Matthew 27:52-53  


MATTHEW 27:52-53

Verse 52

(BFT/lit) And the tombs were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised.

(BFT/int) And the tombs were opened; and many bodies
of the saints who had died were brought back to life.

This occurs as a result of the earthquake mentioned in verse 51.
The earthquake caused MANY, probably not ALL, of the tombs to be shaken open. This allowed access to those tombs and in MANY cases, it allowed egress to those who had been restored to life. Notice that the literal
translation is “raised.” However, based on the INTENT of the narrator, which is further based on Scriptural PROOF, the “interpretive” translation should read, “were brought back to life.”

Verse 53, (BFT) And coming out of the tombs after His resurrection, they entered the holy city and appeared to many.

Notice that this “coming out” occurred AFTER His resurrection.
It is reasonable to think that they were restored to life AFTER His resurrection as well. I can’t imagine that these people were brought back to life and stayed in the tomb for three days. Although it is possible
that they were raised and came out at the time of the earthquake, and simply did not enter into Jerusalem until AFTER Christ’s resurrection. It is not crucial nor provable, but I think it is most reasonable that
these saints were brought back to life AFTER the resurrection and then subsequently appeared in the city.

Is the EMPOWERING FACTOR, the physical death of Jesus and the splitting of the veil? Or is that factor the actual resurrection of Jesus?
The POWER is in the resurrection and the resurrection is the PROOF that there was a spiritual victory on the cross (Acts 17:31). It seems more likely to have this POWER shown after Christ’s resurrection than before.
Another factor to consider is that Matthew’s knowledge of this would be AFTER THE FACT, perhaps himself encountering some of these saints, and we really have no way of knowing WHEN they were raised unless by their own words. It thus remains most logical to me, that these saints were brought back to life after Christ’s resurrection.

This RAISING was not resurrection: it is simply a restoration to physical life. 
The proof is at 1 Corinthians 15:22-23, “but each in his own order.”
    A. Christ the first fruits: the first to receive
       resurrection body.
    B. AFTER that, those who are Christ’s AT HIS COMING.
    C. There was and will be NO ONE resurrected UNTIL
       Christ returns.
    D. The language DEMANDS a precise chronological order.
    E. Therefore, those at Mt. 28.52 were restored to life.

This is exactly the same thing that happened with Lazarus who had been dead 4 days.  John 11:17-44
See Topic:
RESUSCITATION: Or Restoration to life

Who were these people? 
They would have to be believers (saints) who had just "recently" died (anywhere from days to a few years) because otherwise, their presence would be no big deal.
Imagine someone who died 200 years ago and he comes walking through the streets in a restored physical body -- and guess what?  NOBODY knows who the heck he is.
But my friend, relative or whatever, who died “recently” comes walking through the city then people are IMPRESSED.
It is also reasonable to imagine a testimony from these people that, “once I was dead, but now I am alive,” as well as a message that relates it to the resurrection of Jesus.

Did they stay on earth and die again?
Yes, just as Lazarus did.

Why "many" and not "all"?
Because they were not "resurrected," but simply brought back to life.
And there would only be an impact on the people in the city if
these were "familiar" people who had been brought back to life.

Some argue that this is not a NICE thing for these dead believers to be brought back to life and continue to live, while others who had died, and who in Paradise, get transferred into the third heaven when
Jesus ascends.
This is an issue of God’s sovereignty and wisdom.
One could argue the same about Lazarus (John 12:1),
and Tabitha (Acts 9:40-41), and the daughter of
Jairus, who was only 12 (Luke 8:52-55), and even Paul
who died and went to the third heaven (Acts 14:19-20; 2 Cor. 12:1-4).
This is no issue at all. The acts and miracles of God
are from His perfect wisdom and He knows what is best and HOW best to bring happiness to His children.

It has been suggested that because the Greek verb, egeiro, is used at Matthew 27:52, that it must refer to resurrection. This is laughingly incorrect, and I shall belabor it here only because there are some who
actually believe this.
1. John 12:1, where Lazarus was raised from the dead.
      egeiro: obviously a restoration to life (with v. 9, 17).
2. Mat. 10:8, instructions to the disciples to raise
the dead.
The verb is egeiro, and must refer to restoration to physical life.
3. Furthermore, the verb, egeiro, is used for several IDEAS of “raising up.”
It is used for raising a building. John 2:20 
It is used for bringing someone “on the scene.” Acts 13:22
It is used for getting up from sleep. Mat. 8:25; Acts 12:7
It is used for simply GETTING UP and moving. Mark
1:31; The healing at Acts 3:7; lifting a sheep out of a pit, Mat. 12:11.
Mat. 26:46, “Get up, let’s go.”

This certainly allows the use of the word egeiro at Mat. 27 for restoration to physical life, and the statement at 1 Cor. 15 demands it.

Now, the situation is quite simple.
1. Egeiro is a valid word for restoration to physical life.
2. Such a restoration is the only thing that fits all the facts.
3. The simple LITERAL language of 1 Corinthians 15 demands that there will be no one resurrected until after Christ returns.


Questions and comments are always welcome

Return to BIBLE FRAGRANCES index



©Ron Wallace, Anyone is free to reproduce this material and distribute it,
but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's consent.


Home | Recent Additions | Studies | Commentary


Prophecy | Articles | Topical | About Us