|Don Preston on "Resurrection From What Death?"|
Full preterists, in order to maintain their views, insist upon a view of resurrection as "spiritual". This position, also taken now and then by Skeptics, can not and will not circumvent the contextual meaning of resurrection in a Jewish sense. Not surprisingly, an article we were asked to examine from eschatology.org by one Don Preston, titled Resurrection From What Death?, only briefly and inadequately touches on this contextual background, and commits the same errors as Skeptics in performing their exegesis.
The article begins by noting that in Gen. 2:15-17, Adam and Eve, after God's promise, did not physically die, but did so spiritually. That much is true, but the jump from "death is spiritual in Genesis" to "therefore it is spiritual in Corinthians" is quite a leap. It is exegetically problematic; as a reader noted, the Hebrew says, "dying you will die," which is an idiom for, "You will begin to die. The process will continue until you are dead."
One is also compelled to ask then why the list of patriarchs who "died" in Genesis 5 does not mean that they spiritually died, or why those who had the tower of Siloam fall on them did not "perish" spiritually rather than physically. The answer of course is context, and contextually, 1 Cor. 15:22 is clearly not JUST about spiritual death:
1 Cor. 15:20-22 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.
Isolating 15:22 from the surrounding contexts removes it from contexts making it clear that a physical rez is in view. Christ was never dead spiritually; his rising from the dead was physical. It is this death -- indeed an end result of that spiritual death -- that is in mind.
It is no surprise that we find no detailed exegesis of 1 Cor. 15 as a whole here (with no analysis of the word soma, for example, a particularly glaring omission), but instead, snippets of it isolated for purpose, for example:
When that Old Covenant of Death was completely taken away, this is called the resurrection. This is what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:54-56. The resurrection would be when the Old Testament was fulfilled, vs. 54; it would be when "the law," which was "the strength of sin," was removed, vs. 56. More on all this later.
One might never recognize this passage from the use of just six words:
So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
But indeed, the Jewish view was that the glorified resurrection body would be concurrent with release from sin; to get the new, deathless body was indeed to be delivered from death -- sin is the origin-point of spiritual, and therefore also physical, death, as expressed clearly in this Jewish comment:
Pseudo-Phocylides 103-4 ...we hope that the remains of the departed will soon come to light again out of the earth. And afterward, they will become gods.
In this light and in light of other passages in the article linked above, it is humorous to see this article claim that physical resurrection is a "modern concept." Such a claim shows a remarkable lack of familiarity with literature contemporary with the New Testament! It is right to say, as they do, that resurrection "is deliverance from sin", but they have pared off only a single aspect of the concept and ignored the rest. (There will be a bit more on 1 Cor. 15:20 below.)
In a return to old memories, I found John 4:24-5 misused by Preston much as Mormon apologist Richard Hopkins did:
Most assuredly, I say to you , he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death unto life. Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of god; and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Marvel not at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will he His voice and come forth - those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.
It is said, "Most commentators insist that in verses 24-25 Jesus spoke of a spiritual resurrection available to the believer today and then in verses 28-29 he spoke of a yet future physical resurrection." The latter is correct; the former is open to question. I know of no commentator (and I looked into this deeply for the Mormon issue) who calls the first portion a "resurrection". As noted elsewhere, "spiritual resurrection" is like "square circle". Here we follow with some rather obscure commentary:
R. H. Charles says of vss. 24-25 "we are not here concerned with the bestowal of physical life." When he approaches verses 28-29 however, he simply asserts without evidence "physical death is presupposed."
Evidence? How much is needed? "All who are in the graves..." Who is that? Wayward embalmers?
Amazingly, Preston even quotes this phrase and claims there is "no delineation" between the groups of 4:24-25 and 4:28-29! The fact that people are hearing the voice now (v. 25), and are not in graves, and thus clearly alive, whereas there is no "now" for those in the graves, seems to be missed in terms of implication. The difference is noted, but is brushed off by mere ridicule that Jesus could be speaking of two "resurrections" (once again, misusing the word as it would never be applied to what is described in 4:24-5).
The claim moreover that distinctions are "brought to the text" by the interpreter ignores the clear allusion in 28-29 to the tradition of Daniel 12 (see link above, again) -- oddly enough, seeing the connection between the passages, but not at all aware of Daniel 12's indication of a physical resurrection.
