Tuesday, April 22, 2014

On the Resurrection, PART IV

The terminology of resurrection is taken from the words that just mean to "rise up." The terms were often used of one rising up in the morning after sleeping. This imagery then lends itself to the body that dies and is referred to as sleeping. Whatever sleeps rises up in the morning. It is the body, not the person as a soul/spirit, therefore, that sleeps and it is the body, not the person as a soul/spirit, therefore, that rises up.

There are a plethora of passages that indicate that resurrection is of the same body that went into the tomb. For instance, in John 5:25-29, Jesus expresses His concept of the resurrection.

"Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live." (v. 25)

Now, from this, we can see how one could interpret resurrection as merely a spiritual reality. Indeed, the fact that Jesus says that the time is now likely refers to a present spiritual reality. Hence, the "already" aspect of resurrection reality is likely present in the text.The question, however, is whether the resurrection only consists of the "already" spiritual aspect or if this is a present reality that looks forward to a future one. That question is answered in the verses that follow.

"For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is [the] Son of Man. "Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good [deeds] to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil [deeds] to a resurrection of judgment." (vv. 26-29)

Here, Jesus expresses the idea that the reason why resurrection is a present reality is because the Son has authority to give life. Hence, this life is given in the present, but it has an effect that continues to give life to its recipient, all the way to resurrection of the body.

Hence, in v. 28, the ones hearing His voice are those in the tombs. They will come forth, contextually, out of the tombs and go into judgment.

There are a few observations to be made here. The "already-not yet" is displayed here by what Jesus says each time. In v. 25, He states, ἔρχεται ὥρα καὶ νῦν ἐστιν ὅτε "an hour is coming and now is when . . ." But in v. 28, ἔρχεται ὥρα ἐν "an hour is coming when . . ." Notice, the καὶ νῦν ἐστιν is dropped when referring to the future fulfillment of the present reality. Hence, the "already-not yet" is displayed nicely in the passage.

It is also displayed in the fact that those who hear in v. 25 are given life. There is nothing about a physical resurrection, but in vv. 28-29, the physical resurrection is in view, as those who hear His voice are coming out of the tombs.

What is in the μνημείοις "memorials/tombs" is not the spirit. It is the body that was buried. This is displayed well in the following eschatological resurrection in Chapter 6 and the resurrection of Lazarus in Chapter 11, where it is the body of Lazarus that was buried that is raised as a type of the eschatological resurrection. It is not some other body, but the body with which these who hear His voice to come forth went into the tomb.

This likely does not refer to the OT saints who are raised when Christ is crucified, as these are also a type of what is to come, but cannot be described as made up of the wicked who will also be raised, according to v. 29, to be judged for their evil deeds. Instead, the reference is clearly to the general resurrection of all people that Second Temple Judaism believed was to be held at the end of this world. Notice that those who are raised are raised bodily out of the tomb and are referred to as ἁγίων "holy ones/saints" who had κεκοιμημένων "fallen asleep."

καὶ τὰ μνημεῖα ἀνεῴχθησαν καὶ πολλὰ σώματα τῶν κεκοιμημένων ἁγίων ἠγέρθησαν (καὶ ἐξελθόντες ἐκ τῶν μνημείων μετὰ τὴν ἔγερσιν αὐτοῦ εἰσῆλθον εἰς τὴν ἁγίαν πόλιν καὶ ἐνεφανίσθησαν πολλοῖς).

And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after His resurrection and went into the holy city, and appeared to many. 

Here, again, we see that falling asleep refers to the physical body that has died, buried in the tomb, and is in need to be raised again to life. 

It is not likely, then, that Jesus is referencing this event in 5:28-29. It is also unlikely due to the fact that Jesus says that "all who are in the tombs." But we are told that only some of the OT saints come out of the tombs, and there is no mention of the wicked, nor does it seem obvious why the wicked would rise up because of Christ's resurrection.

This brings me to another point about this passage. If resurrection is only a spiritual baptism into Christ, what does that have to do with the wicked? We are told here that the wicked are also raised and go into judgment. Are the wicked united to Christ as well? Of course not. But they are raised to judgment so that they might answer to the One who destroys both body and soul in γεέννη (Matt 10:28). Hence, we see that making the "already" aspect of resurrection for the saints to be all-encompassing so as to exclude the "not yet" aspect of the general resurrection makes no sense in light of the fact that the wicked are also raised, and as we see here, also in the light of passages like Matt 10:28, this is a resurrection of the same body that went into the tomb.

