Pastor David B. Curtis


Media #1212 MP3 Audio File Video File

The Resurrection

(Various Scriptures)

Delivered 3/31/24

Good morning, Bereans. Traditionally, today is called Easter. I don't like to call it that because "Easter" is the name of a pagan deity. Biblically, today is the Feast of Firstfruits. This day is not about bunnies and candy and colored eggs; it is about resurrection. We are all familiar with the term resurrection but are not so familiar with its biblical meaning.

The traditional view that is held by most of the Church is this: When a believer dies, his body goes into the grave and his spirit goes to heaven to be with the Lord where it is in a disembodied state until the resurrection at the end of time and the return of the Lord. At the Lord's coming, He resurrects all the decayed bodies of the dead saints and puts them back together. He then changes the physically resurrected bodies into spiritual immortal bodies like His own. Does that sound like what you have been taught? That is basically what the Church teaches about the resurrection, but is it what the Bible teaches?

The first thing we need to understand here is that the Bible never speaks of "the end of time." The expression "the end time" or the "time of the end" is found in Scripture, but nowhere in the Bible can we find the expression "the end of time." The expression "the end time" or the "time of the end" speaks of the end of an age and not the end of time. Scripture does not indicate that God has any plan to destroy this created world that we enjoy.

Most Christians would put the resurrection in our future, but Paul puts it in our past.

But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust. Acts 24:14-15 ESV

Do you see the "when" of the resurrection in this verse? No, you don't because the ESV obscures the text. Notice how Young's Literal Translation translates this:

having hope toward God, which they themselves also wait for, that there is about to be a rising again of the dead, both of righteous and unrighteous; Acts 24:15 YLT

The words "there will be" in the ESV are the Greek word mello. Whenever mello in the present active indicative is combined with an infinitive, it is consistently translated "about to." Paul told his first-century audience, "there is about to be a resurrection." The Greek word "mello" means "is about to," but is never translated in the literal fashion by major translations. I wonder why?

In Vines Expository Dictionary of Greek Words, on page 1038, Vine shows mello's primary meaning as "to be about (to be or do). It is used of purpose, certainty, compulsion, or necessity."

Thayer's Greek Lexicon, on page 396, defines "mello" as "to be about to do anything," and "to be on the point of doing or suffering something." The Arndt, Gingrich, Bauer Greek-English Lexicon defines "mello" as "Be on the point of, be about to."

There are 110 places where "mello" is used in the Greek New Testament. In many places, by context, it can be seen to mean something about to take place.

Biblically, the resurrection is to take place at the Parousia of Christ. So, if the resurrection was "about to" take place, then so was the Parousia.

For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Matthew 16:27 ESV

Vine translates mello here as "The Son of Man is about to come." This verse is talking about the Second Coming and the judgment. At His coming, He will "repay each person" —that's judgment. And it says He is "about to come." How soon is about to? Look at the next verse.

Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom."  Matthew 16:28 ESV

The "you" here are His disciples. He says that his coming will be before they all die. Later in Matthew he says his coming will be in that generation (about 40 years).

If we are going to understand what Paul is saying about the resurrection, we must understand "audience relevance." Paul is not talking to us; he is talking to Felix, Ananias, Tertullus, and the elders. Paul told them that there was about to be a resurrection.

So, if the timing of the resurrection was "soon," what does this tell us about the nature of the resurrection? It must be spiritual! Time defines nature. If the resurrection happened in the first century, then it should be clear that the nature of the resurrection was spiritual. Paul said in the first century that the resurrection was about to happen.

One very important thing that we 21st century Christians need to understand is that Paul clearly taught that the resurrection was the hope of Israel.

And now I stand here on trial because of my hope in the promise made by God to our fathers, to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship night and day. And for this hope I am accused by Jews, O king! Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead? Acts 26:6-8 ESV

The hope of Israel was the resurrection from the dead. The word "resurrection" does not appear in the Hebrew Scriptures, but the concept does.

And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. Daniel 12:2 ESV
But go your way till the end. And you shall rest and shall stand in your allotted place at the end of the days." Daniel 12:13 ESV

Here we see a resurrection at the end of the age. This is what the Jews believed, as is seen in Martha's response to Yeshua in John 11.

Yeshua said to her, "Your brother will rise again." Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day." John 11:23-24 ESV

How did she know that? It was taught throughout the Hebrew Scriptures.


It is interesting to note that the Bible never uses the terms "resurrected body," "resurrection of the body," or "physical resurrection." Does that surprise you? The Church uses those terms quite often, but the Bible never does.

