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Questions On Doctrine


The Bodily Resurrection of Christ



What is the Seventh-day Adventist position regarding the physical, or bodily, resurrection of Christ?


Seventh-day Adventists believe in the physical, or bodily, resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead as verily as they believe in His atoning death on Calvary. This is a cardinal doctrine of the Christian faith, for Christianity rests upon the indisputable fact that Christ rose from the dead (1 Cor. 15:17).

The resurrection of Christ is not to be understood merely in a spiritual sense. He actually rose from the dead. He who came from the tomb was the same Jesus who lived here in the flesh. He came forth in a glorified body, but it was real—so real that the women who went to the sepulcher, as well as the disciples, saw Him (Matt. 28:17; Mark 16:9, 12, 14). The two disciples on the way to Emmaus talked with Him (Luke 24). He Himself said to the disciples, "Behold my hands and my feet" (Luke 24:39). He had "flesh and bones" (verse 39). He ate with them (verse 43).

Thomas had reason to know it was the same Jesus, for he was invited to "reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust


it into my side" (John 20:27). Yes, it was the Saviour Himself. It was not a spirit, not a ghost. It was the real divine Son of God who came forth from the grave. The resurrection of Jesus our Lord was a vital part of the message of the early church. When the apostles preached, they preached of Christ the Messiah, who was raised from the dead. "They . . . preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead" (Acts 4:2); they "gave . . . witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus" (verse 33); Paul "preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection" (Acts 17:18).

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is of vital importance in God's great plan of salvation. Even the death of Jesus, sublime as it was, would have been of no avail, were it not for His resurrection from the dead. The great apostle to the Gentiles makes this clear in his ringing testimony to the living Christ. In that wonderful chapter on the resurrection, in his message to the Corinthian church, we see the vital place that this great transaction has in the purpose of God. Note what the situation would be if Christ had not been raised from the dead.

1. There would be no benefit from preaching the gospel: "And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain" (1 Cor. 15:14).

2. There would be no forgiveness of sins: "And if Christ be not raised. . . . ye are yet in your sins" (verse 17).

3. There would be no purpose in believing in Jesus: "And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain" (verse 17).


4. There would be no general resurrection from  the dead: "Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?" (verse 12).

5. There would be no hope beyond the grave: "If Christ be not raised, . . . then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished" (verses 17, 18).

This is a message of power, for it is by the power of His resurrection that we live the Christian life, and His life is lived out in the life of the believer.

Those who are buried with Christ in baptism are represented as rising with Him in His resurrection (Rom. 6:5, 8, 11; Eph. 2:4, 5; Col. 2:12, 13). As a result of this union with Christ, a new life is imparted to the believer (Rom. 6:4; 2 Cor. 4:10, 11; Col. 3:10). The power of Christ's resurrection is thus made available to him (Eph. 1:19, 20; Phil. 3:10; Heb. 7:16).

Once we were dead in sins; now we are alive in Christ. We were crucified with Christ; now Christ lives in us (Gal. 2:20). Our personal experience of this quickening of the soul, this liberating action of the Spirit of life, is the inward witness and the supreme evidence of the reality of the resurrection.

Above all, the resurrection of our Lord is the assurance that we, too, shall be resurrected at His second coming (1 Cor. 15:20, 23).

The Historicity of the Resurrection

Many evidences of this astonishing event were given to the early Christians. There were at least ten appearances of Jesus after His resurrection. (1) To Mary Magdalene: Mark 16:9; John 20:14-17. (2) To the women on the way to tell the disciples that Christ had


risen: Matthew 28:9. (3) To Peter: Luke 24:34. (4) To the two disciples on the road to Emmaus: Mark 16:12; Luke 24:15, 31. (5) To the assembled disciples on the evening of the resurrection day: Mark 16:14; Luke 24:36; John 20:19. (6) To the assembled disciples a week later: John 20:26-29. (7) To the disciples at the Sea of Galilee: John 21:1-22. (8) To the eleven on a mountain in Galilee, five hundred brethren being present: Matthew 28:16; Mark 16:7; 1 Corinthians 15: 6. (9) To James: 1 Corinthians 15:7. (10) To the eleven disciples at the time of the ascension: Mark 16:19; Luke 24:50-52; Acts 1:4-12.

A. T. Robertson comments on the meeting with the five hundred disciples:

The strength of this witness lies in the fact that the majority (hoi pleious) of them were still living when Paul wrote this Epistle, . . . not over 25 years after Christ's resurrection.—Word Pictures in the New Testament, 1931, vol. 4, p. 188.

Besides the testimony of the apostles and the witness of the women, there is the testimony of the Jewish council (Matt. 28:11-15), and also of the Roman authorities, according to early church writers. Pilate became acquainted with the facts, and recorded them in his regular report to the emperor. Eusebius, fourth-century bishop and church historian, wrote:

And when the wonderful resurrection and ascension of our Saviour were already noised abroad, in accordance with an ancient custom which prevailed among the rulers of the provinces, of reporting to the Emperor the novel occurrences which took place in them, in order that nothing might escape him, Pontius Pilate informed Tiberius of the reports which were noised abroad through all Palestine concerning the resurrection of our Saviour Jesus Christ from the dead. He gave an account also of other wonders which he had learned of him,


and how, after his death, having risen from the dead, he was now believed by many to be a god.
That Pilate made an official report to Tiberius is stated also by Tertullian (Apol. 21), and is in itself quite probable. Justin Martyr (Apol. I. 35 and 48) mentions certain Acts of Pilate as well known in his day, but the so-called Acts of Pilate which are still extant in various forms are spurious, and belong to a much later period. They are very fanciful and curious.—Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, second series, vol. l, p. 105.

The populace must have known about it, for at the time of the resurrection there was an earthquake and many of the saints arose. These were the antitype, in part at least, of the wave sheaf that was offered in olden days. The record says: "And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many" (Matt. 27:52, 53).

Commenting on this experience, Ellen G. White has written:

As Christ arose, He brought from the grave a multitude of captives. The earthquake at His death had rent open their graves, and when He arose, they came forth with Him. . . . Now they were to be witnesses for Him who had raised them from the dead. . . . These went into the city, and appeared unto many, declaring, Christ has risen from the dead, and we be risen with Him. Thus was immortalized the sacred truth of the resurrection.—The Desire of Ages, p. 786.

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