Q&A: Paul's View of the Resurrection

Paul's View of the Resurrection

How did Paul view the future resurrection of the dead?

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Answer

When Paul thinks about the resurrection of the dead, he's got two ideas in mind. First, there is no doubt that in Paul's mind he believes that when we die we will be in the presence of Christ. In fact, in 2 Timothy when he contemplates his own martyrdom, he thinks about that very thing: he will be in Christ's presence immediately. On the other hand, he understands that at the consummation of history, at the end of time, there is going to be a physical sort of corporal resurrection of our bodies. And so, as we try to put together this end time sort of resurrection of the body and this present sort of death bringing us directly to Christ, theologians have had to understand how these two work together. And so, what many of us think is that what will happen is that we will have a kind intermediate state in which we go to be with Christ and we await the sort of the completion of our resurrection at the end of time. But in everything that Paul teaches about the resurrection, one thing has to be true: when we imagine the resurrection, we have to imagine Christ's resurrection. That is clear in Romans 6. If we are going to be identified with him and a death like his, we will also be connected to him in a resurrection like his. So, as Christ was raised from the dead to eternal glory, so likewise we are going to be raised from the dead, and we will enjoy the kind of life that Jesus enjoys today.

Answer by Dr. Gary M. Burge