R E S U R R E C T I O N H O P E
What the Bible Teaches about the Resurrection of the
Dead
F. Wayne Mac Leod
Light To My Path Book Distribution
Copyright © 2016 F. Wayne Mac Leod
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without the
written permission of the author.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing
ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved. ESV Text Edition: 2007
A Special thanks to Diane Mac Leod for proofreading this text.
CONTENTS
Title Page
Copyright
Preface
1 - Not a New Truth
2 - What Jesus Taught About the Resurrection
3 - The Importance of the Resurrection to the Apostles
4 - Resurrection for All
5 - A Brief Word Study
6 - The Resurrection of the Body
7 - The Resurrected Body
Chapter 8 - Resurrection Day
9 - Awaiting the resurrection
10 - Resurrection Hope
About The Author
T
PREFACE
he doctrine of the resurrection is one of the most precious hopes
we have as believers. It is a truth we cling to both in life and death.
Knowing there is life after death gives us comfort and assurance.
The doctrine, however, brings with it many questions. The early believers
struggled to understand this truth. Writing to the Corinthian church the
apostle Paul would say:
35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind
of body do they come? (1 Corinthians 15:35)
The religious leaders of the New Testament had questions for Jesus as He
taught on this topic as well:
25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first married and
died, and having no offspring left his wife to this brother, 26 So too
the second and third, down to the seventh. 27 After them all, the
woman died. 28 In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will she
be? For they all had her. (Matthew 22)
This study will look at what the New Testament has to say about this
important doctrinal truth. I will not answer all the questions about the
resurrection, nor will I speculate about things we do not have answers for in
the Scriptures. There are some details we must take by faith and leave in the
Lord’s capable hands.
I trust that by bringing together and discussing the various passages of
Scripture that speak about this truth, we will be given a deeper
understanding and appreciation of the hope we have in the Lord Jesus. May
the Lord be pleased to use this simple study to bless and encourage each
reader in this wonderful hope we have in Christ.
God bless,
F. Wayne Mac Leod
B
1 - NOT A NEW TRUTH
efore beginning our study of the New Testament teaching about
the resurrection, I would like to take a moment to show that what
Jesus and the apostles taught was not new in their day. In fact, Old
Testament believers had an understanding that life on this earth was not all
there was. While the word “resurrection” does not occur in the Old
Testament, there are a number of verses that indicate that these believers did
indeed have a hope of life after death in the presence of the Lord.
One of the most powerful verses concerning the resurrection is found in the
book of Job. Having suffered tremendously in this life, Job says:
25 For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand
upon the earth. 26 And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in
my flesh, I shall see God, 27 whom I shall see for myself, and my
eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me! (Job
19)
Notice the hope of Job in his suffering. While it is hard to know how much
Job understood the doctrine of the resurrection, what is clear is that he had
confidence that he would see God when his body was destroyed. He knew
that God would not abandon him in the end, and even if he perished, he
would stand before God and see Him with his own eyes.
The psalmists wrote openly about the suffering and struggle in life. Hidden
in the Psalms, however, was the understanding that despite pain and death
in this life, the Lord God would not abandon them.
15 But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will
receive me. Selah (Psalm 49)
Sheol in the Old Testament understanding was the place of the dead. Notice
that the psalmist tells his readers that even if his soul went to the place of
the dead, God would ransom it and receive him in His presence. Death and
Sheol was not the end for the psalmist. He had a hope of life after Sheol in
the presence of his God.
Listen to the words of Asaph in Psalm 73:
24 You guide me with your counsel, and afterword you will receive
me to glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is
nothing on earth that I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart
may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
(Psalm 73)
Asaph reflects his hope in these verses. He tells us that God would guide
him in this life and then receive him in glory. Notice how he speaks of
heaven in verse 25. He had a hope of being with God in the glory of
heaven. He also believed in verse 26 that God would be his strength forever.
He had a concept of eternity. His hope here is that God would receive him
in heaven where he would know His strength and blessing for all eternity.
The prophets of the Old Testament also spoke of this hope. Listen to the
words of Isaiah:
19 Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the
dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is dew of light, and the
earth will give birth to the dead. (Isaiah 26)
These words are very clear. Isaiah speaks about the dead being given life
and their physical bodies being raised from the dust. Death was not the end.
God was able to raise up dead bodies and give them life again.
Probably the clearest Old Testament passage about the resurrection is found
in 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. 3 And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness
of the sky above and those who turn many to righteousness, like the
stars forever and ever. (Daniel 12)
Daniel speaks of those who were asleep in the dust of the earth. This is a
clear reference to those who have died and were buried in the ground. He
tells us that these individuals would be raised to life again. Some would be
raised to everlasting life while others would be raised to everlasting shame
and contempt.
In Acts 2, Peter preached a message to the Jews gathered to celebrate
Pentecost. In that message the apostle quoted from Psalm 16:8-11:
25 For David says concerning him, “I saw the Lord always before
me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; 26 therefore
my heart was glad and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell
in hope. 27 For you will not abandon my soul in Hades or let your
Holy One see corruption. 28 You have made known to me the path
of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence. (Acts
2)
Listen to Peters explanation of this passage in the next verses:
29 Brother, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch
David that he both died and was buried and his tomb is with us to
this day. 30 Being, therefore, a prophet, and knowing that God had
sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants
on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the
Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see
corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we are all
witnesses. (Acts 2)
According to Peter, David spoke prophetically in Psalm 16 about the
resurrection of the Messiah. This Messiah or “Holy One” would go to the
grave but would rise up from death in victory. This fact was witnessed by
the apostles themselves. They were eyewitnesses of this resurrection of
Jesus.
In his defense before King Agrippa and Festus, the apostle Paul declared
that he had never preached anything that was not already taught by Moses
or the Jewish prophets. Paul was convinced that what He taught about the
resurrection of the Lord Jesus was not a new doctrine.
22 To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I
stand here testifying both to small and great saying nothing but
what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: 23 that the
Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to raise from the dead,
he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.
