“Easter 2010 Topical Msg:  Reconciling Resurrection Accounts”


                                                            Jim Bomkamp                      

Back          Bible Studies                Home Page


1.                 Background: 


This message has come about because of a Christian Worldview Blog that I had written and was managing last year.  I had introduced several themes of an apologetic vein and had debated the existence of God and validity of Christianity with a blogger.  After all of this, he asked me to reconcile the resurrection accounts saying that he would believe if I could successfully do this.  At the time I had several other things that rose in importance in my life and so I told him I would get back to him, and as of yet I have not.  But, I have been meaning to do this, and this subject has been on my mind since that time.  Noting that Bible skeptics have raved about discrepancies concerning many Bible stories and teachings, and that the resurrection accounts is a major point of debate, I think my presentation is very important.  So, this morning I want to do my best to provide a reconciliation of the resurrection accounts, and I will tell the resurrection accounts using all of the Biblical texts.


2.                 The major points of contention regarding the resurrection accounts are these:


2.1.         The number of women who went that Easter morning and found an empty tomb.


2.2.         The number of angels present at the tomb.


2.3.         The appearance and description of the angels that appear at the tomb.


2.4.         Discrepancies between the four gospel writers as to what was said and happened in the various stories.


3.                 From what I have read the seminal work that was accomplished and provided the solid basis for reconciling the various gospel accounts of the resurrection is a book that was published in 1874 by Harvard law professor and lawyer Simon Greenleaf called “Testimony Of The Evangelists.”  He wrote a harmony of the gospels in this book and sought to reconcile all of the various discrepancies in the gospel accounts, from the beginning to the end.  His goal was to show that if you used the precedence that is performed in a court of law for determining guilt or innocence, that you could present enough evidence to show that the accounts could be trusted and were reliable.  He dedicated special focus to the events of the resurrection since he realized the importance of that event as well as the debates that had raged about those accounts.  Every writer whom I have read who seeks to reconcile the resurrection accounts either quotes from Greenleaf’s book or plagiarizes it.  The book is fully downloadable on the internet for free, and here is the book’s cover:



4.                 A man named Andy Bannister (of whom I know nothing) has written on his website what I believe are some good guidelines accepting the historicity of and accepting events as described by different witnesses:


Since Christianity stands or falls on whether the resurrection of Jesus was an actual, real, historical event (1 Corinthians 15:12-19), we need to ask the question, what marks the five accounts above out as genuine, independent (or semi-independent) accounts of actual historical events? In short, how can we trust them? I will begin by making some general observations concerning eye-witness accounts and historical writing in general.

1.     Selection and ‘contradiction’. Whilst this may be stating the obvious, it is worth pointing out that historians naturally select which details to include and which to ignore when describing any series of events. This will usually depend upon their purpose in writing. It is also common that eye-witnesses will describe an event differently from each other, as different points will stand out more strongly for different eye-witnesses. Therefore, historians are usually of the opinion that accounts which claim to be from different authors or eye-witnesses but which fail to show any differences of selection or perspective are almost certainly the result of copying or collusion. On the other-hand, if the event described by two or more eye-witnesses is genuine, it should be possible to resolve any apparent contradictions between their accounts.

2.     Incidental corroboration. In the case of two independent accounts of the same event, it is often the case that one report will only make complete sense taken in the light of the other. Put simply, this is because both accounts may be true, but both are incomplete. This kind of overlapping to build up the whole picture is to be expected when the events described by multiple witnesses is true. It is also virtually impossible to fabricate, unless one writer sits down with the report of the other and deliberately sets out to do so.

3.     Historical credibility. Details of the events described should be in harmony with known historical practices, background of the period in question, as well as in harmony with details known from other sources from that period.

4.     Coherence. Historical accounts should be coherent, self-consistent, and make good overall sense if we to learn from them.


Two important presuppositions

The following is evident from the way that the four gospel writers have treated their material, and it is important to keep these two points in mind as we proceed:

1.     Incompleteness in reporting the presence of characters: for example, in John 19:25, Mary Magdalene, Salome, and Mary the wife of Cleopas are reported as being at the foot of the cross. However, only Mary Magdalene is mentioned as going to the tomb early on the Sunday morning. However, John hardly expected his readers to assume that a young woman was wandering around alone in the dark city streets. And when she arrived back from the tomb, her words were, "they have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him" (John 20:2). Her plural indicates that she had companions there with her, but John has neglected to mention them. Luke also shows this practice, where in Luke 24:12 he names only Peter as going to the tomb, but in 24:24 refers to "some" who went there. It is clear that, from the point of view of the gospel writers, mentioning one name only does not preclude others being present. This principle was also applied to the angels at the tomb, as we shall see later.

