Ken Raggio presents Bible Study Resources
Sign up for FREE Bible Studies - - - SIGN UP NOW! - - -

Empty Tomb

The Resurrection of the Dead
Jesus Proved that the Dead Can Live Again

La Resurrección de los Muertos
Jesús comprobó que los muertos pueden vivir otra vez

By Ken Raggio

I cannot think of a more enticing discussion. Can the dead be raised? History shows they can be. Jesus showed that fact clearer than anyone who ever lived. After raising several people from the dead during his lifetime, He personally returned from the dead after three days.

Let's talk about it.

If Jesus could do what He did, what are the real possibilities?

"But now is Christ risen from the dead,
and become the firstfruits of them that slept."
1 Corinthians 15:20

Here is a subject that is both controversial and enigmatic. Will dead men really live again?

Christians are at the forefront of this controversy. No other segment of society holds the views we do in this important matter.

Paul was straightforward in his approach to the subject of the resurrection:

"But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:

And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.

For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.

Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.

If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept," (I Corinthians 15: 13-20).

With those words, Paul sets forth his own firm belief that Jesus is in very fact alive from the dead. Our eternal hope, and our ultimate motivation for living for God today rests in those statements.

One single fact isolates Jesus Christ from every other human being who ever lived.

Jesus had complete control over his own death and resurrection.

Jesus himself explained:

"Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again" (John 10-17-18).

Ordinary men have no power with death.

The famous magician, Houdini, was fascinated with the subject of communication with the dead, and wanted to prove that it was possible. He diligently planned an experiment in which he hoped to communicate with his wife after his death. After he died, however, nothing at all of the planned experiment was realized, to the great disappointment of his loving wife. Houdini had no power after death.

Houdini's failure is a simple reminder of the human limitations surrounding the fact of death. None of us had power over our own birth, and we will ultimately have very little power over our death.

Jesus, on the other hand, was the first and only person to have the ability to resuscitate himself after three days in the grave. Subsequently through Jesus Christ, ordinary men are given the opportunity to affect their destinies beyond the grave.

Scripture strongly supports the notion of life after death.

"It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:" (Hebrews 9:27).

If death of the body meant annihilation, then there could be no judgment afterward.

Solomon taught that the body of a man returns to the dust from which it came, and the spirit of man returns to God who gave it. (Ecclesiastes 12:7)

John saw the souls of the righteous dead under the altar in heaven, praying for the day of God's vengeance on their persecutors. (Revelation 6:9). They were given white robes and told to wait for the rest of their brethren who were yet to come.

Paul taught that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). 

There are eternal benefits associated with living for God.

Psalm 58:11 declares that "there is a reward for the righteous." Conversely, "there shall be no reward to the evil man" (Proverbs 24:20).

Daniel spoke of two very different kinds of resurrections: "some to everlasting life, some to everlasting shame and contempt" (Daniel 12:3).

Job expected to see God after he died.

"And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:" Job 19:26.

This clearly suggests that Job expected his dead body to revive and appear before the presence of God.

Jesus was the first one to give hard evidence for God's ability to raise a mortal to immortality. Even though there had been several instances in both the Old and the New Testaments of dead raised, none of them had been raised to immortal glory as he was.

Nelson's Bible Dictionary reports, 

"Many of the Greek philosophers, such as Plato (427-347 BC), believed that an immortal soul inhabited a body and that at death the soul left its bodily prison and soared upward to the divine spirit."

They did NOT teach that the bodies would ever be resurrected.

Many of the pagan religions, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism teach the transmigration or reincarnation of the soul - that the soul will be passed at death into another body of another form. Many people who believe in reincarnation believe that the soul of a dead person will reincarnate in a baby of the same family.

Even the early church was exposed to similar teachings from the Gnostics and Manicheans. Still, none of these pagan groups expect the old body to be resurrected.

The ancient Egyptians embalmed the bodies of the dead in preparation for a mystical transport into the heavens, which of course never occurred. Only scant traces of a belief in human resurrection can be found in ancient civilization.

Some skeptics imply that Judaism adopted the doctrine from the Zoroastrians of Persia, but no religion prior to Jesus Christ gave demonstrable evidence of it. Jesus is the only human on record that actually resurrected bodily from the grave unto eternal life.

Even in Jesus' time, his brethren the Jews were hotly disputing the issue of life after death. The Pharisees accepted the notion, while the Sadducees strongly resisted any concept of it.

In Mark 12:18-27, the Sadducees attempted to discredit the notion of afterlife by proposing a preposterous story of a woman dying, having had seven husbands, all brothers, in her lifetime. Jesus rebuked them for their ignorance of the word of God and of the power of God. On that occasion, He reveals that in our resurrected bodies there will be no marrying. We shall be as angels.

