"Touching the resurrection of the dead I am called in question."—Acts 24:21.
—"When they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked."—Acts 17:32.
—The prophet David "spake of the resurrection of Christ: that his soul was not left in hades."—Acts 2:31.
—Christ was proved or "declared to be the Son of God with power...by the resurrection from the dead."—Rom. 1:4.
—"Now if Christ be preached, that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?"—1 Cor. 15:12.
—"But if there be no resurrection of the dead then is Christ not risen."—1 Cor. 15:13.
—"And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain;—and your faith is also vain;—and we are false witnesses;—and ye are yet in your sins; and they that are fallen asleep in Christ are perished."—1 Cor. 15:14-18.
—"But Christ is risen from the dead, and become a first-fruits of them that slept."—1 Cor. 15:20.
—"For since by a man [Adam] came death, by a man also [Christ] came the resurrection of the dead."—1 Cor. 15:21.
—"The God and Father of our Lord Jesus ...hath begotten us again unto a hope of life by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."—1 Pet. 1:3.
—The Apostles "taught the people and preached through Jesus the resurrection of the dead."—Acts 4:2.
—At Athens, Paul "preached unto them Jesus and the resurrection."—Acts 17:18.
—Paul said, "I count all things but loss...that I may know him [Christ] and the power of his resurrection;...if by any means I might attain unto the [chief] resurrection of the [chief] dead."—Phil. 3:8-11.
—"Blessed and holy are all they that have part in the first [chief] resurrection."—Rev. 20:6.
—"There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just [justified believers] and the unjust" [now unjustified].—Acts 24:15.
—Some "concerning the truth have erred, saying, that the resurrection is past already."—2 Tim. 2:18.
No other doctrine is made so prominent in the New Testament as that of the Resurrection; except it be that of the second coming of our Lord and his kingdom glory, or his first advent and sacrifice for sins. And yet, so far has modern popular theology drifted away from that of our Lord and his Apostles that, the resurrection of the dead is scarcely ever preached upon today; and it would be a great convenience, indeed, to many ministers of all denominations, if the entire doctrine of the resurrection could be expunged from the Bible: It would save them from many perplexing questions which they can only ignore or seek to evade, instead of answering them. What a proof this furnishes that the Bible is not what infidels assert—the work of knavish priests. Had such made it they would have made it more to their pleasement—to support their theories.
If the reader ever heard one sermon on the resurrection from any so-called "orthodox" pulpit he was remarkably favored. And yet that is scarcely true, either, for what he heard was probably such a medley, such a confusion, that his ideas were worse confounded after hearing than before. Such exceptional ones probably heard such a discourse as was reported in the public press about two years ago, delivered by a very learned and able Presbyterian Doctor of Divinity to a Brooklyn audience.
This D.D. explained that the resurrection will consist in a regathering and revivifying of all the bones and sinews and flesh and skin, etc., that ever constituted human bodies, regardless of how they had been disposed of, by fire or mouldering or otherwise: No matter if parts had been destroyed by accident or eaten by [R1509 : page 100] fishes or beasts of prey; or if they had rotted and gone as fertilizer into various fruits, vegetables, grasses, etc., and thus been over and over again transformed.
He explained "the last day" to mean a final twenty-four hours before the burning up of the world, and pictured that an after portion of that twenty-four hours would be devoted to a work of judging the world, while the forepart would be occupied by the resurrection work; and he pictured the air black with hands, arms, feet, fingers, bones, skins, sinews, etc., of the billions who have lived and died, seeking the other parts of their bodies; and that then the souls would come from heaven and hell and be imprisoned in those resurrected bodies.
What an unscriptural and nonsensical view! And yet, how could the man think or preach differently on the subject seeing that he believed firmly in a "resurrection of the body," which very words nearly all "orthodox" creeds of "Christendom" recite? And how could a body be resurrected in any other way than by gathering together again the various parts and members which once composed it? In no other way, of course. And if the "resurrection of the body" is the resurrection specified in the Bible, we as well as others are shut up to the nonsensical and ludicrous view expressed by the Brooklyn D.D., as above stated.
