Full Text for The Resurrection of the Saints at Death of Christ (Text)

nurnrltiu 4tnlng· Iy Continuing LEHRE UNO WEHRE MAGAZIN FUER Ev.~LuTH. HOMILETIK THEOLOGICAL QUARTERL Y ~ THEOLOGICAL MONTHLY Vol. XII March, 1941 No.3 CONTENTS Page The AltenbUl'g Debate. P. E, I{reizmalllt ---------------_ _ ______ 161 Making the Sermon Interesting. John H. C. Fritz 173 The Resurrection of Saints at the Death of Christ. Martin Graebner 182 New Validations of Theism, Theodore Graebner , _______________________ . __________ 188 Outlines on the WUerttembel'g Gospel Selections ____________ ,, ___________ 195 Miscellanea ____________________________________________________ ~ _________________ " ____________ 207 Theological Observcr. - Kirchlich-Zeitgeschichtliches . _________________ 219 Book Review. - Litel'atul' _______ " ___ "' __________________________ , ____________________________ ,, ____ 233 Ein Prediger muss nicht allein wei- den, also dass er die Schafe unter- weise, wie sie rechte Christen sollen sein. sondern auch daneben den Woel- fen wehren, dass sie die Schafe nicht angreifen und mit falscher Lehre ver- fuehren und Irrtum einfuehren. Luther Es ist kein Ding, das die Leute mehr bei der K1rche behaelt denn die gute Pred!gt. - Apologie, Art. 24 If the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? -1 Cor. 14:8 Published for the Ev. Luth. Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and other States CONCORDIA PUBLISHING HOUSE, St. Louis, Mo. 182 The Resurrection of Saints at the Death of Christ The Resurrection of Saints at the Death of Christ The death of Jesus on the cross was accompanied by some astounding miracles, which are enumerated in Matt. 27: 51-53: "And, behold, the veil of the Temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom, and the earth did quake and the rocks rent, and the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints which slept arose and came out of the graves after His resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared unto many." Much has been said, more can be said, about each of these miracles; but this article concerns itself with, and restricts itself to, the last-mentioned occurrence: the opening of the graves and the resurrection of saints. Did these saints arise with mortal bodies or with glorified bodies? If we read these words carefully, we find that the account is very vivid, as evidenced by the interjection "behold" and the con- nective "and" repeated after each miracle. Reading these verses with simplicity of mind, we learn that, when Jesus yielded up the ghost, there were a number of happenings: the veil of the Temple was rent in twain; the earth did quake; the rocks were rent; the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints which slept arose. As far as we are able to find, there was never a voice heard among the interpreters of Scripture which did not look upon these events as happening simultaneously, and indeed that is the plain meaning of vv.51 and 52. Devoting our special study to the second part of v. 52 and v. 53, we read that the bodies of the saints that slept arose. Later on we read that they came out of the graves and went into the holy city and appeared unto many. Our Bible therefore distin- guishes between arising and coming out of their graves, and this is in entire harmony with the original Greek. The Greek uses the word lml!..rllllcra'V, the Pass. Aor. of EydQoo, "to rouse from sleep." The form may be translated, "They were awakened" or, "They woke up." Both fit well into the context. Only the body sleeps, only the body can awaken. Since death is here called sleep, the awakening from death can be nothing else than the return to life. Thus we find that, when these graves were opened, the bodies in those graves returned to life when they were awakened by God. The words simply can mean nothing else, neither do we know of anyone who interprets them otherwise. V.53 makes three further statements concerning these saints. The subject now is ot UYWL, as seen from the masculine form of the participle. The sentence has two predicates: they "went into the holy city"; they "appeared unto many." Besides these predicates e e d t t ;e If ,d d is .e le >t d :e n d s s " 'f I, e s f The Resurrection of Saints at the Death of Christ 183 is the participle ~;€A:t)6v"tE~. A translation that would give force to the participle construction would read about as follows: having come out of their graves, they went into the holy city." note that the bodies were brought back to life - they came out of their graves; they went into the holy city and appeared unto So far everything is easy. But now we find the further words IhS"to' "tilv liYEQCfW O'.\J"toll, after His resurrection. These words are easy to translate, but harder to understand because they may be connected with one of two verbs. They can be construed with ~;EA.Mv"tE~. Then we translate: "And when they had come out of their graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city." 01' they can be connected with etcrijAitov, and we would then trans- late: "And having come out of their graves, they went into the holy city after His resurrection." Grammatically there would be no objection to either of the renderings; and that being the case, we look for other canons of interpretation which may guide us to the proper understanding of this verse. It is an elementary maxim of interpretation that, if two interpretations are gram- matically possible, one of them, however, is ludicrous, the latter should be rejected in favor of one that is not. An instance: When we read, Luke 23:43, that Jesus said to the dying thief: "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise," we know that the word "today" can grammatically be connected with the preceding words, making the entire passage read thus: "Verily, verily, I say unto thee today, Thou shalt be with Me in Paradise." We are perfectly right in rejecting this interpretation, not because it is grammatically impossible but because it is ludicrous. Now, what picture do we get if we connect these words "after His resurrection" with the participle "after they came out"? We have seen that at the death of Jesus the graves opened and these bodies were made alive. Now, if the words "after His resurrec- tion" should go with t;EA.it6V"tE~, we have the impossible thought that, after being made alive, these saints remained lying in their graves unto the third day and that they then came forth! How simple and reasonable is the situation that arises when we connect the words "after His resurrection" with their following action of coming into the city. They were made alive at the death of Christ and, of course, came out of their graves; and after they had come out of their graves, they did not at once enter the holy city, but did so after three days, as witnesses of Christ's resurrection and as an assurance of our own resurrection. We next read, as the English Bible has it: "They appeared unto many." The Greek word here used is i\1h(j)O'.vl~Et'V. We must not only know what this word means, but we must also pay atten- 184 The Resurrection of Saints at the Death of Christ tion to its voice and tense. It is evidently derived from the same stem as the adjective e~ -, e The Resurrection of Saints at the Death of Christ 185 appearing to Abraham, using the form 8f.t