The Pharisees, already open minded to the notion of angels, demons, and spirits, heard Him out more readily.

Historians say that Paul's mentor, Gamaliel, a Pharisee, and member of the Sanhedrin, suggested in his day that the rise of the Christian movement was God's doing. It is doubtful whether Gamaliel could have believed Christianity was God's doings if Jesus had been lying dead in the tomb. That would have meant the death of Christianity. Jesus' resurrection was a profound factor in the public acceptance of the gospel message.

Josh McDowell, renowned campus speaker, entered his own defense of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He said,

"After more than 700 hours of studying this subject, I have come to the conclusion that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is either one of the most wicked, vicious, heartless hoaxes ever foisted on the minds of human beings--or it is the most remarkable fact of history."

Paul gave this account in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures."

Jesus' death

It is difficult to verbalize the extreme finality of death to the human body. The heart stops pumping blood, so the blood stops flowing. The lungs quit inhaling. The brain stops thinking as its electricity goes off. The eyes no longer see. The ears hear nothing. The nerves no longer transmit and receive signals. All feeling disappears. Muscles and joints stiffen. Every organ shuts down. Blood thickens and dries. Body temperature chills. Then it begins to decompose. 

Jesus was dead. It does not matter what the skeptics think. The historicity of Jesus' death is firmly established by numerous proofs.

1.     The authors of the four gospels. They were either present to see His death, or were personally acquainted with eyewitnesses.

2.     The multitude that observed His crucifixion.

3.     The Roman soldiers who handled His corpse.

4.     The women who prepared His body.

5.     Joseph of Arimathaea who buried Him.

6.     The Roman and local authorities who authorized the watch over His tomb.

Jesus' burial

Jesus' burial is almost as significant as His death, inasmuch as it corroborates His death and His resurrection. It was prophetically significant - Isaiah 53:9,

"And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth."

Jesus' resurrection

David had prophesied of the Messiah,

"For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption" (Psalm 16:10).

Peter linked David's prophecy to Jesus' in Acts 2:30-32:

"Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;

He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.

This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses."

It is impossible to comprehend the potential of a miraculous resurrection.

Even though a body may have been decomposed, burned, lost at sea, or otherwise destroyed, we are not prevented from believing that God will raise it up.

Ezekiel 37 depicts a valley of dry bones hearing the word of the Lord. Sinews of flesh and the breath of life came to them all.

If we truly believe that God created the heavens and the earth, then we should have no problem believing that God is able to call back into existence every atom and every molecule that once comprised the old body, and raising it up, transforming it and glorifying it.

Lazarus had lain dead in the tomb for four days and stank. But at the command of Jesus, who declared to Martha, "I am the resurrection" (John 11:25), Lazarus' decomposition was instantly reversed.

Lazarus' blood turned moist, and his heart began to pump it through his veins. His lungs inhaled and exhaled again. His brain lit up. His eyes opened, his ears heard the voice of Jesus, and his legs and arms lifted him up and carried him out of the tomb.

And so it shall be for every man or woman who obeys the gospel of Jesus Christ.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

Jesus' own resurrection outshined all the previous miracles he had done. Never before or since has a man precipitated his own resuscitation from beyond the grave. With no other man's assistance or participation, Jesus walked back into the material world. We have the Bible record.

Jesus' resurrection was witnessed by many

        1. Cephas (Peter) and the twelve (I Corinthians 15:5)
        2. The five hundred (v.6)
        3. James and all the apostles (v. 7)
        4. Paul, the Apostle (vv. 8,9)

In Luke 24:12, Peter walked into the tomb and actually saw the empty linen grave clothes that Jesus had worn.

Mary Magdalene and the women were plainly told by the angel, "He is not here, he is risen."

In all of ancient history, not one shred of documentation has ever surfaced to refute the empty tomb. No one from ancient times ever denied that the tomb was empty. Christianity is the only religion in the world with an empty tomb, and Jesus is the reason.

Dr. D. James Kennedy, in his book, Skeptics Answered, shows that the lives of all the early church saints offer proof that Jesus was resurrected. Had Jesus not been alive, they would have been fools for defending Him to their own hurt.

Oxford University history professor Thomas Arnold, author of History of Rome, said,

"I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times, and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the great sign which God hath given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead."

Jesus' resurrection is the guarantee of the Christian's victory.

In modern times, some Christians have distorted the simplicity of the resurrection. Several Bible commentators insist there have been numerous resurrections, and will be numerous raptures.