Preston posits that Jesus was "speaking of one resurrection, the initiation of which was present and the consummation of which was still future, but imminent, from his perspective". To prove this a tour de force of exegesis is pursued with four passages that speak of us "dying with Christ" and being "raised with him". For Romans 6 it is said:
But notice verse 5: "If we have been planted with him in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection." Is the likeness of his death a physical likeness? If so, they had died physically. But if it be admitted that this refers to a spiritual likeness how does this impact verse 5? Are we to see that in baptism there is a spiritual likeness to the death of Jesus but in resurrection there will be a physical imitation of his resurrection? Who changed the hermeneutic here? Modern interpreters, not Paul, change the nature of the discussion.
Once again, thinking that "modern interpreters" are responsible for a concept of physical resurrection is quite anachronistic. But what of this claim of Romans 6:5 and a supposed parallel?
The unfortunate problem for our interpreter is that extended part of 1 Cor. 15 (as well as Phil. 3:21!) that clearly says that our body will be like Christ's; there is no room for "two types of resurrection" either here or in the Jewish background. It is also missing the technique Paul is employing: a rabbinic analogy of, "lesser to greater." Thus it is quite intelligible for Paul to use the "spiritual likeness" to establish a point about "physical imitation". And note as well that Paul DOES liken a physical act of ours (baptism) to a participating in Christ's death.
Phil. 3:21 says, "Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself." This passage is not addressed in the article, but Phil. 3:1-16 is, and is claimed to show that "the resurrection was a then present, yet not yet perfected, reality." The reasoning behind this is somewhat confused. It is said that "Paul did not preach anything but the hope of Israel...yet for Paul Israel's hope did not lie in fleshly things but in worshipping God 'in the Spirit' vs. 3."
Here again the contextual background of resurrection in Judaism is what is sorely lacking: Resurrection of the body was part and parcel of this hope! It is therefore a begged question at best to ask, "Israel was persecuting Paul, yet Paul was preaching the hope of Israel! Why then was Israel persecuting Paul?", and then answer the question by saying, "Because in preaching the 'Hope of Israel' Paul was not preaching a nationalistic, and physical hope!" It is rightly noted that in Phil. 3 Paul rejects the aspect of that hope that had to do with the Law, but it is a leap into the void to claim that this also means that Paul was not in agreement with the Jewish hope of a final bodily resurrection.
More From Paul
Pressed into service to this effect, however, is 3:11 where Paul states: "if by any means I might attain to the resurrection from the dead" vs. 11. Preston regards this as "surely a strange thing to say if the raising of a physical body from the earth is to be an inescapable universal event."
However, this misses the point of the passage, and fails to connect it to where Paul speaks of working out one's salvation with fear and trembling. As Witherington notes [Phil. commentary, 94], it is likely that for Paul, "resurrection" here entails "being made like Christ in one's body and he does not believe that non-Christians or apostate Christians will receive that," but destruction.
In short, Paul is saying his resurrection is not a foregone conclusion (cf. 1 Cor. 9:27; even those who preach Christ could be "disqualified"); while this does suggest that the P in TULIP is in error, and does indeed reflect an "already-not yet" tension as the article correctly notes, it does not speak against a bodily resurrection. (Thus as well, when 3:12 is pressed into service and it is said to be "facetious" under the physical-resurrection view because Paul had not died (!), the point is entirely missed.)
3:10 is also pressed into service:
Examine Paul's reference to dying. In verse 10 he says he was at that time "being made conformable unto his (Jesus') death." This is in the present tense. In what way was Paul being made conformable to the death of Jesus? It surely cannot be physically since it was something he was already experiencing. But just as in Romans 6 where he said the Romans had died with Christ and were anticipating rising with him, so here Paul speaks of his dying in the image of Jesus' death and desire for participating in his resurrection. Since the dying is not physical in either text then the resurrection is not physical either.
And just as in Romans 6, this is a presumptive and literalist error that fails to appreciate the wide-ranging nature of Jewish exegesis. It is also a poor understanding of what is meant to be "conformable" unto Jesus' death.
Witherington instead states  that it is comparable to where Paul speaks of "filling up Christ's sufferings" (Col. 1:24) and of having "a sense of having the honor of suffering with Christ for the same end and reason." This is an example of an ancient "probability," or of relating a current situation to a former one, and does not entail that the separate subject of resurrection also requires a spiritual meaning.
