THE RESURRECTION: ONLY ONCE SO FAR
"Now, on hearing of the resurrection of the dead, these, indeed, jeered, yet those say, "We will hear you concerning this again also." (Acts 17:32)
The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is a resurrection that only has happened once. There were others who we read of that were raised from the dead, but all eventually died again. Only Jesus rose from the dead never to die again. We read in 1 Timothy 6:13-16:
"I am charging you in the sight of God, Who is vivifying all, and of Jesus Christ, Who testifies in the ideal avowal before Pontius Pilate, that you keep this precept unspotted, irreprehensible, unto the advent of our Lord, Christ Jesus, which, to its own eras, the happy and only Potentate will be showing: He is King of kings and Lord of lords, Who alone has immortality, making His home in light inaccessible, Whom not one of mankind perceived nor can be perceiving, to Whom be honor and might eonian! Amen!"
All throughout religion most believe as soon as the body dies the soul is alive someplace else. That belief makes the resurrection of the body an unnecessary process; this is more than likely why Paul was jeered by the philosophers on Mars Hill. The very thought that a body is necessary in order to be alive after death was ludicrous to their religion and their philosophies of the afterlife. Yet Paul tells us that without the resurrection of the body there is no life after death, we are no more:
"Now if Christ is being heralded that He has been roused from among the dead, how are some among you saying that there is no resurrection of the dead? Now if there is no resurrection of the dead, neither has Christ been roused. Now if Christ has not been roused, for naught, consequently, is our heralding, and for naught is your faith. Now we are being found false witnesses also of God, seeing that we testify by God that He rouses Christ, Whom, consequently, He rouses not, if so be that the dead are not being roused. For, if the dead are not being roused, neither has Christ been roused. Now, if Christ has not been roused, vain is your faith -- you are still in your sins! Consequently those also, who are put to repose in Christ, perished. If we are having an expectation in Christ in this life only, more forlorn than all men are we." (1 Corinthians 15:12-19)
Paul had to fight philosophies and religious tradition his entire life after his conversion on the Road to Damascus, not only from the many pagan religions, as well as the Jews, but often times from those who were believers in Christ, who kept going back to the pagan teachings they had once embraced, and one of those teachings they went back to was that the bodily resurrection from death was unnecessary in the afterlife.
In 2 Timothy Paul warns Timothy of two who claimed that the resurrection had already occurred:
"Yet from profane prattlings stand aloof, for they will be progressing to more irreverence, and their word will spread as gangrene, of whom are Hymeneus and Philetus, who swerve as to truth, saying that the resurrection has already occurred, and are subverting the faith of some." (2:16-18)
Hymeneus and Philetus were more than likely teaching that the resurrection is not a literal resurrection from the dead, but a spiritual resurrection without the body, much like what is believed by many today, the soul lives on without the body.
Christ's resurrection body is the model of the spiritual body necessary for life after death. His resurrection from the dead is the expectation that we all have that gives us the assurance that we too will be resurrected from the dead, and given life beyond the reach of death, that being, vivification, immortality. None of us now has immortality, there is no part in us that God created that lives on after death. The only thing that we carry from God that is eternal is the spirit that God breathes into us all at the moment of conception. This is why Jesus said:
"Father, into Thy hands am I committing My spirit." (Luke 23:46)
He said that because God is the Father of all spirits:
"Yet shall we not much rather be subjected to the Father of spirits and be living."
If the soul was the eternal part of man one would think that Jesus would have said: "into Thy hands I commit My soul." But the soul is as mortal as the body, it is the spirit that gives life, and it is the spirit that vivifies:
"The Spirit is that which is vivifying." (John 6:63)
Unknowingly, today, there are many believers in Christ who jeer this truth and support the belief of Hymeneus and Philetus, as well as that of the philosophers on Mars Hill, that the resurrection is unnecessary for immortality, thereby making a physical resurrection from death an anticlimactic event.
When Jesus was in the Garden praying that the cup he was about to drink be taken from Him, why does anyone suppose that He would make such a request if He believed that at the moment of His death He would be in heaven? Jesus knew full well that if God did not raise Him at the completion of the three days and nights in the tomb He prophesied from the scriptures, He would remain in death until the general resurrection of the dead, a resurrection that He Himself told His disciples throughout His ministry would raise them from the dead:
"Marvel not at this, for coming is the hour in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, and those who do good shall go out into a resurrection of life, yet those who commit bad things, into a resurrection of judging." (John 5:28-29)
Paul repeats this truth several years later at his trial in Jerusalem:
"Yet I am avowing this to you, that, according to the way which they are terming a sect, thus am I offering divine service to the hereditary God, believing all that is written, according to the law and in the prophets, having an expectation in God, which these themselves also are anticipating, that there shall be a resurrection which is impending for both the just and the unjust." (Acts 24:14-15)
Paul later in His trial would ask the question:
"Why is it being judged unbelievable by you, if God is rousing the dead?" (Acts26:8)
That question could be asked to millions of people who call themselves Christians, as well as millions who following other religious teachings concerning the afterlife.
