The word RESURRECTION means 'rising up from the dead'. It is translated from the Greek word 'anastasis' in the New Testament which means 'rising up' or 'standing again'.
The resurrection of Jesus from the grave is an undeniable fact of history. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the focal point of the whole purpose of God with the human race. The Christian faith is built round it, Christianity exists upon the basis of Christ's resurrection from the dead. This was the driving force in the lives of the disciples in the 1st century A.D.
Main Topic of the Apostles' Teaching
When the apostles chose another to take the place of Judas, they chose one, Matthias, who they said must be 'a witness with us of his (Christ's) resurrection' (Acts 1 v 22).
The apostles were imprisoned because 'they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead' (Acts 4 v 2).
Paul was put on trial over the question of, 'the hope and resurrection of the dead' (Acts 23 v 6; Acts 24 v 21).
The letters of the New Testament are full of teaching about the resurrection of Jesus and its importance for all of us. This was emphasized by the apostle Paul when he said:
'If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain ... ye are yet in your sins' (1 Corinthians 15 v 14 & 17).
Why Did God Raise Jesus?
Earlier lessons have shown the work of Jesus as a sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 9 v 26). Study 4 explained how Adam brought sin and death to mankind by his disobedience to God's commands. In contrast, Jesus kept all God's commandments and lived a perfect life. Study 6 dealt with this.
The death of Jesus, however, could have no force at all as an effective sacrifice, if he had not been raised from the dead. Jesus, 'made of a woman, made under the law,' (Galatians 4 v 4) came under the same condemnation of death that we have inherited from Adam. He personally was free from sin, therefore death could not hold him, 'death hath no more dominion over him' (Romans 6 v 9).
God's Love and Justice
The righteous principles of God could not allow such a man, who had perfectly kept His laws, to remain subject to the law of sin and death. The apostle Peter tells us:
'God raised him to life again, setting him free from the pangs of death, because it could not be that death should keep him in its grip' (Acts 2 v 24 NEB).
Study 3 showed how it was through the absolute justice of God as well as through His love for man that Jesus rose from the dead:
'For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life' (John 3 v 16).
Was Resurrection a New Belief in the First Century A.D?
We learn from the Bible that a rising again from the dead was the hope of the faithful in the ages before the time of Jesus. This is why Jesus said:
'Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it, and was glad' (John 8 v 56).
Peter quoted the words of David, King of Israel:
'I foresaw the Lord always before my face... Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope.' 'He (David) seeing this before, spake of the resurrection of Christ' (Acts 2 v 25-26 & 31 compare with Psalm 16 v 8-11).
David also said, :
'As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness' (Psalm 17 v 15).
The Resurrection - a Fulfilment of God's Promises
As Study 5 pointed out, Abraham and David expected to be raised from the dead to enjoy the promises of God. They were not alone in this hope. Job said:
'I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God' (Job 19 v 25-26).
'Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust ... and the earth shall cast out the dead' (Isaiah 26 v 19).
Daniel was told that:
'Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake' and that he personally would rest in the sleep of death and 'stand in thy lot at the end of the days' (Daniel 12 v 2 & 13).
The apostle Paul confirmed that this was the hope of those before Jesus:
'I continue unto this day ... saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should show light unto the people' (Acts 26 v 22-23).
Christ the First to Rise to Everlasting Life
The Bible clearly shows that Jesus was the first to rise from the dead to immortality. Paul wrote:
'Our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel' (2 Timothy 1 v 10).
Is Resurrection the Only Hope of Immortality?
The life and immortality that Jesus has brought to light is the hope of a raising up from the dead, to stand on the earth.
Peter declared plainly that, 'David is not ascended into the heavens' (Acts 2 v 34). We have seen that this was not David's hope. God had promised that he would see Christ sitting on His (David's) throne in Jerusalem. (Acts 2 30).
As Paul explained in his speech in Athens, referred to in Study 7, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead was an assurance from God that Christ would rule the world in righteousness, at an appointed date in the future (Acts 17 v 31).
Resurrection - the True Hope
Martha was a follower of Jesus. We can see clearly her hope of a future life. When her brother Lazarus died, Jesus said to her:
'Thy brother shall rise again'. 'Martha replied, I know that he (Lazarus) shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.' Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live' (John 11 v 23-25).
Will All Be Raised?
The scriptures tell us that, 'The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord' (Romans 6 v 23).
Those who do not seek God or who have no desire to serve Him, or understand His purpose through Jesus Christ, will not obtain the gift of God. The Bible plainly teaches that:
- 'The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead' (Proverbs 21 v 16).
- 'Man that is in honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish' (Psalm 49 v 20).
- 'They are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise' (Isaiah 26 v 14).
Proper Understanding Necessary
In contrast to those statements, Jesus gives us hope by saying, 'This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent' (John 17 v 3).
If we want to become related to God's purpose we must have understanding. We must know the true God and possess a proper understanding of His Word. With this knowledge and a belief of the truth of these matters, we can take the next step of BAPTISM into Christ which will be dealt with fully in Study 11. Paul points out the importance of baptism to the true believer who wants to obtain resurrection:
'Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection' (Romans 6 v 3-5).
Christ the First to Rise - Others to Follow
Jesus was the first to rise from the dead to immortality. We read again, 'Now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept' (asleep in the grave [ 1 Corinthians 15 v 20]).
The first fruits are the first results of the harvest, a sign of many more good things to come. Paul uses this figure of the harvest to show the order of resurrection:
'But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming' (1 Corinthians 15 v 23).
Second Coming of Christ to Raise the Dead
The second coming of Christ is bound up with the resurrection in the last days. Paul wrote of, 'Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick (living) and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom' (2 Timothy 4 v 1).
Paul also wrote:
'But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep (in death), that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (go before) them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first' (1 Thessalonians 4 v 13-16).
Resurrection and Judgment
When Daniel was told that, 'many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake', he was also told that, 'some' would 'awake' to 'everlasting life, and some to shameand everlasting contempt' (Daniel 12 v 2). This speaks of the assembling together of the raised and those living at the return of Christ for judgment and of the possibility of rejection by Jesus. Jesus taught the same:
'Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation' (John 5 v 28-29).
All responsible people (those with knowledge) must appear at the judgment seat of Jesus Christ. Those who trust in God, with a knowledge of His love and mercy, who have tried to please Him and follow the example of His beloved Son will, in the mercy of God, receive the gift of eternal life in that day.
Jesus speaks to all of us when he says, 'I am the resurrection, and the life, he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live' (John 11 v 25).
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a fact.
The resurrection of Jesus is the main teaching in the New Testament.
Jesus was raised because of his perfect character. Therefore the righteousness and justice of God brought him out of the grave.
The hope of resurrection has been the hope of all the faithful before and after the first advent of Jesus.
Eternal life is not ours now, for there would be no need for God to promise it, or for it to be a matter for hope.
Man has no natural immortality; if he had, Christ had no need to be a sacrifice to bring salvation to mankind.
Resurrection after death is the only hope of obtaining immortality.
Not all will be raised; those without understanding will remain in the grave.
Understanding, belief and baptism are necessary to be related to Christ and resurrection.
Christ was the first to rise to immortality; we can be like him if we follow his example.
The resurrection and judgment will take place when Jesus returns to the earth.