April 21, 2017
Matthew 27:50-53; Isaiah 65:20
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
In our last blog we looked at The Resurrection Of The Righteous – the first resurrection in three installments:
• The resurrection of Jesus after He died on the cross.
• The resurrection of believers at the end of the Church Age and the beginning of the seven-year Tribulation.
• The resurrection of those who accepted Jesus as Savior during the Tribulation. This will happen at the end of the last seven-year span of time, and just before the Millennium.
But there is at least one more Righteous Resurrection, and possibly two either mentioned or hinted at in the Bible. We will look at the one with the most definite reference first…
• Matthew 27:50-53 – “Jesus, when he had cried out again with a loud voice, yielded up His spirit. And, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.”
This has always been a hard Scripture for me to understand, and I haven’t found any good explanations for it. Two main questions come to mind:
✞ Was this a ‘mortal’ resurrection – like when Jesus raised Lazarus, the twelve-year-old girl, or the widow of Nain’s son? Those so resurrected would experience physical death in the future. What purpose would such a resurrection then have? Perhaps to show that Jesus’ death was a very special event!
If these resurrected ones where still mortal, how long did they appear…to many before they died again? I would think their appearance would have caused quite a stir in and around Jerusalem, even if it was just for three days until Jesus was resurrected.
✞ Or was this a resurrection unto glorified bodies, where those resurrected would never die again? If that was the case, why did they not go directly to heaven, but go into the holy city and appear…to many? Was it because, as it says in John 7:39, “…that Jesus was not yet glorified…”? He was not glorified until He came out of tomb three days later in His glorified body! And this incident under examination happened at the time of His death, not after His resurrection.
Paul writes in Ephesians 4:8 through 10:
Therefore he [David in Psalm 68:18] says, “When He [Jesus] ascended
on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men. (Now this, “He
ascended” — what does it mean but that He also first descended into the
lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended
far above all heavens, that He might fill all things.)
Captivity captive means that those who were being held captive are now taken ‘captive’ in the care of Jesus Christ! I did research on this phrase, and I think it is best explained in common language by John Hoole in http://johnsnotes.com/LeadingCaptivity Captive.htm. And he relates it to the use of the phrase captivity captive in Judges 5:12 (King James Version): “Awake, awake, Deborah: awake, awake, utter a song: arise, Barak, and lead thy captivity captive, thou son of Abinoam.” Barak and Deborah were commissioned by the LORD to fight and defeat Sisera, the general of the army of Jaban, king of Canaan (Judges 4:2).
Many of the people of Israel were being held captive by their enemy. The
enemy at this time was Jabin, king of Canaan. And God, using the judges,
Deborah and Barak, were to lead those captives out. This is a phrase that
means to set free those who have been captive. We know that God is not
telling Deborah and Barak to take their enemies into captivity. We know
that because we are told no enemy captives were taken. This phrase means
the release of captured friends….Now, back to what Christ did between his
death and resurrection. When the apostle Paul mentions that Christ “led
captivity captive,” the very next verse (in Ephesians 4:9) says he does so in
conjunction with his “descending into the lower part of the earth.” Many
take this as another statement of Christ going into Hades. And Christ, then
takes the believers in paradise and releases them from that prison. They
have been there waiting for the final and complete payment for sin they
looked forward to. These righteous souls could not be released into heaven
until the penalty for sin had actually been paid. God accepted them as right-
eous because they had faith in a sacrifice that had not yet taken place. They
were looking forward to the promised sacrifice. However, until that sacrifice
had actually been offered – that is the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross, they
could not be released. After Jesus had sacrificed Himself, He went down into
Hades and in some way took the righteous from Hades with Him into heaven.
He took captivity captive and they became the captives of Jesus and of right-
There is more to this Resurrection Of The Righteous, so there will be more in the next blog.