Resurrection

The Dead Are Raised

William BellThe above title is selected from the passage in Luke 20:37-38. "Now that the dead are raised even Moses shewed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Jacob. For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him." On this occasion, Jesus was countering an objection of the Sadducees who did not believe in spirits or the resurrection, (Acts 23:6). They were materialists. Proudly, they presented what in their minds was a thorny problem for those who believed and advocated the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, (Lk. 20:27-33). Their opposition, at least in part, was based on a physical and materialistic viewpoint of the nature of the resurrection. While many today do not deny that a resurrection is taught in scripture, or that spirits exist, they do, however, freely adopt the "leaven of the Sadducees" regarding the nature of the resurrection. And, as a direct result of this misperception, they miss the fact of the resurrection which Jesus affirmed in scripture.

     The error of the Sadducees was twofold as critiqued by Jesus’ reply, "…Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God," (Matt.22:29). However, the Sadducees deserve some credit that many today would be unworthy to claim. Of what do we speak? Namely, that when Jesus answered their objection to the resurrection on the grounds that it did not consist in the fleshly dimension of the Jewish aeon (this age) but in the eternal new covenant aeon (age to come) wherein sonship in Christ is equated with resurrection, the Sadducees apparently understood and from that time forward never presented their argument based on physical concepts to the Lord again, (Lk.22:34-40).

     Unfortunately, many today are lacking in the wisdom of the Sadducees, for they continually make the argument which these ancient and skilled theologian polemicists readily abandoned! They along with the Pharisees were quite astute in perceiving the logic of Christ and usually choose silence rather than to repeat their blunders.

     Paul plainly demonstrated that as sons of God in Christ, "…there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus," (Gal.3:27-28). Hence, there is absolutely no possible manner in view of this spiritual "oneness" to get a "twain" of anything to become one flesh as demanded by physical marriages. Jesus’ no "marriage nor giving in marriage" theology in the resurrection of the new covenant aeon no more precludes marriages in the flesh today than does Paul’s theology of `neither male nor female’ in Christ precludes men and women today.

     ARE THE DEAD RAISED?

     However, the question remains, are the dead raised? Since Jesus appealed to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, this is a good starting place to begin our inquiry. The resurrection of these patriarchs was discussed earlier in Matt.8:11-12. "And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

     When Jesus spoke these words, Abraham, his son, and grandson were in hades, Lk.16:22. As late as the writing of Hebrews this trio of patriarchs was yet of the number of Old Testament worthies who desired the heavenly country or resurrection, (Heb.11:8-16). Having died in faith, they were yet (about A.D. 64) awaiting the promise of resurrection into the eternal kingdom, (Heb.11:39-40). Although the time was then future, it was not in the far distant future for the city for which they looked was about to come, (Heb.13:14), and was said to be at hand, (Rev.1:1,3; 21:2).

     It is the conviction of this writer that the Bible clearly indicates the fact and time that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were raised from the dead. Read again Matt.8:11-12, only this time consider the parallel text of Lk. 13:24-30. The context manifestly involves the period of God’s longsuffering to the Jews of the first century for when the Master rises up to shut the door, they stand knocking saying, "…Lord open unto us…we have have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets," (Lk.13:25-26). This is a clear reference to judgment for Jesus says (1) "I know you not, depart from me ye workers of iniquity." Compare Matt 7:24. (2) That judgment would result in the Jews being cast out of the kingdom with weeping and gnashing of teeth. (3) The time of this judgment equals the time that the patriarchs as well as the saints from the east, west, north and south sit down or inherit the kingdom and corresponds with their resurrection.

     GATHERING FROM THE FOUR WINDS

     Jesus speaks of the gathering of the elect from the four winds during the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. "And he shall gather his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other, (Matt.24:31; Mk.13:27). There is no difference in gathering saints from the east, west, north and south and in gathering them from the "four winds" which are clearly poetic expressions of the same thing. The time of Matt.24:31 is unquestionably before that first century generation passed. "Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled, (Matt.24:34). As stated earlier, this gathering coincides chronologically with the inheritance of the eternal kingdom by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob with all the prophets, (Lk.13:28). Thus, their resurrection out of hades occurred before that first-century generation passed. The closing of the "gap theory" between Matthew chapters 24 and 25 (24:35 or 36), contrary to the opinion of some beautifully shows the resurrection alluded to in Matt.24:31, to be contextually and chronologically parallel to inheriting the kingdom in Matt.25:34. These chapters form an expansion of Jesus’ abbreviated treatment of this subject in Matt.8:11,12 and Lk.13:24-29.

     THE TRUMPET SOUNDED IN A.D. 70

     In addition, it is not without significance that this gathering of the saints in Matt.24:31, is preceded by the great sound or voice (marginal rendering) of a trumpet. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob heard "this" trumpet. It therefore signaled the universal gathering of saints from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven, (Mk.13:27; 2 Thess.2:1; Heb.10:25), as well as the raising of the patriarchs and prophets from the dead, (Rom.4:16; Heb.11:39-40). This can be none other than the trump of God of 1 Thess.4:16, and the last trump of 1 Cor.15:52. If not, then do the scriptures teach two separate gatherings preceded by two universal trumpets? Why make them all the more confusing (a fact evidenced by the attempt to divide Matthew 24), by placing them both at a coming of Christ, a consummation of an age, a gathering together of the elect in the clouds, and an inheriting of the kingdom, (Matt.8:11-12, 24:3, 30-31, 34; 1 Cor.15:23-24, 50-52; 1 Thess.4:14-17)? It should be readily apparent that the trumpet is one and the same. Equally certain is the fact that Matthew 24 places the sounding of that trumpet at the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, before that first-century generation passed, (Matt.24:31,34).

     In conclusion, Jesus demonstrated the spiritual nature of the resurrection to the Sadducees. The latter, clearly grasping the transparent weakness of their fl
eshly concepts against it, retreated from the resurrection battlefield in silence. Further, Jesus demonstrated the historical certainty of the resurrection by placing it chronologically in harmony with the most profound and datable catastrophe of covenantal history, the fall of the Jewish Commonwealth in A.D. 70. The resurrection of scripture is replete with benchmarks of first-century witness. None other generation could claim that Jesus had drunk in their presence and taught in their streets. Of no other is it said that he would gather his elect from the four winds, which undeniably includes the patriarchs, with the sounding of the trumpet at his coming in the clouds of heaven as he did upon that first-century generation. Yes, the dead are raised. Hades has been destroyed. The way into the holiest of all is now manifest. Thanks be to God who gave us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. May God bless all of us with the "eyes of understanding" that we may truly see, not by burying our heads in the tombs or by stretching our necks to the clouds above but by examining the testimony of scripture that we be not faithless but believing.

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