The word resurrection is defined as “a rising from the dead or returning to life.”1 The Iranian prophet, Zoroaster (Zarathustra), who probably lived “between . . . 1400 and 1200 B.C.,”2 “was . . . the first to teach . . . the future resurrection of the body . . . and life everlasting for the reunited soul and body.”3 This concept is later mentioned in the biblical Old Testament. Thus, Isaiah states, “Your dead shall live, their corpses shall rise” (Isaiah 26:19); and Daniel later claims that “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).
In later Jewish history (ca. second century BCE), the Maccabees adopted the concept of resurrection. This occurred when the Seleucid king, Antiochus Epiphanes, arrested seven Maccabean brothers and their mother and tortured them until they died. Before their decease each of the brothers expressed the conviction of their resurrection. For example, just before his death the second brother stated “that the King of the universe will raise us up to an everlasting renewal of life” (2 Maccabees 7:9).
Resurrection in the New Testament
In the New Testament there are at least 40 explicit references to resurrection from death. Some of these relate to the miracles that Jesus wrought in his ministry. Others involve the ministry of the apostles. Yet the central focus of the New Testament addresses the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ himself. Curiously, one account in one Gospel (Matthew) says that when Jesus cried from the cross and “yielded up the ghost . . . the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many” (Matthew 27:50-53).
However, the ultimate truth of the resurrection was uttered by Jesus himself shortly before he raised Lazarus from the grave. To Martha Jesus declared, “I AM4 the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die” (John 11:25, 26, emphasis supplied).
The apostle Paul adopted this fundamental truth and assured his followers by saying:
. . . We shall not all sleep, but we shall all the changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. — 1 Corinthians 15:51-54.
Let us be thankful, for we shall ultimately live with the Lord and with each other throughout all eternity. May we therefore celebrate the words of Scripture:
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.— 2 Timothy 4:7, 8.
He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. . . . Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.— Revelation 22: 20, 21.
A Note to Readers
This concluding Outlook article completes a major compendium of material, spanning over 14 years, that focuses on the centrality of the Christ event for human history. We believe that, in his life, death and resurrection as Jesus, the One-and-Only God acted to become human. Through his self-limiting, self-emptying, self-giving love, God determined that mankind, too, might become truly human and that all Creation might soon be transformed.
It is the continuing purpose of Outlook’s website to facilitate a common — but not institutionalized — witness to the history of the Human One. We envision an exponential response to God’s revelation — a response apart from all power structures, either secular or religious.
To this end, we invite you to forward this or any other Outlook article, with or without your comments, to as many loved ones, friends, neighbors and acquaintances as you find appropriate — and invite them to do likewise. This can easily be done by using the “share with a friend” feature in the website sidebar next to each article.5
. . . [T]he Lord bless thee, and keep thee: the Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: the Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. — Numbers 6:24-26.
- The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. (go back)
- Mary Boyce, Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices (New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd., 2001), p. 2. (go back)
- Ibid., p. 29. (go back)
- Cf. John 6:35, 41, 48, 51; 8:12, 23, 28; 9:5; 10:7, 9, 11, 14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1, 5; 18:6, 8, 37; Revelation 1:8, 11, 17, 18; 21:6; 22:13 with Exodus 3:14. (go back)
- For information on subsequent Outlook publications, see “In Memoriam: The Life and Work of Jack D. Zwemer,” Outlook (Addendum 2021:1), and index listings of Outlook “Addenda” (2016 etc.), “Prequels” (1997-2001), and pending “Prolepses” (1990-1996) articles. (go back)