Here is another good read by David Embury about the corporate body resurrection, below. He writes about a concept that, looking back, I can’t believe I didn’t notice in Scripture before, but it is right before our eyes. Did you know that the New Testament records several instances where the first century believers thought that the general resurrection had happened already? For example, 2 Thess 2:1-2 shows that Paul had to write the Thessalonians a letter to ease their concern about this “have we missed it?” feeling they had regarding the resurrection or gathering. What does this say about the NATURE of the general resurrection? By implication of their conversation, we see that it was something that could be missed.
The resurrection or gathering that they were talking about certainly had nothing to do with bodies coming out of graves. Of course, because bodies reconstituting in their nearby family graves could NOT have been missed. Therefore they would have no need to worry. Also see that Paul corrected the Thessalonian’s concept of the TIMING of the resurrection. They got that part wrong, as it had not occurred yet (pre 70AD). But – and here is the key point – Paul does NOT correct their belief in the spiritual NATURE of the resurrection. Why? Because Paul taught them that it was able to be missed! He does not say “go look in your graves, people are still there, duh.” Paul said nothing about them being able to visibly perceive anything. Paul believed and taught a resurrection that was spiritual in nature, not physical. Paul taught the Thessalonians this able-to-be-missed resurrection, which is why they wrote to ask him for some clarity about it. Paul taught a spiritual resurrection, one that was more akin to salvation than to the-night-of-the-living-dead, or a Thriller music video.
Is The Resurrection Past?
Posted on September 5, 2008 By David Embury
2Tim 2:16-18 But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some.
Paul challenges the false doctrine of Hymenaeus and Philetus that was turning some from the faith “saying the resurrection is already past.” This is the same charge of ‘heresy’ wrongly brought by those who oppose fulfilled prophecy; failing to realise that the ‘Hymenaeus and Philetus’ argument rather than diminishing our approach actually strengthens it, the reasoning is simple:
If the 1st century church expected Christ’s 2nd Coming to be an earth destroying, time ending, history terminating event, as many today think and await, then how was it possible for some to be deceived? All someone had to do was look around and ask “what’s changed!?” – physically nothing!In other words, if the resurrection [which according to Scripture is initiated by Christ’s return] was to be a “physical event” it would be self evident, everything “physically” would be changed – a remade world, people popping up through open graves, and no more physical death. Yet all the living were still present and none had been raptured away. Again, had things been physically reconstituted it would have been self evident. However, there is no record of such things occurring.
Obviously, 1st century believers had a concept and belief about the nature of ‘the resurrection’ that is foreign to much popular present-day Christian teaching. The ‘first-fruit’ believers [Jas 1:18] understood that Jesus’ kingdom did not come with observation [Lk 17:20], in fact His kingdom wasn’t to be of this “fleshly” world [Jn 18:36] – for flesh and blood i.e., “the natural” could not enter it [1Cor 15:50]. His spiritual kingdom entered only through spiritual rebirth – looking not to the “seen” but to the “unseen” 2Cor 4:18. Yet this confusion over the nature of ‘heavenly things’ is nothing new, even the literalistic thinking Nicodemus could not conceive how it was possible to be “born again” except but to enter the womb a second time [Jn 3:9-12].
Paul does not challenge Hymenaeus and Philetus’ concept or belief as to the ‘nature’ of the 2nd Coming [as they had been Christian], he does however their ‘timing’ of it. Hymenaeus and Philetus were causing a lot of trouble, and like most of Paul’s opposition they were Judaisers [based on Paul’s constant warnings against “going back” to the Law –Judaism, this is plausible]. Had Hymenaeus and Philetus been correct, then adherence to the “Law” would also have become a requirement of faith, as it was still operative [though it had no redeeming value] while the Temple stood. The writer of Hebrews declares:
Heb 9:8 the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing.
While the Temple stood the reconciliation was not yet complete; Christ’s Parousia was the manifestation of Christ’s completed redemption.
Christ’s Coming, The Resurrection, The Judgment, and the consummation or fullness of The Kingdom were all concurrent events [2Tim 4:1; Mt 16:27-28], when one happened they all happened. For the resurrection to have occurred whilst vestiges of the Old Covenant still remained i.e., all things typifying the Law – the Temple, the Priesthood, the Sacrifices, the Worship etc… would thus have required their full inclusion in the Gospel, as indeed was the hankering of the Judaisers with regards to a required circumcision etc. However this was never to be the case, for Moses [the Law] was never to enter the Promised Land [New Covenant]. The Law served a purpose but was now in Christ fulfilled. And so this mixing of Law and Grace went completely against all Paul’s teaching on the sufficiency of grace alone apart from the Law, through the faith of Christ [Gal 4:21-31].
Image by Pat Moriarity