The Resurrection of the Body: Part 2

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Now by no amount of ingenuity can we evade this conclusion. The words are so clear. “The dead” is the term in verse 25, where soul-quickening is mentioned. “All in the tombs” is the designation, in verse 28, of those that shall hear the voice of the Son of man. Had the Lord spoken of those spiritually dead in the same terms that He does of those physically dead, ambiguity might have been pleaded as a reason for teaching that He speaks only of one class after all. To make His language clear, He has been pleased to speak in the one verse of “the dead,” in the other of “all in the tombs."
How, then, does the author attempt to get over this? These are his words: “It is now clear to me that the dead here (ver. 26), and those in verses 28 and 29, are of the same class; that is, they are the actually dead in each case, though apparently differently designated. For, as I conceive, the little word ‘ALL' plainly proves that it must be so. Some of the dead were to hear the voice of the Son of God in the hour mentioned in verse 25; but now all those in the grave are to hear His voice in the hour that is to come. Thus the class is the same in each case; for clearly some of the dead, and all of the dead, must refer to the same class of persons. That is to say, you cannot have one kind of dead in verse 26, and another kind of dead in verses 28, 29, included at the same time in the one all. Neither does it follow, I judge, that, because the Lord changed the designation in verse 28, therefore He changed the class.” (Page 92.) From one who insists so literally on the rigid interpretation of terms, when they militate against his theory, we might have expected different reasoning from this. The author elsewhere insists that, because those physically dead are said to sleep, therefore the persons, not the bodies, really sleep. (Page 33.) He also intimates, that as he cannot find in the word the modern formula, “the resurrection of the body,” that doctrine is no scriptural doctrine for him. (Page 4.) But here, whilst admitting the change in the Lord's language from “the dead” to “all in the tombs,” the author writes of the latter as “all of the dead.” Just what the Lord avoids, evidently from design, that the author adopts. “All of the dead,” says the author; “all that are in the tombs” were the Lord's words. Now the mischief of this change of terms is great. The author probably thereby mystifies himself, and certainly may mystify some of his readers, when he writes, “some of the dead, and all of the dead must refer to the same class of persons.” His reasoning, all may see, is based on a mistake, and a mistake of his own making. Attention to the Lord's language throws light on the subject. The marked difference in His language suggests, to say the least of it, that the assumption that the same class of dead are mentioned in verse 25 and verse 28 is quite wrong.
But why must “the dead” of verse 25 be the same as “all in the tombs?” Was the Lord only occupied on, that occasion with those in their graves? Had He no word for those then alive in the body? Had the Jews been combating the doctrine of the resurrection? The Sadducees excepted, the Jews for the most part believed it. What, then, was it which called forth these personal and pointed addresses? They objected to the Lord healing the man on the sabbath-day. They challenged the lawfulness of His telling the man to carry his bed on that day, and affirmed that the Lord had broken the sabbath. They stoutly opposed the announcement of His divinity and relationship to His Father. Then the Lord addressed them, and pressed on them the importance of receiving His teaching, and the necessity of recognizing His, authority; for life, spiritual life, He was giving, and judgment by-and-by would He execute. Observe too, that when He speaks of those in the tombs, He drops that pointed personal appeal, “Verily, verily, I say unto you.” The way He speaks, and His selection of terms in which to convey His teaching, have a definiteness of purpose in them, if the spiritually dead are those spoken of in verses 24, 25, which is lost completely if we take the author's view of the passage. Why address them in that pointed manner, if He were enunciating truth that did not then directly concern His auditors? Regard “the dead” in this passage as the spiritually dead, and the vigor and point of His teaching become apparent.