Pressed next into service is Colossians 3:1 and 2 Tim. 2:11-12, but these are answered in more or less the same way as the above. The holistic understanding of spiritual death in life, linked to physical death as a penalty, answers the claim that "because this death is spiritual only, the resurrection must be also." This is in line with the Semitic Totality Concept, while the view the article proposes reflects an anachronistic Western dichotomy between body and spirit, where the latter does not affect the former in "death" by sin.
A fair question about 2 Tim. 2:18 is, "It should be clear to any thinking person that [Hymenaeus and Philetus] could not maintain with any degree of success - or a straight face - that the modern traditional concept of the resurrection had occurred. If the resurrection is an 'end of time' event, then for these men to insist it had already occurred was to invite ridicule beyond measure. Why didn't Paul just say, 'Look around! The graveyards are still full.'?"
Given the dominance of cults today with even more ridiculous ideas, it is a wonder that Preston considers such a scenario unlikely to begin with. Our co-writer Dee Dee Warren has answered this thusly:
There is much wrong with that reasoning. On its most simple level it assumes that if something had been clearly taught by the Apostles, and by implication the Bible, then it would have been impossible for blatantly false teachings to arise. This is obviously incorrect in several easily demonstrable ways. First, all one has to do is to look around at the plethora of psuedo-Christian cults and false belief systems such as the Jehovah's Witnesses, Christadelphians, and Mormons to see that clear teaching is no certain remedy against blatantly false teaching for "the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked" (Jeremiah 17:10). Second, the Hymenaean is gored upon the horns of his own argument since the earliest testimony of the Church consistently affirmed a yet- future (to them) return of Christ and physical resurrection. Using the self-same Hymenaean argument, how could the early Church have fallen into such apostasy immediately after the writing of the NT Scriptures and within the lifetimes of some of the Apostles if they so clearly taught that the resurrection was an event concurrent with the destruction of Jerusalem??
This is true, and we may add that belief in a physical resurrection was one of the points upon which the early church was persecuted (see here, point 3).
Second, the argument also assumes what Paul should have done to prove Hymenaeus wrong about the nature of the resurrection (i.e. run to nearest graveyard). Says who?? Hymenaeus obviously already rejected the authority and teachings of Paul. Such a demonstration would only be meaningful to those who already agreed with Paul to whom Paul had nothing to prove. Also, notice that Paul never ran to Jesus' empty tomb either to prove His resurrection...
To this I might add that the defiling of graves for such a purpose, even a good one, would not be looked upon kindly by the ancients, especially those of Jewish persuasion for whom the body was "unclean". The disturbing of graves was in some cases punishable by death.
Third, it is an argument from silence which is not supported by the facts and context. Further, it is just assumed that I must defend the position Hymenaeus had an improper understanding of the nature of the resurrection. While I do agree with that assumption, especially considering the wealth of anti-Gnostic polemic authored by Paul and the Gnostic's aversion of things material, that is not the only possible option. It is also quite possible that Hymenaeus was referring to the resurrection of the "many" saints described in Matthew 27:52 and was teaching that they were all that were to be resurrected. In such a case, his understanding of the nature of the resurrection may have been quite correct.
In short, the error of these two heretics is no basis for an argument. But it is pressed further with Eph. 2:1: "Had not Paul told the Ephesians they had been raised from the dead, Eph. 2:1?" No -- "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins" -- note that the italicized words are a KJV addition. There is no word for "resurrected" here (anastasis); though it is implied that the Ephesians are no longer "dead," there is no indication of being "raised."
Nor is this found in Romans 8, where Paul says the Romans "are delivered from the law of sin and death," or in Col. 2:11-12, which speaks of the abolishing of death -- at most Paul speaks proleptically of their being in the sanctification process which was consummated in physical resurrection, per the Jewish view (and indeed, better suited to an "already-not yet" tension) though we also of course (as a high context writer) do not expect him to add every time, "unless you are disqualified."
Preston now turns to John 5, and addresses a use of "also" in 5:27 that I have never seen used to claim that 5:28-9 speaks of a physical resurrection, so we will bypass it, along with another argument used by Stafford North about the use of the definite article in John which we deem unnecessary.
The next focus is on 5:28, which says the "hour is coming" when this resurrection will happen, and attempts are made to connect this to an "hour" in the last day, specifically an "hour" that refers to events in 70 AD. Especially linked to is the warning of the "last hour" in 1 John.