Telescoping: for example, Luke clearly exhibits this principle. If we just read Luke’s account of the resurrection, one would get the impression that all Jesus’ appearances and his ascension took place in just one day. Yet in Acts, which was also written by Luke, he clearly states that the events stretched over forty days. In his gospel he telescopes events in order to bring out a particular perspective. Matthew also uses telescoping; especially in the events surrounding the angels’ initial descent and later conversation with the women. Telescoping is not at all uncommon in historical reporting.


5.                 I will begin with this quote from Rit Nosotro which I found on his website:


"The apparent discrepancies of the four Gospel accounts of the resurrection can be disconcerting to a believer. Christians might be tempted to wonder how they can trust a book when the accounts do not line up. However, with standard exegesis of the accounts, it is in the richness of the variation that a fuller picture of this event is presented. Closer parallel accounts might suggest author collusion or editing which would actually diminish rather than strengthen the authenticity of the Gospel accounts. Yet none of the Gospels contradict each other in essentials of doctrine and even details. They each reveal a different aspect from the author's perspective as they were inspired to write. All agree Jesus rose from the dead, that women saw the tomb empty - except for angles, and that Jesus appeared to people after he had risen.”


6.                 One final comment here is in order before beginning.  If each of the evangelists had given identical eye-witness accounts of Jesus’ resurrection, this would have been proof of a plot to collaborate their stories, as Andy Bannister has said.  Eye witness testimony always varies, yet cases of law are proven every day in spite of this.


7.                 The first morning the angel descends and rolls away the stone frightening the guards, and the women are making spices to bring (Matthew 28:2-4, Mark 16:1):








Mark 16:1


   1And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.




Matthew 28:2-4

   2And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.

   3His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:

   4And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.








8.                 The first visit to the tomb, the women who came (Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:2-4, Luke 24:1-3, John 20:1-2):


Matthew 28:1


   1In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

Mark 16:2-4

   2And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.

   3And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?

Luke 24:1-3

   1Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.



John 20:1-2

   1The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre,






   4And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.


   2And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.

   3And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.


and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.





   2Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the LORD out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.





8.1.         Discrepancy #1:  Who came to the tomb?  John says it was Mary Magdalene.  Matthew says that it was Mary Magdalene and the other Mary.  Mark and Luke simply say that “they” came (with Mark referring to Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome, and Luke referring to Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and others with them)  


8.1.1.  The writers compliment each other, they do not contradict each other.  John does not say that “only” Mary Magdalene came to the tomb, nor does Matthew say that “only” Mary and the other Mary came to the tomb.  The same goes with Mark and Luke.  The sum of the gospel writers’ accounts make the full story.  None of them produce a complete story, and the details that each include pertain to their purpose for writing.


8.1.2.  Even though John mentions only Mary Magdalene as going to the tomb, he records her report when she returns indicating that others were with her by using the word ‘we’ :  They have taken away the LORD out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him


8.1.3.  The fact that the accounts differ yet do not in any way contradict, but rather supplement each other, is evidence of their validity.  Simon Greenleaf writes, “The instance here under consideration is parallel to that of the demoniacs of Gadara, and the blind men at Jericho; where, in both cases, Matthew speaks of two persons, while Mark and Luke mention only one.** Something peculiar in the station or character of one of the persons, rendered him in each case more prominent, and led the two latter Evangelists to speak of him particularly. But there, as here, their language is not exclusive; nor is there in it anything that contradicts the statements of Matthew.


8.2.         Discrepancy #2:   The timing of the events.  When did they occur?  Matthew says this occurred:  as it began to dawn”, Luke:  very early in the morning” , John:  when it was yet dark”, Mark:  at the rising of the sun”.  Does Mark contradict the other accounts?


