What Kind of Resurrection did Jesus Have?
How important is it to believe in a physical resurrection? It is part of the gospel and it is just as important as believing Christ died for our sins. In fact, it is the proof that the Father accepted Christ’s death. Paul writes in Rom 1:3-4 “concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” So we see the resurrection proved who Jesus was. It fulfilled prophecy about himself in the Old Testament. It also fulfilled the Davidic covenant that promised an eternal descendant was to sit on David’s throne (Isa.9:6; Ps.89:29-37).
A physical raising from the dead is Not beyond God’s power “Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead? (Acts 26:8)
God himself says, “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?” (Jeremiah 32:27).
So why do some who claim they are believers in Jesus Christ not believe this? If they do not believe in a physical resurrection they do not have the correct gospel, which means they are not true believers, and are not in possession of the Holy Spirit who bear witness to this biblical fact.
This affirmation of faith since the beginning of the church is that ALL believer's will be physically resurrected. This is grounded in the fact of Christ's own resurrection. They based their belief on the unanimous teaching of the Bible. It was the Gnostics that denied a resurrection (like the new agers today believe in reincarnation not a resurrection).
Justin Martyr (A.D. 100-165) said: “The resurrection is a resurrection of the flesh which dies.” (Justin Martyr, Fragments of the Lost Work of Justin on the Resurrection, ch. 10. Found in the Ante-Nicene and Post-Nicene fathers Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds., and Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, eds., Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, vols. 1-14; Second Series, vols. 1-14).
Tertullian (A.D. 160-230) stated that the resurrection of the flesh to be the church's “rule of faith,” saying it “was taught by Christ” and only denied by heretics. (The Prescription Against Heretics, ch. 13.) The church was unanimous that those who denied a physical resurrection were not part of Christ’s church.
A major purpose of the latter resurrection is rooted in the former, making them both of the same nature (2 Cor. 4:14; 1 Cor. 15:20-23, 48; Phil. 3:21). Rom 8:11 “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”
Nothing could be clearer. That it is our bodies that are raised from the dead, not our soul. We are mortal and die but when raised this mortality will be swallowed up by immortality.
If Jesus is not physically resurrected neither will we be. Rom 6:5 “For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection.” We have the promise of sharing in that same resurrection. 1 Cor. 6:14 “And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power.” We can see by evidence that every resurrection was someone coming back to life in the same body they had before they died. The only difference is that the last resurrection makes believers immortal never to die again. In this, Jesus was the first fruits of this kind of the resurrection. Only he experienced death and was given life never to die again.
“I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.” (Rev 1:18). In Matthew 28 Jesus says that, all power and authority in heaven and earth are given to me by my Father. So he is able to oversee who lives and dies, this is why he said in advance “Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live” (John 5:25) The son of God has power over Hades and Hell.
Two mistakes are made. That the resurrection body of Christians will not be of the flesh and that Jesus’ resurrected body was not the same physical body He had before His death, but a second embodiment.
The Scripture always the immortality of the resurrection body, that it is material - physical. The apostle Paul tells us that the resurrection body is a “spiritual body” (meaning a spirit-directed, spirit dominated) body (1 Cor. 15:44). Scripture never denies that it is a material body, but explains it is one that is changed.
If Jesus were a human being, He would of necessity have to be physically resurrected like all the others He resurrected. But he was more than a man. The Bible points out that there is one mediator between God and man, the MAN Christ Jesus.” This man is sitting at the right hand of the Father as the believer’s mediator. This is a place no man or angel is allowed. Notice that he is everyone’s mediator and yet he is called a man. In others words he still has a human body. He existed in the form of God before his incarnation. He took upon himself a mortal body at the incarnation. After His resurrection, His body became immortal and He still dwells in it.
There are those today who consider themselves “orthodox” believers who do not adhere to the doctrine of resurrection of the body, denying that a material body emerged from the tomb. By denying the materiality of the Resurrection their faith becomes unbiblical, useless and ungrounded in the truth.
The Resurrection is part of the gospel by which we are saved (1 Cor. 15:1-5). The apostle Paul listed grave consequences from a denial of the physical resurrection. 1 Cor 15:12-13 “Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen.” It should be obvious; Paul is talking about the body that dies, what we put into the ground. He goes on to say, our faith is useless; We are still in our sins; there is no hope for those who died, The apostles are false witnesses; and We are the most to be pitied of all men (1 Cor. 15:14-19). This is where you stand not believing in a physical raising of the body.
Jesus certainly believed in the same body being raised, he said this of his own. John 2:18-22: So the Jews answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?”
