Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Historical Evidence of the Resurrection of Christ (Part 4): Theories & Attempted Explanations

The resurrection of Jesus is one of the most provable events of all of history.  The resurrection of Christ is the foundational truth of a biblical belief system. Everything we believe as followers of Christ is based on the truth of that single event.

At the same time, for the atheist, agnostics, skeptics, believers in other religions, or those searching for truth, the resurrection is the event they most deal with if they want to hold their opinion in clear conscious.  To ignore the resurrection of Christ, by not determining whether it is true or myth, would be short-sighted and a version of denial.

Over the next month, I will be writing about the historical evidence of the resurrection of Christ as a supplement to our March series at CrossChurch, “Love Ran Red”. Part 4 is following.

  1. Theories and Attempted Explanations

Understanding “Theory” – a theory is a speculation or a guess at trying to explain something. Theories are not facts. Many theories are based on the basis of the person theorizing. Theories that can be proven are no longer theories. Theories than can be proven, become established facts. ANYTIME the term “theory” is used, it is an unproven or even unprovable speculation or guess.

Theories stating the tomb is still occupied are:

  1. The Unknown Tomb

This theory states that nobody really knew where Jesus’ tomb was located; the women and disciples just went to a tomb they thought was Jesus’. Since it was empty they assumed he was risen… but really he was somewhere else in a different tomb.


PROBLEM: Joseph of Arimathea had to know where his tomb was located… the Roman guards had to know where it was sine they had to guard it….to believe this theory one must disregard the entire historical narrative of the events surrounding the death and burial of Jesus.

2. The Wrong Tomb

This theory states that women (being women) got lost and went to the wrong tomb.

PROBLEM: How could they forget so quickly, it had only been 72 hours. Peter, John, Jewish Leaders, Joseph of Arimathea, Roman Guards, and every one else had to forget and go to the wrong tomb.

3. Legend

This theory states that the whole thing was made many years after Jesus had lived and died.

PROBLEM: Paul says in 1 Cor. 15 that there were over 500 witnesses and that most of them were still alive. Eyewitnesses are the very best form of evidence to prove anything.

4. Spiritual Resurrection

Jesus’ body decayed and it was his spirit that resurrected.

PROBLEM: Without a physical body, there is no resurrection. Luke 24:39 has Jesus speaking to this very issue. Read It!

5. Hallucinations

This theory states that the whole thing was a hallucination, that people just thought they saw Jesus.

PROBLEM: Everybody had to hallucinate the exact same things. They all had different perspectives, backgrounds, etc. Most of the time hallucinations are linked to subconscious and are very personal. This “hallucination” ate with them (Like 24:41-42). They touched its wounds (Luke 24:39-40). There are many hundreds of people involved, including Roman and Jewish officials.

Theories stating the tomb is empty are:

1. Body was Stolen by the Disciples

This started by the Jewish leaders themselves (Matt. 28:11).

PROBLEM: They made it up, and bribed the guards to agree. The disciples were probably too afraid to even try to steal the body (Matt 26:56) The guards would have had to be blind and deaf for the disciples to sneak in and take the body. The disciples were too honorable for deception.

2. Body Stolen by Officials

This theory states that officials took the body and hid it from the disciples.

PROBLEM: If this were true, they would have had produced the body to silence the Christian movement. There has never been a body produced.

3. Resuscitation

This theory states that Jesus did not really die. Shock caused him to faint from mere exhaustion, and that the disciples did not think of the idea of resuscitation, so they thought he must have resurrected.

This theory basically concludes that Jesus had six trials, was beaten, was so weak he could not carry his own cross, had spikes driven into his hands and feet, had thorns jammed down on his head, had a spear poked into his side, faked out four doctors who confirmed his death, breathed through 80-120 pounds of spices, resuscitated inside a cold, damp tomb, within three days had enough strength to bust out his wrappings, remove 1 ½ – 2 ton stone, then walk at least 10 Roman guards.

PROBLEM: That would have been more miraculous than the resurrection!

4. Passover Plot

This theory states that Joseph of Arimathea administered Jesus a drug to make people think had died. But really he would just be in a drug-induced coma. Plans were then changed when the soldiers pierced his side with spear. So Jesus really did die; Joseph hired an unknown man to come dispose of Jesus’ body. The women then saw the man and mistook him for Jesus.

PROBLEM: One still must deal with the guards, etc. But an added problem is the change in every disciple—their entire lives were changed forever.

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