Why the Third Day? The Promise of Resurrection in All of Scripture


Why the Third Day?

ABSTRACT: Jesus and his apostles claim that his resurrection on the third day was “according to the Scriptures.” The hope of the resurrection stretches back far beyond the empty tomb to the hopes and prophecies of God’s old-covenant people. At the same time, Jesus’s rising inaugurates God’s new creation in the present and points us to the day when all the tombs will be emptied — and God’s people will rise to meet their Lord with resurrected bodies.

We are nearly two decades into the twenty-first century, and Christians all over the world are still hoping in the resurrection. This hope is not new. We have longed for resurrection since God first awakened faith in the earliest Old Testament saints. Equally, resurrection also should have been dreaded by rebels who persist in their unbelief, for after resurrection comes the judgment.

Following the original creation of humanity, Jesus’s resurrection unto glory is the most decisive event in the history of mankind, for it brings the dawning of the new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) and validates that those in Christ are no longer imprisoned under sin, the payment for which is death (Romans 6:23; 1 Corinthians 15:17). The New Testament is clear that the Scriptures foresaw “that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead” (Luke 24:46; cf. Luke 24:7; John 20:9; Acts 17:2–3; 1 Corinthians 15:4) and that, “by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light” both to the Jews and the Gentiles (Acts 26:22–23). These statements raise the question: Where does the Old Testament anticipate the third-day resurrection? A close assessment of a number of New Testament texts that cite or allude to specific Old Testament texts gives us an initial clue how those living at the dawn of the new creation were seeing anticipations of the resurrection in their Bible.

New Testament Citations and Allusions of Old Testament Resurrection Texts1

In arguing against the Sadducees that the resurrection should be hoped in, Jesus stressed that God “is not God of the dead, but of the living,” as is clear when he identified himself to Moses at the burning bush as “the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Mark 12:26–27; cf. Exodus 3:6). Similarly, when asserting his God-given authority to judge, Jesus alluded to Daniel 12:2, declaring that “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, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment” (John 5:28–29). Later, when defending himself before Felix in Caesarea, Paul alluded to the same Old Testament text when he claimed that those of the Way (i.e., Christians) have “hope in God . . . that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust” (Acts 24:14–15).

In Acts, both Peter and Paul identify that Psalm 16:10–11 foretold Christ’s resurrection (Acts 2:25–31; 13:34–35). After citing Psalm 16:10 that “you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption,” Peter stressed of David that “he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ” (Acts 2:27, 31). Paul speaks similarly, adding to Psalm 16:10 citations from Psalm 2:7 and Isaiah 55:3:

We bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you.” And as for the fact that he raised him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way, “I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.” Therefore he says also in another psalm, “You will not let your Holy One see corruption.” For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, but he whom God raised up did not see corruption. (Acts 13:32–37)

Finally, 1 Corinthians 15:54–58 recalls both Isaiah 25:8 and Hosea 13:14 to stress for the church in Corinth the certainty of their hope for resurrection.

When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Whereas Isaiah had declared that Yahweh would “swallow up death forever,” thus identifying him as the anticipated savior (Isaiah 25:8–9), the immediate context of God’s original queries through Hosea offered little hope: “Shall I ransom them [i.e., Ephraim] from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from Death? O Death, where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your sting? Compassion is hidden from my eyes” (Hosea 13:14).2 Such judgments would not remain forever, however, for he tore them that he could ultimately heal them (Hosea 6:1–2), moving them to seek Yahweh their God and David their king (Hosea 3:5) and healing their apostasy as they would find shelter under the shadow of their royal representative (Hosea 14:4–8). Thus, the sting of death would be overcome through the victory of our Lord Christ, just as Paul declared.

Potential Third-Day Resurrection Typologies in the Old Testament3

It is noteworthy that none of the above texts that the New Testament points to includes any mention of a third-day resurrection, yet both Jesus (Luke 24:46) and Paul (1 Corinthians 15:4) stress that the prediction of Christ’s being raised on the third day was “written” and was “in accordance with the Scriptures.” It seems likely, therefore, that we should look for typologies that foreshadow a third-day resurrection event, and when we broaden our perspective here, a number of further texts become possible sources for the New Testament claims. We will look at them by moving from back to front through the canon.

First, Jesus paralleled his own coming resurrection with Jonah’s resurrection-like deliverance from the belly of the fish: “Just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40; cf. Jonah 1:17–2:10[2:1–11]).4 Jesus reads the Jonah story typologically, seeing it as both pointing to his exaltation through trial and clarifying how his resurrection would signal salvation through judgment.

