Matthew 27:50 Then Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up his spirit. 51 And look, the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; the earth shook, the rocks were split, 52 the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose; 53 and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city and appeared to many. 54 Now when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, "Truly this was the Son of God!" 55 And many women were there looking from a far off, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to Him.
Question: Given that a person’s dead body resting in the grave is proof that person’s soul is still in Sheol. Therefore we know, that David, Abraham, Isaac or Jacob, were not among the many saints who were raised to life at the time of Jesus Christ resurrection. Who were the many saints that were raised to life at that time?
In this passage, Matthew uses that Greek word ‘polus’, meaning ‘many’ three times.
In verse 52: We have the bodies of many saints.
In verse 53: We are told that they appeared too many people.
In verse 55: We have many women who followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to his needs.
Although the saints who were raised from the dead, may have appeared too many thousands in the Holy City; there was no-where near that number of women who followed Jesus from Galilee. Maybe only between ten and twenty women from Galilee watched that day.
So how many is many? And how many is few? If I want to field a football team, 10 are few and 20 are many. If two kings are about to enter into battle, one with an army of 100,000, the other with an army of 200,000; a 100,000 are few and 200,000 are many. Few are always less than many, and many are always more than few.
Throughout the Gospel of Matthew, the Greek Words ‘ologos’ and ‘polus’ translated into English as ‘few’ and ‘many’ are often used in this way. So what Matthew is saying here, is that compared with the few people, who in the past have died, been placed in a tomb, and then, sometime later, have been raised from the dead, many on this day were raised from the dead.
Prior to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, there had only ever been one man (maybe two) who had died, been placed in a tomb, and then later raised from the dead. So one (or two) is few. Therefore if only 24 saints were raised from the dead at the time of Jesus Christ resurrection, that would be many. Also, if those 24 saints after appearing too many in the Holy City, were to ascend into the sky with Jesus Christ. This would explain how the 24 elders, spoken of in the book of Revelation, got before the throne of God in the sky before the resurrection on the last day.
Another possible answer is that Jesus Christ was the firstfruits sacrifice, and the many saints, who were resurrected with Jesus are the firstfruits wave offering; which according to the Law, had to be present to the Lord God at the same time as the sacrifice.
Leviticus 23:9 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 10 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. 11 He shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you, on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. 12 And you shall offer on that day, when you wave the sheaf, a male lamb of the first year, without blemish, as a burnt offering to the LORD.’”
Because Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God, the firstfruits sacrifice; in order to fulfil the law of the firstfruits sacrifice, Jesus had to be presented to God along with the wave offering of the firstfruits. It was to fulfil this law that some of the saints were resurrected along with Jesus Christ and presented to God as a wave offering.
Jesus Christ said;
Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I come to destroy the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to destroy but to fulfil.”
1 Corinthians 15:20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of them that sleep. 21 For since by man came death, by man also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward they that are Christ's at His coming.
In this passage we are told that each will be raised in his turn. First to be raised from the dead, is Jesus Christ, who is the firstfruits. But there is no mention of the many saints who were resurrected along with Jesus Christ. So we would have to put a question mark over them. Either they were taken up into the sky with Jesus, as the firstfruits wave offering, or like Lazarus they lived on earth after their resurrection for a time, before dying again. In which case we should ask; why no further mention of them?
Regardless whether these saints ascended into the sky as complete spirit, soul and body beings, or they died and were reburied; according to the Scriptures (Acts 2:29), David was not one of them. We know this, as on the day of Pentecost his tomb was still unopened and his body still in it. Also because the tomb of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, was not disturbed at that time, and their bodies still remain in the tomb to this day, we can say that neither were they part of this resurrection.
After the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the firstfruits, those who are next in order for resurrection are those who are Christ’s. These will be raised from the dead at Christ’s coming. It is important to note that according to 1 Corinthians 15:22 – 23; there is only one resurrection day for those who are Christ’s and this will be on the day of his coming.
The Scriptures speak of Jesus Christ’s First Coming and His Second Coming.
Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed for men once to die, and after this damnation, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many; and unto those who expectantly wait for him he shall appear a second time, without reference to sin, to bring deliverance.
Jesus Christ came the first time to bear our sins (To carry our sins away, Psalms 103:12). When Jesus appears for the second time, it will be to bring deliverance. So we can safely say that all those who are Christ’s (apart from maybe the 24 elders) will be resurrected at the time of Jesus Christ’s Second Coming.
In Revelation 14:1 – 5: we have mention of the 144,000 who are offered as firstfruits. But as one reads through the Book of Revelation, it becomes clear that these 144,000 are among those who will be part of the resurrection of the justified and the catching up of the saints at the time of Jesus Christ Second Coming. At that time all those who are Christ’s will be resurrected. This resurrection will also include David and all the other Old Testament saints, who were not part of the firstfruits wave offering.
Paul writes in 2 Timothy 2:16 - 18
II Timothy 2:16 But avoid wicked and fruitless discussions, for they will increase unto more ungodliness. 17 And their speech will eat (away at the truth) as does gangrene. Of whom are Hymenaeus and Philetus; 18 who concerning the truth have gone astray, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some.
(Words in italics added.)
“Who concerning the truth, have gone astray saying that the resurrection is already past.” It was only about 33 years after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, that Paul wrote this. Therefore we can safely say that Paul did not believe that any great number of saints had been resurrected along with Jesus Christ. Otherwise, coming so soon after Christ resurrection, Paul could not say that it was straying from the truth to say that the resurrection was already past, without clarifying which resurrection.
Therefore to say that there was anything like a mass resurrection of the Old Testament Saints at the time of Jesus Christ death and resurrection, or any time between then and Paul’s letter to timothy, 33 years later, is to stray from the truth.
According to the Scriptures, the Old Testament saints including Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, along with the New Testament saints, are in Sheol waiting the day of resurrection. As according to Paul there are only two resurrection days for the just and justified. First Christ the firstfruits, afterward they that are Christ's at His coming. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob shall remain in Sheol, the world of the dead until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
Written by Kenneth Allan Clark and printed and published by
VICTORIOUS CHRISTIAN MINISTRIES INTERNATIONAL. P.O. BOX 144 WYNNUM QLD 4178 AUSTRALIA.
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Scripture taken from the “Clarks English Translation” © Copyright 2011 by Victorious Christian Ministries International. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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