Resurrection

In the Old Testament:

And I – in righteousness I shall see your face;

when I awake, I shall be satisfied with seeing your likeness.PSALM 17:15

The word awake shows that David believed in life after death.  Although belief in resurrection was not widespread in Old Testament times, several verses show that it was partially understood.  Some of these are Job 19:25-27; Psalms 16:10; 49:15; 139:17, 18; Isaiah 26:19; and Daniel 12:2, 13.

(We deceive ourselves when we measure our happiness or contentment in life by the amount of wealth we possess. When we put riches at the top of our value system, we let power, pleasure, and financial security overshadow the eternal value of our relationship with God.  We think we will be happy or content when we get riches, only to discover that they don’t really satisfy, and the pleasures fade away.  The true measurement of happiness or contentment is found in God’s love and in doing his will.  You will find true happiness if you put your relationship with God above earthly riches.)

But your dead will live;

their bodies will rise.

You who dwell in the dust,

wake up and shout for joy.

Your dew is like the dew of the morning;

the earth will give birth to her dead.  – ISAIAH 26:19

Some people say that there is no life after death. Others believe that there is, but it is not physical life.  But Isaiah tells us that our bodies shall rise again.  According to 1 Corinthians 15:50-53, all the dead believers will rise with new imperishable bodies – bodies like the one Jesus had when he was resurrected (see Philippians 3:21).  Isaiah 26:19 is not the only Old Testament verse to speak about the resurrection; see also Job 19:26; Psalm 16:10; Daniel 12:2, 3.

(When God comes to judge the earth, the guilty will find no place to hide. Jesus said that the hidden will be made known because his truth, like a light shining in a dark corner, will reveal it (Matthew 10:26).  Instead of trying to hide your shameful thoughts and actions from God, confess them to him and receive his forgiveness.)

Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. –  DANIEL 12:2

This is a clear reference to the resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked, although the eternal fates of each will be quite different. Up to this point in time, teaching about the resurrection was not common, although every Israelite believed that one day he or she would be included in the restoration of the new kingdom.  This reference to a bodily resurrection of both the saved and the lost was a sharp departure from common belief.  (See also Job 19:25, 26; Psalm 16:10; and Isaiah 26:19 for other Old Testament references to the resurrection.

[“At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then.  But at that time your people – everyone whose name is found written in the book – will be delivered. Daniel 12:1.  Great suffering is in store for God’s people throughout the years ahead.  This way of describing the future is also used by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 30:7) and Jesus (Matthew 24:21ff).  Yet the great suffering is tempered by a great promise of hope for true believers.]

[Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.  – Daniel 12:3.  Many people try to be stars in the world of entertainment, only to find their stardom temporary.  God tells us how we can be eternal “stars” – by being wise and leading many to God’s righteousness.  If we share our Lord with others, we can be true stars – radiantly beautiful in God’s sight!]

 

Disciples didn’t understand purpose of Jesus’ resurrection:

When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.”  And the disciples were filled with grief.  – MATTHEW 17:22-23

Once again Jesus predicted his death (see also 16:21); but more important, he told of his resurrection. Unfortunately, the disciples heard only the first part of Jesus’ words and became discouraged.  They couldn’t understand why Jesus wanted to go back to Jerusalem where he would walk right into trouble.

The disciples didn’t fully comprehend the purpose of Jesus’ death and resurrection until Pentecost (Acts 2). We shouldn’t be upset with ourselves for being slow to understand everything about Jesus.  After all, the disciples were with him, saw his miracles, heard his words, and still had difficulty understanding.  Despite their questions and doubts, however, they believed.  We should do no less.

(The disciples didn’t understand why Jesus kept talking about his death because they expected him to set up a political kingdom. His death, they thought, would dash their hopes.  They didn’t know that Jesus’ death and resurrection would make his kingdom possible.)

[He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move.  Nothing will be impossible for you.”  – Matthew 17:20.  Jesus wasn’t condemning the disciples for substandard faith; he was trying to show how important faith would be in their future ministry.  If you are facing a problem that seems as big and immovable as a mountain, turn your eyes from the mountain and look to Christ for more faith.  Only then will your work for him become useful and vibrant.]

[After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?”Matthew 17:24.  All Jewish males had to pay a temple tax to support temple upkeep (Exodus 30:11-16).  Tax collectors set up booths to collect these taxes.  Only Matthew records this incident – perhaps because he had been a tax collector himself.]

Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be turned over to the Gentiles.  They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him.  On the third day he will rise again.”

