Joseph of Arimathea

Meet Joseph of Arimathea, Donor of Jesus' Tomb

Joseph of Arimathea
Joseph of Arimathea took Jesus' body down from the cross and buried it in his own tomb. Getty Images

Following Jesus Christ has always been dangerous, but it was especially so for Joseph of Arimathea. He was a prominent member of the Sanhedrin, the court which condemned Jesus to death. Joseph risked his reputation and his life by standing up for Jesus, but his faith far outweighed his fear.

Joseph of Arimathea's Accomplishments:

Matthew calls Joseph of Arimathea a "rich" man, although there is no indication in Scripture what he did for a living. Unsubstantiated legend has it that Joseph was a dealer in metal goods.

To make sure Jesus received a proper burial, Joseph of Arimathea boldly asked Pontius Pilate for custody of Jesus' body. Not only did this devout Jew risk ritual uncleanness by entering the quarters of a pagan, but with Nicodemus, another Sanhedrin member, he further contaminated himself under Mosaic law, by touching a corpse.

Joseph of Arimathea donated his new tomb for Jesus to be buried in. This fulfilled the prophecy in Isaiah 53:9: He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. (NIV)

Joseph of Arimathea's Strengths:

Joseph believed in Jesus, despite pressures from his colleagues and the Roman rulers. He boldly stood up for his faith, trusting the consequences to God.

Luke calls Joseph of Arimathea a "good and upright man."

Life Lessons:

Sometimes our faith in Jesus Christ carries a high price. No doubt Joseph was shunned by his peers for caring for Jesus' body, but he followed his belief anyway. Doing the right thing for God may bring suffering in this life, but it carries eternal rewards in the next life.


Joseph came from a Judean town called Arimathea. Scholars are divided on the location of Arimathea, but some place it at Ramathaim-zophim in the hilly region of Ephraim, where Samuel the prophet was born.

References to Joseph of Arimathea in the Bible:

Matthew 27:57, Mark 15:43, Luke 23:51, John 19:38.

Key Verse:

John 19:38-42
Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate's permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus' body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there. (NIV)

(Sources: and The New Compact Bible Dictionary, edited by T. Alton Bryant.)