The truth of the Resurrection is corroborated with great effect by the fact that its roots lie deeply embedded in the past: nor is it without remarkable corroboration in nature. Perhaps there is no lovelier parable of resurrection than the parable of the butterfly. The caterpillar, tethered to earth, is but a worm, cumbersome, ugly, earthly, consuming the leaves on which it treads, and living within the tiny radius in which it can creep and crawl. After a brief life, it falls sick; it spins its own shroud, coffin, and grave all in one; and it dies, in a death which is a sleep. Wrapt in its hard casing of the chrysalis, it slumbers in motionless stillness, for months, where its brief life had been only a few weeks. Then, one morning, the hard shining coffin cracks; slowly another creature, and yet the same a butterfly extricates itself, unfolding quivering, glistening, many-coloured wings; and, with a perfect mastery of what it has never used before, it flits away; no longer consuming the leaves, but living lightly on the pollen of flowers, and ranging at will over the sunlit fields. So also is the resurrection of the dead.
- D. M. PANTON.
D. M. PANTON
The best argument, it has been justly observed, that has ever been written on the reality of the Christian religion was written by the invisible hand of Eternal Power on the rocks of our Saviours sepulchre. For what is alleged is not dogma, nor doctrine, nor sentiment, but fact: fact, the solid bedrock on which alone salvation could ever be built; the peculiar, characteristic foundation of the faith of the Son of God. No soul need be in any doubt concerning the truth of the Christian Faith: CHRIST IS RISEN.
For look at the facts.
Every effect has an adequate cause.
Every fact has a fact behind it that brought it into life. Napoleon, one day, is master of Europe, allotting
thrones at his pleasure; a few months later, he is pining as a lonely captive
on a rocky islet of the
For look again. Here is Saul of Tarsus. Saul is of noble blood, a brilliant scholar,
a passionate Jew. Within three to five
years of the Crucifixion he is employed by the Sanhedrim to stamp out a new
sect. As the chosen confuter of the Resurrection, every clue
must have been in his hand, every title of adverse evidence was before him,
every alternative theory he had mastered on the spot, and within five years of the event itself. No critic since Saul has possessed a tithe of
his mastery of the evidence against the resurrection of Jesus. But now look.
Saul has cut himself off from his family, has buried his religion, has
become an outcast from his nation; he lives buffeted, persecuted, a wanderer,
in tears; he dies, it is said, at the hands of a common executioner; he is
poured out as a drink offering for the faith that he once slew. Something must have happened in between: what was it? HE HAD SEEN THE RISEN LORD.
He said unto me - Jesus and Paul had met face to face - I am Jesus of
But look again. Every Jew was bound, by every tie of religion
and patriotism, to expect a militant Messiah.
Even if a slender handful of spiritual Jews, on the strength of the
fifty-third of Isaiah, and the twelfth and thirteenth of Zechariah, looked for
a slaughtered Christ, one thing is certain: the slaughter was not to be on a cross.
He that is hanged, said the Law, is accursed of God (Deut. 21: 23). Jesus, nailed to a
tree, was nailed to the Curse; and it instantly became a moral
impossibility (as men speak) for any Jew to accept a Messiah whom their Jehovah
had cursed. Now look. Here are multitudes of Jews - three thousand in one day - worshipping the Crucified; a great company of the priests on their knees (Acts 6: 7);
and the most stern, stubborn, and loyal of races bent before a Messiah whom
their own Law cursed. Something must
have happened in between: what was it? AN ACT OF GOD. Let all the house of
THE RISEN BODY
But let us look at the matter a little more in detail. A panic like that which overtook Eliphaz (Job 4: 15) suddenly seized the apostles in the upper room. The disciples were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they beheld a spirit (Luke 24: 37). It was an ideal environment in which to prove resurrection. For even had the disciples expected our Lords body to rise, that expectation was now shattered - they did not, therefore, imagine it: His entering through locked doors made them suppose He was a Spirit - therefore they were ignorant of the nature of a resurrected body, and were thus unbiased witnesses: nor were they sure it was the Lord at all a spirit therefore it was no self-induced hallucination of Christ. No better test conditions could be imagined.*
[* The disciples imagined a spirit: they never imagined a resurrection. They, when they heard that He was alive, and had been seen of [Mary], disbelieved (Mark 16: 11). In every case the report was at first rejected as untrue. Men do not imagine what they disbelieve: the women went to embalm a corpse. Imagination never yet emptied a corpse-filled tomb. To Cephas; then to the twelve; then to about five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain until now - at least two hundred and fifty witnesses still alive, when the Law requires but two (Dent. 19: 15); then to James; then to all the apostles; last of all to me also (1 Cor. 15: 5). Where can any hallucination be produced shared by five hundred people at once? and repeated in identical guise on numerous occasions? Nor would illusions have so suddenly and completely ceased; much less could they have inspired, for two thousand years, the noblest and sanest work and the most perfect morality, the world has ever seen. The supreme difficulty of the disciples had always lain in the death; for they seem to have shared the belief of the Jews (John 12: 34) in the immortality of Messiah: their minds were a blank on the [His] resurrection.]
A startling fact at once confronts us. The person most anxious to prove His bodily resurrection is our Lord Himself: it must be of the greatest moment. He presses the evidences upon them. See My hands and My feet, that it is I myself; handle Me and see (or, as in John), feel the nail-prints: and He showed them His hands and His feet. All law courts accept a scar as a sufficient proof of identity; for a scar, after the wound is healed, can be so shaped and placed as to be unique and decisive. So it was here. Not only did the prints in the palms and the soles confine the body examined to one of the three crucified; but the scar under the ribs identified it as the only Body that had the spear-thrust. It was therefore no reincarnation: the Body was His own. As a wound inflicted in child-birth, or in infancy, can bear a scar which survives all the physical changes of a lifetime, so the body of Jesus, passing under the mighty change of resurrection, nevertheless carried the death wounds. The body has been found: it has not been carried off by angels, or dissolved into its constituent gases. It is I myself.*
[* Proofs of identity, less physical, but no less convincing, came later. John had a knowledge of Jesus born of close observation, constant intimacy, intuitional sympathy, and a peculiar self-revelation on the part of our Lord to him: no witness on identity could equal John: and it is John, on the seashore (John 21: 7), who is the first to exclaim, It is the Lord.]
A decisive proof remains. The Apostles witness to a kind of resurrection so puzzling as to have been, among themselves, long disbelieved. The apparition of a spirit, like Samuels, they understood: the resurrection of a body, like Lazaruss, they had seen: what the Old Testament had never unfolded, and what no man had ever guessed, is what the apostles end by asserting as a fact again and again - a spiritual body; combining the properties of body and spirit in a way never hitherto conceived by the human mind. No other resurrection would have been the new and astounding revelation which the apostles declared that this was. It was the same Body, for there was no body in the tomb, and the body they handled was identically scarred: yet it was another fashion of body, not always recognizable, passing through matter, and ultimately into heaven, without difficulty. He appeared to two disciples in another form (Mark 16: 12): He could vanish (Luke 24: 31) into instant invisibility. Nothing but actual experience, tested and re-tested, could have convinced them of so puzzling, so unique, a fact. So also our Lords resurrection is the model of ours. The bodies of the saints arose (Matt. 27: 52) our bodies are to be quickened (Rom. 8: 11): our body is to be made like His body (Phil. 3: 21): and, while it will be a spiritual body, it will also be a spiritual body (1 Cor. 15: 44).* The change that passes over the rapt, who do not leave their bodies on earth, is exactly equivalent to resurrection. Their bodies are changed, not exchanged or dropt: that is, resurrection is not the escape of the [animating] spirit from the body [at the time of death].
[* It is a body ruled by the spirit in place of a body ruled by the soul: but a body. The return of the spirit only is the destruction of the Christian Faith, but is still no escape from the supernatural: it is merely to substitute ghosts for a whole redemption of body, soul, and spirit, the incorruption which Christ brought to light (2 Tim. 1: 10) by the Gospel. No spirit can corrupt: it is the incorruption of the body which Christ brought to light.]
Our Lord Himself is the finally decisive witness. He says: Handle Me, and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, AS YE SEE ME HAVE. If the body did not rise from the grave, what did - for the spirit had never been in the grave at all; and if it had, it would have needed no rolling away of the stone, to free it: a spirit is already free as air. An apparition, a phantom - our Lord says - though it can be seen and heard (as He assumes), cannot be felt: it is too imponderable, too immaterial to be handled: it has no flesh and bones. Who maketh His angels winds, and His ministers a flame of fire (Heb. 1: 7). Nor was it only solid flesh and bone: it was wounded flesh. A spirit is not scarred by a physical incision: if, as Gnostics taught and teach, our Lords body on the cross was a phantom, no scars would or could have remained. Palpable to the touch; visible or invisible at will; scarred with the earthly experience; eating or not, as He chose: a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see Me have. He says He is not a spirit. Therefore if Jesus came back as a spirit, He came back as a lying spirit. An apparition has not flesh and bones; a telepathic phantasm of the dead has not flesh and bones; a materialized spirit, clothed in an ephemeral death-mask manufactured by a personating demon in a sιance, has not flesh and bones: if our Lord returned as a spirit, He returned as a lying spirit, and our faith is in ruins. So Thomas, who had himself seen Lazarus raised and could be satisfied with no evidence less decisive, exclaims, My Lord and my God! (John 20: 28). Thou, Jesus immediately replies, hast believed: He accepts the testimony as sound; He acknowledges that the inference of Godhead is correct; He receives the worship of the man; and He asserts that faith in all ages will be exactly so based. Nothing but an antecedent assumption that it is false could invalidate such evidence. Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
The gravity of the issue it is impossible to exaggerate. For the Lords resurrection in flesh is the criterion both of demons and of antichrists. That Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, (the perfect denoting a past act continuing to the present: Lange), is the truth which no demon, when challenged, will ever confess (1 John 4: 2, 3); Christ come - the Divine Being, arrived; and in the flesh - not into flesh, to disappear out of it again, but - a Man for ever. So it is the criterion of the antichrists. Many deceivers are gone forth into the world, even they that confess not that Jesus Christ cometh - at the Second Advent IN THE FLESH. This is the deceiver and the antichrist (2 John 7). A deliberate and systematic denial of the resurrection is more than an overthrow of Christ: it is the revelation of an antichrist.