Toby Sumpter, who is an associate pastor at Doug Wilson's Church in Moscow, Idaho, in a video titled "The Gary DeMar Debacle," says, "I want to be clear, denying a central creedal confession doctrine like the coming of Christ in person to raise our physical bodies from their graves and the final judgment is a deadly and lethal disease like the black plague." We see from this that he puts the resurrection at the time of the judgment and second coming. And to prove his doctrine of physical resurrection, Sumpter sites Job 19.

And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me! Job 19:26-27 ESV

The ESV says, "Yet in my flesh I shall see God." But, is that what the original text says? A study of the Hebrew reveals that this verse isn't translated correctly. As a matter of fact, it says the exact opposite. Keil and Delitzsch translate verse 26 this way: "And after my skin, thus torn to pieces, and without my flesh shall I behold Eloah" (Job 19:26-27). In their commentary on verse 26, Keil and Delitzsch write, "We cannot in this speech find that the hope of a bodily recovery is expressed."

So, the Bible doesn't teach a physical resurrection. The phrases that the Bible does use are "the resurrection of the dead" and "the resurrection from the dead." So, in order to understand "resurrection," we must understand death. Resurrection is "resurrection from the dead." And the death that man needs to be resurrected from is spiritual. When Adam sinned, he died spiritually, not physically. We see the same with Israel, when they sinned, they were removed from the land which represented the presence of God. Man's problem is spiritual death, in other words, separation from God.

Because of Adam's sin, we are all born dead and, thus, separated from God. But through Yeshua came the resurrection from the dead. Yeshua came to restore what Adam had lost, that is, fellowship with God. Yeshua came to redeem man from death, to resurrect man back into the presence of God. The Bible is God's Book. It is about His plan to restore the spiritual union of His creation. Resurrection is not about bringing physical bodies out of graves; it is about restoring man into the presence of God. We are in a better position than Adam because we can never again be separated from God's presence.

As a general rule, believers didn't go to heaven prior to the completion of Yeshua's messianic work, but I believe that Yahweh made a few exceptions. Prior to the completion of Yeshua's messianic work people who died went to a holding place of the dead and waited for the atoning work of Christ and the resurrection from the dead.

In the Tanakh the Hebrew word for where they were prior to the resurrection is Sheol. In the New Testament the Greek word is Hades. What this place amounted to was a waiting area for the dead.

"Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Acts 2:29 ESV
For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, "'The Lord said to my Lord, "Sit at my right hand, Acts 2:34 ESV

David was dead, but he did not go to Heaven. But he had a promise that he someday would. God had promised to redeem His people from the grave:

I shall ransom them from the power of Sheol; I shall redeem them from Death. O Death, where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your sting? Compassion is hidden from my eyes. Hosea 13:14 ESV
But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me. Selah Psalms 49:15 ESV

These verses express hope that God will provide salvation beyond the grave, one of the few references in the Tanakh to life after death. This verse anticipates the clear New Testament teaching of life after death, eternal life, and salvation by God.

All people were believed to go to Sheol when they die:

What man can live and never see death? Who can deliver his soul from the power of Sheol? Selah Psalms 89:48 ESV

To be taken out of Sheol and brought into the presence of the Lord is what the Bible calls resurrection. Resurrection has nothing to do with physical bodies coming out of graves.

Since we know that the resurrection is past, we know that it was spiritual and not physical. The resurrection of the dead that took place at the end of the Old Covenant in AD 70 was not a biological resurrection of dead decayed bodies but was a release from Sheol of all who had been waiting through the centuries to be reunited with God in the heavenly kingdom.

In 2 Timothy 2, we can see several things from the teaching of Hymenaeus and Philetus about the resurrection beliefs of the early Christians.

and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. 2 Timothy 2:17-18 ESV

The early Christians must have believed that the resurrection would be spiritual in nature, and, therefore, not subject to confirmation by any physical evidence. If the early Christians had believed that the resurrection would involve physical bodies coming out of the graves, as is taught today, Hymenaeus and Philetus could never have convinced anyone that the resurrection had already happened.

They also must have believed that life on earth would go on with no material change after the resurrection. They didn't believe that they would be on a renovated earth as a consequence of the resurrection. Otherwise, the teaching of Hymenaeus and Philetus would have been impossible. No one would have paid any attention to them.

The reason that their teaching that the resurrection had already happened was overthrowing the faith of some was that it postulated a consummation of the spiritual kingdom while the earthly Temple in Jerusalem still stood. This was a mixture of Law and grace. This destroyed the faith of some by making the works of the Law a part of the New Covenant.

