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A group of women found Jesus’ empty tomb on the Sunday following the crucifixion. The Apostle Paul confirms this in his first letter to the Church at Corinth:


The Resurrection


"Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel I preached to you, which you received, on which you have taken your stand and by which you are being saved, if you hold to the message I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. Then he appeared to over five hundred brothers and sisters at one time; most of them are still alive, but some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one born at the wrong time, he also appeared to me."


Even by the time the Apostle Paul wrote this letter around 55-57 A.D., the fact that Jesus was buried and raised three days later was not only common knowledge, but the very foundation of Christian doctrine. Tim Mackie and Jon Collins of The Bible Project recap Paul's letter here:


Q: Is the resurrection of Jesus foundational to understanding your own death and resurrection? Why or why not?


The Apostle Paul saw the resurrection as indispensable to the Gospel:

1 CORINTHIANS 15:12-19

"Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say, “There is no resurrection of the dead”? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation is in vain, and so is your faith. Moreover, we are found to be false witnesses about God, because we have testified wrongly about God that he raised up Christ—whom he did not raise up, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Those, then, who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished. If we have put our hope in Christ for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone."


In 2016, N.T. Wright addressed The Veritas Forum at Harvard University and discussed the new world that was ushered in by the resurrection of Jesus:



The Key Role of Women

According to the early Jewish historian Josephus, the testimony of women was regarded as so worthless that it could not even be admitted into a Jewish court of law. Any later legendary story would certainly have made male disciples discover the empty tomb.


Q: Who were these women that encountered the empty tomb and two angels appeared to?


Taylor and Köstenberger's book, The Final Days of Jesus, these are the options for who first found the empty tomb:

  1. Joanna (wife of Chuza)
  2. Mary Magdalene
  3. Mary (mother of Jesus, widow of Joseph of Nazareth)
  4. Mary (mother of James and Joses/Joseph)
  5. Mary (wife of Clopas)
  6. Salome (mother of James and John)



In our book The Final Days of Jesus Andreas Köstenberger and I try to provide some help in understanding the identity and  role of Jesus’s female disciples, especially with respect to their discovery of the empty tomb and their eyewitnesses testimony to the risen Christ.

There are a number of things about the narrative of the women that can perplexing when we seek to harmonize their actions across the four accounts. The sheer number of Marys sometimes adds to the confusion! And it even can be difficult to untangle the Greek grammar. For example, is John 19:25 about three women or four?

A. ”[1] his mother and [2] his mother’s sister, [3] Mary the wife of Clopas, and [4] Mary Magdalene”


B. ”[1] his mother and [2] his mother’s sister, [that is,] Mary the wife of Clopas, and [3] Mary Magdalene”

Under option A, the reference is likely to Salome (which would make the sons of Zebedee—James and John—the cousins of Jesus). However, option B is more likely, meaning that Mary the wife of Clopas is Mary’s sister (or sister-in-law) and thus Jesus’s aunt.

We don’t pretend to offer definitive solutions in our book, but I thought it might be helpful for those preaching or thinking through this material to highlight the relevant entries in our reference guide at the end of the book. There is more information on these important women than we have often recognized. 1


You can access more of Taylor's thoughts on the womens' sepulcheral encounter here:


The Three Marys at the Tomb, Duccio di Buoninsegna, 1308 A.D.


It would not have been to the advantage of early Christians to invent the account of women finding the empty tomb. Although today we see it as discriminatory, ancient Jewish culture did not recognize women as valid eyewitnesses. By sending angels to appear to these women, Jesus again turns existing religious and social mores upside down. Dr. William Lane Craig discusses this as an example of the criterion of embarrassment:







1. "Who Were the Women at the Empty Tomb?" by Justin Taylor.
Accessed 2/21/18.