AN EMPTY TOMB
For one fact remains for ever decisive and unescapable - the empty grave. Came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre (Matt. 28: 1). What did they see? (1) A new tomb, wherein never man lay; therefore, if a resurrection took place, it was not, as in Elishas case (2 Kings 13: 21), a resurrection from contact with a holy body: it was a tomb wherein never man lay. (2) A tomb hewn out in the rock; therefore there was no subterranean passage by which a body could be withdrawn; by the door the corpse entered, it issued.* (3) An open, empty tomb. What did this prove? That what had been buried, that had been raised; namely, a crucified corpse. The resurrection could not have been the rising of the spirit [i.e., the disembodied soul from Hades/Sheol by itself] of Christ, because the [animating] spirit of Christ had never been in the tomb at all. The world waited thousands of years to see a tomb which would never be refilled: it saw it now.
[* An implacable foe of the Resurrection has expressed once for all the certainty of the death. It is impossible that a being who had stolen half-dead out of the sepulchre, who crept about weak and ill, wanting medical treatment, who required bandaging, strengthening, and indulgence, and who still at last yielded to his sufferings, could have given to the disciples the impression that he was a Conqueror over death and the grave, the Prince of Life, an impression which lay at the bottom of their future ministry. Nor could the strongest man, much less one just crucified, having no purchase upon the stone from the inside, (even were the seal broken), roll it to right or left.]
The physical concomitants also were such as might be expected in an event so unique. And behold, there was a great earthquake. The Prison-house [of Hades] into which our Lord descended was a Prison-house erected by sin. Through sin came death: the place of the dead is the place of sinners. Now shaking by God is preparatory to destruction. Whose voice then shook the earth, signifying the removing of those things that are shaken, ... that those things which are not shaken may remain (Heb. 12: 26). The realms of death have been twice violently shaken: the third shock (Rev. 20: 14) will be a final destruction. When Jesus [descended and] entered Hades, it trembled: Jesus cried again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And behold the earth did quake, and the rocks were rent and the tombs were opened (Matt. 27: 50). So, at the resurrection, there was a great earthquake, foretold by the Psalmist (Psa. 18: 7): Hades shook beneath the rising tread of the Son of God, and faint tremors reached the surface of the world. The Resurrection was the death of Death, and the first instalment (for the redeemed) of the obliteration of Sin.
Moreover, God gave direct and visible authorization. An angel of the Lord descended from heaven; his appearance was as lightning, and his raiment white as snow. The presence of the Angel was of incalculable importance. That Figure - bringing with him part of the shining of Heaven - proves that Christ did not break prison, but issued with a free and legal discharge, authorized by God. Christs body needed no rolling away of the stone: the Angel did not raise Him: the supreme function of Gods officer, in flinging open the gates of death, was to show to the universe that the great Burnt-offering had been accepted for a guilty world. The angel brought the legal authorization of God: declared to be the Son of God with power - powerfully demonstrated by the resurrection [out] of the dead (Rom. 1: 4). So certain a proof of God is resurrection, that Christs enemies never ascribed this miracle to Satanic power.
So, also, the effect was commensurate with the event. The watchers did quake, and became as dead men. Our Lords resurrection had two immediate and opposite effects:- dead saints became living (Matt. 27: 52), and living sinners became as the dead. Roman soldiers, the hardiest of the worlds sons, able to meet death in battle with a smile, are cowed by the lightnings from an angels face. It is the terror of [souls appearing from] another world. Earths bravest become white to the lips when they see through the open grave into the dread world [of the dead] beyond: but to the weak and defenceless women Jesus says,- Fear not ye. It is a presage of the dual effect of the Last Assize.* Moreover, God thus drove the guard from the tomb that the disciples might come and behold the emptiness.
[* The Roman soldiers must have reported the truth to Pilate;
and the bribe given them to tell another story reveals that the Pharisees
believed that their first story was true.
The Pharisees had asked for the Guard; yet they dared not proceed
against the Guard for the complete breakdown of their watch: why not, except
that the truth would thus come out? The Resurrection is a single story, told without variations:
myths are fluctuating and uniform. It is
blended inextricably with the civil history of the times, which it everywhere reports with extraordinary accuracy:
myths distort or supersede civil history.
It is full of prosaic detail, which myths studiously eschew. It abounds with practical instructions of the
simplest and purest kind: myths teach by allegory. No other religion can be produced which is
based on the resurrection of its founder; no general belief in resurrection at
all exists among the religions of the world; and even the Egyptian creed never
alleges the actual coming of a mummy to life.
So, from the first, by baptism, a perpetual ritual of
For the resurrection proves, backward, the miraculous life. He is not here; for He is risen, even as He said. Give me the resurrection as a fact, and I will shatter in pieces the modern view of the world. It casts lightings backward. Again and again our Lord had foretold His resurrection. By His death all that had gone before seemed disproved; by His rising, it was proved that nothing had been disproved; nay, that everything had been proved. The sinlessness of Jesus (John 8: 46); the miracles of Jesus (John 14: 11); the prophecies of Jesus (Luke 22: 69); the salvation offered by Jesus (Matt. 11: 28); the judgment foretold by Jesus (Luke 19: 27); the Heaven and Hell [Gk. Gehenna] (Matt. 5: 12 22. [cf. Luke 16: 19-31.]) Jesus revealed: the resurrection is the last link that shows the whole chain, backward, as solid gold. He is risen, even as He said.
So, also, the helplessness of its enemies prove how paralysing
is the effort of an un-escapable fact. They gave
large sums of money unto the soldiers, saying, Say ye, His disciples
away while we slept. This last session of the Sanhedrim
recorded in Scripture seems an incredible fall: yet
Finally, the Resurrection is the guarantee of the Gospel,
which is Jesus and the resurrection (Acts
18: 18), - the
Person and the Fact. Go ye,
therefore, and make disciples of all the nations.
An empty tomb means that
there is a gospel to preach. The sweep of the Commission has been verified
by history: the Resurrection is the cause of the Church, but the Church is also
the proof of the Resurrection.
The Commission Christ bases on all power: He clothes it in the Triune Name: He
assumes myriads of unborn witnesses: He foresees the homage of nations: He
flings its arches sheer across two thousand years of Christian experience and
Christian love. History has verified
it. And what for the
individual soul? What God asks for salvation is the
acceptance of the Resurrection, and action upon it. For if thou shalt confess with thy
mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised Him from the
dead, thou shalt be saved (
[* Lazarus had to be loosed (John 11: 44). The unity of appearance which the swathes had at first, when they encompassed the corpse, was there still; but the body which gave them that unity was not there (Govett). The hundred pounds spice (John 19: 39) are not recorded as seen by the apostles. If the body had been disrobed, whether by angels or men, the spice would have been found on the floor; now it was not so found, and I am driven to suppose therefore that it remained concealed in the folds of the grave-clothes, which it could not have done if they had not retained their position on the slab; for if the body had risen, or had been raised into an erect posture, it would have fallen down (Latham). Moreover, had the Body remained in the custody of the Romans or Pharisees, it would have been produced to confute the Resurrection.]
The Resurrection is thus the climax and crown of a cumulative evidence, for it underlies the whole working of God from creation to redemption (2 Cor. 5: 5); yet without the Ascension it would be, not only incomplete, but gravely difficult of belief. But the Ascension is even more directly evidenced than the Resurrection; and thus itself becomes an exceedingly important additional proof. That we saw him go, that we have heard from him since, and that he has been seen in that other land, is the sole evidence we ever have of a friends existence on another continent. Such is the evidence we have of Christ. The crucifixion was public, the burial was public, the appearances after the resurrection were public, and as public as all the rest was the ascension: as they were looking, He was taken up (Acts 1: 9). While all eyes were calmly, attentively, lovingly turned towards Him as He speaks, He was slowly carried up into Heaven. No eyes had seen Enoch go: Elijah went up in a flash - seen but by one: the calm, quiet convincing gaze of eleven sober men watched the Lord upward. They saw Him go. No fact could be more simple or sober or real. As the Body had been physically handled in the upper room, so it went up, physically visible, until a cloud - probably low-lying, so that the ascent was not visible from far - came between; as literal as the cloud, so literal was the body; and up to the moment that He disappeared behind the cloud, it was the actual Jesus who had talked and walked and eaten with them. He had shown His power [and divinity (Job 9: 8)] over the sea by walking on it, over the earth by raising the dead out of it, over Hades by leaving His own grave, and now over the air by rising up to God through it. Who maketh the clouds His chariot; who walketh upon the wings of the wind (Psa. 104: 3).