8.2.1.  Mark had already stated that the women came “very early” in the morning, and thus Simon Greenleaf accurately states that this statement by Mark is really just meant to be less definite and not a concrete timeframe but rather at that point in time just before dawn when the rays of the sun begin to light up the sky.  Greenleaf goes on to show examples of this sort of accounting for time being used in other biblical stories:  Accordingly, we find such a popular usage prevailing among the Hebrews; and several instances of it occur in the Old Testament. Thus in Judg. 9: 33, the message of Zebul to Abimelech, after directing him to lie in wait with his people in the field during the night, goes on as follows:  “ and it shall be, in the morning, as soon as the sun is up thou shalt rise early and set upon the city;” yet we cannot for a moment suppose that Abimilech with his ambuscade was to wait until the sun actually appeared above the horizon, before he made his onset. So the Psalmist (104:22), speaking of the young lions that by night roar after their prey, goes on to say: “The sun ariseth, they gather themselves together, and lay them down in their dens.” But wild animals do not wait for the actual appearance of the sun ere they shrink away to their lairs; the break of day, the dawning light, is the signal for their retreat. See also Sept. 2 Kings 3:22. 2 Sam. 23:4. In all these passages the language is entirely parallel to that of Mark; and they serve fully to illustrate the principle, that the rising of the sun is here used in a popular sense as equivalent to the rising of the day or early dawn.”     


8.3.         Discrepancy #3:  In Matthew’s account (looking at Matt. 28:1-11) one could assume that the angel descended and rolled the stone away while the women were there, and then talked with the women.


8.3.1.  In this instance, instead of the account of the other three gospel writers contradicting what Matthew wrote, they simply explain and interpret what Matthew had written.


8.3.2.  One thing to keep in mind when reading Matthew’s accounts is that he used more brevity and therefore one can come to wrong conclusions from what he wrote if you he does not compare with the other evangelists.  Matthew was telescoping here!


9.                 The vision of the angels to the women (Matthew 28:5-7, Mark 16:5-7, Luke 24:4-8):


Matthew 28:5-7






   5And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.


Mark 16:5-7

   5And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted.

   6And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen;


Luke 24:4-8

   4And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:

   5And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?




   6He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

   7And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.


he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.


   7But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.

  6He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee,

   7Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.

   8And they remembered his words,




9.1.         Discrepancy #4:  The description of the angels varies.  Mathew simply refers to “the angel”, Mark says it was a “young man”, Luke says it was “two men stood by then in shining garments”, and John doesn’t mention this.


9.1.1.  Angels in the Bible when they appear to men appear as men, so we should not doubt that Mark and Luke are describing angels.


9.1.2.  Matthew and Mark refer to a singular angel, John mentions none, and Luke refers to two angels.  This can be explained using the same logic as that applied to the number of women who went to the tomb.  Just because a writer mentions one it doesn’t mean that there might not have been another one.  Only one of the angels spoke so this angel was the one who was important to the narrative, and therefore was mentioned.  In John’s case, he didn’t deem it important to include this detail.


9.2.         Discrepancy #5:  What the angel declares various in each account.


9.2.1.  We must be clear that what the angel is recorded in each account does not contradict what the other gospel writer has written.  It is therefore to be understood that what was said by the angel is a combination of what each gospel writer wrote, not a contradiction.  Also, the angel may have said more than is recorded here.  The Bible does not include all of the things that God has done.  John tells us in his gospel that if all of the things had been written that Jesus did the world could not contain all of the books.


9.2.2.  Note that Matthew, Mark and Luke all include the angel saying this one key phrase, “He is not here”.  This one phrase was primary in importance in the narrative.  Plus, each account reveals that the angel is informing the women that they will see Jesus again for He is risen from the dead.


9.2.3.  None of the gospel writers mention that he has recorded “all” that the angel has said.


10.            The women return to the city and report to the disciples what they have seen (Matthew 28:8-10, Mark 16:8, Luke 24:9-11):


Matthew 28:8-10

   8And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.

   9And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.

   10Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.


Mark 16:8


   8And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid.

Luke 24:9-11





   9And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest.

   10It was Mary Magdalene and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles.

   11And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.





10.1.    Discrepancy #6:  Jesus appears to the women here according to Matthew’s account, however John records much later in the sequence of events that Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene (John 20:11-18).  How can this be since the women came to the tomb together and they are likewise recorded as leaving together?


10.1.1.That Mary’s trip to the tomb is described earlier is explained by what I included earlier that evidently Mary Magdalene turned around immediately upon seeing that the stone was rolled away and ran and reported that Jesus was missing to Peter and John.  This interpretation is supported by the fact that when Mary reported this to Peter and John that she said that they didn’t know where Jesus’ body had been lain, plus the fact that she did not mention any angels as appearing there.


10.1.2.Only Matthew records Jesus appearing to the women here, but this doesn’t mean that there is a contradiction between this account and the account of the other gospel writers.


10.1.3.Tradition in the church has usually included that Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene, however I believe that His appearance to the women minus Mary is His first appearance.  Later, John will tell us that Jesus appeared to Mary.


