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We can scarcely conceive a more useful task, for an inquirer into this portion of Divine truth, than, after making himself master of the two systems of interpretation respecting the resurrection, patiently and dispassionately to compare them with the Divine record, and try which of them best agrees with its unerring standard. We are much mistaken if it would not be found, that the doctrine of the first resurrection gives a key precisely fitted to the wards of the lock, readily opening the otherwise confused and complicated language of the prophetic word.
Our more exclusive object in this article, is to direct the attention of our readers to those passages in the New Testament, relating to this subject, from which we think the doctrine of two resurrections may be clearly deduced. If it can be shewn, that wherever the resurrection of the saints is mentioned it is recognised as their peculiar and exclusive privilege, it must follow, of course, that the general resurrection is a distinct event; and the doctrine in question will be established.
It appears to have escaped the notice of many readers of Scripture, that there are two distinct modes of expression adopted in the New Testament, each of which has its appropriate use, and which do not admit of being interchanged with each other. The expressions we refer to are: αναστασις εκ νεκρων, or εξαναστασις των νεκρων, ,
“ the resurrection FROM [from out of the dead ;” and αναστασις νεκρων, Or αναστασις των νεκρών,
“ the resurrection of the dead.” The former expression, we are prepared to maintain, is applicable exclusively to the resurrection of the saints, and could not be used to express the idea of a general resurrection : and the latter expression, although it may be used of the resurrection of the saints—if there be any thing in the context to limit it to them-is yet more strictly applicable to the general resurrection, and is, in fact, generally, if not universally, so applied in Scripture. We will examine all the passages in the New Testament in which either of these expressions occur.
The first which comes under our notice is Matt. xxii. 23, &c., with the parallels in Mark xii. 18, and Luke xx. 27. We will take the passage as it stands in St. Luke, where it seems the most fully recorded. It occurs in the conversation of our Lord with the Sadducees. In support of their denial of the doctrine of the resurrection, they mention the case of seven brethren who were successively united to one wife; inquiring, whose wife she should be in the resurrection : to which Jesus answers, “ The sons of this world [or age] marry, and are given in marriage; but they who are counted worthy to obtain that world (or age), and the resurrection FROM the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage : neither can they die any more ;
for they are as the angels; and are sons of God, being sons of the
resurrection. But that the dead are raised," (or, according to St. Matthew, "touching the resurrection of the dead,") " even Moses shewed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord, the Elohim of Abraham and the Elohim of Isaac and the Elohim of Jacob; now he is not an Elohim of dead ones, but of living ones, for all live to him.”
In this passage we have the two expressions, where they are manifestly not synonymous, and could not be interchanged without destroying the whole force of the passage. Those who are counted worthy to obtain that age, are not said to enjoy the resurrection of the dead-i.e. they are not partakers merely of the general resurrection, but of a special one from out of the dead. But in the latter part of the passage, where our Lord proves in general the certainty of a resurrection, he uses the term resurrection of the dead.
The next passage is in Luke xiv. 14: “ Thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.” Here again is speciality: the recompence is not said to be at the resurrection of the dead, but at the resurrection of a certain portion-namely, of the saints.
The next passage that occurs is John v. 28, 29: “Marvel not at this ; for the hour cometh in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto a life-resurrection: and they that have done evil, to a condemnation-resurrection.” We have to observe passage,
that the distinction is made between two resur, rections, and not between the two conditions after one resurrection. Our Lord does not say,
« All shall rise at once : some shall have life, and others condemnation;" but he distinctly asserts two resurrections,
one of life, another of condemnation. It is also very important to remark the difference between this passage and Daniel xii. 2, to which it has an evident allusion. The prophet, viewing these events at a greater distance, makes no distinction between the resurrections, but only between their ulterior conditions : even as it is common for all the Prophets to speak of the two advents of Christ as if they were one: but as we draw nearer to the events, they are revealed more clearly, and with their peculiar distinctions ; just as, in viewing a landscape, the confused mass of objects seen at a distance assume their peculiar forms on a nearer approach.-" They” (the Prophets), says Mede, “ spake of the things to be at Christ's coming indefinitely and altogether; which we, who are now more fully informed by the revelation of the Gospel of a two-fold coming, must apply each of them to its proper time.” The same remark be applied to the two resurrections. The events of which Daniel obtained a distant glimpse, and which he predicted as if they were one, are more clearly distinguished by our Lord, who viewed them from a nearer point.
The next passage in which the expression occurs is Acts
iv. 2. The Sadducees, “ being grieved that they” (the Apostles) " taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection, that from the dead.” την αναστασιν την εκ νεκρων. Here again a speciality is implied. It was the Gospel which the Apostles were especially commissioned to proclaim; one part of which was the glad tidings of a resurrection from the dead, a special privilege to those in Jesus Christ. If it should be contended that it is the general resurrection which the Apostles are here said to have preached, we reply, in the first place, That a general resurrection was not a peculiarity of the Gospel; it was generally believed by far the greater number of the Jews before Christ's coming; for the Sadducees, who denied it, were comparatively a small sect: And in the second place, we maintain that the double article in the original precludes the possibility of such an application. The phrase, “the resurrection that of the dead,” TNV TWV vekpwy, is one which never occurs in Scripture, or which would be manifestly inaccurate.