If the ascension did not happen, what did? The Lord had risen; the tomb was empty; He
had talked and eaten with more than five hundred people; He had been handled by
reverent unbelief:- how then did He leave the
earth? If He left it by death, - the
whole resurrection thus becoming meaningless, - if He wasted away in disease,
fell once again into the grave, and was laid to rest by those who have since
died for love of Him, how is it that there is not even the whisper of a traditional how and where
He died? We have the tomb of Abraham, in
The ascension, moreover, is a section of a coherent whole. Our Lord had plainly foretold it. What then if ye should behold the Son of Man ascending where He was before? (John 6: 62). Yet a little while am I with you, and I go unto Him that sent Me. Ye shall seek Me - as the prophets disciples sought Elijah - and shall not find Me: and where I am, ye cannot come (John 7: 33). Why not? Peter answers: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things (Acts 3: 21). Why must? Because it needs be that the Scripture be fulfilled. Thou hast ascended on high, - so runs a passage which the Holy Spirit applies to Christ (Eph. 4: 7); Thou hast received gifts for men (Psa. 68: 18): for He that descended, Paul says, Is the same also that ascended far above all the heavens (Eph. 4: 10); who is on the right hand of God, having gone into heaven (1 Pet. 3: 22); a great high priest, who hath passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God (Heb. 4: 14). Christ has moved up from off this earthly globe, and passed into the real, sure, abiding portion of the universe; we are divided from that great world only by a cloud; up to the edge of the cloud human eyes followed the Lord, now as literally and as actually on the other side as ever He was on this; and how thin that cloud wears at times, and how quickly and suddenly we too [if and when rapt (Luke 21: 36; Rev. 3: 10)] may step behind it!
What then is the deep significance of
the ascension? The High Priest, on
entering the Holy of holies, was required to enter with blood, and to deposit
it in the Sanctuary, so covering
[* So also the liberated Bird (Lev. 14: 53), loosed from the scarlet which bound it to the wood, mounting upward, carried the blood on its dripping plumage.]
TYPES OF THE RESURRECTION
The truth of the Resurrection is corroborated with great effect by the fact that its roots lie deeply embedded in the past: nor is it without remarkable corroboration in nature. Perhaps there is no lovelier parable of resurrection than the parable of the butterfly. The caterpillar, tethered to earth, is but a worm, cumbersome, ugly, earthy, consuming the leaves on which it treads, and living within the tiny radius in which it can creep and crawl. After a brief life, it falls sick; it spins its own shroud, coffin, and grave all in one and it dies, in a death which is a sleep. Wrapt in the hard casing of the chrysalis, it slumbers in motionless stillness, for months, where its brief life had been only for weeks. Then, one morning, the hard shining coffin cracks; slowly another creature, and yet the same - a butterfly - extricates itself, unfolding quivering, glistening, many-coloured wings; and, with a perfect mastery of what it has never used before, it flits away; no longer consuming the leaves, but living lightly on the pollen of flowers, and ranging at will over the sunlit fields. So also is the resurrection of the dead.*
[* The transformation of the seed into the plant is the analogy selected by the Holy Ghost. A corpse is a seed: it is sown, it is raised (1 Cor. 15: 42): and no seed, among the one hundred thousand known species, has ever reproduced any but its own kind, or anything but itself. Appearance, functions, constituent atoms may shift and change, yet, as acorn enfolds the oak, so out of the old body springs the new. But remarkable analogies also lie in the mineral world. Coal, subjected to inconceivably potent forces of heat and pressure in the bowels of the earth, changes to diamond: the coal - black, dense, earthy; the diamond - white, lucent, flashing: partly identical in substance, partly distinct, and how marvellously changed in attributes! The coal is buried as dead wood: it is disinterred as a body of glory, for palaces.]
Not according to nature, however, but according to the Scriptures, is the Divine foundation of resurrection; for we received how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried; and that He hath been RAISED on the third day ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES (1 Cor. 15: 3).
Resurrection was first definitely foreshadowed in Isaac. For the incident, the Holy Spirit tells us,
was a parable; and a parable, not so much of sacrifice, as of resurrection,
or life after slaughter - of all events the hardest to find analogies for in
nature; for it was the stepping of the sacrifice off the altar, alive and well,
because of the acceptance of the sacrifice, and the satisfaction of the Law. Whence also [i.e.,
from the dead] Abraham did also in a parable receive him back (Heb. 11: 19).
For (1) the altar, erected on
The Levitical Law supplements the patriarchal type. (1) The Priest was to take up the
ashes - the body after it had been dealt with by the
sacrificial fires and shall put them beside the altar (Lev. 6:
10): so they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in linen cloths. Now in the place where He was crucified there
was a garden; and in the garden a new tomb.
There then (for
the tomb was nigh at hand) they laid Jesus (John
19: 40). Beside
The Prophets add their witness to the Patriarchs and the Law in a type especially emphasised by Christ Himself. The Pharisees challenged Him for a sign such as the world had never seen, and such as hell could never achieve; and Jesus, quoting Jonah, replies The Son of man shall be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth (Matt. 12: 40). Others had been there for years, or for centuries, and are still there: Jesus would be three days and three nights, and no more. Men stumble over the miracle of Jonah, because they do not see that, as a moon will cast a brilliance according to the vastness of its sun, so, to type the most stupendous of all miracles, a mighty miracle was itself required. One whole book of the Bible exists supremely to type the Resurrection. For (1) Jonah, engulfed in the seas of death, descended into Hades out of the belly of Sheol [Heb. Sheol= Gk. Hades] cried I; thou hast brought my life up from the pit (Jonah 2: 2): so our Lord also cried, - My life draweth nigh unto Sheol. I am counted with them that go down into the pit (Ps. 88: 3). All Gods waves had gone over the buried Christ. (2) Jonah was cast to death vicariously; cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you (Jonah 1: 12): so, when the storm broke over Gethsemane, our Lord said, - If ye seek Me, let these go: that the word might be fulfilled which He spake, of those whom Thou hast given me I lost not one (John 18: 8). (3) Jonah, Luke says, became a sign (Luke 11: 30); Jonah come back was the miracle: so Jesus was declared to be the Son of God with power by the resurrection [out] from the dead (Rom. 1: 4). Jonah was a Jew - so was our Lord: Jonah was engulfed for three days and three nights - so was our Lord: Jonah, as all the Prophets, was a prophet to Israel only - so was our Lord (Matt. 15: 24): Jonah, in going to his death, and also after returning from Sheol, went to Gentiles - so did our Lord (1 Pet. 3: 19): for forty days afterwards Jonah remained in Nineveh - so did our Lord in the Holy Land: for all the burial and resurrection were according to the Scriptures. The resurrection is no after-thought of God: He that wrought us for this very thing is God (2 Cor. 5: 5): and the basic stone of all, Messiahs empty tomb, stands forth plainly in the Old Testament.
GOD AND THE RESURRECTION
Thus we now reach the highest level from which the fact of the
Resurrection can be viewed. Difficulty is solely proportional to
the power of the person meeting it: a difficulty
insuperable to an infant, is, to a man, no difficulty
at all: so to Sadduccan doubt of resurrection Jesus
says, Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures [foretelling resurrection], nor the POWER OF GOD (Matt. 22: 29).
The apostle chosen
at Pentecost to expound the empty tomb, devotes one verse to our Lords life, one to his death, but twelve to His resurrection; for while the efficacy is in the
Cross, the demonstration is in the Tomb; and throughout he supremely reveals Gods mind in raising
His Son from the dead. A man
approved of God, by mighty works which God did
(Acts 2: 22) - the only Man whom God never blamed
and never rebuked: delivered up by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God - for from the worlds foundation the
sacrifice of the Lamb had dwelt in the heart of the Father (Rev. 13:
8): whom God raised up - for the resurrection, as also the life and the death, was
full of God. Now the sting of
death is sin, and the power of sin is the law (1
Cor. 15: 56); that is, it is broken law which inflicts death, and
maintains corruption; but the body of Jesus never corrupted - the only body
which never did - nor was His spirit [i.e., His disembodied soul] left in Hades; for the law is powerless against
absolute holiness; and the body was without
corruption, for it was without moral taint.
Having loosed the pangs of death: because it was not possible that He should be holden of it So Peter proves that the Resurrection
had been on Gods lips a thousand years earlier. Thou wilt not
leave my soul in Hades,
neither wilt thou suffer THY HOLY ONE to see corruption. For, had sin been in Christ, He could not have risen; and, had it not been on Christ, He would not have died: but as sinless, He was free to bear
the death-penalty for others; and as pronounced sinless still by the
resurrection, the sin He bore had been expiated and consumed. Declared to be the Son of God with power, according to a spirit of
holiness - the force of
Deity whereby He paralyzed death, and forsook Hades - by the
resurrection [out] of the dead (
But the Lord Jesus also participated in the Resurrection. The Angels said, He is risen, not, He is raised: others were raised,* He rose: it was a conjoint work of the Godhead, in
which His was an equal share. I lay down my
life, that I may take
it again. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again (John 10: 17).