The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.  –  LUKE 18:31-34

Some predictions about what would happen to Jesus are found in Psalms 41:9 (betrayal); Psalm 22:16-18 and Isaiah 53:4-7 (crucifixion); Psalm 6:10 (resurrection). The disciples didn’t understand Jesus, apparently because they focused on what he said about his death and ignored what he said about his resurrection.  Even though Jesus spoke plainly, they would not grasp the significance of his words until they saw the risen Christ face to face.

[Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus replied, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”  Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!”  “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said to them, “no-one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.” Luke 18:26-30.  Peter and the other disciples had paid a high price – leaving their homes and jobs – to follow Jesus.  But Jesus reminded Peter that following him has its benefits as well as its sacrifices.  Any believer who has had to give up something to follow Christ will be paid back in this life as well as in the next.  For example, if you must give up a secure job, you will find that God offers a secure relationship with himself now and for ever.  If you must give up your family’s approval, you will gain the love of the family of God.  The disciples had begun to pay the price of following Jesus, and Jesus said they would be rewarded.  Don’t dwell on what you have given up; think about what you have gained and give thanks for it.  You can never outgive God.]

[As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. Luke 18:35.  Beggars often waited along the roads near cities, because that was where they were able to contact the most people.  Usually disabled in some way, beggars were unable to earn a living.  Medical help was not available for their problems, and people tended to ignore their obligation to care for the needy (Leviticus 25:35-38).  Thus beggars had little hope of escaping their degrading way of life.  But this blind beggar took hope in the Messiah.  He shamelessly cried out for Jesus’ attention, and Jesus said that his faith allowed him to see.  No matter how desperate your situation may seem, if you call out to Jesus in faith, he will help you.]

 

How Jesus proved reality of:

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, you’re your faith may not fail.  And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”  – MATTHEW 22:31-32

Because the Sadducees accepted only the Pentateuch as God’s divine word, Jesus answered them from the book of Exodus (3:6). God would not have said, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” if God thought of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as dead.  From God’s perspective, they are alive.  Jesus’ use of the present tense pointed to the resurrection and the eternal life that all believers enjoy in him.

[Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors.  But you are not to be like that.  Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serve s.  For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves?  Is it not the one who is at the table?  But I am among you as one who serves. Luke 22:24-27.  The world’s system of leadership is very different from leadership in God’s kingdom.  Worldly leaders are often selfish and arrogant as they claw their way to the top.  (Some kings in the ancient world gave themselves the title “Benefactor”.)  But among Christians, the leader is to be the one who serves best.  There are different styles of leadership – some lead through public speaking, some through administering, some through relationships – but every Christian leader needs a servant’s heart.  Ask the people you lead how you can serve them better.]

[Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?” “Nothing,” they answered.  He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.  It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me.  Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfilment.”  The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.”  “That is enough,” he replied. Luke 22:35-38.  Here Jesus reversed his earlier advice regarding how to travel (9:3).  The disciples were to bring bags, money, and swords.  They would be facing hatred and persecution and would need to be prepared.  When Jesus said, “That is enough,” he may have meant it was not time to think of using swords.  In either case, mention of a sword vividly communicated the trials they were soon to face.]

 

Nothing could keep Jesus from:

So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard. – MATTHEW 27:66

The Pharisees were so afraid of Jesus’ predictions about his resurrection that they made sure the tomb was thoroughly sealed and guarded. Because the tomb was hewn out of rock in the side of a hill, there was only one entrance.  The tomb was sealed by stringing a cord across the stone that was rolled over the entrance.  The cord was sealed at each end with clay [in Ezra].  But the religious leaders took a further precaution, asking that guards be placed at the tomb’s entrance.  With such precautions, the only way the tomb could be empty would be for Jesus to rise from the dead. The Pharisees failed to understand that no rock, seal, guard, or army could prevent the Son of God from rising again.

[So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead.  This last deception will be worse than the first.” Matthew 27:64.  The religious leaders took Jesus resurrection claims more seriously than the disciples did.  The disciples didn’t remember Jesus’ teaching about his resurrection (20:17-19); but the religious leaders did.  Because of his claims, they were almost as afraid of Jesus after his death as when he was alive.  They tried to take every precaution that his body would remain in the tomb.]

[After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. Matthew 28:1.  The other Mary was not Jesus’ mother.  She could have been the wife of Clopas (John 19:25).  Or, if she was the mother of James and John (Matthew 27:66), she may have been Jesus’ aunt.]

