The Biblical Case for Everyone Going to Heaven: Chapter Seven – The First Resurrection

Chapter Seven

The First Resurrection

It was a dark and lonely night.  The place was called Gethsemane.  It was a time to pray, for there was no one on earth to whom He could turn.  The forces of envy and fear were coming together against Him.  The arresting party would soon appear, and events would rapidly lead toward death by crucifixion.  Into the darkness He spoke,

“My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”  Matthew 26:39  NASB

Would He be heard?  If not, it would not be for lack of volume, for another passage in the New Testament describes His manner of praying that night:

In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death…  Hebrews 5:7  NASB

What silence hung over that garden was being broken by His pained cries.

The disciples were close by.  They were all He had left. The multitudes He had healed and fed would be swayed to shout, “Crucify Him,” just a few hours from now.  The authorities, far from protecting His civil rights, would be the ones stirring the multitude into a mob.  The disciples were all the following He had remaining…and He was about to lose them, too.  They actually heard His cries, but it wasn’t enough to keep them from dozing off.  He kept having to stir them.  The undying loyalty they had professed at supper was in the process of dying before breakfast.

What was at stake here?  What was going on?  No one seemed to know but Jesus.  He was either silent, or else when He did explain, no one seemed able to grasp His meaning. But you and I have a glimmer of what is going on.  All the Scripture that we have studied to this point has given us an understanding allowing us to see that there is nothing less at stake here than the redemption of the human race, the challenging of death itself in a way that it had never before been challenged.  What Jesus was asking for in His prayers that night was not to be delivered from the cross, but to be delivered from the death that would follow it.  That’s why, at first, the disciples thought His prayers had gone unheeded.  It was only later they would learn that He had received exactly what He asked for:  deliverance from Sheol/Hades.

In one sense, it was a very risky venture.  No one who entered those gates of death had ever come back alive.  Oh, we have talked about those exceptions that were temporary reprieves.  But there would be no Elijah or Elisha waiting above to call Him out on the third day.  Peter was too scared and too demoralized to do it.  Paul wasn’t even a disciple yet.  If He was going to come out of the grave on the third day as He promised, God Himself was going to have to do the raising.  Besides, this was to be a resurrection unlike any other.  For once raised, Jesus was never to die again.  This was the kind of resurrection for which the faithful had been hoping for ages.  This, then, would be the very first resurrection that completely defeated death.  The very first resurrection through which someone would escape from Sheol/Hades permanently.  Would it work?  Jesus had no doubts.  Before letting go of this life, He said on the cross,

“Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.”  Luke 23:46  NASB

The words of trust seemed out of place in the sea of evil that had surrounded Him.  Yet trust was the only way of life He knew.  Though the human race had rejected Him, He knew deep inside that God would not forget the request He had made the night before.

This plan had been set in motion ages before when Adam and Eve first sinned.  God spoke to the serpent who had tempted them and said,

“And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel.”
  Genesis 3:15  NASB

In fulfillment of this promise, Jesus had been born of a woman, as had been all His human ancestors, David and Abraham included.  His crucifixion would be Satan’s “bruising of his heel.”  His resurrection, however, would be the “bruising of the serpent’s head.”  A blow to the heel is painful, but a blow to the head is disastrous.  The crucifixion of Jesus Christ may appear a great tragedy, but it was only a bruise to God’s heel.  And through the resurrection that followed, Satan’s power, which lay ultimately in the power of death, was dealt a blow from which it will never recover.  The iron grip of Sheol/Hades would finally be broken by this Divine One.

Let us now quote in its entirety a verse partially quoted above:

In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.  Hebrews 5:7  NASB

That “He was heard” confirms that what Jesus’ prayers envisioned was not a “putting off of death until a later time” as Israelites in the past had prayed for (such as King Hezekiah), or as we ourselves might have sought.  Nor did he desire one of those partial and preliminary resurrections (resuscitations) we have seen described in our review of Scripture.  What Jesus desired was to “pass through” death to the other side.  Life never ending.  Life no longer able to be threatened by death.  A completely new kind of life that was completely inoculated against death because it was born from death.  This was His desire…and this is what He was granted.  And because of His grace, all humanity now receives it.  However, since we explained the problem step-by-step, we should also explain the solution step-by-step.  The first step is to better understand the nature of this new kind of resurrection Jesus was inaugurating.

The Hope of Resurrection…Alive and Well in the New Testament

You have seen how the Old Testament aroused the hope of resurrection.  That hope is demonstrated in the New Testament in various ways.  In one case, Jesus informed the sisters of a deceased man named Lazarus that He would raise Lazarus from the dead.  One of the sisters, thinking that Jesus was speaking not of one of those partial and preliminary resurrections but of the great resurrection to come, said,

 “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”  John 11:24  NASB

Her faith in a great resurrection of the dead was typical of devout Jews in that time.

Just because there was a hope for a resurrection, however, does not mean there was clarity and certainty about the shape that resurrection would take.  For example, Jesus told His disciples on several occasions that He would rise from the dead.  At one of those times their response was described this way:

And they seized upon that statement, discussing with one another what rising from the dead might mean.  Mark 9:10  NASB (1973)

Again, just because there was a prevailing view among many people that resurrection would come, there was great uncertainty about its details because the Scriptures had not spelled those out, at least not in any easily discernible form.  This is all the more reason people hung on Jesus’ words when He began to describe what it would be like.

Jesus Confirms That There Will Be a Resurrection…and Makes News in the Process

You’ll recall that the Sadducees represented a minority opinion in Israel that there would be no resurrection.  They were a small but powerful group.  Though they disagreed with the Pharisees on resurrection, they fully agreed with the Pharisees that Jesus of Nazareth was a menace.  Both parties sought to discredit Him as He taught before large crowds in the temple area by asking Him questions designed to embarrass Him.  On one such occasion, some of these leaders approached Jesus with a question that they were sure would cause Him to lose face in front of the multitude that was listening to Him.  It is taken from Matthew 22:23-33 NASB.

On that day some Sadducees (who say there is no resurrection) came to Jesus and questioned Him, asking, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother as next of kin shall marry his wife, and raise up children for his brother.'”

First they give Him the respectful greeting of “Teacher” (this is, of course, to set Him up in front of the crowd).  Then they begin describing the problem.  They quote a passage from Moses.  This marital regulation may seem unusual to us today, but let’s avoid the temptation to study it because that would be a digression.  Suffice it to say that it was indeed a part of Moses’ law to the Israelites and therefore was to be obeyed by them.  Since Moses was considered authoritative by everyone present, this allowed them to now describe the dilemma:

“Now there were seven brothers with us; and the first married and died, and having no children left his wife to his brother; so also the second, and the third, down to the seventh.  Last of all, the woman died.  In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had married her.”

You see now that it was not the regulation itself that was being questioned, but its seeming inconsistency with the idea of resurrection.  The Sadducees were pointing out that if a Jewish family tried to obey God in a case like this, they would have quite a family problem on their hands come resurrection day.  Of course, the “seven” brothers exaggerates and dramatizes the dilemma but that’s fair game in a discussion like this.  Their point is that the Scriptures are not implying resurrection, but rather that this life is all there is.  We can suppose that the Sadducees considered their argument airtight, and that it was their very best one.  People usually go up against the best with their best.  To the amazement of everyone present, Jesus hardly blinked an eye as He responded,

“You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God.  For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.”  