(Acts 26)
What is clear from these verses is that the writers of the Old Testament had
an understanding that there was more to life than the years we live on this
earth. They believed that God would raise them from the dead and bring
them into His presence where they would live forever. The doctrine of the
resurrection is not a New Testament teaching only. It is solidly rooted in the
teaching of the prophets and writers of the Old Testament as well. What was
understood by the Old Testament believers would be more clearly described
in the teaching of the Lord Jesus and the apostles. In the following chapters,
we will examine how the New Testament further expands on this important
truth.
For Consideration:
What did the Old Testament believers understand about the resurrection and
final judgment? How was this an encouragement to them?
What comfort do you find in the fact that there is life after death?
Daniel taught that at the resurrection some would be raised to everlasting
life and others to shame and contempt. How can we be sure we will be
raised to everlasting life?
How is Christ’s resurrection a proof and guarantee that we too will be
raised?
For Prayer:
Thank the Lord for the hope we have in knowing that there is more to life
than what we experience on this earth.
Ask the Lord to give you the assurance that at the resurrection you will be
raised to eternal life in the presence of the Father.
Thank the Lord Jesus that He willingly laid down His life and rose again so
that we could have a hope of life with the Father.
2 - WHAT JESUS TAUGHT
ABOUT THE RESURRECTION
In the previous chapter, we looked at what the Old Testament taught about
the resurrection. While the word “resurrection” does not appear in the Old
Testament, there was a clear understanding that this life was only temporary
and that there was life after death in the presence of the Lord.
As we move now to the New Testament, we need to examine what the Lord
Jesus taught about the resurrection. In the days of Jesus, there were different
opinions on this matter. One of the Jewish religious sects of the day, known
as the Sadducees, did not believe in a resurrection (Matthew 22:23). This
distinguished them from the other significant sect known as the Pharisees,
who did believe in the resurrection.
In Matthew 22:23-33 the Sadducees came to Jesus with a question about the
resurrection. They presented Him with a case of a woman who had been
married to seven brothers and asked Jesus who she would be married to at
the time of the resurrection. The idea behind this question was to make
Jesus’ teaching look foolish. Jesus responded to their question, speaking
directly to this by saying:
31 “As for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was
said to you by God: 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of
Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the
living.”
Jesus reminded the Sadducees of the truth of the Scriptures they themselves
believed. God declared in that He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Notice that God did not say that He was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and
Jacob. He used the present tense when He said: “I am the God of Abraham,
and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob”. The words, “I am” are
significant. There is a difference between the phrase “I am the God of
Abraham” and “I was the God of Abraham”. God still is the God of
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jesus went on to remind the Pharisees that the
only way God could say this would be because Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
were still alive. God is not the God of the dead but of the living. Jesus
showed the Sadducees that the Scriptures they claimed to follow taught the
resurrection of the dead.
On another occasion, Jesus was called to Bethany because a friend by the
name of Lazarus was ill. As He delayed, Lazarus died. By the time Jesus
arrived at his home, Lazarus had been buried. Lazarus’ sister came out to
meet Jesus when he arrived and said: “Lord if you had been here, my
brother would not have died” (John 11:21).
In response, the Lord told Martha that her brother would rise again (John
11:23). Martha agreed with Jesus saying: “I know that he will rise again in
the resurrection on the last day” (John 11:24). This exchange between
Martha and Jesus teaches us about the understanding of the day about the
resurrection. It was an accepted fact in the mind of Martha that Lazarus
would rise again. There was no question in her mind about the resurrection.
Jesus’ comments are also important. He told Martha that her brother would
rise again. While Jesus has something more particular in mind than the
resurrection of the last day, what is clear from His comment here is that for
Him death would be defeated and life restored to Lazarus. He would be
resurrected from the dead.
Jesus would go on in the passage to speak more fully about the resurrection
when He said:
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever
believed in me though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who
lives and believed in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
(John 11)
Jesus told Martha that day that He was the resurrection and the life. In other
words, without Him and His work there would be no resurrection or life.
This is a very significant statement from the lips of Jesus about the
resurrection. He identifies Himself with the resurrection. He is the source
and power behind the resurrection. In fact, he would go on to say that those
who believed in him though they died, they would live again. Resurrecting
the dead is the work of Christ. Let’s take a moment to consider this more
fully.
In Romans 6:23 we read:
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal
life in Christ Jesus our Lord
Death is the result of sin. It is not only a punishment but the natural fruit of
sin on this earth. We are all subject to death. This is clear from Genesis 2
when God laid out the rules for living in the Garden of Eden. He told Adam
and Eve that they could enjoy the fruit of the garden but they were not to
eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. To disobey Him in this
matter would have serious repercussions:
15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden
to work it and keep it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man,
saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the
tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the
day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2)
Notice the result of disobedience to God— “you shall surely die.” Death is
the fruit and evidence of sin in this world.
When the Lord Jesus came to this earth, He came to deal with sin. His death
on the cross paid the legal penalty for sin and His cleansing and Holy Spirit
enable us now to live in victory over that sin. In John 11:25 when Jesus
calls Himself the resurrection, what is He saying? He is saying that He has
conquered the power of sin. He has overcome the fruit of sin in our lives
and in this world. He is the power of life and death. The proof of His
payment of sin is in the fact that death no longer has a hold on those who
come to Him and receive forgiveness.
What we need to understand here is that the doctrine of the resurrection is
not just about God being compassionate toward us and giving us victory
over death. It is about the powerful work of Christ on the cross that
conquered sin and death. The resurrection is proof of the victory of Christ
over sin. It is proof that sin no longer has a hold on us. It is a confirmation
of the work of Christ and proof that His work alone brings victory over sin.
Jesus is the resurrection. He paid the legal penalty for sin and overcame the
power of death over us.
To disbelieve the resurrection is to question the work of Christ over sin. If
death still has victory over us than we are still in our sin and the work of
Christ is not sufficient to give us victory. If, however, the Lord Jesus has
conquered sin than we can have victory in Him over the fruit of sin which is
death.
