The Resurrection of the Body: Part 3

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Of His own resurrection He had several times spoken (John 2:20, 2120Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? 21But he spake of the temple of his body. (John 2:20‑21); Matt. 16:21; 17:9, 23; 20:19; 26:3221From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. (Matthew 16:21)
9And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead. (Matthew 17:9)
23And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry. (Matthew 17:23)
19And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again. (Matthew 20:19)
32But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee. (Matthew 26:32)
; Mark 8:31; 9:9, 31; 10:3431And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. (Mark 8:31)
9And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead. (Mark 9:9)
31For he taught his disciples, and said unto them, The Son of man is delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill him; and after that he is killed, he shall rise the third day. (Mark 9:31)
34And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again. (Mark 10:34)
; Luke 9:22; 18:33; 24:722Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day. (Luke 9:22)
33And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again. (Luke 18:33)
7Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. (Luke 24:7)
), and His enemies understood by His words that He predicted the raising of His body; for they asked Pilate for a guard to watch the tomb lest His disciples, coming by night, should steal Him away, and, counting on the credulity of the populace, affirm that He really had risen. (Matt. 27:6363Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. (Matthew 27:63)) The soldiers did guard the tomb, yet He rose. The clothes in which His body had been wrapped were left behind, and the arrangement of them, as seen by Peter (John 20:6, 76Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, 7And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. (John 20:6‑7)), betokened nothing like haste in His exit from that rock-hewn sepulcher. Neither the apostles, John and Peter, nor the women, found the body of the Lord. Of His resurrection there was no doubt. He was seen. He was handled. He was spoken with after it. He ate, too, to convince His disciples that it was Himself. He showed to them His hands and His feet, and bade Thomas thrust his hand into his Master's side.
Now, in treating of resurrection certain terms are made use of by the inspired penmen, namely, two nouns, ἔγερσις, egersis, and ἀνάστασις, anastasis; and three verbs, ἐγείρρω, egeiro, ἀνίοτημι, anistemi, and ἀνάγω anago. Of the two nouns, the first is met with but once in the New Testament (Matt. 27:5858He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. (Matthew 27:58)), and has reference to the Lord's exit from the tomb. The other word, anastasis, is the common term for resurrection, whether of the Lord Jesus, or of anybody else. Of the verbs, egeiro, when used of the dead, suggests the existence and exercise of power to raise them, the power being vested in and exercised by another than the one who is the subject of it. For no dead man could be said to raise himself. The dead are raised. God raises the dead. Any one also to whom that power has been delegated is said to exercise it (Matt. 10:88Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. (Matthew 10:8)); but none of the dead are ever said to raise themselves, the Lord Jesus excepted (John 2:1919Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. (John 2:19)), who on that occasion spoke of Himself as God as well as man. The second verb, anistemi, being intransitive in some of its tenses, namely, the present and imperfect passive, and second aorist, perfect, and pluperfect active, directs attention, when any of these are employed, to the condition of the one as risen who once was dead, without suggesting, as egeiro does, the action of another to raise them. (See Mark 8:31; 12:2531And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. (Mark 8:31)
25For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven. (Mark 12:25)
; Luke 16:3131And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. (Luke 16:31)) The third verb, anago, occurs but twice in connection with resurrection (Rom. 10:77Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) (Romans 10:7); Heb. 13:2020Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, (Hebrews 13:20)), and on both occasions refers only to that of the Lord. Thus far as to the terms employed.
Very momentous are the consequences which flow from the Lord's resurrection. By it He is declared to be God’s Son with power (Rom. 1:44And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: (Romans 1:4)), and is marked out as the future Judge of quick and dead. (Acts 17:3131Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. (Acts 17:31)) By it likewise the believer's justification is declared (Rom. 4:2525Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. (Romans 4:25)); the resurrection, too, of all the dead is a truth no longer to be doubted, whilst, of the resurrection from the dead of Christ's sleeping saints, His own resurrection is both the illustration and the earnest. Thus man, whether saved or unsaved, is most deeply concerned in the resurrection of the Lord from the dead. He rose, the firstfruits of them that sleep. But His grave is not the only one which has been bereft of its occupant. For “many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after His resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” (Matt. 27:52, 5852And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, (Matthew 27:52)
58He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. (Matthew 27:58)
) Yet not alone are saints concerned with, and share in, resurrection; for all who enter the grave shall come forth, since Christ has risen. Of this general truth 1 Cor. 15 treats, though it dwells at length on the resurrection of the saints.
