Difficult Scriptures Concerning Resurrection

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John 8:56. “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.” What is Jesus’ day? How could Abraham have seen it?

Jesus’ day is outlined in Luke 4:18-19, which details the parts of Isaiah’s prophecy (Isaiah 61:1-3) that would characterize all of
the wonderful things he would accomplish over his upcoming three-and-a-half-year ministry, as well as in Christ’s Kingdom. Abraham was only able to see Jesus’ day through his spiritual
eye of faith. In Hebrews 11:17-19, the Apostle Paul, when marveling at Abraham’s intent to sacrifice his only son Isaac, clearly explains that it was Abraham’s faith (spiritual perception) in the coming resurrection of the dead, that cleared the way in Abraham’s conscience to sacrifice his only son. “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac … Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead.”

Abraham had at least two insights (perceptions) into the Kingdom of God and the blessings that would result. (1) Abraham was promised that through his seed, all families of the
earth would be blessed. (2) Abraham may have had a close relationship with Melchisedek, the King of Salem who was a Priest of God and King of men, and who perhaps provided
Abraham with insights into the full meaning of the precious promise that God earlier gave to Abraham. We should practice the great faith of Abraham and stay close to (and in the footsteps of) Jesus Christ, who is our Priest and King. TNA

Matthew 17:3. Moses and Elijah were dead. How could they appear to Jesus and the disciples?

The Scriptures tell us that they appeared to Peter, James and John in a vision. “As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, “Tell the vision to
no one until the Son of Man has risen from the dead” (Matthew 17:9 NASB). Moses and Elijah were not raised from the dead for a brief period of time to be with Jesus. Instead, a vision
of them was presented to the disciples to teach that the glory of Christ (“His face shone like the sun and His garments became as white as light,” Matthew 17:2 NASB) was prophesied by both the Law (represented by Moses) and the prophets (represented by Elijah). The disciples were expecting Jesus to establish an earthly kingdom at that time, but Jesus was preparing
them for his death and his resurrection (Matthew 16:21-28). The vision was to show the disciples that Jesus’ “kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36 NASB). We find a similar use of Moses in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even
if someone rises from the dead” (Luke 16:31 NASB). If the Jews would not accept Jesus as the Messiah based on the testimony of Moses (Law) and the prophets (Elijah), neither would they accept Jesus if someone (both Lazarus
and Jesus) arose from the dead. EK

Matthew 27:50-53. Was this a resurrection by earthquake?
Who are “the saints?” (Where are others ever called “saints?”) A literal translation would be: “And Jesus cried again with a loud voice, and gave up his breath. And behold, the veil of the
temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom, and the earth did quake; and the rocks were rent; and the tombs were opened; and many bodies of the saints that had fallen asleep were aroused; and coming forth out of the tombs after his resurrection they entered into the holy city and appeared unto many.” So evidently it is the disciples who were awakened from sleep and left the cemetery to appear in Jerusalem.

Some think these are prophets temporarily raised, in spite of the potential problem of being raised before Jesus’ resurrection. JP

Revelation 20:5. “But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.” Is the first resurrection no resurrection at all?

It appears the first sentence was not written by the Apostle John. It is absent from the oldest known manuscript, and it was never in the Aramaic (Syriac, translated in the 5th century). It interrupts the context and would make the first resurrection the absence of a resurrection. The sentence was likely added in the 4th century, to reconcile no-observable-resurrection
with the new claim that Constantine had begun Christ’s Kingdom on earth.

Some try to explain the sentence by restricting the meaning of “anastasis” (resurrection) to a full re-standing — full perfecting — before God. But if the words are not genuine, there is
no need to explain them.

Evidence: It is commonly supposed that a scribe’s eye skipped from the “thousand years” in verse 4 to the same words in verse 5, but there is contrary evidence. The only pre-Constantine
evidence is the mss. (manuscripts) of Victorinus of Petau (ca. AD 300), which omit it. (But a century later Jerome says he included it! as Jerome himself did.) Seventy Greek Revelation mss. (headed by the 4th-century Sinaiticus) did not insert the sentence (of 182 total). The early-5th-century Alexandrian
adds it in its earliest of five forms, but is supported by only two other mss. Sadly, we have no other mss. earlier than the 9th century. Yet two 13th-century mss. appear to preserve the
text of Aecumenius in the 6th century and omit it (though the commentary inserts it). Not until after the 13th century do the manuscripts that add it outnumber those that do not. In every
case, it is a later form that adds the sentence; so it is likely not genuine. JP

Psalm 88:5. “Free among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, whom thou rememberest no more: and they are cut off from thy hand.” And Isaiah 26:14, 43:17. Are there some who will never be resurrected?

Psalm 88 is a song of instruction by Heman, the Ezrahite, one of the wise Temple musicians. The Psalm begins, “O Jehovah, the God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before thee” (ASV). The singer is an upright man, with hope of salvation. Then, “I am reckoned with them that go down into the pit … as a man that hath no [strength], cast off among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, whom thou rememberest no more.” He is only “as” or “like” those who ultimately go into second death. He has the hope of resurrection: “But unto thee,
O Jehovah, have I cried; and in the morning shall my prayer come before thee” (verse 13).

For Isaiah 26:14, the context is “when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness” (26:9). The Judgment Day is the Millennium (Revelation 20:4). 26:10-11 shows wicked ones unconverted during the Millennium, to their self-destruction — second death. Then, “O Jehovah
our God, other lords besides thee have had dominion over us; but by thee only will we make mention of thy name. They are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise:
therefore hast thou visited and destroyed them, and made all remembrance of them to perish” (26:13-14). These verses confirm that after the Millennium Satan’s followers will die “the
second death.”

Isaiah 43:17 (ESV) says, Jehovah “brings forth chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down, they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a wick.” It describes the Exodus, when Pharaoh and his host of charioteers were drowned in the Sea, after the Lord’s people had passed through. That dynasty
ended at Sharuhen 39 years later, never having faced Israel again (Exodus 14:13, 28). Crossing the Sea typifies the end of the Millennium, when Satan and his hosts will be loosed
“for a little season,” and then destroyed (second death — extinction — for Satan’s human followers, Revelation 20:3, 7-10). (43:1-14 prophesies “the last day,” while 43:16-21 follows
the Millennium.)

Some apply both Isaiah verses to empires, big business, and pressure groups, which will never rise after Armageddon. (Of interest, R2338 differs from Volume 6, page 468-469.) Eds
Editor’s note: The offering of the ransom for original sin is the sin-offering. Until, by the blood of Christ, a person has been released from the first death — Adamic death — he is not liable to “second death.” (For two views of the Judas question, see R2283.)






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