Witnesses of Jesus’ Execution, Burial, Empty Tomb and Resurrected State

Witnesses of Jesus’ Execution, Burial, Empty Tomb and Resurrected State

Witnesses of Jesus
Who were the witnesses to Jesus’ execution, burial, and resurrection?

Many non-believers do not doubt the existence of the historical Jesus. It is the miracles, and most importantly, his resurrection that they deny. But the Bible contains evidence that must be examined by any honest-hearted skeptic if they are truly open-minded enough to give it a fair chance. Let’s take a look at the witnesses to Jesus’ execution, burial, empty tomb, and resurrected state.

The placement of witnesses is very important in proving things. The Gospels and letters (such as 1 Corinthians) were all written independently. There were no “rules” such as requiring strict chronological listing of all witnesses of Jesus in his resurrected state. The writers of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and 1 Corinthians made true and accurate statements in their books. There are no false statements, even though there are divergences. Divergent accounts are not tantamount to contradictions, as some skeptics assert. In fact, virtually identical accounts would be highly suspect to be collusion.

Notice the similarities among the four Gospel accounts:

  1. There are named witnesses at Jesus’ execution site Friday afternoon.
  2. There are named witnesses at his burial Friday near dusk.
  3. There are named witnesses at his newly emptied tomb around sunrise on Sunday morning.
  4. There are named witnesses of Jesus in his resurrected state (including 1 Corinthians, excluding Mark).
  5. There are unnamed, anonymous witnesses in each of the above categories.

Witnesses of Jesus – Named and Anonymous

Witnesses to the execution of Jesus, his burial, his empty tomb, and his resurrection are included in all four of the Gospels. Below is a chart listing the witnesses to each of these events for each Gospel account, followed by the witnesses described 1 Corinthians:

Matthew

When/Where Witnesses
Execution site ·         “Many women” who had followed

·         Jesus from Galilee

·         Mary Magdalene

·         Mary mother of James and Joseph

·         Mother of Zebedee’s sons

·         “The centurion and those with him”

Burial ·         Mary Magdalene

·         The other Mary

·         Joseph of Arimathea

Empty tomb ·         Mary Magdalene

·         The other Mary

In resurrected state ·         Mary Magdalene

·         The other Mary

·         The eleven disciples

 

Mark

When/Where Witnesses
Execution site ·         “Women” who “had followed him and cared for his needs”

·         “Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem”

·         Mary Magdalene

·         Mary mother of James the younger and Joseph

·         Salome

·         The centurion “who stood there in front of Jesus”

Burial ·         Mary Magdalene

·         Mary the mother of Joseph

·         Joseph of Arimathea

Empty tomb ·         Mary Magdalene

·         Mary the mother of James

·         Salome

 

Luke

When/Where Witnesses
Execution site ·         “All those who knew him”

·         “The women who had followed from Galilee”

·         “The centurion, seeing what happened”

Burial ·         “The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee”

·         Joseph of Arimathea

Empty tomb ·         “The women” and “the others”

·         Mary Magdalene

·         Joanna

·         Mary the mother of James

·         Peter

In resurrected state ·         Two disciples, one named Cleopas

·         The Eleven

·         Peter

 

John

When/Where Witnesses
Execution site ·         Jesus’ mother

·         His mother’s sister

·         Mary the wife of Clopas

·         Mary Magdalene

·         “He [John] who saw this”, who is also “the disciple whom he loved”

·         “The soldiers”

Burial ·         Joseph of Arimathea

·         Nicodemas

Empty tomb ·         Mary Magdalene

·         Peter

·         “The other disciple” (John)

In resurrected state ·         Mary Magdalene

·         The disciples (without Thomas)

·         The Disciples, including Thomas

·         At Sea of Galilee (7)

o   Simon Peter

o   Thomas

o   Nathaniel

o   The sons of Zebedee – James and John

o   Two other disciples

 

1 Corinthians

1 Corinthians 15:3-8

“Christ died”

“He was buried”

“He was raised on the third day”

When/Where Witnesses
Resurrected state ·         Cephas (Peter)

·         “The Twelve”

·         “More than five hundred… at the same time”

·         James

·         All the Apostles

·         Paul

 

Order of Jesus’ Resurrection Appearances

Sometimes the exact timing of events is of major importance, and sometimes it is not. With some events, the events themselves are of major importance, not the exact time of those events. This was especially true of ancient times, long before precise clocks, and instant global “breaking news.”

The Bible documents Jesus’ resurrection as a fact of major importance, but who saw him first is not. It is possible to construct the order of Jesus’ resurrection appearances from the Bible itself. Please see the following chart:

 

Appearance Place Time Source(s)
Empty tomb (preliminary) Jerusalem Resurrection Sunday Mt 28:1-10

Mk 16:1-8

Lk 24:1-12

Jn 20:1-9

To Mary Magdalene Jerusalem Resurrection Sunday Jn 20:11-18
To other women Jerusalem Resurrection Sunday Mt 28:9-10
To two disciples going to Emmaus Road to Emmaus Resurrection Sunday Lk 24:13-32
To Peter Jerusalem Resurrection Sunday Lk 24:34

1 Cor 15:5

To 10 disciples in upper room Jerusalem Resurrection Sunday Lk 24:36-43

Jn 20:19-25

To 11 disciples in upper room Jerusalem Following Sunday Jn 20:26-31

1 Cor 15:5

To seven disciples fishing Sea of Galilee Some time later Jn 21:1-23
To eleven disciples on a mountain Galilee Some time later 1 Cor 15:6
To more than 500 Unknown Some time later 1 Cor 15:6
To James Unknown Some time later 1 Cor 15:7
To his disciples at his ascension Mount of Olives 40 days after resurrection Acts 1:3-8
To Paul Damascus Road Several years later Acts 9:1-19

Acts 22:3-16

Acts 26:9-18

1 Cor 15:8

 

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