Now, in treating of this subject, the truth of which was denied by some at Corinth, the apostle dwells on three important points: first there is a resurrection of the dead (vers. 12-28); secondly, the bodies of our humiliation will share in it (vers. 35-50); thirdly, that event, namely, the resurrection of the saints who form part of the church, will be accomplished in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump. (Vers. 51 -58) With the first of these points all are concerned. Christ has been raised from the dead, so there is a resurrection of the dead. Its possibility is proved. Its certainty is established. But further, the body will be raised up; and here, writing to and of Christians, the apostle has dwelt at length on the resurrection of Christians. Their bodies, sown in corruption, will be raised in incorruption—sown in dishonor, they will be raised in glory—sown in weakness, they will be raised in power—sown natural bodies, they will be raised spiritual bodies. Great indeed is the change to which the body will be subject, the body placed in the tomb. Perfect, too, and abiding will be the condition in which it will be raised; for, sown in dishonor, it will be raised in glory, sown a natural body, it will be raised a spiritual body; and this will take place in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. That which is sown will be raised, though a change will pass over it, so that the body will not emerge from the tomb in the same condition in which it entered it.
Thus, in common with the bodies of those saints who will never die, the frame laid in the grave will be subject to a change, though the change to which it will be subject must perforce be different from that of those who shall never die. “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal put on immortality.” (Ver. 53)
But here the author joins issue, and chiefly on two grounds—the one a question of translation, the other a question of interpretation. The translation of ἐγείρω, to raise, he will not hear of, when the subject on hand is resurrection. According to him, this verb, egeiro; must always be rendered to awake, when used of the dead, and the person who dies, he would have us believe, is awakened immediately on his entrance into hades, and then and there receives his spiritual body, in which, clothed at once, he awaits, it may be, and with multitudes it must be, centuries, ere he participates in resurrection (ἀνάστασις), anastasis. Is this really the case? Have we been all wrong, both ancients and moderns, Jews and Greeks, in the understanding of the true meaning of ἐγείρω, egeiro? Let us test this statement. When the Lord first spoke of His death and resurrection, He did it in figurative language, it is true, but in language which conveyed what He wished to be expressed. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (ἐγείρω), egeiro. Now here, unquestionably, ἐγερῶ means to raise up. To speak of awaking a temple would be absurd. To say you would raise it up is not. In this sense the Jews clearly understood the Lord to speak, as they replied,” Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up (ἐγεπρῖς, egereis) in three days?” (John 2:19, 2019Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. 20Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? (John 2:19‑20).) Further, after His death the Jews applied to Pilate for a guard to watch the sepulcher, on the ground that He had said, “After three days I will rise again,” ἐγείροομαι, egeirontal (Matt. 27:6363Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. (Matthew 27:63)), and by that they understood the exit of His body from the tomb. Clearly, then, the author, by the translation on which he insists (page 36), is at variance with the Lord, the evangelist, and the Jews, all of whom attached a meaning to the verb, ἐγείρω, which he distinctly rejects. But, happily for his readers, he is inconsistent with himself, and with his own weapon lays low the edifice which he seeks to build up. He tells us the dead are awakened (ἐγείρονται) in brides, and that is always spoken of as a present reality. (Page 36.) This awakening, he insists on, has nothing to do with the body. It is the person, apart from his body, who is awakened. (Page 58.)
Well, let us test this statement. The Lord was raised (ἐγήγερται) on the third day (1 Cor. 15:44And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: (1 Corinthians 15:4))—so says scripture, and so we believe. Now was He awakened on the third day? Was He personally, and apart from His body, sleeping till then? Nobody but a heretic would dare to teach that. Yet if ἐγείρω, egeiro, when used of the dead, must always be translated to awaken the person, that is the only conclusion to be arrived at, but one which we must repudiate, and which the author would not venture to adopt. For the moment he writes about the raising of the Lord, or, as he terms it, awakening, he tells us Christ was awakened here. (Page 57.) The addition of that one word, “here,” is a confession (perhaps an unconscious one) of the untenableness of his position. The raising of Christ was not immediate, but on the third day. Nor was it apart from His body, but expressly included it. The verb, egeiro, is used of the raising of the body from the grave. All, therefore, that he contends for about the awakening of souls in hades is really surrendered, the moment he has to speak of the raising up of the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ was raised the third day. All is clear if we keep to the common translation of ἐγείρω, for “if the dead rise not, then is Christ not raised.” (1 Cor. 15:1616For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: (1 Corinthians 15:16).) But all is confused and inconsequential if we adopt the suggested translation. For how the awakening of Christ here on the third day after He died is a proof that the dead are awakened in hades the moment they die, is a difficulty which the author has not solved, and one for which, on his hypothesis, there is no solution.
