Why Did Matthew’s Women Go to the Tomb if They Knew it was Sealed and Guarded by Soldiers?

Image result for image of women at the tomb
The Women at the Tomb by Raniero Cantalamessa

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he[a] lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead,[b] and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” 

Gospel of Matthew

Gary:  The author of the Gospel of Mark tells us that the women went to the tomb with spices to anoint Jesus’ body.  That makes sense because if you read the Marcan account, Joseph of Arimathea did not anoint the body (he didn’t even wash it!). But why would Matthew’s women go to the tomb if they knew it was sealed and guarded by troops?

That makes no sense.

It is as if the only reason they go to the tomb is to discover it empty!

Sounds like a made-up plot to me.

These four books were not written by eyewitnesses!


8 thoughts on “Why Did Matthew’s Women Go to the Tomb if They Knew it was Sealed and Guarded by Soldiers?

  1. Yeh, this one sure sounds like a real “contrivance” to me, too…..

    Except, I can’t find anyplace in the book that indicates that the women *should* have known about either the guards or the tomb seal, as if they’d been told. Am I overlooking that part?


    1. As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. 58 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. 59 Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb. –Gospel of Matthew

      You have a good point. They may not have known about the sealing and the guards.

      However, there is still the question of why they were coming to the tomb. If we are trying to harmonize the four Gospels, Matthew’s Mary Magdalene and at least one other woman watched John’s Arimathea and Nicodemus apply 100 pounds of spices to the body, so there would not have been a need to bring spices. I suppose you could say that Matthew’s women just wanted to come and sit by the grave to mourn. Bottom line: I don’t think you can harmonize the four stories. The authors were not writing history books, they were writing books of evangelization. The core story is still present in all four: Crucifixion, burial, empty tomb, alleged appearances. The authors simply changed or added details to this core story to fit their theological agenda.


      1. really, I didn’t know ANYBODY these days really still thought the four gospels could be harmonized. But, I guess that just shows how out of touch I am with the “fundamentalist” bunch…

        Glad that “fundamentalist” routine has never been an issue for me. People sure seem to waste a lot of time on it – both those that are Christians and those that aren’t….


        1. Oh, yes, my friend. A large percentage of evangelicals and other conservative Protestants (conservative Lutherans, like the LCMS, conservative Presbyterians, Southern Baptists, etc.)

          Which non-Trinitarian denomination do you belong to? LDS? JW? Christian Science?

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Here is the inerrancy statement of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant Church in the United States:

          WHEREAS, Some biblical scholars who identify themselves as evangelicals have in recent years denied the historicity of Adam and Eve (Genesis 1–2) and of the fall of mankind into sin (Genesis 3), among other historical assertions of Scripture; and

          WHEREAS, Many of these same scholars have called on other evangelical scholars to abandon the doctrine of inerrancy and to embrace on a wholesale basis the methodology of higher critical biblical scholarship in the study of Scripture; and

          WHEREAS, The Bible asserts for itself that it is God-breathed and is altogether sufficient “for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16–17); and

          WHEREAS, The human authors of Scripture wrote not from their own imaginations, but instead as they were “moved by the Holy Spirit, men spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:21); and

          WHEREAS, The primary purpose of biblical scholarship is to glorify God through the study and proclamation of “the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all” (Jude 3), which faith is set forth in Holy Scripture; and

          WHEREAS, Southern Baptists have affirmed historically and consistently our unshakeable belief that the Bible in its entirety has “truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter,” and is therefore “totally true and trustworthy” (The Baptist Faith and Message, Article I, “The Scriptures”); now, therefore, be it

          RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, June 19–20, 2012, do hereby reaffirm our belief in and adherence to the doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture, as set forth in the Bible itself and in Article I of The Baptist Faith and Message; and be it further

          RESOLVED, That we affirm our belief specifically in the direct creation and historicity of Adam and Eve and in a literal, space-time fall of mankind into sin; and be it finally

          RESOLVED, That we call on all biblical scholars serving in Southern Baptist institutions to help shape the Christian worldview of the next generation by carrying out their work of teaching, research, and writing with an excellence and freedom that is always in submission to Jesus Christ and in the service of the inerrant Word of God.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Reading this gives me the shivers! To think people actually believe a book that was written centuries ago by a multitude of writers and put together by another multitude of copiers is “totally true and trustworthy”?

            I have this bridge in Brooklyn.

            Liked by 2 people

  2. Here is the Inerrancy Statement of my (most recent) former denomination, The Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod (LCMS):

    We believe, teach and confess that all Scripture is given by the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit and that God is therefore the true Author of every word of Scripture. We acknowledge that there is a qualitative difference between the inspired witness of Holy Scripture in all its parts and words and the witness of every other form of human expression, making the Bible a unique book.

    We therefore reject the following views:

    1.That the Holy Scriptures are inspired only in the sense that all Christians are “inspired” to con­fess the lordship of Jesus Christ.
    2.That the Holy Spirit did not inspire the actual words of the Biblical authors but merely provid­ed these men with special guidance.
    3.That only those matters in Holy Scripture were inspired by the Holy Spirit which directly per­tain to Jesus Christ and man’s salvation.
    4.That noncanonical writings in the Christian tradition can be regarded as “inspired” in the same sense as Holy Scripture.
    5.That portions of the New Testament witness to Jesus Christ contain imaginative additions, which had their origin in the early Christian community and do not present actual facts.

    Gary: THAT is about as fundamentalist as you can get!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I guess this shows you how much I hang around with Baptists.. heheehe

    This statement: “Southern Baptists have affirmed historically and consistently our unshakeable belief that the Bible in its entirety has “truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter,” and is therefore “totally true and trustworthy”

    I’ve honestly never understood this kind of thinking. The ONLY things that I have an “unshakeable belief” in is (a) the existence of God, and (b) that God showed Himself to Man in the form of Jesus Christ who was bodily resurrected.

    But, I’m not even sure that’s a terrible accurate statement. What I *really* believe is that Jesus was resurrected, and *therefore*, there *is* a God, there *is* an afterlife, and so on. But, I came to believe in the resurrected Jesus before I even knew anything about the bible, or the “God of Abraham”, etc. So for me, things were kind of “backwards engineered”.

    So really, for me, the belief in the resurrection of Jesus was first, and anything and everything else was built on top of that. But, even then, it’s that very small list: God exists, God showed Himself to Man in Jesus Christ. That’s it. To profess an “unshakeable faith” in any *other* belief is, to me, kind of pushing close to the realm of idolotry.

    I’m totally happy to accept the bible as “the defining documents that express the core Orthodoxy of the faith”, and willing to agree *with other believers* that we can all use the bible as such. I have ZERO expectations of anybody else accepting anything at all like “the bible is inerrant”. Heck, I don’t even know what that means, really…

    Liked by 1 person

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