But the Bible contains no such statement; and such an inference is as unwarranted as it is unreasonable. The reason which led to this statement that the resurrection would be merely that of the body is quite evident. The teaching had gradually crept into the Church that what seems to the five senses to be death is not such in reality: none are dead—saints nor sinners—but all more alive than ever, when to us they appear to be dead. With this idea before the mind, many lose sight of the Scriptural teaching of a "resurrection of the dead" [beings, persons, souls]; and hence they altered it to suit their changed ideas, although it is still "a very inconvenient doctrine to get around." Because after having preached in the funeral discourse that the deceased is "free now" and "no longer hampered and encumbered with a body," it is confusing to read from the Bible as a part of the funeral service about the "hope of a resurrection of the dead," when they hope that their friends are not dead, and would be glad to hope that they would never have anything more to do with what they term the "prison-house of clay"—the body. It is confusing, too, to read the Apostle's words (specially intended and suited for such an occasion) about the second coming of Christ, and the blessing at that time, by a resurrection of "them that sleep in Jesus" (1 Thes. 4:14-18); and the expression, "Wherefore comfort one another with these words," only adds to their confusion; for no other words would be so comfortless to them; because of the unscriptural views they entertain.
But while, as we have seen, the theory of a "resurrection of the body"—the recovery and reorganization of the original atoms of matter—is nonsensical, as well as without Scriptural warrant, let none so regard the doctrine of the resurrection of the soul or being, which is taught in the Bible, and which is reasonable.
In the Bible the word resurrection is found only in the New Testament; it is the translation of the Greek word, anastasis, the meaning of which, as given by Prof. Young's Concordance [R1509 : page 101] (a standard authority), is, "A standing or rising up." Liddell & Scott's Lexicon defines the word similarly, viz., "A making to stand or rise up; awakening, restoration." *
*In one exceptional passage another word is used, egersis (Matt. 27:53); but there are reasons for seriously doubting the genuineness of this verse and the preceding one. However, these peculiar verses are found in part in the oldest Greek Manuscript yet discovered; hence we may not discard them, although they are very difficult to harmonize with other scripture statements: for instance, if it was the earthquake which occurred at the moment of our Lord's death that opened those graves, it seems peculiar that they should stay thus three days before coming out of their graves after our Lord's resurrection (wrong or at least unusual word used for resurrection). And they could not be perfected by anastasis because it is written that Christ should be the first to thus rise from the dead. Then again, who were these "saints" or holy ones? They were not holy ones of the New or Gospel Dispensation; for it did not begin, and the disciples did not obtain "liberty to become sons of God" (John 1:12) until Pentecost, fifty days later. And if they were holy ones of the Jewish or previous dispensations, their awakening could be only similar to that of Lazarus,—to die again; because the Apostle Paul, later than this, after recounting the most notable of the holy ones of by-gone times, declared, "These all having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise [chief of which is the resurrection of everlasting life], God having provided some better thing for us [the Gospel Church], that they without us should not be made perfect." (Heb. 11:39,40.) Hence the holy ones of by-gone dispensations are not (in the divine plan as here stated) to experience their full resurrection until after the Gospel age—until the Millennial age; for the entire period of the Gospel age is set apart to the development and perfecting of the Church which is Christ's "bride" or "body" or "temple."
Other Greek words are used when referring to the temporary awakening of dead ones who afterward died again, as in the case of Lazarus, Jairus' daughter and others; but neither the Greek word anastasis nor its English equivalent, resurrection, is used in such cases. We are not questioning that the English word resurrection is often used with only a limited signification; but we are calling attention to the restricted use of the Greek word. And we insist that it is only by giving it the full weight of its meaning that the importance of our Lord's work as man's Redeemer can be fully appreciated. To say that the ransom given once for all by our Lord secured a resurrection (anastasis) for all, and then to define that word as merely signifying a re-awakening, to a spark of life as now enjoyed, would be to rob the Lord of the honor of his great work, by robbing the word "anastasis" of its full import. Our claim is that this word contains the thought of a full restitution of all that was lost—human perfection—and not merely re-animation. It was all that was lost that our Lord died to recover; and the promise of a resurrection is therefore the promise of the restoration of what was lost and redeemed. This has been provided for all, and must be given or offered to all—whether then they accept of it or reject it.
