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"All That Are in the Graves Shall Hear the Sound of His Voice, and Shall Come Forth"
By Bill Grimes
While I was searching for passages in the New Testament dealing with the resurrection of the saints, I was surprised to find so many in John's gospel (John 5:17-30, 6:39, 40, 44, 54; 11:24; 12:48; 14:3, 28; 15:18; 16:1; and 16:19). But then again, why should I have been surprised? John wrote
The teaching under consideration today is Jesus' answer to the Jews who wanted to stone Him for being a Sabbath-breaker. In John chapter 5, verses 1-16, we read that Jesus had healed a man at the pool of Bethesda. He told the man to pick up his mat and walk, which he did. The Jews then rebuked him for carrying his mat on the Sabbath. He told them that his healer had told him to do so, but that he did not know who he was. Jesus later met the man in the temple and told him not to sin any more, lest something worse happen to him. The man went and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. While they looked at Him with murder in their eyes, Jesus gave them this answer:
17 My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.
At that, the murder in the eyes of the Jews must have blazed even hotter, because Jesus called God His Father, making Himself equal with God.
18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill Him, because He had not only broken the Sabbath, but said also that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.
Notice that Jesus specifically mentioned two works that He performs: the raising and quickening of the dead, and judgment, both of which are given to the Son to perform, so that all may honor Him as they honor the Father (verses 21-23). Next, He proceeded to discuss these two works in the order in which He mentioned them. The first is a resurrection of life (verses 24-26). The second is a resurrection of judgment (verses 27-30).
The work of raising the dead and quickening them is a
present and on-going work. It is also a future work. The present, on-going work is described in verses 24-25 and the future work is described in verses 28-29.
The Present and Ongoing
24 Verily, verily I say unto you, he that heareth My word and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death to life.
That the raising of the dead and the quickening is a present activity is evidenced by the phrase "and now is" in verse 25. That it is a future activity is evidenced by the phrase "the hour is coming" in the same verse.
Before people hear and believe, they are in a state of condemnation and death (verses 24 and 25). The Greek word for death in verse 24 is
thanatos (Strongs #2288) This word denotes a death of the body in which the soul and body are separated, here with the implied idea of misery in Hell. The Greek word translated "dead" in verse 25, however, is
nekros (3498). Christ is here speaking of those who are spiritually dead. Nekros is used in Scripture by our Lord to refer to both to physical death and spiritual death. Consider the following cases.
Ephesians 2:1, 5-6
5 Even when we were dead (3498) in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace you have been saved)
So we see in these two passages that
nekros (3498) refers both to those who are physically dead and to those who are still physically alive but
spiritually dead. It must be noted too that in the verses quoted above from the book of Ephesians, the verbs are in the
past tense. This is a reflection of John 5:24-25, where the resurrection was referred to as a present and on-going
What do we know of these who hear and live? We know from these verses that they are dead spiritually (verse 25). They are in a state of death and condemnation (verse 24). If you have ever been to a wake at a funeral home and viewed a body, you know that you can tickle it, yell at it, cuss at it, and talk sweetly to it, but there will be no response. So how do the spiritually dead hear?
The spiritually dead hear Jesus' voice because they belong to Him (John 8:47). They hear His voice because God enables them (John 6:65). God acts on believers in such a way because they are His already.
The Future Physical Resurrection
John 6:39-40, 44, 54
44 No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw Him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
54 Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
As you can see from these passages, the promise is clear that those who belong to Jesus, those who have seen and heard Him, those who have believed in Him and in the one who sent Him, will be raised up by Him on the last day. This promise is solid. It will happen! And this promise is in regard to a bodily resurrection, as we shall see in our discussion of verses 28-30 of John. First, however, we must look at verses 26 - 27.
Verses 26-27 essentially repeat verses 21-22, and serve as a transition between the spiritual resurrection discussed in verses 24-25 and the bodily resurrection discussed in verses 28-29. Verse 26 speaks of the life which those who have heard and believed now enjoy, which will lead to a bodily resurrection to life (verse 29). Verse 27 speaks of the execution of judgment which those who have not heard and have rejected Christ's word will one day face. It is the bodily resurrection of damnation spoken of in verse 29. We also read of it in the following passages:
This resurrection is a different one than that spoken of in verses 24-25. Note the difference in the time statements. Verse 25 reads "…the hour is coming, and now is…". But verse 28 reads simply "…for the hour is coming…". This resurrection is yet to come, at an unspecified time in the future. The resurrection in verse 25, however, was going on at that time and would continue in the future.