So, the resurrection that Paul said was "about to happen" in Acts 24:15 was a spiritual re-gathering of God's covenant people. The resurrection of the dead that took place at the end of the Old Covenant in AD 70 was not a biological resurrection of dead decayed bodies but rather a release from Sheol of all who had been waiting through the centuries to be reunited with God in the heavenly kingdom. They were no longer separated from God (dead), they were now in His presence (alive).


YES! Absolutely, without a doubt. Because Christ's resurrection was physical, won't ours be also? NO! Christ's physical resurrection was a SIGN to the apostles that he had done what He had promised. The resurrection of Yeshua's body demonstrated for His disciples the resurrection of His soul. David had prophesied about this.

For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. Psalms 16:10 ESV

Peter preached that David looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of Christ.

he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. Acts 2:31 ESV

These verses speak of both spiritual death (the soul in Hades) and physical death (decay of the flesh). Yeshua was resurrected from both. Unless Yeshua's body had been resurrected, His disciples would have had no assurance that His soul had been to Hades and had been resurrected. The physical resurrection of Christ was essential to verify the spiritual to which it was tied. On the contrary, the physical resurrection of our bodies would have no point because after death, we will not continue living on this earth, breathing earth's oxygen and eating earth's food.

When Yeshua was resurrected, was his body different? Was it a glorified body? Many say that it was. But I propose that the body of Yeshua that came out of the tomb was the same body that went into the tomb. Now someone who knows his Bible well may say, "Well Mark says that Yeshua's body was different after the resurrection."

But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it. After these things he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. Mark 16:11-12 ESV

Because of verses like this, many have assumed that Yeshua's resurrection body was different. But notice what Mark writes.

And after six days Yeshua took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, Mark 9:2 ESV

That word "transfigured" comes from a Greek word from which we get our English word "metamorphosis" (to be changed into something else). The Greek word is a compound word from "morphe" meaning "form" and from "meta" which implies "change." Very simply, therefore, the underlying meaning of the word has to be "to change form." Remember this is before the resurrection.

Now you might also be thinking, "Well, Yeshua walked through walls after His resurrection."

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Yeshua came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you."  John 20:19 ESV

Notice that the text does not say he "walked through walls." It simply says he appeared in their midst. Well, doesn't that imply a different body? No, look at Luke 4.

When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, he went away. Luke 4:28-30 ESV

The crowd has Yeshua cornered on a cliff! And He "passes through their midst." How did He do that? How did he do things like this before He was raised from the dead?

Notice what Luke writes of Yeshua after His resurrection.

And he said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have." And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. Luke 24:38-39 ESV

Obviously, the scars from the Cross were visible, and Yeshua said He was flesh and bones and not a Spirit.

And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them. Luke 24:40-43 ESV

Here we see Yeshua eating. Will glorified bodies be hungry and have a digestive process? It sounds to me like a regular human body.

Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe." Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" John 20:27-28 ESV

Here again we see that Yeshua had the same nail holes in His hands and feet and the same spear hole in His side—just like He did before His resurrection. Haven't we all heard that our glorified bodies will be perfect? Yeshua's wasn't because it wasn't a glorified body; it was His SAME body. We could say that Yeshua's physical resurrection looked nothing different from Lazarus' physical resurrection.

There is a Casting Crowns song that is an awesome song other than the title and chorus: Scars in Heaven.

The only scars in Heaven, they won't belong to me and you

There'll be no such thing as broken, and all the old will be made new

And the thought that makes me smile now, even as the tears fall down

Is that the only scars in Heaven are on the hands that hold you now

Our Lord is in a glorified body and there are no scars in heaven.

When the Bible says that Yeshua was the firstborn from the dead, it is talking about spiritual life and not physical life.

and from Yeshua the Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood Revelation 1:5 ESV

There were many physical resurrections before Christ, but there were no spiritual resurrections before Christ.

Think about this: Yeshua was spiritually raised while still in His physical body and the Bible says the same thing of believers now.

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. Romans 6:4-5 ESV

"We shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his"—this is future tense, meaning it hadn't happened yet. Resurrection was future at the time of Paul's writing but it was about to happen.

This can't be talking about biological death or resurrection. We were united in His death spiritually, and the resurrection is also spiritual. And we were spiritually resurrected while still in our physical bodies. Yeshua's resurrection demonstrated that we do not need to shed our physical body in order to be raised from the dead. The nature of resurrection life was that a person did not need to physically die to obtain eternal life, resurrection life.

And now I stand here on trial because of my hope in the promise made by God to our fathers, to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship night and day. And for this hope I am accused by Jews, O king! Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead? Acts 26:6-8 ESV

Paul preached the resurrection as the hope of Israel. The promise of the resurrection was made to Old Covenant Israel. So, the promise of resurrection was an Old Covenant promise. It was, therefore, not something newly given in the New Testament. It wasn't a new promise given to the Church.

