Resurrection: The Power of The Seed – Part I
The resurrection is a main foundation of the Christian faith. Christianity lives or dies on the basis of this fact or fallacy. The Apostle Paul describes this perfectly in his first letter to the Corinthian church. Many books and treatises have been devoted to this topic. This author does not presume to add further knowledge, and these short articles do not exhaustively discuss this subject. However, 1 Corinthians Chapter 15 offers enlightening insight on the resurrection. These articles will present an interpretation of that chapter.
The concept of a resurrection of the dead is not novel to Christianity. Several writers of the Old Testament have contributed Scriptures on this matter. Perhaps the oldest resurrection Scriptures are in the Book of Job:
As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God; Whom I myself shall behold, and whom my eyes will see and not another (Job 19:25-27).
Job lived long before Moses and perhaps even before Abraham. Yet the concepts of a living Redeemer and life after death appear well rooted in his thoughts.
King David wrote several Scriptures in the Psalms, which speak of a resurrection from the dead. Perhaps the best-known verse is in Psalm 16, because the Apostle Peter used this same verse over a thousand years later as he preached to the multitudes at Pentecost. He explained the original verse penned by David spoke prophetically of Christ’s resurrection. “For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay” (Ps. 16:10).
Seven-hundred and fifty years before Christ, Isaiah wrote prophetically about the nation Israel, as they were on the verge of being utterly destroyed by the great Assyrian Empire. “Your dead will live; their corpses will rise. You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy, for your dew is as the dew of the dawn, and the earth will give birth to the departed spirits” (Is. 26:19).
The angel, Gabriel, told the prophet Daniel of a time many years in the distant future when his kinsmen from the nation Israel would be resurrected from the dead in the last days. “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2).
The prophet Hosea, a contemporary of Isaiah, recorded a prophetic word from God that was partially quoted by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthians approximately 750 years later: “Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from death? O Death, where are your thorns? O Sheol, where is your sting?” (Hosea 13:14).
Multiple Old Testament writers affirm an afterlife and resurrection from the dead. God’s Jewish nation strongly adhered to a belief in a resurrection during those years. This belief continued through the life of Jesus. The Pharisees believed in a resurrection. The Sadducees did not, but they also refused to embrace much of the Old Testament Scriptures.
Jesus taught a resurrection for Himself and for all who follow Him on multiple occasions during His earthly ministry. The Scriptures cited below typify some of His teaching.
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; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die…” (John 11:23-26).
Truly, truly, I say to you he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. 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. 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 (John 5:24-29).
But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God: ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?’ He is not the God of the dead but of the living (Matt 29: 31-32).
Jesus’ apostles continued to proclaim the resurrection from the dead following Christ’s heavenly ascension to God the Father. “As they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to them, being greatly disturbed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.” (Acts 4:1-2).
Jesus showed the resurrection was credible by demonstrating the resurrection of several individuals during His earthly ministry. (Mt 9:25; 27:53; Luke 7:14; John 11:44).
Our Lord proved the certainty of the resurrection by revealing Himself in His glorified body to a multitude of people. The Apostle Paul wrote the following in his letter to the Corinthians:
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born He appeared to me also (1Cor15: 3-8).
Paul notes many of those eyewitnesses were still living when he wrote that letter. No one has ever refuted these claims in ancient history. The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ was a well-established historical event. Many historians wrote of it.
Some individuals in the early Corinthian church adhered to a belief there was no resurrection of the dead. The first half of the fifthteenth chapter of Paul’s letter is an apologetic argument confirming Jesus’ resurrection and affirming a believer’s faith in a personal resurrection. Paul argues if there is no resurrection of the dead, Jesus was not raised from the dead, and our faith is in vain. But, Jesus did powerfully rise to new life on the Feast of First Fruits. He prophetically fulfilled that Old Testament feast by His resurrection on that very day! God appointed the Feast of First Fruits as a holy convocation—when He called His people into His presence for worship and fellowship. It was one of seven holy appointed feast days. God set aside each of these feasts as appointed times when He would commune with His chosen people. Jesus Christ prophetically fulfilled the first four feasts in His first coming and will fulfill the last three in His second coming. This information will be presented in subsequent articles. We are speaking here of His fulfillment of the Feast of First Fruits. Jesus arose to a glorified body. He was the ‘first fruit’ of those who have died and rose from the dead. “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep” (1Cor 15:20).
For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death (1Cor 15:21-26).
God made Adam in His own image (Genesis 1:26). He created Adam to live forever. But alas, Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying God’s command. God cursed them, pronouncing the edict they would one day die. Death subsequently entered the human race. God appoints a day for each human being to die (Heb 9:27). Adam brought death into the world. But Jesus Christ brought life—resurrection life for all human beings—some to live eternally in heaven and others to live eternally in hell. Paul further explains Jesus will put all enemies under His feet. Jesus will rule over a Theocratic earthly kingdom for one thousand years. No earthly kings will oppose Him. Satan will be loosed from his captivity in the bottomless pit at the end of the Millennium. When Jesus Christ hands over the millennial kingdom to God the Father, He will have abolished all other rulers, authorities and powers. These describe a demonic hierarchy of rulers answering to Satan, Himself. All these will be thrown into the lake of fire. The last enemy Jesus will abolish is death (1 Cor. 15:26). What an uplifting message! But the later half of this chapter is even more exciting! It will be the subject of discussion in the next article.