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The Resurrection of Christ.

The Resurrection of Christ.

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE
BY JOSEPH AGAR BEET
BY JOSEPH AGAR BEET

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Jul 29, 2013
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10/19/2014

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THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST.
BY JOSEPH AGAR BEET
THE BELIEF OF PAUL.ALREADY we have seen, in PART II., that Paulbelieved without a shadow of doubt, and proclaimed everywhere, that God receives into His favour,in spite of their past sins, all who believe the good newsof salvation announced by Christ; and in PART III.that he believed that this salvation comes through theviolent death of Christ upon the cross. In PART IV.we found proof that Paul accepted these all-importantand in great measure new doctrines on the simpleauthority of Christ because he believed Him to beinfinitely greater and nearer to God than men orangels.We now ask, How CAME THE CARPENTER OFNAZARETH TO MAKE UPON THE PUPIL OF GAMALIELTHE DEEP IMPRESSION REFLECTED ON EVERY PAGE OFHIS EPISTLES ? What had Christ done so much more301302 THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST. [PART V.than Paul could do, or than Paul believed that mancould do, to lead captive in humble adoration the loftyintelligence of the great Apostle ? The answer is notfar to seek. Paul tells us at the beginning of hisgreatest epistle that Jesus Christ " was marked out asSon of God in power ... by resurrection of the dead ; "and his letters contain abundant evidence that hisimplicit faith in Christ rested upon his firm belief thatHe had risen from the dead. This evidence I shallnow adduce. We shall at the same time inquire inwhat sense Paul believed that Christ had risen fromthe dead.From I Cor. xv. 12 we learn that some members of the Church at Corinth, " some among you," denied thegeneral resurrection at the last day. To this denialPaul replies by saying that it involves a denial of theresurrection of Christ ; and that this implied denialinvolves a charge of gross falsehood against himself and his colleagues, and would, if the denial were just,reduce to an empty unreality both the Gospel whichPaul preached and his readers faith. " If Christ be notrisen, vain then is our preaching, vain also your faith.Moreover, we are found out to be also false-witnessesof God, because we have borne witness against Godthat He raised Christ, wRom He did not raise, if atleast we are to infer that dead men are not raised."The whole chapter proves that Paul had in view areturn to life of DEAD BODIES. For indisputably theresurrection of believers asserted in this chapter will bean uprising in life of bodies laid dead in the grave. SoLECT. XXXIV.] THE BELIEF OF PAUL. 303
 
v. 35, " How are the dead raised? and with what kindof body do they come ? " The words in v. 43, " it issown in corruption," can only refer to the decaying bodylaid in the grave. For this is the only part of thosewho will be raised in incorruption which can be saidto be " sown in corruption." Similarly v. 44, " it is sowna soul-governed body, it is raised a spiritual body."The assertion in v. 50, " that flesh and blood cannotinherit the kingdom of God, nor does corruption inheritincorruption," teaches plainly that our outward bodilyform, inasmuch as it is liable to decay, cannot passunchanged into the realm of glory. Paul looked forward(v. 53) to a time in the future when " this corruptiblemust needs put on incorruption, and this mortal puton immortality." And as we have seen, the only corruptible part of the believer is his body.Now if the resurrection of Christ so conspicuouslyasserted by Paul had been only a SPIRITUAL thoughreal MANIFESTATION of the Crucified One to Hisdisciples as still living in spirit while His body layrotting in the grave, his assertion would not have beenin any way affected by the denial at Corinth of thebodily resurrection of believers ; and consequently itwould not have been adduced as an argument todisprove that denial. For to say, to men who deniedthe possibility of a dead body returning to life, that thespirit of Jesus had in a spiritual manner appeared toHis disciples, would be utterly irrelevant.It is worthy of note that, after speaking of severalearlier appearances of Christ to His disciples, Paul304 THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST. [PART V.speaks of His appearance to himself, whom he describes as "born out of due time." But the variousappearances mentioned in I Cor. xv. 5-8 are carefullydistinguished from the resurrection of Christ whichtook place at one definite time. So w. 4, 5 : " andthat He was buried, and that He rose the third day,according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared toCephas, then to the twelve." Moreover, these appearances are not mentioned again in the Epistles of Paul.In this chapter and elsewhere the whole stress of the argument rests upon the fact that Christ had risenfrom the dead. Evidently the appearances are quotedsimply as evidence of that fact. This proves that Paulhad in view a definite return to life and an uprising of the body of Christ laid dead- in the grave. The meresurvival in life of the spirit of the Crucified could notpossibly be described as an event which took placeon the third day after His death. No other suchevent can we conceive except the return to life of the sacred body buried in the garden at Jerusalem.We have no hint in his Epistles or in the Book of Acts that Paul s belief that Christ had risen restedmainly on his vision on the way to Damascus. Ini Cor. xv. 5, 6 he mentions, evidently as witnesses of the resurrection of Christ, several men to whom atvarious times He appeared, in one case five hundredwho saw Him at the same time and of whom Paulsays that the greater part were still living. Only afterspeaking of these who saw Him on earth does he refer
 
to the appearance to himself. This suggests that uponLECT. XXXIV.] THE BELIEF OF PAUL. 305the testimony of these witnesses rested mainly Paul sown belief that Christ had risen. Indeed we can wellbelieve that Paul s frequent contact with Christians,even while persecuting them, afforded him from timeto time evidence that the Master in whom the persecuted ones trusted had actually risen from the dead.This evidence would accumulate day by day, andbecome more and more difficult to resist ; until atlast the vision on the way to Damascus, supportedas it was by much earlier evidence, broke down allopposition and brought the proud Pharisee in humblepenitence to the feet of the Persecuted and Risen One.In any case, this chapter leaves no room for doubt thatPaul had evidence which convinced him that the bodyof Christ laid dead in the grave had returned to life.The same belief finds abundant expression elsewhere.In 2 Cor. iv. 14, the resurrection of Christ is the groundof Paul s sure expectation that himself and his readerswill also rise : " He that raised the Lord Jesus willalso raise us with Jesus and will present with you."So ch. v. 15 : "for Him who on their behalf died andwas raised." Inasmuch as Paul was called to his work by the Risen Christ, he attributes in Gal. i. I his ownapostleship to " God the Father who raised Him fromthe dead."Evidence still more important is found in the greatEpistle to the Romans. At the beginning of it Paulhastens to pay honour to Christ by saying that Hewas " marked out as Son of God, in power, by resurrection of the dead." In ch. iv. 24 we read of those20306 THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST. [PARTY." who believe on Him that raised Jesus our Lord fromthe dead These last words can be explained only asdescribing a removal from the grave of the body whichlay there among the dead. The same phrase raisedfrom the dead is found also in ch. vi. 4, 9 and againin chs. vii. 4, viii. ii, x. 7, 9, and elsewhere frequently.In ch. iv. 25 we are told that God raised Him in order(cp. i Peter i. 21) thus to lay a foundation for justifyingfaith : " He was raised for our justification." InRom. vi. 5 we are assured that the servants of Christwill be sharers "of His resurrection." In ch. viii. 11,as in i Cor xv. 20, 2 Cor. iv. 14, the resurrection of Christ is made a pledge of our own resurrection : " if the Spirit of Him that raised Jesus from the deaddwells in you, He that raised Christ from the deadwill also make alive your mortal bodies." Notice heredefinitely the resurrection of the bodies of believers.Belief that Jesus is risen is in Rom. x. 9 made an articleof the Christian faith : " if thou believe in thy heartthat God raised Him from the dead, thou shalt besaved."

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