This is also displayed in every instance of the dead being brought back to life. They are brought back in the same body. I've already mentioned Lazarus and the OT saints who rise after Christ's resurrection, but there are numerous examples in both the OT and NT.
Elijah raised the widow of Zarephath's son from the dead, bodily (1 Kings 17:17-24). Elisha raised the son of the Shunamite woman from the dead, bodily (2 Kings 4:20-37). The man who was tossed on Elisha's bones was raised, bodily (2 Kings 13:21). Jairus's daughter was raised from the dead, bodily (Mark 5:35-43). The widow of Nain's son was raised from the dead, bodily (Luke 7:11-15). Peter raises Dorcas from the dead, bodily (Acts 9:36-41). Paul may have been raised from the dead, and of course, it would have been bodily (Acts 14:19). Paul also raises Eutychus from the dead, bodily (Acts 20:7-12). As the author of Hebrews states, "women received back their dead through resurrection" (Hebrews 11:35). This is likely a reference to the Elijah/Elisha narratives, where the women were not haunted by a spirit that was raised, but were given back their family members in the same bodies in which they died.

This is also displayed in the task of the Messiah spelled out throughout the Book of Isaiah. When John doubts in the Synoptics, Jesus tells his messengers:

"Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor." (Luke 7:22 // Matt 11:5).

Notice, the task of the Messiah is to restore the body, the whole person. He heals the body. That is His role. He heals spiritually, but what is spiritual also hails what is ultimately holistic, physical and spiritual together. Hence, He restores the eyes of the blind, He restores the ears of the deaf, He restores the legs of the lame, and the skin of the diseased. He restores the whole body, even raising it from death to life. This good news, that life will be restored to their bodies, is proclaimed to the poor who have only the hope of dying in an impoverished context. But they now have hope of the resurrection through Jesus Christ, the Messiah, who restores the body.

There are so many passages that evidence a bodily resurrection, it would be exhausting to go through all of them. Therefore, I'm only going to mention a few others and be done with this installment.

In 1 Thes 4:13-17, Paul states:

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of [the] archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.

We are met here, again, with the imagery of sleep. Notice that Paul has no concept of soul sleep, as he longs to be present with the Lord when he departs. Instead, sleep, as he has used it before in 1 Cor 15, refers to the dead body of believers.

Hence, those who are still alive when Christ comes will not precede those who are dead in Christ in terms of being resurrected. They will be resurrected first (v. 16) when Christ descends from heaven, then those who are still alive will join them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air (v. 17).

Those who have fallen asleep, i.e., in their bodies, will be brought by Christ at His coming. Paul further explains this by the fact that Christ will raise them from the dead = raise their bodies from the graves, if we keep in line with the sleep metaphor.

The contrast here between the dead in Christ rising first and those who remain alive receiving some sort of resurrection second. But, as we know from Paul's theology, this second resurrection is an immediate transformation of the body where no death is experienced. But the idea here is that those who remain and those who have fallen asleep will receive a resurrected body when Christ returns. We'll pursue this point in the next segment.

But something I want to note before I end this segment is that when the words for "resurrection" are used in a Second Temple eschatological context, they don't mean something else. Second Temple Judaism believed that resurrection was of the body. Hence, the Sadduccees did not believe in the resurrection because they did not believe that the body would be raised (see their argument concerning which husband a woman who married seven brothers would have if the body is raised and the two would once again become one flesh, Matt 22:23-28 // Mark 12:18-23 // Luke 20:27-33).
Hence, when these words are used in these contexts, with these same referents contained in other Second Temple contexts, it is a linguistic fallacy to conclude that they might mean something else. The context would have to change contextual referents and mold the words through clearly expressed polemical language. Instead, what we find is that the words are used in the understanding that the audience would know exactly what was being said. For instance, when Paul addresses the Pharisees, he states that he believes as they do concerning the resurrection:  "that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked" (Acts 24:15). There is no indication that he means anything other than they do when they talk about the resurrection.

This is an important point because resurrection of the body is all over popular Jewish literature (the Enochic traditions that form of a basis for Jewish apocalyptic found in the Pseudepigrapha and the Dead Sea Scrolls). The NT is very much at home when it speaks of the resurrection, and it is not a resurrection of spirits or different bodies, but of the very body presently owned by those who are promised resurrection if they follow God and His Messiah. The burden of proof, therefore, is on those who would say that the NT does not have a concept that the body of every believer will be raised, using words differently than its religious environment uses them. Certainly, resurrection realities are given new life in the biblical "already-not yet" framework, where future promises have present realities; but this is an added element brought on by this framework, not a denial of the fundamental meaning of the words that are used in their Second Temple environment.

Of course, the most well known passage is found in the Apocalypse of John. Apocalyptic literature often contains elements of God's Kingdom destroying and replacing other kingdoms, God coming in judgment of the nations, a messianic figure of some sort, and the resurrection of the saints. In this regard, John's work is stock apocalypticism. It also fills out the picture alluded to in the rest of the NT.

Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I [saw] the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years. (Rev 20:4-6)

 Notice here that there are souls alive and  well in heaven with God already. Hence, their "coming to life" ἔζησαν has to do with the resurrection of their bodies. Hence, this is referred to as ἡ ἀνάστασις ἡ πρώτη "the first resurrection," which makes reference to the belief that there will be two resurrections, one of the righteous and one of the wicked. John splits them here, even though they are joined together elsewhere, perhaps, to denote the "already-not yet" nature of the believer's resurrection versus the "not yet" nature of the unbelievers. In any case, resurrection cannot refer to spirit here, since John already sees the souls. These souls are not in bodies in heaven, and they only come alive when they participate in what is called the first resurrection, i.e., the first raising up. It is important, again, to note here that the imagery of raising up is from the imagery of sleeping, which throughout the NT has referred to the actual body of the believer that has died.

The second resurrection, even though it is only implied to be such by John's statement of the first, is likewise of the body.

 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one [of them] according to their deeds. (20:11-13)

Here we have what John seems to indicate is the resurrection of the wicked. They are raised, as Jesus said back in John 5, in order to be judged for their deeds. Notice that they are given up from death, the sea, and the grave, obscured by our translation of  ᾅδης as a place name (although a possible reference to the netherworld, its coupling with the sea and death make it unlikely to refer to anything else but the grave).

In order to understand the term "death," we need to look at the concept here that the dead are being given up by the sea and the grave. Are souls in the sea? Do they live there now? The word for seas here is not that for the abyss, which might be synonymous for hell. Instead, it is merely the word that denotes bodies of water. Hence, this refers to those who have been lost at sea. Likewise, therefore, since John is talking about where bodies are buried, ᾅδης simply means "grave." Hence, "death" here refers to the bodies being dead. Death gives up the dead bodies. They do not believe that the spirits stayed in the grave, or they lived in the water if they died there. They, again, believed that spirits went to the netherworld, either to a heavenly or hellish place; but the only thing left in the grave was the body. Hence, the second resurrection, the resurrection of the wicked, is one where their bodies are being raised up from the grave/sea/death itself.

All of these indicate that the bodies that are buried are the same bodies that are risen. The resurrection, therefore, is of the body. He who is raised is raised a whole person, the whole person he was when he died. To life or to death, the person who goes there goes there completely.

Monday, April 21, 2014

On the Resurrection, PART III

Let's now turn to 1 Corinthians 15 and follow Paul's argument through.

I think a lot of people misconstrue what Paul is saying here simply because a word, phrase, or verse is often removed from its historical and literary context and replaced with our own ideas. Perhaps, here it is easier to do this simply because the chapter is so long and not many wish to spend time to follow the passage from start to finish. At some point, it might be helpful to do some sort of arching discourse analysis on the text to see why the following connections must be made, but for now, this will have to do. So, as laborious as it may be, let’s do this now.

Paul grounds his argument that there is a resurrection of the saints in the fact that Christ has been raised. This apparently is answering the claim of some group in Corinth that were arguing that there is no resurrection (v. 12).

Hence, he links Christ's resurrection to the general resurrection by using it as the prototype for the general resurrection. He refers to Christ's resurrection as the aparchē "first fruits." The first fruits were a portion of the larger crops that were representative of the larger whole. Hence, Paul here is stating that Christ's resurrection is representative of the larger resurrection. What happened to Him is representative of what will happen to believers who have fallen asleep.

As I said before, the metaphor for falling asleep in Scripture (koimaomai) refers to the body, and it is the body that is in view here, as the ancients believed that the spirit was alive in another realm. It was the return of a person in his or her physical body that was difficult for a dualist-Hellenistic culture to grasp (cf. Acts 17:18 with 1 Cor 1:23, a god who dies in flesh and is raised in flesh is simply unfathomable to the Greeks). Hence, many were saying that there was no resurrection, yet they were still among the Corinthian believers, and must have believed that Christ saves souls to a paradisal afterlife rather than one that directs the soul to Hades.

Instead, however, Paul counters this idea by saying that Christ was risen in His body and was witnessed by all of His disciples, including even himself. Hence, when Paul uses the word anastasis "resurrection," it is incumbent upon us to realize that he is referring to the resurrection of the body. Indeed, the body is clearly his subject in the pericope (v. 35).

Hence, when the term "resurrection" is used here it is used to refer to the body. There is no referent to a spirit, and to say that the resurrection is simply God giving some other body is to say that the body is not actually raised at all. Hence, Paul is speaking about the resurrection of the earthly body in the same way that he is speaking about the resurrection of Christ's earthly body.

Therefore, he can describe its death as "sleeping." Again, the ancients did not believe in soul sleep, a modern idea, but rather that the spirit was awake in the spiritual world. What went dormant was the body. It is the body, therefore, that must be woken up if the whole person is to be raised.