To get the full force of anastasis—"restoration," "rising up"—we must remember from what a height man has fallen into death. The resurrection (anastasis) secured for mankind by their Redeemer is a full and complete raising up (or restoration) to all that was lost, for all, by one man's (Adam's) disobedience. "For as by a man [Adam] came death [with all the degradation which that word implies—mental, moral and physical, culminating in utter dissolution—utter loss], even so by a man also [the man Christ Jesus] came [i.e. was secured] the resurrection" [anastasis—a complete restoration to all that was lost; a full rising up to the grand heights of perfection—the image and likeness of God at first enjoyed].
The Millennial age is to be the resurrection day for the world of mankind; but it will be optional with each individual whether or not he ever attains this grand perfection, provided for all in Christ. It may at first seem strange to say that the dead will be obliged to co-operate in the matter of their own resurrection (to perfection) or else never obtain it; but such is the Scriptural representation. The dead will not be required to aid or co-operate in their awakening from their graves; for "there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave" (Eccl. 9:10; Psa. 6:5), and they, therefore, could neither assent to nor oppose their awakening. That work will be done for the world by their glorified Redeemer, who declares, "All that are in their graves shall hear the voice of the Son of Man and come forth: [that is, all will be awakened; [R1509 : page 102] but there will be two classes, who will be awakened under different conditions, as our Lord proceeds to show, saying,] they that have done good [that is, those consecrated ones who are good and acceptable to God through Christ] to a resurrection life [That is to say, this class will come forth from death with a perfect life, a completely resurrected or raised up life, over which death shall no longer have any power or control]; and they that have practiced evil [surely this includes all of the fallen race except the few above referred to, the consecrated, holy ones] unto a judgment [or trial] resurrection" [—an opportunity for full raising up if they will conform to the discipline and chastisements of that thousand-year judgment-day of Christ's reign].
In harmony with this, the true and full meaning of anastasis—a complete or full raising up out of death—is our Lord's expression to the Sadducees who inquired concerning a woman of many husbands, "In the resurrection [anastasis] whose wife shall she be? (Luke 20:33.) Our Lord avoided giving them a direct reply, perhaps because it would have required a long discourse concerning the future, for which they in their cavilling spirit were wholly unready, and perhaps because the due time for information respecting God's methods and dealings during the Millennial age were not yet due to be explained. So our Lord's reply, in effect, was,—Ye err, because ye do not understand the Scriptures respecting how matters will then be, nor do ye appreciate the great power of God by which he is able to work all things according to the counsel of his own wise plan. Then, turning the subject away from the suppositionary case suggested by the Sadducees, our Lord took occasion to drop a word of instruction respecting the first or chief resurrection—the resurrection of the blessed and holy. (Rev. 20:6.) A knowledge of this resurrection would be meat in due season to them that stood by, while a direct reply to the question would not be, so our Lord said: "The sons [R1510 : page 102] of this period marry and are given in marriage, but those who shall be accounted worthy to obtain that period and the resurrection [anastasis] out from dead ones will neither marry nor be given in marriage; neither can they die any more: then, like the angels they will be, and sons of God—becoming sons by THE resurrection." The emphasis on "resurrection" and "dead" here, intensified by the expression "out from dead ones," leaves no room for doubt that the Lord referred to the First Resurrection.
It will be perceived that in this statement our Lord omits any reference to the masses of the world and their opportunities for restitution to human perfection through a judgment-resurrection, a resurrection depending upon their co-operation, during Christ's Millennial reign, when, under him, their head, the saints (the holy ones who shall be accounted worthy of that first or chief resurrection to spirit conditions) shall judge the world.—1 Cor. 6:2.
There is nothing in the word resurrection, nor yet in the word anastasis, to limit or in any way determine the nature or organism of the one who experiences resurrection. If a resurrection of the body were predicted, then it would imply that exactly the same body would be raised up: and, since the human family are all flesh-beings, it would imply that the very same bodies now possessed, with exactly the same atoms of matter, would be "raised up." For the exact meaning of the word anastasis must be born in mind, viz., "restored" or "raised up."—Liddell & Scott.