 

Jesus’ resurrection key to Christian faith:

He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.  MATTHEW 28:6

Jesus’ resurrection is the key to the Christian faith. Why?  (1) Just as he promised, Jesus rose from the dead.  We can be confident, therefore, that he will accomplish all he has promised.  (2) Jesus’ bodily resurrection shows us that the living Christ is ruler of God’s eternal kingdom, not a false prophet or imposter.  (3) We can be certain of our resurrection because he was resurrected.  Death is not the end – there is future life.  (4) The power that brought Jesus back to life is available to us to bring our spiritually dead selves back to live.  (5) The resurrection is the basis for the church’s witness to the world.  Jesus is more than just a human leader, he is the Son of God.

(The angel who announced the good news of the resurrection to the women gave them four messages: (1) Do not be afraid.  The reality of the resurrection brings joy, not fear.  When you are afraid, remember the empty tomb.  (2) He is not here.  Jesus is not dead and is not to be looked for among the dead.  He is alive with his people.  (3) Come and see.  The women could check the evidence themselves.  The tomb was empty then, and it is empty today.  The resurrection is a historical fact.  (4) Go quickly and tell.  They were to spread the joy of the resurrection.  We also are to spread the great news about Jesus’ resurrection.)

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified.  He has risen!  He is not here.  See the place where they laid him.  MARK 16:6

It is not the water of baptism that saves, but God’s grace accepted through faith in Christ.  Because of Jesus’ response to the criminal on the cross who died with him, we know it is possible to be saved without being baptised (Luke 23:43).  Baptism alone, without faith, does not automatically bring a person to heaven.  Those who refuse to believe will be condemned, regardless of whether or not they have been baptised.

(Jesus told his disciples to go into the world, telling everyone that he had paid the penalty for sin and that those who believe in him can be forgiven and live eternally with God. Christian discipline today in all parts of the world are preaching this gospel to people who haven’t heard about Christ.  Christ’s church in motion is the faith that comes from the resurrection.  Do you ever feel as though you don’t have the skill or determination to be a witness for Christ?  You must personally realise that Jesus rose from the dead and lives for you today.  As you grow in your relationship with Christ, he will give you both the opportunities and the inner strength to tell his message.)

He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ “  LUKE 24:6-7

The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the central fact of Christian history. On it, the church is built; without it; there would be no Christian church today.  Jesus’ resurrection is unique.  Other religions have strong ethical systems, concepts about paradise and the afterlife, and various holy scriptures.  Only Christianity has a God who became human, literally died for his people, and was raised again in power and glory to rule his church for ever.

Why is the resurrection so important? (1) Because Christ was raised from the dead, we know that the kingdom of heaven has broken into earth’s history.  Our world is now headed for redemption, not disaster.  God’s mighty power is at work destroying sin, creating new lives, and preparing us for Jesus’ second coming.  (2) Because of the resurrection, we know that death has been conquered, and we too will be raised from the dead to live for ever with Christ.  (3) The resurrection gives authority to the church’s witness in the world.  Look at the early evangelistic sermons in the book of Acts: the apostles’ most important message was the proclamation that Jesus Christ had been raised from the dead!  (4) The resurrection gives meaning to the church’s regular feast, the Lord’s Supper.  Like the disciples on the Emmaus Road, we break bread with our risen Lord, who comes in power to save us.  (5) The resurrection helps us find meaning even in great tragedy.  No matter what happens to us as we walk with the Lord, the resurrection gives us hope for the future.  (6) The resurrection assures us that Christ is alive and ruling his kingdom.  He is not legend; he is alive and real. (7) God’s power that brought Jesus back from the dead is available to us so that we can live for him in an evil world.

Christians can look very different from one another, and they can hold widely varying beliefs about politics, life-style, and even theology. But one central belief unites and inspires all true Christians – Jesus Christ rose from the dead!  (For more on the importance of the resurrection, see 1 Corinthians 15:12-58).

(The angels reminded the women that Jesus had accurately predicted all that had happened to him (9:22, 44; 18:31-33).)

(They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) JOHN 20:9

Jesus’ resurrection is the key to the Christian faith. Why?  (1) Just as he said, Jesus rose from the dead.  We can be confident, therefore, that he will accomplish all he has promised.  (2) Jesus’ bodily resurrection shows us that the living Christ, not a false prophet or impostor, is ruler of God’s eternal kingdom.  (3) We can be certain of our own resurrection because Jesus was resurrected.  Death is not the end – therefore is future life.  (4) The divine power that brought Jesus back to life is not available to us to bring our spiritually dead selves back to life.  (5) The resurrection is the basis for the church’s witness to the world.