This raising, therefore, follows an order: Εκαστος δ ν τ δίῳ τγματι· παρχ Χριστς, πειτα ο το Χριστο ν τ παρουσίᾳ ατο "But each in its own order: Christ as first fruits, then those who belong to Christ at His parousia. So Christ was raised in His own body first, then those who belong to Christ will be raised in their own bodies at His parousia. This is the flow of Paul's argument, using the words according to the way they would have been understood by Paul and his audience.

Hence, when Paul discusses the last enemy that must be put into subjection (a "not yet" event for Paul with an "already" sense to it that occurred at the cross), he is speaking about the death from this realm that ended the life of the person in his or her body here on earth. It is this death that must be abolished in order for all things to be complete.

Notice that the end comes after this takes place, and that this end includes the abolishing of all other rule and authority on the earth (v. 24), a theology extremely familiar to anyone who has studied Second Temple Judaism. God's Kingdom completely abolishes the others. They do not reign along with Him. There are no co-regents in that eschatological view. Hence, again, there is a sense in which the Kingdom has come and a sense in which the Kingdom is not yet. But what is very clear is that all other kingdoms end when it comes upon the earth in fulfillment. That is the picture Paul has in mind as a Second Temple Jew. All of the wicked are removed from the earth. Their kingdoms are abolished. And the righteous reign upon the earth forever. And how do they do this? In their resurrected bodies. As Christ received back what He lost in death, so also those who belong to Christ receive back what they lost in death.

But there is further evidence here that when Paul speaks of resurrection, he is speaking of the resurrection of the same body that the believer has on earth. In describing what the resurrected body will be like, Paul assumes that it is this body that is transformed to its best existence, rather than a new body that replaces this one.

In v. 29, Paul discusses a group who is baptizing for the dead.

πε τ ποισουσιν ο βαπτιζμενοι πρ τν νεκρν; ε λως νεκρο οκ γερονται, τ κα βαπτζονται πρ ατν;

Otherwise, what are those who baptize on behalf of the dead doing if the dead are not actually raised? Why are they being baptized on their behalf?

Now, Paul's argument is difficult here, but I'm going to assume that this group, if the same as those who are saying that there is no resurrection, is practicing baptism in order to save those who have died. These people seem to be practicing water baptism for those who have died in order to save spirits, since they don't believe in a bodily resurrection. Paul seems to be asking why one would baptize their physical bodies in order to save spirits if physical bodies are not resurrected. Baptism signifies a salvation of the whole self. It is not an insignificant point, then, to see many Preterists, who hold Gnostic assumptions, to believe that water baptism is not something taught in the NT, but only a baptism of the spirit into Christ.
Paul argues that if the dead are not raised, then one may use the body as he wishes. It is to be discarded anyway. "Eat and drink, for tomorrow we die" (v. 32). Again, if we read this in the understanding of Paul's world, instead of in the context of our own, this doesn't mean we are annihilated, but that our bodies are not raised, and we, therefore, have no obligation to purify them and live a holy life in them. After all, they are just shells, as the Gnostics would say. The spirit and the body are not intermingled as a whole.

In any case, the real argument that Paul is talking about the resurrection of the whole person by resurrecting his body is found in the next few statements he makes concerning its nature.

First, Paul places the body that is to be raised as the same body that is buried. It is raised transformed, but the same body that went into the grave nonetheless.

v. 36 "What you sow does not come to life unless it dies."

Notice, what comes to life is what dies, not something else. Also notice, that the imagery of the seed is that what is sown, i.e., a seed, is the entity from which the living plant springs. It is not some other entity. One does not sow a seed in one place and then a plant springs up in another. The life is produced from the dead seed in Paul's analogy, not apart from it.

In vv. 37-38, Paul tells us that what is sown is not the body that will come to be, but a bare seed or grain of wheat or something of that nature. He, then, proceeds to tell us that "God gives it a body just as He desires, and to each of the seeds a body of their own."

To what does the ατ refer? It does not refer to "him," as though this was saying that God gives a believer a body as He wishes, since there is no "him" in the context. Instead, the antecedent seems to be either γυμνν κκκον or the στου, the naked seed or wheat, both of which are masculine and singular in agreement with the pronoun. Hence, the verse should be translated, "God gives it a body as He desires." God gives what? The seed that is sown. The very body, in the analogy, that goes into the grave. These are attributes that God is giving to it in the resurrection. It cannot, therefore, be a different body that is given.
In case it alludes anyone, the next clause is clear to point this out: κα κστ τν σπερμτων διον σμα "and to each of the seeds its own body." Hence, He is giving a body to each of the seeds that are sown in the ground. That makes the above analysis pretty solid. Paul is talking about what God is giving to the body that goes in the ground. God is not finished with it at death. He is taking it and giving it greater attributes in order to make it the best body possible, a body fit for the kingdom of God.

