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Other Explanations

Episode 4 - The 2nd Kind of Supporting Evidence for the Resurrection - Learn the evidence that gets in the way of other explanations.

Part 2 of Help Others To Take the Teachings of Christ Seriously

Here is an overview of the 3 kinds of evidence:

1. – The Evidence that gets it’s facts from historical documents (by the way, if you missed the last episode you can hear about the 1st kind of evidence by going to – )

2. – The Evidence that gets in the way of other explanations.

3. – The Evidence that gets it’s credibility from eye witness testimony. We will look at this in the next episode.

Remembering the outline – 1 Corinthians 15

If you start reading in 1 Corinthians 15, you’ll notice that the topic of the resurrection comes up in :3 – and that is where the outline begins for the 3 kinds of evidence.

The first kind of supporting evidence  gets it’s facts from historical documents. This comes from the phrase in 1 Corinthians 15 : 3 which says:

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received. The word “received” reminds us of the first kind of evidence.

Paul received the Gospel, which would have included information about the resurrection, directly from Christ.

Galatians [1:12] ESV [12] For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

This is how Paul received the convincing evidence of the resurrection – through direct revelation – from Christ Himself.

Paul received it from Christ,  and you and I have received it from Paul – and others that God used to write down the Scriptures.

But, as you may remember from the last episode, receiving information about the resurrection doesn’t mean much to someone who does not have a Christian worldview.

For many people, the Bible just does not have the credibility that it deserves. It’s sad, but true.

So, in regard to those people who do not have a Christian worldview, we want to meet them where they are at. And where are they? Well, they are at the place in life where secular historical facts matter more than the historical facts found in the Bible – which is, of course, also a history book.

The kind of thinking from a non-Christian worldview says – ‘don’t show me the evidence from the Bible, show me the evidence that we have received from real, documented history.’

And that is why that first kind of evidence is so important.

They have not received direct revelation from Christ, like Paul did. They refuse to receive the testimony from Scripture.But maybe they will receive the evidence that gets it’s facts from secular historical documents. And from there, we can lead them to the Scriptures.

So, when you see the phrase in 1 Corinthians 15:3 about Paul receiving the information about the resurrection, remember how those people with a non-Christian worldview can also receive this most important information about the resurrection.

The second kind of supporting evidence  gets in the way of other explanations. This comes from the phrase in 1 Corinthians 15 : 3 – 4:

ESV [3] For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, [4] that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

So, here we have the death, burial and resurrection – and that is just what this second kind of evidence is about.

The third kind of supporting evidence  gets it’s credibility from eye-witness testimony. This comes from  1 Corinthians 15 : 5 – 9:

In these verses Paul mentions people that actually saw the risen Christ.

There are 5 important kinds of eyewitness testimony that we are going to be looking at – which will include the kind of eye witness testimony that disproves the hallucination theory.

So, that  is the outline and a simple way to recognize it in the Scriptures.

Evidence that gets in the way of other explanations

1 Corinthians 15:3-5 mentions the 3 major parts of the resurrection story: the death, burial and the resurrection itself on the third day. But from the very beginning of the news about Christ rising from the dead, and through the years, people have offered other explanations.

In fact, each of these 3 areas- the death, burial and the resurrection discovery on the third day have been targeted.

First – The death that some say never actually happened.

That’s right, some say that Jesus never actually died. Some say He fainted on the cross. Others claim that his body was switched with someone else who was made to look like Him – and so someone else had died.

Second – The burial site that some say became a crime scene.

From that first day the rumor had begun that the body of Jesus had been stolen by the disciples – so that it would look like there was a resurrection.

Third – The resurrection discovery that some say was made at the wrong tomb.

Some claim that this is a whole lot about nothing, because the women just made an honest mistake – they actually went to the wrong tomb – and they thought Jesus had been resurrected.

Well, these are a few of the explanations. But there is evidence that gets in the way.

The death that some say never actually happened

If your going to talk to people about the resurrection, then you may come across people who don’t believe Jesus ever died at all. So, it’s important to be familiar with why this is not a legitimate claim.

Swoon theory

The first theory about this is says that He didn’t die, but only fainted. Some call it the swoon theory. To swoon means to faint from extreme emotion. And some say that is exactly what happened to Jesus.

2 problems with this theory:

1 – The strength to leave the tomb – The beatings, and the crucifixion was horrible. He was whipped – maybe around 40 times, hit, crown of thorns on His head, nails in His hands and feet, a spear was put through His side to make sure that He was dead.

No food or water for two days. Getting out of the tomb –

Heaviness of the stone – He would have had to roll away 1 to 2 ton stone (2000 to 4,000 pounds).

The sloped groove the stone was on. He would have to push it uphill – up a slope. The Roman soldiers that were guarding the tomb.

