The Resurrection

AN ESSENTIAL DOCTRINE

One of the essential doctrines of the Christian faith is the resurrection of the body. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul gives a lengthy explanation and defense of the resurrection. He addresses those who are skeptical about the resurrection. Paul basically says there is no Christian faith without the resurrection.

He first points to the manifold witnesses of the resurrection – to the testimony of the Apostles, including his own, and the 500 people who saw Christ after He was raised (vv.3-8). Then Paul goes on to say that if there is no resurrection, then Christ was not raised (v.13), we are still dead in our sins (v.17), and Christians are of all people the most to be pitied for placing their hope in what is false (v.19).

Then Paul shows how Christ’s physical resurrection was the first of many to come. Christ became the firstfruits of those who are raised from the dead (v.20). Christ was not the first to rise from the dead. He was the first to rise from the dead in a glorified body, never to die again.

WHAT WILL OUR RESURRECTED BODIES LOOK LIKE?

The Bible says our resurrected bodies will be like Christ’s resurrected body (Philippians 3:20; Romans 8:9-11). The same body that was buried was also raised. Christ was the same person with the same body, but His body had been transformed into a glorified body.

Mysterious things happened when Jesus appeared in His resurrected body. He was not always immediately recognized; we see that in the example of those who encountered Him on the Emmaus Road (Luke 24:13-31). We do not know whether their failure to recognize Jesus was due to changes in Jesus or to God’s hiding Jesus’ identity from them. Likewise, Mary Magdalene did not recognize Jesus until Jesus addressed her (John 20:11-16). Yet when He appeared to the disciples in the upper room, they recognized Him instantly.

Our resurrected bodies will be human and recognizable. The basic difference will be that the new body will not be capable of dying; we are sown mortal and will be raised immortal (1 Cor. 15:53) – not because we will be inherently immortal, but because we will be rendered immortal by the decree of God. What guarantees our immortality is the preserving grace and love of God.

Paul then makes his key point: ‘Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven’ (v.49). That is the hope of the final resurrection – we will be like Christ, for He will grant to us the same glory of the resurrection that He received.

[Adapted from R.C. Sproul, Everyone’s a Theologian]

THE TIME OF THE RESURRECTION

“According to Scripture the general resurrection will coincide with the return of Christ and the end of the world, and will immediately precede the final judgment, John 5:27-29; 6:39-40, 44, 54; 11:24; 1Cor. 15:23; Phil. 3:20-21; Rev. 20:11-15. Pre-millennarians teach a double resurrection: one of the just at the return of Christ, and another of the unjust a thousand years later, at the end of the world. But the Bible speaks of the resurrection of both in a single breath. Dan. 12:2; John 5:28-29; Acts 24:15. It connects the judgment of the wicked with the coming of Christ, 2Thess. 1:7-10, and places the resurrection of the just at the last day, John 6:39-40, 44, 54; 11:24.” [From Berkhof Summary of Christian Doctrine]