The Resurrection

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In Short

1

The first sin brought death into the world for all people.

“God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.'”
Genesis 2:16-17

“The wages of the righteous is life,
but the earnings of the wicked are sin and death.”
Proverbs 10:16

“Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.”
Romans 5:12

2

Jesus paid for all sin and God raised him from the dead to prove it.

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life.'”
John 11:25

“He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life because of our justification.”
Romans 4:25

“‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Corinthians 15:55-57

3

Because Jesus rose from the dead we, too, will rise from the dead.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 6:23

“Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”
1 Corinthians 15:20-22

The Christian Teaching Explained

If somebody told you they knew someone who died and came back to life, what would you think?  You’d probably think they sounded pretty crazy, right?  Well, Christians sound pretty crazy then.  The central event in all of Christianity is the resurrection of Jesus, his coming back to life three days after he died for everyone’s sins.  Why is it the central event?  Because it’s what the promise of the Savior, the forgiveness of sins, the blessing of justification, and the Son of God becoming a human being are all about.  It’s also the logical conclusion to God fulfilling his promise to Adam and Eve.

Did I just say that someone coming back to life was logical?  Yes I did.  And why does that sound crazy?  Because on this earth all living things die.  Humans aren’t excluded: humans are conceived, then they grow, and eventually they die.  And when they die, they stay dead—no one comes back to life.  It has become such a constant part of our existence here on this earth that it’s almost impossible for us to imagine otherwise.  And yet, while it has become such a constant part of this life, it was never meant to be a part of the world God had created.  God created all things to live, and to go on living.  It was sin that brought death into the world (that is covered in the section Sin and Repentance).   That’s why God sent Jesus—to remove sin and death from the world.

“I am the resurrection and the life.”
John 11:25

After Jesus had paid for the sin of the world by dying on the cross, God raised him back to life.  The events of Jesus’ resurrection are told near the end of all four Gospels (Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20-21).  Turn to those chapters in the Bible for the full picture, but a very quick summary is as follows: After Jesus died on the cross, he was buried in a tomb and a stone was rolled in front of the entrance.  The enemies of Jesus had the tomb sealed and guarded so no one could fake his resurrection (Matthew 27:62-66).  But three days later, an angel rolled the stone away to reveal an empty tomb.  One of the angels told a few women who were visiting the tomb that Jesus wasn’t there because he had risen back to life.  Jesus later appeared to those women, and they reported to his disciples everything that had happened.  Later, Jesus appeared to his disciples and, over a period of 40 days, to many other believers as well (Acts 1:3; 1 Corinthians 15:3-8).  Then he went up into heaven before their very eyes (Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51; Acts 1:2, 9).

The resurrection had been prophesied in the Old Testament long before the Savior came and died.  About 1,000 years before the time of Jesus, Israel’s King David declared in faith to God, “You will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay” (Psalm 16:10).  This prophecy is further explained in the New Testament by the apostle Peter: “Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day… Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay.  God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact” (Acts 2:29, 31-32).  Another apostle, Paul, adds: “For when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his fathers and his body decayed.  But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay.  Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you” (Acts 13:36-38).

The resurrection is also prophesied elsewhere in the Old Testament.  The prophet Isaiah foretold the suffering of the coming Savior, and then added: “After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied” (Isaiah 53:11).  Job, a man in the Old Testament who was faced with many troubles in his life, also looked forward to the coming Savior and confessed, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth” (Job 19:25).  After Jesus rose from the dead, he explained to his disciples that the resurrection of the Savior had been predicted in the Old Testament.  He said, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations” (Luke 24:46-47).

“He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth.”
Isaiah 25:8

Jesus even prophesied throughout his ministry that he would die and come back to life.  One of the ways Jesus taught this was by pointing to “the sign of the prophet Jonah” (Matthew 12:39).  Jonah was a prophet from the Old Testament whom God had saved from drowning by sending a large fish to swallow him for three days (speaking of crazy events–Jonah 1:15-17).   Jesus said, “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40).  Son of Man was an Old Testament name for the coming Savior (Daniel 7:13-14) that emphasized his humanity and servant-like mission.  Using the account of Jonah, Jesus was telling everyone that he would die on behalf of the world and then only be buried for three days and three nights.

Jesus also used the Jewish temple in Jerusalem to teach the people about his coming resurrection.  To the Jews, the temple was a place for God’s presence to dwell.  One day, Jesus cleared from the temple some people who were dishonestly selling animals for sacrifices.  The Jews asked him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”  Jesus replied, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days” (John 2:18-19).  John, one of Jesus’ disciples and the one who wrote this account, added, “The temple he had spoken of was his body.  After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said” (John 2:21-22).