Again, “the dead” need not be, and indeed are not, synonymous with “all in the tombs.” For, though those of them who shall have entered the tombs before the Lord comes for His saints Will be included in the first class mentioned in verse 29, yet every quickened soul, formerly dead, will not at that day come forth from them, for there will be a company of saints still alive upon earth, who will be caught up without passing through death. This is admitted (page 155), and the Lord's language, though not here teaching it, clearly leaves room for it. Since, then, there are those once dead, who will never die,— “the dead” in our passage need not on prima facie ground be synonymous with “all in the tombs;” and to make plain that they are not, the Lord, when He speaks of those who had died, does not here call them “the dead."
“All that are in the tombs.” Surely that must include the bodies laid therein. No, says the author, it does not; and to substantiate his assertion, he directs attention to Ezek. 32, whereby, from a portion of the Bible, highly and, confessedly figurative, he would seek to explain away the teaching of the Son of God in one of the most solemn and plain-spoken passages which the New Testament contains. Ezekiel writes of graves in sheol: therefore, says the author, there are graves in the region to which spirits, divested of their natural bodies, have gone. Now, since he has also taught us that the earthly body does not enter sheol at all, it is difficult to see what use there can be for graves in that region. Do you bury a spirit? The idea is absurd. Is the spiritual body, which the author tells us the unclothed spirit gets on its entrance into sheol, to be laid in the grave? (Pages 50, 72, 107.) But that, according to his teaching, can have never been associated with sin. On it, therefore, death has no claim. As, then, the spirit clearly cannot be buried, nor can the spiritual body be required to submit to burial, what is buried in sheol, if the author is to be our guide? To ask such a question, from his point of view, is enough to demonstrate the untenableness of his position.
The fact is, he has started with a mistaken idea of what is comprehended in the term sheol, which really includes the grave, as well as the region in which the unclothed spirits await their resurrection. Thus Jacob exclaimed in the bitterness of his soul, when called to part with Benjamin, that his sons would bring down his gray hairs in sorrow to the grave (sheol). (Gen. 42:3838And he said, My son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead, and he is left alone: if mischief befall him by the way in the which ye go, then shall ye bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave. (Genesis 42:38).) The congregation of Dathan and Abiram went down alive into the pit (sheol). (Num. 16:30, 3330But if the Lord make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick into the pit; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the Lord. (Numbers 16:30)
33They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation. (Numbers 16:33)
.) After the same manner Job speaks (Job 24:1919Drought and heat consume the snow waters: so doth the grave those which have sinned. (Job 24:19)), and the psalmist (Psa. 30:8; 49:14; 141:78I cried to thee, O Lord; and unto the Lord I made supplication. (Psalm 30:8)
14Like sheep they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them; and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their beauty shall consume in the grave from their dwelling. (Psalm 49:14)
7Our bones are scattered at the grave's mouth, as when one cutteth and cleaveth wood upon the earth. (Psalm 141:7)
), and Isaiah (xiv. 15). For by sheol was understood what we might ball the whole underworld. Both body and soul are represented as entering it. Hence the prophet can depict in graphic language the dead in their graves (in sheol), with the worm above them and under them. (Isa. 14:1111Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee. (Isaiah 14:11)) To a Hebrew this language was not incongruous, for there are worms in the grave. Graves then can be described as in sheol, for into it the whole person, both body and spirit, was regarded as entering. Now this is a very grave fact for one who opposes the correct teaching of John 5, and denies the resurrection of the body, affirming that it “is lost sight of in the ground forever.” (Page 189.) The supposed scripture authority (page 99), for interpreting John 5:2828Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, (John 5:28) of dead persons as distinct from their bodies, is found to be no scripture authority at all. The resurrection of the body, which our, Lord there distinctly teaches, the author avowedly denies, and, as he states, on the authority of scripture, which, when examined, only demonstrates his mistaken view of what in the Old Testament is called sheol.