If then the human body which dies were the thing to which resurrection is promised, nothing more or less than the same body with its same atoms, same defects, and the same peculiarities, could be expected: and, as a result, resurrection would be merely a renewal of present, unfavorable, fallen conditions.
But it is not the bodies of men that God promises to resurrect, but the men themselves—the beings (in the English Bible translated souls). It was Adam as a whole that sinned,—Adam, the living soul (being), and not merely his body. It was Adam as a whole, as a living soul (being), that was sentenced to death, and it was the souls of his posterity yet in his loins, unborn (Heb. 7:9,10; Exod. 1:5; 1 Cor. 15:22), [R1510 : page 103] that shared in him the penalty—"The soul that sinneth, it shall die."
In harmony with this it would seem reasonable that when Christ redeemed man from this death-penalty, his soul must have paid man's penalty. And so we find it clearly stated of our Redeemer:—His anguish was a "travail of soul:" His soul was "exceeding sorrowful, even unto death:" "He poured out his soul unto death:" "He made his soul an offering for sin"—a corresponding price for the soul of Adam and all in him. Thus God redeemed our SOULS from destruction.—Psa. 49:15.
And it is those souls condemned in Adam's soul, and redeemed by the sacrifice of Christ's soul, that are to have a resurrection. The Scriptures, when speaking of this, do not always use the word soul, but it is always implied; as, for instance, in the statement, "As in Adam all [souls—beings] die, even so all [souls, beings] in Christ shall be made alive;" and again, "There shall be a resurrection of the dead [souls, beings], both of the just [souls, beings] and of the unjust [souls, beings]." Wherever character is expressed, as here by the words "just" and "unjust," it is evident that not bodies but beings are meant; for although we might say lean or fat, beautiful or homely bodies, character cannot be predicated of bodies merely: a body cannot be either just or unjust: the soul or being is always understood where character is asserted or implied. [What is the "soul?" will be more fully discussed at some future time.]
While a soul or being is more than a mere body, yet there can be no being, no existence, no soul, without a body. But then, again, there are different kinds of bodies,—"There is a natural [animal] body and there is a spiritual body" says the Apostle, explaining this question. (1 Cor. 15:44.) And the kind of body determines the nature of the being or soul.
Beings with spirit-bodies are spirit beings, or heavenly beings—as God, and angels; a further distinction being shown amongst these spirit-beings in that those possessed of inherent life (immortality,—God, the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ) are said to be "of the divine nature"—far above angels, etc. (Eph. 1:21.) And this is the grade of spirit body and being promised to the overcoming "bride" or "body of Christ," the "royal priesthood." 2 Pet. 1:4.
Beings with the highest order of fleshly bodies, of the earth, earthy, are called human beings;—animal souls or beings; the highest of all earthly or fleshly beings or souls,—originally in God's likeness; and, as his representative Adam was, the King of Earth.—Psa. 8:5,6.
Since the human family is evidently a fleshly, earthly race, and not a heavenly or spiritual one; and since the inspired Apostle assures us of this fact, saying, "That was not first which is spiritual, but that which is animal," "the first man was of the earth, earthy." (1 Cor. 15:46,47), we must conclude that, unless something should occur to work a change, the promise of a resurrection (anastasis, "raising up," "restoring"), when applied to Adam and his family, would mean simply a restoration of his being (soul) to its original powers possessed before his sin and fall—when he was the earthly likeness of his Creator, and upright.—Gen. 1:27; Eccl. 7:29.
Since the word anastasis merely signifies to "raise up," as from a fallen to an upright, or from an imperfect to a perfect condition; and since it applies to the soul or being of man, it is evident that unless there be some change of nature since the fall of the race in Adam, raising up would imply nothing more and nothing less than raising all the way up to that standard of perfection and divine likeness represented and lost in Adam. Of the vast multitude of the human family it is true, that they are of the earth, earthy; of human nature, like father Adam, except that they have fallen farther from the divine image in which they were created in him. But this is not true of all, as we shall see.
The Apostles Paul and Peter clearly explain to us that during this Gospel age God has been selecting a peculiar people, a little flock, to be joint-heirs with Christ, their Redeemer and Lord, in the Millennial Kingdom, which is to bless all the families of the earth. And they no less clearly assure us that those who shall be of that "bride" class will be changed in [R1510 : page 104] their resurrection, to a new nature, the divine nature, that thereafter they may be with their Lord, and be like him, and see him as he is.—See 2 Pet. 1:4; 1 John 3:2. Compare also our Lord's words in John 17:24.