Can’t you hear the crowd gasp, jaws drop, and don’t you even feel your own heart in your throat as you hear the word “heaven”?  Heaven, did He say?  Yes, dear, I think He said heaven.  Oh my God!

Being two thousand years from the scene and having some exposure to the good news of Jesus Christ, we today are somewhat insulated from the wonderful shock they felt as they heard that the dead would not merely rise to earth again, but all the way to heaven!  This was unexpected and unheard of.  These folks were doing good to maintain hope that the dead would be raised at all, especially in the face of disapproval from respected scholars such as the Sadducees.  To hear that they and their loved ones would be in heaven once the resurrection occurred was more than anyone had hope for (and certainly more than the Sadducees had ever contemplated).  In the swirl of events of that week, this deliriously joyful hope would momentarily be lost.  But when the crucified Jesus of Nazareth came bolting out of the grave three days after His death, that hope came bolting out with Him.  And when He ascended into heaven forty days after that, hearts were ablaze with excited hope that indeed this resurrection led to…heaven.

The rest of the episode with the Sadducees is an anticlimax, so let’s finish it quickly so we can get back to the mind-boggling point.

“But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God:  ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?  He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”

The passage Jesus is quoting, like the one about the widow remarrying, comes from the Law of Moses.  Since the Sadducees had invoked Moses to start the challenge, Jesus invokes Moses to drive home their error.  At the burning bush, God identifies Himself to Moses by His present relationship (“I am the God of…”) with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Since all three of these men were dead by the time of Moses, the Scripture is implying that these three still exist.  They were, of course, in Sheol/Hades below with everyone else – waiting on resurrection.  The Sadducees were right to try to infer things from the Scriptures, they were just inferring the wrong thing.

Our episode concludes with this statement:

When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at His teaching.

“Astonished” for sure!  The multitude had been taken aback by Jesus’ bold declaration that the dead would be raised, not to earth, but to heaven.  Let’s let the magnitude of this revelation sink in on us.

The Resurrection Leads to Heaven of All Places!

As you can tell from all that I have shown you in the first six chapters of this book, there was an expectation for an eventual resurrection from the dead, but not all the way to heaven, for pete’s sake!  Heaven was for God and the angels.  It was not a place to which man entertained hopes of going.  We really ought to make some attempt to understand and appreciate the excitement that must have gripped people when they heard that resurrection would lead not merely back up to earth, but all the way to heaven.  Now that’s what you call being RAISED from the dead!

We have become jaded by so much use of the word “heaven.”  We have thus become dulled to the extravagant benefit God is pouring out on humanity to even consider heaven as a destination for us!  Going back to the Bible’s view, however, allows you feel what believers in Jesus’ time felt as they heard the “good news” about heaven.  Indeed, from their point of view, it was staggeringly good news.  And their humble point of view is the one we ought to adopt.

Adopting this humble perspective, you can now see more clearly why all those partial and temporary resurrections were inferior to this one.  Those resurrections only brought a person back up to earth.  The resurrection Jesus was speaking of would take people all the way to heaven.  Also, those resurrections only put off death for a while longer.  The resurrection Jesus was talking about passed through death and lived forever on the other side of it.  Every time we saw an individual raised from the dead in the Scripture, it was only a hint and foreshadowing of the more permanent (that is, eternal) resurrection that God had in mind.

As you have seen, the Old Testament books outlined the resurrection; it never cataloged the details.  The New Testament books, since their writing coincided with Jesus’ resurrection, does give details as we have just begun to see.  Without details, the Sadducees could complain that it just didn’t make sense for all those dead people to pop up (here on earth) – it would only be crowded and confusing.  The Pharisees and others might not have had an answer for such an objection, but they weren’t about to let go of an idea that was clearly scriptural in origin.  Jesus solves the puzzle by explaining that the resurrection leads to heaven where the problems of getting married, having children, and lack of elbow room are not issues.

Hundreds of years before Christ, Jeremiah had prophesied for the Lord,

‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.  Jeremiah 29:11  NASB

In this way, God gave hope to a human race whose every member faced an ultimate destiny of death.  This vague hope, however, was gloriously transformed into the specific hope of heaven through Jesus Christ.  This demonstrates the truth that the apostle Paul proclaimed to those who believed in Ephesus – specifically, that God is

…able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think…  Ephesians 3:20   NASB

People had longed for a reunion with their loved ones, and even ancestors.  God responds, “How’d you all like a trip to heaven – and I’ll pay the tab!”  Certainly no one has the power of God, but neither does anyone  have His grace.

A New Kind of Body

Though Jesus had told His disciples on at least three different occasions that He would rise from the dead on the third day after His crucifixion, the gospels record no all-night vigils in anticipation of the moment.  The disciples were too scared and depressed.  Some women dutifully went to the tomb the morning after the Sabbath in order to more permanently prepare the  body for burial.  They hadn’t had much time before sundown on Friday.  They were the first to see that the stone securing the grave had been moved.  Angels appeared telling them that the Lord had been raised just as He said.  Just as He said.

Jesus began making appearances to the women and His other disciples.  It was “show and tell” time.  They had wondered “what ‘rising from the dead’ might mean.”  He was going to let them see first hand.  Nothing like hands-on training – especially when the mission of these witnesses would be to communicate to the world what they had seen and heard for the last few years, and particularly for the last few days.

That first Sunday morning He began appearing to the apostles He had chosen and

…presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days…  Acts 1:3  NASB

Don’t forget – He had been in that tomb since before Friday evening.  The whole Passover Sabbath had passed.  The disciples had had plenty of time to think.  They needed no further proof that He was dead.  They needed solid evidence if they were to believe He was alive.  Three days to prove you’re dead and forty days to prove you’re alive forevermore – mmm – sounds about right.

Paul catalogs the appearances this way:

…He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.  After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.  1 Corinthians 15:5-8  NASB

Jesus was leaving no doubt as to His status as the first permanent escapee of Sheol/Hades.  One of the things that became clear to the disciples during these forty days was that His body was different.  It was what you might call…heavenly.  His disciples did not always immediately recognize Him and could be startled when He appeared among them.  In one of these instances He said,

“Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?  See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”  Luke 24:38-39  NASB

Obviously, some of them were afraid they were just seeing a ghost.  One of the disciples named Thomas had not yet seen Him and refused to believe unless he himself got to feel the crucifixion’s nail scars in His hands and feet.  To his shame, Jesus obliged him about a week after his defiant remark.  Here was their exchange:

Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.”  Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”             John 20:27-28  NASB

The nail scars existed only as identification markers and obviously not as open wounds, for He appeared and vanished at will.  He was no longer restricted by doors, locks, and walls.  He did eat in front of them but you get the impression it was more to calm their nerves than to satisfy His hunger.  This body was obviously not bound by the same laws that bind a normal human body.

