After crying out with a loud voice upon the cross Jesus gave up His Spirit that God would return to Him three days later, which He would then pour out from heaven after His ascension on the day of Pentecost. On that day it would come with a noise like a violent, rushing wind (Act 2:2) of a storm, which Scripture also relates to an earthquake (see the Greek word for storm in Mat 8:24). An earthquake was also one of the physical phenomena that marked His death, along with the rending of both the veil of the temple and the rocks of the earth. As the rending of the veil disclosed the way through the veil of death into the eternal life of a restored relationship with God and the glory of His presence, so did the rending of the rocks by the earthquake open the tombs to set free those saints held captive by death; cf. Luk 4:18. Those captives delivered from the death of separation from the life of God in Sheol would then ascend on high to be with Jesus in heaven until He returns, at which time they will also return with Him for the resurrection of their bodies; see Eph 4:8-10, 1Th 4:13-18.
So powerful was that dying breath of Christ’s Spirit that would conquer death that the spirit of life returned to the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep in death, so that Matthew records they were raised again to life (Matthew 27:52). Whereas Matthew associates their being raised from the dead with the yielding up of Jesus’ Spirit and His death, does he say that they immediately came out of their tombs at that time? See Mat 27:53. If the spirit of life returned to their bodies on Thursday afternoon as Jesus died, why would they have remained in their tombs until Sunday morning after Jesus was raised from the dead? See Luk 23:54, Joh 19:31 and recall that the Passover was about to begin and that evening would mark the beginning of the first day of unleavened bread which was a sabbath day of rest as required by the Law of Moses (Exo 12:16, Lev 23:6-7), followed by Saturday which was the required seventh day sabbath. Hence, although raised to life by the Spirit of Christ that was poured out with His blood from upon the cross, they seem to have rested in their tombs in submission to the Law until Sunday morning after Jesus had Himself risen from the dead, perhaps also in God’s sovereignty to not in any way upstage Jesus’ most glorious resurrection.
Are we to understand that these whose life returned to them at Jesus’ death were resurrected from the dead with a transformed and glorious body after the manner of Jesus’ own resurrection three days later? Or rather, that they were resuscitated from the dead after the manner of the widow of Nain’s son, Jairus’ daughter, and Lazarus? I.e., would they ascend to heaven with Jesus in glorified, resurrected bodies never to die again, or would they eventually fall again into the sleep of death to await the resurrection of their bodies when Christ returns? See 1Co 15:20, Col 1:18, Rev 1:5,18 and note that Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, never to die again (Rom 6:9), is clearly associated with His having been begotten of the Father (Act 13:33-34) as the first-born from the dead, which He could not claim if in fact those Matthew describes as having been raised from the dead when Jesus died were resurrected rather than resuscitated; cf. 2Ti 2:18, Heb 11:39-40.
Note also that whereas the Biblical word ἐγείρω used in Mat 27:52 means to awaken, arise, or raise up and is commonly used in reference to the dead being raised, a different word ἀνάστασις is used exclusively for the resurrection and is translated as such every time except in Luk 2:34, which see. I.e., whereas to be resurrected involves being raised from the dead, there is clearly more to the resurrection than just being raised; cf. Luk 20:35-36, 1Co 15:42,52. Even in regard to Jesus we should be careful to consider that His predictions that He would be raised from the dead were clearly not understood in the way we now in hindsight understand it in terms of being resurrected from the dead never to die again with a glorified body that was real and could eat and be touched (Luk 24:39-43, Joh 20:27, 21:12-13), but might not be immediately recognized (Luk 24:15-16, Joh 20:14, 21:12), could vanish or appear even through closed doors (Luk 24:31, Joh 20:19), and would ascend to heaven for an unknown period of time before returning (Act 1:9-11); cf. Mar 9:9-10 where the verbal form ἀνίστημι of ἀνάστασις is used for rising from the dead, and the disciples didn’t understand what He meant. Only after it had happened that way did the people of God come to understand that Jesus wasn’t just resuscitated to physical life, but as the resurrection and the life (Joh 11:25) that He was resurrected to eternal life as the first-born from the dead to establish an eternal kingdom very different from the one they had envisioned. Significantly, only starting in Acts and never in the gospels is the much more meaningful word resurrection (ἀνάστασις) used for Jesus being raised from the dead. Note also that the word translated as resurrection in Mat 27:53 is actually ἔγερσις, found only this once. Since this word derives from ἐγείρω, it would arguably be better translated as His raising than His resurrection, since at that time none would have conceived of His being raised from the dead in terms of what we now understand as His resurrection.
With the understanding that those who were raised from the dead at Jesus’ death could not have been resurrected since Jesus Himself was the first-born from the dead never to die again, and He Himself was not resurrected until three days later, what can we also surmise about what then eventually happened to these that were resuscitated from the dead that would also have happened to the widow of Nain’s son, Jairus’ daughter, Lazarus, Dorcas, and Eutychus, as well as many others throughout history who although having died, were brought back from death to life on this earth, but not resurrected? Rather than descending again to Sheol, the realm of the dead, to where do we believe they would have then gone instead? See Joh 11:25-26, Eph 4:8-10, 1Th 4:13-18.
The Atonement of Christ's Blood: Understanding How the Blood of Christ Saves and Reconciles us to God
- What is the relationship between Jesus’ sacrifice and our redemption, forgiveness and receiving an inheritance per the terms of the covenant / will that was effected by His death?
- From what, and to what, are we saved? Is it Jesus’ death alone that saves us? What part does His resurrection have in our salvation?
- Does the justice of God demand the satisfaction of blood before He will forgive, similar to what pagans throughout history have believed?
- What was the purpose of the Old Testament sacrifices?
- Does blood alone atone for sin?
- How does Christ’s death render powerless the devil?
- To whom was Christ’s life given as a ransom? From what are we ransomed?
- Why did Jesus not only die, but suffer and die? If all that was necessary was His shed blood, why didn’t God sovereignly ordain a more merciful death for His own dear Son?
- What is the relationship between a will or testament, and a covenant? What was willed to Jesus as an inheritance from His Father, and what was willed to us through the new testament in His blood?