One of the reasons why people become confused is because some people count every instance of a dead person raised as a resurrection.

It is true that

    Elijah raised the Zarephath widow's son, (I Kings 17:20-24),
    Elisha raised the Shunammite woman's son, (2 Kings 4:32-37)
    The dead man who touched Elisha's bones revived in 2 Kings 13:21.
    Jesus raised Jairus' daughter in Mark 5:41-43, and Lazarus in John11:44.
    Peter raised Dorcas in Acts 9:40-41, and
    Paul raised Eutychus in Acts 20:9-12.

Unfortunately, for every one of these people, they were forced to return to the grave eventually. None of these were permanent resurrections.

Some people count Enoch and Elijah as resurrections, but neither of them died. They were taken into heaven alive. These are not true examples of resurrections.

Only Jesus is alive forever more.

All other saints are still awaiting what John called the first (general) resurrection. In this sense, Jesus is the "firstborn from the dead" (Colossians 1:18).

The first resurrection will take place in the last days, according to Revelation 20:4-6. John said, "this is the first resurrection," and gave details indicating the time-frame:

"I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years."

Then he continued,

"But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished" (verse 5).

In verse six, John defines the SECOND resurrection, and explains that since all the SAINTS were in the FIRST resurrection, only SINNERS would be in the SECOND resurrection a thousand years later.

So we see that there are only two resurrections for all times - one before the millennial reign of Jesus Christ, and the second at the end of His millennial reign.

Saints will rise in the first resurrection

According to our study of Corinthians, Jesus is the "firstfruits of them that slept" (I Corinthians 15:20). As the second Adam, Jesus reversed the curse of death that was begun with the first Adam. As a result, one man, Jesus Christ has restored life, countermanding the fact that Adam caused all to die.

As in Adam all died, in Jesus Christ all those who are "in him" shall live. "Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming," (verse 23).

Jesus' new life is obtained through baptism (Romans 6:4-5)

"Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:" (Romans 6:4-5)

Paul taught that the seed sown would come up in a new form.

One of the early church fathers, Justin, wrote a work on the subject of the resurrection. He argued for the resurrection of the fleshly body. He showed that Jesus was resurrected in His fleshly body.

Jesus' first appearance was to the women. He instructed them not to touch Him for He had not yet been glorified. Later, He challenged Thomas to thrust his hands into His sides.

Jesus could be felt. He could eat. He could be seen by men. His body was essentially the same as it had been with one major exception: it was no longer mortal, but immortal. It was not an earthly, profane, corruptible body, but a new glorified, immortal body.

Water baptism illustrates this principle profoundly. It is one of the agencies of new birth. It plays a catalytic role in transforming the believer from a death-doomed mortal, to an everlasting immortal. It is truly a miraculous transformation as Jesus taught.

Many believers fail to grasp the pivotal role of water baptism in the new birth. Jesus' instructions to Nicodemus were explicit:

"Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit," (John 3:5,6).

The emphasis in these words is that a BIRTH takes place both in the water and in the Spirit.

Peter obviously agreed when he preached to the crowds on the day of Pentecost:

"Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost," (Acts 2:38).

He understood the typology of burying the old man. Through burial in the name of Jesus' (following repentance) we are prepared for resurrection to the newness of life in the Holy Spirit. Water baptism is a necessary step in the new birth. Water baptism is the burial of the old man, which leads to the resurrection of a new creature, born of the Holy Spirit

There is an actual birthing that takes place IN THE WATER. Something is created, born in the water. Just as a baby's birth involves two distinct processes, so does the new birth.

In the natural birth, the water envelope around the fetus bursts, and the baby's body emerges from the womb. Secondly, this newborn creature gasps for its first lung full of the new world's air. If it does not breathe, it is stillborn.

Likewise, in the water of baptism, a new heavenly body is born, and when the Holy Ghost baptizes, its first breath of God's Spirit is inhaled. Unless both processes are completed successfully, the child will perish. Receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost is the point at which a person is born of the Spirit.

Jesus was clear to tell Nicodemus that the new birth consisted of two elements: 1. Water birth, and 2. Spirit birth. You have to be born of the water - that is why water baptism is essential. You have to be born of the Spirit - that is why spirit baptism is essential. The combination of water and Spirit constitutes a complete baptism. One Lord, one faith, one baptism.

Paul elaborated on the above concept in I Corinthians 15.37-38.

"And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body." 
Verse 40 continues, "There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another."

The dead in Christ will be raised from the tombs, but they will not be raised corruptible. They will be changed in a moment, the twinkling of an eye. Meanwhile, the saints, which are alive and remain will not be required to die. Our mortal bodies will instantly be changed to immortal bodies. (I Corinthians 15:53-55).

