics, 1965.

If Jesus Christ rose from the grave, then every word He spoke would be authenticated and vindicated. Indeed, His power and godhead was demonstrated by His resurrection:

… concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead…” Romans 1:3-4

Testimony of the Resurrection.

1). Biblical. It took place, and there is agreement between the gospels. Also, after crucifixion, the disciples went their separate ways; they were not expecting the resurrection.

2). Church Fathers:

       Ignatius (AD 50-115) in his Epistles confirms that Christ actually died.

      Tertullian (AD 160-220) confirms the crucifixion.

      Polycarp (AD 110) confirms the resurrection.

3). Roman response. The empty tomb was reported to officials during the reign of either Tiberius (AD 14-37) or Claudius (AD 41-54).

4). Physical facts: He was scourged, had to journey to Golgotha, hadn’t slept and was dehydrated. Four people examined him to make sure he was dead. Blood & water flowed from his body from the spear thrust, indicating a cardiac rupture. The body was wrapped for burial.

Physical Setting:

The Tomb: The Jews wanted him buried. A custom, contrary to Jewish law, had developed of throwing away corpses of executed criminals into a pit. It was in the interests of the Jewish leaders to have him buried to prevent the body being stolen away to empower a potential story about His rising from the dead as He had foretold. The tomb was carved into rock, with a huge stone barring the door. The Jews asked for and received a Roman guard to prevent tampering.

It would have been easy for the Jewish leaders to put the movement to rest by producing the dead body of Jesus; they were unable, and the story lived on, producing followers by the thousands in just a few days.

The Stone was used as protection from men and beasts. Normally several men were needed to move it. One 4th century manuscript (Codex Bezave, Cambridge) says “And when He was laid there, he (Joseph) put against the tomb a stone which 20 men could not roll away.” Larger stones often had a small one added at its base to support the larger one.

The Seal: Done in the presence of Roman guards, it was a great sign of Roman authority. Anyone breaking the seal was punishable by death.

The Guard was strictly trained. Punishment codes for the Roman army, 40/102 cases of punishment require death, including sleeping while on duty. Normally a guard was composed of 4 soldiers, or sometimes 8.

The Grave Clothes were neatly wrapped – no suggestion of a tomb raid. Also, the spices with which the body was wrapped have a gumming effect that seals the linen around the body. Removing the layers of ointment-soaked cloth would be difficult.

The Appearances of Christ: To Mary Magdalene, then to the disciples, then to over 500 people. He ate, spoke, was touched physically.

Those in the upper room, plus Thomas, saw, and touched Jesus’ body, and some saw Him cook and eat food. They knew it was not an apparition, but a physical body in their midst.

Transformation of Disciples: The resurrection transformed the disciples from a small, frightened, defeated sect into a bold group that no one could silence.

The disciples were prepared to die for their claims. While some have died for lies, it is more than unreasonable to expect that so many followers of Christ would be willing to die for a claim they knew to be untrue. Hundreds said they had seen the risen Christ (1 Cor 15), and were so convinced of it that their lives were different, and many accepted gruesome deaths because of what they believed.

Jewish believers changed the way they worshipped God. The Sabbath observation was changed to “the first day of the week”, and Jews worshipped together with Gentile believers – both of which were forbidden under the Law of Moses.

The existence of the church today is a testimony to the fact of the resurrection; a fantastical story of a leader rising from the dead would have died its own death in short order if it had not been true.

The Enemies of Christ made no denial that the tomb was empty. Some were silent, and others made personal attacks on the apostles, changing the topic.

Paul was a hostile enemy of the church, actively destroying people and families because of the gospel. Yet he claimed to have an encounter with the risen Christ that changed him forever from the church-destroying Pharisee to the boldest evangelist and most prolific writer of the gospel of all.

Answers to Objections to the Resurrection


Roman soldiers didn’t break His legs because they witnessed that He was already dead. The spear thrust confirmed he had died, but had He not been previously, He would have died from the thrust. Roman soldiers were very familiar with death from crucifixion; it is less than unlikely that they would have made a mistake.

Pilate’s multiple confirmations of death: ordered the centurion to confirm death before releasing the body to Joseph.

Jewish leaders never doubted that he had been dead; in fact, they discussed “when He was alive…” They suspected that the body had been stolen.

Nicodemus & Joseph prepared the corpse for burial; had there been the least sign of life, they would certainly have noticed a pulse, a breath, a slight movement, while they wrapped the body and applied the spices.

When He reappeared, He was described as a conqueror of death, not someone bearing wounds.

Jesus’ beating was too severe to have survived it, and three days in a sealed tomb, to then unbind Himself from the grave-clothes (swaddling clothes) and move a stone by Himself that normally required several men to move, then walk far enough away to disappear.

How would Jesus get past the guards, if He did get out of the tomb?

The story could not have survived the community of the day if the grave had not been empty. All of His disciples were still there among the people: they had not disappeared, and there was no opportunity for them to steal Jesus away in the night to a place no one could find Him, then return as part of the crowd again.


The Jewish leaders wouldn’t have; they wanted him in the tomb.

The disciples couldn’t have. They couldn’t fight professional soldiers and were too disorganized and cowardly to arrange a big attack.

The guards’ testimony was of the angel coming down; the Jewish leaders’ reaction to this testimony was not disbelief, but rather to bribe the guards to change their story for the public. The soldiers wouldn’t have fallen asleep; it’s punishable by death, and in any case, would not have slept through adults coming and moving the stone between their ranks. The stone would have been too big to move.

The grave-clothes were all folded neatly, inconsistent with anyone who would break in and steal the body away to a hidden location and start talking about resurrection. Time would be crucial and folding linen would have been a time waster. Check this point; I believe it is in error

What about the angels seen by the women, Peter, John? Why were they there, and why did they say He had risen?

The disciples didn’t understand completely what Jesus meant before the crucifixion about “raising this temple” in three days, and therefore would not have sought to ‘make it happen.’


Some people may potentially have been upset and vulnerable to hallucinations, but certainly not several hundreds of people. The Gospel accounts don’t portray the people as being unstable or being emotionally hyper-sensitive. No such idea is found in ancient Jewish, Roman or church testimony. After His resurrection, Christ’s appearance caused people to believe in Him and His resurrection against their previously-held beliefs, which means they were disinclined to hysteria, and engaging the proposition through rational perspective.


People saw where Christ was interred; would they all forget less than 72 hours after the fact? Several people saw that the tomb was empty, and an angel said it was the right tomb.

If it was the wrong tomb, Jewish leaders could have easily ordered the correct tomb to be opened and the evidence revealed. It was not a public cemetery, but a private burial ground.

The resurrection is fact, and is the most important event in history.