But the argument fails to address the question, "According to 1 John, the last hour of what?" By the orthodox preterist view, it is the last hour not of history, but of the age of the law which ended in 70 AD. The content tells us that the "hour" of John 5:28 is not the same as the "last hour" of 1 John 2 (or of Rev. 14, which is also pressed into service). To try to link together all "hours" as one simply on the basis of the word "hour" -- a common time-reference -- is an eisegesis that begs the question.
Further on, linguistic equivocation is again used to make John 3:14, "We know that we have passed from death to life," into a passage on "resurrection" even though that word is conspicuously missing. The answer is again in the holistic understanding of death and life, shared by the Jews, we describe above. Several passages are also called into service to link the parousia with the resurrection, though none mention the latter at all.
We do not find any point in need of addressing per the particular subject of resurrection and its nature until this, the one place where the Jewish view of resurrection is touched on, and disposed of with exegetical sleight of hand:
In Acts 21 the Jews mistakenly believed that Paul had taken a Gentile into the Temple and attacked him with murderous intent, Acts 21:26f. Taken before the Sanhedrin the next day Paul told them "of the hope of the resurrection I am called into question" Acts 23:6. This instantly divided the court since "the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection" vs. 8. Ostensibly, Paul had aligned himself with the Pharisees in their hope of a physical resurrection because they instantly say "we find no evil in this man" vs. 9. But, as they say, "a funny thing happened on the way to the Forum."...Seven days, at least, passed between Paul's appearance before the Sanhedrin and his appearance before Felix, Acts 23:11, 31-32, 24:1. When Paul gives his defense before the governor he says: "I have hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked" Acts 24:15. (NASV) What happened to the Pharisees who just a few days earlier had been saying they could find no fault with Paul? ....Clearly it is not the Sadducees Paul is referring to when he says his accusers "cherish" the hope of the resurrection - the Sadducees have dropped out of the proceedings. So what happened to the Pharisees? Why have they changed their tune from "We find nothing wrong with this man!" to "We find this man a real pest and a fellow who stirs up dissension among all the Jews throughout the world" Acts 24:5? Could it be that they found out what Paul was really saying about the resurrection?
In short, our writer proposes an elaborate story behind the text in which Paul's Pharasaic opponents thought he meant a physical resurrection, but when they found out he taught a spiritual one, turned against him! This scenario is countered by some important points.
To begin, it is far from clear that the Pharisees there even knew that Paul was being brought forth with specific relation to Jesus -- and that he was, was the real reason the Pharisees would turn on him, the real "funny thing" that happened. (This objection is anticipated, but answered with the historically inaccurate and unjustified claim that this is not possible, because "[t]he Jews had been more than willing to accept Jesus as king on their terms" [!] -- and where is this said of the Pharisees specifically??)
Second, it makes Paul out to be a full-fledged liar with no honor, for he knew his idea of "resurrection" was not like that of the Pharisees any more.
Third and most importantly, note who is was that was Paul's prosecutors: "And after five days Ananias the high priest descended with the elders..."
The prosecutors were Sadducees, and thus had not "dropped out" of the proceedings at all; they were not Pharisees, and Paul's appeal in 24:15 is the same as it was before: an attempt to set the Jewish leadership against itself, to divide and conquer his opposition. This is a tremendous slip by Preston, one of contextually voided history, as he failed to note who Paul's accusers were in 24:1.
From here the oddity is proposed that the Jews also rejected Jesus because he did not teach (beyond not teaching the defeat of Rome) the physical resurrection that they preferred, but at such points the silence of the texts (especially against such passages as the response to the Sadducees about the woman married 7 times) becomes palpable to the point of annihilation for an opposing view. It is a false and unsubstantiated connection to claim that the "nationalistic kingdom" desired by Jews of the time was a piece with the "literalistic resurrection" and that the latter was incompatible with Jesus' concept of the Kingdom of God.
Then there is this point, which offers a combination of begged questions:
In 2 Timothy 4:1 the apostle said "I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom." (See also Mat. 16:27-28; Mat. 25:31). Now if the nature of the coming kingdom was "without observation" why are we supposed to think that the attendant resurrection, which would give entrance into that New World order, Luke 20:27-38, would be of a different nature than the kingdom itself?
Why? Because the judgment occurs in heaven (per Matthew 25) and is no more observable than the Spirit within us that the Kingdom action comprises. This also begs the same question of the resurrection as "attendant" when nothing has been given to show that this is so (the cite of Luke 20 does not so much as mention the "new world order").
