11. Do I Really Know Jesus? He Was Resurrected from the Dead

It goes a lot deeper than just coming back from the dead. Christ is our example and leader. Here are the basics about his resurrection.

Here are the states of Christ we have been following in our study of Christ’s entire existence.

Click on this post for a quick explanation of the entire image:

1. Do I Really Know Jesus? His Entire Existence in One Image

His resurrection is on the right side, going upward.

Let’s begin with the Q and A format.

1.. What is a formal definition of Christ’s resurrection?

Though I am not Reformed, I can still learn some things from these theologians. Let’s see what Reformed theologian Louis Berkhof has to say.

First he describes what Christ’s resurrection is not:

The resurrection of Christ did not consist in the mere fact that He came to life again and that they body and soul were reunited. If this were all that it involved, He could not be called “the firstfruits of then who slept [died]” (1 Cor 15:20), nor the “the firstborn of the dead” (Col. 1:18; Rev. 1:5). (p. 346)

In other words, Lazarus was raised from the dead, but he died. Jesus’s resurrection was qualitatively different.

Now Berkoff tells us what Christ’s resurrection was:

It consisted rather in this that in Him human nature, both body and soul, was restored to its pristine strength and perfection and even raised to a higher level, while body and soul were reunited in a living organism. (p. 346)

Then he draws this analogy from what will take place in the bodies of believers in the general resurrection:

We may gather something as to the transformation that must have occurred in Christ. Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 15:42-44 that the future body of believers will be incorruptible, that is, incapable of decay; glorious, which means resplendent with the heavenly brightness; powerful, that is, instinct with energy and perhaps new faculties; and spiritual, which does not mean immaterial or ethereal, but adapted to the spirit, a perfect instrument of the spirit.  … [Christ] was endowed with new qualities perfectly adjusted to His future heavenly environment. Through the resurrection He became the life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45). (p. 346)

2.. So who accomplished the resurrection?

Christ raised himself from the dead, in contrast to others who were raised from the dead.

Jesus said he had the power to lay down to lay down his life and take it up again (John 10:18). He said he was the resurrection and the life (John 11:25). This implies that he has power over life and death, even over his own life and death. He predicted h e would rebuild the temple of his own body (John 2:19-21).

Yet the resurrection was not done by Christ alone. It was also done by God generally (Acts 2:24, 32, 3:25, 5:30; 1 Cor. 6:14; Eph. 1:20) and more specifically the Father worked the miracle of the resurrection (Rom. 6:4; Gal. 1:1; 1 Pet. 1:3).

The Spirit was also involved (see Rom. 1:4, below).

And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. (Rom. 8:11)

3.. How important is the resurrection to the New Testament?

If you would like to see the following verses in many translations and in their contexts, please go to biblegateway.com.

It is the central message of the New Testament, and the culmination of the four Gospels: Matt. 28:1-20; Mark 16:1-11; Luke 24:1-53; John 20:1-21:25. They are too long to quote here, so click on them.

Jesus Christ our Lord was declared openly to be the Son of God:

and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom. 1:4, ESV)

Many scholars believe that Paul is quoting or summarizing a very early creed. Also, the NIV translates “declared” as “appointed,” but this is misleading, since it implies Christ received his sonship only at the resurrection, while Paul believed Christ was the Son before the incarnation (8:3) (NIDNTT, p. 418)

The most important verses describing the importance of the resurrection are found in 1 Cor. 15.

Here it is essential to the core of the gospel:

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. (1 Cor. 15:3-8)

Numerous Christian scholars believe that those above verses contain a very early creed.

And if Christ was not raised from the dead, then the early apostolic preaching has been useless and so is our faith:

And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. (1 Cor. 15:14)

Then the implication for us and the dead is massive if Christ is not raised from the dead:

More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Cor. 15:15-19)

But here are the benefits when Christ has been raised from the dead, as indeed he has:

20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. (1 Cor. 15:20-23).

Christ being the firstfruits means that we are next. His resurrection guarantees our own. He was first, and we follow him.

Next, his resurrection reveals what our bodies will be like:

42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

When we are reunited with our bodies at the second coming, they will be transformed and glorified. They will be immortal and imperishable.

Further, Christ’s resurrection vindicates his teaching:

38 Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” 39 He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Matt. 12:38-40)

Finally, his resurrection ensures his service as the high priest for us believers

Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. (Heb. 7:23-25)

He intercedes for us eternally, by being in heaven and by praying for us by his divine nature.

David L. Turner in his commentary Matthew: Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Baker Academic, 2008), pp. 683-84, has a magnificent section in his commentary on “Without the resurrection,” which I modify here:

Without the resurrection…

Jesus’s redemptive act of dying for sinners would not have divine endorsement. The Father would not declare that Jesus’s death was victorious and the blood shed on the cross to initiate the new covenant would be effective (Rom. 4:25).