Why do millions around the world celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus, when the final event (His resurrection) is believed to be unnecessary for immortality?
It is because He rose from the dead that we all will have immortality, He is called the Firstfruit of all who will rise from the dead:
"Yet now Christ has been roused from among the dead, the Firstfruit of those who are reposing (fallen asleep, still dead)." (1 Corinthians 15:20)
If there is a Firstfruit there will be other crops that will come to life. Paul tells us in Romans 8:22-23:
"For we are aware that the entire creation is groaning and travailing together until now. Yet not only so, but we ourselves also, who have the firstfruit of the spirit, we ourselves also, are groaning in ourselves, awaiting the sonship, the deliverance of our body."
We, the believers, have the firstfruit of the spirit, we will be the first of all mankind to be raised from the dead, we are the ones awaiting the sonship, the deliverance of our bodies. We wait to be clothed with a spiritual body, the soulish body we now have will decay in the ground, turn to dust. In order for any of humankind to have immortality we need a spiritual body ("It is sown a soulish body; it is roused a spiritual body. If there is a soulish body, there is a spiritual also." 1 Corinthians 15:44-45), a body like the body Christ Jesus now has. The body He rose from the tomb with was not the same body that was placed in the tomb three days before, we know this by His many appearances to those who knew Him both before and after His resurrection.
Mary Magdalene did not recognize Him until He said her name:
"Jesus is saying to her, "Woman, why are you lamenting? Whom are you seeking?" She, supposing that He is the gardener, is saying to Him, "Lord, if you bear Him off, tell me where you place Him, and I will take Him away." Jesus is saying to her, "Miriam!" Now, being turned, she is saying to Him in Hebrew, "Rabboni!" which is the term for "Teacher." (John 20:15-17)
The two on the road to Emmaus did not recognize Him until He broke bread with them and handed it to them:
"And it occurred, at His reclining at table with them, taking the bread, He blesses it, and, breaking, He handed it to them. Now their eyes were opened up, and they recognize Him." (Luke 24:30-31)
His body was/is a physical spiritual body, not a spirit body as many today assume the dead have now, or a soul body many assume the dead have, (a spirit body or soul would be invisible).We read of this spiritual body when He appeared to the disciples:
"Now at their speaking these things, Jesus Himself stood in their midst and is saying to them, "Peace to you!" Yet, being dismayed and becoming affrighted, they supposed they are beholding a spirit. And He said to them, "Why are you disturbed? And wherefore are reasonings coming up in your hearts? Perceive My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and perceive, for a spirit has not flesh and bones according as you behold Me having." (Luke 24:37-39)
Jesus seems to be amazed at the ignorance of the disciples. How could they see a spirit? How could they see a spirit body? They couldn't, because it would be invisible. He asked: "Why are you disturbed? And wherefore are reasonings coming up in your heart? He then asks them to handle Him. Was a resurrected body such a surprise to them? They saw Lazarus come out of the tomb after being dead for four days. The difference! Lazarus still had blood pooling in his body, he was still mortal. Jesus' blood was drained from His body at the crucifixion. He still had the open wounds in His hands and His feet as well as in His side, and Thomas stuck His fingers in them. Open wounds would still be bleeding, a sign that would indicate mortal life (Leviticus 17:11). This new body had no blood in it, yet it was standing there right in front of them. His body is the type of body that all will have in order to have an allotment in the Kingdom of God, Paul tells us:
"Now this I am averring, brethren, that flesh and blood is not able to enjoy an allotment in the kingdom of God, neither is corruption enjoying the allotment of incorruption." (1 Corinthians 15:50)
As long as there is blood in the body we are considered corrupt, mortal, and no mortal will enjoy an allotment in the Kingdom of God. There will be mortals in the coming Kingdom of God, we read of this in Micah 4:2:
"Many nations will come and say, "Come and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD And to the house of the God of Jacob, That He may teach us about His ways And that we may walk in His paths." For from Zion will go forth the law, Even the word of the LORD from Jerusalem."
"And He will judge between the nations, And will render decisions for many peoples; And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they learn war." (Isaiah 2:4)
And we read in Revelation 20:4 that some of these mortals will have a part in reigning during the Kingdom of God:
"And I perceived thrones, and they are seated on them, and judgment was granted to them. And the souls of those executed because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who do not worship the wild beast or its image, and did not get the emblem on their forehead and on their hand- they also live and reign with Christ a thousand years."