Twelve times He is recorded as foretelling His death in words free from
all type or figure, and once only (Matt. 26:
2) without naming
His rising from the dead in the same breath; and the figure He especially used
- the Temple rebuilt in three days - formed not only the ground-work of capital
charges (Matt. 26: 61), but was correctly understood by
His enemies as a specific prophecy of resurrection (Matt. 27: 63). What sign showest Thou
unto us? Destroy this temple, our Lord answered - for the Resurrection is the only sign
to be granted to this generation (Matt. 12: 39)
and in three days I will raise it up. But He spake of the temple of
His body (John
2: 19, 21). Both temples, alike shrines of Godhead (Col. 2: 9), both born in one spot (Psa. 132: 6), and both rent with death-pangs
together (Matt. 27: 50), perished for
reconstruction, our Lord in three human days, the
[* NOTE. That is, others were raised temporarily from amongst the dead, who are now present in Sheol. God allowed Samuel to come up to converse with king Saul; and then return again to the underworld of the dead in Sheol: Tomorrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me. (1 Sam. 28: 19, R.V.).]
* Moreover, our Lord, alone of all the prophets, foretold the exact measure of the little while (John 16: 16) between the moment of expiring and the unsealed tomb; a measure of time which makes it impossible that the resurrection was the mere release of the spirit from the body. That was instantaneous. On these three days and three nights, see Note appended to this pamphlet.]
So also the Spirit is Gods great Agent in resurrection, to which also He is the supreme Witness; though I am not aware that He is anywhere stated to have raised the Lord. If the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwelleth in you, He that raised up Christ Jesus from the dead shall quicken also your mortal bodies through His Spirit that dwelleth in you (Rom, 8: 11). Nothing less than the Resurrection can explain Pentecost. So it is the Holy Ghost who uncovers the fatal consequences (1 Cor. 15: 12-19) of a denial of the Resurrection. For if Christ now lies in Palestine, (1) He is a dead man still; a false prophet, therefore, of what never was, and never can be, fulfilled; and, in His assertion - I am resurrection (John 11: 25) - a blasphemer: (2) the Gospel is a delusion - our preaching is vain - for its central dogma is a myth: (3) the Apostles are liars - we are found false [not, mistaken] witnesses of God - utterers of falsehood deliberately put into His mouth*: (4) atonement is as dead as the Lamb - your faith is vain - for, as death is the physical proof of sin, so sins obliteration can be physically proved only by resurrection: (5) no soul has ever been regenerated - ye are yet in your sins - so that all that is good and lovely and god-like in character has been a mirage: (6) the godly are lost they also which are fallen asleep in Christ have perished - for if a lifeboat, seeking a foundered ship, never returns, it can only be because both have been engulfed in a common destruction: and (7) we disciples are fools- of all men most pitiable - for while we have renounced earth, we have also lost [the possibility of ever ascending into] heaven, and have led countless myriads into the same folly. It is Deity alone which emptied the tomb of Christ [the firstfruits of a better Resurrection (Heb. 11: 35b).]: Christianity answers for the Resurrection with its life. But more perishes than the Christian faith, if Christ lies beneath the Syrian blue. History is shattered - for no other event was ever so closely or so amply evidenced; testimony is shattered - for no testimony can survive the ruin of the testimony of holy apostles and prophets; character is shattered - for if our Lord was thus exposed as a false prophet and blasphemer, no character can be trusted again; Heaven is shattered - for if the sinless Christ sank under death, all escape for the sinful is impossible; and faith is shattered for if God has so dealt with His Son, trust in Him can never be restored. All this is a much less credible creed than the Christian Faith. THE RESURRECTION [OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST] IS A FACT. Millions of believing souls had fallen asleep with their faces set forward to a sinless Sacrifice; earths only holy millions to-day have their faces turned upward to a living Christ: and the Church is too holy for a foundation of rottenness, and too real for a foundation of mist.
[* Moreover, our Lord, alone of all the prophets, foretold the exact measure of the little while (John 16: 16) between the moment of expiring and the unsealed tomb; a measure of time which makes it impossible that the resurrection was the mere release of the spirit from the body. That was instantaneous. On these three days and three nights, see Note appended to this pamphlet.
It has been well expressed thus: If false, you must suppose that twelve men of mean birth, and of no education, formed the noblest scheme that ever entered into the mind of men, adopted the most daring means of executing that scheme, and conducted it with such address as to conceal the imposture under the semblance of simplicity and virtue. You must suppose that men guilty of blasphemy and falsehood united in an attempt, which has in fact proved the most successful, for making the world virtuous; that they formed this singular enterprise with the certain expectation of scorn and persecution; that although conscious of one anothers villany, none of them ever thought of providing for his own security by disclosing the fraud, but, amidst sufferings the most grievous, persevered in their conspiracy to cheat the world into piety, honesty and benevolence.
MAN AND HIS DESTINY
Thus the Resurrection, as we should expect from a miracle so foretold, so evidenced, so unique, and so stupendous, has changed the entire destiny of mankind. For what exactly is man? Scripture regards both the body and the soul as man. The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his [still lifeless] nostrils the breath of life (Gen. 2: 7): they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in linen cloths;- there then they laid Jesus (John 19: 40): Dorcas fell sick and died; and they laid her in an upper chamber (Acts 9: 37): in each case the body is the man. So also, only more emphatically, is the soul or [animating] spirit. I [as a disembodied soul] will go down to Hades to my son mourning (Gen. 37: 35): this day [i.e., immediately after the time of death (Luke 16: 22)] shalt thou be with Me in Paradise (Luke 23: 43): the garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them (Acts 9: 39):- in each case the spirit [not the animating spirit (Luke 8: 55), but a dead soul] is the man. Thus both body and soul (in this context I am using soul and spirit as one) are essential elements in man: humanity is body, soul, and spirit (1 Thess. 5: 23). Death, therefore, we had almost dehumanises: it is a decomposition, a disintegration, dissolution, of man: it is a violent rending asunder of constituent elements, consequent on sin: and, to speak exactly, though body and spirit are each man, neither is man alone. The body rots; [when] the [animating] spirit departs to [God (See Job. 34: 14; Eccl. 3: 21; Isa. 38: 16; Luke 23: 46. Cf. James 2: 26, etc.); and the soul - the person - descends into] Hades: the man is dead.
Thus, when God deals finally with man He deals, not with a corpse, nor with a disembodied spirit, but with a man: man, for all eternity, can never cease to be man: his eternal destiny, whatever it be, must be the destiny of a man. Now our Lord, as the typical Man, is the One who, alone hitherto, has passed through all the processes of man. First, He was truly man:- they took the body of Jesus (John 19: 40); my soul is exceeding sorrowful (Matt. 26: 38); into Thy hands I commend My spirit (Luke 13: 46). Violent dissolution took place on the Cross: Being put to death in the flesh, but quickened in the spirit; in which He went and preached unto the spirits* in prison (1 Pet. 3: 19). After three days and three nights, the angels said:- Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here - His corpse is not in the graveyard, His soul is not left in Hades (Acts 2: 31) but is risen (Luke 24: 5); that is, the recumbent body stands again upon its feet, and the spirit is returned into it (Luke 8: 55). Christ, born of a woman, was born full man: He died as a man dies: and He rose with body, soul, and spirit re-knit in everlasting resurrection. I am the Living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore (Rev. 1: 18).
[* NOTE. The spirits in prison, may refer to the Nephilim that is, the off spring from a sexual relationship between the sons of God (angels) and the daughters of men (Gen. 6: 2, 4).]
A passage now arises before us than which perhaps, the whole Bible itself contains none more solemn. For since by [a] man came death - dissolution, decomposition, disintegration by [a] man came also the resurrection of the dead (1 Cor. 15: 21)* - the re-knitting, in individual re-composition, of the whole man; and this, for the entire race. I AM RESURRECTION AND LIFE (John 11: 25): since Christ was made man, and is resurrection, resurrection has become an essential part of human nature. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive - not regenerated, but made alive physically: for as physical death poured itself through Adam into all the race, so physical resurrection becomes integral to humanity from the second federal Head of mankind. Because Christ was a Man, and rose, all [sooner or later] rise; for all partake of the same flesh with Christ: but believers are one spirit with the Lord (1 Cor. 6: 17): so, while unbelief severs from all benefits of the Passion, no man can escape the consequent resurrection. The Incarnation empties every grave: for Christ is the first-born from the dead, the first-born of all creation (Col.1: 15, 18).
[* By man, not by God: so that, while resurrection was from the first a creative design of God (2 Cor. 5: 5), it is actually a product of the Incarnation. The spirit [and soul] of man was always immortal.]
The eternal destiny of our race now stands revealed. The last enemy that shall be destroyed - for all mankind is death: man, after entering on resurrection, never suffers dissolution again: it is appointed unto men once to die (Heb. 9: 27): full manhood follows for ever. Thus the redeemed are wholly redeemed: redeemed in spirit, [soul] and also in body (Rom. 8: 23), the man, as man, is redeemed utterly and eternally. What then of the lost? Be not afraid of them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell [Gehenna] (Matt. 10: 28). The wicked equally abide as men for ever: they twain were cast alive - that is, spirit, soul, and body - into the lake of fire, which is second death (Rev. 19: 20; 21: 8). The Second Death is not decomposition, the splitting up of the person - as was the First: much less is it annihilation it is the final and eternal abode of the undivided man. This is the second death, even the lake of fire. And if any was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 14). For this corruptible must put on incorruption: and when God says it must, it is certain that it will.
