The following is a running list of errors I have seen from critics of TET’s resurrection models. In cases were I did not have permission to cut and paste, I have paraphrased the errors, doing my best to preserve their intent.
- “There are only two types of resurrection in the Bible, as seen here.”:
Hebrews 11:35 Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; NASB
First of all, there are several different types of resurrrection-type events in the Bible, and it is immediately suspicious when someone attempts to frame it all into just two categories, based on a single verse that makes no such statement. In some cases, people like Elijah, Jesus, Peter, and Paul raised the recently-dead back to life. In the most famous case, Jesus seems to have raised himself back to life (or God did it). In the most mysterious, Jesus raised a great multitude of people (most of them presumably long-dead) back to life on the same day that he himself was raised—and these people’s bodies came up out of their tombs and were reunited with their spirits. Jesus predicted this same event and mentioned that there would accompany it a “resurrection of judgment” (John 5:29) for some evil people. And finally, there’s the resurrection of “the rest of the dead” (Revelation 20:5), which included good and bad alike.The passage above (Hebrews 11:25) therefore, is by no means a complete taxonomy of everything the Bible teaches about resurrection. Indeed, it does not say, “….so that they might obtain to the better resurrection.”, but to “a better resurrection”. It is not a certainty, therefore, with this verse alone in view, that the “better resurrection” in view was any particular event. Which event it was is best determined by studying all the data.
Even so, two particular resurrections were so noteworthy that they warranted special mention in Revelation 20:4-6. One is called the “First Resurrection”, and the other is implied to be the second (though not named explicitly), as we are told that it would come a “thousand years” later. Let us suppose that the “better resurrection” is indeed a reference to the Second Resurrection of Revelation 20. If that were the case, then the Hebrews 11 passage makes mention of both the Matthew 27 First Resurrection AND the later one. This is fully consistent with the TET model.
When did “women received back their dead by resurrection”? I believe it was in Matthew 27. If those raised included all the righteous who had died since Adam, then some of those deaths would have been recent enough that their widows would still have been alive in circa 30AD, when this resurrection happened.
- “Hebrews 11:38-40 tells us that Abraham had not yet been resurrected as of the time of the writing:”
Hebrews 11:38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. 39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.
The critic errs in assuming that there is only one way to interpret this passage. Those heroes of the faith in view here “did not receive what was promised” in their lifetimes, but they had received it since. It does not say “have not yet received”, but “did not receive”. And this did not happen “apart from us”. Rather, the event was held back until that very generation—the audience of the book of Hebrews—got to see it. It was not, therefore, “apart” from them that it happened. Rather, they were witnesses to it!
For more on this passage, see here.
- “Paul says the living and the dead would receive their promises together. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)”:
16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.This is not a reference to the first resurrection, but to the second. The critic assumes that there must be some sort of rule that God had to do everything the same in both resurrections–or is either unaware that this passage is not a reference to what happened in Matthew 27.
- “Paul told Timothy that the living and dead are judged at the same time.”:
2 Timothy 4:1 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:
NASBIn no way does this passage prove that Jesus had not already judged the dead (good and bad) from “the whole house of Israel”. Again, the critic seems to assume that God is not allowed to judge the dead from Adam to Christ (not including the other nations) if he doesn’t also judge the living at the same time. This is a “fallacy of composition”, which assumes that what is true of one specific judgment event must be true of all judgment events.
- “The Matthew 27 event can’t be the same as the John 5 event because the latter involves also a “resurrection of judgment”, and the Matthew 27 makes no mention of such.”
The critic argues here as if it were established that the Bible is a complete record of everything it mentions. The Matthew 27 mass resurrection narrative tells what the author wanted to tell. This does not negate other details given by Jesus for this event. Indeed, Jesus said of the timing of this event:
John 5:25 an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God.
This is not the language one uses to describe an event that is still 40 years away. Indeed, in John 4:23, Jesus uses “is now here” to describe the imminence of the worshiping “in spirit and truth”.
- “The saints resurrected in Matthew 27 cannot have been taken to heaven with Jesus in Acts 1 because the Bible doesn’t say so.”
This is an argument based upon the assumption of the completeness of scripture. If this were true, then we could argue that the Temple must still be standing, since the Bible never gives us any historical witness of its destruction. We could also argue that Paul never made it to Rome, since we are not told that he did.
Interestingly, anyone making this argument should be asked, “OK, then what DID happen to those resurrected in Matthew 27?” And whatever answer they give will have this same problem: it is not to be found in the texts. Thus does the critic break his or her own rule without even thinking through it enough to realize it.
- “It is eisegesis to assume that these people are taken to heaven in Acts 1, since the text does not say so.”
No, I freely admit that the text does not say so. I am not “reading that into the text”. Rather, the model of an Acts 1 ascension for these people is derived from the impeccable logic that if Jesus were going to “lead a host of captives” in his train “when he ascended”, that he had to do it “when he ascended”, and not at some other time. This is not really logic, so much as it is a simple acknowledgement of the plain meaning of the text. If someone’s model says that Jesus did not ascend with captives in Acts 1, the model is wrong.
- “The ‘captives’ mentioned in Ephesians 4:8 are the Ephesians themselves, and not those resurrected in Matthew 27.”
Ephesians 4:8 Therefore it says,“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.”
Unless the Ephesian Christians (who had not even been converted yet) rose to Heaven when Jesus ascended in Acts 1, then it would be impossible for them to be the ones in view in this prophecy. And notice the order of the two things predicted: first the ascension, and then the gifts. We know that the gifts were poured out in Acts 2. So that puts the “captives” on the scene BEFORE Acts 2. This rules out the Ephesians.
- “The Matthew 27:52-53 is just an ordinary resurrection event like Elijah raising the boy, or Jesus raising Lazarus. There’s no reason to believe that these people didn’t just mix into the population and die again later.”
There are most certainly reasons to believe it.Hebrews 12:22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the firstborn [PLURAL] who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
The kingdom in which the living audience of Hebrews was partaking was one that had in heaven an assembly of humans who had already been perfected. As a class, they were considered to be an “assembly of the firstborn (plural)”. This does not mean “an assembly belonging to Jesus, the firstborn (singular) from among the dead”, but “an assembly made up of those who were the firstborn from among the dead”.
Romans 8:29 For those whom he foreknew (knew before–proginōskō) he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
Contrary to popular understanding, this passage is a reference to those resurrected in Matthew 27. Note the past tense. Those “whom he foreknew” is not a reference to God knowing things in the future, but to God having previously known people, before the generation in which the epistle was written. Paul uses the exact same word to refer to Jews having previously known his way of life:Acts 26:4 My manner of life from my youth, spent from the beginning among my own nation and in Jerusalem, is known by all the Jews. 5 They have known for a long time (proginōskō), if they are willing to testify, that according to the strictest party of our religion I have lived as a Pharisee.
Those mentioned in Romans 8:29 had been predestined to be “conformed to the image of his Son”. The word for “conformed” (symmorphos) means literally to have the same form as another. It is used only in one other passage, where the transformation of the human body is in view:
Philippians 3:21 who will transform (symmorphos) our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
Those people that God had known before, and who had been predestined to have their bodies transformed to bodies like Jesus’ glorified body, are also said in Romans 8:30 to have been “glorifed” (past tense) already.
There is no doubt that Paul is referencing an event already past as of his writing. And this is the reason for the great hope that he and his audience had:
Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
How did they “know” that it was going to work out well for them? They know it “for” it had already worked out for those that God had already conformed/glorified into bodies like Jesus’ “glorious body”. Thus was their situation even better than merely having a promise: they had an example of such promise being fulfilled.