What makes the Savior’s resurrection so important that it would be prophesied so many times?  First of all, it proves that Jesus is God.  Jesus said many times that he is God (see the section The Trinity).  He also proclaimed that he would raise himself from the dead (Matthew 26:61; John 2:19, 10:17-18).  The apostles tell us that God is the one who raised Jesus from the dead (e.g., Acts 3:15; Romans 4:24; 1 Thessalonians 1:10).  By raising himself from the dead, Jesus was giving clear proof that he is God.

“I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth.”
Job 19:25

The fact that God raised Jesus from the dead also proves his payment for our sins was accepted.   As the apostle Paul explained, “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (Romans 4:25—this verse should be translated from the Greek as “because of our justification”; justification is explained in the section Justified by Grace through Faith).  He says in another letter, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17).  If Jesus hadn’t been raised to life, then it would show that he hadn’t fulfilled God’s promise to Adam and Eve—to pay the punishment of mankind’s sin, the very thing that brought death into the world.  But by raising Jesus to life, God was declaring to all people that Jesus had indeed successfully paid for sin and conquered death for all people.

Since Jesus’ resurrection proves he has conquered sin and death, it also proves that we will rise to life someday.  Paul calls Jesus “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20).  Jesus is the first one to be raised from the dead in the same way that the first fruit growing on a tree is a sign that more will come.  “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.  But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him” (1 Corinthians 15:22-23).  When Jesus comes again at the end of the world (Isaiah 65:17; Acts 1:11; Revelation 21:5) he will raise all people back to life with immortal and imperishable bodies (1 Corinthians 15:50-57), both believers and unbelievers (John 5:29).

The apostle Paul even acknowledged the importance of this fact when he was on trial for his faith.  Defending his faith, he said, “I stand on trial because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead” (Acts 23:6).  Later, he pleads his case again, “I have had God’s help to this very day, and so I stand here and testify to small and great alike.  I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen—that the Christ would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would proclaim light to his own people and to the Gentiles” (Acts 26:22-23).  Paul’s confession in his faith and in the forgiveness of sins went hand-in-hand with the promise of the resurrection for all people.

“Because I live, you also will live.”
John 14:19

Since death is such a constant on this earth, a physical resurrection from the dead sounds pretty crazy.  The apostles knew how crazy they must have sounded to others when they said that Jesus had come back to life.  But as Peter and John declared, “We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20).  When a person performs miracles for three straight years, teaches truths that speak to right the soul, says that he’s God, says that he’s going to die and come back to life three days later, dies, and comes back to life three days later, you can’t help but tell people what happened no matter how crazy all of it sounds.  You have to tell people about it all, and you hope that they’ll tell others, too.  You hope that they’ll tell people about how God’s Word is truth, how sin came into the world, how God forgives us, how God declares us “not guilty” because of his promised Savior, how God describes himself in his Word, how God became a human being for us, and how God confirms it all by doing something the world has never seen.

Because of it all, we can be confident that everything God has proclaimed is true.  Though we have to battle our sinful natures and the threat of death every single day, we can be confident that there will come a day when we don’t have to be concerned with sin and death.  “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).  And because we know the old order of sin and death will pass away we can declare, “Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?” (Hosea 13:14; 1 Corinthians 15:55).  It’s all because of God’s promise of forgiveness and life through our Savior Jesus.  As he himself said, “Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19).

Infographics

Why is the Resurrection logical?
Why is the Resurrection important?

Selected Bible Passages

Old Testament

Job 19:25-27
I know that my Redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh I will see God;
I myself will see him
with my own eyes—I, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!

Psalm 16:9-11
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the grave,
nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
You have made known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Psalm 49:7-9, 15
No man can redeem the life of another
or give to God a ransom for him—
the ransom for a life is costly,
no payment is ever enough—
that he should live on forever
and not see decay.

But God will redeem my life from the grave;
he will surely take me to himself.

Psalm 68:19-20
Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior,
who daily bears our burdens.
Our God is a God who saves;
from the Sovereign LORD comes escape from death.

Psalm 89:48
What man can live and not see death,
or save himself from the power of the grave?

Isaiah 25:7-9
On this mountain he will destroy
the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;
he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears
from all faces;
he will remove his people’s disgrace
from all the earth.
The LORD has spoken.

In that day they will say,

“Surely this is our God;
we trusted in him, and he saved us.
This is the LORD, we trusted in him;
let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”

Isaiah 26:19
But your dead will live;
their bodies will rise.
You who dwell in the dust,
wake up and shout for joy.
Your dew is like the dew of the morning;
the earth will give birth to her dead.