Second, building off what was already noted, Hosea declared that the end of Israel’s exile would be like a resurrection after three days:

Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him. Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth. (Hosea 6:1–3)

Significantly, the prophets are clear that the Christ would represent Israel, bearing the people’s name and saving representatives from both Israel and the other nations (Isaiah 49:3, 6). At the end of his book, Hosea himself appears to make this connection between the one and the many when he relates a plural people with a singular “Israel,” under whose shadow they will find refuge (Hosea 14:4–8 in the Hebrew, seen in the ESV footnotes; cf. Zechariah 3:7–9). Thus, in Christ’s resurrection on the third day, the true Israel in him rises to life.5

Third, Christ portrays his death as a baptism (Luke 12:50), and the New Testament authors portray the judgments of both the flood (1 Peter 3:20–21) and the Red Sea (1 Corinthians 10:2) as baptisms. Because the initial Passover sacrifice marks Israel’s birth as a nation, and because the parting of the Red Sea likely happened on the third day after this new creation, the great exodus event also may point typologically to Christ’s third-day resurrection.6 Significantly, on the mount of Jesus’s transfiguration, Moses and Elijah identified Jesus’s coming work in Jerusalem as an “exodus” (Luke 9:30–31, ESV = “departure”), thus signaling the fulfillment of the second exodus anticipated throughout the prophets (e.g., Isaiah 11:10–12:6; Jeremiah 23:7–8; Zephaniah 3:19–20).

Fourth, it was “on the third day” of his journey to sacrifice his son that Abraham promised his servants, “I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you” (Genesis 22:4–5). Reflecting on this story, the writer of Hebrews declares of the Patriarch, “He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back” (Hebrews 11:19). Yahweh promised, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named” (Genesis 21:12), and this offspring, who was distinct from Isaac, would be the one who would multiply like the stars, who would possess his enemies’ gate, and who would be the channel of divine blessing to the nations (Genesis 22:17–18). Thus, the substitutionary sacrifice that saved Isaac’s life (Genesis 22:13) and the youth’s own deliverance pointed ahead to the greater offspring who would triumph only through great tribulation.

Fifth, the New Testament portrays both baptism (e.g., Romans 6:4–5; Colossians 2:12) and sprouting seeds (e.g., 1 Corinthians 15:35–38) as images of resurrection. As such, we may see the earliest anticipations of Jesus’s third-day resurrection in the fact that the first sprouts came forth out of the watery chaos on the third day following the original creation (Genesis 1:11–13).7

Other Old Testament Resurrection Texts8

Beyond the texts already cited, the Old Testament supplies a number of other anticipations or predictions of future resurrection. First, there are three examples of nonpermanent resurrections — that is, types of resuscitations wherein God temporarily revives a person who has recently died. Elijah, for example, brings to life the son of the widow from Zarephath (1 Kings 17:17–23), and the act validates his prophetic role (1 Kings 17:24). Similarly, God uses Elisha to restore the woman’s son in Shunem (2 Kings 4:18–37), and after Elisha dies, a man’s corpse is revived when it touches Elisha’s own corpse in a tomb (2 Kings 13:20–21). The author of Hebrews wrote that some prophets were agents of resurrection (Hebrews 11:35), thus identifying how all these Old Testament events foreshadow and give hope for the more ultimate resurrection that will include permanent glorified bodies.

Next, with Israel’s exile and following restoration in view, Yahweh declares through Moses, “See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand” (Deuteronomy 32:39; cf. 1 Samuel 2:6; 2 Kings 5:7). Because “healing” always follows “wounding,” it is clear that God’s “making alive” after “killing” envisions the restoration blessing of resurrection following the curse of death. Kenneth Turner has noted that, by using words like perish, destroy, annihilate, and the like, Moses in Deuteronomy portrays Israel’s exile as a “death,” by which the nation as Yahweh’s elect son and servant “loses her identity, history, and covenant relationship with Yahweh. Restoration from exile, then, is a resurrection from death to life.”9 And because Jesus Christ, as “Israel” the person, represents “Israel” the people (Isaiah 49:3, 6), his bodily resurrection following his bearing the curse-judgment (Galatians 3:13) inaugurates the fulfillment of this promise.