Here the Jews were thinking of the Temple they worshipped at but Jesus is pointing out the New Testament teaching that believers share in also. That His body was the Temple (and ours are also as the spirit indwells those who believe)
V.21 “But He was speaking of the temple of His body. Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.” His body is what was raised, Jesus defines what a resurrection is. So those who do not believe in the same body coming back to life are siding with unbelievers.
So many today do not believe what Jesus made clear and his disciples believed afterwards, that he was raised in a physical body. Notice also Jesus said I will raise it up. That’s an impossible chore to do if your soul is asleep or out of existence. Therefore this proves he is God because elsewhere in scripture we see it written Acts 5:30: “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus.”
The Christian church has from the beginning confessed that the same physical body of flesh that was laid in Jesus' tomb was raised immortal. There is an abundance of New Testament references. First is Jesus correcting the Disciples who made the same mistake as the Jehovah’s Witnesses today, (obviously they did not learn from the disciples mistake and Jesus’ correction.) Jesus Himself said His resurrection body was one of “flesh and bones,” he was not a spirit (Luke 24:39). A nonmaterial resurrection has no evidence. If Christ did not rise in the same material body that was placed in the tomb, then the Resurrection loses its value for a number of things, most of all -- evidence for His claim to be God. Jesus and the apostles often offered His resurrection as a proof of His claims as many infallible proofs )Acts 1).
Speaking of the resurrection of Christ, Peter insisted that His “flesh did not see corruption” (Acts 2:31). Writing after the Resurrection, John declared that Jesus “came [and remained] in the flesh” (1 John 4:2; 2 John 7). John uses the Greek perfect participle (“has come” 1 Jn.4) implying that Jesus came in the flesh in the past and He remains in the flesh after the Resurrection. In 2 John 7 John used the present tense, warning against those “who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh.” Making it clear that John considered it wrong to deny flesh of Christ was part of his existence either before or after His resurrection. He calls those who deny this as of the antichrist spirit.
The body that emerged from the tomb was seen (Matt. 28:17) at least 11 different times and seen by 500 hundred at one time (1Cor.15). Jesus was touched (Matt. 28:9) on several occasions after the Resurrection. He ate food at least four times after the Resurrection (Luke 24:30; 24:42-43; John 21:12-13; Acts 1:4). This gives us a glimpse in understanding that we too will be able to eat in our resurrected bodies but it will not be necessary for nourishment because we will be flesh and bone, without blood.
One of the requirements to be an apostle was to see his physical appearance after he resurrected. Acts 1:22 “beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.”
You can’t witness a spirit resurrection, it has to be seen, Jesus corrected his disciples handle me a spirit DOES NOT have flesh and bone.
Peter in his first public sermon stated to all of those gathered at Pentecost Acts 2:31-32 “he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. “This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses.” Notice that Peter says His flesh see corruption, meaning it was taken from the tomb and raised up as his soul was again united with his body.
Because of their boldness to proclaim the truth accurately “And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all” (Acts 4:33).
How important is the resurrection, it is the completeness of the Gospel being proclaimed. The apostles used this fact in their preaching. Paul in Acts 17:18-20: “What does this babbler want to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods,” because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection. And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new doctrine is of which you speak?” For you are bringing some strange things to our ears. Therefore we want to know what these things mean.” Paul goes on to say in 17:31-32 “because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.”
Are you a mocker, yet claim to believe in the Bible and God’s Messiah? Are you one that says we will hear you again on this teaching. Resurrection was not part of the Greek ideas in the first century, they did not know what to think of this new concept, they thought they had heard them all.
Matt 22:31-32 “But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”
Heb 11:35 “Women received their dead raised to life again.” It was the hope of Mary for her brother Lazarus would resurrect on the last day. Jesus, the son of God called him forth from death by name. How was Lazarus resurrected? Bodily, just as he was before he died.
John 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.” What is death is the question that needs to be answered. And the answer is simple, it is the separation of the spirit from the body. It is James who states, “as the body without the spirit is dead” (James 2:26). Death is a separation of the spirit that gave life to the body. When the spirit is put back in the body it comes alive again. The resurrection will also change our bodies to immortality without corruption like Jesus’.
The apostles were transformed from unbelief to belief but it took some time for it to sink in, Jesus was alive.
Mark 16:12-14 “After that, He appeared in another form to two of them as they walked and went into the country. And they went and told it to the rest, but they did not believe them either. Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen” (in another form, being liken to the transfiguration, in glorified body)
John 20:19-25 “Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” Now when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”
By the time of the 6th appearance the disciples came around from doubting.