The proof of Jesus victory over sin is seen in what took place when He died
on the cross. At that moment God showed the world the impact the death of
His Son had. Listen to the words of Matthew 27 as they record for us the
events that took place when the Lord Jesus died on the cross:
51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from the
top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The
tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had
fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his
resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 54
When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch
over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled
with awe and said: “Truly this was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27)
Two very important things happened at the time of Jesus’ the death. First,
the curtain that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple was
ripped in two from top to bottom. This curtain separated the presence of
God from the people who gathered for worship. That separation no longer
existed. The death of the Son of God would restore the relationship between
God and His people.
The second important sign that took place in those days was the fact the
many saints were raised from the dead and appeared before people in the
city of Jerusalem. What was God showing His people through this sign? He
was showing them that the penalty for sin had been paid. Death, the fruit of
sin, was now conquered. The resurrection of these saints was proof that the
death of Christ had conquered the power of sin and its fruit.
Matthew 28 shares the account of what took place after the death of Christ.
In this chapter, we see how Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to Mary
and the disciples. The book of Acts begins with a powerful statement about
the resurrection of Jesus:
3 He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many
proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the
kingdom of God. (Acts 1)
The Jesus who died on the cross and was buried in a tomb guarded by
Roman soldiers, presented Himself alive to the disciples. The writer to the
book of Acts makes it clear that this resurrection of Jesus from the dead was
validated by “many proofs”. Jesus spent forty days with His disciples after
His death and taught them many things about the kingdom of God.
The resurrection of Christ was solid evidence of His victory over sin and
death. It proved to the disciples and the people of His day, that death had
been conquered. Because He rose from the dead, we too have hope. He can
give life to our mortal bodies as well. There is no question about what Jesus
taught. He spoke of the resurrection from the dead. He demonstrated this by
rising from the dead himself. To believe in the resurrection is to believe in
the victory of Jesus over sin and its penalty.
For Consideration:
How does Jesus answer the objections of the Sadducees to the resurrection?
How does He prove from their own Scriptures the reality of the
resurrection?
What is the connection between sin and death? How does the resurrection
prove the victory of Christ over sin and death?
What signs did the Father give at the crucifixion of Jesus? How do those
signs point us to the truth of the resurrection?
For Prayer:
Thank the Lord that He taught and demonstrated while on this earth that
there was a victory over death.
Thank the Lord that He is the resurrection. Thank Him that He has the
power over death.
Thank the Lord for the hope you have knowing that sin and its fruit of death
have been conquered by the work of Jesus on the cross.
Ask the Lord to forgive your sin. Ask Him to give you victory over death
through His resurrection power.
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3 - THE IMPORTANCE OF
THE RESURRECTION TO THE
APOSTLES
e have taken a brief look at the Lord Jesus and His teaching
about the resurrection. In this chapter, I would like to examine
the apostles' view of the resurrection. In further chapters, we
will go into more detail about their teaching but in this chapter, I simply
want to show how important the doctrine of the resurrection was to the
apostles.
As we begin, let’s take a moment to consider a passage in Acts 1. The
context has to do with choosing a replacement for Judas. You will
remember that Judas, who had been one of the twelve disciples of Jesus,
had betrayed his Master and then hung himself. The apostles felt it was
important to find someone to replace Judas on their team.
As they reflected and prayed about this we read:
21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time
that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the
baptism of John until the day he was taken up from us—one of these
men must become with us a witness to his resurrection. 23 And they
put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called
Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who
know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have
chosen, 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from
Judas turned aside to go to his own place. (Acts 1)
Notice the qualifications that the new apostle needed. He needed to have
accompanied them during the time the Lord was among them. He needed to
have been a witness to the baptism of John until the day the Lord ascended
to heaven. Notice particularly in verse 22 that the individual was also to be
“a witness to His resurrection”. For the apostles, this truth of the
resurrection was so vital that only those who had been a witness to it could
be part of their group. There was no room for any doubt on this important
truth. Their message depended on the truth of this resurrection.
This truth about the resurrection became a central focus of the apostles. In
fact, they preached this truth so strongly that they came into conflict with
the religious leaders of the day:
1 And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the
captains of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them. 2 greatly
annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in
Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3 And they arrested them and
put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening.
(Acts 4)
We see from this that the teaching of the apostles about the resurrection
from the dead upset the religious leaders. In this case, the apostles were
thrown into prison for teaching about the resurrection. The next day the
apostles were brought before the religious leaders who commanded them to
stop teaching these things about the Lord Jesus. The apostles responded,
however:
19 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the
sight of God to listen to you rather than God, you must be the judge,
20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” (Acts
4)
Peter and John made it quite clear to their accusers that the message of
Jesus and the resurrection was non-negotiable. In other words, they would
not stop preaching of what they had seen. They were willing to be
imprisoned and even die but they would not stop preaching this message.
This again shows us just how significant the truth of the resurrection of
Jesus was for these men.
The apostle Paul taught clearly on the resurrection. In Acts 17 we read how
Paul went to Athens to preach. As Athens was an intellectual centre, many
of the thinkers wondered who he was and what new teaching he brought.
18 Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also converses
with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?”
Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”
because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. 19 And they
took him and brought him to the Areopagus saying, “May we know
what this new teaching is that you are presenting?” (Acts 17).
While these scholars were not quite clear on what teaching Paul was
bringing, there were two clear points they did understand. The first was that
he taught about a man named Jesus. The second was that he taught about
the resurrection. From this, we understand that the focus of the preaching of
Paul was on the work of Christ and the resurrection of the dead. He taught
that Jesus came to die for our sin but that He rose victorious over death and
sin. This was the apostle’s hope. It was also his message to the world—sin
and death have been conquered in the person of the Lord Jesus alone.
Like Peter and John in Acts 4, Paul would encounter much opposition to the
message of the resurrection. We read in Acts 23 how he was bought before
the Jewish chief priests and the council of that day because of the reaction
of the crowd to his message. The council was comprised of members of
both the Sadducees and the Pharisees. Listen to what Paul tells this council:
6 Now when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the
other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Brothers, I am a
Pharisee, a son of a Pharisee. It is with respect to the hope and the
resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.”
It was Paul’s preaching about the resurrection of the dead that brought him
this trouble. He preached strongly of his hope in this resurrection but people
did not like what he said. He stood now before the Jewish ruling council to
give an account of his doctrine and hope in the resurrection.
