Matthew 27:52 - 53
ESV - 52 The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. 53 And coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.
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In reference to the above scripture, Matthew 27:52, "The tombs opened,and the bodies of many holy people, entered the holy city and appeared to a number of people." I think they were the proof of Jesus' power over life and death. Jesus was always giving signs to the Jews. This sign, they should have understood. Leviticus 19:9, "When you reap the harvest of your land, you will not reap to the very edges of the field, nor will you gather the cleanings of the harvest; nor will you strip your vineyard bare, nor pick up the fallen grapes." Leviticus 23:10, "When you enter the country which I am giving you and reap the harvest there, you will bring the priest the first sheaf of your harvest, and He will present it together, with a gesture of offering for you to be acceptable." 1Corinthians 15:20, "In fact, however, Christ has been raised from the dead, as the first fruit, of all who have fallen asleep." These are an offering that Jesus brought to God,fulfilling the law. Jesus fulfilled every jot and tittle of the Law. They were the "first fruits" of the promise of resurrection. This is the first resurrection. There are two more to come. In reference to Ezekiel 37, I believe that is speaking of the rebirth of Israel, the restoration of the nation.
In Matthew 27:52-53, the normal reading of verse 52 seems to say that on Friday as soon as Jesus died there was an earthquake, and the graves were opened, and many bodies of saints were raised. But, in verse 53, it says that on Sunday morning after Christ was raised, they came out of the graves and went into Jerusalem appearing to many. Verse 52 may describe the event that led to the raising of the saints. Verse 53 elaborates on the details of the raising. The Greek makes it possible that “after His resurrection” could go with both “were raised” and “coming out of the tombs.” In other words, the earthquake opened the tombs and Christ’s resurrection brought about the saints’ resurrection. Many claim that these saints were not resurrected but resuscitated back to their former selves. However, as Jesus had just died and won the battle over sin and death, then the saints may have been raised in new immortal bodies. Their resurrection could not have happened until after He was raised. Christ is the firstfruits of the dead, I Corinthians 15:23. He fulfilled the Feast of the Firstfruits holiday, Leviticus 23:10-14. At this feast, people would bring a sheaf of grain to the priest as a token of the coming harvest. In like manner, the resurrection of these saints, happening after Jesus Himself was raised, is a token of the coming harvest when all the saints will be raised. But at the Feast of Firstfruits not just one stalk was waved but a sheaf which would represent Jesus and the raised saints. As to what happened to these saints who were raised in new glorified bodies, it is not possible they were resurrected to die again and are not likely to still be on the earth. In his article, “The Resurrection of the Jerusalem Saints at the Feast of Firstfruits (Matthew 27:51-54),” Gordon Franz proposed an interesting theory of what he believed happened to them. When Jesus was taken up in a cloud in Acts 1:9, the usual understanding is He disappeared into a cloud, but Luke might have been using cloud in a different sense. In I Thessalonians 4:17, Paul, describing the return of the Lord Jesus in the air for His saints, says they are caught up together with those who died “with them in the clouds.” He noted that in the Greek, the word “the” is not before the word “cloud,” so it can read “in clouds,” as to say living saints shall be caught up “in clouds” to meet the Lord. He wrote, “At the Rapture there would be a cloud of saints over North America, a cloud over Europe, a cloud over South America, Asia and Africa.” Luke, therefore, could mean that a cloud of the resurrected saints was above the Mount of Olives when Jesus arose. “A cloud received Him out of their sight.” The raised saints, along with Christ, were part of the firstfruits sheaf presented to and for God.
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