Also notice who is resurrected. In verses 24-25 it is the dead who hear and believe that are resurrected. I have demonstrated that these are spiritually dead people who belong to God; that He enables them to hear, and thus to believe. In verse 28, the Scripture reads, "…all that are in the graves shall hear His voice…". (italics mine)
Charles R. Swindoll writes:
When the normal sense makes good sense, seek no other sense.
The normal sense of this phrase is that all corpses in their graves will hear Jesus' voice and will come out. Just to be sure that we're not reading anything into this, let's examine a few other passages. Let's look at some verses from the Old Testament first, because Jesus was a Jew speaking to Jews who would understand the things He was saying in light of the Old Testament. In each of these, it is obvious that the word grave is used to refer to a physical object in which corpses are placed, rather than to the place where the spirits of the dead dwell.
The scene in this verse is death and decay in the grave.
11 Shall Thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave? Or Thy faithfulness in destruction?
The slain lie in the grave, cut off from God's hand. No praise comes from the grave.
Our eventual destination will be the grave. Our bodies will remain there until the last day, as we shall soon see.
The Greek word for "graves" in verse 28 is mneimois (3419), which is a plural form of the noun Mneimon . This word is as specific in its meaning as the Greek word for virgin, parthenos. Mneimon is used 42 times in the New Testament. It is translated 29 times as sepulcher, 8 times as grave, and 5 times as tomb, all in the literal sense of the word. To quote my wife Ruth, this word means "a hole in the ground where you put a dead body." That is the only way this word is ever used in the New Testament.
There is not a single place in the New Testament where mneimon refers to the place where the spirits of the dead dwell. The Greek word for the place where the spirits of the dead dwell is Hades. It is not used here. Consider the following two verses, which are the only other places in the New Testament where the exact Greek phrase en tois mneimois found in verse 28 is used:
In each of these, en tois mneimois refers to literal, physical tombs.
And so we conclude beyond a shadow of a doubt that in John 5:28, Jesus is saying that all of the corpses in their graves will hear His voice and come forth, just as Lazarus heard Him and came out of his grave in John 11. He is foretelling a bodily resurrection, according to the sense in which one would normally take this verse.
Another difference between the spiritual resurrection described in verses 24 -25 and the physical one in verse 28 is who is being resurrected. The resurrection described in verses 24-25 applies only to "he that heareth My word and believeth on Him that sent Me". This is how "the dead shall hear… and …they that hear shall live."
This is a believers' resurrection.
In verse 28, however, we read "ALL that are in the graves" will hear his voice and come forth. This must be a physical resurrection. It cannot refer to the spiritual resurrection, because it includes both believers and nonbelievers. It has been said regarding some scripture passages that "all" means all without distinction, not all without exception. This is a case, however, where "all" definitely means all without exception. The plain sense of this verse is that every corpse will rise and face judgment.
There is no evidence of a bodily resurrection of the saints to immortality occurring at any time during church history, except possibly the one described in Matthew 27:52-53. This occurred in AD 33 just after Jesus' resurrection:
This did not involve all of the saints, however. All of the other resurrections of saints recorded in scripture were temporary ones, in which the resurrected person died again. Regarding the universal resurrection, consider the following passage as well:
The graves and the sea will give up all the dead which are in them for judgment.To those fortunate enough to belong to God, fortunate enough to have been enabled by Him to hear and believe Jesus' message, God will say the following words:
To those whom He leaves in a state of condemnation and death, however, He will say this:
Yes, when the bodily resurrection takes place, we will either enter the joy of our Lord or spend eternity in the lake of fire, alive and feeling every minute of it. Are your eternal reservations made in smoking or nonsmoking?
The only spiritual resurrection that the Bible records anything about is that which happens when a person is born again. Jesus described it as both a present and future resurrection in John 5:24-25. This has been happening for 2000 years and is still happening today.