The next passage is Acts xvii. 30, 31: “ He hath given assurance unto all, in that he hath raised him [Jesus] from the dead. And when they heard of the resurrection of dead [ones] avaotadtv vekpwv, some mocked.” Here it was the seeming absurdity of any dead thing being raised to life that offended them: the expression therefore is quite general, and there is a propriety in the omission of the article.
The next is Acts xxiii. 6 : “ But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead, avastaoLV verpwv, I am called in question.” Here St. Paul is speaking of his belief as a Pharisee, in opposition to that of the Sadducees. The point of controversy between them was, whether there was any resurrection at all. Hence the expres sion which he uses is quite general.
The next occasion on which the expression occurs is in St. Paul's memorable defence before Felix, Acts xxiv. 15, 21: “ And have hope toward God, which they also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and of the unjust.” Here again he is speaking generally of the resurrection of all. As he was addressing an audience the greater part of whom were heathen or unconverted Jews, he warns them of a resurrection of the wicked, as well as of the righteous. The expression avartaolv Ek vekpwv, “ from the dead,” would have been manifestly inconclusive to his argument, and could not be substituted for that which he has used. It is worthy of remark also, that, the more to distinguish the resurrection of the just from that of the unjust, he uses the double copulative : dikawY TE
VOL. 1.-NO. I.
kal 'adikwv : which rather' more favours a separation betweev'the two, than if he had written αδικαιων και αδικων.
In Rom. i. 4 we have the term applied to Christ: “ Declared to be the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead,” t-avaotaoEWS vekpwr. And here we may observe, once for all, that wherever the resurrection of Jesus from the dead is named, a similar expression is used. We always have ek either simply or in composition preceding the genitive plural vekpwv; implying, not merely a resurrection from the state of death, but from out of those that are dead— literally, from “ dead ones."
The next passage we notice is 1 Cor. xv. 12, &c. : “ If Christ be preached that he is raised from [the] dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of dead? But if there be no resurrection of dead, then is Christ not raised; and if Christ be not raised, 'our preaching is vain, and your faith also is vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ, whom he raised not up, if so be that dead are not raised : for if dead are not raised, neither is Christ raised; and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then also they which have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ raised from the dead, a first-fruits of them that slept: for since through man is death, through man also is a resurrection of dead; for as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own band : Christ a first-fruits; then they that are Christ's at his coming.” Throughout this passage the resurrection of Christ is said to be, en vekpwv, “ from out of dead ones.” The other term, avaoTaois verpwv, and not twv verpwy, is used exclusively neither of the resurrection of the saints nor of the general resurrection, but of the doctrine of the resurrection in the abstract. This the Apostle's argument seems absolutely to require. For the fact of a resurrection at some future time cannot be adduced as a proof that Christ is already risen, which would be no argument at all. Nor, on the other hand, if it could be shewn that there will be no such resurrection, would that be a proof that Christ is not risen ; for it is at least within the verge of possibilities that he should be the only one raised. The Corinthians seem to have been staggered by the unreasonableness and supposed impossibility of a resurrection of the body. The Apostle assumes the fact of Christ's resurrection: and hence argues, first the possibility, and then the certainty, of a resurrection of all. His argument may be put in a syllogistic form :
1. Christ was raised from the dead. 2. Christ had a body.
3. Therefore a body may be raised from the dead. Therefore
there is no absurdity or impossibility in the doctrine of
the resurrection of dead. The next passage which occurs, is one in which our translators are inaccurate. It is the only place in which they have not preserved the distinction which we are contending for. We allude to Phil. iii. 11: " If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” E. T. It ought to have been rendered “PROM the dead." The original is εις την εξαναστασιν των νεκρων. St. Paul expresses his desire to attain, not to the general: resurrection, of which all were to be partakers, and which he certainly would have attained to without any effort at all, but he desires to have a share in the special blessing of the life-resurrection. He presses forward, straining every nerve, if by any means he might attain to this peculiar privilege of the saints. Here, therefore, avaotaolS TWV Vekpwy, the “ resurrection of the dead,” would not have expressed the Apostle's meaning, and could not be substituted for the words which he has adopted.
The last passage we have to notice, is Heb. vi. 2: “Therefore, leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, and of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.” Here it is the general doctrine of a resurrection, one with which the Jews were perfectly familiar, and not that of the resurrection of the saints, which the Apostle enumerates amongst the subjects which he was going to leave. The propriety of the expression is also shewn by its being immediately followed by "eternal judgment."
These are all the places in the New Testament in which either of the expressions "resurrection from the dead,” or “resurrection of the dead,” occurs; and in no instance do we find that they are confounded by the inspired writers ; and in no instance could one expression be substituted for another, without destroying, or at least injuring, the sense. Are we then to suppose that such use of them is merely accidental ? If the terms are, as most modern commentators expound them, strictly synonymous, and both
express the same thing, how are we to account for the fact of the distinction above noticed holding through all the passages in which they are used ? How does it come to pass
that the use of them invariably supports the doctrine of two resurrections? To us this appears the strongest presumptive evidence in favour of the doctrine that the case will admit of.
But we are prepared to go a step further, and maintain, that the phrase η αναστασις εκ των νεκρων, or εκ νεκρων, from its usage in the New Testament, can mean nothing else than the resur