Romans 1:4. Designated Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord. Last Saturday I wrote about a word that had been changed from plural to singular in nearly all translations. Apparently it is not an uncommon thing to find, because here is another example. Notice the phrase by His resurrection from the dead. Now to those who can read Greek, I would advise that you have a look at the original and see what you find.
“by the resurrection of dead [ones]” plural. Why do translators insert what they think, rather than what is actually there? The Greek is not speaking about our Lord’s resurrection as such, but the resurrection of dead people at the time of His resurrection. What does this mean?
In order to answer the question it might help if we read Isaiah 26:19. Your dead shall live; together with my dead body they shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust; for your dew is like the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.
The Lord Himself is speaking here, through the prophet, and He is saying that when He arises in resurrection, others will rise together with Him. Some insist that the word “together” doesn’t appear in the Hebrew, but most commentators insist that it is necessary to add the word in order to reveal the sense. Are these the people spoken of in Romans1:4?
Matthew 27:52-53 is helpful here. The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the Holy City and appeared to many. There can be no misunderstanding about these words. Our Lord’s resurrection was accompanied by the resurrection of others. How many we do not know. Who they were we do not know. But they were seen, and they rose to enter the New Jerusalem, the Holy City.
It is mentioned in Hebrews 12:22-24. But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.
The writer makes it plain that he is speaking of a then present reality, not a future hope. The heavenly Jerusalem is therefore populated by the general assembly and church of the firstborn. Furthermore we read about the spirits of just men made perfect. Therefore the saints who rose at Jesus’ resurrection ascended to live in the New Jerusalem.
Finally, a cryptic remark in Ephesians caps this enquiry. Eph.4:8. Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.” The souls of all the dead were resident in various parts of Sheol before our Lord’s resurrection. But as our Lord said in Rev.1:18, “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death. No longer are the spirits of the dead locked up (captive) in Sheol (Hades), but Jesus holds the key, and He is able to unlock the door and allow out those He deems ready to come forth. He led these captives forth. They became HIS captives!
(This study virtually disposes of the concept of “soul sleep”, which is found figuratively in the O.T., and always refers to what people look like to those who are still alive, and not the actual state of the spirits of the dead.)
Finally, technical points. In Isaiah 26:19 is the concluding clause, and the earth shall cast out the dead. The Hebrew reads BUT the earth shall cast out the Rephaim. The word “but” shows a contrast. Who are theRephaim? By looking up this word in the O.T. by using a Hebrew concordance, we find that they were the offspring of the fallen angels. Hence they were a hybrid race, neither human nor angelic, and therefore they do not possess a place in God’s economy with either men or angels. Hence they are “cast out”. They do not have the hope of resurrection, but are destroyed.
For those who do not possess a Hebrew Concordance, these are the references which speak about Rephaim.
Job 26:5, Psalm 88:10, Prov.218, 9:18, 21:16, Isa.14:9, 26:14,19. Isa.26:14 is a very useful reference. They are dead, they will not live; They are Rephaim, they will not rise. Therefore You have punished and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish.
The Rephaim are named after Rapha, connected with the giants. These references in 2 Samuel 21 speakabout Rapha. 16,18,20,22.
There are many treasures locked up in the Bible which can only be found by examining the original language. I hope these brief notes may be of help.