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Pondering Matthew 27:52-53


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#21 Brian

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 07:09 PM

Joel,

Please share!

Brian

#22 Joel

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 07:30 PM

Hi Brian!

I think you mean John please share....

#23 John

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 07:42 PM

Thank you, Joel. It's a little lengthy, so I'm going go post the link to a blog of mine where I posted it. I think a few others touched on upon "egersis" versus "anastasis", but there is another word which is assumed to be accurate because of the unanimous English renderings:

http://savedbygracea...phases.html?m=1

#24 John

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 08:01 PM

Would it be better just to post it here?

#25 Brian

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 08:34 PM

Joel,

My mistake. I will take a look at it. Thanks, John!

Brian

#26 John

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 08:36 PM

Sure thing, guys.

#27 Joel

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 09:19 PM

John,

If you like you can indeed post it here. I will look at post length to see if there are any issues calling for breaking it into multiple posts.

#28 John

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 09:22 PM

DID THE RESURRECTION OF SAINTS "BEGIN" IN MATTHEW 27:52?

I've seen many appeal to Matthew 27:52 in asserting that a number of saints were "resurrected" immediately after the Lord's resurrection, and that they therefore ascended with Him. They say that this verse proves that the resurrection of the saints occurs in "phases" or "stages". Aside from the glaring problems I see with that interpretation, I saw something today regarding the Greek which may add a new wrinkle to the verses in question. This is long, but I can almost guarantee that anyone who reads thru this will come away at least with your interest piqued, and there's even a possibility that you'll be edified. This is a deep word study, which may well change the way you view Matthew 27:52,53 from this point on. Look at the verses:

Matthew 27:52-53: "And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many."

At first glance, it certainly appears as if these saints rose from the dead (whether or not one believes they were "resurrected") after the Lord's resurrection. The one thing that strikes me as odd, however, is how those two verses seem to be out of place chronologically in comparison to the verses which precede and follow them:

Matthew 27:50-58: "Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. 51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; 52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. 54 Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God. 55 And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: 56 Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children. 57 When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus 'disciple: 58 He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered."

Notice how verse 50 describes the Lord's death. Verse 51 describes the veil being torn in two, the earth quaking, and rocks crumbling. Skip now for a moment to verse 54, where it says that the centurion (and those with him) were not only "watching Jesus", but also saw "those things that were done". What things did they see? Well, again, according to the preceding verses, they saw the earthquake, the rocks crumble, the dead rise, and the veil torn (perhaps that was told to them right after the news went out). But the key here is that they had been "watching Jesus". So ALL of the things they were witnessing must have happened immediately after the Lord's death (including the saints rising from their graves).

Now, bear with me, and now look at verses 55-58. Here we see the women who were "beholding afar off". So they were witnessing the same events which the centurion had. Verse 57 goes on to specifically say "when even was come", Joseph of Arimathaea went to Pilate to ask for the Lord's body. So that bolsters the notion that all of them (the centurion and those with him; the women; and Joseph of Arimathaea) were physically near the cross (or at least within sight) of ALL the events immediately surrounding the Lord's last breath on the cross (to reiterate: the Lord's death; the earthquake; the rocks crumbling; AND the saints coming out of their graves).

You may ask, "How can that be if verse 53 says that the saints didn't come out of their graves until 'after his resurrection'?!?"

This is where it gets REALLY interesting (at least, to me). Again, the backbone of my argument is that verses 52 and 53 would seem very out of place for the above reasons if the dead didn't come out of their graves until three days later. But there is something else interesting I've realized, and it centers around the Greek ("KJV-only"ers, perhaps you should look away for a few minutes). Take a look:

Matthew 27:53- "And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many."

The word there which translates as "resurrection" is the Greek "έγερσις" ("egersis"). What does it mean? According to the Blue Letter Bible (and Strong's), it means:

1)a rousing, excitation
2)a rising up
3)resurrection from the dead

The key point is that this verse is the only instance in which this particular word is used in the NT. Well, what about the Lord's "resurrection"? What word is used to describe that? I'm glad you asked:

Acts 1:21-22: "Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection."