(As further proof that the disciples did not fabricate this story, we find that Peter and John were surprised that Jesus was not in the tomb. When John saw the graveclothes looking like an empty cocoon from which Jesus had emerged, he believed that Jesus had risen.  It wasn’t until after they had seen the empty tomb that they remembered what the Scripture and Jesus had said – he would die, but he would also rise again!)

If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.  More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead.  But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.  For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.  And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.  Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.  1 CORINTHIANS 15:13-18

The resurrection of Christ is the centre of the Christian faith. Because Christ rose from the dead as he promised, we know that what he said is true – he is God.  Because he rose, we have certainty that our sins are forgiven.  Because he rose, he lives and represents us to God.  Because he rose and defeated death, we know we will also be raised.

[But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead. 1 Corinthians 15:12ff.  Most Greeks did not believe that people’s bodies would be resurrected after death.  They saw the afterlife as something that happened only to the soul.  According to Greek philosophers, the soul was the real person, imprisoned in a physical body, and at death the soul was released.  There was no immorality for the body, but the soul entered an eternal state.  Christianity, by contrast, affirms that the body and soul will be united after resurrection.  The church at Corinth was in the heart of Greek culture.  Thus many believers had a difficult time believing in a bodily resurrection.  Paul wrote this part of his letter to clear up this confusion about the resurrection.]

[If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. 1 Corinthians 15:19.  Why does Paul say believers should be pitied if there were only earthly value to Christianity?  In Paul’s day, Christianity often brought a person persecution, ostracism from family, and, in many cases, poverty.  There were few tangible benefits from being a Christian in that society.  It was certainly not a step up that social or career ladder.  Even more important, however, is the fact that if Christ had not be resurrected from death, Christians could not be forgiven for their sins and would have no hope of eternal life.]

 

Stir caused by Jesus’ resurrection:

While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’  If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.”  So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed.  And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.  MATTHEW 28:11-15

Jesus’ resurrection was already causing a great stir in Jerusalem. A group of women were moving quickly through the streets, looking for the disciples to tell them the amazing news that Jesus was alive.  At the same time, a group of religious leaders were plotting how to cover up the resurrection.

Today there is still a great stir over the resurrection, and there are still only two choices – to believe that Jesus rose from the dead, or to be closed to the truth – denying it, ignoring it, or trying to explain it away.

(Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.  Matthew 28:10.  Jesus told the women to pass a message on to the disciples – that he would meet them in Galilee, as he had previously told them (Mark 14:28).  But the disciples, afraid of the religious leaders, stayed hidden behind locked doors in Jerusalem (John 20:19).  So Jesus met them there first (Luke 24:36) and then later in Galilee (John 21).)

(Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Matthew 28:18.  God gave Jesus authority over heaven and earth.  On the basis of that authority, Jesus told his disciples to make more disciples as they preached, baptised, and taught.  With this same authority, Jesus still commands us to tell others the Good News and make them disciples for the kingdom.)

 

The reason for sharing our faith:

He said to them, “Go into the world and preach the good news to all creation. MARK 16:15

Jesus told his disciples to go into all the world, telling everyone that he had paid the penalty for sin and that those who believe in him can be forgiven and live eternally with God. Christian disciples today in all parts of the world are preaching this gospel to people who haven’t heard about Christ.  The driving power that carries missionaries around the world and sets Christ’s church in motion is the faith that comes from the resurrection.  Do you ever feel as though you don’t have the skill or determination to be a witness for Christ?  You must personally realise that Jesus rose from the dead and lives for you today.  As you grow in your relationship with Christ, he will give you both the opportunities and the inner strength to tell his message.

[These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either. Mark 16:13.  When the two finally realised who Jesus was, they rushed back to Jerusalem.  It’s not enough to read about Christ as a personality or to study his teachings.  You must also believe he is God, trust him to save you, and accept him as Lord of your life.  This is the difference between knowing Jesus and knowing about him.  Only when you know Christ will you be motivated to share with others what he has done for you.]

[Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. Mark 16:16.  It is not the water of baptism that saves, but God’s grace accepted through faith in Christ.  Because of Jesus’ response to the criminal on the cross who died with him, we know it is possible to be saved without being baptised (Luke 23:43).  Baptism alone, without faith, does not automatically bring a person to heaven.  Those who refuse to believe will be condemned, regardless of whether or not they have been baptised.]