Later, as his trial proceeded to the next level, Paul would stand before the
Roman governor Felix. He would again be called upon to offer a defence.
Paul answered all the accusations of his accusers and concluded with the
following statement:
20 Or else let these men themselves say what wrongdoing they
found when I stood before the council, 21 other than this one thing
that I cried out while standing among them: “It is with respect to
the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you this day.”
(Acts 24)
Of all the accusations that were directed toward Paul, there was only one
that he would confess to being true—he believed in and preached the
resurrection of the dead. In particular, he preached about the resurrection of
the Lord Jesus from the dead. He preached that because of the resurrection
we will all stand before a holy God to give an account of our life. This was
the message that riled up the crowd against him. Paul would not apologize
for this message. He would willingly stand trial before Felix for his belief in
the resurrection.
What do we learn here about how the apostles viewed the resurrection? We
see first that an understanding and belief in the resurrection was a
requirement for anyone to be an apostle. In fact, those who held the position
of the apostles in the early church needed to have been a physical witness to
this resurrection. There was no room for doubt on this point.
Secondly, we see that the preaching of the apostles was centred around the
work of the Lord Jesus and His resurrection. Anyone who listened to them
preach understood that Christ and the resurrection of the dead were very
important truths for these leaders of the early church.
Finally, the apostles often found themselves in difficulty because of their
preaching about the resurrection. In fact, they were put in prison for
preaching this truth and warned to stop preaching it to the people. They
would not be distracted from this message, however, and clearly told those
in authority that they would risk everything to continue preaching this
essential truth. The doctrine of the resurrection was one the apostles were
willing to suffer and even die for if necessary. Clearly, the truth of the
resurrection from the dead is a vital truth for us today as well. It is one that
we cannot compromise but must hold onto with all our might for it is our
hope and confidence.
For Consideration:
Why was it so important that an apostle needed to be a physical witness to
the resurrection of the Lord Jesus?
Gives some examples of how the apostles suffered for preaching about the
resurrection of the dead?
Why do you suppose that the teaching about the resurrection of Christ and
the dead was not a popular doctrine in the early days of the church?
Why is the doctrine of the resurrection so important? What hope would we
have today if there was no resurrection?
For Prayer:
Ask the Lord to help you to understand the implications of the truth about
life after death.
Ask the Lord to help you to live more in the reality that this life is not all
there is. Ask Him to give you the grace to live with an eye to eternity.
Ask God to help you to hold onto the truth of the resurrection as the
apostles did. Ask Him to forgive the church of our day for compromising on
this vital truth.
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4 - RESURRECTION FOR ALL
e have seen in the previous chapter the importance the apostles
placed on the doctrine of the resurrection. In the remainder of
this study, we will examine the teaching of Jesus and the
apostles in more detail. As we do so, let me advise you that there are many
things about the resurrection that are not clearly explained in the Scriptures.
At the end of this study, there will still be many questions. Our goal is to
understand what God has given us in His Word and trust Him with the
things He has not explained to Him.
Scripture seems to indicate that the resurrection is not just for the believer
but also for the unbeliever. Speaking about the hardness of the hearts of the
religious leaders at the time Jesus said in Matthew 12:
41 The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this
generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of
Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. 42 The
queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation
and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the
wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is
here. (Matthew 12)
Notice what Jesus is saying here. He is telling His listeners that the men of
Nineveh would rise up at the judgement. Nineveh was known as an evil city
(Jonah 1:2). Jesus also said that the queen of the South would rise up at the
judgement and condemn the generation that was alive in the days Jesus
walked on the earth. The queen of the South is better known as the queen of
Sheba who visited Solomon in 1 Kings 10 to test his wisdom. While she
was impressed with the wisdom of Solomon there is no record of her ever
coming to faith in the God of Israel. We gather from this that even pagan
nations will rise from the dead at the judgement.
Jesus would make this point even more clear when He taught in John 5:
28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in
the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done
good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the
resurrection of judgment. (John 5)
Jesus tells us that the day is coming when all who are in the grave will hear
His voice. They will rise from the grave at the sound of that voice. Notice
that Jesus speaks of the resurrection of those who have done good and the
resurrection of those who have done evil. It is very clear from this that both
the believer and the unbeliever will be raised from the dead.
For believers, the resurrection is a wonderful reality. It gives us hope
because we know that we are in a right relationship with our Creator. We
will enter the presence of our Creator and Saviour and be with Him forever.
However, the doctrine of the resurrection is not a pleasant truth for the
unbeliever. It means that he or she will have to face the God they have
rejected and receive judgment. The doctrine of the resurrection ought to
bring terror to the hearts of those who do not know the Lord Jesus and have
rejected His offer of forgiveness.
As we move from the teaching of Jesus on this subject to the book of Acts
we see how the apostles also taught a resurrection of the believer and the
unbeliever. In his defence before Governor Felix, the apostle Paul said:
14 But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they
call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything
laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, 15 having a hope
in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a
resurrection of both the just and the unjust. (Acts 24)
Notice what Paul told Felix that day. He told him that he believed in a
resurrection of both the just and the unjust. That is to say that there would
be a resurrection of those who believed in Jesus and walked in His salvation
and a resurrection of those who had rejected Him and His forgiveness. All
people would experience this resurrection and stand before their Maker to
give an account of their life.
Writing to the Corinthians the apostle Paul would say:
10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so
that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the
body whether good or evil. (2 Corinthians 5)
Notice here that Paul told the Corinthians that we must “all” appear before
the judgment seat of Christ. Notice that both those who have done good and
those who have done evil will appear before this judgment seat. According
to Paul the knowledge that I will one day be raised from the dead to stand
before Christ was a powerful motivation to accept Him and to live a fully
surrendered life.
Notice finally the words of Paul to Timothy:
1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to
judge the living and the dead … (1 Timothy 4)
Paul’s advice to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4 was to be faithful in preaching the
Word of God. It was His responsibility to prepare those under his care to
stand before the God who would judge both the living and the dead. Notice
what the apostle told Timothy in verse 5:
5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work
of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry. (1 Timothy 4)
In light of the fact that God would judge the living and the dead, Paul
commanded Timothy to do the work of an evangelist. As an evangelist, he
was to lead people to Christ. He was to do this because God would raise the
dead and call them to stand before Him to be judged.