The final act they saw Him perform in that body was to ascend into heaven – the very thing you would expect a heavenly body to do!  At this point, it seemed clear that the forty days were merely a brief stopping off point on the way to an ultimate destination.  Jesus had said that day in front of the temple that in the resurrection “they are like angels in heaven.”  Thus He continued His resurrection when He ascended into heaven.  That had been the intended destination all along.  It’s where the resurrection leads!

Heaven, Our New Home

When Jesus ascended into heaven, He was fulfilling His promise that He had spoken on the evening before His death:

…I go to prepare a place for you.  John 14:2  NASB

Prior to this, as you have seen, there had been no place for humanity in heaven.  And, not that it needed confirmation, Jesus had said earlier in His earthy ministry,

“No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man.  John 3:13  NASB

He is speaking of Himself, of course, when He says “Son of Man.”  He is thus confirming that no one else had ever ascended into heaven.  But He didn’t need to, for, as we have seen, everyone understood that heaven was the domain of God and angels – not people.  To “prepare a place” for us there was to do something wonderfully beyond human imagination.

We have seen that there is order in the creation.  In the physical realm, some creatures live primarily in the sea, some on the land, and some are designed for the air.  Human beings had been designed to live on the earth.  And when they died, there was nothing to do but have their bodies return to the ground from which they had come while their spirits descended to Sheol/Hades – the place designed for their indefinite confinement.  But resurrected human beings are not designed for the earth or made from its dust, but rather for heaven.  They are equipped to live there with a body designed for the heavens, not for the earth, and certainly not for the regions below the earth.  That was a place for disembodied spirits.

Given all this, it is not hard to understand the intense excitement and hope of these disciples about whom we read in the New Testament.  They had heard some good news that was immeasurably good and immeasurably new!  We share their excitement when we believe what they did – that God raised Jesus from the dead in order to make heaven above a permanent home for all those who have died.

The First-Born from the Dead

We are seeing that Jesus was the first person to rise from the dead…the way He did.  That is, all the way to heaven with a new body to suit the new environment.  Therefore, the Bible speaks of Him being the “first-born from the dead.”  This is a beautiful word picture and truth.  The lower parts of the earth had been a tomb.  Through Jesus, it became a womb.  Jesus became the first-born of a whole new species of being: resurrected humanity.

People had come back from the dead before but no one had ever gone forth from it.  That is, no one had ever been birthed from it.  Because Jesus was born from the dead he will therefore never die again.  Death is no longer a threat to Him.  He was raised not to live more of an earthly life, but to live forever a heavenly life.  We do not know what life is like in heaven, but we do know that it is God’s home.  His presence fills the earth, yes – but His home is in heaven!  If in the resurrection humans live like angels in heaven it means that they are that much closer to God – a thrilling thought for anyone who wishes to know Him better.

For all those who believed that God would not forget the dead, this news brought a joy that could not be contained.  It brought an excitement to a hope that had only been vague.  To be comforted that your loved ones still existed somewhere below was one thing, but to be told that you will enjoy eternity with them forever in heaven is quite another.  Jesus’ status as “first-born from the dead” implied that His was just the beginning of what God was doing.

The birth of Jesus from the dead had been promised in the Old Testament, but only His actual resurrection made the promise recognizable.  The second psalm had read:

‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
  Psalm 2:7  NASB

We might have thought that this applied to Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem to Joseph and Mary.  But in the New Testament Paul explains that it applies to Jesus being raised from the dead.  Listen:

“And we preach to you the good news of the promise made to the fathers, that God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, ‘You are My Son; today I have begotten you.’  Acts 13:32-33  NASB

The resurrection of Jesus from the dead was a new birth, a new creation, a new beginning for the human race.  Through Jesus, there is now a heavenly prototype for these new creatures – resurrected (that is, heavenly) human beings.

A Heavenly Prototype

We have seen how Jesus first stated, and then demonstrated, what had been hidden from so many generations of mankind – the exact nature of the resurrection.  That is, He explained God’s long-awaited solution to the problem of death.  His solution is not to eliminate death’s existence but to redirect its results.

In Jesus we have the heavenly prototype.  He is the beginning of the solution.  Jesus is in heaven, sure.  But that’s where He was before.  So far, we haven’t gotten any net gains.  The rest of the dead are still where they have been all along.  In the next chapter, however, you will see how quickly things changed.

In the physical creation, everything reproduces after its own kind: people, animals, plants.  Before God could have a new human race, He needed a new Adam after whom and in whose image He could reproduce it.  Once He did that, everything else would be a matter of due course.  Jesus was that new Adam.  His is the first resurrection.  Now that we see Jesus safely back in heaven, let’s see how He’s going to get everyone else there.

End of Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight – The Resurrection of the Rest of the Dead

Return to Table of Contents

35 Replies to “The Biblical Case for Everyone Going to Heaven: Chapter Seven – The First Resurrection”

  1. Mike,

    First my apology for not putting my comments in the chapters in which you deal with the subject matter in question. I will try to do better.

    One of my last comments had to do with Jesus’ discussion with the Sadducees regarding the 7 brothers and the one wife. In particular, Matthew 22:30 “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.”

    My question was “What phrase or expression here means that ‘the dead are raised to heaven?’”

    Your response was:

    “in the resurrection” = “the dead are raised”
    “like angels in heaven” = “to heaven”

    I completely agree with your first point. I also believe (hopefully, only because Scripture actually teaches this) that ALL dead humans will be resurrected and are then eternal spiritual beings. Our difference involves (IMHO) two questions: 1) Is there only one destination for the resurrected? and 2) Where are the one or more places?

    With regard to your second point, I believe that more work is needed to show that this is the best meaning for ‘like angels in heaven.’

    The context of this passage is marriage. The question is ‘do resurrected people marry?’ Jesus says no. (I hope you and I share His understanding that marriage is something that God ordained for physical humans living on earth.) In the resurrection, where we are spiritual beings, marriage no longer takes place. He supports this by making a comparison and using the word ‘like.’ ‘Like’ does not mean that the things being compared are completely identical; but, rather that they share one or more characteristics. Are we still together?

    If so, then what I see so far is that there is no marriage for resurrected humans and this can be understood by comparing us to some other spiritual beings of which we are aware from the Bible. That is angels. They two are eternal spiritual beings and they do not marry either. But, how can we be sure that Jesus is actually talking about angels?

    The word translated here as ‘angels’ is a common Greek word that has two possible English translations. One is angel, a supernatural, spiritual being. Two-thirds of them are in heaven and one third of them rebelled against God and are no longer in heaven. The second possible meaning is simply ‘messenger.’ This could just refer to the person who just called to tell you that your electirc bill is due. A fully, normal, living, human being. Are we still together?

    The placement of the phrase ‘in heaven’ is a simple way to tell us which meaning Jesus intended for this word. My friendly electric bill person is clearly not in heaven. However, nothing in the context is aimed at telling us where the resurrected people will be. ‘In heaven’ is necessary to clarify the meaning of the word as angel and not messenger (as in electric bill person).

    So, how can you be so sure that the phrase ‘in heaven’ here is to tell us WHERE all the resurrected go instead of just clarifying the word angel that it is placed next to as a modifier?