Living in the midst of exile, Ezekiel envisioned the fulfillment of Yahweh’s Mosaic predictions of the people’s resurrection. Whereas covenant obedience could have led to life (Leviticus 18:5; Ezekiel 20:11, 13, 21), Israel’s covenant rebellion had resulted in the nation’s exilic death, so that God portrays them as dried up bones filling a field (Ezekiel 37:1; cf. Jeremiah 8:1–2). Nevertheless, Yahweh promises, “Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live” (Ezekiel 37:5), and the result was that God resupplied them human form, breathed into them the breath of life, “and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army” (Ezekiel 37:10). The vision anticipated how God would “raise you from your graves,” putting “my Spirit within you,” resulting in life and making his people his temple (Ezekiel 37:13–14; cf. 36:27). Thus, “My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Ezekiel 37:27; cf. 2 Corinthians 6:16).

Earlier, building off his claim that Yahweh would “swallow up death forever” (Isaiah 25:8; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:54), Isaiah declared, “Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy!” (Isaiah 26:19). The means for this awakening and exultation is then unpacked in the fourth servant song. The prophet first highlights the servant-person’s resurrection when he identifies his seeing offspring after his substitutionary sacrifice: “It was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand” (Isaiah 53:10). We then hear Yahweh declare, “Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities” (Isaiah 53:11). Because Yahweh declared his servant-person righteous (cf. Isaiah 50:8), this righteous one would be able to bear the sins of many in death, and through his victorious resurrection all those in him — his spiritual progeny — would be declared righteous. Yahweh’s servant person was “Israel” (Isaiah 49:3), and “in the Lord all the offspring of Israel shall be justified and shall glory” (Isaiah 45:25).

Beyond Psalms 2:7 and 16:9–11, noted above (cf. Acts 2:25–31; 13:32–35), the Psalter includes a number of other pointers to resurrection. For example, in Psalm 22, the very one forsaken of God and afflicted to the point of death (Psalm 22:1–21[2–22]) promises to proclaim God’s name to his brothers (Psalm 22:22[23]), which implies resurrection (cf. Matthew 28:10; Romans 8:29; Hebrews 2:12). Furthermore, we are told that before the Lord “shall bow all who go down to the dust,” which highlights a future beyond the grave for those who die (Psalm 22:29[30]). The sons of Korah end Psalm 48 with the testimony of the faithful that God “will guide us beyond death” (ESV footnote). They then assert in Psalm 49 that the proud “are appointed for Sheol” but that “the upright [ones] shall rule over them in the morning” (Psalm 49:14[15]). With the voice of the royal representative, they declare, “God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me” (Psalm 49:15[16]). At the very least, such assertions point to a spiritual resurrection. Similarly, in Psalm 71, the psalmist points to life after death when he writes, “You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again” (Psalm 71:20). Two psalms later, Asaph contrasts the terrifying end of the proud (Psalm 73:17–22) with God’s commitment to bring the humble to glory and to be their strength and portion forever (Psalm 73:24–26).

Finally, both Job and the Preacher in Ecclesiastes point to the hope of resurrection. Job questions, “If a man dies, shall he live again?” (Job 14:14). He seems to answer in the affirmative, for he then states, “All the days of my service I would wait, till my renewal should come.” And again, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God” (Job 19:25–26). We also learn that at the end of Job’s trial-filled life, which included the death of his ten children (Job 1:2, 18–19), he had another “seven sons and three daughters” (Job 42:13). But because we are told earlier that “the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before” (Job 42:10), the text may imply the spiritual resurrection of his earlier kids, similar to the way Jesus spoke of Yahweh’s declaring, “I am the God of Abraham” — not “of the dead, but of the living” (Matthew 22:32).10

The Preacher was convinced that death would come to all, both those who are good and those who are evil (Ecclesiastes 9:2–3), and that “there is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his evildoing” (Ecclesiastes 7:15). Nevertheless, “Though a sinner does evil a hundred times and prolongs his life, yet I know that it will be well with those who fear God, because they fear before him” (Ecclesiastes 8:12). The Preacher was certain in a future hope beyond the grave for the righteous.

