SURVEY OF BIBLICAL HOPE IN THE RESURRECTION
A. The hope of the resurrection was first presented in Genesis and then simply echoed by the prophets and apostles. The reason that the hope of the resurrection was common and unanimous within the early church was because they rightly viewed Biblical faith in the Messiah as the assurance that God will restore all things.
27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Gen 1:27-28 NASB)
17 … Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life. … 19 By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.” (Gen 3:17, 19 NASB)
B. The ‘blessing’ upon creation was simply the grace to function within the ‘good’ design of God’s perfect creation. The curse of death upon the human body and within creation was the reversal of the blessing which they enjoyed from the beginning.
17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die (lit. ‘dying, you will die’).” (Gen 2:17 NASB)
C. Within this context the Lord visited Abraham and promised him that through his seed all the nations of the earth would be ‘blessed’ again. In other words, Abraham is promised that it would be his family which would usher the nations of the earth back into the grace of functioning within the original design of God’s perfect creation, i.e. perfect fellowship with God without death.
3 … in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”—(Gen 12:3 NASB)
18 “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” (Gen 22:18 NASB)
D. This hope that the natural seed of Abraham would usher in the resurrection was later picked up by the prophets, and often referenced in the New Testament. The prophets made clear that Israel had rebelled against the Lord, but that one day she would return and usher the righteous of the nations back into the blessedness of the garden.
1 “Come, let us return to the LORD. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. 2 “He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day, That we may live before Him. 3 “So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD. His going forth (on the day of the Lord) is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain, Like the spring rain watering the earth.” (Hsa 6:1-3 NASB)
E. This hope was common to the apostles and taught in the early church as normative. The blessing of Abraham was understood to be speaking of the restoration of all things.
19 “Therefore repent and return (i.e. Israel, the descendants of Abraham), so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; 20 and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, 21 whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time. (Act 3:19-21 NASB)
34 And as for the fact that he raised him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way, “‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David. (cf. Is. 55:3)’ (Act 13:34 ESV)
12 Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be (rhetorical)! 13 But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, 14 if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them. 15 For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead (i.e. the resurrection)? (Rom 11:12-15 NASB)
8 The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith (thereby including them in the resurrection), preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU.” 9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer. … 14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit (who will raise up our bodies. Cf. Ez. 37) through faith. (Gal 3:8-9, 14 NASB)
3 ” Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5 “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. 6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. 8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. 10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. (Mat 5:3-11 NASB)
12 “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. 13 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” 14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life (as in the beginning), and may enter by the gates into the city. (Rev 22:12-14 NASB)
F. The Psalms and prophetic books are simply a continuation of this hope. When taken at face value it becomes clear that they were really only speaking about one thing. The resurrection—like in the early church (cf. footnote 5)—did not have only center stage, but the whole stage.
1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. 3 He will be like (in the resurrection) a tree firmly planted by streams of water, … 4 The wicked are not so, But they are like chaff which the wind drives away. (on the day of the Lord) 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous (in the kingdom of the Messiah). 6 For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the wicked will perish. (Psa 1:1-6 NASB)
21 So it will happen in that day, That the LORD will punish the host of heaven on high, And the kings of the earth on earth. 22 They will be gathered together Like prisoners in the dungeon, And will be confined in prison; And after many days they will be punished. 23 Then the moon will be abashed and the sun ashamed, For the LORD of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, And His glory will be before His elders…6 The LORD of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain… 7 And on this mountain He will swallow up the covering (i.e the curse) which is over all peoples, Even the veil which is stretched over all nations. 8 He will swallow up death for all time, And the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces (cf. Rev. 21), And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; For the LORD has spoken. 9 And it will be said in that day, “Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us. This is the LORD for whom we have waited; Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.” (Isa 24:21-23, 25:6-9 NASB)