Here's another:

Acts 2:31- "He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption."

Without posting every verse, the point is that the word being used in these verses (as well as every other verse which describes the Lord's resurrection), is the Greek "άνάστασις" ("anastasis"). It's derived from "ana" ("up", "back", "again") and "stasis" ("a period of inactivity"; "stoppage"). What does it mean? As you can see, it means (paraphrasing) "back from inactivity". Pretty straight forward. How does Strong's define it?

1)a raising up, rising (e.g. from a seat)
2)a rising from the dead
a)that of Christ
b)that of all men at the end of this
present age
c)the resurrection of certain ones in        
history who were restored to life
(Hebrews 11:35)

Of the 42 times in which that particular word is used in Scripture, it means "resurrection" 39 times, "rising again" 1 time, "that should rise" 1 time, and "raised to life again" 1 time. In addition, not only was it used to describe the Lord's resurrection, but also to describe the resurrection of the rest of us:

Matthew 22:30- "For in the resurrection (Gk. "anastasis") they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven."

John 5:29- "And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection ("anastasis") of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection ("anastasis") of damnation."

Revelation 20:5-6: "But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection ("anastasis"). 6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection ("anastasis"): on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years."

There is no question whatsoever that this word describes the resurrection of not only the Lord, but also of believers. So why is "egersis" (again, only used once in Scripture) being used in Matthew 27:53 to describe the Lord's resurrection? Here's the answer: It's NOT describing the Lord's resurrection!  Look at the verses again:

Matthew 27:52-53: "And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many."

We've already looked at the word "resurrection" there, but what about the word "his"? It's actually the Greek "αύτος" ("autos"). What does it mean, according to Strong's?

1)herself, himself, themselves, itself
2)he, she, it
3)the same

Let me be clear about this. "αύτος" is nonspecific. This isn't breaking any rules of grammar or meaning. "αύτος" can also be referring to 3rd person singular or plural. By "themselves", it also means "their". Context is what determines whether "αύτος" is referring to "his", "hers", or "theirs". So what does this all mean? Well, it means that this is likely to have been a blunder by the translators. How can it just as rightly read?

Matthew 27:52-53: "And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 53 And came out of the graves after THEIR resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many."

"Whoa!!! How dare you say that, John?!? You heretic. How could you question the preserved word?"

Make no mistake about it. I'm not questioning God's Word. I'm only questioning the translators' choice of words, given the actual meaning of "αύτος". Remember, verses 52 and 53 seem oddly out of place, given that the immediate preceding and subsequent verses aren't yet describing the Lord's resurrection at all, but rather the moments immediately following His death. Even more, they seem to be inherently linked. So by it saying "after their resurrection", there is now nothing at all odd about verses 52 and 53. They flow smoothly between verses 50 and 58 in that they ALL now describe the events IMMEDIATELY following His death. No skipping from crucifixion scene to resurrection scene and back to crucifixion scene again.

Look again at verse 52. Do you see the word "arose"? It's the Greek "έγείρω" ("egeirō"). What does it mean? "To arouse from sleep, to awake". You can see some similarity in spelling compared to the "egersis" of verse 53. So now look at the verses again:

Matthew 27:52-53: "And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept AWOKE 53 And came out of the graves after THEIR resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many."

Do you see it?

Now let's take this to it's natural conclusion. If Matthew 27:53 really is describing a "resurrection" of the saints out of their graves, does it mean that they experienced THE "resurrection" even before the Lord's?

ABSOLUTELY NOT! Who is the firstborn of the dead? The Lord:

Colossians 1:18- "And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the FIRSTBORN FROM THE DEAD; that in all things he might have the preeminence."