    1. The context of this passage is marriage.

      I would say that the context of this passage is not marriage, but rather resurrection. It was the Sadducees who asked the question. They were not interested in understanding marriage. They were simply using marriage to try disprove the idea that there would ever be a resurrection.

      The word translated here as ‘angels’ is a common Greek word that has two possible English translations.

      1. The underlying Greek word (“aggelos”) occurs 176 times in the New Testament. Of those times, in 169 cases it is translated as “angel” and in 7 cases it is translated as “messenger.” (These stats are based on the NASB, one of the more literal English translations.) Therefore, the predominant translation of the word is angel and not messenger. So, I don’t know why you’d insist that the “in heaven” would be needed as a qualifier to be sure there was no mistaking the term with a human messenger.
      2. Of the 169 cases where “angels” occurs, only five times is the word accompanied by “in heaven.” Therefore, the word was in the vast majority of the cases referring to the non-human sort, and that without need for a qualifier.
      3. Even if there had been the potential for anyone misunderstanding which type of creature Jesus meant, wouldn’t that all be dispelled at the moment He said what He did about “neither being male or female” – for are human messengers genderless?

      Therefore, since the passage is about resurrection and since the word “angel” alone was sufficient to make the point about gender, I see no reason to insist that the word had nothing to do with location. Moreover, this understanding of heaven as the location for the resurrected is confirmed by the other passage we have been discussing: 1 Thessalonians 4. And, of course, there are yet many other scriptural references to resurrection being to heaven: the most notable of which is that that is the only way we could ever be with the Lord for that’s where He is! And, conversely, where are the passages that say that resurrection leads to any place other than heaven, or that resurrection has multiple destinations?

  2. Mike,

    OK, I’ll grant that I may have over simplified by saying the context was marriage. However, I don’t think whether it is marriage or resurrection that the interpretation of this passage is impacted.

    So, I don’t know why you’d insist that the “in heaven” would be needed as a qualifier to be sure there was no mistaking the term with a human messenger.

    Again, I gave you the wrong impression. I didn’t mean to insist that ‘in heaven’ was required. I tried to say that it clearly modifies αγγελοσ and certainly removed any possible doubt as to what kind of beings were in view. I don’t know why Jesus added it if it was not necessary. Obviouly, for some reason, He thought it was necessary.

    I know what you believe about this. However, just to humor me, could you give me your paraphrase for this verse without inserting your views and just dealing with the words that are in this particular verse?

    And, conversely, where are the passages that say that resurrection leads to any place other than heaven, or that resurrection has multiple destinations?

    How about Daniel 12:2 “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace [and] everlasting contempt. The language is figurative; but, is it unclear that there are two kinds of people with different destinations? Surely, heaven is not a place of disgrace and everlasting contempt, is it?

    Revelation 20:15 is one that is also clear to me; but, not to you as you responded previously to me as follows: “I don’t think that passage speaks of going to heaven. I think it speaks of the kingdom of God and judgment.” Clearly, it is about judgment. But, how do you deal with the fact that there is a book of life. Why have this if everybody gets life in heaven? And, clearly some people don’t have their name in this book. And, they get thrown into something called the ‘lake of fire.’ And, this lake is described as “a lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Sure sounds like hell to me. How do you explain all of these details?

    1. I don’t know why Jesus added it if it was not necessary. Obviouly, for some reason, He thought it was necessary. I know what you believe about this. However, just to humor me, could you give me your paraphrase for this verse without inserting your views and just dealing with the words that are in this particular verse?

      David, I dealt extensively with this passage in chapter seven, but I cannot tell whether or not you have read it. If not, please read there. For here, I will paraphrase per your request.

      The Sadducees were noted for disbelieving in resurrection just as their rivals the Pharisees were noted for believing in it. On this occasion, the Pharisees sought to discredit Jesus by bringing forth what they considered to be their best argument against resurrection. We can easily imagine they had used it against the Pharisees, and we can further imagine that the Pharisees had no answer for it. Otherwise, why would the Sadducees have used it?

      When the Sadducees ask Jesus the question that they believe will certainly put Him in His place, He answers by saying that they have not understood the Scriptures or the power of God. Now even the Pharisees might have responded with the first part before…but the second part introduced a new dimension to the argument: “the power of God.” What does the power of God have to do with the question unless it speaks, at least in part, to the location? Jesus then goes on to say, paraphrased, “Marriage won’t be an issue because everyone will be like angels in heaven” or you could say, “…because everyone will be in heaven like angels.” “Heaven” is not a qualifier to remove doubt about aggelos; it’s as much a part of the answer as the gender issue. The power of God is revealed in a seed becoming a plant. The seed it placed in one dimension, dies in the dimension, so that it might live in a higher dimension. That “heaven” was an essential point of Jesus answered is confirmed in Matthew’s characterization of the crowd’s reaction: “they were astonished at His teaching.” If all He answered was that there’d be no gender distinctions, the crowd might have been interested, intrigued or thoughtful. However, it was the notion that the Scriptures had been teaching a resurrection to heaven which they had missed which caused them to be “astonished.” We must put ourselves in their shoes and try to appreciate the awe and wonder they felt upon hearing that the resurrection so many of them had longed hoped for was going to lead…all the way to heaven! The Pharisees had surely never given an answer like this!

      Jesus could have left off the phrase “in heaven” and the meaning would have been the same for as soon as He said “like angels” everyone knew that angels live in heaven and not on earth and they could have gotten His point about the location of resurrected humanity. However, to make sure His point came through and to leave no doubt on something as new to their ears as this, He explicitly added “in heaven” so there would be no confusion on the matter. Heaven was the punchline of this story and Jesus was going to make sure no one missed it.

      Daniel 12:2 and Revelation 20:15

      The Daniel passage says nothing about the location of the resurrected. It does, however, speak to the different status awarded at resurrection and this is consistent with what Jesus taught when He said, “Many who are first will be last and many who are last will be first.” Thus a cruel tyrant of a might nation will arise to disgrace and shame even though he may have received much worldly fame and riches. Conversely, a poor widow in his country who gave what little she had to help other unfortunate people will rise to great honor.

      I deal with the Revelation passage in chapter nine. It is a passage not about what happens in the afterlife, but what is happening in this life. That is, the kingdom of God is in the world today. We can either seek to live in its refuge or be subject to the fires of judgment that are falling all around us. If you have a question when you read it, please feel free to leave me any questions you have there.

      1. Mike,

        I have indeed read chapter 7 (this particular part, several times). What I was trying to ask for was a paraphrase of this one verse (Matthew 22:30). What I think you gave me, is your commentary on the entire passage. Just for clarity’s sake, do you see a difference between a paraphrase and a commentary? By the way, I would still be interested in your paraphrase of this one verse.

        In all honesty, your commentary is excellent. However, I would like to suggest something. What we are about here (IMHO) is arriving at logical conclusions based on the information provided in Scripture. The best way I know of is to use logic. What I mean by that is that we ought to agree on a list of premises, i.e., statements of truth, and then state the only possible conclusion that follows from these true premises. That is, the premises have to all be true and also sufficient to prove that the conclusion is true.