Resurrection in the New Testament11

In fulfillment of Old Testament anticipations, each of the four Gospels concludes with stories of Jesus’s bodily resurrection from the dead (Matthew 28:1–10; Mark 16:1–8; Luke 24:1–12; John 20:1–10), and the rest of the New Testament portrays this as the watershed event that alters the course of world history. Jesus’s resurrection happens on the first day of the week (John 20:1, 19), thus symbolizing the inauguration of the new creation (1 Corinthians 15:20, 23; 2 Corinthians 5:17). It establishes Jesus Christ as the Righteous One (1 Timothy 3:16; cf. Isaiah 50:8; 53:11; 1 John 2:1) and Lord and Judge of the universe (Matthew 28:18; Acts 2:36; 17:31; Romans 1:4; 14:9). It also secures justification for all who believe (Romans 4:25; 6:8–11; 1 Corinthians 15:17), initiates the spread of the good news (Romans 1:16–17; Galatians 1:11–12) and a Spirit-empowered global mission of salvation (Matthew 28:19–20; John 20:19–22; Acts 1:8), and supplies the necessary lens for understanding the Old Testament (John 2:20–22; 12:13–16; 20:9).

Jesus’s resurrection creates for all in him a living hope for “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading” (1 Peter 1:3–5), and it provides hope for the entire created order that it will be renewed (Romans 8:18–25; cf. Colossians 1:20) — “Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:23). In his resurrected body, Jesus retained physical signs of his execution so as to validate his identity (Luke 24:39; John 20:20, 25, 27; Acts 1:3), but he could remain unrecognized until he chose to disclose himself (Luke 24:16, 31; John 20:14, 16; 21:4, 12). He could walk and dialogue with others (Luke 24:15–17; John 20:15), vanish and appear at will (Luke 24:31, 36–37; John 20:19, 26), be touched (Luke 24:39; John 20:17, 27), and eat (Luke 24:30, 42–43). He was rightfully worshiped and visibly ascended to heaven (Luke 24:51–52; Acts 1:9).

Jesus compared God’s power to raise the dead (e.g., Deuteronomy 32:39; 1 Samuel 2:6; 2 Kings 5:7) with his power to overcome spiritual death by presently giving people eternal life (John 3:16; 5:21, 24–26); such initial “resurrection” gives certainty of consummate resurrection following physical death, first spiritually and then bodily (John 5:28–29; 11:25–26; 14:2–3). Paul, too, notes that, although “we were dead in our trespasses,” God has already “made us alive together with Christ . . . and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4–7). Believers are, thus, already experiencing a spiritual resurrection, and Christians who die before Christ’s second appearing enter into a state of conscious rest in the presence of Jesus (Luke 23:43; John 14:2–3; 2 Corinthians 4:14; Philippians 1:23). But when Christ does return, those who already experienced initial spiritual resurrection will then be given new supernatural bodies that will never wear out (Romans 8:11; Philippians 3:20–21). “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. 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” (1 Thessalonians 4:16–17).

In the pattern of Elijah and Elisha, in the New Testament God uses prophetic figures to revive individuals who recently died in order to identify Jesus’s power over death. But whereas Elijah asked God to act (1 Kings 17:21–22), Jesus, acting as God, simply commands, as in his resuscitation of a synagogue ruler’s daughter in Galilee (Mark 5:35–43), the son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:11–17), and Lazarus (John 11:1–53). Working under the power of Christ, Peter, too, re-enlivens a young girl in Joppa (Acts 9:36–43), and in Ephesus Paul revives Eutychus after he fell from a window and died (Acts 20:7–12). In each of these examples, God’s temporary resurrection of a person who recently died both validated the prophet’s authority and foreshadowed the power of Jesus to lastingly raise the dead (John 11:25–26; cf. Luke 7:16–17; John 9:32–33).

As noted above, Scripture anticipates “a resurrection of both the just and the unjust” (Acts 24:15; cf. Daniel 12:2; Matthew 25:46; John 5:28–29). This is what Revelation 20:12 refers to when it asserts, “I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done” (cf. Matthew 25:31–32; 2 Corinthians 5:10). Scholars continue to disagree on the meaning and proper temporal referents of Revelation 20:1–6, which mentions “the first resurrection” and “the second death” (Revelation 20:5–6). While the text is not explicit, the ordinals “first” and “second” imply at least a “second” and “first” for both resurrection and death. Furthermore, “the first resurrection” likely applies only to believers (“Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection!” Revelation 20:6) and refers to the spiritual life already enjoyed by believers who die (cf. Luke 23:43; Philippians 1:23).12 In contrast, “the second death” will apply only to nonbelievers (“over such [i.e., those who experience the first resurrection] the second death has no power,” Revelation 20:6) and relates to the eternal state of the unregenerate in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14).13 The note that “the rest of the dead did not come to life” (Revelation 20:5) refers to the unbelievers who, after physical death, remain “dead in [their] trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1) but who will rise at the final judgment.14

Why the Third Day? dotf57cz

Christ’s resurrection impacts the Christian’s present ethics and future hope. As for ethics, Paul says, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1). Similarly, the apostle notes, “We were buried . . . with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. . . . So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ” and must not let “sin therefore reign in your mortal body” (Romans 6:4, 11–12; cf. 1 Corinthians 6:12–20; 2 Corinthians 5:15). Our identification with Christ in his resurrection demands that we live as part of the new creation.

