“And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.”
The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.
“…having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust.”
What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”
Is there life after death? The above verses clearly show that the answer to this question is YES: There will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust.
If there is no life after death, then nothing really matters much: “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” (1Corinthians 15:32). Understanding that there is life after death gives significance to our lives. Our decisions and actions here on earth can have eternal consequences, for good or for bad.
It is somewhat surprising that many of the religious leaders during Jesus’ time on Earth (the Sadducees) did not believe in life after death. They tried to find fault with Jesus regarding this issue, reasoning that problems associated with marriage relationships proved their viewpoint against life after death. Jesus replied to them:
“Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.” (Mark 12:24-27)
We have additional instruction from 1st Corinthians:
But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead... (1Corinthians 15:13-20)
For Further Reflection
Mark 12:18-27: The Sadducees question Jesus. (See also Matthew 22:23-33 and Luke 20:27-38)
John 5:28-29: Jesus on the resurrection of the dead.
1Corinthians 15:12-58: Paul on the resurrection of the dead.
Luke 16:19-31: The rich man and Lazarus.
Philippians 3:10-11: Attain the resurrection from the dead.
Daniel 12:13: At the end of the days you will rise.
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