But none of those people will be immortal, so it would appear that they will not fully enjoy an allotment during that time. They will still be under the curse of death:
"No longer will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, Or an old man who does not live out his days; For the youth will die at the age of one hundred And the one who does not reach the age of one hundred Will be thought accursed." (Isaiah 65:20)
The immortals, those who believed in Christ during this time of grace and have been vivified are said to have a greater position with Christ:
"Or are you not aware that the saints shall judge the world?.......Are you not aware that we shall be judging messengers, not to mention life's affairs? (1 Corinthians 6:2-3)
During the final eon/age (the New Heavens and New Earth) those with mortal bodies will have the tree of life for their healing:
"In the center of its square, and on either side of the river, is the log of life, producing twelve fruits, rendering its fruit in accord with each month. And the leaves of the log are for the cure of the nations." (Revelation 22:2:)
As well as keeping them from dying:
"And I perceived a new heaven and a new earth, for the former heaven and the former earth pass away… And He will be brushing away every tear from their eyes. And death will be no more, nor mourning, nor clamor, nor misery; they will be no more, for the former things passed away." (Revelation 21:1,4)
We do know at the consummation of time all forms of death will be no more (see Road Less Travelled Part 7 The Lake Of Fire), therefore at that time all bodies will (must) be made spiritual bodies.
Those that are mortal at that time of the New Heavens and New Earth will not have to die in order to have a spiritual body, we know this because John tells us on the New Earth during the last eon, death will be no more (Revelation 21:4), those who are mortal during that age/eon will be changed (vivified) after their subjection, much like those saints who are said to be changed at the coming of Christ in 1 Corinthians 15:51-53:
("Lo! a secret to you am I telling! We all, indeed, shall not be put to repose, yet we all shall be changed, in an instant, in the twinkle of an eye, at the last trump. For He will be trumpeting, and the dead will be roused incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal put on immortality.")
This change from mortal to vivification (immortality) is due to their being subjected to Christ that Paul speaks of in 1 Corinthians 15: 20-28. That subjection comes through the consuming fire of God which burns in all who are being purified. We do not read of a resurrection from the so called literal Lake of Fire anywhere in the scriptures, so that teaching is fabricated, but we do read of a subjection, and that subjection takes place in a figurative Lake of Fire, and once that process is complete in each individual, God's consuming fire (purging) will have accomplished what it is intended to accomplish, giving complete knowledge of Himself to all, when they immerge from this subjection they will be vivified. When the last human immerges it can/will be said that all forms of death is no more, all are alive (vivified) and God is All in all.
But at present only Christ has been resurrected and vivified from death. He alone has immortality (1 Timothy 6:16).
Once this is realized we can appreciate what Jesus agonized over in the Garden on the night before His crucifixion. He left all in His Fathers (God's) hands. He had no illusion that at the immediate time of His death He would be alive without a body. He knew the scriptures that taught the truth. He had read Isaiah's account:
"Dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, you that dwell in the dust; for your dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead." (Isaiah 26:19)
He was familiar with Job's words:
"As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God; Whom I myself shall behold, and whom my eyes will see and not another. My heart faints within me!" (Job 19:25-27)
As well as Hosea and Daniel, and the other prophets concerning the resurrection.
Jesus' faith was in His Father to do what He promised, raise Him from the realm of the dead after three days and three nights. And He did. But during that time in the tomb Jesus was dead, like all who are now dead, waiting for their awakening. This is why the resurrection is so important, it is the only proof we have of God's power to raise us all from the dead. He demonstrated it through His Son:
"This One, given up in the specific counsel and foreknowledge of God, you, gibbeting by the hand of the lawless, assassinate, Whom God raises, loosing the pangs of death, forasmuch as it was not possible for Him to be held by it." (Acts 2:23-24)
The pangs of death will one day be abolished for all because of Christ, the Firstfruit from among the dead, and then Paul's words will come to pass:
"For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal put on immortality. Now, whenever this corruptible should be putting on incorruption and this mortal should be putting on immortality, then shall come to pass the word which is written, Swallowed up was Death by Victory. Where, O Death, is your victory? Where, O Death, is your sting? Now the sting of Death is sin, yet the power of sin is the law. Now thanks be to God, Who is giving us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ."
(1 Corinthians 15:53-57)
John tells us:
"And no one has ascended into heaven except He Who descends out of heaven, the Son of Mankind Who is in heaven." (John 3:13)
We now wait.