Isaiah 53:10-12
(a prophecy about the coming Savior)
Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
After the suffering of his soul,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous
servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.

Daniel 12:1-2
At that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered.  Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.

Hosea 13:14
(God is speaking)
“I will ransom them from the power of the grave;
I will redeem them from death.
Where, O death, are your plagues?
Where, O grave, is your destruction?”

New Testament

Matthew 16:21 (Mark 8:31; Luke 9:22)
From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

Matthew 20:17-19 (Mark 10:32-34; Luke 18:31-34)
Now as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside and said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law.  They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified.  On the third day he will be raised to life!”

Matthew 25:31-32
(Jesus is speaking)
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory.  All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.”

John 14:18-19
(Jesus is speaking)
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.  Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me.  Because I live, you also will live.”

Acts 2:22-32
(the apostle Peter is speaking)
“Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.  This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.  But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.  David said about him:

“‘I saw the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will live in hope,
because you will not abandon me to the grave,
nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.’

“Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day.  But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne.  Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay.  God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.”

Acts 5:29-32
Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men!  The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead—whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree.  God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel.  We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

Acts 10:39-41
(the apostle Peter is speaking)
“We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem.  They killed him by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen.  He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.”

Acts 17:2-3
As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead.  “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ,” he said.

Romans 1:1-4
The gospel of God—the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 4:25
[Jesus] was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life because of our justification.

Romans 6:1-5
What shall we say, then?  Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?  By no means!  We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?  Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.  If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.

Romans 10:8-9
“The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Philippians 3:20-21
But our citizenship is in heaven.  And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.  We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.  According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.  For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And so we will be with the Lord forever.  Therefore encourage each other with these words.

2 Timothy 1:9-10
This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

1 Peter 1:3-5
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

List of References

The accounts of Jesus’ resurrection can be found in the following chapters: Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20-21.

Old Testament

Genesis 2:15-17
Genesis 3
Job 19:25-27
Psalm 16:9-11
Psalm 17:14-15
Psalm 22
Psalm 49:7-15
Psalm 68:18-20
Psalm 86:12-13
Psalm 89:48
Psalm 102:18-22
Psalm 118:13-24
Ecclesiastes 8:8
Isaiah 25:6-9
Isaiah 26:19
Isaiah 53:10-12
Isaiah 61:1-3
Isaiah 65:17-25
Daniel 12:1-3
Daniel 12:13
Hosea 13:14
Jonah 1:15-17

New Testament

Matthew 12:38-40
Matthew 16:1-4
Matthew 16:21-23
Matthew 17:9
Matthew 17:22-23
Matthew 20:17-19
Matthew 22:23-33
Matthew 25:31-32
Matthew 26:57–61
Mark 8:11-13
Mark 8:31-33
Mark 9:9
Mark 9:30-32
Mark 10:32-34
Mark 12:18-27
Mark 14:53-58
Luke 9:43-45
Luke 11:29-32
Luke 16:19-31
Luke 18:31-34
Luke 20:27-40
John 2:13-22
John 5:24-29
John 10:17-18
John 11:17-27
John 14:18-19
Acts 1:1-11
Acts 1:21-22
Acts 2:22-32
Acts 3:11-16
Acts 4:1-2
Acts 4:8-10
Acts 4:33
Acts 5:29-32
Acts 9:1-19
Acts 10:39-41
Acts 13:26-37
Acts 17:2-3
Acts 17:16-21; 29-34
Acts 18:9-11
Acts 22:1-21
Acts 23:6-8
Acts 24:14-21
Acts 26:4-8; 19-29
Romans 1:1-4
Romans 4:18-25
Romans 6:1-10
Romans 7:4
Romans 7:21-25
Romans 8:9-11, 18-25
Romans 10:5-9
Romans 14:7-12
1 Corinthians 15
2 Corinthians 1:9
2 Corinthians 4:13-15
2 Corinthians 5:1-5
Galatians 1:1-5
Ephesians 1:18-23
Philippians 3:20-21
Colossians 1:18-20
Colossians 2:9-12
Colossians 3:1-4
1 Thessalonians 1:9-10
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
2 Timothy 1:8-10
2 Timothy 2:8-13
2 Timothy 2:16-18
Hebrews 2:14-15
Hebrews 6:1–3
Hebrews 9:27-28
Hebrews 11:4
1 Peter 1:3-5
1 Peter 1:17-21
1 Peter 3:18-22
1 John 3:2-3
Revelation 1:4-5,17-18
Revelation 14:13
Revelation 20:4-6,11-15
Revelation 21:3-8