Paul proceeds to argue that this is possible for the body to take on other attributes because there are different kinds of bodies (that of animals and fish and heavenly bodies), and hence, the body can be given different attributes. It does not have to keep the same attributes it had before, so God has options to choose different attributes for it if He so desires; and indeed, this is the case in the resurrection. But it is the same body nonetheless. Hence, he tells us:

σπερεται ν φθορ, γερεται ν φθαρσίᾳ·
σπερεται ν τιμίᾳ, γερεται ν δξ·
σπερεται ν σθενείᾳ, γερεται ν δυνμει·
σπερεται σμα ψυχικν, γερεται σμα πνευματικν.


It is sown as perishable. It is raised imperishable. It is sown as dishonorable. It is raised in glory.
It is sown as weakness. It is raised in power.
It is sown as a natural body. It is raised a spiritual body.

The "it" here is in the verb. There is no "he" or "she" in the passage and the subject is the body. Hence, in the context, the "it" refers to the same subject, i.e., the body. The body is the "it" that is sown and the "it" that is raised. This is clear also from the fact that what is sown is what is being raised up. The imagery of the seed pervades this text. The seed is planted/buried and from "it" is brought a living plant that has been produced from the seed, not apart from it. A farmer does not plant a seed and then expect that a shoot will come up disconnected from the seed.

Hence, it is the same body that is sown as a perishable, dishonorable, weak, natural body and raised up as an imperishable, honorable, strong, spiritual body. The whole person has been redeemed because the body has been redeemed, not just his spirit.

Paul, then, continues to argue (that Jesus was heavenly, but Adam earthy. We have borne the image of the earthy, so we will also bear the image of the heavenly. He, then, continues to make his analogy of our bodies with that of Jesus. Notice, that Jesus, being referred to as the heavenly, does not denote that Christ has a different body than the one which was raised, but rather refers to the resurrected Jesus' body. As Jesus is a heavenly man with His earthly body, so believers will be like Him and be heavenly men with their heavenly bodies, their transformed and glorified bodies that were sown in death and weakness.

Then Paul tells the Corinthians that the natural man, Adam, came first and then the spiritual man, Jesus Christ. Hence, as all believers are in the natural man, and bear his likeness, they must undergo death or transformation in order to bear the image of the spiritual/heavenly man, Jesus (vv. 45-49). That Adam preceded Christ, and all are in him, is the reason why believers still carry his perishable, weak, dishonored body with them. However, they will receive attributes in the resurrection that bears the image of the heavenly man, Jesus Christ and His resurrected body. A mortal body cannot inherit the kingdom of God, but a body raised up and given immortal attributes can. Hence, Jesus, in His immortal body of literal flesh and blood reigns in the kingdom, but "flesh and blood" as Paul uses it here is clearly identified as the mortal body that is sown, not the raised immortal body. Hence, the phrase, "flesh and blood" cannot be taken literally, lest Christ be incapable of inheriting the kingdom of God because He has his very own physical body (cf. Luke 24:. This is further evidenced in v. 50b that clarifies that the body of "flesh and blood" is the perishable one.

Finally, Paul tells us that it is, in fact, this body that will be raised up when he reveals that not all of them will fall asleep, i.e., die. Instead, some of them will be transformed immediately, thus showing that it is this body that is transformed, not some other body received in place of this one.

He states in vv. 51-52 that he and those who have not yet died at Christ's coming will be altered (λλαγησμεθα). In the context, this clearly refers to the body. It is the body that will be altered, not discarded in order to receive a different one. This will happen in contrast to dying: ο κοιμηθησμεθα "we will not all sleep."

Instead, this perishable (body, touto is neuter and refers to σμα, which is the continuing subject of the pericope) must put on the imperishable and this mortal body put on the immortal.

Paul ends by showing the Corinthians that death will be swallowed up, i.e., the victory of Christ in subjecting death underneath His feet, to which he alluded before, will only come about when this physical resurrection of the body occurs. When the body is glorified in resurrection, then death truly, in every sense, will have been defeated.
Hence, Paul's argument is that victory has "not yet" fully come about, but that Christ's bodily resurrection as first fruits that looks forward to the resurrection of believers is the "already" that assures believers that the "not yet" will, in fact, occur. Hence, contrary to what some were saying at Corinth, there is, indeed, a resurrection of the body.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