 

Jesus’ resurrection body:

While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” LUKE 24:36

Jesus’ body wasn’t just a figment of the imagination or the appearance of a ghost – the disciples touched him, and he ate food. On the other hand, his body wasn’t merely a restored human body like Lazarus’ (John 11) – he was able to appear and disappear.  Jesus’ resurrected body was immortal.  This is the kind of body we will be given at the resurrection of the dead (see 1 Corinthians 15:42-50).

[They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true!  The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Luke 24:33, 34.  Paul also mentions that Jesus appeared to Peter alone (1 Corinthians 15:5).  This appearance is not further described in the Gospels.  Jesus showed individual concern for Peter because Peter felt completely unworthy after disowning his Lord.  But Peter repented, and Jesus approached him and forgave him.  Soon God would use Peter in building Christ’s church (see the first half of the book of Acts).]

[He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” Luke 24:44.  Many days may have lapsed between verses 43 and 44 because Jesus and his followers travelled to Galilee and back before he returned to heaven (Matthew 28:16; John 21).  In his second book, Acts, Luke made it clear that Jesus spent 40 days with his disciples between his resurrection and ascension.]

 

Of unbelievers to judgment:

..and come out – those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. JOHN 5:29

Those who have rebelled against Christ will be resurrected too, but to hear God’s judgment against them and to be sentenced to eternity apart from him. There are those who wish to live well on earth, ignore God, and then see death as final rest.  Jesus does not allow unbelieving people to see death as the end of it all.  There is a judgment to face.

[And he has given himself authority to judge because he is the Son of Man. John 5:27. The Old Testament mentioned three signs of the coming Messiah.  In this chapter, John shows that Jesus has fulfilled all three signs.  All power and authority are given to him as the Son of Man (cf. 5:27 with Daniel 7:13, 14).  The lame and sick are healed (cf. 5:20, 26 with Isaiah 35:6; Jeremiah 31:8, 9).  The dead are raised to life (cf. 5:21, 28 with Deuteronomy 32:39; 1 Samuel 2:6; 2 Kings 5:7).]

[“If I testify about myself, my testimony is not valid. John 5:31ff. Jesus claimed to be equal with God (5:18), to give eternal life (5:24), to be the source of life (5:26), and to judge sin (5:27).  These statements make it clear that Jesus was claiming to be divine – an almost unbelievable claim, but one that was supported by another witness, John the Baptist.]

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.  REVELATION 2:11

Believers and unbelievers alike experience physical death. All people will be resurrected, but believers will be resurrected to eternal life with God while unbelievers will be resurrected to be punished with a second death, eternal separation from God (see also 20:14; 21:8, 27; 22:15).

[I know your afflictions and your poverty – yet you are rich! I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.  Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer.  I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days.  Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. Revelation 2:9, 10.  Persecution comes from Satan, not from God.  Satan, the devil, will cause believers to be thrown into prison and even killed.  But believers need not fear death, because it will only result in their receiving the crown of life.  Satan may harm their earthly bodies, but he can do them no spiritual harm.  The “synagogue of Satan” means that these Jews were serving Satan’s purposes, not God’s, when they gathered to worship.  “Ten days” means that although persecution would be intense, it would be relatively short.  It would have a definite beginning and end, and God would remain in complete control.]

[Pain is part of life, but it is never easy to suffer, no matter what the cause. Jesus commended the church at Smyma for its faith in suffering.  He then encouraged the believers that they need not fear the future if they remained faithful.  If you are experiencing difficult times, don’t let them turn you away from God.  Instead let them draw you towards greater faithfulness.  Trust God and remember your heavenly reward (see also 22:12-14).]

[Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days.  Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. Revelation 2:10. Smyrna was famous for its athletic games.  A crown was the victory wreath, the trophy for the champion at the games.  If we have been faithful, we will receive the prize of victory – eternal life (James 1:12).  The message to the Smyrna church was to remain faithful during their suffering because God is in control and his promises are reliable.  Jesus never says that by being faithful to him we will avoid troubles, suffering, and persecution.  Rather, we must be faithful to him in our suffering.  Only then will our faith prove to be genuine. We remain faithful by keeping our eyes on Christ and on what he promises us now and in the future (see Philippians 3:13, 14; 2 Timothy 4:8).]

 

Proves Jesus has eternal life:

Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed.  But if it dies, it produces many seeds.  The man who loves his life will lost it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.  JOHN 12:23-25

This is a beautiful picture of the necessary sacrifice of Jesus. Unless a kernel of wheat is buried in the ground, it will not become a blade of wheat producing many more seeds.  Jesus had to die to pay the penalty for our sin, but also to show his power over death.  His resurrection proves he has eternal life.  Because Jesus is God, Jesus can give this same eternal life to all who believe in him.