        If I try to put your argument into this format, I get the following. Do you agree with my understanding of your argument? Does this way of proceeding make sense to you? If so, please feel free to modify the list of premises as you see fit. I assume you have no changes to make to the conclusion.

        P1 Before the cross, everybody went to Sheol when they died
        P2 Sheol no longer exists
        P3 Everybody will be resurrected
        P4 Jesus was the first person to be resurrected
        P5 Jesus went to heaven when he was resurrected
        P6 Jesus died for the sins of the world
        P7 In Christ, all will be made alive
        P8 Jesus tells us to repent
        P9 Jesus would not put us in a place where we can not repent
        P10 The gospel is good news
        P11 People going to hell is not good news
        Therefore,
        All people are resurrected to heaven.

        1. What I think you gave me, is your commentary on the entire passage. Just for clarity’s sake, do you see a difference between a paraphrase and a commentary? By the way, I would still be interested in your paraphrase of this one verse.

          A paraphrase is a rewording while a commentary is an explanation. I thought I was giving you both. My paraphrase there was “Jesus then goes on to say, paraphrased, “Marriage won’t be an issue because everyone will be like angels in heaven” or you could say, “…because everyone will be in heaven like angels.” And, for good measure, here’s yet another paraphrase (prefaced by the original wording): “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” = “When people are raised from the dead they won’t live as earthly beings but rather as heavenly beings.”

          I would like to suggest something. What we are about here (IMHO) is arriving at logical conclusions based on the information provided in Scripture. The best way I know of is to use logic. What I mean by that is that we ought to agree on a list of premises, i.e., statements of truth, and then state the only possible conclusion that follows from these true premises. That is, the premises have to all be true and also sufficient to prove that the conclusion is true.

          I haven’t written it out in terms precisely like this but I don’t have any objection to engaging in this exercise with you.

          If I try to put your argument into this format, I get the following. Do you agree with my understanding of your argument? Does this way of proceeding make sense to you? If so, please feel free to modify the list of premises as you see fit. I assume you have no changes to make to the conclusion.

          I’m not sure where you’re going but I’m willing to work through it with you. I agree with all your premises and your conclusion as individual statements. However, I do not necessarily follow the logical flow of how you have things arranged. For example, I think P8 and P9 are true but I don’t see how they fit in the logical flow. Another example is that the last two P statements with the conclusion could be a complete argument unto itself so I don’t know why you’d need all the statements that precede it. I could say more, but why don’t react to what I’ve said here and maybe I’ll have a better idea of how you want to proceed.

  3. Mike,

    Thank you for humoring me with that paraphrase. I agree with what you provided: “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.”

    My point in pursuing this was to see if we could agree that we have to figure out what ‘like’ means. And, to do this we don’t really need the rest of the passage except to note that the main issues appear to be resurrection and marriage.

    You have already said that ?in the resurrection? = ?the dead are raised.? And, I agree that this phrase is talking about WHEN. Nothing is in this verse about WHERE so far. When we get to ?like angels in heaven? you say this means WHERE, i.e.,?to heaven.? In your paraphrase you did not say this. Rather you put down what is only in this verse, i.e., in some sense the resurrected are LIKE ‘angels in heaven.’ You could have said the resurrected ‘in heaven’ are like angels; but, that really doesn’t seem to be the obvious intent of this verse.

    I say that since resurrection (a when) and marriage (a what) are providing context. There does not seem to be enough here to say that the ‘like’ refers to a WHERE concept. Rather, I see it concluding the point about marriage and comparing the condition of the resurrected people (i.e., marriage-less) to the condition of angels (who have their abode in heaven) who too have a marriage-less state.

    Why should we limit our LIKE-NESS to the angels to just ‘a where’ condition. Why not say, Jesus is saying we will be like the angels in that we will share their power or intellect, which seems to be much greater than that possessed by humans. My answer would be that that is a new idea that the reader would have to insert here. And, I am sure that we both agree that eisegesis is a bad thing.

    I’m not sure where you’re going but I’m willing to work through it with you.

    Thank you, believe me I have no tricks up my sleeves. And note that I too am not sure where I am going. I follow your explanations; but, then I can’t see how you get to your conclusions. So, I thought if we tried this somewhat more rigorous format, we might see where the disconnect comes in. I am glad you agree with the premises. I tried hard to find the ones you were making in your summary post. And, I didn’t put them in any particular order.

    You hit my problem exactly. I don’t see the logic flow. I would be very please if you could move the premises around so that they make logical flow sense to you. Feel free to leave any out or to add any others you deem necessary to get to the conclusion.

    At that point, I could comment more. Sound like a plan?

    1. And, I am sure that we both agree that eisegesis is a bad thing.

      I don’t think that it’s eisegesis to say that the passage teaches that resurrection leads to heaven. In fact, that’s the point of the passage.

      If all Jesus wanted to teach was that human beings would not procreate in the resurrection why even brings angels and heaven into the discussion? He could have simply said that we’d be neither male nor female and would not marry or be given in marriage. People would have understood those statements. However, such a teaching would not have blessed them and would not have astonished them, as the passage says the teaching did. Genderless life would not be all that attractive on earth, but in heaven it makes complete sense. What really got their attention was that resurrection led to heaven – and this is the point I emphasized in this chapter of the book.

      I don’t understand why you are struggling so with the notion of resurrection leading to heaven. Isn’t that where Jesus went when He was raised from the dead? If He is the firstborn of the dead, wouldn’t His location be replicated by all the subsequently-born from the dead? It’s certainly easier for us today to believe Jesus’ statement in the passage that resurrection leads to heaven than it was for people in that time because the example of Jesus’ resurrection was still future to them.

      It is wrong to add words to a text that aren’t there, but it’s equally wrong to ignore words that are there (Revelation 22:18-19).

      I don’t see the logic flow. I would be very please if you could move the premises around so that they make logical flow sense to you. Feel free to leave any out or to add any others you deem necessary to get to the conclusion.

      My logic flow is seen in the structure of the book. I think you’ve said that you’ve read through chapter seven. Therefore, my logic flow would look something like this:

      Chapter 1 – The Problem of Death (Everyone dies.)

      Chapter 2 – A Place Called Sheol (People went to Sheol when they died.)

      Chapter 3 – Where Is This Place Called Sheol? (Sheol was below.)

      Chapter 4 – The Heavens and the Earth and the Sea (Sheol was part of a three-tiered universe.)

      Chapter 5 – The Greeks Called It Hades (Hades is the Greek term for the underworld of the dead; in other words, Hades equals Sheol.)

      Chapter 6 – Coloring Death With Hope (The Bible spoke of death and Sheol in a way that gave hope for a resurrection.)

      Chapter 7 – The First Resurrection (Jesus revealed – by teaching and by example – that resurrection leads not to earth, but to heaven.)

      We don’t get to the conclusion (everyone is going to heaven) until chapter 12. Given your interest in logical flow, which I support, I’d suggest going back through these steps from the beginning and make sure you’re on board with each of these building blocks. (Each one rests on the one that comes before.) I think you said you’re on board with 1-6 and therefore we’re trying to settle on 7. If so, that’s fine; I just don’t want to push you faster than you’re comfortable going.

      1. Mike,

        I don’t think that it’s eisegesis to say that the passage teaches that resurrection leads to heaven. In fact, that’s the point of the passage.

        Of course you don’t think it’s eisegesis. We wouldn’t be having this exchange if you did. On the other hand, I believe it is eisegesis. So, one of us is very wrong. BUT, which one?

        We don’t get to the conclusion (everyone is going to heaven) until chapter 12.

        You made this statement in your last comment.

        “We have demonstrated through the testimony of the Bible, including Jesus Christ Himself, that everyone is going to heaven.”

        This is how you open chapter 8 of your book. These two statements seem to contradict one another.

        I have been trying to stay with chapter 7 for this is where I find the first major disconnect in our thinking. To proceed without clearing this up will not be fruitful. And, again, you continue to provide reasons why you can’t imagine Jesus not meaning what you think He means. That is not biblical proof; that is the reasonings of man. (Please don’t misunderstand me. I do it all the time. It is just that here is not the place for that sort of thing.) For example, your statement “If all Jesus wanted to teach was that human beings would not procreate in the resurrection why even brings angels and heaven into the discussion?” Where is the proof of what ‘Jesus wanted to do?’ That is an inference not supported by the text. And, because you or I can may not be able to come up with a reason for mentioning angels or heaven here, does not prove that He is saying all resurrected people go to heaven. That is the conclusion, it has to be proven and not just repeated.

        A conclusion logically follows a set of true premises if the conclusion is the only possible result of the premises. I took a crack at constructing your list of premises. These are the premises that you believe lead to your conclusion. As just one example of our current difficulty, P2 is, in my opinion, incorrect. I can not find a single passage of Scripture that makes this point. Until we resolve that we can’t even begin to move toward an agreed upon conclusion. That is the reason I wanted to see what you believe to be the set of premises that force your conclusion.

        1. This is how you open chapter 8 of your book. These two statements seem to contradict one another.

          The context of the words that open chapter 8 clarify. More to the point, having (apparently?) checked off with the first six chapters you are stuck on chapter 7 and can’t get to chapter 8. No wonder you can’t buy in to the way it opens. By the way, your P2 is covered in chapter 9.

          As for the sticking point – chapter seven – you’ll have to tell me how I can help you since what I’m providing doesn’t seem to scratch where you are itching. I have quoted the text, examined it, and explained it from multiple angles. Moreover, Jesus Himself demonstrated what He mean by the teaching when He rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. I’ve considered your interpretation and can’t accept it without ignoring words like “angels,” “heaven,” and “astonished” that are present in the passage. How else can I help you – aside from denying the words I see facing me in the text?

          1. I’ve considered your interpretation and can’t accept it without ignoring words like “angels,” “heaven,” and “astonished” that are present in the passage. How else can I help you – aside from denying the words I see facing me in the text?

            What you are calling my interpretation does not ignore the words angel, heaven, nor astonished. I agreed with your paraphrase and it contained all the relevant words. So, denial of words is really not the problem.

            I’ll try once more to clarify. Let’s take the word ‘astonished.’ You say the people were astonished because they had just been told that they were going to heaven. Have I got that right?

            Well, I did a little search on the word ‘astonished’ in the NASB NT. There are 16 verses that show up. If instead we search on the Greek word we get 13 verses. One of them is the verse we keep bumping into, Matthew 22:33 “And when the multitudes heard [this,] they were astonished at His teaching.”

            Now, the Scriptures do not give us any information at all for what it was about His teaching that astonished them. Yet, somehow you are absolutely sure that it was because He had just told them that they were going to heaven. Several of the 13 verses I mentioned have the people being astonished at His teaching; some at His miracles. But, all of them also tell us what it was that astonished the people in view.

            For example, take Matthew 7: “28 The result was that when Jesus had finished these words, the multitudes were amazed at His teaching; 29 for He was teaching them as [one] having authority, and not as their scribes.” So, Scripture makes it very clear that it was not the content of His message but the manner in which He delivered it (i.e., with authority) that amazed them.

            Or, take Luke 4:32 “and they were amazed at His teaching, for His message was with authority.” Again, no room for misunderstanding the reason for the amazement.

            Or, take Mark 11: “16 and He would not permit anyone to carry goods through the temple. 17 And He [began] to teach and say to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a robbers’ den.” 18 And the chief priests and the scribes heard [this], and [began] seeking how to destroy Him; for they were afraid of Him, for all the multitude was astonished at His teaching.” Here we are even given the specific teaching so that nobody can doubt what teaching was amazing.

            So, there are many subjects that might astonish the hearers when Jesus is the one speaking or acting. In our verse the only way you can say that the people were astonished because they had just learned that they were going to heaven is to make it up.

            1. We’ve been given as much or more information in Matthew 22 as to what it was that astonished the crowds as we were in Mark 11. And it seems plain what it was in Matthew 22 that would have astonished them.

              Nevertheless, since you don’t believe that Jesus was teaching an angelic rather than the expected earthly resurrection, what was it that you think astonished the people?

              1. Mike,

                I agree with you completely that in Mark 11 and Matthew 22 we are given exactly what Jesus said and that then we are told that the multitude was astonished. That is not the problem we are having. In all cases we know exactly what the words of Scripture are and yet there are all sorts of ‘christianity’ in our world. The problem is that most of them have made errors in attaching their own meaning to the explicit text.

                We are told what Jesus said in Matthew 22; but, we are not told why the people were astonished. So to say WHY they were astonished is us reading INTO the text. If we look at Matthew 7:28, just as an example, we know exactly what His words were, the sermon on the mount, and then we are told exactly why the people were astonished. No guess work required. But, in Matthew 22 the only way to say why they were astonished is to use human rationalism to come up with a plausible explanation.

                As far as I know, the Sadducees were a group of priests who came out to ‘trap’ Jesus. They only believed the first 5 books were Scripture and did not believe in either resurrection nor angels (the heavenly type). As priests the multitude would have had respect for these learned men. Do you agree?

                What happens is they set a trap and in a few words Jesus shatters their whole position. Or as Matthew 22:34 puts it “…He had put the Sadducees to silence,..” That had no rebuttle to what He said. Might that be the reason that the crowd was astonished? How can you be so sure that it was the heaven word that did it and not this?

                Nevertheless, since you don’t believe that Jesus was teaching an angelic rather than the expected earthly resurrection, what was it that you think astonished the people?

                As far as I know the Sadducees didn’t expect resurrection of any kind, i.e., neither earthly nor heavenly. Again, it doesn’t matter what I think astonished the people. The Scriptures do not tell us here and what I would say would only be my worthless opinion.

                Our issue here is what Jesus was teaching. I understand Him to be teaching that there is a resurrection, all people are resurrected and all resurrected people are spiritual (LIKE angels in heaven) and not material. He is not teaching that there are no longer male and female; rather that as resurrected beings they don’t marry – again angels in heaven don’t marry.

                He is talking to a multitude including His disciples. My guess (and that is all it is) is that there were righteous and unrighteous people in the crowd. So, our difference is that you see all of the people treated the same way. I think the righteous do in fact have a heavenly resurrection. BUT, the unrighteous, although resurrected, do not go there. However, nothing in the passage addresses this distinction regarding ultimate destination. IMHO it is an error to see this passage teaching ‘everybody goes to heaven.’

                1. David, technically speaking, I’m not saying that the passage teaches that everyone goes to heaven. Rather, I’m saying that it teaches that resurrection leads to heaven and not, as had been the general hope, to earth. The logic then works like this according to your formula: P1 Everyone who died went to Sheol below, P2 the dead are raised, P3 Resurrection leads to heaven, C Everyone is going to heaven. ‘

                  Now this is by no means the only basis on which the Bible teaches that everyone is going to heaven, but it does represent the Bible’s fundamental narrative about the way God has created – and recreated – the universe as it affects our life, death, and afterlife.

                  I acknowledge that you reject Matthew 22 as teaching that resurrection leads to heaven. I suggest, however, that you finish this book. For one thing, you’re over halfway through. For another, you may read something there that casts light on Matthew 22. And thirdly, you owe it to yourself to develop your own understanding of how Scripture teaches that the inhabitants of Sheol will ever receive deliverance. For you have acknowledged the Bible’s teaching that everyone who dies goes below to Sheol. Therefore, you’ll want to have a view of how and when that changed. For without such a view, you can only conclude that the dead are still descending to Sheol and that no one but Jesus has ever ascended into heaven.

                  1. Mike,

                    For without such a view, you can only conclude that the dead are still descending to Sheol and that no one but Jesus has ever ascended into heaven.

                    I have read chapters 8 and part of 9. The problem is that you see things so very differently from the way I do that I can’t really make much progress without dealing with the differences as they come up. For you are building up your conclusion one step at a time. I disagree with your steps.

                    You stated P3 in your last comment as “Resurrection leads to heaven.” That can not be P3 since that is your conclusion. It has to be proven and not just stated as a premise.

                    At any rate, I have been studying the Bible for a few years now and have developed a view of what it teaches. I’m not a mensa candidate; but, I am also not mentally retarded. Let me just state my view of this matter. Hopefully, it will give you something to laugh about today for it is totally different from the view you have. As I have said before, at least one of us has it all wrong.

                    God will not have anything to do with sin. He hates it. He is spirit and thus is everywhere at once. Nevertheless, in a sense that I can not really articulate, He lives in heaven. It’s a spiritual realm in contrast to our material one.

                    God is one; and yet the Bible shows that He operates in three persons, Father, Son, Holy Spirit. I see each of them having what we would call personality. And, yet, Scripture clearly teaches that there is only one God. All three ‘persons’ of the Godhead have never not existed. 2000 years ago, the second person, the son, who was a spirit being, became a man on earth, Jesus. He was fully man and fully God. Don’t ask me to explain that….

                    God’s plan is to live with man for all eternity. Since man is sinful, He had a problem to solve and He did it with Jesus’ death. God has always been identifying men/women to ‘save.’ By this I mean, He declares them righteous. They are not righteous; but, he can do this since at a point in time (2000 years ago) He knew that their sin would be paid for and thus make His declaration just.

                    The way in which a person is declared righteous is when God decides that they have faith/trust in what He has revealed to them. Genesis 15:6 is a nice example of this happening to Abraham well before the cross. Yet, when Abraham died, he went to Sheol. He had been declared righteous; but, his sin had not yet been paid for by the cross. Today, it is the gospel of Jesus that one must trust to receive this declaration. Those who don’t trust this message remain unrighteous and can not come into the presence of God, heaven. Sorry.

                    Not only righteous people but also unrighteous people went to Sheol before the cross. And, from Luke 16:19ff it seems like there was a good part and a not so good part. After the cross, Jesus took the ones from the good part to be with Him. According to 2 Corinthians 5:8 (as I understand it, at least) Paul says he would rather be absent from the body (I take this to be physically dead) and to be home with the Lord (I take this to be with Jesus in heaven). So, when one who God has declared righteous (God did this for me on December 19, 1987) dies today, they are immediately transported to heaven as a spirit being. Their body is rotting in the earth and they never have anything to do with Sheol. They are not yet resurrected which for me means being given a body like the one Christ had when he appeared on earth after the cross. That resurrection will happen when Christ comes for His church someday.

                    So, what about the unrighteous. They are still flocking to Sheol; the bad part. And, not until the various judgments of Christ, will they be resurrected to go to a place nobody should ever have to go to. On the other hand, it is one to which we all (including me, of course) deserve to go to.

                    So, as you can see, you and I are miles apart in our theology. I’ll leave it up to you to decide what you think might be profitable for us to discuss. I still think the list of premises approach is the most likely one to yield any fruit. But, if you decide you have had enough, then at least know that I have enjoyed our exchanges and have benefited greatly. You are a very bright and Godly person. But, you have applied much too much creativity to what is in the Scriptures. Of course, this is just my opinion and I could be completely wrong.

                    1. You stated P3 in your last comment as “Resurrection leads to heaven.” That can not be P3 since that is your conclusion. It has to be proven and not just stated as a premise.

                      From your standpoint P3 is unproven; from my standpoint it was proven when 1) Jesus taught it in Matthew 22, and 2) then demonstrated it in His own resurrection.

                      Let me just state my view of this matter.

                      Thanks for doing that. I was with you 100% in the beginning when you said God is spirit and hates sin…but there were indeed many points of departure after that (though I found nothing to laugh about).

                      I am not a mensa candidate either and would be happy to continue a dialogue with you. Since you want to follow a different logical structure from the book, I’ve established a separate place for us to have that type of discussion. Hope to see you there!

  4. Mike,

    I am heading over to the new place. But, first I just wanted to respond to something you just said. P3 was “resurrection leads to heaven” and you would say this is true. You gave two reasons. The Matthew passage we have been discussing and the fact that Jesus demonstrated it in His own resurrection.

    I have to respond that this second reason is not convincing. Yes, He did go to heaven at His resurrection. An example of one, however, does not prove nor even suggest that all will follow the same path. That assertion has to be proven.

    He was in fact the only person who ever lived who did not sin. He was in fact not only man but also God. No other living human has ever been like that. So there are some significant differences between Jesus and say a serial killer. How can we possibly deduce that all will just follow His situation given the myriad of differences between Him and all the rest of us?

    1. David, again, I acknowledge that you don’t agree with me that P3 is convincing.

      An example of one, however, does not prove nor even suggest that all will follow the same path. That assertion has to be proven.

      I would go even farther than you, David, and say that just because Jesus went to heaven wouldn’t imply to me that anyone else would go. It’s the teaching that He, the apostles, and the Old Testament give about His resurrection that causes me to find hope for all of us in what happened to Him. For example, the very phrase “resurrection of the dead” implies the same universality as death itself. Since everyone ends up dead, and God promises a resurrection of the dead, that tells me everyone will rise. In other words, it’s because He doesn’t restrict the experience to only some that I don’t. And given His sinlessness, about which you and I are in complete agreement, I expect that – and this pains me to say it – I have more in common with a serial killer than I do with Him. Therefore, when I hear Paul in Acts 24:15 speak of a “resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked” I think of Christ as the righteous and all the rest of us as the wicked.

      So, no, Christ’s going to heaven in His resurrection does not by itself tell me that the rest of us will follow. It was because He said in Matthew 22 that resurrection leads to heaven and demonstrated what He meant through His own experience, that I believe His resurrection speaks to what will happen to us. Now, I don’t believe any of us are going all the way to the right hand of the throne of God. Rather, I believe our respective places in heaven are governed by how pleased He is with how each of us responded to the light He gave us in this life. But His statement in John, “I go to prepare a place for you,” speaks wonderfully to me about what His resurrection to heaven means for us. (Again, I know you think this will only apply to some of us.)

      This belief in the benefit of His resurrection for all of us is reinforced in my mind by apostolic reference to Him as the firstborn of the dead. That is, He was not called firstborn of some of the dead. As death happens to everyone, no matter how good or bad they are, it doesn’t strike me as strange that resurrection of the dead should happen to all of us, no matter how good or bad we are.

      There are more scriptures I could quote but I’ll hold off and see if the need arises in the dialogue we are pursuing going forward. Before I do, however, let me say briefly that I once believed in the traditional heaven-or-hell scenario that is common among evangelical Christians. God opened my eyes to what was in the Scriptures. I was not even praying about this subject or seeking information on it. I was just trying to live life in a way that was pleasing to Him and this subject arose in my daily Bible study. My point is, I can understand – at least to some degree – your hesitation to accept this idea.

      1. Therefore, when I hear Paul in Acts 24:15 speak of a “resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked” I think of Christ as the righteous and all the rest of us as the wicked.

        Would the fact that both the words righteous and wicked in that verse are plural in the Greek change your mind? Really, it is not a contrast between Christ and us that Paul is talking about here.

        Now, I don’t believe any of us are going all the way to the right hand of the throne of God.

        What would be keeping you from going right up and talking to God. Hasn’t all of your sin been forgiven? Don’t believers have direct access to God? In fact, don’t believers have the Holy Spirit living in them? How much closer can a person come to God than to have God in them.

        That is, He was not called firstborn of some of the dead.

        The problem here is what the word πρωτοτοκοσ (firstborn) means. I say it means superiority with regard to position. So yes, He is clearly superior to all dead people, righteous or not. But, then you make the point that all will be resurrected because of this ‘firstborn’ appellation. We don’t disagree on that; the question is where not if.

  5. Hello, I have read quite a bit of what you have written, and I understand your point which is that after the physical death our soul lives on eternally and yes we will all go to heaven on the day of Resurrection, But this does not mean we will remain in heaven, we are all raised from the dead to face the Judgement of God, those who are saved will remain in heaven, but those who are not saved will burn in the lake of fire forever so yes everybody will go to heaven but not everybody will stay there, that depends on Gods Judgment, hell and death will be cast into the lake of fire, and all those who are not saved along with them will burn in hell for ever.

  6. I completely agree that there will not.be one person who will be left out of His New Kingdom.

    Your heart is shaped after our Father’s.

    Your view on the “trinity” is also spot-on.

    One question though:

    I’ve read a lot of your content, but can you point me in the direction of how you relate the last chapters of Revelation with how we all will have eternal life?

    Thanks!

    This world is upside down with their unloving ways.

    Like you say, we ALL go to Heaven!

    Peace and grace to you!

  7. Michael,

    If you haven’t already, read Whatever Became of Jesus Christ? The Biblical Case for the Second Coming as Accomplished Fact.

    The important thing to remember about the book of Revelation is that the events described in it were future to the letter’s recipients, but past to those of us who read it today.  More specifically, it was immediate future to them, and it is distant past to us.  See also All Bible Prophecy Has Been Fulfilled in Christ.

    One of the most common misconceptions people have about the New Testament is to equate “the kingdom of God’ and “salvation” with the afterlife.  Yet God intends them to be blessings for us in this life.  The kingdom of God is in our midst and we should be seeking it, not waiting for it to happen to us in the next one.

    Organized Judaism is in denial (i.e. unbelief) about the first coming of Christ, and organized Christianity is in denial (i.e. unbelief) about His second coming.  Again, the kingdom of God is in our midst and we should be seeking it.

    The last chapters of Revelation tells about the coming of the kingdom and how much better it is to be in it than outside of it.  Those wedded to the pleasures of this world have blinded themselves to the kingdom and its entrance.  However, once they die, the spirit leaves the body and is thus no longer bound to the blindness that flesh can bring.  Notice the dramatic change of heart that death brought about for the rich man in the story of Lazarus (Luke 16:24).  He who could not be bothered to help a poor man in this world instantly became an impassioned evangelist in the next.  However, it was too late for him to do anything on earth and he was thus tormented with regret.  Therefore, “let us work the works of Him who sent us until night comes when no man can work” (John 9:4).

    In the life to come, when we’re all in heaven, some of us will reflect happily on the life we lived here, while others will experience disgrace and self-contempt when they remember how they lived here.  Death makes us all repentant; the humble begin their repentance well before it comes.  Thus, even though all will be in heaven, not all will bear the same degree of glory (“for star differs from star in glory” – 1 Corinthians 15:41).  The honor we each receive there will be commensurate with the honor we each brought Him here.

    Jesus, having brought God the most glory here, achieved “first place in everything” (Colossians 1:18).  Where we fall in that order is a function of our individual judgment (Hebrews 9:27).  We can trust that He will judge fairly.  Therefore, let us be about seeking the kingdom of our God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33), for in Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3).

    Jesus is Lord and the Bible is the word of God!

  8. Mike,

    I am up to Chapter 8 and have thoroughly enjoyed the enlightenment I have received thus far. I do however have a question. How were there angels in Heaven before the resurrection?

    1. I guess I always assumed that angels were resurrected spirits. So you’re saying that when God created the heavens and the earth that he created angels to reside in heaven just as Adam and Eve were created for earth

  9. Hike, King James version, Mat, ch27,52-53 says, And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,v52 And came out of the graves after his, Christ resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
    Paul said in first Corinthians, ch15v20, But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept, or were dead, v21For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. v22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. v23, But every man in his own order;
    Christ the firstfrutts; afterwards they that are Christ’s at his coming. v24Then comes the end, Mathew’s Ch 27v52-53 description shows the first phase of a three phase resurrection. Is this not TRUTH? Christ the firstfruits; afterwards they that are His at His coming; Then comes the end. 1st, Cor, 15, v20-24

  10. Grady,

    I take the resurrections in Matthew 27:52-53 to be like those of Lazarus, the son of the widow of Nain, and others in the Old and New Testaments who were brought back from the dead to live longer on earth only to eventually die again and stay dead. I do not take them to be the eternal resurrections spoken of in 1 Corinthians 15:20-24.

  11. Mike, I suggest you pray to the LORD for understanding on Mat, 27v52-53;
    + first Cor, 15v20-24 + Rev, 7v4 + Rev14,1-5 All these have to do with the firstfruits. These many saints were not as you supposed, relating to Lazarus and others. GS.

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