What Does the Bible Really Say About the Resurrection?

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Edward D. Andrews
EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored over 140 books. Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).

All of us have lost a loved one to this force to be reckoned with, and it is only a matter of time before we have to face the greatest enemy humankind has ever known, death! However, we have been given a hope that is as great at the penalty that we are under. We have the hope of life eternal, and if we die, it is the hope of a resurrection. This hope means that we will be reunited with the loved ones that we have lost. Some in the past have had a foretaste of this great hope:

Mark 5:35, 41-42 English Standard Version (ESV)

35 While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” 41 Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 42 And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement.

Acts 9:36-41 English Standard Version (ESV)

36 Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas.[1] She was full of good works and acts of charity. 37 In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. 38 Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, “Please come to us without delay.” 39 So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics[2] and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them. 40 But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. 41 And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive.

We have already heard of the charges that Satan has risen against God in chapter six of this book. The resurrection hope allows God to let Satan play out his challenges, to resolve the issues that would have otherwise plagued us for an eternity. It is like when you suffer through a painful medical treatment, to enjoy thereafter with all the complications of the issues you had. It is only by means of the greatest resurrection, namely Jesus Christ that we can have this hope.

Matthew 20:28 English Standard Version (ESV)

28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

The Holy Spirit_02 THE CREATION DAYS OF GENESIS gift of prophecy

Resurrection is a Foundational Doctrine

Hebrews 6:1-2 English Standard Version (ESV)

6 Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 and of instruction about washings,[3] the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.

The resurrection is a foundational doctrine of our Christian faith. However, it does not fit into the world of humankind that is alienated from God. They see this as the only life there is, and so they are in pursuit of fleshly pleasures, to make the most of it. The mindset of some of the first century was, “If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.’” (1 Cor. 15:32, ESV) We, on the other hand, do not need to chase after the things that Satan’s world has to offer.

Acts 17:32 English Standard Version (ESV)

32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.”

We need to look to at least two hopes that humans have the opportunity of having. Some are of new Israel and is seen as being given a kingdom, a chosen race, a royal priesthood, and ruling with Christ for a thousand years. There will be a need to investigate this, and this section will be a little more complex than any other part of this book. It is very important to all of us, so bear with me. I am going to quote some of the leading evangelical scholars at length.

Revelation 5:9-10 English Standard Version (ESV)

And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on[4] the earth.”

A further result of the Lamb’s sacrifice is the establishment[5] of the redeemed as a kingdom and priests: kai epoiēsas autous tǭ theǭ hēmōn basileian kai hiereis (“and You made them a kingdom and priests to our God”). The threefold occurrence of this theme in Revelation (cf. also Rev. 1:6; 20:6) indicates that talk about such a spiritual heritage was common parlance among Christians of John’s day (Swete). As God’s possession,[6] the redeemed will not merely be God’s people over whom He reigns, but will also share God’s rule in the coming millennial kingdom (cf. 1 Cor. 4:8; 6:3) (Charles; Ladd). This kingdom is the goal toward which the program of God is moving as emphasized by basileusousin (“they shall reign”) later in v. 10 (cf. Rev. 20:4). The idea of priesthood found in hiereis (“priests”) means full and immediate access into God’s presence for the purpose of praise and worship (Ladd). It also includes the thought of priestly service to God (Mounce). Though believers are currently viewed as a royal priesthood (1 Pet. 2:5, 9; cf. Ex. 19:6), this is only preliminary to the fullness of the way they will function alongside Christ in the millennial kingdom.[7]

Kai basileusousin epi tēs gēs (“and they shall reign on the earth”) explains more fully the earlier basileian (“kingdom”). The fact that believers will serve as reigning powers means that they will be the equivalent of kings (Charles; Beckwith). Spelled out more particularly in 20:4 regarding the millennial kingdom and in 22:5 regarding the eternal state, they will join with Christ in His continual reign following His second advent to the earth. This all stems from the epoch determining redemptive work of the Lamb.[8]

On the earth or Over the Earth

πί epí [2093] is in the genitive and can range from: on, upon; over; at, by; before, in the presence of; when, under, at the time of;[9] Below you are going to find a list the genitive epi within Revelation that has a similar construction. Please pay special attention to 5:10, 9:11, and 11:6, but there will be others that are similar.

