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: ‘And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain … you are still 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). Lesson 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. Lesson 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 no longer has 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).
Lesson 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 Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal 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, spoke of the resurrection of Christ’ (Acts 2 v 25-26 & 31 compare Psalm 16 v 8-11).
David also said, ‘As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness’ (Psalm 17 v 15).
THE RESURRECTION – A FULFILMENT OF GOD’S PROMISES
As Lesson 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,
‘For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God’ (Job 19 v 25-26).
Isaiah said, ‘Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, you 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 ‘And you shall rest and shall stand in your allotted place 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 Christ Jesus, who abolished death and 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 Lesson 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, ‘Your brother will rise again. Martha said to him, I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day. Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, 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,
‘One who wanders from the way of good sense will rest in the assembly of the dead’ (Proverbs 21 v 16).
‘A man who has riches without understanding, Is like the animals 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 eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and him whom you sent, Jesus Christ’ (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 Lesson 11. Paul points out the importance of baptism to the true believer who wants to obtain resurrection:
‘don’t you know that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him through baptism to death, that just like Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we will also be part 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, ‘Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom’ (2 Timothy 4 v 1).
Paul also wrote:
‘But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first’ (1 Thessalonians 4 v 13-16 ESV).
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 shame and everlasting contempt’ (Daniel 12 v 2).
This speaks of the assembling together of the raised and those living at the return of Christ for judgement 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 judgement 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. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live’ (John 11 v 25).
1. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a fact.
2. The resurrection of Jesus is the main teaching in the New Testament.
3. Jesus was raised because of his perfect character. Therefore the righteousness and justice of God brought him out of the grave.
4. The hope of resurrection has been the hope of all the faithful before and after the first advent of Jesus.
5. 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.
6. Man has no natural immortality; if he had, Christ had no need to be a sacrifice to bring salvation to mankind.
7. Resurrection after death is the only hope of obtaining immortality.
8. Not all will be raised; those without understanding will remain in the grave.
9. Understanding, belief and baptism are necessary to be related to Christ and resurrection.
10. Christ was the first to rise to immortality; we can be like him if we follow his example.
11. The resurrection and judgement will take place when Jesus returns to the earth.
PASSAGES FOR BIBLE READING
Psalm 49 Mark 16 1 Corinthians 15 Isaiah 26 Acts 26 John 11