But how did Paul understand his own terms? Did ἐγείω in his mind mean to awaken the dead person apart from his body? What, then, is the force, the meaning, of his language in 2 Cor. 1:99But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: (2 Corinthians 1:9)? But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth (ἐγείροντι, egeironti) the dead. Was it the awakening of the apostle, or of the dead in hades, which here occupied his mind? We know it was not. One more remark on this question of translation, and we will pass on. “It is sown in dishonor, it is raised (εγείρεται, egeiretai) in glory.” (1 Cor. 15:4343It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: (1 Corinthians 15:43).) Are those in hades in glory Does the saint close his eyes in death, to awaken in hades in glory? The Apostle Paul, writing of the resurrection (ἀνάστασις) of the dead, says, the body is raised in glory, thus connecting the raising with resurrection. The author admits that the resurrection is future. (Page 36.) Then the raising is also future. This has to do with the body, for of that which concerns the body 1 Cor. 15 undeniably treats. Here, then, let us very briefly look into the question of the interpretation of this chapter, on which a few words will suffice. The language of verse 42 is clear enough. “It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption.” That which is sown is raised, though a change will pass over it. What it is which is sown none can gainsay. In addition to this, it may be remarked that the chapter throughout treats of the body, so of death, which claims the body, and never of hades, in which the unclothed spirit awaits the resurrection, does the apostle speak; for in the only place in which hades occurs in the common text, we should, it is generally admitted on the authority of B D E F G I à1, read, θάνατε, death. “O death, where is thy victory?” Could that question be asked, if the body was never to be recovered from its grasp? If it is to be raised again, how suited is the triumphant exclamation. Think of the body bought by the blood of Christ, and once indwelt by the Holy Ghost, never to be redeemed from the condition imposed on it by sin! Then death would have gotten a victory indeed.
Now let us see what further light is thrown on the future of the body by the divine word. First, the bodies of the saints shall be quickened and redeemed. (Rom. 8:11, 2311But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. (Romans 8:11)
23And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. (Romans 8:23)
.) Next, we shall all be changed, this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal, immortality. A natural body we each have now, suited to that condition in which we are; a spiritual body we shall have by-and-by, suited to our condition then. (1 Cor. 15:53, 4453For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. (1 Corinthians 15:53)
44It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. (1 Corinthians 15:44)
.) Now the body is as a tabernacle, capable of dissolution; then it will be a building of God eternal in the heavens. (2 Cor. 5:11For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. (2 Corinthians 5:1).) If the earthly tabernacle be dissolved, we have, says the apostle, our house from heaven. He does not say that the dead saints put it on the moment they have died, for he speaks afterward in the same chapter of the unclothed state, but we have it, the time for being clothed, with it being altogether a different question. Besides this, we learn that the condition in which we shall exist will be very different from our present one. Marriage will not take place (Luke 20:35, 3635But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: 36Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection. (Luke 20:35‑36)), nor will the frame need, as it now does, sustainment by food. (1 Cor. 6:1313Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body. (1 Corinthians 6:13).) Yet the body, whatever the change, will be the Lord's. Lastly, the body of our humiliation will be conformed, the apostle Paul teaches us, to Christ's body of glory (Phil. 3:2121Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. (Philippians 3:21)); and John tells us that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. (1 John 3:22Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2))
This is the bright side of the subject. There is also a dark side. For the bodies of the ungodly are to be raised. This John saw in vision. “I saw the dead,” he writes, “small and great, stand before the throne; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hades delivered up the dead which were in them.” (Rev. 20:12, 1312And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. (Revelation 20:12‑13).) What is in the sea, and in death, as distinct from hades, but the bodies of those which have died, those unburied and those buried. Why does John say of death and hades, “the dead which were in them?” Let the reader compare these words, the last statement in the New Testament on this subject, with those in Matt. 10:2828And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28), spoken by the Lord, these last explaining how what He says is to be fulfilled.