Related to this, our own reconciliation with God should move us to engage in a ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:17–19), for Christ’s resurrection now gives our preaching, faith, and labors eternal purpose (1 Corinthians 15:14, 58). Jesus’s resurrection awakens confidence in the life to come (1 Corinthians 15:23), and what we hope for tomorrow changes who we are today (2 Peter 1:4). We are empowered to radical mission and radical joy amid a world of chaos and suffering, knowing that when Christ returns, our new body will be raised in glory and power, bearing the very image of the man of heaven, the divine Son (1 Corinthians 15:43–44, 49; cf. Philippians 3:20–21). Come, Lord Jesus!

The Nature of Resurrection Hope

What is resurrection hope? It is not only resurrection itself but also what follows resurrection — namely, joy in the presence of our Savior. Let us consider more carefully Isaiah 53:10–11, which parallels human and divine perspectives on Christ’s death and resurrection.

It was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.

Through direct prophecy, both verses begin by detailing Christ’s brutal suffering unto death, and then they highlight his resurrection unto joy. First, God’s delight was to “crush” his servant-person, to “put him to grief,” the manner of which would be a penal substitutionary death as “an offering for guilt” that would include the deepest “anguish.” In this one act, God’s righteous servant would “bear [the people’s] iniquities.”

But there is more. Three specific, all-motivating elements would rise on the other side of this atoning sacrifice — “he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.” Seeing, prolonging, prospering! Over seven hundred years before Jesus’s appearing, Isaiah implies the reality of resurrection because he foresaw that the wrath-bearer, whom God identifies as “the righteous one,” would continue to carry out God’s will by lastingly saving “many” blood-bought “offspring” from the peoples of the world (cf. Isaiah 54:3). His atoning work would “sprinkle many nations” (Isaiah 52:15) and “make many to be accounted righteous” (Isaiah 53:11). Yahweh’s words identify what this reality would bring to the servant: “Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied” (Isaiah 53:11). The Hebrew here actually suggests the satisfaction was the seeing of the many offspring who would be accounted righteous — a people for God ransomed “from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9).

It seems likely, therefore, that the nature or content of “the joy that was set before [Jesus],” by which he “endured the cross,” was none other than the community of saints that would be birthed from his resurrection event (Hebrews 12:2). And our hope of resurrection now includes our participating with the many in Christ. Such compelling joy motivated Christ to carry his cross, and it should motivate us as we carry ours (Mark 8:34; Hebrews 12:2–3). And having already been united with Christ and raised with him in an inaugurated way, we are already tasting the joys of Christian community with every new soul that is saved.

All Will Meet Him

The Old Testament anticipates the (third-day) resurrection of God’s people following an exilic death (e.g., Deuteronomy 32:39; Hosea 6:2; Daniel 12:2), and it clarifies that the new life of the community will be multiethnic in nature and will result from the representative suffering servant’s own triumph over death (Isaiah 53:10–11; Psalm 16:10). Jesus Christ’s resurrection on the third day fulfills Old Testament predictions (Luke 24:46–47; 1 Corinthians 15:4), establishes him as the reigning King (Romans 1:4; Matthew 28:18), inaugurates the new creation (1 Corinthians 15:20, 23; 2 Corinthians 5:17), justifies the many (Romans 4:25), calls believers to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4; Colossians 3:1), births a global mission (Matthew 28:19–20; John 20:19–22; Acts 1:8; Romans 1:16–17; Galatians 1:11–12), and supplies hope to all believers of their own resurrection (Romans 8:11; 1 Corinthians 15:43–44, 49; Philippians 3:20–21; Hebrews 9:27–28). It also should stress to non-believers that they will indeed meet the heavenly Judge face-to-face (Daniel 12:2; Matthew 25:46; John 5:28–29).


  1. See Mitchell L. Chase, “The Genesis of Resurrection Hope: Exploring Its Early Presence and Deep Roots,” JETS 57 (2014): 467–71. 