1 Corinthians 15:23- "But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming."

Who was resurrected first? Who is the "firstfruits"? The Lord Jesus is. No question about it. When does Paul say that every other believer will be resurrected? "at His coming". Look a few verses earlier:

1 Corinthians 15:20- "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept."

This is a "KJV special". If Paul really meant "the firstfruits of them that SLEPT", it suggests that there were some saints who were sleeping, but now they're risen. Pretribulationism couples this with Matthew 27:53 in order to suggest that these saints went with the Lord to Heaven at His ascension (even though not a single verse in Scripture says this, and Peter was clear that David had not ascended- Acts 2:34). We've already seen, however, that the translation of Matthew 27:53 is on very shaky ground. But what about "slept"? That's easy. The Greek word in 1 Cor 15:20 is "κοιμαω" ("koimaō"). What does it mean, according to Strong's?

1)to cause to sleep, put to sleep
2)metaph.
a)to still, calm, quiet
b)to fall asleep, to sleep
c)to die

I want to make it clear that there is no specificity of tense (past, present, or future) with this word. An equally acceptable reading of 1 Cor 15:20, therefore, is:

1 Corinthians 15:20- "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that SLEEP."

"Whoa! John, are you suggesting 'soul sleep'?!?" Anyone who knows me, knows that I personally don't see the Scriptural evidence for "soul sleep", although some do. I believe that the body is what's "sleeping", but the soul is awake, alert, and "present with Lord (Who's omnipresent) in "Abraham's bosom", awaiting the resurrection (that was also the unanimous understanding of the early church fathers, by the way). I didn't want to broach this topic with this study, but it really ends up being unavoidable.

Regardless, I think the above argument reveals error of the translators, and blows a hole in the popular pretrib argument that the resurrection of the saints occurs in "stages". There is no way that the saints could have experienced THE resurrection before the Lord's resurrection, but REMEMBER that the word for "resurrection" ("egersis") in Matthew 27:53 is different from EVERY other verse which describes THE "resurrection" ("anastasis").

What I'm saying is that the saints in Matthew 27:52,53 did not experience THE resurrection. What they experienced was "a rousing, excitation" (as Strong's defines it). They arose from the dead based on the sheer magnitude of the Lord's death (think of how in 2 Kings 13:21, we read about a man rising from the dead after his own dead body was accidentally dropped against Elisha's dead bones).

So what probably terrified those who put the Lord to death? Seeing the earthquake, the veil being torn in two, the rocks crumbling, AND the dead coming out of their graves. Everyone in Jerusalem saw these events, and now knew that this was no ordinary man who had been crucified. And He would prove that three days later.

In any case, that's why we never read about those particular saints again after Matthew 27:53. My contention is that they died again later on, and will be resurrected ("anastasis") at "the last day" (John 6:40), at His coming (1 Cor 15:23), at "the last trump" (1 Cor 15:52), and do you know what that will be called? That's right: "the FIRST resurrection" (Revelation 20:4-6).

Anyone want to try and tell you differently? Tell them to read this:

2 Timothy 2:16-18: "But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. 17 And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; 18 Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection ("anastasis") is past already; and overthrow the faith of some."

"Stages"? Not according to Scripture.

Grace to you,
John




#29 John

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 10:59 AM

For anyone reading, please bear in mind that I first posted this last week in a FB eschatology group I started awhile back. Hence the casual speech. I apologize if it sound presumptuous. I can tell that thoseparticipating in this forum are already ahead of the game in terms of handling the Greek.

#30 Tim

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 11:19 AM

John,

Your theory sounds good, particularly regarding the context. However, the following statement is not entirely correct.

"Let me be clear about this. "αύτος" is nonspecific. This isn't breaking any rules of grammar or meaning. "αύτος" can also be referring to 3rd person singular or plural. By "themselves", it also means "their". Context is what determines whether "αύτος" is referring to "his", "hers", or "theirs"."