If we are to establish that some translations are choosing a rendering because it suits their doctrine, we must compare how they render the same thing elsewhere. You do not need to be a Greek scholar below, so you can ignore the grammar talk, and just notice the similarities and differences.

I do believe that the English is a problem in trying to say, “they shall reign on the earth.” First, because this is not a location issue: i.e., where. The genitive epi is dealing not with where, but with authority over, which is expressed by having it over _____ not on _____

 Please also take special note that the context of all of these epi genitives that follow the active indicative verb and then are followed by the genitive definite article and noun are dealing with authority.

 The verb “to reign” is properly used of kings and queens, and here implies complete power over the world and its inhabitants. So another way of expressing this is “and they shall rule over the world and its inhabitants” or “they shall have power over ….”[10]

Rev 5:10: basileusousin epi tēs gēs (“They are reigning [opon, on, over] the earth”)[11]

ESV: they shall reign on the earth

NASB: they will reign upon the earth

ASV: they reign upon earth

DBY: they shall reign over the earth

πί epí is in the genitive and comes after the future active indicative verb followed by the definite article and followed by a definite genitive article and noun

 Rev 9:11: echousin ep autōn basilea (They are having [upon, on, over] them king)

ESV: They have as king over them

NASB: They have as king over them

ASV: They have over them as king

DBT: They have a king over them

πί epí is in the genitive and comes after the present active indicative verb followed by a definite genitive article and noun

DEFENDING OLD TESTAMENT AUTHORSHIP Agabus Cover BIBLICAL CRITICISM

Rev 11:6: exousian echousin epi tōn hudatōn (they are having authority [upon, on, over] the water)

ESV: they have power over the waters

NASB: they have power over the waters

ASV: they have power over the waters

DBY: they have power over the waters

πί epí is in the genitive and comes after the future active indicative verb followed by a definite genitive article and noun

 Rev 2:26: dōsō autō exousian epi tōn ethnōn (I shall give to him authority [upon, on, over] the nations)

ESV:  I will give authority over the nations

NASB: I WILL GIVE AUTHORITY OVER THE NATIONS

ASV: I give authority over the nations

DBY: will I give authority over the nations,

πί epí is in the genitive and comes after the future active indicative verb followed by a definite genitive article and noun

Rev 6:8: edothē autois exousia epi to tetarton tēs gēs (was given to them authority [upon, on, over] the fourth of the earth)

ESV:  they were given authority over a fourth of the earth

NASB: Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth

ASV: here was given unto them authority over the fourth part of the earth

DBY: authority was given to him over the fourth of the earth

πί epí is in the genitive and comes after the future active indicative verb followed by a definite genitive article and noun

 Rev 13:7: edothē autō exousia epi pasan phulēn kai laon kai glōssan kai ethnos (was given to it authority [upon, on, over] every tribe and people and tongue and nation)

ESV:  authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation

NASB: authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him

ASV: there was given to him authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation

DBY: was given to it authority over every tribe, and people, and tongue, and nation

πί epí is in the genitive and comes after the future active indicative verb followed by a genitive noun. While there is no definite article, it still seems definite in that we know which one: everyone.

 Rev 14:18: ho echōn exousian epi tou puros the one having authority [upon, on, over] the fire

ESV:  who has authority over the fire

NASB: the one who has power over fire

ASV: he that hath power over fire

DBY: having power over fire

Rev 16:9: tou echontos tēn exousian epi pas plēgas (the one having the authority (upon, on, over) the plagues)

ESV:  who had power over these plagues

 NASB: who has the power over these plagues

ASV: who hath the power over these plagues

DBY: who had authority over these plagues

Rev 17:18: hē polis megalē hē echousa basileian epi tōn basileōn tēs gēs (the woman whom you saw is the city the great the one having kingdom (upon, on, over) the kingdoms of the earth)

ESV:  the great city that has dominion over the kings of the earth

NASB: the great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth.