Back to Paul Again
Pulled next into service is Rom. 11:7, in which it is said that "Israel has not obtained that which he seeketh for, but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded." Preston says, "Israel's hope was the resurrection," and then proceeds from the strawman to claim that since the elect had obtained this, obviously they were now resurrected (spiritually)!
The plain and simple error here is that the "hope of Israel" was not exclusively limited to resurrection, but was a large complex of ideas that included various actions by YHWH (Jer. 14:8, 17:13), who is himself the "hope of Israel" -- not JUST resurrection from the dead physically, which was part of a larger package of salvation which was consummated in physical resurrection.
Prestion tries to amplify this position with another erroneous exegesis:
Lest it be argued that Paul is not thinking of the resurrection note vs. 15 where the apostle discusses the fate of Israel: "If the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?" Now if the acceptance of those cast off was "life from the dead" what was it that the "election" had received? Was it something different? No. The elect had received life from the dead! And when would Israel receive their "life from the dead"?
As above, this fails to recognize the holistic understanding in Judaism of "life" and "death" with the interlinking of the spiritual and the physical.
In a section following a view is addressed that sees Jesus casting off Israel at the cross. This is not quite my view; it is rather than "Israel" was expanded and redefined to those who were loyal to YHWH. Consequently there is no need for us to address much of what follows. The role of the law in all of this we examine here. Then we have this error of equivocation of terminology:
Jesus told the disciples that when they saw the events surrounding Jerusalem's demise "look up, and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near" vs. 28. Thus, the time of the day of redemption - the time of the resurrection - is identified....Some say this redemption speaks simply of the saving of their physical lives from any further persecution. But if this were true, and if it be argued that the fall of Jerusalem was a strictly local event, of what value would these words be to those outside of Judea?
It is indeed arbitrary to simply equate "redemption" with "resurrection"; nor does it have to do with persecution, but rather, with vindication and honor. The argument about "what value" is anachronistic; tensions upon individuals would have been placed, in the ancient mindset, secondarily to that which was better for the group and its efforts as a whole. Christians of this time would have taken the expulsion and persecution of the events of 70, not happily of course, but would have considered the redemptive sign worth the price. Note as well:
Many commentators acknowledge that Romans 13:11-13 speaks of the fall of Jerusalem. Yet it is termed "the day" and Paul says "now is our salvation nearer than when we first believed." If redemption/salvation is from physical persecution only, and if the judgment on Jerusalem was a strictly localized event, in what way would the salvation of the Romans be at hand? Per the "localized judgment" concept there should have been nothing for the Romans to be "saved from!"
There isn't? How about rescue from persecution by the Jewish leadership, whose central authority was in Jerusalem (as that was who sent Paul to Damascus, for example!)? How can it be asked what significance the fall of Jerusalem would have to persons in Asia and Cappadocia? Preston has no conception, either, of the powerful influence that a loss of this symbolic city would have on the Jewish mind throughout the Empire. Jerusalem was the pride and joy of Judaism, and the identity of Judaism as a movement was wrapped up in the city and the Temple.
Paul taught that the passing of the Old Law would be the time of the resurrection. In 1 Corinthians 15:54-56 the apostle said that the predictions of the resurrection, found in Isaiah 25:8 and Hosea 13:14 would be fulfilled when the sting of death and strength of sin was destroyed. Specifically, he said "the strength of sin is the law" vs. 56. Reader, what law gave sin its strength?
15:54 says, "So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory." Not, "when the old law was past." But:
Does the Gospel give sin its strength? It must if the resurrection does not occur until the end of the Christian Age for it is the Gospel that is currently God's only law. Thus, since resurrection equals liberty from the strength of sin, i.e. "the Law", if the resurrection comes at the end of the Christian Age then resurrection must be liberty from the Gospel. Who can believe such a thing?
Once again, this neglects the current role of the Law (not the covenant -- our writer manages to claim the two are exactly the same thing!) as elucidated in the linked article above. Note that when Paul speaks of the law as the "strength" of sin, the word he uses means "power" -- the law gives sin "power" because it defines sin (cf. Rom. 7:13) and makes it possible to punish (cf. here).
