By Julie Smith

The manual objective of Gospel Doctrine lesson #27 is “to help class members feel gratitude for the Savior’s Resurrection and the blessings it brings us.”

Our Objective

To discuss the role of women at Jesus’ resurrection, and in other accounts of resurrection in the scriptures.


Each of the four accounts of Jesus’ resurrection contains different details and emphases (see Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20). But one thing that they have in common is that in all four accounts, the primary witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection are women.

This is a big deal. Various strands of first century Judaism did or did not permit women to testify in court, but it was nonetheless the case that, in general, women were not regarded as entirely reliable witnesses. They were certainly not the ones who would be expected to have crucial information to announce. Luke records that when some of these witnesses informed the apostles of what they had learned about Jesus, “their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not” (Luke 24:11).

The fact that women are the first to know of Jesus’ raising is not an accident. In a very real sense, if you want to be a Christian—if you want to believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ—the first thing you need to do is to believe women. To believe that they are reliable, to believe that angels speak to them, to believe that they have something important to teach you (see also Alma 32:23).

The women’s witnessing is important in another way as well: all stories of raisings from the dead and resurrections in the scriptures have female witnesses. (Note that Acts 20:9-12 isn’t a death, 2 Kings 13:20-21 is likely mythic, and 3 Nephi 19:4 isn’t an account of a raising itself.) This pattern is consistent in the Old Testament, the New Testament, and is even hinted at in the Book of Mormon in Alma 18-19. I would suggest that there is a pattern here: women are–even if we don’t notice them or understand their role–necessary witnesses when the keys of raising/resurrection are employed.

Related Mormon Women Project Interviews

The Power of A Snowflake, Bonnie Ballif-Spanvill

Central to Christ’s work was the way He interacted with women, even though at that time they were relegated to inferior status in the culture. He recognized their spirits and intellects, He taught them, healed them, raised them from the dead. And after His resurrection, He appeared first to a woman and asked her to give the news to the apostles, even though at that time in Jewish law women were not considered competent as legal witnesses. So the fact that He used a woman as a witness is especially profound.

Seeking Peace That Passeth Understanding, Patty Gutshall

We were all in shock. It didn’t seem real. Like a bad dream that we were going to wake up from any moment and find him standing there and everything would be fine. We did wake up to find, in a sense, that everything was okay. We woke to a new understanding and appreciation for the power of the Atonement and the Resurrection. We woke to the promised peace that “passeth all understanding.”

Sharing the Burden, Dawn

I have zero regrets, and I know this trial is temporary. I have faith in the resurrection. The times that Eric has been really sick, I can see his heart so clearly. Everything else is stripped away. And there’s just this vulnerable, pure-hearted man in front of me. From an eternal perspective, I have no worries.

Other Related Women’s Voices

To Look, Reach, and Come unto Christ, Anne C. Pingree

In Minerva Teichert’s magnificent painting Christ in a Red Robe, the Savior of mankind, with nail prints in His hands, stands majestically with outstretched arms. In tenderness and compassion He looks down upon the women straining to reach Him.

I love the symbolism of women reaching out to touch the Savior. We long to be close to the Lord, for we know that He loves each of us and desires to encircle us “eternally in the arms of his love.” His touch can heal ailments spiritual, emotional, or physical. He is our Advocate, Exemplar, Good Shepherd, and Redeemer. Where else would we look, where else would we reach, where else would we come but to Jesus Christ, “the author and finisher of our faith”?

Raised in Hope, Chieko N. Okazaki

The death of the body is nothing—for Christ’s Resurrection guarantees our own—but He cannot rescue us from the death of the spirit unless we choose to ally ourselves with Him, with His hope, with the inexhaustible and irrepressible life that is His.