Q&A: Jesus' Resurrection and Inaugurated Eschatology

Jesus' Resurrection and Inaugurated Eschatology

What is the relationship between Jesus' resurrection and the resurrection of believers?

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Answer

According to 1 Corinthians 15 Jesus' resurrection is the first fruits of what is often called the general resurrection, the resurrection of believers. That is to say, he's the first one in that order. That's an important distinction to make because, after all, there were some who had been resurrected from the dead but without what we call resurrection bodies, like Lazarus for example, and the Shunamite's son in the Old Testament. So, in that sense they'd come back from the dead, but they had resurrection bodies in the sense that they had been resurrected but not resurrection bodies in Jesus' sense such that there is no more death, there's some kind of transformation such that there is an ability to enjoy a new heaven and a new earth, a final state that can't die. Presumably Lazarus died or else he'd still be around. The Shunamite's son died, or else he'd still be around. But Jesus does not die again. So, he is the first one, the first fruits of this whole resurrection order, and that's the order of things that will be our experience as believers in the new heaven and the new earth. And that's also a way of saying that the ultimate kingdom in the new heaven and new earth has in some measure dawned, it's already been inaugurated, it's started because the resurrection has started. And so, the notion of Jesus being the first fruits of the resurrection and our bodies being something like his body is also making a statement about inaugurated eschatology; that is, the end times have already started, they've already been inaugurated.

Answer by Dr. D.A. Carson

D.A. Carson is Research Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL, and Co-founder of The Gospel Coalition