The Resurrection in Acts—Part 1
Though earlier chapters of Acts do not speak of Paul talking about the General Resurrection, (though he made much of Christ’s resurrection), his speech to the philosophers on Mars’ Hill, includes the declaration that judgement is ordained through “that man”, of which the proof is that “he hath raised him from the dead.” Obviously, that judgement could not come about unless men were raised from the dead, so the general resurrection is inferred here (Acts 17:31).
In his defence before Felix, Paul stated that he believed all the things which were written in the law and the prophets, and went on to say. “And have hope towards God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.” (Ac.24:14, 15). Paul was thus insisting that what he preached was only what was found in the Old Testament Scriptures, and though the Sadducees present might not believe this, any Pharisees there did so (Ac.23:8).
Again, in Acts 26, when Paul defends himself before Festus, King Agrippa and Bernice, knowing that King Agrippa had some knowledge of the Jewish Scriptures and customs, he said, “I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers: …” We might think that he was referring to the promise of a coming Messiah. However, he goes on to question, “Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you that God should raise the dead?” Acts 26:6, 8. Obviously he is stating that the hope included the raising of the dead, in this case, the raising of Jesus of Nazareth. Further, in v.22 he emphasises that he was teaching nothing different than what was in the prophets and Moses, “that Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead …” Note that he not only spoke of the resurrection of Christ as being taught in the Old Testament, but also said “that he should be the first that should rise from the dead”, thus inferring that the Scriptures spoke not only of the Messiah’s resurrection, but of other resurrection(s) to follow.
Two incidents of resurrection are recorded in the book of Acts. When Peter was in Lydda, the Christians in Joppa sent to inform him that a well-loved woman had died. She was one who was very forward in good works, helping clothe widows and children. Her name was Tabitha or Dorcas.
Peter responded to their call, sent all of them out of the room, prayed, and spoke to the corpse, saying, “Tabitha , arise.” She opened her eyes and sat up. He took her by the hand, called the weeping Christians, and delivered her to them. (Ac.9:36-42).
When Paul was returning to Jerusalem from his third missionary journey, he stopped at Troas. A young man, Eutychus, was sitting in a window listening to Paul’s long oration. Overcome by the heat from the gathered crowd and the many lamps, he fell asleep, dropped out of the third-storey window, and “was taken up dead.” Paul went down and embraced him, and delivered him alive to the gathering (Ac.20:10).
However, these again were only temporary resurrections, as these people will have again died in the ordinary order of life and death.
Resurrection of Christ
In the very first chapter of Acts, we see the importance which the apostles placed on the resurrection of Christ, when they insisted that one of the qualifications for the man to replace the dead Judas of Iscariot was “to be a witness with us of the resurrection.” (v.22)
In the various sermons recorded in Acts, the resurrection of Christ is emphasised. On the Day of Pentecost, after accusing the Jews of having delivered up Jesus of Nazareth to death (by the counsel and foreknowledge of God), Peter goes on to declare that God had raised Him up “having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should beholden of it.” (Acts 2:24). In v. 27 he then goes on to quote the Psalm of David which we have already mentioned above under the Poetical books, (Ps. 16:8-11) with particular emphasis on the fact that He was not left in hell, nor saw corruption. Peter is careful to point out to his hearers that David, who wrote the Psalm, was both dead and buried and they knew where his grave was right up to that day, (v. 29). So David could not possibly have been referring to himself. Who then, was he referring to? The Messiah, who was none other than Jesus of Nazareth, now raised from the dead by God (vv. 30 – 32).
In the next chapter, Peter and John, in the name of Jesus Christ, enable the man lame from birth to walk. The crowds come together, and Peter addresses them, telling them firmly that this has been done, not in their own power, but in the name of the Son of God, Jesus, the Prince of life, whom they had delivered up to Pilate, and whom “God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.” (Acts 3:15). He finished his sermon with a further reference to the resurrection of Christ, “Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus…” (v. 26). This, he is pointing out, was to give them the opportunity to turn away from their sins.
The complaint the Sadducees had against the apostles was that they “preached through Jesus the resurrection of the dead” (Acts 4:2). Says the New Bible Commentary about this verse, “… it was the adherents of the Sadduccean party who objected most strongly to the apostles’ preaching, in view of their insistence on the resurrection of Jesus, which naturally involved the general principle of resurrection …” Their preaching of the resurrection of the Lord not only revealed Him as the Messiah, the Son of God, but also called attention to the fact that if He was resurrected, He had power to resurrect those who believed in Him.
Beryl Ching, spent over 40 years on the mission . Returning to New Zealand to “retire”, Beryl was for a long time secretary of the Conditional Immortality Association. ‘Resurrection as Revealed in the Old Testament and Confirmed in the New testament’ is the full title of her Thesis presented to the Faculty of the Freelandia Institute Biblical Theological College in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree Master of Biblical Studies.