(We must be so committed to living for Christ that we “hate” our lives by comparison. This does not mean that we long to die or that we are careless or destructive with the life God has given, but that we are willing to die if doing so will glorify Christ.  We must disown the tyrannical rule of our own self-centredness.  By laying aside our striving for advantage, security, and pleasure, we can serve God lovingly and freely.  Releasing control of our lives and transferring control to Christ bring eternal life and genuine joy.)

[Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the Feast. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request, “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” John 12:20, 21. These Greeks probably were converts to the Jewish faith.  They may have gone to Philip because, though he was a Jew, he had a Greek name.]

[Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me.  John 12:26.  Many believed that Jesus came for the Jews only.  But when Jesus said, “Whoever serves me must follow me,” he was talking to these Greeks as well.  No matter who the sincere seekers are, Jesus welcomes them.  His message is for everyone.  Don’t allow social or racial differences to become barriers to the gospel.  Take the Good News to all people.]

 

Effect it had on disciples:

In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive.  He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.  ACTS 1:1-3

Luke says that the disciples were eyewitnesses to all that had happened to Jesus Christ – his life before his crucifixion (“suffering”), and the 40 days after his resurrection as he taught them more about the kingdom of God. Today there are still people who doubt Jesus’ resurrection.  But Jesus appeared to the disciples on many occasions after his resurrection, proving that he was alive.  Look at the change the resurrection made in the disciples’ lives.  At Jesus’ death, they scattered – they were disillusioned, and they feared for their lives.  After seeing the resurrected Christ, they were fearless and risked everything to spread the Good News about him around the world.  They faced imprisonment, beatings, rejection, and martyrdom, yet they never compromised their mission.  These men would not have risked their lives for something they knew was a fraud.  They knew Jesus was raised from the dead, and the early church was fired with their enthusiasm to tell others.  It is important to know this so we can have confidence in their testimony.  Twenty centuries later we can still be confident that our faith is based on fact.

(Verses 1-11 are the bridge between the events recorded in the Gospel and the events marking the beginning of the church. Jesus spent 40 days teaching his disciples, and they were changed drastically.  Before, they had argued with each other, deserted their Lord, and one (Peter) even lied about knowing Jesus.  Here, in a series of meetings with the living, resurrected Christ, the disciples had many questions answered.  They became convinced about the resurrection, learned about the kingdom of God, and learned about their power source – the Holy Spirit.  By reading the Bible, we can sit with the resurrected Christ in his school of discipleship.  By believing in him, we can receive his power through the Holy Spirit to be new people.  By joining with other Christians in Christ’s church, we can take part in doing his work on earth.)

(Jesus explained that with his coming, the kingdom of God was inaugurated. When he returned to heave, God’s kingdom would remain in the hearts of all believers through the presence of the Holy Spirit.  But the kingdom of God will not be fully realised until Jesus Christ comes again to judge all people and remove all evil from the world.  Before that time, believers are to work to spread God’s kingdom across the world.  The book of Acts records how this work was begun.  What the early church started, we must continue.)

[On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptised with water, but in a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:4, 5. The Trinity is a description of the unique relationship of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  If Jesus had stayed on earth, his physical presence would have limited the spread of the gospel, because physically he could be in only one place at a time.  After Christ was taken up into heaven, he would be spiritually present everywhere through the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit was sent so that God would be with and within his followers after Christ returned to heaven.  The Spirit would comfort them, guide them to know his truth, remind them of Jesus’ words, give them the right words to say, and fil them with power (see John 14-16).]

 

Many will doubt it:

…and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.  Then he appeared to James, then to al the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.  1 CORINTHIANS 15:5-8

There will always be people who say that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead. Paul assures us that many people saw Jesus after his resurrection: Peter; the disciples (the Twelve); more than 500 Christian believers (most of whom were still alive when Paul wrote this, although some had died); James (Jesus’ brother); all the apostles; and finally Paul himself.  The resurrection is an historical fact.  Don’t be discouraged by doubters who deny the resurrection.  Be filled with hope because of the knowledge that one day you, and they, will see the living proof when Christ returns.

(This James is Jesus’ brother, who at first did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah (John 7:5). After seeing the resurrected Christ, he became a believer and ultimately a leader of the church in Jerusalem (Acts 15:13).  James wrote the New Testament book of James.)