On the Resurrection, PART II

Proto-Gnostic thinking was alive and well in the first century. This is evident by the numerous passages of the NT that seek to refute it. John tells us that the one who denies that Jesus has come in the flesh is antichrist (2 John 1:7), as well as he who denies that Jesus is the Christ, as opposed to being a man adopted by the Christ Spirit (1 John 2:22). The idea that flesh and spirit are equally a part of God's redemptive plan is foreign to Gnostic thought. Yet, this is precisely what the NT teaches in continuity with the OT. God creates and redeems human beings, and human beings are made of body and spirit, not just spirit. The biblical narrative reaches its climax when all that was lost is restored, and all that was lost is both physical and spiritual. Hence, Christ comes in the flesh and is saved. As a result, He saves whatever He acquires. If He is saved as a body and spirit, then what is saved is the body and spirit for all who are in Him. If it is His body He indwelt upon the earth in which He is saved, it is our bodies in which we dwell on earth that are saved. That is the sense of it. What is lost is redeemed. It is not lost, thrown away, and then we get something other than what was lost. That is not redemption. It is loss of one thing and gain of another. That's not the biblical narrative. Hence, it became important to note whether it was Christ's very body that was saved with Him.

In John 2:18-22, Jesus answers the Jews who want to know what sign He will give them. He answers them by saying:

Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again.”
Then the Jewish leaders said to him, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and are you going to raise it up in three days? But Jesus was speaking about the temple of his body. So after he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the scripture and the saying that Jesus had spoken.

We learn a couple things from this text. First, "this temple" is synonymous with "this body." It is "this body" that Jesus will raise up in three days. Hence, it is His same body with which He is raised. Second to this, this is what his disciples identify as resurrection. It is the raising of "this body" that describes resurrection. Hence, after He is raised in His body, they remember that He said this.  

What this means is that when resurrection is referred to throughout the Gospel of John, it basis itself on this reference point. When Jesus says He will raise those the Father has given to Him up on the last day, He is referring to the resurrection of their very bodies. When Lazarus is raised, it is not in a different body, but the very one that went into the tomb. What we get from this is that resurrection is of the same body that goes into the grave.

Hence, the disciples rejoice when they see the Lord, i.e., the Lord resurrected in His actual body.
When we reach the end of the Gospel, John tells us that Jesus visited the disciples, absent of Thomas.

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. (20:20)

 John proceeds to tell us that Thomas doubted and would not believe unless he saw Jesus resurrected in His own body for himself. He says, Unless I see the wounds  from the nails in his hands, and put my finger into the wounds from the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will never believe it!" (v. 25)

 Jesus appears to him eight days later and says to him: 

“Put your finger here, and examine my hands. Extend  your hand and put it into my side. Do not continue in your unbelief, but believe.” (v. 27).

Hence, Christ had the same resurrected body as the one in which He was crucified. He does not obtain a different body, but is redeemed in the one that He already had. It has, or will, merely undergo a transformation; but it remains the same body, and is not discarded in order to obtain a different one.

In Luke 24:36-42, the author tells us the following:

While they were saying these things, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” But they were startled and terrified, thinking they saw a spirit. Then he said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; it’s me! Touch me and see; a spirit does not have flesh and bones like you see I have.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still could not believe it (because of their joy) and were amazed, he said to them, “Do you have anything here to eat? So they gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in front of them.

We gain some information about the resurrection here as well. The most obvious is that Jesus' body is a real body and not one that is a spirit. But He proves this to the disciples by showing them His hands and feet that were pierced by the nails on the cross (as also in the Johannine account). It is, therefore, His very body that is raised, not a different one. 

But the second thing we see here is that Jesus actually identifies Himself with His body in contrast to just being a spirit. Jesus is His body and spirit, not just His spirit. Hence, He states, ἐγώ εἰμι αὐτός "it is I myself." You can touch Him and see that it is He. Why is it He Himself? Because πνεῦμα σάρκα καὶ ὀστέα οὐκ ἔχει καθὼς ἐμὲ θεωρεῖτε ἔχοντα "a spirit does not have flesh and bone as you see that I myself have." 

This is no insignificant point, and we will revisit it later; but Gnostic dualism makes the body a shell for the spirit. It does not identify a human as body and spirit, but merely a spirit with a body. Here, Jesus indicates that He Himself is a body and spirit, not just a spirit. Otherwise, it would not be He Himself. As such, the body is an essential part to who we are as humans, and to get rid of our bodies is to get rid of an essential part of us and replace it with something else that is not us. 

These texts, therefore, indicate that when the disciples thought of Jesus as rising from the dead, they thought of His resurrection as bodily. If Paul, therefore, bases his argument that our resurrection will take place on the resurrection of Christ, then he is talking about the redemption and resurrection of our bodies, not the disposal of this one in order to obtain a completely different one.