Resurrection was to take place at the end of the age, and since the promise was made to Israel, it was to happen at the end of Israel's age (i.e., AD 70). Eschatology is Israel's eschatology! If the promises to Israel have been fulfilled, then resurrection has occurred. And Paul preached only what Moses and the prophets taught.

To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: Acts 26:22 ESV

Notice carefully what Paul says here. He says that he is teaching "nothing but what the Prophets and Moses said." So, if Paul was teaching a physical resurrection, then we should be able to find physical resurrection in the Tanakh. And if we can't, then Paul must not be teaching a physical resurrection.

In Isaiah 24, God predicted the destruction of heaven and earth. We know these are metaphors for physical Israel. Isaiah continues in chapter 25:

He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken. Isaiah 25:8 ESV

Yahweh was going to destroy death. What is death? Is it physical or spiritual? Notice that in chapter 24, he said that death came because they broke the covenant.

The earth lies defiled under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. Isaiah 24:5 ESV

The death that was to be swallowed up was spiritual death. What is interesting about this is that Paul's source of "Resurrection" in 1 Corinthians 15 is Isaiah 24-25. It is clear, that the resurrection Paul talks about is spiritual and not physical.

Turn with me to another text in the Tanakh that talks about resurrection—Ezekiel 37. The historical context of this text is that the children of Israel have been carried off into Babylonian captivity and were, therefore, out of the land and thus separated from God's presence. As a result, they were "dead." The Babylonian captivity has assimilated into it the Assyrian captivity. Because the Babylonians destroyed the Assyrians, now all those that were in Assyrian captivity are now in Babylonian captivity.

The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" And I answered, "O Lord GOD, you know." Then he said to me, "Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the LORD." So, I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, "Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus, says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live." So, I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army. Ezekiel 37:1-10 ESV

The dead bones are a picture of death—they are made to stand up. Then they come to life. This is resurrection!

So, I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army. Then he said to me, "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, 'Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.' Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus, says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. Ezekiel 37:10-12 ESV

God is talking to physical Israel. They say that their bones are dried up and that their hope is gone. They did not say that they were physically dead. They were "dead" only in the sense that they were separated from God (i.e., out of the land). According to the rabbinic writings, any time Israel was out of the land they were dead. Life is in the land where God dwells.

God said He was going to open their graves, but these were not physical graves because they were not physically dead.

And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the LORD." Ezekiel 37:13-14 ESV

When did God put His spirit within Israel and bring them to life? Pentecost!

They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols and their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions. But I will save them from all the backslidings in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God. Ezekiel 37:23 ESV

God is going to cleanse them and make them His people. This sounds like the New Covenant. This is spiritual life.

I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore. My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Ezekiel 37:26-27 ESV

Notice Revelation 21.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. Revelation 21:3 ESV

God is promising Israel resurrection life, spiritual life in His presence in the New Covenant.

So, the resurrection that Paul said was "about to happen" in Acts 24:15 was a spiritual re-gathering of God's covenant people. The resurrection of the dead that took place at the end of the Old Covenant in AD 70 was not a biological resurrection of dead decayed bodies but rather the release from Sheol of all who had been waiting through the centuries to be reunited with God in the heavenly kingdom. They were no longer separated from God (dead); they were now in His presence (alive).

For believers who have lived since AD 70, we are resurrected when we trust in Christ. Yeshua gives us spiritual life—a resurrection from our state of spiritual death. We have eternal life and can never die spiritually. Therefore, we don't need a resurrection. At death, our bodies go to dust, and we go immediately to heaven.

Yeshua said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" John 11:25-26 ESV

Yeshua is saying, "He who believes in me shall live (spiritually), even if he dies (physically), and everyone who lives (physically), and believes in Me, shall never die (spiritually)."

Two categories of believers are discussed: those who would die before the resurrection and those who would not. For those who died under the Old Covenant, He was the Resurrection, but for those who lived into the days of the New Covenant, He is the Life.

Under the New Covenant, there is no death, spiritually speaking.

When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory." "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Yeshua the Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:54-57 ESV

Where there is no death, there is no need of a resurrection. We have eternal life and can never die spiritually. Therefore, we don't need a resurrection. At death, we go immediately to heaven.

The resurrection of the dead was a one-time event in which the Old Covenant saints were brought out of Hades and finally overcame death to be with the Lord. We have put on immortality. As believers, we live in the presence of God, and in physical death, we simply drop the flesh and dwell only in the spiritual realm.

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