How many times does Paul mention the Empty Tomb in his Epistles?

Saint PaulIf you walk up to any Christian on the planet today and ask him why he believes in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior and as God Almighty, Ruler of Heaven and Earth, the first answer you will probably get is:  “The tomb was empty!”

If you read through the thirteen epistles written by the Apostle Paul, guess how many times he mentions the Empty Tomb.

Fifty times?  No.
Twenty times?  No.
Ten times?  No.
Three times?  No.
One time?  No.

Paul never mentions anything about an empty tomb!  Isn’t that odd?

Why is that? 

I know what the response will be from orthodox Christians:  “Paul wrote the thirteen epistles to address very specific theological issues in established churches; churches whose members already knew the story of the Empty Tomb!  So the fact that the empty tomb is not mentioned in any of Paul’s epistles is inconsequential.”

Maybe….but maybe not.

Maybe Paul had never heard of the “empty tomb story”!  Maybe that is why he never mentions it!  After all, his epistles are the oldest Christian writings that we have today and they say nothing about an empty tomb.  However, ten to thirty years later the four Gospels are written.  All four Gospels go out of their way to emphasize the incredible importance of the empty tomb.

So isn’t it really, really odd that the greatest Christian evangelist and missionary who ever lived would never mention this climactic, supernatural, earth-shattering event in his thirteen epistles?

Hmmm.



10 thoughts on “How many times does Paul mention the Empty Tomb in his Epistles?

  1. I Corinthians 15

    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, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

    As I said, no mention of an empty tomb.

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  2. As usual, you are missing the point because you do not want to see it.

    Paul believe that Jesus was resurrected because he believed that Jesus had appeared to him. Paul offers no evidence that he knew anything about an empty tomb. So maybe that is how Paul believed the Resurrection occurred, and maybe it wasn't.

    But from the evidence, it is very odd he never mentions this fact.

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  3. This is just plain silly. I'm sorry. Have you ever actually read the bible? I never mention “tomb”, I mention resurrection or raised from the dead.

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  4. I have a suggestion. Instead of sniping at me, why don't you make the case for why any non-believer should believe in the Resurrection and that Jesus is God.

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  5. Because arguing with someone who blindly ignores anything anyone ever offers is absolutely pointless. Presenting anything to one who thinks that because Paul doesn't describe how or where Christ was buried means Paul had no belief Christ ever was buried. Even though Paul clearly states and teaches Christ rose from the dead/grave. It would be a waste of your time and mine. Debating with one who is willing to believe is one thing, you however have made it painfully clear you do not want to believe. Your liberal outlook on life trumps everything else which does not permit your liberalism.

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  6. Why don't you cool down and be a little more rational.

    I'm willing to have a discussion with you, but I'm not interested in any more of your sniping. Keep it up and you will be banned permanently.

    I never said that Jesus was not buried. I think he most likely was buried, at least the remnants of his body were buried; the remnants that the carrion left hanging on the cross, which was then most likely thrown into a common grave for criminals, as was the custom of the Romans. The idea that a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin, who had unanimously voted to execute Jesus, would have a change of heart and bury Jesus in his own, newly hewn tomb, is preposterous.

    The story of Joseph Arimathea was invented because in order to have a verifiably empty tomb, you have to have a known tomb, and neither Jesus disciples nor his family would be willing or capable of purchasing an expensive rich man's tomb in Jerusalem.

    The early Christians needed a tomb so they invented Jospeh of Arimathea. Notice that Paul not only never mentions the empty tomb, he never mentions Joseph of Arimathea.

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  7. a slave,

    scholars think there were a whole lot of issues that were debated for decades if not centuries after jesus died. eg, despite jesus preaching for 3 years, you can see in the bible there were arguments between paul and the other apostles about whether gentile converts had to be circumcised or keep kosher. there were still intense arguments about the nature of jesus' divinity during the council of 321 or whenever it was — hundreds of years after jesus' death.

    reading paul's conversion account in acts, it reads like it was a spiritual resurrection. also, the resurrection accounts in the gospels differ. the earliest gospel ends at the empty tomb, and doesn't mention a resurrection at all. some of the early ones, the apostles didn't recognize jesus at first. in the later ones, the resurrected jesus still had the flesh wounds, and doubting thomas even put his fingers in the wounds.

    scholars think these differences are because the unknown authors of the gospels were making different arguments about whether resurrection was spiritual, or physical, and if physical, whether jesus (and presumably believers) would keep the same body, or get a new body, when they went to heaven.

    so it's quite possible that paul believed that jesus' physical body was still in the ground, and that jesus got a new body, or was purely a spirit, and hence, no empty tomb. and paul not specifically mentioning an empty tomb is probably one of those telling details that scholars use to discuss how the notions of resurrection developed over time in the early church.

    so, your comments indicate that you think that all the things you believe today as a christian are exactly what every christian believed from day one. in fact, that's simply not the case.

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  8. Well since Gary doesn't post some of my comments on other topics I have no desire to get into a debate with anyone who can control what I get to say.

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