Resurrection | Synoptic Gospels

The following belongs to a series entitled “An Introductory Biblical Theology of Resurrection.” Read other posts belonging to this series here.


Synoptic Gospels

By the time of the Gospels, the belief in the resurrection of the dead has become much more established.[1] During His ministry, Jesus recognizes and teaches about the resurrection (Mt 5:29; 8:11-12; 10:28; 22:23-32; 25:31-46; Mk 12:18-27; Lk 13:28-30; 14:14; 20:27-38) and even raises individuals from the dead (although presumably they would eventually die again; Mt 9:18-26; Mk 5:21-24, 35-43; Lk 7:11-14).

Several times Jesus predicts His death and subsequent resurrection after three days (Mt 16:21; 17:9, 22-23; 20:18-19; Mk 8:31; 9:9-10, 31; 10:32-34; Lk 9:22; 18:33; 24:6-8). He uses the historical experience of Jonah as an analogy for what will soon happen to him, calling His future resurrection “the sign of Jonah” (Mt 12:38-42; 16:4; Lk 11:29). Christ’s resurrection is the decisive, defining sign of His ministry and person. [2]

After His crucifixion, Jesus rises from the dead (Mt 28; Mk 16:1-8; Lk 24) along with many saints (Mt 27:52-53) who serve as a living manifestation of the significance of Christ’s death and resurrection—victory over death.[3] By nature of His resurrection, Christ receives all authority, most likely an allusion to the appointment of Jesus as the Son of God (cf. Ps 2:7; Acts 13:33; Rom 1:4) through whom God’s sovereign reign is now mediated (Daniel 7:13-14; Acts 2:36). Consequently, the disciples are to go to all nations (Mt 28:20) in order “that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him” (Dan 7:14).


[1] The Pharisees believe in a resurrection, while the Sadducees deny it (Acts 4:12; 23:8; cf. Mt 22:23, 29; Mk 12:18; Lk 20:27; Josephus Antiquities 18.1.4). See also Mt 14:2; Mk 6:14-16; Lk 9:7; Lk 16:27-31; Jn 11:23-24; Acts 24:15.

[2] G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson, eds., Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007), 45.

[3] “Matthew is making the point that the resurrection of Jesus brought about the resurrection of his people. . . . The raising of the saints shows that death has been conquered.” (Leon Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew [Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1992], 725).


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