In 1 Corinthians 15, the apostle Paul delivered an exhaustive presentation on the resurrection. He addressed the Corinthian question, “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?” by describing the nature of the resurrection body, basing his conclusions on observations in nature and the pattern of Christ’s bodily resurrection. In this excellent sermon from evangelist Kevin Presley, we learn Paul’s answer to that ancient inquiry regarding the destiny of our bodies.
One of the most discussed topics presented at the 2015 Grapevine Preacher’s Study was George Battey’s presentation on the bodily resurrection. Believers are generally unified in their conviction that Christ’s own resurrection has secured a future resurrection from the dead, but particulars concerning the nature of the resurrection, especially the resurrection body, produce some disagreement.
An upcoming issue of Landmark Messenger will be entirely dedicated to this topic, so we encourage everyone to listen to George’s sermon and the question and answer which followed, and send us any questions you may have so that we can do our best to address them.
(by Shahe Gergian)
Concerning the resurrection, the Bible states, “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”—1 Corinthians 15:20.
The term ‘firstfruits’ is first mentioned in Exodus 23:16 when God demands the first ripened fruits as an offering. This offering was to represent the bounty that God would bless them with in the final harvest days. The principle is first commanded in Exodus 22:29-31 which showed total devotion to God. So, the ‘firstfruits’ were 1) Dedicated to God, 2) Offered to show what was to come.
The fact that Jesus Christ is the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep should be of importance to us BECAUSE HE SET THE PATTERN! What did Christ do that those who have fallen asleep will do? When will it happen? How will it happen?
WHAT DID CHRIST DO THAT THOSE WHO HAVE FALLEN ASLEEP WILL DO?
Assuming the reader knows the story, we’ll begin at Golgotha/Calvary.
* Jesus died on the cross – Matthew 27:31-50, Mark 15:24-37, Luke 23:33-47, John 19:17-30
* Jesus’ body slept – Mark 15:43-45, John 19:33-34
* Jesus was buried – Matthew 27:57-61, Mark 15:42-47, Luke 23:50-56, John 19:31-42
* Jesus’ spirit went to Hadean realm of Paradise – Luke 23:43
* Jesus was resurrected– Matthew 28:1-8, Mark 16:1-7, Luke 24:1-8, John 20:1-10
* Jesus was recognizable though different – Luke 24:13-31, Luke 24:36-39, John 20:14-16, John 20:18-20,
* Jesus ascended – Luke 24:50-53, Acts 1:1-3, Acts 1:9-11
Since Jesus is the firstfruits it stands to reason that others will follow. We will also die, our bodies will sleep, our spirits will go to the Hadean realm (some to Paradise others to Tartarus), our bodies will resurrect, we will be recognizable though different (new body), and we will ascend – the righteous will pass the judgment seat to life eternal, while the unrighteous will be given the sentence of eternal death.
It was long understood that there WAS to be a resurrection of the body. The Pharisees believed this, Acts 23:8; Martha believed this, John 11:24; Job pondered it, Job 14:14; Hannah prayed about it, 1 Samuel 2:6; the Psalms testified of it, Psalm 16:10, Psalm 30:3, Psalm 49:15; and prophets declared it, Hosea 13:14.
WHEN WILL THE RESURRECTION TAKE PLACE?
According to the scriptures the resurrection will take place “at the last day…” when the Lord comes again:
- John 6:39-40 “This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
- John 6:53-54 “Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
- John 11:24 “Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
- John 14:3 “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
Proponents of realized eschatology say the resurrection is passed already! Yes, they declare that it happened in A.D. 70 at the destruction of Jerusalem. While the destruction of Jerusalem was a great and important event, Jesus was using the greatest event (the end times) to describe it. Jesus plainly refers to the “ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION” in Matthew 24:15 and follows with directions on how people should handle the disaster. Because some descriptions of death and the “coming of the Son of Man” are used, the A. D. 70 theorists assume this was the figurative/spiritual end of Judasim and that the scripture is ALWAYS referring to that event whenever and wherever end times are discussed, while other extremists use the passage to conjure “rapture.” This is why Paul told Timothy to “rightly divide the word of truth.”
HOW WILL THE RESURRECTION HAPPEN?
The Bible teaches that the resurrection will happen at the last day when the Lord comes again. When the Lord does come, the scriptures teach that everyone will be raised from the dead, every eye will see Him, everyone will hear Him, everyone will be changed (including those who are already alive), the dead in Christ will rise toward Heaven first and the righteous living will go with them, the unrighteous will face judgment and enter into the lake of fire.
- John 5:29 “…and come forth— those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.”
- Acts 24:15 “I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust.”
- Revelation 1:7 “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.”
- John 5:28 “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice…”
- 1 Thessalonians 4:16 “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.”
- 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
- 1 Thessalonians 4:17 “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”
The previously mentioned events speak of what happens to every individual. The A.D. 70 theorists say they too believe in a bodily resurrection, BUT that it is the body of the church being described, such as when used in Romans 12:5 “…so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.” This simply cannot be. Too many scriptures deal with the subject of bodily resurrection. The scripture does not teach that the resurrection is just a “spiritual” significance as the A.D. 70 theorists proclaim. Perhaps Romans 6:1-13 is about as close to “spiritual resurrection” as we can go (this passage discusses the relation to being baptized into the death of Christ and being raised in the likeness of His resurrection).
If the resurrection is symbolic of the body of the church, then the church was dead! However, Jesus said, “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” To hold the A.D. 70 view would make Christ a liar.
The A. D. 70 theorists contend that the Jewish covenants were put to “death” at the destruction of Jerusalem, but in the resurrection it was the church that came forth! Wait a minute! Hold on here. If the resurrection described in scripture says that both the just and the unjust are raised—then the Jewish covenants are still in force! How can you hold this doctrine and the Bible too?
No, the resurrection as taught in the scriptures is a bodily resurrection of ALL people. If there is no bodily resurrection then we must face what Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:12-18, “Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.”
To hold that the resurrection is not bodily, or has passed already, is EXTREMELY DANGEROUS because it rends the integrity of the inspired writ; as Paul has also said, “But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, who have strayed concerning truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some. Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”–2 Timothy 2:16-19.