  2. The translation here is a mixture of the NASB and ESV. 

  3. See Nicholas P. Lunn, “‘Raised on the Third Day According to the Scriptures’: Resurrection Typology in the Genesis Creation Narrative,” JETS 57 (2014): 523–35; Stephen G. Dempster, “From Slight Peg to Cornerstone to Capstone: The Resurrection of Christ on ‘the Third Day’ According to the Scriptures,” WTJ 76 (2014): 371–409; Joel R. White, “‘He Was Raised on the Third Day According to the Scriptures’ (1 Corinthians 15:4): A Typological Interpretation Based on the Cultic Calendar in Leviticus 23,” TynBul 66 (2015): 103–19. 

  4. Throughout, Scripture citations in brackets refer to the Hebrew Bible, whose verse numbers sometimes differ from English translations. 

  5. For the significance of this text in the backdrop of the New Testament’s assertion that the third-day resurrection of Jesus was “according to the Scriptures,” see esp. Dempster, “From Slight Peg to Cornerstone to Capstone,” 404–9. 

  6. See Lunn, “Raised on the Third Day According to the Scriptures,” 527–30. 

  7. Cf. Mitchell L. Chase, “‘From Dust You Shall Arise’: Resurrection Hope in the Old Testament,” SBJT 18.4 (2014): 11; Lunn, “Raised on the Third Day According to the Scriptures,” 532–34. 

  8. See Chase, “From Dust You Shall Arise,” 9–29; Chase, “The Genesis of Resurrection Hope,” 467–80; Lunn, “Raised on the Third Day According to the Scriptures,” 523–35; Dempster, “From Slight Peg to Cornerstone to Capstone,” 371–409. 

  9. Kenneth J. Turner, “Deuteronomy’s Theology of Exile,” in For Our Good Always: Studies on the Message and Influence of Deuteronomy in Honor of Daniel I. Block, ed. Jason S. DeRouchie, Jason Gile, and Kenneth J. Turner (University Park, PA: Eisenbrauns, 2013), 190, 194. He further notes, “The people will continue to exist physically in exile; yet, as a single entity, Israel is said to ‘perish’ or ‘be destroyed.’ So, it is not Israel as an historical or socio-religious people, but Israel as Yahweh’s elect son and servant (Deuteronomy 1:31, 7:6, 14:1) that is put to death. Exile constitutes the death of Israel as a nation in covenant — a covenant comprised of a dynamic relationship between Yahweh, the nation, and the land. Whatever existence continues, it is discontinuous with the past.” Turner, “Deuteronomy’s Theology of Exile,” 194; cf. Kenneth J. Turner, The Death of Deaths in the Death of Israel: Deuteronomy’s Theology of Exile (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2011). 

  10. On this proposal, see, e.g., Franz Delitzsch, Job, trans. Francis Bolton, Commentary on the Old Testament 4 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988), s.v. Job 42:13; John E. Hartley, The Book of Job, NICOT (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988), 542; Robert L. Alden, Job, NAC 11 (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1993), 413. 

  11. See esp. N.T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God, Christian Origins and the Question of God 3 (London: SPCK, 2003). For a brief synthesis of his view, see N.T. Wright, “Resurrection Narratives,” in Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible, ed. Kevin J. Vanhoozer (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005), 675–76; N.T. Wright, “Resurrection of the Dead,” in Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible, ed. Kevin J. Vanhoozer (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005), 676–78. For more on the doctrine of resurrection, see the entire issue of SBJT 18.4 (2014). 

  12. See Meredith G. Kline, “The First Resurrection,” WTJ 37 (1975): 366–75; Meredith G. Kline, “The First Resurrection: A Reaffirmation,” WTJ 39 (1976): 110–19. As noted above, both John and Paul identify that the “first resurrection” is actually inaugurated at conversion (John 5:21, 24; Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 3:1) and consummated when, following physical death, persons presently exiled enter their heavenly citizenship, awaiting the reunion with their bodies at the “second resurrection” (John 5:28–29; Philippians 3:20–21). 

  13. See G.K. Beale, “The Millennium in Revelation 20:1–10: An Amillennial Perspective,” CTR 11.1 (2013): 29–62. 

  14. Both John and Paul identify that physical death is merely the consummation of the “first death” that was already inaugurated at conception through a person’s identification with Adam (Romans 5:12, 18–19) and the spiritual death lived out in the land of the living (John 3:18, 36; 5:24–26; Ephesians 2:1, 5).