Was the Resurrection of Some of the Saints in Matthew 27:51f the Fulfillment of Daniel 12:2? – #6
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)
In our previous article 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 in this last installment of this series
There are some preterists who believe that the resurrection of the saints in Matthew 27 was the direct fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy. In the previous articles I have demonstrated that this is an untenable position.
I have taken note that the chronological flow of Daniel 12 does not allow for the fulfillment of v. 2 in Matthew 27. If the resurrection of v. 2 was fulfilled in Matthew, then of necessity, the Great Tribulation occurred prior to that event, and that is completely indefensible. Jesus undeniably posited the Great Tribulation for the time leading up to the fall of Jerusalem– not his resurrection.
Likewise, take note that v. 3 speaks of the righteous shining forth in the kingdom at the time of v. 2- the time of the resurrection. So, the righteous would shine in the kingdom of the Lord at the time of the resurrection of v. 2. Here is where the problem arises for those who posit fulfillment of v. 2 in Matthew 27– the end of the age did not arrive at that time!
Notice that in Matthew 13:39-43 Jesus spoke of the end of the age, when the angels would be sent out, to gather the elect and cast the wicked into the fire. Jesus then said “Then shall the righteous shine forth in the kingdom” directly citing Daniel 12:3.
So, the time for the fulfillment of Daniel 12:3 would be at the end of the age harvest and the parousia of the Son of Man. If Matthew 27 was the fulfillment of Daniel, then that was an extremely small harvest in Matthew 27! To state it simply, but as kindly as possible, there is simply no way to make the events of Matthew 27 out to be the coming of the Son of Man, at the end of the age harvest, and the sending forth of the angels. That did not happen in the events of Matthew 27, no matter how awesome that event might appear to us.
The motifs of Matthew 13 are purely eschatological. And while it is certainly to be noted that Jesus’ Passion is part of the end time drama, it was not the time of the harvest at his parousia; it was not the end of the age.
Note also, very briefly, that Jesus and his disciples undeniably posited the end of the age at the time of the destruction of the temple, at Christ’s parousia (Matthew 24:1-3). This confirms what we have just seen.
So, Daniel 12 posits the resurrection at the end of the age (v. 4), when the righteous would shine in the kingdom. Jesus said that the harvest, at the end of the age, would be at the time of his parousia, in judgment, at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem (Matthew 13 / 24).
When we therefore consider all the facts concerning the chronological flow of Daniel, the constituent elements of his prophecy, and the NT application of Daniel, there is simply no way to affirm that the resurrection of some of the saints in Daniel 12 was in any way the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy.
If you want a very in-depth study of the resurrection see my book, The Resurrection of Daniel 12:2: Future or Fulfilled?