What is clear from these verses is that there will be a resurrection of both
the believer and the unbeliever. This resurrection, while experienced by
both groups, will be very different. For the believer, the resurrection is a
wonderful hope. It means that they will see their Saviour and stand before
the one they love and serve. For the unbeliever, however, this resurrection
will place them before the Saviour they have rejected. For them, it will be a
resurrection of judgement. What will this meeting be like for you
personally?
For Consideration:
What evidence do we have in Scripture that both the believer and the
unbeliever will be raised from the dead?
What will be the difference between the resurrection of the believer and the
resurrection of the unbeliever?
Take a moment to consider what it will be like for the unbeliever to be
raised to stand before the God he or she has rejected. How should this
motivate us to share the message of salvation?
How does knowing that we will be raised to stand before God our Maker
change how we live our lives today?
For Prayer:
Do you know someone who has never accepted the Lord? Take a moment
to pray that this individual would come to Him.
Ask the Lord to help you to live your life with the understanding that you
will one day be raised to stand before your Maker. Ask God to help you to
live in such a way that when you stand before Him you will have nothing to
fear or be ashamed of.
W
5 - A BRIEF WORD STUDY
e move now to some more specific teaching of the Scriptures
about the resurrection. Before we do this, however, let me take
a moment to consider the words used to speak of the
resurrection in the New Testament.
There are three Greek words translated “resurrection” in the New
Testament. Let’s take a moment to consider them and what they teach us
about the nature of the resurrection.
“Egersis”
The first word we will examine is the word “egersis”. This word is found
only once in the New Testament. We read in Matthew 27:53:
53 And coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into
the holy city and appeared to many. (Matthew 27)
The word “resurrection” in verse 53 is the Greek word “egersis”. Egersis
comes from the word “egeiro” which literally means to awaken. It is used to
speak of someone who rises from sleep or who rises up from a sitting or
lying position. It is also used to speak about a person who gets up from a
period of inactivity.
A clear use of this word “egeiro” to speak of the resurrection is seen in
Matthew 10:8 when Jesus sends out His disciples and says to them:
8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons.
You received without paying, give without paying (Matthew 10)
The word raise, in this verse, is the Greek word egeiro. The idea is that
those who had been asleep in death would be awakened and raise up on
their feet again. This is nothing short of a miracle.
“Exanástasis”
The second word used in the New Testament to refer to the resurrection is
used by the apostle Paul in Philippians 3:11:
11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the
dead (Philippians 3)
The word Paul uses for resurrection in this verse is the word exanástasis.
The word literally means resurrection from the dead but what is interesting
about the word is that it come from the word exanistemi which has the idea
of rising up from among others. The picture here is one of certain people
being raised before others. They are selected out from others to experience
this resurrection.
We have already seen that there is a resurrection of both the godly and the
ungodly. Could it be that Paul is telling us that he is especially looking
forward to the time when the dead in Christ will be raised and chosen from
among all others to be raised to be with their Lord forever? In 1
Thessalonians 4 Paul would go on to tell us:
16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with the cry of
command, with the voice of an archangel, and the sound of the
trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. (1
Thessalonians 4)
Notice the reference to the dead in Christ rising first. They appear to be
selected from among others to be the first to raised and brought into the
presence of their Lord.
The apostle would go on to tell us the Corinthians:
21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the
resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ
shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his order: Christ the
firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then
comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father
after destroying every rule and authority and power. (1 Corinthians
15)
Paul told the believers in Corinth that there was an order in the resurrection
of the dead. First, Christ would rise and conquer the power of death.
Second, at his coming, those who belonged to him would be raised before
the end came and he destroyed the powers and authorities of this world.
Finally, in Revelation 20 the apostle John speaks of a period of one
thousand years where certain believers were raised from the dead to reign
with Christ.
4 Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the
authority to judge was committed. Also, I saw the souls of those who
had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of
God and those who had not worshipped the beast or its image and
had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They
came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 The rest
of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.
This is the first resurrection. (Revelation 20)
Revelation 20 speaks about the first resurrection where a select group of
saints are raised from among others to reign with Christ for a period of one
thousand years. The rest of the dead would not rise at this time.
What do we learn from this? We see that the resurrection may not occur all
at once. We have evidence that the dead in Christ will be raised first. We
also see evidence in Revelation 20 of what is known as the first resurrection
where a select group is raised from among others for a period of time. We
also know that there will be a resurrection of the godly to be with Christ and
also a resurrection of the ungodly for judgment. There is a selection process
taking place as God calls out the dead.
Anastasis and Anestemi
The final set of words we need to consider in this chapter are the words
anastasis and anestemi. Anastasis occurs forty times in the New Testament
and is the word most frequently used to refer to the resurrection. Anastasis
literally means to stand up. The idea is of someone who has laid down in
death rising to their feet again. Life is given to what is lifeless and limp so
that it walks again.
From these words, we learn that the resurrection refers to a waking up of
those who have died. These individuals rise up and stand on their feet again.
Life is given to those who have laid down in death. Only the power of
Christ can accomplish this.
Writing to the Thessalonian church, the apostle Paul said:
16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with the cry of
command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the
trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we
who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in
the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with
the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4)
Notice the purpose of this resurrection—it is to be always with the Lord.
There could be no greater joy or purpose in life than to be with the Lord
Jesus. For the believer, the resurrection is an awakening of our
consciousness and a raising up of our body for the purpose of being with
the Lord and to serve Him forever.
For Consideration:
Take a moment to consider the power that could give life to a mind and
body that has died. What kind of power is this that can raise the dead?
Consider the God who can raise the dead. This is the power that is at your
disposal if you know Him as your heavenly Father. Are you able to trust
Him in the circumstances you face today?
For Prayer
Do you know that when you rise again from the dead that you will enter the
presence of the Lord? If not take a moment now to ask the Lord for His
forgiveness and the assurance that you are His and will be with Him
forever.
Thank the Lord for the wonderful hope that we can have in Him that that
day is coming with we will hear His voice calling us to rise from the dead.