10.2.    Discrepancy #7:  Luke records that the women reported these things to the apostles that they had seen, and he records Mary Magdalene as being with the women.  But, we have already declared that Mary must have returned earlier upon first sight of the stone rolled up and out of the way?


10.2.1.This can evidently be explained by Luke simply lumping together the accounts of the women as one event when in fact they occurred at separate times and included different testimonies by them.


11.            Peter and John run to the tomb and see Jesus is not there (Luke 24:12, John 20:3-10).




Luke 24:12


   12Then arose Peter,

John 20:3-10

   3Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre.

   4So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre.

   5And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in.




and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.

   6Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie,

   7And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.

   8Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed.

   9For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.

   10Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.




11.1.    Discrepancy #8:  Luke only mentions Peter running to the tomb, John records both Peter and John running to the tomb, and Matthew and Mark omit this detail.


11.1.1.This is explained by the same principle that we have seen a few times already.  Just because one author mentions one party present in a story you cannot automatically assume that there were not more people there.  John simply includes many more details about this story.


12.            Appearance of Jesus to Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9-11, John 20:11-18):



Mark 16:9-11

   9Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.






























John 20:11-18

   11But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,

   12And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.

   13And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my LORD, and I know not where they have laid him.

   14And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.

   15Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.

   16Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.

   17Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.



  10And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept.

   11And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not.



   18Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the LORD, and that he had spoken these things unto her.




13.            Discrepancy #9:  Mark states in Mark 16:9 that Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene, how does this correlate with Jesus appearing to the other women first and Mary Magdalene later, as we assume must have happened?


13.1.    I believe that this can be reconciled by considering how brief Mark’s gospel is in detailing the various events of Jesus’ ministry.  Mary Magdalene is used her by Mark as a representative of all of the women who saw Jesus on that morning, and the main character to be considered.  Simon Greenleaf states this view this way:  There remains to be considered the circumstance, that Mark, in v. 9, seems to represent this appearance of Jesus at the sepulchre to Mary Magdalene, as his first appearance: “Now, being risen early the first of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene.” In attempting to harmonize this with Matthew's account of our Lord's appearance to the other women on their return from the sepulchre, several methods have been adopted; but the most to the purpose is the view which regards the word first, Mark v. 9, as put not absolutely, but relatively. That is to say, Mark narrates three, and only three, appearances of our Lord; of these three, that to Mary Magdalene takes place first, and that to the assembled disciples the same evening occurs last, v. 14. A similar example occurs in 1 Corinthians 15:5-8, where Paul enumerates those to whom the Lord showed himself after his resurrection, viz. to Peter, to the twelve, to five hundred brethren, to James, to all the apostles, and last of all to Paul also. Now had Paul written here, as with strict propriety he might have done, “he was seen first of Cephas,” assuredly no one would ever have understood him as intending to assert that the appearance to Peter was the first absolutely; that is, as implying that Jesus was seen of Peter before he appeared to Mary Magdalene and the other women.”


1.                 The guard is paid off to tell that the body was snatched (Matthew 28:11-15):


Matthew 28:11-15

   11Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done.

   12And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers,

   13Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept.

   14And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.

   15So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.






2.                 Jesus appears to two disciples as they are walking on the road to Emmaus (Mark 16:12-13, Luke 24:13-15):



Mark 16:12-13








   12After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country.









































































Luke 24:13-15

   13And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.

   14And they talked together of all these things which had happened.

   15And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.

   16But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.

   17And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?

   18And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?

   19And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:

   20And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.

   21But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.

   22Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre;

   23And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive.

   24And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.

   25Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:

   26Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?

   27And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

   28And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further.

   29But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.

   30And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.

   31And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.

   32And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?

   33And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them,

   34Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.

   35And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.




   13And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them.





3.                 Jesus appears to the disciples as they are all gathered together (Mark 16:14-18, Luke 24:36-49, John 20:19-23):



Mark 16:14-18

   14Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.


Luke 24:36-49

   36And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.


John 20:19-23

   19Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.



   37But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.

   38And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?

   39Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.

   40And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.

   41And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat?

   42And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.

   43And he took it, and did eat before them.








   20And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the LORD.



   15And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

   16He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

   17And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;

   18They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.


   44And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.

   45Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,

   46And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:

   47And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

   48And ye are witnesses of these things.

   49And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.


   21Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

   22And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:

   23Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.



4.                 Jesus appears to the twelve again, and to show Himself alive to Thomas (John 20:24-29):





John 20:24-29

   24But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.

   25The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the LORD. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.

   26And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.

   27Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

   28And Thomas answered and said unto him, My LORD and my God.

   29Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.