Unless we have been water baptized according to the scriptures, there will be no miraculous change. The miraculous change took place in the water. Only on the resurrection day will we see the new bodies we were born with in baptism.

Romans 8:23 describes the "waiting game" we all endure until our new bodies are revealed. 

"And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body."

That yearning is depicted again in 2 Corinthians 5:2,

"For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:"

The resurrection is a miraculous transformation 

Paul taught that all the saints would one day be changed in like manner. 1 Corinthians 15:52-57 says,

"In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.

But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Our spirit, which returns to God when we die, will be REJOINED with our resurrected body so that we may walk and talk with one another ON THIS EARTH for 1000 years with Jesus Christ and all the saints. If we are still alive at the time of the resurrection, our mortal bodies will be instantly changed to immortal without our ever tasting death.

The shout of victory

No other event in our entire lifetime will compare with the joyous emotions that will accompany the resurrection of our bodies. We will have overcome the world, the flesh and the devil for the last time.

Death will be defeated

There will be no more sickness, no more sorrow, no more pain or death. Revelation 21:4 declares,

"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."

Jesus Christ is the key to our victory

Winston Churchill once said, "Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival."

Victory is defined as the defeat of an enemy or an opponent; success in a struggle against difficulties or an obstacle; the state of having triumphed. It refers especially to the final defeat of an enemy or an opponent.

Our eternal salvation is in Jesus Christ

Ultimately, it is our obedience to the resurrection power that saves us. The gospel of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is preached every time a believer repents of his sins and is baptized (immersed in water) in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins, and receives the baptism of the Holy Ghost.

Everything we know about God, His word, and His incarnation in the man Jesus Christ would be moot - pointless - worthless, if there were no resurrection from the dead. Even the Apostle Paul admitted it would be miserable.

Jesus taught that life does not consist in the abundance of the things which a man possesses. (Luke 12:15). He taught against laying up treasure on earth. Rather, we should set our affections on things above. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.

As the old song said,
    "This world is not my home.
    I'm just a passing through.
    My treasures are laid up
    somewhere beyond the blue.
    The angels beckon me
    from heaven's open door
    and I can't feel at home
    in this world any more."

To the world, our values will seem to be misplaced.

Paul declared that much of the hardship he faced was due to the fact that he believed in the resurrection. As he stood before Ananias the high priest, and an angry mob, he realized that it was because of "the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question" (Acts 23:6).

May God grant us the same desire Paul expressed,

"That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead." (Philippians 3:10,11).

"Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." (Romans 6:4).

"O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?"
    (I Corinthians 15:55).

Share |

This song declares that death has no victory, and the grave has no sting.
"Joy Comes In The Morning" (written and performed by Ken Raggio).
The lyrics to this song are presented below the video.

Jesus adversaries asked Him for a sign
He said, "Tear this temple down, and in three days it will rise!"
But they didn't understand. They just didn't understand...

Sorrow gripped Disciples as they watched Him led away.
Terror filled their hearts with fear that He would die that day,
'Cause they didn't understand. They just didn't understand...

And when He cried, "It's finished!" and darkness filled the skies,
An earthquake shook the ground below, and tears filled all their eyes
They didn't understand. They just didn't understand...

The grave has no victory!
Death, it has no sting!
All power in heaven and earth still belongs to Him
He's still the King of Kings.

So, when it seems your tests and trials are more than you can stand,
Aall hope seems gone, and all your world looks like it's crashing in,
Just try to understand. Just try to understand...

The grave has no victory!
Death, it has no sting!
All power in heaven and in earth still belongs to Him
He's still the King of Kings.

Although it's been 2000 years,
Jesus said He's coming back again!
All power in heaven and earth still belongs to Him
He's still the King of Kings.

Continue to other related articles:

Eyewitnesses Of The Resurrection:
Jesus' resurrection from the dead is no myth.
It is one of the most reliably corroborated facts in ancient history.

The Outrageous Claims Of Evolution

Changes In Life And Death

Why Am I Living?

I am continually writing new content for this site.
Please return often for more material,
and tell your friends about , too!
And God bless you!
Ken Raggio

Click here for BOOKS and VIDEOS by Ken Raggio

Articles may not be republished on the Internet without express permission.


Thanks for coming by!


Look up ANY Bible topic you are interested in, and this search will find all the articles on that include your keywords! This is an AWESOME feature! (Not responsible for the first ad!) Try it now!

See COMPLETE LIST of Articles from Ken Raggio

Please Support This Ministry!