Thoughts on Resurrection Part 11: John 5:28-29

It was July of 2015. I was attending a gospel meeting (revival) at the Borden Springs church of Christ. During this time I was in a battle. What started off as a study on the last days had become a restudying of eschatology from the ground up. I had begun trying to debunk this idea that prophecy had already been fulfilled, but I was losing ground fast.

This entire gospel meeting was on the problems with premillinealism, but I found it to reveal more problems with my own thinking.

To give you an idea of where I was at, at this point I had purchased a pocket sized ESV to carry around with me. I had learned about the Greek word aiōn and realized that it was translated age in many contemporary Bibles. In my classic KJV, however, it said world. Those two translations are very different. So, I carried this Bible with me just in case I came across a world passage. That way, I could cross-reference it with my ESV to see if it was kosmos or aiōn.

During this meeting, the preacher went to a number of eschatological passages: 2 Peter 3, 1 Thessalonians 4, and 1 Corinthians 15 to address issues such as the end of time, the resurrection, and to debunk any rapture theology.

He also went to two other passages, both of which went into my “fall of Jerusalem” column that night and coming days: Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 and John 5:28-29.

The Matthew 13:46-43 passage is the one I used my ESV on, but the John 5:28-29 went a little different way. Let’s take a trip back to July of 2015.


Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.

John 5:28–29

“There it is! This is the passage I’ve been looking for without knowing it. No time statements, no apocalyptic language, just plain truth: one day every single person good or evil will come out of the grave. Whew.”

A few moments pass.

“Well, I better check the context. “

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.

John 5:24

“Wait… ‘has passed out of death…’ So, He’s not talking about physical death here.”

Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.

John 5:25

“Okay… so the hour now is… which means spiritual life as well…”

For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man.

John 5:26–27

“So life in Christ… when someone’s baptized into Christ they get the life, they pass from death to life like in verse 24. And judgement is executed based on whether they hear His voice and accept what He says versus hear His voice and reject what He says… Uh oh…”

Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.

John 5:28–29

“Wait… so why is this a different hour than verse 25? It seems to be a reiteration of what He already said… So, like, is this Gentile inclusion… ALL who are in the graves… or what? So, like, it’s basically Matthew 13. At the end of the age one group is harvested and goes into the barn, while the other is harvested and goes to the fire…”


Okay, back to 2020.

You may buy the above; you may not. I did. But my understanding of the text has developed a bit. I’d like to share that with you to hopefully fill in some blanks. Let’s focus on three parts of this passage: the word tombs/ graves, the reference to the good and the evil, and the expression the hour is coming.

TOMBS / GRAVES

I started with this because I think it is easiest to explain. I believe Jesus is referencing a specific Old Testament prophecy concerning His work and kingdom. It’s the passage about the dry bones. If you’d like to read it, you can in Ezekiel 37:1-10. If you are familiar with it already, here is the explanation:

Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope has perished. We are completely cut off.’ “Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel. “Then you will know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves and caused you to come up out of your graves, My people. “I will put My Spirit within you and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land. Then you will know that I, the LORD, have spoken and done it,” declares the LORD.’ ”

Ezekiel 37:11–14

What was their graves? Literal, physical graves or tombs? No. It was them living separated from God. It was spiritual separation they were suffering, not seperation of soul from body. This is similar to the situation in Hosea 13, the passage that Paul bases his doctrine of the resurrection upon in 1 Corinthians 15. Israel had sinned in their idolatry. This sin brought spiritual or covenant death:

When Ephraim spoke, there was trembling. He exalted himself in Israel, But through Baal he did wrong and died. And now they sin more and more, And make for themselves molten images, Idols skillfully made from their silver, All of them the work of craftsmen. They say of them, “Let the men who sacrifice kiss the calves!”

Hosea 13:1–2

This was based upon Moses’ challenge: choose life or choose death (Deuteronomy 30:15-20). They chose death, so the question is asked:

Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from death? O Death, where are your thorns? O Sheol, where is your sting? Compassion will be hidden from My sight.

Hosea 13:14

This is why, by the way, John speaks of death and Hades (Greek word for Sheol) being cast into the lake of fire and Isaiah talks about their covenant with death and Sheol being annulled (Isaiah 28).

Anyways, when they sinned, they died. Restoration of the nation was likened unto resurrection. They would come up out of their graves.

When?

Ezekiel 37 says, as you can read above, it would happen when God would pour out His Spirit upon them and return them to the land. This same promise, of returning to the land, is reiterated in Ezekiel 37:21, but it is said in relation to “David” being king over them again and them being given a new covenant (Ezekiel 37:24-28). Paul and John both cite from this passage in the New Testament to talk about what was going on through the gospel (2 Corinthians 6:11; Revelation 21:1ff).

So, I think Jesus is drawing from this language of tombs and graves to speak of the spiritual state of Israel.

For more study on this, go through and read the book of John. Notice all of the times the people misunderstood Jesus. They mistook His sayings for physical things when He was speaking of spiritual things. Let’s be careful to not make the same mistake!

The Good, the Bad, the Resurrected

There are three passages that I am aware of that speak of the resurrection of the just and the unjust: Daniel 12:2; John 5:28-29; Acts 24:14-15.

Now, Paul says in Acts 24:14-15 that he was speaking no other thing than what Moses and the Prophets said would come. Here is another passage from Paul’s trials:

So, having obtained help from God, I stand to this day testifying both to small and great, stating nothing but what the Prophets and Moses said was going to take place; that the Christ was to suffer, and that by reason of His resurrection from the dead He would be the first to proclaim light both to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.

Acts 26:22–23

The only passage, as mentioned above, that speaks of this resurrection of both the just and unjust is Daniel 12:2.

Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.

Daniel 12:2

This text, as you can probably tell, follows the same sort of flow as Jesus in John 5:28-29, so it is hard to believe that He is drawing on anything other but this passage.

But what is the context of Daniel 12? Here is a presentation I gave in Memphis in the fall of 2016. I’ll post the main slide below, but please read the entire thing for my answer to this question!

Here is a summary of the PDF:

Daniel 12:2 was fulfilled at the fall of Jerusalem in AD70.

John 5:28-29/ Acts 24:14-15 is the resurrection of Daniel 12:2.

Therefore, John 5:28-2/ Acts 24:14-15 were fulfilled at the fall of Jerusalem in AD70.

The Hour is Coming

Well, if you read the above presentation, I kind of feel silly even writing anything now.

The basic idea is this: Jesus introduced the phrases “the hour is coming” and “the hour is coming, but now is” to the Samaritan women in the previous chapter. If we understand those sayings as related to the “already” (Jesus’s ministry and beyond) and the “not yet” (the fall of the temple), then it is reasonable to conclude that Jesus used them in a similar way in John. The “not yet” part is referencing the fall of the temple at the end of the age when the “harvest” (Matthew 13 passage cited above) would take place and the good and evil would be sorted.

So, there you go.


Alright! Hope that helps.

I think that is it for me, folks. I feel like that is enough articles on the resurrection. Now, I’m going to combine them, fill in the gaps, give some background, and hopefully include them in an upcoming book. We will see. Let me know if you would like for me to cover anything else in relation to this subject.

4 Replies to “Thoughts on Resurrection Part 11: John 5:28-29

  1. Go Daniel go!!! I really hope you do a book on resurrection.

    I treasure your book on Thessalonians. I refer to it a lot as I’m in a Bible study on Thessalonians.

  2. *When I originally commented I clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get four emails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service? Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *