Of the resurrection of christ
from the dead
Having gone through Christ's state of humiliation, I pass on to his state of exaltation; which immediately took place on the ending of the former: these two are closely connected by the apostle, #Php 2:6-10 for having fully described the humiliation of Christ; he adds, "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him", &c. see #Ac 2:33 5:31. The several steps and instances of his exaltation are, his resurrection from the dead, ascension to heaven, session at the right hand of God, and his second coming to judge the world at the last day. I shall begin with the first of these; for the first step of Christ's exaltation is, his resurrection from the dead; "God raised him from the dead and gave him glory", #1Pe 1:21. This is one of the principal articles of the Christian faith; a very important one, and on which the truth of the whole gospel depends, #1Co 15:4,14.
1a. First. Scripture prophecies; and the apostle Paul takes notice of several of them in one discourse of his, in #Ac 13:33-35.
1a1. A passage in #Ps 2:7. "Thou art my Son, this day have I
begotten thee"; which was not said to David; nor could it be
said to any other man, since it never was said to any of the
angels, #Heb 1:5 yet not so to be understood of Christ, as
being called the Son of God; since, before that, his divine
Sonship was witnessed to by his Father, by angels, by men,
good and bad, yea, owned by devils; and was the charge
brought against him, for which the Jews said he ought to
from the dead, he would be declared, as he was, to be the
Son of God with power; and the truth of his divine Sonship
confirmed thereby; and so this prophecy fulfilled; see
1a2. Another prophecy of Christ's resurrection is in #Ps 16:10
which is produced both by the apostle Peter, and by the
apostle Paul, as foretelling the resurrection of Christ,
#Ac 2:31 13:35-37 for as it is a proof that his dead body
has been observed in the preceding chapter, so that it would not
be left there, not so long as to be corrupted, but would be
raised from thence.
referring to the resurrection of Christ, and as a proof of
it, is in #Isa 55:3 "I will give you the sure mercies of
David"; by David is meant Christ, as he often is in
prophecy, #Jer 30:9 Eze 34:23,24 37:24,25 Ho 3:5 and by
are with him; so called, because they flow from the grace
and mercy of God; and which being put into his hands, are
sure to all the elect through him; and particularly through
his resurrection from the dead; for had he died, and not
would not have been ratified and confirmed; the impetration
of them is owing to his death; but the application of them
to his resurrection from the dead; which, therefore, was
necessary to make them sure. Besides these,
1a4. There is another passage, foretelling the resurrection of
Christ, in #Isa 26:19. "Thy dead men shall live, together
with my dead body shall they arise"; which is an answer to
the complaint of the prophet, concerning the sad estate of
by the Messiah to him, the Lord Jehovah, in whom is
everlasting strength, the desire of his people, the ordainer
of peace for them, and the worker of their works in them;
and who is acknowledged by them as being Lord of them,
whereas he should arise from the dead, others should rise with
him, as a pledge of the resurrection of his people at the last
day; and which was fulfilled at the resurrection of Christ,
when the graves were opened, and many of the saints arose
rendered, "As my dead body"; or, "as sure as my dead body
shall they arise": either way they predict the resurrection
of Christ, of Christ's dead body; which is both the
exemplar, earnest, and pledge of the resurrection of the
1a5. Another prophecy of the resurrection of Christ, and of its
being on the third day, is, as is generally understood, in
#Ho 6:2 "after two days will he revive us", &c. which words
prophesied of in the following verse; and though they are
expressed in the plural number, this may be no objection to
the application of them to Christ, and his resurrection;
since he rose again, not as a single Person, but as a public
be raised up together with him, #Eph 2:6 Col 3:1.
1b. Secondly, Scripture types; some of which are,
be so; as the first Adam's awaking out of a deep sleep, when
the woman was presented to him, formed of one of his ribs;
the deliverance of Isaac, when his father received him in a
figure as from the dead; the bush Moses saw burning with
Aaron's dry rod; the living bird let fly, after it had been
dipped in the blood of the slain bird, used in the
purification of the leper; and the scapegoat, let go into
the wilderness, when the other taken with it was slain.
1b2. Others are types of the time of it in particular; as well as
of the thing itself; as the rescue of Isaac from the jaws of
death, on the third day, from the time Abraham had the order
to sacrifice him, and from which time he was looked upon by
Joseph in Pharaoh's court, on the third year from his being
cast into prison by Potiphar; putting a year for a day, as
sometimes a day is for a year; but the principal type of
all, respecting this matter, is that of the deliverance of
it, at least part of three natural days, and which our Lord
himself makes mention of as such, #Mt 12:40.