The same authoritative teachers assure us that, in order to secure such a change in their resurrection (necessary to all who will be members of that Kingdom), a certain change must take place in them before death. This latter change is Scripturally called a begetting of the spirit, and the resurrection change is called a birth of the spirit. That which is begotten and born of the spirit will be a spirit-being, and no longer a human-being. As that which is begotten and born of the flesh is flesh, so that which is begotten and born of the spirit is spirit. Nicodemus, and the Jews generally, thought that when the due time should come their nation would become God's Kingdom—a fleshly kingdom under a fleshly Messiah. But our Lord corrected Nicodemus' error, and assured him that all who would ever become members of that Kingdom, or who should even see it, would have to be begotten and born again,—a second time,—of the spirit of God.—See John 3:5-7.
The Apostles explain that the begetting to this new nature comes only to believers, already justified by faith in the Redeemer; and that, while the justification of believers comes to each as a free gift through Christ, this begetting to be new creatures "of the divine nature" comes to us directly from the Father, and that as a result of our full consecration to him. The Truth, the word of God's grace,—"our high calling which is of God"—is the begetting and quickening influence which starts the new, consecrated life in all who are properly exercised thereby. The Apostle says: "The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ hath begotten us."—1 Pet. 1:3.
The Gospel age is exclusively devoted to this work of begetting and quickening and preparing of the true Church, the "little flock," for birth to the divine nature, and thus to an inheritance in the promised Kingdom which flesh and blood (souls or beings of human nature) cannot inherit, nor even see. (John 3:3,5.) The resurrection of the Church includes the resurrection of Christ Jesus, who is the head of the Church which is his body. (Eph. 1:22,23.) This resurrection is not only the chief or first resurrection in the sense of being the grandest and most wonderful "raising up," far above human and angelic natures—to the very pinnacle of glory and power, the divine nature—but it will also be first in order. And upon its completion, all other features of God's great plan for human salvation wait and depend.
This first (chief) resurrection began over eighteen centuries ago, when the head of the Church arose, the first-born from the dead. Since then, one after another, a "little flock" of believers, after sharing in justification under the New Covenant sealed by the Redeemer's sacrifice, consecrating themselves to the Lord and becoming joint-heirs with Christ in the Abrahamic Covenant (Gal. 3:29), have been begotten and quickened to this course of action by the exceeding great and precious promises of God, and sealed by the holy spirit of promise, which continually, by God's Word [R1511 : page 104] and providences, bears witness that they are "accepted in the Beloved;" and that if they suffer with him they shall also reign with him;—if they be dead with him they shall also live with him. (Rom. 6:8; 8:17.) "Beloved, now are we the sons of God [begotten to the divine nature, witnessed by the spirit of adoption which enables us to recognize God as our Father]; but it doth not yet appear what we shall be [what shall be the peculiarities of our new bodies which we shall receive when born from the dead as sharers in Christ's resurrection], but we [do] know that when he [Christ] shall appear, we shall be like him; because we shall see him as he is [not as he was]; and none can see spirit beings as they really are except such as are also spirit beings—even as none except those begotten of the spirit can now understand spiritual things.—1 Cor. 2:14.
The Apostle Paul gives a most complete discourse on this subject. (1 Cor. 15:12-28,35-55.) First, he proves that faith in a resurrection [R1511 : page 105] is a part of Christian doctrine, without which the entire fabric would be senseless. Secondly, having proved the doctrine, he shows that our Lord's resurrection is God's guarantee of a resurrection to all our race, for which Christ died. He proceeds to prove this fact and its reasonableness (verse 21) in that as by Adam came death to all, so by the man Christ Jesus the resurrection blessing is made applicable to all. Notice, however, that although a full resurrection up to perfection is made applicable to all, by God's plan, it does not follow that all will obtain it. It is only for those who shall successfully pass a judgment or trial to prove their worthiness of it under God's conditions—the New Covenant. It is made applicable to all, in that the terms will be such that all may avail themselves of the offer, in Christ. Next the Apostle shows that "as all in Adam died, even so all in Christ will be made alive [i.e., fully escape death], but each in his own order or class.—Verses 22,23.