Thus while it is indeed a minister of death, it is so as is a righteous judge that pronounces sentence. But the bypassing of that sentence with grace does not change the existence and validity of the law upon which the judge convicts! Thus there is a problem when the writer says that the "Old Law" no longer exists, but sin does; he fails to see the continuity. Thus also when it is said:
Now if the Old Law was a ministration of death what would deliverance from that death be? Would it be life from the dead? Would it be resurrection? And if the Old Law was concerned with "carnal ordinances" Heb. 9:10, and "things made with hands" but was to give way to the incorruptible Word of the Gospel, 1 Pet. 1:23, would that not be a change from corruptibility to incorruptibility, 1 Cor. 15:53?
The answer: NO! "Corruption" is inextricably linked with "flesh and blood," (v. 50), human weakness in the body, which is NOT solved by any "spiritual resurrection". This is merely "hopalong exegesis" that tries to make connections based on use of the same word. Do we "put on" the kerygma? Of course not! (And note the link here to the "clothing" with the new body in 2 Cor. 5, a resurrection passage Preston entirely ignores.)
Thereafter Preston finally addresses Daniel 12, but tries to create parallels between it and Matthew 24 to argue that they refer to the same thing. But a salient point is missed: Daniel 12 is not a prediction of the general resurrection, but was seen as fulfilled by Matthew in the resurrection of saints in Jerusalem (27:53). Therefore any attempt to find in Matthew 24 the "final resurrection" of John 5 is illicit.
It is true that John 5 draws on the language of Dan. 12 -- to illustrate the final resurrection, which was Daniel's rez, writ large. It is an example of John using Daniel typologically, just like the NT commonly uses the OT. (This is also how Ezekiel 37:12-14 is used, to illustrate what will happen to corporate Israel, not the individual members. If as is claimed Ezekiel illustrates the spiritual resurrection of NT times, one is obliged to ask why he uses such gross physical images to do so. If it is claimed to be a "typology" then our own reply explanation of corporate Israel is at no disadvantage.)
If the Holy Spirit's miraculous work has been finished then the resurrection has occurred! If the resurrection has not occurred the miraculous work of the Spirit should still be evident! This is clear because it was the miraculous work of the Spirit that would "lift up your mortal bodies" Rom. 8:11. (This is the same "body" that in vs. 9-10 Paul said was already dead; was Paul writing to dead people?!)
No -- he was writing to people who WOULD someday die, and for all he knew (not knowing the date of the final resurrection) might gain their new bodies before dying. If Paul has no conception of the time of this, then he is inevitably compelled to write as though it could happen at ANY time.
It was the miraculous work of the Spirit that was the "earnest of the inheritance" Eph. 1:13-14, "until the redemption of the purchased possession." Luke said the day of redemption would occur with the coming of Jesus in the fall of Jerusalem, Luke 21:28. Now if we no longer have the miraculous Spirit but the resurrection has not occurred then God took away His guarantee! Who ever heard of attempting to purchase a house, giving an earnest payment, and then taking the earnest payment back before taking possession of the house - but expect to obtain the house anyway? That earnest is the guarantee of the consummation of the deal! God gave the miraculous Spirit as an earnest of the resurrection, 2 Cor. 5:5; if that resurrection has not occurred but God has taken back the earnest, what guarantee do we have?
We "no longer have the miraculous Spirit"? Who gave Preston leave to read permanent miracle-working into the essential indwelling told of in Eph. 1? (See above on "redemption".) This is another exegetical leap.
What Is It?
A section titled, "What Is Resurrection?" follows. Here if anywhere is where we should see interaction with Jewish models, and with Gundry's landmark soma study, but not a bit of it. Resurrection is rightly seen as a change of bodies, and a change from corruptible to incorruptible, from death to life (though paying no attention to the spiritual-physical differentiation, thinking that they are the same), and as part of a process of a change into the image of Christ. But:
[Paul] challenged [the Corinthians] with implications of their doctrine that they did not accept; one of which was that if the dead ones do not raise "you are still in your sins" vs. 17. Now how would the physical raising of dead bodies, or the failure to raise, have any bearing on whether the Corinthians had been forgiven?
Our writer misses that Paul appeals to Christ's own physical resurrection as a reply to the "dead are not raised" issue, and that the bearing is clear: If there is no resurrection, Christ was not raised, and there IS no forgiveness, and those dead "perish" -- meaning, indeed, lost spiritually, but once again, keeping in mind the interconnectedness of spiritual and physical that our writer is consistently unaware of.
