Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to
When Shall These Things Be?
The Resurrection of the Dead
Part 6 John 5:28-29
David A. Green
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Strimple Argument #6: John 5:28-29 obviously teaches a physical
resurrection of the dead in that it speaks of a time in which “all who are
in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good
to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection
of judgment” (297).
Answer: In order to understand John 5:28 and 29, we must first look
three verses above it, in John 5:25, where Jesus said that the hour “now is”
when “the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear
shall live.” As most Reformed interpreters agree, Jesus in that verse was
referring to the preaching of His death and resurrection. The preaching
of that message commenced at Pentecost. “The dead” were physically
living people who were spiritually dead in sin, and “the voice of the Son of
God” was the gospel. Having heard the gospel, those who were spiritually
“dead” were spiritually resurrected. They lived in that they received eternal
life through faith in the gospel (“the voice of the Son of God”).
Then, in verses 28 and 29, Jesus expanded His teaching on the resurrection
to include those who were not only spiritually dead, but who were
also physically dead. He did not call them “dead” (as He had already called
the living who were spiritually dead), but He referred to them through another
figure of speech as “all who are in the graves.” They were not literally
in their graves or tombs, of course, but were in Hades/Sheol.
What is often missed in this passage is that, like the physically living
in verse 25, the physically dead in verse 28 were also going to live
by means of hearing Christ’s “voice.” As we know from verse 25, that
“voice” is the gospel. The physically dead therefore were going to hear
the gospel (cf. 1 Pet. 4:6.) and were, as a result of hearing the gospel,
going to be resurrected (regenerated, born from out of death and Hades).
This means that the physically dead were, like the physically living,
spiritually dead. And this inescapably means that both the physically
living and the physically dead were going to be spiritually resurrected
by means of the gospel-voice of the Son of God. One resurrection in
two main stages: First, the last days saints; then, the Old Testament
dead (“the rest of the dead” in Revelation 20:5).
After hearing the gospel, the dead were raised out of their Adamic
graves (Hades) in the end of the age. And those among them who believed
the gospel received eternal life in the kingdom of God. But those
who hated the gospel (those who had done evil) were raised out of Hades
only to stand before God and to enter into “eternal punishment” /
“the second death” (Matt. 25:46; John 5:28-29; Rev. 20:14).