2- Appearing victorious after He left the tomb

Jesus had convinced people that he had conquered death! I can’t imagine someone like I just described – who had been though all these beatings and torture, someone who had lost so much blood and had not had any food or water to able to convince others that he was a victorious risen Lord. The thought of that is just crazy. It’s not logical. It’s not rational. It’s not sensible.

The body was switched theory

This is the view taught in Islam. It had been arranged for someone else to take on the appearance of Christ. So, Christ did not die, but someone else did.

Islam teaches that Jesus was a prophet and He is held in high regard. It is taught that Jesus ascended into heaven and one day He will return to earth. But Islam does not teach that Jesus ever died.

So, who, according to Muslim teachings, took Jesus’ place on the cross?

Two possibilities, according to Muslim scholars:

1- it may have been one of Christ’s enemies, such as Judas Iscariot.

2 – Jesus asked one of His followers to volunteer.

There appear to be 3 big problems with this theory:

First – His followers were convinced of the resurrection, and because of it, there was a tremendous growth of Christianity.

Why would his followers be convinced of a resurrection if they knew that he really did not die? History records that they were convinced that He had risen from the dead. This is not disputed.

They wouldn’t be convinced if they knew that He never died.

Second – This teaching makes Jesus appear to be a deceiver.

Jesus taught His followers to be truthful. Yet now, in this story, It looks like He is someone who was deceiving the world.

Questions to consider:

In Islam, Jesus is very respected. He is considered a prophet. Would a prophet engage in deception?

How can one be a true prophet of God and a deceiver?

Islam does not teach that Jesus had a deceptive heart. But in this teaching, He appears to be using His supernatural powers to make people think that He has died, when He hasn’t.

Third -This story has Jesus asking others to help Him in deceiving the world.

This person would be supernaturally taking on the physical image of Jesus. This makes the prophet to be asking others to become a part of a great conspiracy. How can we call Him a good teacher if He is asking His students to lie?

The idea that a prophet of Allah would deceive others and ask His followers to take part in this deception is an idea that seems to be very dishonoring, very disrespectful to one of Allah’s prophets.

They don’t believe there was a resurrection because there was never a death. But this view includes the idea that God is a deceiver and His plan was to lie to the world (including getting someone else to take part in the lie) – which is totally opposite of what Jesus taught. This same religion would also teach that Jesus was a good teacher.

How can you say He was a good teacher when He convinced others to lie?

The burial site that some say became a crime scene

One theory is that the body was stolen by the disciples.

Before we presume that the disciples would even attempt such a thing we need to consider a couple of things.

1 – What the disciples would have faced 2 – Who the disciples were on this particular weekend

1 – what the disciples would have faced

The Challenge of Overcoming the Roman Guards

The day after the crucifixion, the chief priest and Pharisees went to Pilate, and requested that the governor make the tomb secure in case the disciples came and stole the body.

Pilate had  ‘a guard’  of soldiers placed at the tomb Matthew [27:65]-66 ESV [65] Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” [66] So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.

How many soldiers guarded the tomb? Anywhere from 4 to 16 soldiers.

The minimum number that scholars think guarded the tomb is 4 soldiers. That’s because a Roman ‘guard’ was made up of 4 soldiers.

A solider would stand watch for 3 hours at a time. In this way, 4 soldiers could be taking turns during a 12 hours period – each soldier guarding for 3 hours at a time. That way, some could get some sleep.

So scholars believe that the minimum number for this guard would be 4 soldiers. (Not like the typical artist depiction of 2).

However, in Acts 12:4, when Herod the King (who had adopted Roman customs) had Peter guarded, there was a guard ordered by him to be made up of 4 squads of soldiers (and each squad would be 4 soldiers) – so that’s a total of 16 soldiers.

Jesus would have been considered to be a more controversial public figure than Peter, so it’s possible that the number of soldiers guarding Him could have been as high as Peter’s – maybe 16 soldiers.

Listen to what happened after the soldiers realized that the body of Christ was gone: Matthew [28:11] ESV

[11] . . . some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place.

So, if some of the guard went into the city, leaving at least one soldier there, then it makes sense that at least 4 soldiers were assigned to guard the tomb from the beginning – especially when you consider how many soldiers made up ‘a guard’ of soldiers.

So, why is this important? Because it helps us to understand what the disciples would have faced if they had decided to steal the body. They would have faced at least 4, maybe even more, highly trained Roman soldiers.

These soldiers were not only physically fit, but they were held to the highest of standards when it comes to being a soldier. There is no way they were going to let anyone steal that body without putting up a major fight.

But the guard is not the only obstacle that the disciples would have faced. They would also have to face ….

The Consequences of breaking the Roman Seal

Matthew [27:66] says that the tomb was sealed.

The Roman seal stood for the power and authority of the Roman Empire. It was made up something soft attached to the stone – probably made of clay. If someone could get past the guards, breaking the seal would bring very severe consequences – automatic execution by crucifixion upside down. People feared the Romans government and the Roman seal was an emotional barrier to anyone who would think of entering that tomb – because it would be signing your own death warrant.