ASV: the great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.

DBY: the great city, which has kingship over the kings of the earth

APOSTOLIC FATHERS Lightfoot APOSTOLIC FATHERS

Revelation 5:9-10 has a high level of theological content. It either says that Jesus and his co-rulers are going to rule from heaven, over the earth or on the earth. It is theological bias to have several cases of similar context and the same grammatical construction, rendering the verses the same every time, yet to then render one verse contrary to the others, simply because it aligns with one’s theology. Whether that is the case here or not, the readers will have to determine for themselves. The point regardless is this, either way, Jesus is ruling the earth, and we are blessed to have had his ransom sacrifice and resurrection. Slow down for the next few pages, as things are going to get a little deeper. We can grasp it if we just slow down meditate on what is being said, and get out our dictionary if we have to, and write the definitions in the book beside the word, and read again.

How to Interpret the Bible-1 INTERPRETING THE BIBLE how-to-study-your-bible1

Heavenly Hope

Revelation 14:1-4 English Standard Version (ESV)

1 Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven like the roar of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. The voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earthIt is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins. It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These have been redeemed from mankind as firstfruits for God and the Lamb

The whole of chapter 14 is proleptic. As a summary of the Millennium (20:4–6), the first five verses feature the Lamb in place of the beast, the Lamb’s followers with His and the Father’s seal in place of the beast’s followers with the mark of the beast, and the divinely controlled Mount Zion in place of the pagan-controlled earth (Alford, Moffatt, Kiddle).[12]

Revelation 7:4 English Standard Version (ESV)

And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel

Various efforts have sought to determine the significance of the number 144,000. An understanding of the number as symbolical divides it into three of its multiplicands, 12 × 12 × 1000. From the symbolism of the three it is concluded that the number indicates fixedness and fullest completeness.[13] Twelve, a number of the tribes, is both squared and multiplied by a thousand. This is a twofold way of emphasizing completeness (Mounce). It thus affirms the full number of God’s people to be brought through tribulation (Ladd). The symbolic approach points out the impossibility of taking the number literally. It is simply a vast number, less than a number indefinitely great (cf. 7:9), but greater than a large number designedly finite (e.g., 1,000, Rev. 20:2) (Lee). Other occurrences of the numerical components that are supposedly symbolic are also pointed out, 12 thousand in Rev. 21:16, 12 in Rev. 22:2, and 24, a multiple of 12, in Rev. 4:4. This is done to enhance the case for symbolism (Johnson). Though admittedly ingenious, the case for symbolism is exegetically weak. The principal reason for the view is a predisposition to make the 144,000 into a group representative of the church with which no possible numerical connection exists. No justification can be found for understanding the simple statement of fact in v. 4 as a figure of speech. It is a definite number in contrast with the indefinite number of 7:9. If it is taken symbolically, no number in the book can be taken literally. As God reserved 7,000 in the days of Ahab (1 Kings 19:18; Rom. 11:4), He will reserve 144,000 for Himself during the future Great Tribulation.[14] (Thomas, Revelation 1-7: An Exegetical Commentary 1992, 473-74)

These ones are made up of those under the new covenant, the Law of Christ, those called out of natural Israel, the new Israelites, also known as the Israel of God. They are a chosen number that is to reign with Jesus as kings, priests, and judges. Therefore, we ask, what is the other hope?

9781949586121 BIBLE DIFFICULTIES THE NEW TESTAMENT DOCUMENTS

The New Earth: The Earthly Hope

In the O[ld] T[estament] the kingdom of God is usually described in terms of a redeemed earth; this is especially clear in the book of Isaiah, where the final state of the universe is already called new heavens and a new earth (65:17; 66:22) The nature of this renewal was perceived only very dimly by OT authors, but they did express the belief that a humans ultimate destiny is an earthly one.[15] This vision is clarified in the N[ew] T[estament]. Jesus speaks of the “renewal” of the world (Matt 19:28), Peter of the restoration of all things (Acts 3:21). Paul writes that the universe will be redeemed by God from its current state of bondage (Rom. 8:18-21). This is confirmed by Peter, who describes the new heavens and the new earth as the Christian’s hope (2 Pet. 3:13). Finally, the book of Revelation includes a glorious vision of the end of the present universe and the creation of a new universe, full of righteousness and the presence of God. The vision is confirmed by God in the awesome declaration: “I am making everything new!” (Rev. 21:1-8)