Unbeliever, what a destiny! and what a Christ! I am a substance nobler than the stars: they must perish, but, for better or worse, we endure: none can escape the momentous consequences of the Incarnation. It twists its roots under and about all that is human, and lifts the entire race into resurrection from death; and the new relation which humanity bears towards Christ is glorious, or fearful, according to what we do with Him. And what a Christ! Christ is so truly man that He actually died as man dies: He is so truly God that He not only raised Himself, but the whole of humanity, in His rising. The raising of one is the peculiar prerogative of the Godhead: who but the Son of God, by the mere fact of association in the flesh, could raise all?
For who is it that lay on the slab of rock? The Lord has Himself answered in one of the most
wonderful utterances that ever fell even from the lips of the Son of God. I AM RESURRECTION AND LIFE (John
11: 25). What
is resurrection? It is life in battle
with death, and conqueror:
it is the tremendous creative energy of the Deity put forth over a
corpse. Jesus does not say, I produce
resurrection, or, I confer resurrection, or, I intercede to obtain
resurrection: He says,- I am resurrection. Resurrection, that is,
is not some unknown law about to operate suddenly: it is the personal intervention of Christ:
where He moves, graves empty.
Therefore our Lords resurrection is itself the touchstone of all
salvation. For to acknowledge its
absolute truth, and therefore to cry with Thomas - My Lord and my God! is to confess the sinners need, to
embrace the sinless Sacrifice, and to submit to the provided
righteousness. Say not in
thy heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? - for the Incarnation has occurred; or, Who shall descend into the abyss? - for the Resurrection has occurred: and between these two points Christs righteousness, the imputed
obedience of the Son of God, has been wrought out, and is ready for faith to grasp. Not having a righteousness of mine
own, even that which is of the law, but that [righteousness] which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God UPON [resting as a garment upon the shoulders of] faith
(Phil. 3: 9; Isa. 61: 10). THEREFORE if thou shalt
confess with thy mouth JESUS AS LORD, and shalt believe in thy heart that God
raised Him from the dead, THOU SHALT BE SAVED (
NOTE ON OUR LORDS LAST WEEK.
[This note is put forth quite tentatively, and in no way dogmatically. The writer is quite willing to be shown that he is wrong: nevertheless he believes that this order of Passion Week is probably the correct one, and at all events worthy of most careful thought.]
Saturday. - Our Lords triumphal entry into Jerusalem must have
fallen, not on so-called Palm Sunday, but on the Saturday preceding: for the
day before the entry, we are definitely told (Luke 19: 1, 28, 29), Jesus travelled from Jericho to
Bethany, far exceeding a
sabbath-days journey; whereas from Bethany to Jerusalem, the distance
traversed for the entry, was exactly the distance allowed by the Law on the
24: 50, compared with Acts 1: 12). It was the last great Sabbath the Jew ever
had: appropriately therefore Messiah was welcomed in the very words of
know this because the feast was on the fifteenth, the night that followed the
slaughter of the lamb at sundown (Exod. 12: 6). Jesus therefore six days before the Passover - the
ninth - came to
** It might be objected that a triumphal entry involved a breach of the Sabbath. But is it certain that a Sabbath entry would be a breach of the Law in the eyes of Christ? Would Messiahs triumphal entrance, involving the service of a colt, and the acclamation of the disciples, involving the breaking of boughs, be a transgression of the Sabbatic Law? Our Lords principle on this very point seems to answer in the negative. The priests profane the Sabbath, and are guiltless (Matt. 12: 5): that is, the greater law of the Daily Sacrifice took precedence of the lesser law of the Sabbath. Our Lords last sojourn in Jerusalem, which He never left again save at night, and within a radius of a Sabbath-days journey, was the tethering of the Lamb: and the lamb was to be tethered, with whatever labour that involved, on the Tenth of Nisan, whether that day fell on a Sabbath or not (Exod. 12: 3). Must not Messiahs foretold and commanded entry, if the Tenth of Nisan fell on a Sabbath, take precedence of the Sabbatic law?
Sunday. - The central event of Sunday was a typical incident
of simply incalculable import. Our Lord,
starting, it would appear, without breakfast from
Monday. - The next day was the last of our Lords public
testimony: so intense was the excitement, so acute the hostility, that any
public utterance later was impossible without murder. It is a day of indescribable pathos. Jesus
preached with great power; He delivered the terrible Twenty-third Chapter of
Matthew; He gave His disciples the Prophecy on Olivet; and He wept over
Tuesday. - Tuesday is the most mysterious day in Passion Week. The thronging multitudes in the
Wednesday. - The fourteenth of Nisan - Saturday being the tenth - fell on the Wednesday, when the Passover lamb was slain: it was the preparation of the Passover (John 19: 14). This is conclusively proved by the action of the Jews. The lamb had to be slain and roasted, and the blood sprinkled on the doorposts, between noon and sundown: after sundown no Jew might cross his threshold until dawn (Exod. 12: 22). But vast multitudes of the Jews attended the trial and the crucifixion: moreover the chief priests studiously avoided the day of the actual Feast, - not during the feast, lest a tumult arise among the people (Matt. 26: 5). Everything in the Scriptures, as Dr. Torrey says, is perfectly harmonized by a Wednesday crucifixion: between noon and sundown, on the fourteenth of Nisan, Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.*
* Our Lord must therefore have kept His passover on the day of the Preparation. It was a physical impossibility for Him to eat the lamb while He was Himself the dead Lamb; could He have eaten it on any other day? It was on the day on which the passover was sacrificed (Luke 22: 7) that our Lord ate it. Nor was He thus guilty of a breach of the Law. For have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath day the priests in the temple profane the sabbath [by slaying and sacrificing the daily burnt-offering], and are guiltless? (Matt. 12: 5). A lower commandment (as the Sabbath), when in collision with a higher (as the daily sacrifice), must give way, that the higher law may be fulfilled: a breach of the Law which it was a physical impossibility to avoid is no breach. Nay, our Lord, in being the Lamb, fulfilled a higher law than in eating the lamb); so being not merely guiltless, but, in this very irregularity, proving Himself a Fulfiller of the Law to a degree and in a kind absolutely unique.
Thursday, Friday, Saturday. - How long was our Lord in the tomb? Dr. Lange voices the common view. Three days and three nights - a round number according to the popular mode of Hebrew reckoning, although Christ lay one day and two nights in the grave. Is this satisfactory? Crucifixion on Wednesday, not Friday, exactly fulfils both type and prophecy. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale (Jonah 1: 17), so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth (Matt. 12: 40). Seventy-two hours after crucifixion - in the words of Dr. Torrey - exactly three days and three nights, at the beginning of the first day of the week, Saturday at sunset, Jesus rose again from the grave.
Sunday.- Now late on the Sabbath days, Matthew says (See Greek),* as it began to dawn towards the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene (Matt. 28: 1), and found an empty grave. The Lord had risen before the Sabbath had closed. But why Sabbath days? Because the first day of Passover Week, on whatever day it might fall, was a sabbath (Lev. 23: 7): so we read - it was the day of the Preparation, and the sabbath - that is, the first day of the Feast, the Passover Sabbath - drew on (Luke 23: 54); and the day of that sabbath was a high day (John 19: 31), that is, no ordinary sabbath. Thus on the close of two sabbaths in the tomb - Thursday and Saturday - our Lord rose; at an exact moment not revealed, but somewhere as the sands of the sabbath ran out, and as the new day - the day of the fourfold appearance, of the resurrection glory, of the Church and its worship - dawned. He is not here: He is risen!
* It is a fact, however, that this plural is used as a singular elsewhere the grammatical number can only be determined by the context.
* * *
A. L. CHITWOOD
The resurrection of Christ forms the
last of eight signs around which Johns gospel is structured. Jesus had called attention to His
resurrection being a sign earlier in His ministry, at the Passover in
Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?
Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.
Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?
But he spake of the temple of his body (John 2:18-21).
Then attention is called to the fact that His disciples, following His resurrection, remembered that which had been said at this point in His ministry, resulting in belief among the disciples:-
When therefore he was risen [out] from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scriptures, and the word which Jesus had said (verse 22). *
[* NOTE. The Greek preposition ek [out] as found in the text of Mark 9: 10, was what caused a discussion amongst Jesus three disciples, after witnessing His glory on the Mount of Transfiguration. Jesus words suggested a select resurrection of only one Person - out from Sheol / Gk. Hades - Scriptural names denoting the place in the underworld where the souls of the dead reside until the time of their Resurrection: when both body and soul will be reunited at Christs Second Advent. This statement from Messiah came as a shocked the disciples, who had never heard anyone speak of a select resurrection out from the dead (Lit. Greek); and they could not understand the meaning of His words!]
Then, following Christs resurrection, the experiences of Thomas are recorded, both on the day of Christs resurrection and eight days later.
When Christ had appeared in the midst of His disciples while they were in a closed room late the same day of His resurrection, Thomas was not present. Thomas, unlike the other disciples, had not seen the resurrected Christ. And, when hearing the report by the others of that which had occurred while he was absent, he, in an unbelieving, and sceptical manner, stated, -
Except I shall see in the hands the print [Gk. tupos, type] of the nails, and put my finger into the print [Gk. tupos] of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe* (John 20: 25b).
[* Thomas is therefore a typical of Christs disciples, who refuse to believe in a select resurrection of reward out from the dead. See Luke 14: 14; Luke 20: 35; Phil. 3: 10, 11; Heb. 11: 35b; Rev. 20: 4.]
Then eight days later,* Jesus appeared and stood in the midst of His disciples again, but this time Thomas was present. Jesus then singled out Thomas, and said,
Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing (verse 27b).
[* NOTE. Eight days later. That is, after the kingdom age has ended, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them (Rev. 20: 13); and names are found written in the Book of Life; there will then be disciples of Christ (like Thomas), who will not be cast into the lake of fire (verse 15): but they will have lost the crown and the privilege of reigning with Christ on His throne. Rev. 3: 11, 21]
And Thomas, responding to the resurrected Christ, could only say, My Lord and my God (verse 28b).
This account then leads into the statement in John 20: 30, 31, a statement revealing the purpose for Johns gospel, which could only be looked upon as the key to a proper understanding of this fourth gospel:
And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:
But these [signs] are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ [or Messiah], the Son of God; and that believing ye might have live through his name.
This statement, following Christ dealing with Thomas eight days after His resurrection, points in the near context back to things surrounding Christs resurrection; and in the far context this statement could only point back to the other seven signs, taking the reader all the way back to the beginning sign in chapter two.
Then, approaching the matter from another standpoint, from a typical standpoint, Christ, in Matthew 12: 38-40, referred to the account of Jonah as a sign of His [Christs] coming death, burial, and resurrection.
Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee.
But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah:
For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whales belly; so the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
As Jonah was cast into the [depths of the] sea* ... and was raised ... on the third day, so would the Son of Man be delivered by the Jews into the hands of the Gentiles, suffer death, and be raised [out] from the dead on the third day.
[* NOTE. Jonah went downward after being cast into the sea, not upward! Immediately after His death, Jesus - as a disembodied soul - went down into Hades/Sheol the place of the dead; and preached unto the spirits in prison, (1 Pet. 3: 19, R.V.). See also, Acts 2: 31; Matt. 12: 40. And so They that are accounted worthy to attain to that world [or age] and the resurrection out from the dead (Luke 20: 35, Lit Greek), will be raised (i.e., resurrected) on the third day. That is, after two thousand years from the time of Christs resurrection (2 Pet. 3: 8), they will raised out from the dead to reign with Him in the millennium. Matt. 16: 18; Rev. 20: 4-6. cf. Rev. 3: 21; Phil. 3: 11; Heb. 11: 35b; Luke 14: 14; 22: 28-30; Rev. 6: 9-11.]
In the preceding respect, the account of Jonah forms a type, but this account is also referred to as a sign. The account of Jonah, a type, forms a sign:
The Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness: but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1: 22).
And as the type is inseparably linked with the antitype after one fashion, so must it be with the thought of signs. Not only is the type a sign but so is the antitype as well, something stated in so many words in John 2: 18-21; 20: 30, 31.
PETER AT THE TOMB
The timing of Christs resurrection is often associated with the early morning hours of the first day of the week. This though is derived from events at the time Mary Magdalene and other women came to the tomb before daybreak on the first day of the week and not only found the stone covering the tomb rolled away but found Christs body no longer present in the tomb (Luke 24: 1-10).
Christ was raised sometime prior to these events; and He was possibly raised hours earlier, for He could have been raised at any time following the end of the previous day, the end of the Sabbath (which ended at 6 PM [ten or so hours earlier], with the first day of the week beginning at that time).
Christ had to remain in the place of death until at least the beginning of the third day to fulfil Biblical prophecy. He was to be in the place of death for three days and three nights; but then He was to be raised on the third day, as all of God's firstborn Sons (Christ, Israel, and the [overcomers within the] Church, following the adoption) are to be raised up on the third day (the third millennium) to live in Gods sight.
(The preceding - Christ being in the tomb for three days and three nights, being raised after three days, and being raised on the third day - must be understood in the light of the way in which this is handled in the Old Testament, not in the light of humanistic reasoning or our Western way of thinking.
The expression the third day relative to Christs resurrection is used twelve times in the New Testament [KJV]. In three of the references there is some manuscript support for the rendering, after three days [Mark 9:31; 10:34; Acts 10:40]. Minor manuscript support exists for another three on the alternate rendering [Matt. 16:21; 17:23; Luke 9:22]. However, for the remaining six, no manuscript support exists for a rendering other than on the third day [Matt. 20:19; Luke 18:33; 24: 7, 21, 46; 1 Cor. 15: 4].
The expression after three days, relative to Christs resurrection, is found only two places in the New Testament [Matt. 27: 63; Mark 8: 31]; and, as previously seen, Matt. 12: 40 reveals the same period of time to also be three days and three nights.
Also note the expression in [or, within] three days, pertaining to Christs resurrection [Mark. 14: 58; 15: 29; John 2: 19, 20].
The Jewish Talmud reads, A day and night together make up an onah [word referring to a complete period of twenty-four hours], and any part of such a period is counted as the whole. The Jewish Talmud though, at this point, is simply a reflection of that taught in the Old Testament, which is the only possible source to derive information which will allow one to properly understand and reconcile the expressions in the New Testament relative to the time Christ spent in the place of death [cf. Gen. 40: 13, 20; 42: 17, 18; 1 Sam. 30: 1, 12, 13; 2 Chron. 10: 5, 12; Esther 4: 16 - 5: 1].)
Thus, having completed the time necessary to remain in the place of death at the beginning of the third day, there would have been no need for Christ to remain in this place longer than time immediately following the Sabbath, time immediately following 6 PM. But; again, the exact timing of His resurrection in this respect is not given. We can only know that His resurrection had already occurred prior to the time Mary Magdalene and other women came to the tomb, found the stone covering the tomb rolled away, and the tomb empty except for the grave-clothes.
And the stone had not been rolled away to let Christ out of the tomb, as was the case with the resurrection of Lazarus in the previous sign. Rather, the stone had been rolled away to let others in to see that He was already out.
Christs resurrection was unlike anything which had ever occurred in the annals of mans recorded history. A Man had not only been raised from the dead by the triune Godhead, but He, as part of the triune Godhead, had raised Himself (cf. John 2: 18-21; Acts 3: 15; Rom. 8: 11). And His resurrection body was unlike any type body which had heretofore existed in the human realm.
Christ, at the time of and following His resurrection, possessed a body capable of movement from one point to another at will. He could appear in the midst of His disciples and then disappear at will (cf. Luke 24:15, 31, 36; John 20:26).
And knowing these things - comparing Scripture with Scripture - it is a simple matter to understand the only thing which could have occurred both inside and outside the tomb at the time Christ was raised from the dead.
When Peter stooped down and walked into that empty tomb he saw the empty linen grave-clothes which had been wrapped around the body of Christ lying, with the napkin which had covered His face wrapped together [folded] in a separate place by itself (John 20: 5-7 [lie in verse 6 should be translated lying, same as in verse 5]). Peter saw the empty grave-clothes either maintaining the shape and contour of the body (through a possible hardening of the mixture of myrrh [an aromatic gum resin] and aloes [an aromatic powered wood, also containing resin]) or simply lying in an undisturbed and somewhat collapsed manner (with the layers of linen cloth still wrapped together), with the napkin which had covered His face in a collapsed place by itself (collapsed in folds).
What had happened? The answer, textually, is quite plain and simple.
At the instant Christ was raised [out] from the dead, at the instant He raised Himself, He didnt sit up or stand up inside that tomb and then walk out of the tomb as Lazarus had done. Rather, He was immediately removed from the tomb, He removed Himself from the tomb (probably in an atomos of time [the most minute particle of time known in the Greek language, time seen surrounding the resurrection and rapture of Christians in 1 Cor. 15: 52]) to another location outside the tomb.
And, with His body no longer being on the inside of the grave-clothes, the linen wrappings either maintained the shape and contour of the body or they re simply collapsed, apart from the body being on the inside; and the napkin which had been placed over His face fell in folds where His head had been.
This is what Peter saw, and what John who was with him subsequently saw as well. This resulted in immediate belief on Johns part (John 20: 8; cf. John 2: 22); and it resulted in wondering on Peters part (Luke 24: 12), something which, combined with subsequently spending forty days with the resurrected Christ, resulted in the unwavering belief seen at Pentecost and beyond as Peter became the central figure in the proclamation of the message ... (Acts 2ff).
CHRISTS POST-RESURRECTION MINISTRY
Christs ministry to
Johns ministry was carried out in
To help in the proclamation of this message, Jesus, early in His ministry, commissioned twelve disciples. Then, at a later time, He commissioned seventy others as well (Matt. 10: 1-8; Luke 10: 1-9). And it was eleven of the original twelve (Judas no longer present) that Jesus took aside after His resurrection and taught for forty days (Acts 2: 2, 3).
Jesus taught them things pertaining to the
But something new was now seen. Prior to the death, burial, and resurrection
of Christ, the message was proclaimed to
And ten days following Christs forty-day ministry to His disciples, a new entity - the one new man in Christ, ... allowing those [Gentiles] in Samaria and in the uttermost part of the earth to become part of the complete, overall picture (Acts 1: 4, 5; 2:1 ff). That is to say, once this new entity had been called, ... the complete scope of the proclamation of the message as seen in Acts 1: 8, involving Gods complete scope of His redemptive plans and purposes as it related to man, would then be in effect. ...