So, if I am going to suggest that the disciples would actually attempt to steal the body of Jesus, then I need to consider, first …

What the disciples would have faced

1 – The challenge of the Roman Guard. 2 – The consequences of breaking the Roman seal

…and second

Who the disciples were on this particular weekend

They were discouraged and scared men – that’s who they were.

These men were obviously discouraged. Their best friend and leader had just died.

But they were also scared.

Remember: Peter: after Peter saw what the government was doing, and the intimidation of the soldiers – He denied that he knew Christ – not once, but 3 times.

John [20:19] tells us that they were staying locked in a room for fear of the Jews. They were hiding.

Why were they scared?

Well, if the Jewish leaders had convinced the Roman government to kill their leader, would they also be coming after them? The followers?

John [20:19] ESV [19] On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

So, why does it matter who the disciples were on this particular weekend? – that they were discouraged and scared?

Because this is not the kind of group that would have the courage to attempt to overcome what they might face at the tomb – the Roman guard of soldiers and the Roman seal of authority. Going against any of these would bring the harshest of penalties.

When you and I are talking with someone about the resurrection and the idea comes up that the disciples probably stole the body, we need to ask our friends:

Are you aware of what the disciples would have faced if they tried this? And, are you aware of who the disciples were on this particular weekend?

Most people aren’t considering these things.

But let’s say they did attempt to steal the body ….

It’s hard to imagine the disciples not waking up the soldiers while they rolled away a 2000 to 4000 pound stone, went inside the tomb and carried the body out. I don’t see the soldiers sleeping through this.

Consider this:

The consequences for failing at your duty for guarding a prisoner was death – and sometimes the execution was done in a horrible way. It could mean being burned alive.

In Acts [12:19], after Peter had walked out of prison in the middle of the night, the soldiers who were supposed to be guarding him were executed.

The soldiers feared their superiors. They would give their best to make sure that they were not going to fail at their jobs.

But let’s pretend for a moment that they were successful and actually did steal the body, there are important questions that would need good answers:

The question about the search: Why wasn’t there a search begun for the body?

The question about the hunt: Why weren’t the disciples hunted down by the Jewish leaders and the Roman government?

The question about the charges: Why weren’t there charges brought against the disciples?

The truth is that the Jewish leaders had no need to begin a search for the body.

And the truth is that later on, the disciples did come out of hiding when they realized that the resurrection was indeed a fact, and they were not hunted down by the government for stealing the body, and no charges were brought against them.

1 – the disciples were too discouraged and too scared to face the challenge of a very trained Roman guard and the consequences of breaking a Romans seal.

2 – moving a 1 to 2 ton stone would have woken up the soldiers if they were sleeping.

3 – history does not record a search for the body, a hunt for the disciples, or charges brought against the disciples.

4 – Roman soldiers were under a death threat if they failed in their duties. They took their job seriously and would not have slept on the job.

So, we’ve looked at the supporting evidence that gets in the way of 2 explanations:

The death that some say never happened and the burial spot that some say became a crime scene. But there is one more explanation we’re going to look at today.

The third kind of explanation that I want to talk to you about today is the

The resurrection discovery that some say was made at the wrong tomb

The tomb was owned by a wealthy religious leader who was from the town of Arimathea in Judea. He was a member of the Jewish High Council, but did not agree with their decisions. He had actually become a follower of Christ.

So, he asked Pilate for the body of Christ ..

Then he took the body down from the cross and wrapped it in a long sheet of linen cloth and laid it in a new tomb

So, one theory that people have had about the resurrection is that on Sunday morning, the women went to the wrong tomb and that’s why they said that the body was missing.

The problem with that theory, though, is that the Scriptures tell us that

Both Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting across from the tomb and watching.

That’s in Matthew [27:61], Mark [15:47], and Luke [23:55]

So, obviously, the women knew where the tomb was and went to the correct place.

And, of course, Joseph of Arimathea, knew where his tomb was and he could have corrected the story if it was wrong.

But even more compelling, if there was anyone that would have liked to disprove the story of the resurrection, it would have been the religious leaders that had Jesus put to death. To put to rest any ideas about a resurrection, all they had to do was to provide a body.

They could have asked Pilate to remove the seal and open the tomb for everyone to see a corpse. But the fact was, of course, the tomb had already been opened by an angel, and God Himself had raised His Son!

No one could provide a corpse because their wasn’t any. They say that the resurrection discovery was made at the wrong tomb, but no one went to the correct tomb and displayed the body. That’s because no body could be provided.

So, if the resurrection discovery was made at the wrong tomb, then why didn’t the Jewish leaders go to the correct tomb and provide a body for all to see so that they could stop the rumors of a resurrection?

Well, the answer is obvious: there was no body to provide for people to see, and the people involved did actually go to the correct tomb.

Interview with Ace and Betty Draper, Missionaries with New Tribes Mission

Go to their blog at

Go to New Tribes Mission at

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