Evidence for the Resurrection - A Primer

Evidence for the Resurrection

A Primer

This is just a very brief primer on the evidence for the resurrection. There are many sources on the internet, e.g. on Desiring God and books which go into things in much more detail, and it is important for us to know that while ultimately it is by faith that we know that Christ is risen, this belief is actually supported by the evidence. So here is a brief summary of the main points.

Positive Evidence

  1. The gospels themselves and the New Testament letters. The New Testament letters were out within a relatively short timeframe of the events of Easter. The evidence for the reliability of the New Testament documents is overwhelming when compared with other events of similar antiquity.

  2. The empty tomb. If Jesus had not risen, then the easiest thing for the religious or civic authorities to do would have been to simply point to the tomb where He was buried, but they could not do this because the only tomb they had was an empty one.

  3. The church. How would the church have got started and grown without the resurrection?

  4. Personal encounters with the risen Christ. If Christ was not risen, how is it millions of people, myself included, claim to know Christ?


Negative Evidence - Countering the arguments against the resurrection

None of the arguments against the resurrection stand up to scrutiny. Here are several examples.

1. The disciples made it up

If this was true then why didn't the authorities just point to the tomb where Jesus was buried?

If they had made it up would they have been prepared to die for a lie?

2. The disciples moved the body

Surely the body would have been found at some point? And again, why would they do it, and why would they be prepared to die for their faith?

3. They had hallucinations

There were multiple appearances to different people in different circumstances. This makes hallucinations a totally implausible explanation. And again there is the question, why didn’t the authorities point to the tomb?

4. Jesus never actually died on the cross.

Muslims believe something like this. Sometimes it is referred to as the “swoon theory” saying that Jesus merely swooned and was revived by the cool of the tomb. This is perhaps the most ridiculous suggestion. Jesus was severely beaten before the cross itself, He could not even carry His own cross.

The Romans were experts at two things, building roads and killing people.

Even if Jesus had not died, which is most implausible, what state would He have been in even if the “cool of the tomb” had revived Him? And how did the stone get moved?

5. The disciples were gullible and would believe anything

The gospel records clearly show that the disciples were not gullible, and had no expectation of Jesus being raised from the dead, even though Jesus told them He would be. The two disciples on the road to Emmaus had been told by the women and Peter that the tomb was empty, yet they still did not believe that Jesus was alive until He appeared to them.

The long and the short of it is that it is perfectly reasonable to believe in the resurrection of Jesus. It is a unique and an amazing event, but it is also one whose veracity is supported by the evidence.

My belief that Jesus rose from the dead has no problems with the evidence, whereas, those who deny the resurrection have enormous problems with the evidence.


We can confidently rejoice in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ!