Stephen Whitsett BA
To begin a discussion on “resurrection” we must first come to a common understanding of “resurrection”. The technical Greek word is “Anastasis”, and from Strong’s 386 means to “stand again” In Philippians 3.10 a form of the same Greek word is used with the added (Strong’s 1815) exanastasis which means, “completely out from” the grave. The Greek word “Egersis” is also translated into “English as resurrection and is used in Mathew 27.53 When the graves of Jerusalem were opened and the dead were “roused” or “raised” in a corporate event. In Philippians 3.10 the Greek word “anastaseos” is used to specify Christ resurrection as a foundation for our “resurrection”.
The standing again is of what laid down or was laid to rest, in this case a dead body, corpse is what is laid into a grave and is being said to “stand again’. In no scripture is “resurrection” referred as what happens to the unsaved when they come to Christ, we are not resurrected in Christ, we are raised In Christ in His resurrection (figurative application), not our own resurrection (literal application), and by the power that raised Christ from the dead the same will also allow us to “stand again”.
The word first appears in the New Testament in Mathew 22.23 where the Sadducees who did not believe in a resurrection questioned Jesus about ‘resurrection”. Which is ample proof the Jews- Pharisees- believed in life after death, further in the story of Lazarus being “resurrected” we have Martha confessing she believed in a resurrection. The doctrine becoming apparent in the Jewish writings after the captivity it is full of this doctrine. The word or any form of “‘resurrection” (Greek word to describe a dead body coming out of a grave) is never used in the Old Testament but the example of dead people coming to life and a promises of a futures coming back to life is. Daniel 12.2
“And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”
Then in Isaiah 26 19 “Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake
sing for joy. For your dew is a a dew of light, and the earth will give
birth to the dead.
“sleep in the dust” is always a figurative reference to the body that turns to dust in the grave even as it was used in the New Testament, as in Daniel we have a very clear idea that people will face judgment after coming back to life.
The belief is simple in that they believed they would rise again after having died to everlasting life that they would continue to exist in life after the death of the body. In Jewish thought the “human” consist of the spirit and body and the two were inseparable as that is what a human is, a being made of two parts. This comes from Genesis 2 where God created man, His body was first created (and it was good) then God “breathed” life into that body.
The actual concept of the dead body “standing again” comes from “resurrection of the dead”. In John 5.28-29 we have the first teaching of Jesus on the subject.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. 25“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.
In context Christ is speaking of His right to execute judgment on people as He is the “resurrection and the life” so as he explains people will “stand again” before Him as he judges the righteous as well as the unrighteous. This is the first time Resurrection is equated to dead people coming out of their tombs.
It is also true that in this passage there is a double meaning of the word “resurrection” being used as being synonymous with life. Those who believe in Christ will live, because their spirit has been made alive in Christ resurrection (figurative) and because of that they will literally come out of their tombs to Life (literal).
In Mathew 27.52 -53 then we have the first evidence and the “firstfruit” of which Paul talks about in I Corinthians 15.
“The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared too many.”
Now we understand Mathew’s gospel was written years after the events and no other gospel writer’s mentions this event yet we do not question the validity of the event. With “resurrection” of Lazarus and Him coming out of the tomb, His teaching that the dead will come out of their tombs and His personal example we then know when Paul spoke of “the resurrection of the dead” he is speaking of the dead bodies coming out of the grave as the disciples witnessed these three events.
What is also true is Paul calls this the “firstfruit” this is the first of harvest then this harvest is different from past.
The word “resurrection”, to stand again followed by “nekron” or “corpse” there can be no other interpretation that the dead bodies come out of their graves. “The corpse stands again”, the figurative meaning cannot be applied if the literal did not happen as the literal becomes the type or shadow for the figurative application of truth to the believer.
I Corinthians 15 then become the definitive explanation of what “resurrection” is. We have Paul responding to two questions.
“12Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.
(Christ was never raised to new life spiritually).
This chapter then is in response to people who say “there is no resurrection of dead bodies coming out of the grave” yet in the sentence structure and in his argument Paul equates the “resurrection of the dead” with exactly what happened to Christ as Christ body literally “walked again”. “Resurrection of the dead” can mean no less than the dead body rising out of the grave.
So what is being argued by the “false teachers” is this,
“Not the flesh that we have now. It says that it will go back to dust. Ecc. 3:20; 12:7; Daniel 12:2 and that dust is not going to rise out of the ground, Stephen. Only the dead flesh body goes in the ground, back to dust, and remains there forever but our souls never go in the grave, we immediately go to God. 1Thess 4;13-15.
As this same point is repeated over and over again that the body turns to dust, so in their thinking there is no possibility this dust can be “reconstituted back into a living breathing body”, it “stands again”. The flaw in the reasoning does not account for the fact “resurrection of the dead” is that dead body of flesh, no matter what state it is in comes back to life. In Mathew 27.52 among the graves that opened up of the “righteous” it would be hard to argue and not supported in the text “it was only Bodies that had not turned to dust that rose”.
Now this leaves us to a side note.
Theologically speaking and from what we gather from scripture we know that prior to Christ resurrection no “soul or spirit” ascended into heaven but was placed in an appropriate place of waiting until sin had been atoned for. As explained partially in the story of “Lazarus and the rich man”. The beggar Lazarus is carried to Abraham side, a place of comfort, while the rich man was led away to a place of torment. Both are conscience of their existence.
It is in this place of comfort that Christ descended to “lead the captives free”. In Isaiah 61.1 and in other places this idea is set forth. In Ephesians 4.8 (if available) Paul touched on the subject, (as even Ed Stevens teaches)
“8Therefore it says,
“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
and he gave gifts to men.”
When Christ ascended it was also with those who were resurrected in Mathew 27.52, the prisoners of this place of waiting, Christ preach the good news that sin had been atoned for and now they were free which included every “Old Testament saint” who had died before His resurrection were now set free to come into God’s presence as the guilt of sin was removed, death had been conquered the evidence then was that the “dead walked again”.
Nowhere does any scripture imply they ALL received a new body, but according to I Cor 15.23
“But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest (firstfruit) then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back.”. So it is quite possible they all received a “glorified body” but in I Thess 4.14, we have this statement, “through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died… And the dead in Christ will rise first.” We do not know for sure if these dead are only those who have died AFTER His resurrection or if it includes all of the Old Testament saints as no scriptures provide clear cut distinction. What we are certain off at His return, when he comes back he will bring with Him the souls of those who have died and are now present with Him, to come back to their dead bodies buried in their graves, and those bodies will “stand again”
One thing becomes clear that it is the same body that died, that is raised. In Luke 24 he offers to Thomas that he can touch the nails scars to know it is Him. Not that we assume we too will carry the same scars we received while living life in our new body, but this clearly demonstrates that the same body that carried the scars was the one that was changed, His body was not replaced with another, or as some false teachers have argued.
The second question Paul addressed in this discourse,
“35But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?”
The Greek word “body” is “soma” which means flesh. It describes the human covering. There is no difference between “body” and “flesh”. A body is made up of “flesh and blood” or “flesh and bones”.
The body is always the covering over or “house” for the soul as Paul uses the terms in 2 Corinthians 5.1-10. In this discourse he presents the current reality that the “house’ and “tent” a figurative term for the “body”, he describes how we “yearn” to be clothed in a heavenly body so that we might not be found naked.
This new body is promised in Philippians 3.21 and Romans 8.23
“Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body,
“…for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us.”
Most importantly we must answer what kind of body do we receive.
“What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. 43It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. 44It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.”
The body is a real physical, of the same material as our old one is and now made immortal and imperishable.
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