The only reason that Preterists grant this point about Christ and then continue to argue that His resurrection is unique is because there is simply too much evidence to suggest that Christ's resurrection is of His own earthly body. Their failure to recognize what this means for any discussion of the resurrection of the saints in the theology of the apostle's and the church that follows can only be due to a need to hold this view in order to keep Preterism alive, along with a complete misunderstanding of how we are saved and what it means to be saved.

In any case, Jesus is the same today, yesterday, and forever. This refers to Jesus as the incarnate Son. He was the same incarnate Son on earth, He is the same incarnate Son in heaven, and He will be the same incarnate Son forever. He had, has, and will have the same body that He has always had because He is the same Jesus. Likewise, Paul will now argue from this that our bodies too will be redeemed. We'll pick that up in Part III.

On the Resurrection, PART I

The importance of the Apostle’s Creed for early and modern Christianity cannot be overstated. Gnosticism is rampant in our thinking, even though the mythological aspects of the religion are explicitly denied. That the early church had to define itself in opposition to the Gnostic heresy makes them, rather than unique, of one task with us, as we seek to define ourselves in distinction from neognostic thinking. Hence, the Apostle’s Creed, constructed for that very reason, is not merely some historical relic for us to chant every once and awhile, but a boundary marker that defines what Christianity, at its core, is and is not in reference to Gnostic thought.
The creed begins by reminding us that God, the Father, the Almighty, not the lesser Demiurge, created the spiritual and physical spheres of the cosmos (i.e., heaven AND earth together). Hence, the good Almighty God is the very One who made the physical and spiritual to dwell together. It is good because He is good, as all Christians and Gnostics would agree when speaking about the Supreme (i.e. the Almighty) God; but this, therefore, means that creation, as both the spiritual and the physical dwelling together must be good (something the Gnostics would cringe at). Hence, the creed denies that a lesser, and even evil, deity made the physical cosmos.

The creed then proceeds on this point to say that Jesus Christ, the Son of this good God, our Lord, became physical by the power of the Holy Spirit through the physical means of being born of a virgin. It states that He was not only born into the physical world as a physical human, but suffered under Pontius Pilate, was really killed by way of crucifixion, and was bodily resurrected.

All of this is meant to convey the idea that the Son of God, the Christ, was born a human, rather than appear to be human or have the Christ Spirit adopt a human at his baptism or later in life. It was the very Son who was born, suffered, and crucified (some Gnostics believed the Christ Spirit came upon Jesus at His baptism and then left Him when He was crucified, and others believed that He was never really a physical human at the get go). Hence, the creed tells us that the creation is good and that the Son of God became a part of the good creation to redeem it. He was really born, He really suffered, and He really died.

But what is even more significant is that He was really raised, that is, with the very body in which He died. His body was good. His body. This would have been completely despised by the Gnostics. The body is physical, and therefore, of a lesser nature than the spirit. Salvation is a salvation of spirit, not of body. To shed the body is salvation itself. It is to be free from its constraints and its corruption. The physical is darkness but the spiritual is light. Hence, for the early church to say that the Son, identified as both body and spirit, the very One born and suffered and crucified, was raised from the dead, i.e., He, in His very same body, was raised from among the dead, is to say that salvation is not just of spirit, but is of the body. It is not merely Christ’s spirit that was saved, but Christ, who is body and spirit, was raised as the same. His spirit was redeemed and His body was redeemed. He was completely redeemed. And, of course, that is consistent with Second Temple Judaism, which believed that salvation was not gained until resurrection of the body had taken place. Full salvation is salvation of both one’s spirit and one’s body, and Gnosticism cannot accept such a doctrine. Hence, orthodox Christianity is distinguished from Gnosticism by it.

But the creed does not stop there. It continues, based upon the first premise that the Almighty God made the physical and spiritual cosmos to dwell together, to argue that Christ is eternally physical and spiritual, as He, not just His spirit, ascends into heaven, sits down at the right hand of God, and will come again to judge the living and the dead. The physical Christ ascended. The physical Christ dwells in the presence of God the Father Almighty, making intercession for the saints, and the physical Christ will return and judge both the living and the dead. 

From there, the creed confirms that the Spirit and flesh dwell together and are together redeemed by stating a belief in the Holy Spirit, who is spirit, a belief of the holy physical Christian church that confesses on earth, the communion of holy ones here on earth in the physical, the forgiveness of sins committed in the body, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting, again, in context, an everlasting life in the body.
What I want to do today is focus on the biblical teaching concerning the phrase, “the resurrection of the body.”  

This has become an issue in our current church with the fact that there are some Preterists who espouse the idea that when a Christian dies, he receives a different body than the one he has now.