The ancient creeds, then, and modern confessions of faith, which assert the resurrection of the body, are in that respect correct. The body which dies will be raised up, to share with its owner his condition forever and ever. The attempts to set this truth aside, whether by means of suggested translations, or supposed scriptural authority, are futile in the extreme, and on no better ground does the statement rest, that it is the person who sleeps, and not his body. On this point the author has been misled by a statement in Dr. J. Fuerst's Hebrew Dictionary, according to which the Hebrew phrase, “he slept with his fathers,” [Hebrew characters] is said to be equivalent to the phrase, “he was gathered to his fathers,” [Hebrew characters]. Thereupon we are told that to sleep with his fathers is a statement descriptive of the person apart from his body. On this supposition a great deal of the author's argument is made to rest. (P. 28.) But is it true? A little examination will demonstrate that the statement cannot be relied on. For, first, “gathering to one's fathers,” mentioned in Judg. 2:1010And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel. (Judges 2:10), 2 Kings 22:20, 220Behold therefore, I will gather thee unto thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered into thy grave in peace; and thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place. And they brought the king word again. (2 Kings 22:20)
2And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left. (2 Kings 22:2)
Chron. 34:28, will, on examination, decide nothing about the point in question, but the phrase more commonly employed, “gathered unto his people,” may help in the matter. For, comparing that with the one in question, “he lay with his fathers,” we see that the notice of the person's death nearly always precedes the statement of his being gathered to his people. (Gen. 35:8, 17; 25:29; 49:338But Deborah Rebekah's nurse died, and she was buried beneath Beth-el under an oak: and the name of it was called Allon-bachuth. (Genesis 35:8)
17And it came to pass, when she was in hard labor, that the midwife said unto her, Fear not; thou shalt have this son also. (Genesis 35:17)
29And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint: (Genesis 25:29)
33And when Jacob had made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost, and was gathered unto his people. (Genesis 49:33)
; Deut. 32:5050And die in the mount whither thou goest up, and be gathered unto thy people; as Aaron thy brother died in mount Hor, and was gathered unto his people: (Deuteronomy 32:50).) Once only does it follow it. (Num. 20:2626And strip Aaron of his garments, and put them upon Eleazar his son: and Aaron shall be gathered unto his people, and shall die there. (Numbers 20:26).) Whereas the only occasion on which the person's death is mentioned with the phrase, “he lay or slept with his fathers,” the notice of his death follows that well-known statement. (2 Chron. 16:1313And Asa slept with his fathers, and died in the one and fortieth year of his reign. (2 Chronicles 16:13).) This fact would suggest the possibility, not to say probability, that sleeping with one's fathers is not equivalent to being gathered unto them, or to one's people.
Dismissing, therefore, the latter phrase as one with which we have nothing more to do, let us see what is the meaning of [Hebrew characters], “he lay, or slept, with his fathers.” Does it refer to the body, or does it not? It can be applied to the body, for Jacob, the first who introduced the phrase, as far as we know (Gen. 47:3030But I will lie with my fathers, and thou shalt carry me out of Egypt, and bury me in their buryingplace. And he said, I will do as thou hast said. (Genesis 47:30)), certainly by it referred to his body. And in the books of Kings and Chronicles, where we so frequently meet with it, coupled as it always is with burial, and taking precedence of the mention of death on the only occasion where the two ideas are expressed together, it seems pretty certain that the meaning attached to it by the patriarch was the meaning the sacred writers in their turn intended to convey to the reader. And this is confirmed by the fact that we only once find the words, “he slept with his fathers,” when the king met with death by assassination at the hand of his subjects. If the phrase refers to the spirit in hades, apart from the body, it is difficult to understand why on such occasions that phrase should be generally left out, for the manner of death could make no difference as to the presence of the spirit in hades after it. If, on the other hand, it has reference to the body, and originally described its recumbent position, according to the simple meaning of [Hebrew characters], “he lay down,” we can better understand why it should be used at one time, and not at another. For it is certain that [Hebrew characters] by itself is used of the death of the body. (Job 7:21; 21:2621And why dost thou not pardon my transgression, and take away mine iniquity? for now shall I sleep in the dust; and thou shalt seek me in the morning, but I shall not be. (Job 7:21)
26They shall lie down alike in the dust, and the worms shall cover them. (Job 21:26)
; Psa. 88:55Free among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, whom thou rememberest no more: and they are cut off from thy hand. (Psalm 88:5)) What, then, has been built on this phrase is a mistake. The edifice so reared lacks one grand essential—a good foundation.
And indeed the whole theory of resurrection, as set forth by the, author falls to the ground, when one attempts to examine it. The soul does not sleep in hades. The term sheol embraces more than the region in which the unclothed await their resurrection. The suggested translation ofἐγείρω, to awaken the dead in hades the moment they enter that region, is opposed to the use of the term by the Lord, the evangelist, the Jews, and the apostle Paul. The resurrection of the body is a truth of scripture, and an article of the Christian faith. He who denies it contradicts the divine word, and rejects a foundation truth of Christianity. “For if the dead rise not, then is Christ not raised: and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.” (1 Cor. 15:16-1816For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. (1 Corinthians 15:16‑18)) C. E. S.