Was the Resurrection of Some of the Saints in Matthew 27:51f the Fulfillment of Daniel 12:2? – #5
And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2).
“Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised” (Matthew 27:51-52)
This is article #5 in this series.
There are some preterists who believe that the resurrection of the saints in Matthew was the direct fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy. In the previous articles I have demonstrated that this is an untenable position.
In article #4 we took note that Daniel said that those resurrected would be raised to “eternal life.” I suggested that this fact alone dispels any possibility that Matthew 27 fulfilled Daniel’s prophecy. Let me follow up on that.
As we noted, Daniel 12 predicted the resurrection to eternal life. So, if the saints that were raised in Matthew 27 were the fulfillment of Daniel 12 it logically demands that they received eternal life when they were raised. That is, unless one wishes to posit a so far 2000 year gap between their resurrection and their reception to eternal life. Of course, with some, inserting huge temporal gaps into the very periods (.) at the end of sentences seems not to be too bothersome. But, how does such a gap between resurrection and reception of eternal life find support in the actual text? It doesn’t. That suggestion has not textual support. It has to be read into the text, imposed onto it.
Note that in Hebrews 11 the author chronicles the lives of the great men and women of faith under the Old Covenant, even extending to creation, i.e. Abel. The author then says that those worthies all died in faith, “not having received the promises” given to them. He speaks of their eschatological hope of the heavenly country and city (i.e. Zion) as well as “the better resurrection” (v. 35).
To put this another way, the eschatological hope of those OT worthies was to be in the Presence of YHVH, to enter the MHP of Hebrews 9:8-10, to enter fully into the Sabbath rest of Hebrews 4:9-10. And when would they receive that promised salvation?
It would be at the end of the Law of Moses, at the time of reformation (Hebrews 9:10). That had patently not occurred in Matthew 27 since the Hebrews writer was still anticipating the coming salvation / entrance into the MHP. This means he was still waiting for the end of the Law.
It would be at Christ’s “second appearing” for salvation (Hebrews 9:28)– It had not arrived in Matthew 27.
That coming, the time of the “great reward” was to be in a “very, very little while” and “without delay” (Hebrews 10:37). It had not occurred in Matthew 27 – they were eagerly awaiting that salvation.
After Hebrews speaks of the eschatological hope of those Worthies in chapter 11, their hope being the “Heavenly Jerusalem / Zion” the writer then tells his audience that they were standing on Mt. Zion! They have approached the time of the fulfillment of that OT promise and hope! Hebrews is clearly positing the fulfillment of their hope as something about to be fulfilled. They stood on the very cusp of the “better resurrection”: “you have come to Mt. Zion!” What thrilling words those must have been to that first century Jewish audience, to read that the centuries old promises, the hope of all their forefathers, was now on the verge of being fulfilled! The promised salvation, the wonderful privilege of approaching the “Throne of Grace” without fear was swiftly approaching. The glory and blessing of entering into the Most Holy was so close that the writer could urge them “let us enter into that which is within the veil” (Hebrews 10:17).
Notice now what he says back in 11:39-40 concerning the OT worthies and their hope: “they, without us, cannot be made perfect.” Do you catch the power of that? Hebrews is affirming that the OT saints and the New would receive fulfillment of their eschatological hope at the same time! The OT saints would not receive eternal life, the Heavenly Zion, etc. before or without the New Covenant saints. (This is precisely what Paul affirms in 1 Thessalonians 4:13f– see my We Shall Meet Him In The Air, the Wedding of the King of kings, for more on this critical issue.
Do you see the problem for the view that Matthew 27 is the fulfillment of Daniel 12?
Daniel 12 says those resurrected would be raised to eternal life. But, if they were raised to eternal life, then they received their reward before the church was even established. They could enter the Most Holy before the passing of the Law. They received eternal life before the gospel was even preached. They received eternal life before the Day of Redemption, before the day of Salvation.
In other words, they received their reward before the New Covenant saints would receive eternal life, redemption and salvation. This is a clear violation of what Hebrews 11:39-40 says. Thus, the idea that Matthew 27:52 was the fulfillment of Daniel 12 is falsified.
More to come. In the meantime, be sure to order your copy of my book: The Resurrection of Daniel 12:2: Future or Fulfilled? It is a fantastic resource for better understanding the resurrection!