2 Timothy 2:17-18 Has the Resurrection Already Happened?

And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.

//I was asked today what this verse is all about, and how anybody could possibly believe the resurrection had already happened. The fact is, there were a number of versions of Christianity in the first couple centuries, and this is one of the things Christians argued about.

Paul believed the general resurrection had begun. He argues his case quite simply in his first letter to the Corinthians. Do you believe Jesus has risen from the dead? Then the resurrection has begun. Do you believe the resurrection has not begun? Then Jesus couldn’t have risen from the dead.  Paul cannot imagine that Jesus’ resurrection could be an isolated event. He describes Jesus as the “first fruit” … that is, the first of many to rise into a glorious new resurrection body.

So did Paul believe others had been resurrected, too? Possibly, or more likely he felt he was living on the cusp on the general resurrection. You see, another of the things early Christians argued about was what the resurrection body is like. Some believed Jesus was resurrected in body; see Matthew and Luke for evidence of this belief. The final chapter in John and the last section of Mark also portray this physical resurrection, though neither is authentic to the original writing (both stories were added at a later date, apparently to bolster belief in bodily resurrection).

Paul didn’t see it this way. He felt he saw the resurrected Jesus just as clearly as anyone else did, and what he saw was no physical body. He saw a light from heaven. A spiritual body. Paul is adamant that the new, resurrected body, whether of Jesus or of any other believer, is not “of the flesh.”

Given that Christians could not even agree on what the resurrected body of Jesus was like, it’s hardly surprising that arguments arose in the first couple centuries of Christianity about what the general resurrection was like, whether it had begun, and what the new messianic age meant.

7 Comments

  1. I’m curious,Where did you get this?

    “Do you believe Jesus has risen from the dead? Then the resurrection has begun. Do you believe the resurrection has not begun? Then Jesus couldn’t have risen from the dead.”

    I’m looking at 1st Corinthians right now and Paul writes “…how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.”

    What you “quoted” is not what Paul “wrote”. Secondly, what is this general resurrection you are referring to? Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 is simply telling the church in Corinth that if they don’t believe Jesus physically rose their faith is useless because if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead there is no resurrection for them on the last day (15:17)

    In regards to the resurrection, as soon as you die your soul goes to heaven and your body will be taken up and be made perfect on judgment day when Jesus comes. (15:53,54) (1 Thessalonians 4:16,17)

    I agree with you that there were disagreements about the resurrection, and there still are disagreements. These disagreements are due to misinterpretation of Scripture. If one simply let’s Scripture interpret Scripture, God’s Word will speak for itself.

  2. Lee Harmon

    Hi Jason! Thanks for contributing!

    I didn’t quote, I paraphrased. As did you: there is certainly nothing in verse 17 about resurrection “on the last day”.

    Note the wording. Paul isn’t saying there WILL BE a resurrection; he is saying the IS a resurrection.

    Verse 20 may help explain this view, as it points out that Jesus is the firstfruit of the resurrection. I’m not really sure how to answer your question about the “general resurrection,” except to say that Paul imagined one resurrection and that Christ was a part of it; indeed, he was the first to be resurrected.

    btw, your verses about the rapture (1 thess) also would have been understood differently by Paul’s first century audience. Check out this three-part series:

    http://www.dubiousdisciple.com/2013/11/1-thessalonians-417-the-parousia-part-i-of-iii.html

    http://www.dubiousdisciple.com/2013/11/psalm-247-the-parousia-part-ii-of-iii.html

    http://www.dubiousdisciple.com/2013/11/revelation-212-the-parousia-part-iii-of-iii.html

    All the best, keep contributing! Discussion is how we learn from one another.

  3. Lewis Blevins

    The Bible says our bodies are gonna go back to the dust of the ground, so there is no such thing as a physical resurrection. Martha thought the same thing as a lot of Christians do today, that the resurrection is an event that is gonna happen sometime in the future. Jesus told her, your brother will live again, she said I know he will live in the resurrection. The next words Jesus told her showed both her and us that the resurrection is not an event. He told her, I am the resurrection and the life, he that believeth in me, tho he were dead, yet shall he live. So Jesus is the resurrection. A resurrection takes place at the alter when we give our life to God, First John 3:14 says, We know we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren, that’s what a resurrection is, passing from death to life. Now how many first resurrections can there be, the 20th chapter of Revelations says Blessed are those that take part in the first resurrection, on which the second death hath no power. Now, let’s take all this into consideration, plus what Paul said, to be absent from the flesh is to be present with Christ. Saint John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life, there are way to many scriptures for me to bring them all into this, but when we add them all together, it shows us that the resurrection takes place when we give our life to God.

    • At bible study last night I got a revelation of the scripture 20.6 when our Pastor read that out I received the revelation that when we are born again this is the first resurrection. I have never seen that before, so I agree we are living in it now. It’s so amazing

  4. Jeremiah Khai

    Jesus rose from the Dead with His Physical Body! He even ate fish! And He said “spirit cannot have flesh and bones as you see Me have” why are telling that Jesus wasn’t Resurrected Bodily? There will be Final Resurrection too … Jesus and Daniel said about it good and evil people will be raised for Judgment !

  5. Jesus was the resurrection (the 2nd birth of man – a spirit, see Jn 3: 1 – 10).

    Resurrection is simply when the spirit is born a second time.

    All of man’s (all males and females, from Adam and on) was born in Gen 1:27. We are spirits. Not just flesh. You were not born when your mom conceived you. That’s why the second birth also had to be of a spirit.
    The Father of Jesus gave birth to all spirit (no choice from man). The second birth, you have to choose. That is the Son’s kingdom. So, the Father draws you to the Son, if you ask (or choose). Then the Son gives you life, resurrection, and then the Son confers His Kingdom on you, just as the Father conferred a Kingdom on the Son.

    Makes sense??? Go read your bible now.

  6. So, simply put, the resurrection is ongoing. Nothing manifests in the physical, without happening in the spiritual first.’

    The mistake of man is to look at the earth. The root cause is the spirit. Man had to be born into the earthly realm because he already existed in the spiritual realm, when God created all of us in Gen 1:27. Go study your bible. Man had to die physically, because he died spiritually first.

    Man has to experience physical resurrection because his spirit got the spiritual resurrection (entrance of Spiritual life) through Jesus. I’m speaking of the first resurrection.

    Now, everyone will come back to life eventually (I’m speaking of the second resurrection which you don’t want) – see John 5 as this is probably the clearest, but John the Baptist and the other gospels teach this same thing in so many places. The second resurrection is for those who are wicked. This is when they get rewarded for the good deeds they do, or the bad deeds they did whilst on earth. After they get their rewards (good or bad, just like those who partake in the 1st resurrection) – remember, it is appointed to man once to die, then judgement, regardless if you loved Jesus or not. Now, after the judgement of those in the second resurrection, they get thrown into the lake of Fire – the second death. See, you don’t want the second resurrection. Now, go study your bible. Read the gospels again 5x, then Acts, then the rest of the New Testament, taking notes, and asking God for revelation.

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