This whole panorama of events surrounding the proclamation of the message concerning the kingdom undoubtedly formed a major part of that dealt with by Christ during the forty days of Acts 1: 3, for note Christs concluding instructions prior to His ascension in the verses immediately following (vv. 4-9). These verses form a recap of the complete picture of that which was about to occur, undoubtedly reflecting back on that which Christ had apparently taught the disciples during the previous forty days.
The faith of the apostles is seen after one fashion immediately following the resurrection of Christ (cf. John 20: 25; 21:3 ff), but it is seen after an entirely different fashion after they had spent forty days with the resurrected Christ, being taught by Him personally.
Ten days after Christs ascension, on the day of Pentecost, about an hundred and twenty disciples, which would have included the apostles, were gathered with one accord in one place (Acts 1: 15; 11). And after they had been filled with the [Holy] Spirit, they, through the supernatural means of the indwelling Spirit, proclaimed the wonderful works of God to those present in Jerusalem - who had travelled to Jerusalem from every nation under heaven - in their own native languages (Acts 2: 4-12).
Then Peter, with the multitude of Jews astonished and perplexed (vv. 12, 13), stood up and spoke to the entire group in a bold manner, centring his thoughts on Christs resurrection and all which His resurrection now made possible (Acts 2: 14-40). And this same boldness is subsequently seen not only in Peters ministry but in that of the other disciples as well (Acts 3-7).
What made the difference?
This type, belief was not something that had generally been manifested after spending some three and one-half years with Christ prior to His death. In fact, at the end of this period, rather than exhibiting faith, all the disciples forsook him [Christ], and fled. And though Peter still followed Christ afar off, he subsequently denied Christ three times (Matt. 26: 56-58, 69-75).
But now, after spending forty days with the resurrected Christ, things were entirely different.
Only one thing possible could have made the difference. And that one thing was very much on not only Peters mind but that of the other disciples as well during events seen in the opening chapters of Acts. Everything in the message now centred around something which heretofore it could not have centred around the fact that Christ had been raised [out] from [amongst] the dead.
And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:
But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name: (John 20: 30, 31).
The key words in the first part of verse thirty-one are believe, Christ, and Son. And the manner in which all three words are used must be understood in the light of the introductory reference to signs in the previous verse, which reflects back on all the signs which Jesus performed (And many other signs... [verse 30a]), whether recorded or not recorded in the other three gospels. Then, remaining within the context, the manner in which all three words are used can only have to do with the Sons previous ministry to the Jewish people in relation to His kingship and the proffered [Messianic] kingdom. ...
THAT YE MIGHT BELIEVE
Belief during the original offer of the kingdom had nothing to
do with eternal salvation, for Christ came to a people who were already saved. They, as their
ancestors, going all the way back to Moses (throughout thirty-five generations,
covering over fourteen centuries), had sacrificed paschal lambs year after year
(though breaks in the offering of sacrifices would have occurred at times
during Gentile dominance [during the time of the Judges] or during Gentile
activity [the subsequent Assyrian and Babylonian captivities). And, as during Moses day (as before or after
that time) there was death and shed blood, that which God has required since Adam sinned in
And, when Christ came to
During Moses day, the blood properly applied (on the doorposts and lintel) showed that death had already occurred in that house. The firstborn in the family, under the sentence of death, had died via a substitute. There was a vicarious death, and God was satisfied.
And exactly the same thing, of necessity, would have had to be true over fourteen centuries later when Christ came to the Jewish people. The Jewish people were still sacrificing paschal lambs year after year. And with the death of these lambs and the shed blood properly applied, the result of that which God had instructed the people to do during Moses day could only be the same. When God saw the properly applied blood, He, remaining true to His Word, could only have been satisfied that the firstborn had already experienced that which had been decreed - death.
(According to Heb. 10: 4, 11, the blood of animals during Old Testament times could not take away sins, though this blood could cover sins. But, the blood of Christ, to which all of the Old Testament sacrifices pointed, could do more than cover sins. The blood of Christ could take away sins [cf. Lev. 16: 21, 22; Psa. 103: 12; 2 Cor. 5: 18-21; Heb. 10: 12-18 (reconciled or reconciliation in 2 Cor. 5: 18-20 - Gk. katallasso - has to do with bringing back into harmony, not through covering sin but by doing away with sin)].
Then, inseparably associated with the preceding, Christ was slain from the foundation [Gk. katabole] of the world [Rev. 13:8]. Katabole is a compound word - kata means down, and bole means to cast. The word has to do with God casting down, laying, the foundation upon which the earth was built [created] in the beginning, which takes one back to a time anticipating Gen. 1: 1.
All of the Old Testament sacrifices formed types which pointed
forward to some facet of the person and work of Christ, in the antitype, as
they had to do with and were based upon Christs finished work at
The latter [the Lamb slain at a time anticipating Gen. 1: 1 and mans subsequent creation and fall]
allowed for the former [the Old Testament animal sacrifices]. And as well this allowed for Gods
satisfaction through animal sacrifices during 4,000 years of Old Testament
history. Then, the whole of the matter
is inseparably tied to that which subsequently occurred at
The regenerate state of the Jewish people at Christs first coming allowed that seen in the gospel accounts to occur - an offer of the kingdom of the heavens to the Jewish people. Otherwise, there could not have been an offer. The kingdom could not then and it cannot today be offered to unregenerate individuals. A person must first possess spiritual life before spiritual values of this nature can enter into the picture. ...
Thus, contextually in John 20: 31, belief involves the Jewish Messiah in relation to the kingdom, not eternal life. And this is evident from not only that which precedes (signs) but that which the verse goes on to state (that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God).
THAT JESUS IS THE CHRIST
The name Jesus means salvation (Matt. 1:21). The Greek word translated Jesus, Iesous, is the equivalent of the Hebrew words Yeshuah (meaning salvation) or Jehoshua (Joshua, a cognate form Yeshuah, meaning exactly the same salvation).
The word Yeshuah is used about eighty times in the Old Testament, it is always used in the sense of deliverance, and it is usually translated salvation (e.g., Gen. 49: 18; 2 Chron. 20: 17; Isa. 12: 2).
Then the name Joshua, appearing numerous times in the Old Testament, appears in the New Testament twice, in Acts 7: 45 and Heb. 4: 8. Joshua in the Greek text, as previously noted is Iesous distinguished from the name Jesus only through the context. And a failure to take the context into consideration apparently caused the KJV translators to erroneously translate the word as Jesus in both Acts 7:45 and Heb. 4:8.
Deliverance or salvation in Scripture though (both Old and New Testaments), as the use of the name Iesous in the New Testament (meaning salvation), must be viewed contextually to determine which type deliverance or salvation is in view. Sometimes it is used relative to ones physical life (Matt. 14:30; 24:13; Luke 23:35, 37, 39); other times it is used in the sense of bodily healing (Luke 8: 36, 48, 50; 17:19; Acts 4: 9; 14: 9; James 5:15); other times it is used in the sense of a present saving or losing of ones life (soul), relating to spiritual values rather than physical life* (Matt. 16:25; Luke 9:24); other times it is used with respect to salvation in relation to the Messianic Era (Matt. 1:21; Luke 19:10; Acts 2:21; 4:12; James 5:20); other times it is used with respect to ones eternal salvation.
[* NOTE. The saving of the soul (Heb. 10: 38), has to do with the hope that is set before us, and refers to a salvation quite distinct from the forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life. The soul of man is that part of him which descends into Hades at the time of Death: its salvation therefore must occur at the time of Resurrection. Of Christs soul and body it is written in Psalm 16, quoted in Acts 2: 31, that his soul was not left in hades, neither his flesh did see corruption.]
Several of the preceding, such as bodily healing or the saving of ones life, [soul] would relate to the Messianic Era. The healing of an individual formed a sign showing that which the entire nation (the Jewish people) could experience if the nation would repent. Deliverance in relation to the Messianic Era would occur (note the message being proclaimed: Repent ye [a plural pronoun, the entire nation]: for the kingdom of the heavens is at hand [Matt. 3: 2; cf. Matt. 4:17-25; 10:5-8]). And an individual presently losing his life, as in Matt. 16: 25, has to do with the saving of his soul in relation to the future Messianic Era.
In the preceding respect, most of the references to salvation in the New Testament relate either directly or indirectly to the Messianic Era, not to eternal life. And the thought of salvation through the use of the name Jesus in John 20: 31, both textually and contextually, is used in exactly this same sense. Then, note that which the Jewish people would be expected to believe through a manifestation of signs: that Jesus [Salvation] is the Christ.
The word Christ is a translation of the Greek word Christos, referring to Israels Messiah. The word Christ as it is used in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament is Mashiah, from which we derive our English word Messiah. Then, to come full circle back to the word in the Greek text of the New Testament, the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) translates the Hebrew word Mashiah as Christos.
The word Mashiah means anointed. Mashiah is used thirty-eight times in the Old Testament, and the word is always translated anointed except in two instances where it has been translated Messiah (Deut. 9: 25, 26, KJV). The verb form of Mashiah is used about sixty-five times in the Old Testament and is also translated anoint or anointed, with only a couple of exceptions (KJV).
Thus, the reference to Jesus the Christ is a reference to Jesus the Anointed One. Prophets, priests, and kings were anointed (cf. Num. 35: 25; 1 Sam. 15: 17; 16: 13; 1 Kings 19: 16; Isa. 45: 1). Also the tabernacle and all of the things in the tabernacle were anointed (Ex. 40: 9, 10; Lev. 8: 10, 11).