 

Our bodies will be resurrected with our spirits:

But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead. 1 CORINTHIANS 15:12ff.

Most Greeks did not believe that people’s bodies would be resurrected after death. They saw the afterlife as something that happened only to the soul.  According to Greek philosophers, the soul was the real person, imprisoned in a physical body, and at death the soul was released.  There was no immorality for the body, but the soul entered an eternal state.  Christianity, by contrast, affirms that the body and soul will be united after resurrection.  The church at Corinth was in the heart of Greek culture.  Thus many believers had a difficult time believing in a bodily resurrection.  Paul wrote this part of his letter to clear up this confusion about the resurrection.

 

What our resurrected bodies will be like:

But someone may ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?”  1 CORINTHIANS 15:35ff

Paul compares the resurrection of our bodies with the growth in a garden. Seeds placed in the ground don’t grow unless they “die” first.  The plant that grows looks very different from the seed because God gives it a new “body”.  There are different kinds of bodies – people, animals, fish, birds.  Even the angels in heaven have bodies that are different in beauty and glory.  Our resurrected bodies will be very different in some ways, but not all, from our earthly bodies.

(Paul launches into a discussion about what our resurrected bodies will be like. If you could select your own body, what kind would you choose – strong, athletic, beautiful?  Paul explains that we will be recognised in our resurrected bodies, yet they will be better than we can imagine, for they will be made to live for ever.  We will still have our own personalities and individualities, but these will be perfected through Christ’s work.  The Bible does not reveal everything that our resurrected bodies will be able to do, but we know they will be perfect, without sickness or disease (see Philippians 3:21).

[Do not be mislead: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33.  Keeping company with those who deny the resurrection could corrupt good Christian character.  Don’t let your relationships with unbelievers lead you away from Christ or cause your faith to waver.]

[So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonour, 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.  If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 1 Corinthians 15:42-44.  Our present bodies are perishable and prone to decay.  Our resurrection bodies will be transformed.  These spiritual bodies will not be limited by the laws of nature.  This does not necessarily mean we’ll be superpeople, but our bodies will be different from and more capable than our present earthly bodies.  Our spiritual bodies will not be weak, will never get sick, and will never die.]

[So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 1 Corinthians 15:45.  The “last Adam” refers to Christ.  Because Christ rose from the dead, he is a life-giving spirit.  This means that he entered into a new form of existence (see the note on 2 Corinthians 3:17).  He is the source of the spiritual life that will result in our resurrection.  Christ’s new glorified human body now suits his new glorified life – just as Adam’s human body was suitable to his natural life.  When we are resurrected, God will give us a transformed, eternal body suited to our new eternal life.]

 

How Jesus’ resurrection should affect your life:

Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.  1 CORINTHIANS 15:58

Paul says that because of the resurrection, nothing we do is in vain. Sometimes we hesitate to do good because we don’t see any results.  But if we can maintain a heavenly perspective, we will understand that we often will not see the good that results from our efforts.  If we truly believe that Christ has won the ultimate victory, that fact must affect the way we live right now.  Don’t let discouragement over an apparent lack of results keep you from working.  Do the good that you have opportunity to do, knowing that your work will have eternal results.

[When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immorality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?”  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 1 Corinthians 15:54-56.  Satan seemed to be victorious in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3) and at the cross of Jesus.  But God turned Satan’s apparent victory into defeat when Jesus Christ rose from the dead (Colossians 2:15; Hebrews 2:14, 15).  Thus death is no longer a source of dread or fear.  Christ overcame it, and one day we will also.  The law will no longer make sinners out of us who cannot keep it.  Death has been defeated, and we have hope beyond the grave.]

[Now about the collection for God’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. 1 Corinthians 16:1ff.  Paul had just said that no good deed is ever in vain (15:58).  In this chapter he mentions some practical deeds that have value for all Christians.]

 

Proves Christ’s lordship over material world:

And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. COLOSSIANS 1:18

Christ is the “firstborn from among the dead”. Jesus was raised from death, and his resurrection proves his lordship over the material world.  All who trust in Christ will also defeat death and rise again to live eternally with him (1 Corinthians 15:20; 1 Thessalonians 4:14).  Because of Christ’s death on the cross, he has been exalted and elevated to the status that was rightfully his (see Philippians 2:5-11).  Because Christ is spiritually supreme in the universe surely we should give him first place in all our thoughts and activities.  See the second note on Luke 24:6, 7 for more about the significance of Christ’s resurrection.