Thank the Lord that the power of the God who raises that dead is at your
disposal today as you face the trials and struggles of life.
I
6 - THE RESURRECTION OF
THE BODY
n the previous chapter, we briefly examined the words used in
Scripture to speak of the resurrection. These words speak of
restoration, an awakening or a rising up. The implication is that there
is something that needs to be restored or awakened. While this may go
without saying, it is an important detail for us to keep in mind.
When we speak of the resurrection we speak of the awakening of our mind
and body. There is something of me that rises up to stand before the Lord. It
is not someone else who rises from the grave—it is me. It is my mind and
body that is given life. Let me explain this more fully be looking at some
examples from Scripture.
The Resurrection of Jesus
Let’s begin by looking at the resurrection of the Lord Jesus as found in John
20 and Luke 24. After His death on the cross, the Lord Jesus was buried in
a tomb. John 20 recounts the story of Mary Magdalene coming to the tomb
and finding the stone rolled away. She ran to tell the disciples of her
discovery. Arriving at the tomb Peter and another disciple went inside.
What they discovered shocked them.
6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb.
He saw the linen cloths lying there. 7 and the face cloth, which had
been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in
a place by itself. (John 20)
What they did not see in that tomb was as important as what they did see.
They did not find the body of Jesus in those cloths. This is significant and
shows us something about the resurrection. Jesus had died on the cross. His
body was wrapped in those grave cloths and was placed dead in the tomb.
When Jesus rose from the dead, the body that was in the tomb was no
longer there.
Jesus appeared to Mary in the garden. Initially, she mistook Him for a
gardener. She recognized a man with a body that looked like any other (see
John 20:11-18). Jesus also appeared to the disciples and showed them His
hands and His side, proving that He had a physical body (John 20:19-20).
He told Thomas to touch His hand and His side (John 20:27). Jesus walked
side by side with believers travelling to Emmaus who did not see anything
out of the ordinary about His body (Luke 24:13-35).
In Luke 24 Jesus makes it very clear that His resurrected body was a body
of flesh and bones:
38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts
arise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I
myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and
bones as you see that I have. (Luke 24)
When the disciples still had problems believing that this was really Jesus in
flesh and bone, Jesus asked for food. Sitting in front of them that day, Jesus
ate a piece of broiled fish (Luke 24:41-42).
There are two very important details we need to see in the resurrection of
Jesus. First, it is quite clear that the body that was buried in the tomb was
no longer there. It was that body that was raised. Second, the resurrected
body of Jesus was a body of flesh and bones.
The Resurrection of Lazarus
Let’s consider a second example in the Scriptures. John 11 recounts the
story of the death of Lazarus. When Jesus arrived at the home of Mary and
Martha after the death of their brother, Lazarus had been in the tomb for
several days. Standing by the tomb, Jesus told Martha to have the stone
rolled away. Martha’s response was one of horror: “Lord, by this time there
will be an odour, for his has been dead four days” (Luke 11:39). Only after
Jesus insisted, was that stone rolled away. Jesus called out to Lazarus in the
tomb: “Lazarus, come out” (Luke 11:43). That instant, life was given to the
stinking body of Lazarus and he came out of the tomb still wrapped in his
grave cloths. The dead body that went in was healed and stood now before
the Lord full of life. There was no mistaking this. This man that stood
before them that day was not a ghost or a spirit but Lazarus in flesh and
bones.
Resurrections at the Time of Jesus’ Death
After the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus, a number of powerful things
happened. The curtain of the temple was ripped from top to bottom, the
earth shook, great rocks were broken and graves were opened. Of particular
significance to us here is what we read in Matthew 27:
52 The tombs were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had
fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his
resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.
(Matthew 27)
Matthew 27 tells us that the bodies of saints who had died were raised from
the dead at the crucifixion of Christ. Notice particularly that Matthew is
clear that the bodies of these saints were raised. These saints went into the
city of Jerusalem and appeared to many. They were not spirits, they were
resurrected saints in flesh and bones whose physical bodies had been given
life again at the crucifixion of Jesus.
Speaking to the multitudes who had gathered to hear Him in Matthew 5
Jesus said:
29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away.
For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your
whole body be thrown into hell. (Matthew 5)
He would repeat this same thought again in Matthew 18 when He said:
8 And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and
throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than
with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire.
Notice what Jesus is saying here. He is telling us that it would be better for
us to lose a hand than to be thrown into hell with both hands. What we need
to understand by these verses is that both the believer and the unbeliever
will be raised to life in their physical bodies. Those who have rejected
Christ will be cast into hell in those physical bodies with hands and feet.
The apostle Paul, writing to the Romans reminded them of how Christ
would one day give life to their mortal bodies:
11 if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you,
he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your
mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8)
The life we can expect to receive at the resurrection is a life given to our
“mortal bodies”. We will be raised in body. We can expect to have a
physical body with flesh and bones at the resurrection.
Paul encouraged the Philippians in their suffering by telling them:
20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it, we await a Saviour,
the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be
like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject
all things to himself. (Philippians 3)
According to Paul, God will transform our lowly bodies into a glorious
body. While our bodies will still be flesh and blood they will be
transformed from lowly to glorious. We will examine this in the next
chapter.
Let me summarise what we discover from these verses about the
resurrection. We see from the resurrection of Jesus that the body He rose
with was a recognisable human body of flesh and bones that His disciples
could literally touch and feel.
The second detail we understand from these verses is that somehow our
earthly bodies are transformed at the resurrection. It is true that we will
receive a new body, but what is interesting from the passages we have
examined is that when Jesus took on His resurrected body His dead body
was no longer in the tomb—it was given life. The same is true for Lazarus
who was decomposing in the tomb. The decomposing body of Lazarus was
given life. This is proven by the fact that when he came to the entrance of
the tomb it was still wrapped in grave cloths. The bodies of the saints who
rose at the resurrection of Jesus came out of the tombs. That implies that
their bodies were no longer in the graves but had been transformed. There is
an incredible mystery to this but this seems to be the clear teaching of the
Scriptures in these passages.