18 We were pregnant (i.e. Israel, those called to bless the nations), we writhed in labor, We gave birth, as it seems, only to wind. We could not accomplish deliverance for the earth, Nor were inhabitants of the world born. 19 Your dead will live; Their corpses will rise. You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy, For your dew is as the dew of the dawn, And the earth will give birth to the departed spirits. (Isa 26:18-19 NASB)
3 Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble. 4 Say to those with anxious heart, “Take courage, fear not. Behold, your God will come with vengeance; The recompense of God will come, But He will save you.” 5 Then the eyes of the blind will be opened And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. 6 Then the lame will leap like a deer, And the tongue of the mute will shout for joy. For waters will break forth in the wilderness And streams in the Arabah. 7 The scorched land will become a pool And the thirsty ground springs of water; In the haunt of jackals, its resting place, Grass becomes reeds and rushes. 8 A highway will be there, a roadway, And it will be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean will not travel on it, But it will be for him who walks that way, And fools will not wander on it. … 10 And the ransomed of the LORD will return And come with joyful shouting to Zion, With everlasting joy upon their heads. They will find gladness and joy, And sorrow and sighing will flee away. (Isa 35:3-10 NASB)
3 He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord GOD, You know. (cf. Eze. 1-36)” … 5 “Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones, ‘Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life. … 7 … there was a noise, and behold, a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to its bone. 8 And I looked, and behold, sinews were on them, and flesh grew and skin covered them; but there was no breath in them. … 10 So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they came to life and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army. 11 Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope has perished. We are completely cut off.’ 12 “Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, My people; … 13 “Then you will know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves and caused you to come up out of your graves, My people. 14 “I will put My Spirit within you and you will come to life…” (Eze 37:3, 5, 7-8, 10-14 NASB)
2 “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground (cf. Gen 3:19) will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt. 3 ” Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. (Dan 12:2-3 NASB)
G. The New Covenant is not a redefinition of the hope of the resurrection. Paul and the other apostles had the exact same hope as the Abraham, David, Isaiah, and Ezekiel. All of the apostles were likewise unanimous in their affirmation of the hope in the resurrection.
8 The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU.” (Gal 3:8 NASB)
19 “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; 20 and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, 21 whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time. … 24 “And likewise, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days. (Act 3:19-21, 24 NASB)
14 “But this I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets; 15 having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. (Act 24:14-15 NASB)
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; (1Pe 1:3-7 NASB)
20 For our citizenship is in heaven (i.e. with the Messiah), from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself. (Phl 3:20-21 NASB)
8 …that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; (Rom 10:8-9 NASB)
52 … at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory(cf. Is. 25:8). (1Cr 15:52-54 NASB)
14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus… 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1Th 4:14, 16-18 NASB)
H. The hope of the apostles was ‘more sure’ than the prophets since they actually saw Jesus in a resurrected body. The requirement for apostleship was to have interacted with Jesus after His resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus was understood as the assurance of their own resurrection, and thus the anchor of their faith and hope.
22 beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us–one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.” (Act 1:22 NASB)
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”—(cf. Matt. 17 ‘mount of transfiguration’) 18 and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. 19 So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. (2Pe 1:16-19 NASB)
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (1Pe 1:3 NASB)
22… I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen– 23 that the Christ would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would proclaim light to his own people and to the Gentiles.” (Act 26:22-23 NIV)
20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. … 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, (1Cr 15:20, 23 NASB)
5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood– (Rev 1:5 NASB)
 In order to understand the way Abraham understood, we must understand the context within which he heard it. Abraham is commonly believed to have been born around year 1948 after creation. (This was probably only around 300 years after the dispersion of the nations at Babel. Cf. Gen. 11) This date puts Abraham alive for around 50 years with Noah. Noah’s grandfather, Methuselah, was alive for 300 years with Adam. Although by Abraham’s time the human lifespan was significantly diminished, he was nonetheless only three persons removed from Adam. Adam and Eve, being the only ones who witnessed the original blessedness of creation were the ones who informed their own descendants of what had been lost, and consequently the coming restoration which had been promised in the coming seed. Abraham was by no means ignorant of the garden, or of the original blessedness of creation.
 “One cannot but choose to die at the hands of mortals and to cherish the hope God gives of being raised again by him. But for you there will be no resurrection to life!” (2 Macc. 7:14)