The bodily resurrection to immortality is yet to come. In John 5: 28 we read
"all that are in the graves shall hear the sound of His voice, and shall come forth." The Greek word
mnemiois, translated "graves," here, is only used in the New Testament to refer a place in which corpses are lain. This word never refers to the place where the spirits of the dead dwell. Because of this, Jesus can
only mean that the literal, physical corpses of all who lie in the graves will rise and come forth from them. He cannot be referring to a spiritual resurrection, because this resurrection involves "all" persons, and not believers only.
What do YOU think ?
Another hopeless attempt to explain the resurrections described in the NT without the guidance of the OT types. In the temporary history of natural Israel there were three natural events that typified the THREE resurrections involving NT, spiritual Israel (Christ and the church). 1) The safe emergence of Israel from the Red Sea typified the safe emergence of Christ from the tomb. 2) The return from Babylon to the natural promised land of ONLY the faithful remnant of Israel (the typifying resurrection of Ezek. 37) typified the resurrection of ONLY the dead in Christ at his parousia (on the last day of the true first century, in fulfillment of the flood's occurrence on the last day of Noah's last 100 pre-flood years). 3) The escape of those who heeded Christ's warning about the destruction of natural Israel (Mt. 24:16) typified the escape of those "found written in the book of life" at the future resurrection (Rev. 20:7-15), when the natural world (not the planet) will be destroyed as natural Israel was destroyed. The events of AD 70 were the last of the OT types; they were NOT a NT, spiritual fulfillment.
It's not my problem that you can't simply believe what Scripure says. GRAVE means GRAVE. Deal with it
Just because "grave means grave" does not preclude it from being used in a spiritual sense in the context of a passage. By that standard, we have to believe that God has chicken wings and rides around in an old chariot. <BR><BR> Scripture should be understood in its intended context, which we can ferret out by study and listening to His Spirit. <BR><BR> For instance, if we accept Matthew 27:51-53 as rigidly literal, then we would be forced to believe that the centurion and those with him in verse 54, personally observed the veil of the temple tearing, the earthquake, the splitting of the rocks, the opening of the graves, the bodies of many saints raised, and the appearance of these saints to many in Jerusalem ALL ON THAT ONE DAY WHILE CURRENTLY GUARDING JESUS' BODY. It is certainly a stretch of the imagination to believe that they observed all these things themselves AT THAT PARTICULAR TIME. <BR><BR> Rather than the rigid, incoherent interpretation, it would be better to understand this passage one of two different ways: <BR><BR> (1) The centurion and those with him guarding Jesus personally saw these things or the evidence of these things at a later date, and this was recorded as parenthetical statement of the effect of Jesus' death on those around Him, even though these effects came later. Or, <BR><BR> (2) The events described were not literal (or were not ALL literal), but were spiritual symbols of the results of Jesus' death and resurrection. For instance, the veil of the temple represented the tearing down of the wall of separation between the Jew and the gentiles. <BR><BR> Besides Matthew, there is no record of this HIGHLY SIGNIFICANT event of the dead being raised in this manner, which leads me to believe that this was a symbolic event: Those that were asleep were those that believed in Christ, yet had fallen away. However, upon Christ's resurrection MANY were raised from the symbolic grave to life, and these formerly "dead" were vivified into new faith and witnessed to many in Jerusalem. <BR><BR> Since this did not happen immediately at the time in Scripture where it was recorded, but later (as proven by the impossibility that the Roman guards would have been able to see all the events from their guard posts), it is clear that this is a record of the apostles and other disciples being scattered after Jesus' arrest, their ensuing doubts about Him, and the faith that they gained after His resurrection and the receiving of His Spirit. It was after that that these "dead" became alive again and went into the Holy City and were seen by many.
What happen to absent from the body present with the "Lord ?
"Are you saying ,"all that have passed on are spiritually at rest in the ground ???
"Are you saying that ,"all that has passed are Spiritually resting in the grave ??? "What happen to ,"Absent from the body present with the "Lord ???
If being absent from the grave is supposed to be a spiritual metaphor, does that mean the empty tomb of Jesus was only a metaphor?
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