The English word “resurrection” does not appear in the Old Testament of the King James Version of the Bible, though the concept does. In the New Testament of the KJV the Greek meaning for “resurrection” is simply a raising up (Strong’s Greek 386 – “anastasis”). For the purposes of this essay we will use the meaning for “resurrection” from the text as follows:
“So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:“ (1st Cor 15:42)
In Psalm 2:6-7, in speaking of Christ the prophet announced:
“Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.” * (KJV)
What day? The Apostle Paul gives us the answer many years later in a speech in the Synagogue in Antioch recorded in Acts 13.
“And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre. But God raised him from the dead: And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people. And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. “ (Acts 13:29-33)
The conclusion is obvious — Christ was begotten the day He was resurrected!
But, we know that Christ is from everlasting to everlasting, without beginning and without end. However, “begotten” implies new life or origin. Resolving the difficulty, Dr. Hugo McCord explains that “begotten” is used here symbolically to mark the new life Christ obtained with His coronation as King of Kings and Lord of Lords and His ordination as High Priest after the order of Melchizedek (Zech 6:13). One might say a change of status. (See source here)
Further, no one preceded Christ in the resurrection from the dead.
“And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” (Col 1:18, see also Psa 89:27 and Rev 1:5)
Therefore no one was resurrected before Christ. The resurrection of Christ was part one.
So, where were all the dead?
Now among the Jews the sect of the Pharisees believed in the resurrection and angels and spirits, whereas the sect of the Sadducees did not (Acts 23:8). On one occasion the Sadducees came to Christ with a question they thought would confound Him.
“Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother: Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh. And last of all the woman died also. Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her.
Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. “ (Matt 22:24-32)
One wonders how the Sadducees could have missed the following scripture from Daniel.
“And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.
And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever. But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” (Dan 12:1-4)
In this prophecy Michael refers to Christ; the time of trouble refers to the persecution under Nero and the destruction of Jerusalem that occurred in AD 70; those who sleep refers to the dead at the time of the chief resurrection from Hades; and, the time of the end refers to the end of the Mosaic covenant (Heb 8:13). Christ prophesied concerning these things (Matt 24-25).
So where were the dead waiting in the first century AD at the time Christ gave this prophesy?
They were in Hades (the unseen realm of the dead). Christ draws us a picture of Hades in Luke 16.
“And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell (Hades) he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.“ (Luke 16:22-26)
Therefore, we see that Hades consisted in two parts separated by a gulf – Hades Paradise where the beggar was, and Hades Tartarus where the rich man was. On His death, Christ and the thief on the cross went to Hades Paradise. But, Hades could not hold our Lord! (Psa 16:9-10, Acts 2:27-31)
Neither would Hades prevail over Christians (Matt 16:18, Phil 1:23). It should be noted that all the books of the New Testament were written prior to AD 70 and the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy. Accordingly, for the first Christians the events of AD 70 were in their future, whereas the events of AD 70 are in our distant past.
So, we have the resurrection of the dead from Hades – the separation of the sheep and the goats – that occurred after the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 (Matt. 25:31-46). That was resurrection part two.
Being now empty and having served its purpose, Hades was destroyed and thrown in the lake of fire (Rev 20:14).
Where does that leave the rest of us today including those who die in the Lord? (Rev 14:13) Let’s see.
“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.“ (1st Thess 4:13-18)
The question is when are we that remain caught up together with them to meet the Lord? The fact is that no one is resurrected unless he first die (1st Cor. 15:36). And the Apostle further explains:
“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave (Hades), where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.” (1st Cor 15:51-56)
Two groups are discussed here – those who sleep and those who do not sleep (ie., those who already slumbered in Hades, and those who did not slumber in Hades.)
He did not say those who die and those who do not die. People are resurrected from the dead, not from the living. Both groups are changed (resurrected). Under the new covenant each individual death is followed by a resurrection (Jer 31:31).
And, that is resurrection part three which now occurs daily at the death of each soul (Heb 9:27).
Today, we are all resurrected as we pass from this mortal life to the next world. But, only those who are in Christ, who die in the Lord are counted worthy to receive eternal life in heaven and to be with all the saints that have gone before. See John 3:15; 6:54; 10:28; 17:3; Rom. 5:21; 6:23; 1 John 2:25, among many others.
When those souls die who are not covered by the blood of Christ, they will face the judgment of God according to their deeds and will be bound and cast into outer darkness (Matt. 22:13).
“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Heb. 10:31)
* The expression “only begotten” as used in the New Testament KJV is a different Greek word and means one of a kind.
Bill Fangio 8/11/2017 Rev 1 Reprinted and edited with permission. All bold emphasis is mine.
Original Word: ἀνάστασις, εως, ἡ
Thayer’s Greek Lexicon: Strong’s Greek 386 ἀνάστασις -1a. a raising up, rising; 2. a rising from the dead