2a. The testimony of angels. Matthew speaks of but one angel, that descended and rolled away the stone from the sepulchre; but Luke makes mention of two men in shining garments, that is, angels, who appeared in such a form; and John calls them angels, and represents them as sitting, the one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain; and who told the women that came to the sepulchre, that Christ was not there, but risen; and so as angels were the first that brought the tidings of Christ's incarnation and birth to the shepherds, they were the first that made the report of his resurrection to the women, #Mt 28:2,5,6 Lu 24:5,6 Joh 20:12. Who,
2b. Were good and sufficient witnesses of what they saw and heard; they were present when the body of Christ was laid in the sepulchre; they saw where it was laid, and how it was laid; they went home to prepare spices, and when the sabbath was over, came with them to the sepulchre, to anoint the body with them; where, to their great surprise, they saw the stone was rolled away from it; they entered into it, and found the body was gone; they saw the angels, who assured them that Christ was risen; and as they were returning to the disciples with the news, Christ himself met them, whom they knew and worshipped, and held by the feet: so that they had all the evidence of his being risen they could well have, and of his being risen in a real body; which was not only visible to them, but palpable by them, #Mr 16:4 Lu 24:2,3 #Mt 28:9.
2c. Even the soldiers that guarded the sepulchre were witnesses of Christ's resurrection; they saw the angel roll away the stone, they were terrified with the sight, and with the earthquake they felt; they left their station, and went to the chief priests, and reported what was done, that Christ was risen from the dead; as appears by the method the priests took to stifle the matter, by bribing them with money, to contradict what they had said, and give out that the disciples came by night, and took the body away, while they slept; which is so far from invalidating their first report, that it serves but to corroborate it, that they spoke the truth at first, but a lie at last; since, if asleep, how could they know and attest the coming of the disciples to the grave, and taking the body from thence? #Mt 28:4,11-15.
2d. After this, Christ was seen of many men, even of many hundreds; first he was seen of Cephas, or Peter; then of the twelve disciples; after that of above five hundred brethren at once; next of James, then again of all the apostles; and, last of all, he was seen of the apostle Paul, both at his conversion, and afterwards in the temple; see #1Co 15:5-8 Ac 26:16,19 22:17,18. Now the apostles were witnesses chosen before of God for this purpose, #Ac 10:41 and are to be credited; for-
2d1. They were such who knew Christ full well, who had been some
years his disciples and followers, had attended his
ministry, had seen his miracles, and had been his constant
dead, had eat and drank with him; and had not only a glance
or two of him; but he was seen by them at certain times for
the space of forty days; and showed himself alive to them by
infallible proofs, #Ac 1:3 10:41.
2d2. They were men not over credulous, nay, slow of heart to
believe, as our Lord upbraids them; and even with respect to
this matter; though the women that had been at the sepulchre
gave such a plain account of things, with such striking
tales, and they believed them not"; nay, when Christ had
appeared to all the disciples but one; and they were fully
convinced of the truth and reality of his resurrection, and
reported this to Thomas, who was not with them; yet so
report, that he declared he would not believe that Christ
was risen, unless he saw the print of the nails in his
hands, and put his finger into it, and thrust his hand into
his side; all which he was indulged with by Christ and then,
a credulous sort of men, easy of belief, ready to receive
anything that was told, their testimony might have been
objected to; but they were all the reverse; see #Lu 24:11
2d3. The disciples were men of holy lives and conversation, of
strict probity, honesty, and integrity; never charged with
any vice or immorality: it may be said of them what the
apostle Paul says of himself, that "in simplicity and godly
the testimony of such persons merits regard in any affair.
2d4. They could have no sinister end, or any worldly advantage in
view, in contriving and telling such a story; they could
persecuted, by all sorts of men, by Jews and Gentiles; as in
fact they were, #Ac 4:1-3 17:18 nay, not only they risked
their credit and reputation, but life itself; and exposed
themselves to the severest sufferings, and most cruel death;
immortal souls; for how could such men but expect the wrath
of God, eternal damnation, that could frame and propagate
such a falsehood, if it was one?
2e. The resurrection of Christ is not only confirmed by the above witnesses, but the Holy Ghost himself is a witness of it, by the miracles which were wrought under his influence, in confirmation of it; the apostles, with great power, that is, with miracles, signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds, "gave witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ"; see #Ac 4:32 5:30-32.