He next pointedly shows, in a few words, what we are here seeking to elaborate: namely, that only those who get into Christ by "faith in his blood" will ever get the perfect life which he has provided, and will make possible of attainment to all. And he shows that of these who come into Christ, into the household of faith, there will be more than one class or order—each one in Christ will be made alive, or fully "raised up" out of death, in his own proper class or order. These orders he shows to be two. The "first-fruit" class, the "members of his body," will be first in order and first in rank. Because associated with Christ in sacrificing, during this age, they shall be accounted worthy to have part in his resurrection—the chief resurrection.—Phil. 3:8-11; Rom. 6:5; Rev. 20:6.
"Afterward [that is, next in order, or the remainder of those to be made alive in Christ, will be], those who are Christ's during his [second] presence [during his Millennial reign]. Then will come the end [the finish of the great salvation which he began by the sacrifice of himself once for all], when he shall deliver the [Millennial] kingdom to God the Father,—when he [Christ] shall have put down [by love or by force] all rule and all authority and power [opposed to righteousness, truth and love;—opposed to God and his perfect law]. For he must reign until he has put all enemies under his feet. [His Millennial Kingdom, having been arranged for the very purpose of releasing those who shall desire to be in harmony with God, when made fully aware of his real character and plan, and of destroying all who, under similar knowledge, are wilful opponents of God and righteousness, cannot cease until all these ends are fully accomplished. The enemies to be humbled in the dust include not only evil forces, moral and physical, but also all persons who wilfully become associates in and parts of those evil things. The enemies will therefore be both animate and inanimate.] Even the last enemy, THE death shall be destroyed: for he [the Father] hath subjected all things under his [Christ's] feet."
It was an easy matter for those whom Paul addressed to believe that when the Millennial Kingdom should be in operation sin and sinners would be brought low; but the point most difficult to them, and the one which the Apostle was now seeking to impress, was that the death which had reigned over and conquered the race through Adam's sin had now become an enemy, an opponent of God's plan: and hence would surely be destroyed by the reign of Messiah. Death had not always been an enemy or an opposer of God's plan: once it was his servant, executing upon fallen man the penalty pronounced by God. But now, since Christ had paid the ransom price for Adam and for all condemned in him, this Adamic death is no longer to be accounted as a servant of God to execute justice, but as an enemy which the Redeemer of men is fully authorized and empowered to destroy—thus liberating from its bondage all for whom he died—"every man," all who died in Adam. (Rom. 8:31-39.) This destruction of the death from which Christ redeemed us, the enemy death, does not have any thing to do with the Second Death, to which, under Christ's rule, all will be subjected who, when released from the Adamic death and granted a new trial for life, are found wilful sinners. The second death will be the friend [R1511 : page 106] rather than the enemy of all who love righteousness; for in it "the abominable," and they only shall be destroyed—and that utterly.
Verses 27,28, show that Jehovah alone is superior to our Lord Jesus, and that after subduing sin and death Christ as well as all things will be subject to the Father, who will be recognized as THE GREAT I AM, in whom the all in all of majesty and power will inhere.
Having thus proved the fact of a general resurrection, and having shown the two orders—the Christ order, including every member of the body of the Christ who is to be like him and with him and a sharer of his glory and divine nature, and having shown the other class who will get life in Christ during the Millennial reign, the Apostle comes to particulars respecting these two classes (verses 35-54), in answer to a supposed question—"How are the dead raised up, and with what body do they come?"
First, he treats the two classes together, saying, It is with man in death and resurrection as with the planting of grain and its reappearance. If you sow barley you expect barley; if you sow wheat you expect wheat to come up. So of whatever kind or nature a person is when he dies, he will be of that same nature, perfected, in the resurrection;—a resurrection will be a raising up of the same kind that goes into death.