The new heavens and the new earth will be the renewed creation that will fulfill the purpose for which God created the universe. It will be characterized by the complete rule of God and by the full realization of the final goal of redemption: “Now the dwelling of God is with men” (Rev. 21:3).

The fact that the universe will be created anew[16] shows that God’s goals for humans is not an ethereal and disembodied existence, but a bodily existence on a perfected earth. The scene of the beatific vision is the new earth. The spiritual does not exclude the created order and will be fully realized only within a perfected creation. (Elwell 2001, 828-29)

What have we learned so far in this publication? God created the earth to be inhabited, to be filled with perfect humans, who are over the animals, and under the sovereignty of God. (Gen 1:28; 2:8, 15; Ps 104:5; 115:16; Eccl 1:4) Sin did not dissuade God from his plans (Isa. 45:18); hence, he has saved redeemable humankind by Jesus ransom sacrifice. It seems that the Bible offers two hopes to redeemed humans, (1) a heavenly hope, or (2) an earthly hope. It also seems that those with the heavenly hope are limited in number, and are going to heaven to rule with Christ as kings, priests, and judges either on the earth or over the earth from heaven. It seems that those with the earthly hope are going to receive eternal life here on a paradise earth as it was originally intended.

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[1] The Aramaic name Tabitha and the Greek name Dorcas both mean gazelle

[2] Greek chiton, a long garment worn under the cloak next to the skin

[3] Or baptisms (that is, cleansing rites)

[4] According to this verses Jesus will rule “on” the earth. For another consideration, see the next subheading: Over the earth or On the Earth?

[5] The aorist ἐποίησας connotes finished result. As commonly the case in the heavenly songs of this book, it is proleptic, anticipating the culmination of the process being carried out at the time the song is sung (Swete, Apocalypse, p. 81; Beckwith, Apocalypse, pp. 512–13).[5]

[6] Τῷ θεῷ (5:10) has a possessive sense: “belonging to God” as His peculiar people (Beckwith, Apocalypse, p. 513).[6]

[7] Newell, Revelation, p. 13.

[8] Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 1-7: An Exegetical Commentary (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1992), 402.

[9] William D. Mounce, Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006), 1150.

[10] Bratcher, Robert G.; Hatton, Howard: A Handbook on the Revelation to John. New York: United Bible Societies, 1993 (UBS Handbook Series; Helps for Translators), S. 105

[11] English Standard Version (ESV), New American Standard Bible (NASB), American Standard Version (ASV), and the Darby Bible (DBY)

[12] Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 8-22: An Exegetical Commentary (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1995), 189.

[13] Alford, Greek Testament, 4:624; Charles, Revelation, 1:206; Lenski, Revelation, p. 154.

[14] Bullinger, Apocalypse, p. 282. Geyser is correct in observing that the predominant concern of the Apocalypse is “the restoration [on earth] of the twelve tribes of Israel, their restoration as a twelve-tribe kingdom, in a renewed and purified city of David, under the rule of the victorious ‘Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Root of David’ (5:5; 22:16)” (Albert Geyser, “The Twelve Tribes in Revelation: Judean and Judeo Christian Apocalypticism,” NTS 23, no. 3 [July 1982]: 389). He is wrong, however, in his theory that this belief characterized the Judean church only and was not shared by Gentile Christianity spearheaded by Paul (ibid., p. 390).

[15] It is unwise to speak of the written Word of God as if it were of human origin, saying ‘OT authors express the belief,’ when what was written is the meaning and message of what God wanted to convey by means of the human author.

[16] Create anew does not mean a complete destruction followed by a re-creation, but instead a renewal of the present universe.

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