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The Blue Letter Bible
Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: Objections to the Resurrection of Jesus

Don Stewart :: Haven't People Apart from Jesus Come Back from the Dead?

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Haven’t People Apart from Jesus Come Back from the Dead?

Objections to the Resurrection of Jesus – Question 24

While the Bible speaks of the resurrection of Jesus Christ it also speaks of a number of others that have come back from the dead. If these accounts are true, then what make the resurrection of Jesus unique?

Resurrection Is Not the Same as Resuscitation

There is a huge difference between the resurrection of Jesus Christ and those others whom the Bible says were brought back to life. Indeed, the biblical idea of resurrection is the raising to a new body that will never die again. Paul wrote to the church at Rome:

We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. (Romans 6:9 NRSV)

Death will no longer have any authority on those who have received their resurrected body.

Paul also wrote that Jesus was raised in a “spiritual body.” We read the following words that he wrote to the church of Corinth:

It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. (1 Corinthians 15:44 NRSV)

The body of Jesus was not an earthly body, but rather a spiritual body; a body characterized by the spirit. In addition, it could not die anymore. Those whom the Scripture says were resuscitated had to die again.

New Testament Examples of Resuscitation

In the New Testament there are a number of examples of resuscitations or reanimations. They include: the son of the widow at Nain, Jairus’ daughter, Lazarus, Tabitha (Dorcas) and Eutychus.

1. The Only Son from the Widow of Nain

Jesus raised the only son of a widow woman from the city of Nain. Luke describes the account in this manner:

Then He came up and touched the open coffin, and the pallbearers stopped. And He said, “Young man, I tell you, get up!” The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. (Luke 7:14, 15 HCSB)

In this example, the young man had recently died and was on his way to being buried.

2. Jairus’ Daughter

The daughter of a man named Jairus was also raised from the dead. Mark records what happened when Jesus raised her up:

Then He took the child by the hand, and said to her, “Talitha, cumi,” which is translated, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” Immediately the girl arose and walked, for she was twelve years of age. And they were overcome with great amazement. (Mark 5:41, 42 NKJV)

This young girl had just died when Jesus brought her back to life.

3. Lazarus

Jesus also brought Lazarus back from the dead after he was four days in the grave. John records what happened:

After He said this, He shouted with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out bound hand and foot with linen strips and with his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him and let him go.” (John 11:43, 44 HCSB)

Lazarus had been dead for some time when Jesus brought him back to life.

4. Tabitha (Dorcas)

Peter brought a woman named Dorcas, or Tabitha, back from the dead. The Book of Acts records it as follows:

Then Peter sent them all out of the room. He knelt down, prayed, and turning toward the body said, “Tabitha, get up!” She opened her eyes, saw Peter, and sat up. (Acts 9:40 HCSB)

Peter was able to raise her through the power of Jesus Christ.

5. Eutychus

The Apostle Paul raised a person named Eutychus from the dead. This is recorded in the Book of Acts:

As Paul spoke on and on, a young man named Eutychus, sitting on the windowsill, became very drowsy. Finally, he sank into a deep sleep and fell three stories to his death below. Paul went down, bent over him, and took him into his arms. “Don’t worry,” he said, “he’s alive!” (Acts 20:9, 10 NLT)

This is another example of one who was dead being brought back to life.

Those Who Were Resuscitated Died Again

Though there were these people brought back to life through the power of God, each of them had to die again. This is not the same as what happened to Jesus Christ. He was raised immortal in a new body, a glorified body. Once raised, He was never to die again.

Therefore we have the difference between resurrection and resuscitation. Resuscitation is the bringing of a dead person back to life but this person must one day die again.

On the other hand, resurrection means that once that person has been raised they are given a glorified body. They will never have to die again.

Summary – Question 24
Haven’t People Apart from Jesus Come from the Dead?

While Scripture emphasizes the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead we find that the Bible lists a number of people who had actually died, and then come back to life. They include Lazarus, Jairus’ daughter, the son of the widow of Nain, Tabitha, and Eutychus. This being the case, what is so special about the resurrection of Jesus Christ?

Actually, there is a huge difference between the resurrection of Jesus, and the different resuscitations, or reanimations, which are listed in the New Testament.

Each of the people who came back to life eventually died again. While there were indeed dead and raised back to life, their resuscitation was only temporary. Like the rest of us, they had to die and not come back to life.

However, Jesus Christ was raised from the dead in a glorified body. Once He was raised He was never to die again. He is the first of many who will follow. Those who believe in Christ will also receive a glorified body; a body like His. This resurrection of the dead is still future.

Consequently there is no comparison to those whom the Bible says were resuscitated and brought back to life and what happened to Jesus Christ.

What Were the Differences between Jesus' Body Before and After His Resurrection? ← Prior Section
How Jesus Left the Earth and What He Does Today (Introduction) Next Section →
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