Thomas was an honest skeptic who did not take verbatim the others report, but he was not the only one.
What Thomas asked for was physical evidence. Jesus showed His crucifixion scars on two occasions, once challenging doubting Thomas. “The disciples said to Thomas, “We have seen the Lord.” he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe. Jesus appears and said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God! (John 20:25-29). Thomas’ reaction was to bow to him who made heaven and earth. He is the same one everyone will stand before in judgment to answer for their deed sin their bodies.
So why do people not believe today and claim to be bible believers? Because they do not understand the seal of the gospel, nor the nature of man. Do we believe with Thomas by our not seeing what he did see?
We are to believe (in faith) the Word of God of those who did see Him raised. The witness of the Scripture and the Holy Spirit that raised him that bears witness with this.
The disciples had seen Jesus raise others but who would raise Jesus? Some claim that Christ's appearances were merely “materializations” of a spirit being only to convince the disciples of His reality of existence but not His material resurrection. “But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? “Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me (touch) and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet.” Luke 24:37-40)
The scars were made on his pre-resurrected body, clearly Jesus was convincing the disciples' minds that He resurrected in the same literal, material body in which He died. If He did not rise in this same physical body, He was intentionally misleading His disciples. In short, either Jesus rose in the same material body in which He died, or He intentionally lied. For He said, “a spirit does not have flesh and bone” (material existence) So, if he was a spirit, he lied or the other choice is to believe what the Bible actually says, he is not a spirit.
Acts 4:1-2 “Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.” Are not those who do not believe in a physical resurrection today like the Sadducees?
Paul before Felix explains “But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets.” I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust”(Acts 24:14-15) (referring to Daniel 12:2)
Jesus himself said everyone will be resurrected John 5:28-29 “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice “and come forth-- those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.” (referring to Daniel 12:2: “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.”)
Luke 12:4-5 “And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.” But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!
What would there be to fear if after one is dead they are put in hell if they no longer exist? But Jesus is saying they do exist and they do feel.
2 Cor. 5:8 “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” Believers have no fear of death as the world does.
Eph. 1:14: “who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” That redemption is found in Romans 8:19 where believers “wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we are saved” (v. 23-24).
1 Pet 1:3-5 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
Paul explains our predicament. 1 Cor 15:21-22 “For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead .For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive?” Adam had a dual death dying spiritually that very day he ate of the tree of knowledge. But the tree of live[s] was there and it was intended for him to live forever in the body without sin. So because of sin of disobedience his body decayed and both spiritual death in the spirit and the body was passed on to all mankind. Since the death resulted from sin that involved the material body, the body that is to be raised again must be a material body for there to be real victory over death (Paul says the last victory will be death defeated 1 Cor.15:50-52).
1 Cor.15:47 Paul explains the heavenly man (man not spirit) will no longer be made like Adam (the earthly man), but the last Adam who came from heaven. He came and took upon himself a real human body, died and rose again. Now we will inherit this because we followed him on earth.
He goes onto explain what this will entail. 1 Cor. 15:42-44 “So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.” Again Paul refers to a body being brought back but in a different state. Often misunderstood to mean a spirit body. The Greek term is “pnumaticas soma.” Soma is the physical body, it means a spirit-dominated body or a physical body no longer subject to mortality. When we are transformed into our new bodies like Christ’s, they will be sustained through the Spirit (not blood), which gives us an non-perishable body and life eternal.
1 Cor. 15:51-54 “Behold, I tell 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 trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will 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 has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory? O death, where is your sting?” Only Christ's victory over physical death can believers proclaim: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where is your sting?”(1 Cor. 15:55).
The resurrection, which coincides with the living being translated (known as the rapture) are the same event. Only the dead precede the living. Notice Paul states, “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.” Both the dead will be changed (those sleeping) and those who are alive and remained for this event (1 Thess. 4:17). It is our body that changes, NOT our spirit, as Paul makes it clear in Rom.8. So we all receive our new bodies simultaneously.
What will we experience in the resurrection. We will be resurrected as mature adults with no disobedience in our soul as our Spirit rules over us in harmony with the body. Jesus became a life giving spirit infuse life to each of us personally who believed in the gospel. Jesus ate after his resurrection so in our resurrected bodies we will have the ability to eat.
Human flesh is part of our human nature as God created us. We were not made spirit beings but have both a immaterial (spirit) and material nature (physical body).
We will be a new humanity, dwelling in a new heavens and new earth forever as sin is totally removed. And that is certainly a day to look forward to.