Now our writer tries to come to grips with Luke 20:
Resurrection is the state of "no marriage or giving in marriage," Luke 20:35; cf. 1 Cor. 15:50; Gal. 3:28; Col. 3:11. The literalistic approach to the Lukan text usually says "Since men still get married today this proves the resurrection has not occurred." But that literalism generally is hastily abandoned when the other texts are brought to bear. But why is the literalism that is applied to Luke 20 not applicable when Paul says that in Christ "there is neither male or female," Gal. 3:28; "neither Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised"? If in Christ there is neither male or female, is there any marrying going on? Why is this "sexless" condition that exists in Christ not the condition wherein there is neither marrying or giving in marriage?
The use of Galatians is pertinent, for it neglects the reason for Paul's statement: the ancient world placed value on components of identity; Paul is not saying that these conditions do not exist, but that they are subverted in Christ, against what the world teaches. To claim that this represents an actual "sexless" condition is an imaginative stretch, and the literalism is fully justified because of the nature of the Sadducees' question, which was about the state of literal, earthly marriages.
(It is also false to say, "[Jesus] also said the 'resurrection age,' was the age that would follow the age in which the Levirate marriage was practiced, Luke 20:27-34!" V. 34 does not specify levirate marriage ALONE! Nor does Luke 20:35 says one will become a "child of God by resurrection" -- "But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage..." it only indicates that the children of God WILL be resurrected!)
Further linguistic equivocation occurs as being "born of God" is automatically assumed to be completely concurrent with "resurrection" -- in essence, the definition of "resurrection" is expanded to meet what is needed, regardless of contextual use of the word in Judaism. Preston also pulls from an unnoted source the idea that eternal life is not a "present possession of the believer today;" this we do not agree with at all, and do not think it requires that "resurrection" has already occurred, and that it is what is required to say one has "passed from death to life."
The next point tries to argue that the general resurrection was predicted in NT times. We have seen how Daniel 12 is misused above (and thus as well, Matthew 13 further on). Other passages say nothing about "resurrection" at all. For example:
Matthew 8:11ff Jesus spoke of many from the east and west, i.e. the Gentiles, coming and sitting at meal with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom. The imagery is of the Messianic Banquet based upon Isaiah 25:6; Isaiah 65:13ff, etc. This Banquet would occur when God "swallowed up death" Isaiah 25:8; it would also occur when Israel had filled the measure of her sins and was destroyed, 65:6-15.
This is simply exegetical leapfrog. There is nothing at all to connect the banquet of Is. 65; Preston has simply selected two banquet scenes. Some commentators do see a connection to Is. 25, but the use of imagery in a typological fashion does not equate with strict identification, but rather the sort of techniques we delineate here.
Moreover, nothing connects Matt. 8 to the resurrection or places it in terms of a time relative to it. It is said, "In Matthew the Kingdom Banquet would be enjoyed when the Jews were cast out, i.e. at the end of the Old Covenant Age," but this assumes to equate the covenantal "casting out" with a casting out at a time of final judgment. Once again, collapsing down events serves as a methodology illicitly, rather than letting broader context be the definer.
Matthew 16, also used, refers to judgment, not resurrection. Then:
Matthew 23:29-39 Would you agree that the resurrection is when all the martyrs of God are vindicated, judged and rewarded? Yes or No? Every Bible student I have asked this question has answered in the affirmative.
"Every Bible student" is not much of an authority. amd Matt. 23:29-39 doesn't even speak of vindication, judging, and rewarding. Resurrection is a vindication, true, but it is far from the only one; in an agonistic setting, any event proving us "right" would constitute a vindication; otherwise, judgment and reward reflects God's ongoing activity as well.
It is hard to say how Preston gets that "martyrs" will be judged from this passage -- it is said that the blood of martyrs will come back on those to whom Jesus speaks. That Abel was not a Jew is not relevant in the least; what matters is that the Pharisees are the ideological descendants on Cain -- not people worldwide, who have not been killing others because of their loyalty to YHWH.
On Paul in Thessalonians, see here. Luke 20:34, said to show that the "resurrection would usher in 'the age to come'", presumes to add in the concept of "usher in" with no mind for the idea that resurrection will come at a later part of the age of Christ. 1 Cor. 15:52, taken as a sign of the resurrection while Paul was alive, neglects the point that if Paul did not know the time of the rez, he would as noted above speak in terms of it happening in his lifetime, for otherwise he implies that it will not happen until after he and others are dead, which is not consonant with the point that no one know the day or the hour of eschatological events.