His promise that he would rise from the dead (12:40; 16:21; 17:9; 20:19; 26:32) would be empty, and his death would be scorned or pitied, but not believed or obeyed (1 Cor. 15:16-19)

Jesus could not save people from their sins, just as the angel had promised (1:21), for he would be cursed with infamy because he hanged on a tree or wooden pole (Deut. 21:22-23; Gal. 3:13).

There would be no apostolic foundation of the church (16:18), since the apostles deserted him at his arrest and death. Yet his resurrection turned them back and restored them and made them into disciples (26:27-29; 28:7, 10, 16-20).

There would be no complete model of sacrificial living. By dying to self, you gain your soul. Genuinely abundant living occurs when one gives up one’s own life, but without the resurrection the new orientation is short-circuited (10:38-39; 16:24-26; 20:26-28; 23:12; cf. Rom. 6:1-11).

There would be no eschatological shalom to rectify all earthly wrongs and renew the world (19:28). Shalom means peace and prosperity and wellbeing, and this will happen at the end of the age. But it would not happen without the resurrection.

The martyrs whose blood cries out from the ground would experience no justice or vindication (23:35; Rev. 6:9-11). Those who commit violence would not be held accountable without an ultimate reckoning (13:37-42; Dan. 12:2). “Satan would win the cosmic battle.”

People could not hope for their own resurrection and reward (13:43; 16:27; 25:31-40; 27:51-52). Jesus’s ethical teaching said that there would be judgment and reward in the coming kingdom (4:17; 5:12; 7:1-2, 21). What would become of the thrones of the twelve apostles and the rewards Jesus promised to all his disciples (6:9-21; 13:43; 19:27-29; cf. Dan. 12:3; Rev. 2:26-27; 3:21)?

The kingdom would never come to earth and be implemented fully, as it is in heaven (6:10, 33).

Jesus’s “climatic saving act of dying for sinners by crucifixion would lack interpretation and proof of divine acceptance.” The preaching of the cross (Gal. 6:14; 1 Cor. 18-25; 1 Pet. 1:19; Heb. 2:9, 14; 9:12-14; Rev. 5:6-9) would be insignificant and meaningless.

To sum up, the gospel must include the cross and the resurrection, side by side. The gospel must be communicated with the saving power of the cross, and the proof of the saving power of the cross comes through the resurrection. “Any ‘gospel’ that does not place Jesus’s resurrection alongside Jesus’s death is not the authentic message of Jesus and the apostles.”

Scriptures for the resurrection:

Acts 2:32; 3:15, 26; 4:2, 10, 33; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30-37; 17:18, 31; 23:6; 24:21; 25:19; 26:8, 23

Rom. 1:4; 4:25; 6:4-5; 8:11; 10:9

1 Cor. 15:3-8, 12-23, 32, 42.

2 Cor. 4:10, 14; 13:4

Gal. 1:1

Eph. 1:20; 2:5; 4:10

Phil. 2:8-9

Col. 2:12; 3:1-4

1 Thess. 4:14

1 Tim. 3:16

Heb. 1:3; 10:12; 12:1

1 Pet. 1:21; 3:18-22

Rev. 1:5, 18; 2:8; 5:6-10

Thus, the apostolic community, some of whom were infallibly inspired to write the NT, believed that the resurrection was the foundation of their faith. So it should be the foundation of our faith too. Are we better than their generation?

So how do I get to know Jesus more intimately?

His resurrection changes everything. It ratifies the plan of salvation. It seals the promise that he will return to put all things right, for he is the God of justice. He can now send the Spirit into our hearts, sealing them for his second coming and our secure place in heaven. He has been restored to the glory he had before he was incarnated to a man. Now we relate to the heavenly Jesus. He can now have an intimate relationship with each of the seven billion people on the planet. That includes you.

Closing verse:

And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. (Rom. 8:11)


1. Do I Really Know Jesus? His Entire Existence in One Image

2. Do I Really Know Jesus? He Was the Preincarnate God

3. Do I Really Know Jesus? He Was God Incarnate

4. Do I Really Know Jesus? He Took the Form of a Servant

5. Do I Really Know Jesus? He Came Down from Heaven

6. Do I Really Know Jesus? Why Did He Become a Man?

7. Do I Really Know Jesus? Thirty Truths about His Life

8. Do I Really Know Jesus? He Was Sinless

9. Do I Really Know Jesus? He Died for You

10. Do I Really Know Jesus? Did He Descend into Hades to Preach?

11. Do I Really Know Jesus? He Was Resurrected from the Dead

12. Do I Really Know Jesus? What Was His Resurrected Body Like?

13. Do I Really Know Jesus? His Resurrection Changes Everything

14. Do I Really Know Jesus? He Appeared to His Disciples

15. Do I Really Know Jesus? He Ascended into Heaven

16. Do I Really Know Jesus? His Ascension Means Everything

17. Do I Really Know Jesus? He Is Seated at Right Hand of Father


Works Cited

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