All men are of the human nature, of the Adamic family, of the earth, earthy. Hence, with the exception of those begotten by the word of divine promise to the new spiritual nature (and who by reason of this change belong to "the order of Melchisedec" and are "new creatures in Christ," "members of his body"), all the race of Adam die in Adam's nature, human nature; and if raised up to perfection would attain the perfection of man-hood. But those begotten of the spirit to the spiritual nature will, when resurrected, be perfect spirit-beings. To the Adamic seed God has given a grand and wonderful human or flesh body, whose grandeur may be conjectured if we can imagine all the grand qualities and gifts which we see exhibited exceptionally in poets, philosophers, musicians, orators, mathematicians and physical prodigies combined in one person. These human qualities lost by all the race to a greater or less extent will still belong to those of the Adamic seed who shall be fully resurrected out of the death-loss sustained in Adam's fall. But to the new seed, which is Christ (Head and members), God has promised a yet more glorious spirit-body, the wonders of which we but little comprehend as yet.—1 John 3:2; 1 Cor. 2:9-10.
In verses 39-41, the Apostle introduces a description of the first or chief resurrection, in which the Church is especially interested, and shows that as there are various grades of earthly beings (fish, fowl, cattle and man), of which man is the lord or chief, so also in the spirit realm there are various degrees or grades of beings—the angelic being one, and the divine nature chief of all. So he reasons that as we can conceive of harmony and perfection, with variety, in the earth, perfect horses, dogs, cattle and men, so we can likewise conceive of similar variety in perfection amongst spirit beings. We may judge something of what human perfection will be by imagining all the wonderful powers of mankind exercised to the full by each. But although we know less about the spirit realm, we do know that spirits, powers and glories differ from human powers and glories. The glories yet diversities of the spirit world being well illustrated by those of the sun, moon and stars.
Some who fail to see the two classes or orders in resurrection, and who claim that all will obtain spirit bodies in resurrection, urge that the above words apply to all who shall ever be resurrected, and that the description following is therefore applicable to all. But if the careful student will take his Emphatic Diaglott or any Greek New Testament he will see that the words "resurrection" and "dead" are both emphasized in verse 42; as though the Apostle would say, Thus will be the special or first resurrection, of the special class of the dead. To ignore this feature of the Greek is to blind one's self to the real force of God's Word. It may [R1511 : page 107] be asked, May it not have been a custom with the Apostle to use emphasis when speaking of the resurrection in general? We answer, No; [R1512 : page 107] and refer the student to other instances of the use of the same expression without emphasis in the same chapter. (See verses 12,13,21.) And be it noticed that in each of these verses the words "resurrection" and "dead" do not refer to a special class and a special order of resurrection, as in verse 42. Furthermore, notice that whenever the Lord or the Apostles refer to the resurrection of the overcomers, the word resurrection is in every case made emphatic, and when the word occurs in a general way it is without emphasis.
In the following texts anastasis is without the Greek article and hence shows no emphasis,—indicates no special peculiarity: Matt. 22:23; Mark 12:18; Luke 2:34; 20:27; John 5:29. (Here, instead of emphasizing the word anastasis by adding the article, the special resurrection is pointed out by calling it a resurrection of life, because those who share it will be perfected in life at once; the contrast being shown again in the statement that the others will come forth to a judgment-resurrection or a perfecting obtainable only through judgments, discipline, etc.); Acts 17:32; 23:6,8; 24:15-21. (As already noticed the Apostle is here showing that his faith in a resurrection or perfecting is not only for those now justified, but that it extends beyond this small class and includes a hope of perfecting for many now ignorant, sinful, unjustified), Acts 26:23; Rom. 1:4; 1 Cor. 15:12,13,21; Heb. 6:2; 11:35; 1 Pet. 1:3; 3:21.
In the following texts anastasis has the Greek article, showing emphasis and indicating that the first or special resurrection is surely meant: Matt. 22:28,30,31; Mark 12:23; Luke 14:14. (This text should not be understood to mean that Simon would be rewarded for his kind act by a share in the special resurrection, but that he would get a reward for it after the special resurrection of the Christ shall have introduced the new Kingdom—when Simon and the world in general will be granted full opportunity for life everlasting in and by a judgment-resurrection.); Luke 20:33,35,36; John 11:24,25; Acts 1:22; 2:31; 4:2,33; 17:18; Rom. 6:5; 1 Cor. 15:42; Phil. 3:10,11; 2 Tim. 2:18; Rev. 20:5,6.