5.                 Jesus appears to seven of the disciples as they are along the Sea of Tiberias (Matthew 28:16, John 21:1-24):


 Matthew 28:16


  16Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee,



John 21:1-24

   1After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself.

   2There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples.

   3Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.

   4But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.

   5Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No.

   6And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.

   7Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea.

   8And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes.

   9As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread.

   10Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.

   11Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.

   12Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord.

   13Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise.

   14This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.

   15So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

   16He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

   17He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

   18Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.

   19This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.

   20Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?

   21Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?

   22Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.

   23Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?

   24This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.



6.                 Jesus appears to the twelve and more than 500 on a mountain in Galilee (Matthew 28:16-20):


Matthew 28:16-20


16    into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.

 17And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.

    18And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

   19Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

   20Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.







7.                 Sequence of events:


7.1.         Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome had bought spices to anoint the body of Jesus, doing so either because they didn’t know that Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea had already done this, or because they didn’t think a good  enough job had been done (Mark 16:1).


7.2.         Sometime after sunset on Saturday (which marked the end of the day) until before the sun had risen, the angel of the Lord descends from heaven (Matthew 28:2-4) producing an earthquake and rolls the stone from the tomb and then sat upon it.  The Roman guard that had been assembled to guard the tomb to make sure no one stole the body fell over as dead men, and then eventually ran away knowing that a death sentence awaited them for allowing the stone to be removed and abandoning their post.  Mark wrote that the women came very early on Sunday morning to the tomb, and that Jesus had risen early on that morning (Mark 16:2, 9).   Matt. 28:11 tells us that as the Roman guard was reporting what had happened to their employers that the first women were making their way to the tomb.


7.3.         Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Joanna, Salome, and perhaps others head to the tomb and when they get there the find the stone has been rolled away (Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:2-4, Luke 24:1-3, John 20:1-2).  I agree with Andy Bannister’s comment about how Mary Magdalene immediately upon seeing the stone rolled away ran back to the disciples to inform them, and this explains why Mary is not mentioned along with the women going inside the tomb and talking with the angels, as the other women did, nor does she mention the angels to Peter and John in her report to them:  Still some way off the tomb, they see in the distance that the stone has already been moved. Quickly jumping to the conclusion that the authorities must have opened the tomb and moved the body, Mary Magdalene turns on her heel, running back to in panic and grief to cry those now famous words to John: "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have laid him!" (John 20:2)”. 


7.4.         As Mary Magdalene is running back to report to the disciples, the angel is informing the other women who had gone to the tomb with Mary that they are to go and tell the other disciples that Jesus is not there but is risen and that they will see Him again, and, that they are to go to Galilee where He will meet with them (Matthew 28:5-7, Mark 16:5-7, Luke 24:4-8).


7.5.         Peter and John (Luke 24:12, John 20:3-10) run to the tomb after hearing Mary Magdalene’s report, however because of the route they chose, in the process of getting there they miss running into the other women who were at this time running to meet up with the disciples and tell them this story.  Peter and John observe the grave cloths in the tomb but Jesus nowhere to be found.  John now believed that Jesus had raised from the dead.


7.6.         Peter and John return to the other disciples yet they miss Mary Magdalene as she has now begun to return to the tomb to search for the body of Jesus (John 20:10).


7.7.         Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9-11, John 20:11-18) returns to the tomb by herself and when she looks in she sees two angels there, one at the head and one at the foot of where Jesus had been laid to rest.  The angels ask her why she is weeping and she tells them that they have taken Jesus’ body and she does not know where they have laid it.  Then, when Mary turns away she sees Jesus but doesn’t recognize Him and supposing that he is the gardener she asks Him if He knows where they have put the body.  Then, when Jesus says her name, “Mary”, she recognizes Him and falls down at His feet.  Jesus tells her not to keep on clinging on to Him because He has not yet ascended to His father.


7.8.         The Roman guard is paid to lie and say the disciples stole Jesus’ body (Matthew 28:11-15).


7.9.         Jesus appears to two disciples as they are walking on the road to Emmaus (Mark 16:12-13, Luke 24:13-15).


7.10.    Jesus appears to the disciples as they are all gathered together (Mark 16:14-18, Luke 24:36-49, John 20:19-23).


7.11.    Jesus appears to the twelve again, and to show Himself alive to Thomas (John 20:24-29).


7.12.    Jesus appears to seven of the disciples as they are along the Sea of Tiberias (Matthew 28:16, John 21:1-24).


7.13.    Jesus appears to the twelve and more than 500 on a mountain in Galilee (Matthew 28:16-20).




Back          Bible Studies                Home Page