First Century Tombs

Photo of Bobby HarringtonBobby Harrington | Bio

Bobby Harrington

Bobby is the point-leader of and, both collaborative, disciple-making organizations. He is the founding and lead pastor of Harpeth Christian Church (by the Harpeth River, just outside of Nashville, TN). He has an M.A.R. and an M.Div. from Harding School of Theology and a Doctor of Ministry degree from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of more than 10 books on discipleship, including Discipleshift (with Jim Putman and Robert Coleman), The Disciple Maker’s Handbook (with Josh Patrick) and Becoming a Disciple Maker: The Pursuit of Level 5 Disciple Making (with Greg Weins). He lives in the greater Nashville area with his wife and near his children and grandchildren.

Although it is impossible to know for sure if Constantine’s officials identified the exact tomb of Jesus in the early 300s, we have every reason to think we have access to the location they believed was Jesus’ tomb. We are also able to know what His tomb must have been like. For archaeologists have been able to identify and verify other first century tombs inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for example. This video was taken inside the church building that shows what the first century tomb area looked like.

The picture below is one I took inside that first century tomb. Jesus would have been placed within a tomb chamber like this one.

Inside the tomb, there was typically a stone slab so that the wrapped-up body could be placed on that spot immediately following death. An artist created the following picture from scenes inside first century tombs.

Then, approximately a year later, after all the flesh had decayed, the bones would be placed in a smaller ossuary (i.e. bone box). The ossuary was then placed in one of the niches to the side and the same tomb would be used for other family members.

Whichever tomb ends up being the right one, the historical argument for the empty tomb itself is strong.