Now, of course, when I say “different body,” I don’t mean what all Christians throughout the ages have meant when speaking of the transformed body. What this mortal body becomes is a spiritual body, but that is precisely what is denied by some who have more Gnostic assumptions in their dualistic thinking of body and spirit. What these Preterists believe is that one receives an entirely different body. It is not this body, but some other body. They will often refer to texts like 2 Cor 5:1-5, which talks about a house that is not built by human hands, reserved in heaven for the saints. Of course, one of the many problems with interpreting this common idiom that merely refers to something that God does supernaturally and links it to another common idiom where He keeps something safe for the believer in heaven until the time which they are to receive it, in a literal fashion is that Jesus refers to His own resurrected body, that we know is the same body in which He was crucified, as that which is a building “not made with human hands” (acheiropoietos, Mark 14:58; Paul may even be taking this phrase from the Gospel of Mark).

Instead, the most straightforward teaching concerning the resurrected body is found in 1 Cor 15. Paul premises his argument upon the fact that Christ has been raised, and that this is part of the gospel. It is good news because if He has been raised bodily, then we will be raised bodily too. We receive whatever He has received because our salvation is derivative of His. We cannot receive any salvation that He does not. Hence, if His body was not redeemed, there would be no resurrection. But since His body was redeemed, our bodies will be redeemed as well. Christ is saved body and spirit. Hence, we will be saved, body and spirit. 

That is why he builds the argument that there is a resurrection on the fact that Christ has been raised. It is important to point out here that the subject is the body. The reason why this is important is because many might think that resurrection has to do with the spirit. But the ancients are not typically philosophical naturalists as we are. They believed in the afterlife for spirits. Paul speaks of it being much better for him to be with the Lord when he leaves his body behind. The spirits are in the netherworld in the Bible, whether a peaceful sphere within that world or one of torment. But whether the body would be raised up is a question yet to be answered, and Paul is here addressing it.

Hence, to be resurrected refers to one’s body already. This is not even to bring out the other evidence of the passage yet. When the body died, the NT writers, based upon what Jesus taught, referred to it as going asleep. Since they believed the spirit was not asleep, but alive and well in another realm, this had to refer to the body. It was for this reason that the imagery of going asleep lent itself to the idea that whatever goes to sleep wakes back up again. Hence, as one rises in the morning from a night’s rest, the body is raised.
This, therefore, cannot refer to some other body, as throwing away this body and getting an entirely different one is not resurrection of the body anymore than God throwing away the mind and spirit of Person A and making a completely different person (Person B) is salvation for Person A. Instead, transforming Person A into the best of Person A is the salvation of Person A. Likewise, transforming the body into the best body it can be is salvation of the body, but merely tossing it and creating some completely different body means that the body is not redeemed. Christ, therefore, has not saved the body. He has merely obtained the use of some other body, as this one cannot be saved. Perhaps, it’s too corrupt. It’s too inferior. See the Gnostic thinking emerge?

Paul, however, addresses this wayward thinking by stating that it is the very body we currently have that is sown mortal but raised immortal, sown corruptible but raised incorruptible. In other words, it is the same body that is transformed and redeemed, not a different one. It is transformed to be like Christ’s glorified body, which is also the same body He had on earth, as Christ has been completely and fully redeemed, not just His spirit. He is body and soul redeemed, and hence, we are body and soul redeemed. There can be no other salvation outside of Christ, and therefore, we can receive nothing that Christ did not receive for Himself, and all that He received we receive, body and soul.

This is the clear teaching of the passage, brought out further by the fact that Paul discusses those who will not sleep, but be immediately transformed—thus indicating that it is the same body that is transformed. Otherwise, one has Paul saying that the body does not sleep, i.e., die, when in fact it is dying and being replaced by some other body. Such would be a twisting of the text beyond recognition, and an absurdity, since a body cannot live without the spirit, and once removed would no longer be alive. Hence, it would die, which contradicts what Paul is saying here. So, again, before even looking at the passage that closely, the knowledge concerning to what “sleep” refers makes it impossible to argue that the spiritual body is a completely different body than the one we have now. It is the same body, but transformed to its best state, a state that cannot be brought about by a natural process, i.e., not made by human hands, but as a gift of God in Christ.

But what I want to do is look at the logic of the language in its context, as some of the arguments presented by Preterists completely ignore linguistics and the grammatical sense of the context. In order to do that, since Paul begins with Christ’s resurrection as the precedent for the resurrection of Christians, I want to pursue what the Scripture says of Christ’s resurrection in Part II. In Part III, I will then look at the rest of the argument Paul is making in 1 Cor 15. In Part IV, I will then look at other passages that speak of our resurrection. Finally, in Part V, I will look at the arguments made by Preterists, the exegetical fallacies being committed, the Gnostic assumptions concerning human nature, and why their theology is the only thing dictating their view of resurrection, not what the text of Scripture actually says.