But let us proceed. The Lord having announced what He was then doing for all who would hearken to Him, and what He will do at a future time, namely, call forth all that should be in the tombs, He, in the following chapter of the. Gospel (6), presents Himself to the multitude and to the Jews as “the True Bread,” “the Living Bread,” “the Bread of Life,” in contradistinction to the manna on which their fathers had fed in the wilderness. The manna sustained life, but could not give life, neither could it preserve from death, nor ensure resurrection to those who eat of it. The Bread of Life, communicating everlasting life to all who eat of it, ensured resurrection at the last day. Not only, then would the Lord quicken souls, but those who eat of the Living Bread, if they afterward entered the grave, He would raise up at the last day. The whole person He would thus care for, the body as well as the soul. (Vers. 39, 40, 44, 54.) By eating of that Bread one lives forever. (Ver. 58.) Having eaten of it, if death should supervene, and that is physical death, resurrection should assuredly take place. “I will raise him up at the last day."
Continuing in the company, as it were, of our evangelist, let us listen to the Lord Jesus when He met Martha outside the village of Bethany. To His statement, “Thy brother shall rise again,” Martha assented, and fixed the time of it, as she responded, “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” To this the Lord at once replied, “I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth, and believeth in me, shall never die. Believest thou this?” (Chap. xi. 23-26.) Now what does this mean? Lazarus was already a quickened soul. It was not about his soul the Lord spoke. Yet Lazarus was dead. The Lord knew it. Mary reminded Him of it. Martha, when she met Him, owned it, and again at the grave called His attention to it, “Lord, by this time he stinketh; for he hath been dead four days.” The Jews who were with them believed it. Physical death was the only thing in their minds. Of spiritual death there was no manner of surmise. The sorrow which filled the sister's heart arose from this, that death held Lazarus in its grasp. Death and burial had taken place when Christ was not there. For resurrection, however, He was needed. His power, and in this instance His personal presence too, were requisite. And now, on His way to the grave, He revealed what He is, the answer to that which had filled them with sorrow; for here among His saints He was ministering to such in their distress. “I am the resurrection and the life.” Resurrection he mentions first, then life. For He was speaking with reference to death the wages of sin, and with reference to the circumstances in which at that moment they all were He is the resurrection.
If, then, His people enter into death, they shall be raised up, for “he that believeth on me"(are His words) “though he have died (κἂν ἀποθάνη), shall live.” Clearly He is speaking of physical death: the death of one who already has everlasting life by believing on Him. If such an one dies, he shall live. On the other hand, we learn for the first time that a saint may never die, that is, never be separated from his body, as Lazarus was at that moment. “For he that liveth, and believeth on me shall never die.” Mark here the order of thought, “Liveth and believeth,” not believeth and liveth. The never dying has respect to the body, between which and the soul there shall be, under the circumstances indicated, no separation. The living after death must refer to the body likewise, the re-uniting of soul and body, which is here called resurrection, ἀνάστασις. Till resurrection takes place, the one viewed as about to be a subject of it is not said to live. For resurrection and living are in this passage corresponding terms. As risen the saint lives. Till risen he does not live. And this will he true of all the dead saints, Lazarus, as raised up, being a kind of illustration of it; a kind of illustration only in one way, because Lazarus was raised to die again, but the dead will be raised to die no more. An illustration in another way, because it teaches what resurrection involved, the calling out of the tomb the body which had been laid in it and, as in his case, his body was raised up again, and till then, after death had come in, he was not regarded as living, so, with the sleeping saints, their bodies must be raised up for them to live.
Thus far we have learned from the teaching of Christ three important things. He can, and will, deal with the body after death, calling out from the tombs all who are in them, the one class to a resurrection of life, the other to a resurrection of judgment. Next, that it is through eating His flesh and drinking His blood one can be sure of being in the first of these classes; and, lastly, that the Lord Jesus is the resurrection and the life. Death, therefore, can have no power, save as long as He permits it, and then only over those whom He intends to enter into it: for He can, and will, raise up His sleeping saints; He can, and will, preserve from entering into it some who shall believe on Him. We would now turn from His teaching to a consideration of His own resurrection, and the consequences of it.