2f. It is as certain, and of it there is full evidence, that Christ rose again from the dead on the third day, according to scripture prophecies and types. It was on the first day of the week Christ rose from the dead. All the evangelists agree that it was on that day the women came to the sepulchre with their spices, and found things as they were; which showed that Christ was risen, #Mt 28:1 Mr 16:1,2 Lu 24:1 Joh 20:1 which laid the foundation for the observation of that day to be kept by Christians in a religious manner, #Ac 20:7 1Co 16:1,2 and it was early in the morning on that day, about the break of it, towards sunrising; a fit time, very suitable to the Sun of righteousness, who arises on his people with healing in his wings; and this day was the third day from his death. On the evening of the sixth day, on which he died, he was buried, and he rested in the grave on the seventh day, the Jewish sabbath; and fulfilled thereby that type of him, and put an end to it; which made way for the first day, as a day of religious worship, which immediately succeeded it, as none so proper as the next day: so that a time, or day of worship, was not in the least intermitted, nor ever since was one wanted; and on the first day, which was the third from his death, he rose from the dead, and so fulfilled the type of Jonah; who, it is reasonable to suppose, lay no longer in the belly of the whale than our Lord did in the earth; namely, one whole natural day, and parts of others; the Jews having no other name for a natural day than a night and a day; which the Greeks call a night day; and a part being put for the whole, both might be said to lie three days and three nights; that is, three natural days; the one in the whale's belly; the other in the heart of the earth: they lying there some part of two natural days, whether the night or day part of them, and one whole natural day, #Mt 12:40.
3a. It was in his body; not in his divine nature; which, as it was not capable of suffering and dying, so not the subject of the resurrection; nor his human soul; for that died not with the body; but went to heaven, to paradise, on its separation from it; but in his body: as he was put to death in the flesh, so he was raised from the dead in it; it was the body only that died, and that only was raised again: when Christ said, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up", the evangelist observes, that "he spoke of the temple of his body", #Joh 2:19,21.
3b. It was the same body that was raised that died, and was laid in the grave; it was a real body, consisting of flesh, blood, and bones; and was not only to be seen, but to be handled; and it was the same identical body, as appears from the print of the nails in his hands, and the mark in his side made by the spear, #Lu 24:39,40 Joh 20:25,27.
3c. It was raised immortal, clear of all former infirmities, as weariness, hunger, thirst, &c. it was, before, mortal, as the event showed; Christ was crucified through weakness: but was raised powerful, immortal, and incorruptible, never to die more; nor shall death have any more dominion over him; he lives for evermore, and has the keys of hell and death, the government of the grave, and can open it at his pleasure, and let out the inhabitants of it free, #Ro 6:9 Re 1:18.
3d. It was raised very glorious; of which his transfiguration upon the mountain, before his decease, was an emblem and pledge: and though he might not appear in so much glory immediately after his resurrection, and during his stay with his disciples, before his ascension, they not being able to bear the lustre of his countenance, it really had; yet now, being crowned with glory and honour, his body is a "glorious" one, according to which the bodies of the saints will be fashioned, at the resurrection of the just, #Php 3:21.
3e. Yet it has the same essential parts and properties of a body it ever had; not only being flesh and blood, which a spirit has not, but circumscribed by space; not everywhere, but limited to some certain place; it is received up into heaven, and there it is retained, and will be retained, until the restitution of all things.
3f. And lastly, The resurrection of Christ was attended with wonderful events; as with an earthquake, which made it grand and solemn, and alarmed the watch to be attentive to it, and be witnesses of it; and was expressive of the mighty power of God, by which it was performed; and it was followed with a resurrection of many of the saints, showing the efficacy of it; and as a pledge, earnest, and confirmation of the future resurrection of all the righteous at the last day, #Mt 28:2 27:52,53.
4. Fourthly, The causes of the resurrection of Christ from the dead deserve notice; it is frequently ascribed to God, without any distinction of persons; it being a divine work, which none but God could do, and is a work of the exceeding greatness of his power, #Eph 1:19 Ac 2:24,32 3:13,15 4:10 5:30 yet being a work "ad extra", all the three divine persons were concerned in it. It is sometimes ascribed to God the Father, as in #Eph 1:17-20 again in #Ac 13:30,33 which words are said to the Son by God the Father, who raised him from the dead; see also #1Pe 1:3. At other times it is ascribed to the Son himself: he declared beforehand, that when the temple of his body was destroyed, he would raise it up again; and that, as he had power to lay down his life, he had power to take it up again, which he did; and was thereby declared to be the Son of God with power, #Joh 2:19,21 10:18 Ro 1:4 see also #1Pe 3:18. The Spirit, the third Person, had also a concern in it; for the declaration of Christ's Sonship with power was "according to the Spirit of holiness", or the Holy Spirit, "by the resurrection from the dead"; that is, by raising Christ from the dead; and as God, by his Spirit, will raise the members of Christ at the last day, so by the same Spirit, he raised Christ, their, Head, on whose resurrection theirs depends, which is intimated by the apostle, #Ro 8:11.
