Sermon Notes- Fact 5: The Empty Tomb

FACT 5: The Empty Tomb

Roughly 75% of scholars believe this to be historical fact according to Gary Habermas.

3(of many)  arguments for the empty tomb.

  1. The Jerusalem Factor
  1. Jesus was publicly executed in Jerusalem (uncontroversial) and his resurrection was first claimed there (uncontroversial).  This seems unlikely if there is a tomb with Jesus’ body there.
  2. There are absolutely no Roman or Jewish accounts who point to the tomb or body.  It is astounding that this “smoking gun” would have been missed by early critics.
  3. Nazareth Inscription- It was a capital offense to mess with a tomb.  The disciples could have been prosecuted.  (picture)
    1. Clyde Billington has dated it to AD 41, and interpreted it as evidence for Christians preaching the resurrection of Jesus within a decade of his crucifixion.[21]Marta Sordi, Guarducci, Blaiklock, and L.Herrmann, independently, stated the Nazareth Inscription was certain evidence of Jesus’ empty tomb.[22]
    2. It is my decision [concerning] graves and tombs—whoever has made them for the religious observances of parents, or children, or household members—that these remain undisturbed forever. But if anyone legally charges that another person has destroyed, or has in any manner extracted those who have been buried, or has moved with wicked intent those who have been buried to other places, committing a crime against them, or has moved sepulcher-sealing stones, against such a person, I order that a judicial tribunal be created, just as [is done] concerning the gods in human religious observances, even more so will it be obligatory to treat with honor those who have been entombed. You are absolutely not to allow anyone to move [those who have been entombed]. But if [someone does], I wish that [violator] to suffer capital punishment under the title of tomb-breaker.
  1. Enemy Testimony:
  • Only one competing theory during the next 100 years.
  • The only opposing theory is that the disciples stole the body.
  • 3 different sources claim the disciples did it.  This is big because it is evidence that the tomb is empty.
  • What that means:  The only counter evidence was- “Yes there is an empty tomb, but we know why..”
  • 3 sources make this claim: Matthew, Tertullian, and Justin Martyr
  • No one offers any hint that they knew what happened to his body.
  1. Women Testimony

The primary witnesses are women.  All four gospels have women as the primary witnesses to the empty tomb.

  1. -Sooner let the words of the Law be burnt than delivered to women. (Talmud, Sotah 19a)
  2. – But let not the testimony of women be admitted, on account of the levity and boldness of their sex, nor let servants be admitted to give testimony on account of the ignobility of their soul; since it is probable that they may not speak truth, either out of hope of gain, or fear of punishment. (Josephus, Antiquities 4.8.15)3″
  3. Any evidence which a woman [gives] is not valid (to offer), also they are not valid to offer. This is equivalent to saying that one who is Rabbinically accounted a robber is qualified to give the same evidence as a woman. (Talmud, Rosh Hashannah 1.8)
  4. – Celsus- 2nd century: Celsus, a Greek philosopher who lived in the second century A.D.,
    1. Christianity can’t be true, because the written accounts of the resurrection are based on the testimony of women—and we all know women are hysterical.

– why not have Nicodemus or Joseph of Arimathea find the tomb.  They were credible.

– This is what we call embarrassing testimony.


Disciples stole the body-

  1. If there were guards there, you have to explain how they got it past the guards whose lives were at stake.
  2. You have to explain why they got excited about a dead body.
  3. Why did the disciples die for what they knew to be a lie.
  4. Why would Paul and James convert if they never saw a resurrected Jesus.  (Maybe one would hallucinate, but both- including his brother?)
  5. Why would so many Jewish people, who would find it blasphemous to call a man a God–They don’t even write the name of God, let alone worship a man.  But they did it in a moment.  
  6. Not to mention that the disciples breaking Jewish piety laws, which seems out of character with what we know of the disciples

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