Oh boy! I came across something in today’s reading that can be confusing and may even appear like a contradiction.
Did you see it? Verse 28 caught my eye…
“Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life (good works function as evidence of true faith), and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgement (lacking good works shows an absence of true faith - as per my footnote).
The confusing part to me in that verse is..”those in the tombs”.
I am reminded of what we just read in Luke 20:38 (and also found in Mark 12:26 & Matt. 22:32).
“Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.”
So which is it? Are the dead alive now or will they rise from the tombs when the “hour comes”?
Well, I found two interesting commentaries that speak to that.
1.) “Their souls live with him, and their bodies will be raised by him.” (Gill)
That seems reasonable, but at the transfiguration, Moses & Elijah appeared as “two men who stood with him” (Luke 9:33). So they had some sort of body that was recognizable to who they were.
2.) “We wrong ourselves and wrong the truth of Christ, when we form our notions of the world of spirits by this world of sense. Believers shall obtain the resurrection form the dead, that is the blessed resurrection. What shall be the happy states of the inhabitants of that world, we cannot express or conceive.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary)
In light of these two commentaries, the two verses don’t contradict each other, they add to each other. Our souls live to God as soon as we hear and believe (vs. 25); our eternity has started (vs. 20); death will not separate us form the love of God (Rom 8:38), we will not experience judgement as believers (John 5:24) and we will live with Christ (Rom 6:8 & Phil 1:21).
All that starts now. Maybe our earthly bodies, changed, will catch up to us later (Phil 3:21) or maybe time is different outside of earthly time….who knows?
I like what Matthew Henry said, it will be a “happy state” either way!