3 Lines of Evidence for Jesus’s Resurrection

Is there good evidence to support Jesus’s resurrection?

Jesus Christ’s resurrection is at the very heart of historic Christianity. It is both a central doctrine and the central supporting evidence for the truth of the faith.

Let’s briefly consider three evidences for the resurrection.

1. Jesus’s Empty Tomb
According to the Gospels, after Jesus died by crucifixion, some of his followers prepared his body for burial and placed it in Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb. Three days later the tomb was discovered empty, for Jesus’s body had vanished. The empty tomb is a critical part of the resurrection account, because if Jesus’s body had been recovered, then Christianity would have been falsified right at the start. 

2. Jesus’s Postmortem Appearances
According to the apostle Paul’s letters as well as the four Gospel accounts, Jesus appeared alive after his death on numerous occasions. These appearances were reported to be physical and bodily in nature (he was seen, heard, and touched) and not purely spiritual or ghostlike.

It is extremely improbable to account for these encounters by means of hallucinations. A psychological explanation isn’t feasible in the cases of James the brother of Jesus and Saul of Tarsus, who were skeptics. And if one were to offer a naturalistic explanation, there would be a need for two. One to explain the empty tomb, and another to explain Jesus’s appearances.

3. Short Time Frame between Actual Events and Eyewitness Claims
Support for the factual nature of Jesus’s resurrection from the dead comes from eyewitness testimonies that were reported soon after the events happened. The apostle Paul claims both that he saw the resurrected Christ (Acts 9:1–9) and that others witnessed the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:3) prior to his personal encounter. 

In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he employs a creedal statement about the resurrection that dates to the earliest period of Christianity. This creed is believed, even by critical scholars (those who doubt the supernatural), to be part of the original Christian kerygma (“proclamation”—representing the earliest preaching and teaching message of Christianity). 

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: 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, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles (1 Corinthians 15:3–7).

These three lines of evidence support the resurrection of Jesus and many more have been catalogued.1 If Jesus actually rose from the dead then there is no more important and hopeful message for all mortal people to hear and embrace.

In many Christian church services on Easter Sunday, the pastor declares: “He is risen!” And the congregation responds: “He is risen indeed!”



1. For twenty evidences for the resurrection, see Kenneth Richard Samples, Christianity Cross-Examined: Is It Rational, Relevant, and Good? (Covina, CA: RTB Press, 2021), chap. 6.