by Bill Crews
How Did Jesus Prove The Resurrection Of The Dead?
The Sadducees, concentrated at Jerusalem and represented especially among the Jewish Levitical priests, were the liberal religious party among the Jews in the first century. They differed from the Pharisees by believing ?that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit? (Acts 23:8). The Sadducees consistently denied both the existence of spirits and the reality of a coming resurrection. If humans are spiritual beings as well as physical beings, if physical death does not bring all of one?s existence to an end, if something about humans survives the death of the body, then there will indeed be a resurrection of the dead.
In Matthew 22:23-30 the Sadducees, to put Jesus to a test, came to Him with their famous hypothetical case involving a woman married consecutively to seven different husbands (all brothers and according to a provision of the law of Moses in Deuteronomy 25:5ff). Jesus handled their ?hard? question (?In the resurrection therefore whose wife shall she be of the seven??) with ease. Such a case, far from disproving the resurrection of the dead, presents it with no problem at all. Jesus informed them that in the resurrection there will be no marrying or giving in marriage; the marriage relationship will simply not exist. Then, giving them more than they asked for, Jesus remarked, ?But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?? To which He added the observation, ?God is not the God of the dead, but of the living? (Matthew 22:31-32).
In the Old Testament passage quoted by Jesus, Exodus 3:6, God was speaking to Moses at the burning bush.
Abraham (Genesis 25:8), Isaac (Genesis 35:29), and Jacob (Genesis 49:33) had all been dead (physically) for many years when God spoke to Moses. He did not say, "I used to be the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." He rather said, "I am the God of?" This, according to Jesus, necessarily implied that in Moses' day there was some sense in which Abraham, Isaac and Jacob still lived. Without their spirits, their bodies were dead (James 2:26), but their spirits still lived. Therefore, there will be a resurrection.
A Look At Other Passages On The Subject
In many instances the Bible uses "spirit," "soul," and "inward man" interchangeably. The fact that in a few instances (e.g., Hebrews 4:12 and 1 Thessalonians 5:23) a distinction is made between "soul" and "spirit" does not change this fact. Man is frequently described as "flesh and spirit" (Matthew 26:41), "body and soul" (Matthew 10:28), "inward man and outward man" (2 Corinthians 4:16). When Elijah raised the widow's son from the dead, the child's "soul" came into him again (1 Kings 17:21). When Jesus raised the daughter of Jairus from the dead, her "spirit" returned to her body (Luke 8:55).
Though man is able to kill the body, he is not able to kill the soul, according to Jesus (Matthew 10:28; cf. Luke 12:4-5). God is the Father of our spirits (Hebrews 12:9); He gave them (Ecclesiastes 12:7); He formed them in us (Zechariah 12:1). At the death of the body, the spirit or soul departs (Genesis 35:18; Luke 23:46; Acts 7:59; James 2:26; 2 Corinthians 5:1-9; 2 Peter 1:13-14; Philippians 1:23-24).
That the spirit or soul still exists after the death of the body is shown by:
Ecclesiastes 12:7 "the spirit returns unto God who gave it." See Luke 23:46 and Acts 7:59 also.
2 Corinthians 5:1-9 "one can be absent from the body and at home with the Lord."
Philippians 1:23-24 "one can depart (suffer physical death) and be with Christ."
Psalm 16:10 (cf. Acts 2:27, 31) "when Jesus died on the cross, His soul was in hades (KJV: "hell") while His flesh was in the tomb."
Matthew 17:3 and Luke 9:11 "Moses and Elijah, long after their deaths, came to Jesus and conversed with Him."
Luke 16:22-23 "after his death, Lazarus was carried by the angels into Abraham?s bosom, but the rich man, after his death, was in hades in torment. The rich man could see, hear, speak, feel, care about others, and remember." (verses 23-29)
Luke 23:43 "the dying Jesus said to the dying robber, 'Today shalt thou be with me in paradise,' which also describes the state of the beggar, Lazarus, after his death."
An Appeal To You, Dear Reader
Yes, there is more beyond. Physical death will not be the end of you. The inward man still exists, either comforted or in torment (Luke 16:19-31), awaiting the resurrection (John 5:28-29; 1 Corinthians 15:20-22), the judgment (Matthew 25:31-32; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 14:10-12), and eternity (Matthew 25:34, 41, 46). God is very much concerned, and you should be equally concerned about the salvation of your soul or spirit (1 Corinthians 5:5; Hebrews 10:39; James 1:21; 5:19-20). He wishes none to perish (2 Peter 3:9); He would have all to be saved (2 Timothy 2:3-4). Be saved; be faithful; be ready.