The third detail we see from these passages is that even the body of the
unbeliever appears to be raised from the dead. Jesus teaches that it is not
just their souls that go to hell but their bodies with hands and feet.
Finally, we saw how Paul told the Philippians in Philippians 3:20 that God
would transform their mortal bodies into glorious bodies. While it appears
to be our earthly bodies that are transformed, they will be different from the
bodies that we presently live in today. In the next chapter we will examine
this further.
For Consideration:
What does the resurrection of Jesus teach us about the kind of body that we
will have after the resurrection?
What proof do we have in the gospels that the body of Jesus after the
resurrection was a flesh and bones body?
Is there evidence in Scripture that even the unbeliever will experience a
bodily resurrection? Explain.
Consider for a moment the power of God that was able to take the decaying
remains of Lazarus and restore him to health in his grave cloths. What does
this teach us about the bodies we will have in the resurrection? What does it
teach us about God?
For Prayer:
Thank the Lord for the wonderful power that is able to restore life and
health to our dead and decaying bodies.
Take a moment to consider the bodily resurrection of the unbeliever to stand
before their Judge and Maker. Take the time now to pray for someone you
know who continues to reject the Lord Jesus. Ask Him to convict them and
show them the reality of Christ and His truth.
Thank the Lord that He will transform our lowly bodies into glorious
bodies.
I
7 - THE RESURRECTED BODY
n chapter 6 we discussed some verses related to the resurrection of the
body and showed that in a manner known only to God, our bodies are
given life and raised to meet Him. What we need to understand is that
our bodies will not be the same after the resurrection as they are now. In
this chapter, we will consider several verses that speak to these differences.
While Scripture does not go into great detail about these new resurrection
bodies, the verses that speak to this are quite helpful.
In Matthew 22, when Jesus was approached by the Sadducees about the
question of marriage in heaven, He responded:
29 But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong because you know
neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the
resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are
like angels in heaven. (Matthew 22)
We will examine this verse again in another context, but for now, it is
important that we note the comparison Jesus makes. He told the Sadducees
that in the resurrection we will be like angels. He does not say that we will
be angels –He simply says that in our resurrected body will be like angels.
There are many who seem to teach that we will be angels in heaven. This is
not supported by Scripture. We will continue to be human beings but our
resurrected bodies will be different from what we have today.
Jesus does not go on to explain what it means to be like angels in this
passage. We are dependent on the rest of Scripture to describe what this
angel-like body will be like. Probably the most important passage on this
subject is found in 1 Corinthians 15.
In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul attempts to answer the question of what the
resurrected body will be like.
35 But some will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of
body do they come? (1 Corinthians)
To answer this Paul uses an agricultural illustration. He speaks of the body
as a seed planted in the ground. Consider this for a moment. What does a
corn seed look like? What happens when you plant that seed? It goes in the
ground and seems to decay, but in that death life is produced. It germinates
below the soil and begins to sprout. Out of that small seed a stock begins to
grow. From that tall stock ears of corn mature. The plant that is before you
now is very different from what you put in the soil. If you look closely,
however at the ears of corn, you will see the resemblance to the seed you
put in the ground but this stock with its ears is still vastly different from
what was buried in the soil. This says, Paul is what happens when our
bodies are planted in the ground at death.
37 And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel,
perhaps of wheat or some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as
he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. (1 Corinthians
15)
What is interesting about this illustration is that while life came out of the
seed, if you dig up the ground around the stock of corn you will find that
the seed has died and decomposed. It has died but it’s body was the source
of life for the new stock. It died to give life to something greater. This
seems to be what God does. Our old earthly body is the seed for a new body
into which God pours out His life.
Paul would go on to tell the Corinthians that this new body that springs
from the old body would be vastly different.
40 There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of
the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of
another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the
moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in
glory. (1 Corinthians 15)
While there is much we could say about these verses, what I want us to see
here is that Paul says that there are different kinds of bodies and each
reflects something of the glory of its Maker. Each of these bodies, whether
the sun, moon or stars is unique from the other. The point he appears to be
making here is that the earthly body we have now is different from the body
we will have at the resurrection. Paul will go on in this passage to describe
some of those differences.
First, Paul told the Corinthians that when our bodies are sown into the
ground they are perishable. That is to say, they will decompose in the soil.
That perishable seed, however, when sown into the ground produces an
imperishable fruit—it is raised imperishable. It is raised to live eternally.
The resurrected body will not be subject to death (see 1 Corinthians 15:42).
Second, the earthly body is sown into the ground in dishonour. There is no
real honour in death. We may certainly die an honourable death, but by its
very nature death strips us of everything we have and have ever worked to
achieve. It humbles us and we are powerless to stand against it. Paul told
the Corinthians, however, that the body that was sown in dishonour into the
ground will raise in glory (1 Corinthians 15:42; Philippians 3:20-21). It will
rise to stand before God. It will rise victorious over death.
Third, this earthly body will die in weakness. Our bodies are subject to
sickness and are often not strong enough to conquer the illnesses that come
our way. In death, the body grows weaker and weaker until it is no longer
able to keep up with the demands of oxygen and blood. The resurrected
body said Paul will be a body that is raised in power (1 Corinthians 15:43).
It will not be subject to the weaknesses of our present earthly body.
Fourth, Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15 that the body we have now is a
natural body. The word “natural” here literally means “of the earth”. That is
to say that this body belongs to the earth and is dependent on the earth for
survival. Paul tells us that at the resurrection, our bodies will be spiritual.
We should not confuse this to mean that our bodies will not be physical.
While physical in nature, these new bodies will no longer be subject to the
effects of this sinful earth. They will be pure and holy bodies, separated
from the s effects of the sin, death, and sickness that ravage this earth.
Fifth, Paul taught in 1 Corinthians 15:49 that just as we bore the image of
the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven. Many
commentators see the reference to “the man of heaven” to speak of the Lord
Jesus. He returned to heaven with a glorified body. The apostle John speaks
of this when he said:
2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not
yet appeared; but we know that when he appears, we shall be like
him, because we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3)
Notice that John tells us that we will be like Christ. That is to say, we will
have a body like His. We will also have His heart and attitude.
