The topic of the resurrection has been one keenly debated one in recent times in the rise of the preterist view with regards to the fulfillment of bible prophecy on endtimes.
It is not uncommon to see scripture jabs thrown up and down without due reference to context and relevant time statements.
One of such scripture that is quickly thrown up as an objection to the fulfillment of the resurrection is 2 Timothy 2:17-18 saying,
“Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have departed from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some.”
I will like to draw your attention to the fact that Paul said that those in HIS time who had preached that the resurrection had passed destroyed the faith of some.
The actual Greek word there is Anatrepo which to:
2. (figuratively) to overturn
How did that preaching overturn some people’s faith?
You have to first realize that faith is the substance of things hoped for. Any attempt to upturn anyone’s faith would also be attempt to subvert hope.
Paul taught that the resurrection was the hope of Israel. It was the long earlgely awaited and most anticipated event as per the redemptive work of the Messiah that was to occur at the end of the age.
But when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!” (Acts 23:6 (NKJV))
“I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be (mello -about to be) a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust. Acts 24:15 (NKJV)
“For this reason therefore I have called for you, to see you and speak with you, because for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.” Acts 28:20 (NKJV)
“But as for you, go your way to the end; then you will enter into rest and rise again for your allotted portion at the end of the age.” Daniel 12:13 (NASB)
Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” John 11:23-24 (NKJV)
The resurrection of Jesus after the cross is never really a subject of argument in Christian circles except when it is viewed by non believers of the Christian faith. His resurrection speaks in so many ways as it relates our justification and our place in the last Adam, who death can’t touch.
2 Timothy was written sometime in the autumn 58ad and Paul was writing about a group of people who were saying the resurrection of the dead had already taken place after the resurrection of Christ.
Why? The consummation of salvation was in the long awaited resurrection.
The first question would be this;
How would anyone be deceived if the resurrection of the dead that the disciples preached was to be a global event in which graves would open and spirits came into their reassembled bodies?
How would it be possible to miss that?
Another point would be that to state that the resurrection had passed AT THAT time would also be negating the words of Jesus as it related to the events that should occur at the end of that age that would see the end of that Mosaic age in the destruction of the Jewish temple.
A standing temple would indicate that the redemption of the immortal body was uncertain. A new temple being a new residence was to indicate man’s restoration to God that even death cannot sever.
When Paul talk about the resurrection of the dead in Phillipians he used the word “exanastasi” which means “the out resurrection out from the corpses.”
The resurrection of the righteous will take them out of the total number of those dead.
It is very striking to note that the Bible never used the terms “resurrected body,” “resurrection of the body,” or “physical resurrection.” Instead “the out resurrection out from the corpses.”
The resurrection was to undo the work of Adam when He died on that day. That death was spiritual and it resulted in man being held in Hades/Sheol.
Jesus confirmed this;
“No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. John 3:13 (NKJV)
Sheol/Hades was a waiting area for disembodied spirits. They needed to bear the body of the immortal to be relocated to realm of God’s eternal presence. The cross was the place for the payment of that immortal body. It was to be offered at the end of the age.
“I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave, I will be your destruction! Pity is hidden from My eyes. Hosea 13:14 (NKJV)
But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, For He shall receive me. Selah Psalms 49:15 (NKJV)
Another aspect that has to do with error of Hymenaeus and Philetus isthe TIMING of the resurrection.
According to the Bible, when was the resurrection to take place? The Scriptures testify that the time of the resurrection was to be at the end of the Old Covenant age. A careful and thorough study proves this to have happened in AD 70 with the destruction of the Jewish Temple. The disciples knew that the fall of the temple and the destruction of the city meant the end of the Old Covenant age and the inauguration of a new age.
“At that time Michael shall stand up, The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, Every one who is found written in the book. 2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt. Daniel 12:1-2 (NKJV)
Daniel says that this resurrection will come after a time of great trouble for the Jewish nation. That sounds just like:
“For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. Matthew 24:21 (NKJV)
Here, Jesus is speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem.
Notice also verse 3:
Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever. Daniel 12:3 (NKJV)
When Paul wrote about the resurrection in I Corinthians 15, he said
“in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet: for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible…” v.52.
Keep in mind that the Apostle spoke based on his Jewish background understanding of the fulfillment of Old testament prophecies as it related to Israel. There is a consistency in which he explained things and events even as it related to the sound of the trump.
Paul clearly states that the resurrection at the sounding of the last trumpet would be the fulfillment of the prediction found in Isaiah 25:8;
8 he will swallow up death permanently.
The sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from every face,
and remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth.
Indeed, the LORD has announced it!
The same context of the sounding of the great trumpet of God for the gathering of the elect from their “graves” separated from God. This time Paul explains that the resurrection of which he speaks of was in connection the strength of sin, which is “the law”. The law was a veil that could not bring people close to God and it stood as a handwriting written against and hence they could not experience the life of God. So at the passing away of the law and its institution there would be a resurrection.
Paul explains further in verse 51 when he says, “WE shall not all sleep, but WE shall ALL be changed.”
This resurrection would be an experience for all both dead and living. It simply meant that every cause of separation was taken away and there was absolutely no reason for the dead to be apart from the Lord.
In chapter 8 of the book of Revelation John saw seven angels having seven trumpets. In chapter 10 John was told, “in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.” The seventh trumpet, the LAST TRUMPET, was the time for the final fulfilling of the Old Covenant prophetic word!
In chapter 11:15-18 we see,
“And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints…” v.18. The sounding of the last trumpet was the time for the resurrection of the dead, for judgment.
When was all this to happen? Over and over again John writes that his vision “must shortly come to pass” 1:1-3; and that “the time is at hand. This was fulfilled in that generation and now based on those fulfilled prophesied, the consummation of the new covenant has brought the believer to be place where he cannot be afraid of separation from the Father. Now in this new heaven and earth, the Father has descended to make His dwelling in us and as such resurrection has occurred and is no longer a promise in the future.
“No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. John 6:44 (NKJV)
“Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. John 6:54 (NKJV)
So when you consider all these above you will discover that preaching a future resurrection would be to declare inconclusive the redemptive work of the savior and place us back to that ended Jewish age.
That would also be another Hymenaeus and Philetus error in circulation which would also make nonsense of people’s faith in Christ redemptive work. Christ in you is THE LIFE for there is no need for a future resurrection. At death we all experience the putting on our immortal body. There’s no need to be placed in a restricted location as a disembodied spirit. Redemption is now completed! Halleluyah!