The above statement is true when we refer to "autos" (including all of its inflections). But context is not the determining factor regarding whether it is singular or plural. The actual spelling (inflection) is the ONLY indicator. "Autos" is only the lexical spelling (the default spelling assuming that it is to be used in the nominative case, masculine gender, and singular number). This is the lexical spelling which appears in the Greek dictionaries, strong's Concordance, etc. But, if you look at a Greek text of this passage, you will see that it is not spelled "autos" but rather "autou." The ending has a different inflection. The lexical meaning of the word is the same (a pronoun pointing back to an antecedent). But, its grammatical function varies depending on how it is used. And this affects the spelling. While "autos" is nominative case, masculine gender, singular number, in this passage it is spelled "autou" (genitive case, masculine gender, singular number). In your interpretation, it would have to be genitive, masculine, plural. That would be spelled, "autwn" (alpha - upsilon - tau - omega - nun). I checked to see whether their might be some of the manuscript evidence that would have "autwn" instead of "autou," but there are apparently no such variant readings.

The gender and number of a pronoun MUST agree with its antecedent. Therefore, "autou" can only refer to a masculine singular antecedent.

If you can get your hands on a copy of William Mounce's "Basics of Biblical Greek," there is a table on p. 100 showing all of the inflections of "autos."

I wish your interpretation was correct. It seems to make a lot more sense in the context. :)

Tim

#31 John

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 12:40 PM

Ouch. I definitely don't want to disseminate bad information. Frankly, that leaves me stumped. Due to my own ignorance. BLB listed G846 ("autos"). Why is that?

That leaves me scratching my head on "egersis" describing the Lord's resurrection there. I'm not concerned so much about the saints rising from the dead, because they're not said to have undergone the "anastasis", so even the timing of their awakening doesn't change the fact that "anastasis" refers to the future resurrection.

Thanks,
John


#32 John

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 12:42 PM

Tim,

Thank you. I just skimmed your revised post. Looks very helpful. I'll dig into it when I have some time later.

John

#33 henrydmilligan

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 01:39 PM

Is there any reason from the greek text why verses 52-53 could not be punctuated like this?

"And the graves were opened and many bodies of thee saints who had fallen asleep were raised and went up out of the graves. After His ressurection they went into the holy city and appeared to many"

As far as i can tell that is permissible in the greek but my knowledge is very limited.

Henry

#34 Tim

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 07:16 PM

Henry,

Actually, there is a problem with that reading. The word you have translated "went" is not a verb (as you have it translated) but a participle (a verbal adjective). If you punctuate the sentence as you have, it would actually read:

"And the graves were opened and many bodies of the saints having fallen asleep arose and coming out of the graves. After His resurrection they came into the holy city and appeared to many."

This sentence is not grammatically correct even in English. The problem here is that if this construction were correct, the word translated "coming" would be an aorist indicative verb like "arose." That is, it would be "came" and not "coming." Since "coming" is a participle and not an additional aorist indicative verb, it is NOT part of the previous clause. It actually begins a dependent clause for a new sentence, as follows: "And coming up out of their graves after His resurrection, they came into the holy city and appeared to many."

This is rather complicated to explain, but it has to do with the semantic relationships of participles to their main verbs. A participle needs a main verb in the same sentence, otherwise it is an incomplete sentence. Just as if I wrote, "And coming out of their graves," would not be a complete sentence because it has no verb (only a participle).

I have tried to see if there is any other way that this verse can be translated, and I frankly see none.

Tim

#35 henrydmilligan

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 07:31 PM

Thanks Tim,

Havent got to the verbs section of Mounce's book yet :) I appreciate the correction!

So it would be fair to say that if the text we have for this is accurate (I don't know of any textual variants) then the rising of these saints must be at or after Christ rose from the dead?

#36 Tim

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 07:41 PM

The only thing that must occur after Christ's resurrection is their "coming out of their graves and appearing to many."

Tim

#37 Tim

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 07:44 PM

John,

I found a similar inflection table for autos like the one in Mounces' book. Hope this helps.

Posted Image

Tim

#38 John

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 11:00 PM

Tim,

Thank you so much for your explanation. It clears up quite a bit. I'm ordering the book. Definitely an interesting couple of verses.

John




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