In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul compares our earthly bodies to a tent.
1 For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed,
we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal
in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our
heavenly dwelling. (2 Corinthians 5)
There is a great difference between a tent and a building. While we can live
in both, the tent is a temporary and fragile shelter. A building is designed to
be strong and permanent. Paul tells us that presently we are living in tents,
waiting to take up residence in a building from God. Notice in verse 1 that
this building was not made with hands but from God. It is also an eternal
building. The building from God which will be our new resurrected body
will be eternal. It will not be subject to the same frailties we live in today.
In his vision in the book of Revelation, the apostle John was told:
4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be
no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain
anymore, for the former things have passed away. (Revelation 21)
From this it is quite clear that in the resurrected body there will be no more
death or pain, nor will there be any reason to weep our shed tears. All these
things will be banished from our resurrected body.
How will all this take place?
51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall
be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last
trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised
imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body
must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on
immortality. (1Corinthans 15)
The whole process of receiving a new resurrected body will take place “in a
moment, in the twinkling of an eye.” Even those who do not die before the
resurrection will have their earthly bodies transformed to a new
imperishable body. This will take place simply at the command of God.
I do not know how this will all take place. Scripture does not go into further
details about the process of resurrecting the decaying remains of our dead
bodies. What we do have in Scripture, however, is the promise that God
will bring this to pass in His way and in His time.
What we know is that our earthly bodies perish and are sown into the
ground like a seed. Out of that decaying seed, new life is born. The plant
that results from the death of the seed is vastly different. The resurrected
body will not die again. It is a powerful body that is no longer subject to the
things of this sinful earth. It is victorious over sickness and death and it will
live on forever in the presence of the Lord. The resurrected body will live
victoriously over the weakness of our current flesh in complete happiness
and joy.
For Consideration:
How does Paul’s illustration of a seed growing into a plant help us to
understand that resurrection body? Compare the seed with the plant. What
are the differences? What differences do you expect to see in your
resurrected body?
What are some of the limitations of this earthly body?
What is the difference between a tent and a building? How does Paul use
this illustration to show us what our resurrected body will be like?
Consider the power of God that is able to “in the twinkling of an eye”
change our moral and weak earthly body into a heavenly one? What does
this tell us about God?
For Prayer:
Thank the Lord that out of the decaying remains of our earthly remains, He
will bring forth a beautiful and heavenly body, free from all the limitations
of this present body.
Take a moment to thank the Lord for the fact that all your limitations and
sickness will one day be removed when you receive your resurrected body.
If you do not know the Lord as your Saviour today, take a moment to open
your heart to Him and ask for His forgiveness. Thank Him that all who
accept Him will know eternal life in this new resurrected body.
T
CHAPTER 8 - RESURRECTION
DAY
o this point, we have examined what the Scriptures teach about the
resurrection of the body. The question we want to address in this
chapter relates to when the resurrection takes place.
Scripture speaks about a number of people who were raised from the dead.
We have examined the case of Lazarus who was raised by Jesus. We have
also seen how at the time of the crucifixion of Jesus, saints were raised to
life and went into the city of Jerusalem. Other examples of this kind of
resurrection can be seen in both the Old and the New Testament. God has
the power to raise individuals from the dead at any time.
While we understand that God has the power to raise the dead on this earth,
apart from the work of the Lord Jesus, all of these individuals would die
again. Scripture speaks, however, about a specific day when the dead will
rise in final victory over death. Let’s take a moment to see what Scripture
has to say about this.
First Resurrection
Let’s begin in Revelation 20 where we read about what is known as the first
resurrection.
4 Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the
authority to judge was committed. Also, I saw the souls of those who
had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of
God, and those who had not worshipped the beast or its image and
had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They
came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 The rest
of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.
This is the first resurrection. (Revelation 20)
The apostle John speaks here about a period of 1,000 years when a certain
group of saints would be raised to life to reign with Christ. Those who
would reign with Christ at this time are those who had been beheaded for
the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not
worshipped the beast or its image or received its mark on their foreheads or
hands (verse 4). He would go on to make it clear in this passage that this
resurrection was not of all the dead. The rest of the dead would not be
raised until after this one-thousand-year reign of Jesus and His saints (verse
5).
While it is not our purpose here to discuss the details of this one-thousand-
year reign, suffice it to say that this period of time is called the first
resurrection in Revelation 20:5. This implies that there will also be a second
resurrection where the rest of humanity will be raised.
The General Resurrection
Having understood that there is a special resurrection of saints to reign with
the Lord Jesus for a period of one thousand years, we now move on to a
general resurrection of all people. Jesus spoke of this in John 5 when He
said:
28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in
the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done
good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the
resurrection of judgment. (John 5)
Notice here that Jesus was speaking of an hour that was to come when “all”
who were in the tombs would hear His voice and come out. There are two
details we need to see here. First, this resurrection had not taken place at the
time of Jesus—He speaks here about an hour that was to come. Second,
Jesus teaches here that at that hour, “all” who are in the tombs would
respond to the voice of God and come out of the grave. This seems to
indicate that there was a time set apart by the Father when everyone would
rise. God would call out and all humanity would respond to this voice and
be raised.
Jesus would go on in John 6 to speak further of this when He said:
44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws
him. And I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6)
Jesus makes it clear that He would raise those who belonged to Him. That
resurrection, however, would be on the last day. This indicates that we are
not given a new body immediately after we die. Our souls must wait for the
last day to receive that new body. Only God knows when that last day will
be.
The apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthians says:
50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the
kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall
all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the
last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised
imperishable, and we shall all be changed. (1 Corinthians 15)
What is important for us to notice here in this context is the fact that we
shall be changed “at the last trumpet.” The dead will be raised, according to
Paul at the sound of the last trumpet. What is this last trumpet? Listen to
what Jesus says in Matthew 24:
29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be
darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall
from heaven, and the powers of heaven will be shaken. 30 Then will
appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes
of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on
the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will
send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his
elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
(Matthew 24)
Jesus speaks about a time of great signs in the heaven when the Lord Jesus
would return in the clouds of heaven. At this time a loud trumpet call would
be heard and the elect from