Jesus, during His earthly ministry occupied the office of Prophet; He is presently occupying the office of High Priest; and He will one day occupy the office of King. There would be an anointing in connection with all three, fulfilling the triad of Old Testament types. But John 20: 31 does not refer to all three. Rather, textually and contextually, the reference is to the last, that of King.
Satan is Gods anointed, who presently
occupies the office of king in relation to the earth, though in a rebel
capacity. Ezekiel 28: 4, referring to Satan, states: Thou art the
anointed cherub that covereth [protects,
guards]; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy
The word anointed in this verse is a translation of the Hebrew word mimshah, a cognate form of mashiah, meaning exactly the same.
Today there are two anointed Kings in relation to the rulership of the earth (the holy mountain of God in Ezek. 28: 14), typified by two anointed kings in Israel during Saul and Davids day (following Sauls sin and David subsequently being anointed king in Sauls stead).
Satan, as Saul, was anointed and placed over a kingdom; and Jesus, as David, was anointed King while the first ruler (Satan) still held the sceptre. And, exactly as in the type, the one whom God originally placed in power, the one who sinned, is to one day be removed (Saul in the type was removed [1 Sam. 31: 1-6]; Satan in the antitype will be removed [Ezek. 28: 15-19]); then, as David ascended the throne during his day (2 Sam. 1: 1-16; 2: 4; 5: 3-5), Jesus will ascend the throne in during His coming day (Dan. 7: 13, 14; Rev.11: 15; 19: 11-20: 6).
The type has been set, and its inseparable, Divinely designed connection with the antitype cannot change. The antitype must follow the type in exact detail.
This is what is in view in John 20: 31. The reference back to the signs is with a view to the Jewish people believing that Jesus is the Anointed One, the One Who will one day take the kingdom and rule the earth for 1,000 years (the central message dealt with throughout Scripture).
And the thought of salvation in connection with the name Jesus, contextually, would, of necessity have reference to deliverance during the Messianic Era, not to eternal salvation.
THE SON OF GOD
Sonship in Scripture implies rulership for sonship is centrally for regal purposes in the governmental structure of Gods kingdom.
Sons of God (angels) presently rule throughout Gods
kingdom, whether on this earth, other provinces throughout the galaxy, or
provinces throughout all the galaxies forming the universal
Angels are sons because of creation. Unlike that which occurs in the human realm, there is no procreation in the angelic world.
Each angel is a special, individual creation, providing the status of sonship.
Adam was a son of God because of creation (Luke 3: 38), which was completely in line with the reason for his creation, given in the opening chapter of Genesis:
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion... [Heb. radah, rule,- i.e and let them rule] (Gen. 1: 26a; cf. vv. 27, 28).
Man was created to rule. Thus, the reason for mans sonship at the time of his creation is evident. Man was created to rule the [this] earth in the stead of Satan and his angels. Satan and his angels, through sin, had disqualified themselves. But Satan, with angels ruling under him, must continue to hold the sceptre until his successor is not only on the scene but ready to ascend the throne.
Knowing the reason for mans creation, Satan, the incumbent ruler, began a work designed to bring about mans fall and disqualification (Gen. 3:1-7). But following mans fall, something occurred which had not occurred at the time Satan fell. Following mans fall, God provided a means of redemption for fallen man, with a view to man ultimately occupying the position for which he had been created - holding the earths sceptre.
And, as previously noted, redemption didnt await the appearance of the Redeemer 4,000 years later (Gen. 3: 15, 21), Who was slain at a time before mans creation and fall? Redemption is seen throughout Scripture, both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. There is absolutely no difference, with Gods satisfaction concerning the sin problem surrounding man dependent on death and shed blood throughout.
Then, when the Redeemer did appear, He appeared as Gods Son, the second Man, the last Adam (Matt. 2: 15; 3: 17; 1 Cor. 15: 45-47). He, like the first Adam, was tested. But, rather than being overcome by Satan, He overcame Satan, showing that He was fully qualified to take the sceptre (Matt. 4: 1-11). Thus, through the second Man, the last Adam, the purpose for mans creation and redemption (following his fall) will be realized.
AND THAT BY BELIEVING YE
MIGHT HAVE LIFE THROUGH [GK.IN] HIS NAME
The key words in the second part of verse thirty-one are believing and life. And, as in the first part of the verse, both words must be understood in the light of the introductory reference to signs in the previous verse, which reflects back not only on the previous eight signs in Johns gospel but upon all the signs which Jesus had performed, whether recorded or not recorded in the other three gospels. Then also, as in the first part of the verse, remaining within context, both words can only have to do with the Sons previous ministry to the Jewish people in relation to His kingship and the proffered kingdom.
1. AND THAT BY BELIEVING
The key words throughout Scripture are believe and faith; and both, in reality, are the same word. One is a verb (Gk. pisteuo; believe), and the other is a noun (Gk. pistis; faith).
But without faith it is impossible to please him [God]: for he that cometh to God must believe... (Heb. 11: 6a). And faith (or belief) is connected with the whole of mans salvation, whether that of the spirit, the soul, or the body (cf. John 3: 16; Rom. 1: 17; 8: 13-23; Eph. 2: 8, 9; Heb. 10: 35-39; 1 Peter 1: 3-9).
The reference to believing in the latter part of John 20:31 has to do, not with the salvation which we presently possess (the salvation of the spirit), but with present and future aspects of salvation (the salvation of the soul). Believing, with a view to life in this verse, has to do with the saved and that which lies ahead for those among the saved who exercise faith.
It has nothing to do with the unsaved. And because signs and the saved alone are in view, it would be difficult to even make a secondary application relative to the unsaved.
2 YE MIGHT HAVE LIFE IN HIS NAME
(The expression in His name is somewhat lacking as a proper translation from the Greek Text. R.C.H. Leriski, in his Creek commentary on John, possibly captures the expression best - in union, in vital connection with, His name [cf. Psa. 138: 2; Phil. 2: 9-11].)
Life, in keeping with the text and context, must, as well, also be understood as having to do with that which lies ahead for the faithful among the saved, not with eternal life through believing for the unsaved. And, during the offer and re-offer of the kingdom, that life would have been realized for saved Jews in the proffered kingdom.
And, since the saved and the Messianic Era are in view, an application could be made for [regenerate] Christians (though apart from signs), for the realization of life is seen elsewhere to be exactly the same for the saved today - believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God - a revelation which comes only from above (Matt. 16: 15-17).
Note 1 John 5: 1-5 in this respect.
Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous [heavy, burdensome].
For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God.
The expression, born of God (i.e., brought forth from God, cry brought forth from above in John 3: 3, 7; 1 Peter 1: 3, 23) is used ten times in six verses in 1 John (2: 29; 3: 9 [twice]; 4: 7; 5: 1 [three times]; 5: 4; 5: 18 [twice]). Also see John 1: 13, where the expression is the same as in 1 John, born ... of God.
The references from Johns gospel, His first epistle, and 1 Peter form all the places in the New Testament using these two expressions, which refer to the same thing - a bringing forth from God, from above. And the usage throughout, textually and / or contextually, always has to do with a bringing forth in relation to the saved, not the unsaved.
A bringing forth from God, from above is contrasted in Scripture with a bringing forth from below (connected with Satan), which can be seen through two experiences of the Apostle Peter in Matt. 16: 15-17, 21-23. As seen in Jesus statements concerning both, there is a bringing forth from above in the first (vv. 15-17) and a bringing forth from below in the second (vv. 21-23).
In the first, relative to Peters confession concerning Jesus true identity - Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God (v. 16) - Jesus said:
Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven (v. 17).
In the second, relative to Peters denial and rebuke of Christ concerning His approaching death, burial, and resurrection - Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee (v. 22) - Jesus said:
Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men (v. 23).
In this respect, there are only two places in which man can conduct and govern his affairs - from above or from below - in line with the thought that a person is either for Christ or against Christ (Matt. 12: 30; Luke 11: 23). There is no middle ground in either instance (cf. 1 Cor. 15: 45-50).
As previously shown, being brought forth from God, from above, in Johns gospel, his first epistle, and 1 Peter has to do with Christians alone. This though is not to say that man is saved through a means other than a bringing forth from above, for unsaved man cannot be saved through any other means. Rather, it is to say that references to a bringing forth from above in these eleven verses in three New Testament books do not refer to salvation by grace, the past aspect of salvation. Instead, without exception, all of them have to do with present and future aspects of salvation, the salvation of the soul (life), with ramifications having to do with the Messianic Era.
That seen in relation to the Jews in John 20: 31 (concerning the previously referenced signs) is exactly the same thing seen relative to Christians in 1 John 5: 1-5 (apart from signs).
There is a bringing forth from God, from above, in both instances. The manner in which the Gospel of John begins, the far context, John 1: 13; 3: 3, 7, would show the first (in John 20: 30, 31); and the second, in 1 John, is seen in the text itself (in 1 John 5:1, 4).
Believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, is seen in both references (John 20: 31; 1 John 5: 1, 5); and coming into possession of life in John 20: 31 is seen through overcoming the world in 1 John 5: 4, 5, for overcoming is with a view to realizing life in the coming Messianic Era (note the overcomers promises in the seven letters to the seven Churches in Rev. 2. & 3.).
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