[He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:17.  God is not only the Creator of the world, but he is also its Sustainer.  In him, everything is held together, protected, and prevented from disintegrating into chaos.  Because Christ is the Sustainer of all life, none of us is independent from him.  We are all his servants who must daily trust him to protect us, care for us, and sustain us.]

[For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Colossians 1:19.  By this statement, Paul was refuting the Greek idea that Jesus could not be human and divine at the same time.  Christ is fully human; he is also fully divine.  Christ has always been God and always will be God.  When we have Christ we have all of God in human form.  Don’t diminish any aspect of Christ – either his humanity or his divinity.]

 

Of believers at Jesus’ second coming:

Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 1 Thessalonians 4:13ff

The Thessalonians were wondering why many of their fellow believers had fallen asleep (died) and what would happen to them when Christ returned. Paul wanted the Thessalonians to understand that death is not the end of the story.  When Christ returns, all believers – dead and alive – will be reunited, never to suffer or die again.

[Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. 1 Thessalonians 4:11, 12.  There is more to Christian living than simply loving other Christians.  We must be responsible in all areas of life.  Some of the Thessalonian Christians had adopted a life of idleness, depending on others for handouts.  Some Greeks looked down on manual labour.  So Paul told the Thessalonians to work hard and live a quiet life.  You can’t be effective in sharing your faith with others if they don’t respect you.  Whatever you do, do it faithfully and be a positive force in society.]

[According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 1 Thessalonians 4:15.  What does Paul mean when he says, “according to the Lord’s own word”?  Either this was something that the Lord had revealed directly to Paul, or it was a teaching of Jesus that had been passed along orally by the apostles and other Christians.]

 

False teachers’ view about:

..who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some.  2 TIMOTHY 2:18

The false teachers were denying the resurrection of the body. They believed that when a person became a Christian, he or she was spiritually reborn, and that was the only resurrection there would ever be.  To them, resurrection was symbolic and spiritual, not physical.  Paul clearly taught, however, that believers will be resurrected after they die, and that their bodies as well as their souls will live eternally with Christ (1 Corinthians 15:35ff; 2 Corinthians 5:1-10; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18).  We cannot shape the doctrines of Scripture to match our opinions.  If we do, we are putting ourselves above God.  Instead, our beliefs should be consistent with God’s word.

(There teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some. 2 Timothy 2:17, 18.  Hymenaeus was also mentioned in 1 Timothy 1:20.  Paul had handed Hymenaeus over to Satan because his false teaching concerning the resurrection was destroying some people’s faith.)

[Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. 2 Timothy 2:16.  In important areas of Christian teaching, we must carefully work through our disagreements.  But when we bicker long hours over words and theories that are not central to the Christian faith and life, we only provoke anger and hurt feelings.  Even if “godless chatter” reaches a resolution, it gains little ground for the kingdom.  Learning and discussing are not bad unless they keep believers constantly focusing on false doctrine or unhelpful trivialities.  Don’t let anything keep you from your work for and service to God.]

[Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord, must turn away from wickedness.” 2 Timothy 2:19.  False teachers still spout lies.  Some distort the truth, some dilute it, and some simply delete it by saying that God’s truth no longer applies.  But no matter how many people follow the liars, the solid foundation of God’s truth never changes, is never shaken, and will never fade.  When we follow God’s truth, he will never forsake us.]

 

Views about the first resurrection:

(The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection.  Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection.  The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.  REVELATION 20:5-6

Christians hold two basic views concerning this first resurrection. (1) Some believe that the first resurrection is spiritual (in our hearts at salvation), and that the Millennium is our spiritual reign with Christ between his first and second comings.  During this time, we are priests of God because Christ reigns in our hearts.  In this view, the second resurrection is the bodily resurrection of all people for judgment.  (2) Others believe that the first resurrection occurs after Satan has been set aside.  It is a physical resurrection of believers who then reign with Christ on earth for a literal 1,000 years.  The second resurrection occurs at the end of this Millennium in order to judge unbelievers who have died.

(The second death is spiritual death – everlasting separation from God (see 2:18).)

[I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God.  They had not worshipped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands.  They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.  Revelation 2:4.  The beast’s mark is explained in the note on 13:16-18).]

[When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth – Gog and Magog – to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore.  They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves.  But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. Revelation 20:7-9.  Gog and Magog symbolise all the forces of evil that band together to battle God.  Noah’s son, Japheth, had a son named Magog (Genesis 10:2).  Ezekiel presents Gog as a leader of forces against Israel (Ezekiel 38; 39).]

 

©KingsWay 1973.

 

 

 

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