Mark well that it is not our claim that anastasis without the article, never refers to the Lord's resurrection; but that the emphasis when used with anastasis always marks the statement as relating to the chief or spiritual resurrection. The apostles frequently spoke of our Lord's resurrection without calling attention to the fact that it was of a superior kind, just as we frequently do. They indeed often and properly enough use the word egeiro in speaking of our Lord's resurrection (as in Acts 5:30); but this word simply means, "to awaken, arouse, stir (Liddell & Scott). This word is used in speaking of the temporary awakenings of our Lord's miracles; as, for instance, in referring to the awakening of Lazarus (Jno. 12:1,9,17), of Jairus' daughter (Mark 5:41) and of the son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:14). This word is also used without reference to dead people: for instance, when our Lord was asleep during the storm on the lake—the disciples "awoke [egeiro] him" and "he arose [egeiro] and rebuked the winds." (Matt. 8:25,26.) "It is high time to awake [egeiro] out of sleep," the Apostle urges. (Rom. 13:11.) And again he says, "Awake [egeiro] thou that sleepest." (Eph. 5:14) referring to the thoughtless. These comments apply also to the word anistemi frequently rendered arise, arose, etc., but never rendered resurrection.
But not so with the word anastasis (resurrection): it is never used except with reference to the raising up of dead beings,—souls. And we hold that its use agrees in every instance with the thought of a full raising all the way up to perfection (and that it never refers to a mere reanimation or awakening) except it be in one instance out of the forty-three above noted. That one instance is in Heb. 11:35, where anastasis occurs twice, rendered raised to life again and resurrection. The first of these is generally understood to refer to the re-awakening of two children, by Elijah and Elisha; but we believe that had he referred to these the Holy Spirit would have guided the Apostle to the use of the word egeiro as in the case of Jairus' daughter [R1512 : page 108] and the others awakened by our Lord. We prefer, therefore, to understand the word anastasis here the same as in the other forty-two uses of the word—a full raising up to perfection—and hence must suppose that the Apostle means that certain women, although not sharers in the battles, were sharers in the losses and the faith—their faith in God's promises permitting them to look into the future and to trust God for the resurrection of their dead ones; indeed, to sorrow not as others who have no such hope. This view finds support also in verse 39: "These all, whose faith was attested, did not obtain the promised blessing, God having provided a superior portion for us [the bride, the body of Christ], that they without us might not be made perfect.
Finally, dear readers, let us remember that the reward, "Well done!" and the chief resurrection are not for those who have a clear knowledge and strong faith, merely, but for those who through their knowledge and faith become "overcomers" in deed and in truth. But the more clearly we see that a full, complete resurrection of being is freely provided for all of Adam's race in our great Redeemer's sacrifice, the more we can appreciate that sacrifice and the more we should love and esteem both the Giver and the Gift. And the more clearly we see that the attainment of the spiritual plane of perfect being, to which believers during this Gospel age have been called, is dependent on three things—(1) begetting of the spirit, under the sanctifying power of the word of his grace, (2) quickening to activity in God's service and to self-sacrifice by a still fuller appreciation and under the same sanctifying influences of the same spirit of the Truth, and (3) a resurrection-birth to the perfection of the new nature to which we were begotten and quickened—the more grace it will give us in considering what manner of persons we should be, as copies of our Redeemer, if we would make our calling and election sure. And the more clearly we see that a trial or judgment in the present life is essential to a part in the chief resurrection, the more reasonable it will appear that all of the world, who during the next age will be granted an opportunity for everlasting life under perfect conditions, must have a trial or judgment, and that therefore the period of Christ's reign is the thousand-year judgment-day and that a judgment-resurrection will progress therein—the willing and obedient obtaining perfection and life at its close, the disobedient, rejecting that gracious provision, being then "destroyed from among the people."—Acts 3:23.
Let us who have been begotten of the Spirit, with the great Apostle, count all other prizes but as loss and dross that we may win Christ—win a membership in that glorious body—and be found in him; if by any means (by fellowship in his sufferings) we may obtain a share in his resurrection—the resurrection.—Phil. 3:8.