On cessation of gifts see here. Rev. 11:8, 18 is appealed to, but neither mentions resurrection; nor does 1 Peter 1:3-13 or 4:5, where Preston continues to merely assume that judgment, the end of the age, and resurrection are concurrent events.
Further on, there is more of reading John 5 as a "spiritual resurrection," which has already been addressed and shown to be a misapplication of terminology. It is also not our view, again, that the believer currently has eternal/everlasting life; the process is entered, and that is clear (John 3:15) and it is not merely a "promise" -- there is no dichotomy in the Kingdom between earthly and heavenly life; this distinction is the result of our lack of sense of the long term.
The article closes with a look at some counters. One is that 1 Cor. 15:20, as noted above, shows we must have a body like Jesus' when resurrected. (Phil. 3:21 also shows this, but it is ignored.) It is answered that Jesus is called "firstfruits," and then with hyperliteralism, Dunn in quoted to the effect that "No interval is envisaged between the firstfruits and the rest of the harvest," so that the resurrection must have occurred in the first century. No interval, is it? Then what about forty years between 30 and 70? When Stephanas is called the "firstfruits of Achaia" does that mean that there had to be a constant stream of converts?
Then it is said:
This objection also fails to understand two other critical points. First, Jesus' physical resurrection was a sign, Matthew 12:39-40; John 21:30-31, and a sign never signifies itself.
The resurrection is not the sign in Matthew 12, but rather, Jesus' preaching -- a resurrection is not mentioned at all. John 21 ends at verse 25! If he means John 20, that does not mention the resurrection at all, but applies at most to the resurrection appearance of John 20.
After this the fallacious argument using Romans 6 is repeated; also used is the idea that Jesus went to Hades, which I have addressed in Chapter 5 of my book The Mormon Defenders.
It is correct to say that when "Paul speaks of the believer's participation in Jesus' resurrection" it has reference to the spiritual -- but this in no way makes the believer's own resurrection "spiritual", and it is oblivious to the point that the ancients would regard their daily sufferings as re-enactments of Jesus' own death and suffering. Thus to ask: "If physical resurrection is demanded to emulate Jesus' resurrection, why is not a physical death in the likeness of his physical death not also required? Must the believer be crucified like him; scourged and unjustly condemned?", is misplaced. In fact this is what ancient believers would think of their suffering; even if it was not specifically being crucified, the typological mindset ensured a connection to Jesus' own suffering, and even his death (note that Paul says he and others "die daily"; 1 Cor. 15:31!).
Then an attempt is made to address the teaching of "bodily resurrection" in the Bible. Here is where Gundry's landmark study would be the ultimate to address, but of course it is not: Rather, the same old appeal is made to Romans 6, and it is claimed of Col. 2:11, "In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ":
An examination of the original text reveals that the words "sins of" are not present. Thus the literal reading is "by putting off the body of the flesh." Paul said they had put off their "fleshly body" in baptism! We do not wish to be redundant but is it possible to understand Paul as referring to the physical body? Surely not. Yet it is undeniable that Paul is teaching that they had put off one body in exchange for another. And what is resurrection but the raising out of death to life; the putting off of one body for another? What was the other body?
This reading of the "original text" is not justified by Green's Interlinear, but is suggested by commentaries. Even so, what of the interpretation? In essence the argument here is that we were invisibly and undetectably resurrected. (The passage itself is unlikely to have this meaning anyway; it is more likely that the reference is to the death of Jesus, his own "putting off the body of flesh" in the process of dying.) Other passages used for this purpose say nothing about a change in body (Gal. 3:27, etc) as opposed to a supplementation by the Spirit indwelling; Col. 3:5-10 indeed does not comport with this, for it tells us to put to death "your earthly members," which would hardly be needed if they were already dead and the new man was already "in".
So it continues, with hyperliteral readings of the Prodigal Son being "alive" and Paul in Romans 7-8 being "alive" and "dead" --never mind that if this is the "resurrection" that Paul, in saying he was "alive once without the law," would thus be saying he had a resurrection body under the Law! No, it is not the physical body in mind -- but once again, spiritual and physical are so interlinked that bodily resurrection in a glorified body of flesh was and is the natural expected result. In close, all past arguments are repeated, and we are left with a Christianity divested of reality -- with changes and shifts in terms for convenience, oblivious to the defining contexts of the world around it.