How long was Jesus' tomb left unsealed?

Bill Henness


Now, from this time just before sunset on Friday evening, until sometime the next day, probably around mid-day or afternoon, according to what was done and the dialog.

"Now the NEXT DAY, that followed the day of preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command, therefore, that the sepulcher be made sure until the third day, LEST HIS DISCIPLES COME BY NIGHT, AND STEAL HIM AWAY, AND SAY UNTO THE PEOPLE, HE IS RISEN FROM THE DEAD; so the last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch; go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they went, and made the sepulcher sure, sealing the stone, and setting watch." 

(Matt. 27:62-66)

I think that is exactly what happened. I think that night (Friday night) before the tomb was sealed, some came to the tomb and took the body away, probably to another place and buried it there. When they took the body wrapped in linen, they probably left the excess linen that Nicodemus left there. Remember, later on Sunday;
Now the women had seen the tomb where the body was put by Joseph, so they came to THAT TOMB early Sunday morning (either before day brake or after it was light, depending on which gospel record you read.)It should also be noted that an empty tomb does not prove a resurrection really occurred. As Geisler admits on page 37 in "The Battle for the Resurrection," "The empty tomb in itself does not prove the resurrection of Christ any more than a missing body in a morgue proves someone has resurrected." Neither does an empty tomb plus A SERIES OF APPEARANCES OF SOMEONE WHO WAS NOT RECOGNIZED BY ANYONE, prove the resurrection. The original body could have been moved and have disappeared and the appearances could have been of someone else who slightly resembled him.

I think it is entirely possible that from the time he was buried and the stone rolled up to the entrance, until the next day when the soldiers sealed it, that disciples came, rolled the stone away, (it wasn't sealed yet) moved the body to an undisclosed location, left some of the grave clothes, then rolled back the stone. The woman/women who had watched where he was buried, returned two days later, (early Sunday morning), thinking the body was in that tomb, to the tomb which was now empty. Peter and John returned to this now empty tomb also.

Moreover, every time someone saw the resurrected Jesus, they all did not recognize him as Jesus.
In answer to the original question, which was, "How long was Jesus' tomb left unsealed?" I believe the answer is; from about 6:00 P.M. until about mid-afternoon the following day. Or, about some 20 plus hours. Ample time to remove the body and roll the stone back, and re-bury the body.


Bill Henness

Brian Worley     November 6, 2009     All rights reserved!

To Return to the Main Page