5. Fifthly, The effects of Christ's resurrection from the dead, or the ends which were to be, and have been, or will be, answered by it.
5a. First, With respect to God, the chief end of all, was his glory; for "Christ was raised from the dead by", some read it, to "the glory of the Father", #Ro 6:4 that is, "to the glory of God the Father", as in #Php 2:11 to the glory of his perfections; as particularly, his "truth" and "faithfulness", in fulfilling types, promises, and prophecies concerning this matter; for what the apostles and ministers of the New Testament say of it, is no other than what Moses and the prophets did say should come to pass; namely, "that Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead", #Ac 26:22,23 and since God spoke of it by them, the veracity of God required it should be done, and that is glorified by it. Also the "power" of God; to raise one from the dead, is the work of almighty power; as is both the resurrection of Christ, and of the saints; "God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power": and the exceeding greatness of his power was exerted in a most glorious manner in the resurrection of Christ, #1Co 6:14 Eph 1:19,20. Moreover, the "justice" of God is glorified in it; when Christ had done his work as a Surety, it was but just and equitable that he should be discharged, be loosed from the cords of death, and be detained no longer a prisoner in the grave; and that he should be honourably and legally acquitted; as he was when a messenger was dispatched from heaven to roll away the stone of the sepulchre, and set him free; and being thus raised from the dead, he was justified in the Spirit; and hereby the justice of God was glorified, as also his wisdom, grace, and goodness; which appeared in forming the scheme of salvation, and in the kind designs of God to his people; all which would have been defeated, if Christ had not been raised from the dead.
5b. Secondly, With respect to Christ.
5b1. Hereby is given further proof of his proper Deity, and
divine Sonship; by this it appears, that he is the Lord God
Almighty, who could and did raise himself from the dead!
this declares him to be the Son of God with power: shows
living; that he has the keys of hell and death, and can and
will unlock the graves of his people, and set them free, as
he has himself, #Ro 1:4 14:9 Re 1:18.
the Surety of his people; that he has paid all their debts,
finished transgression, made an end of sin, made
reconciliation for iniquity, and brought in everlasting
righteousness; that he has fulfilled the law, satisfied
sufficient price for it; and, in short, has done everything
he agreed to do, to the full satisfaction of his divine
Father; and therefore he is raised from the dead, received
into glory, and set down at the right hand of God, having
5b3. This shows that he has got the victory over death and the
grave; that he has not only destroyed him that had the power
of death, the devil, but has abolished death itself, the
that he has done what he resolved to do; "O death, I will be
thy plague! O grave, I will be thy destruction!" so that the
believer, in a view of interest in a risen Saviour, who has
conquered death and the grave, may triumph, and say, "O
#2Ti 1:10 Ho 13:14 1Co 15:55.
5b4. It was necessary that Christ should rise from the dead, in
order to enter into the glory promised him, and he prayed
Christ, but of the glory that should follow; which could not
be enjoyed by him, unless after he had suffered death, he
was raised again; wherefore God raised him from the dead,
and gave him the promised glory, #1Pe 1:11,21.
5c. Thirdly, With respect to his people; the power of Christ's resurrection is great; the effects of it are many, #Php 3:10.
5c1. The blessings of the covenant of grace in general are
reconciliation, and other blessings of grace, are by the
death of Christ; yet the application and enjoyment of them
are through his interceding life, in consequence of his
resurrection from the dead; to which life the whole of
5c2. Justification, in particular, is observed as one special end
and effect of Christ's resurrection; "he was delivered for
our offences, and was raised again for our justification";
grace, is rather, and more principally founded on Christ's
resurrection, than on his sufferings and death, #Ro 4:25
the elect of God were "quickened with him", and in him, as
their head and representative, when he was quickened and
raised from the dead; hence said to be "raised up together",
#Eph 2:5,6 so they are quickened in regeneration, in
ascribed, #1Pe 1:3.
5c4. The resurrection of the saints at the last day is the fruit
and effect of Christ's resurrection, and which is ensured by
which the bodies of the saints will then be formed; and his
resurrection is the earnest and pledge of theirs; he is "the
firstfruits of them that slept", that is, of the dead: the
firstfruits are the sample, and what ensure a following
gives assurance of the resurrection of the saints in time to
come: so that Christ's resurrection being certain, the
resurrection of the saints is also, #1Co 15:20,23 1Th 4:14.