What Is Meant By The Phrase “Better Resurrection”?

Hebrews 11:32-40 states: “And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still, others had a trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.”

The remote context of this passage is an encouragement to the first-century Christians to remain faithful and not revert back to the system of the old covenant. Because of the intense persecution, some of the Christians were abandoning the assemblies of the church of Christ and returning back to their old religious system. The physical temple in Jerusalem was still standing, animal sacrifices were still being offered and everything seemed peaceful and well. These Christians were encouraged to endure like their Old Testament counterparts who persevered through trials by holding strong by maintaining faith in God and His new and better covenant. Some of these Old Testament children of God chose torture over deliverance “that they might obtain a better resurrection.” What does “a better resurrection” mean?

  1. Let us observe the immediate, surrounding context: In Hebrews 11:35, the writer states: “Women received their dead raised to life again.” These are Old Testament allusions to the accounts of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath's son (1 Kings 17:17-24) and Elisha and the Shunammite woman's son (2 Kings 4:18-37). This woman had put her faith in the God of heaven because she knew Elijah was a prophet (1 Kings 17:24). The woman in Elisha's time also had faith because she brought her dead son to the prophet and believed that something could be done about it.

  2. We know by implication that these sons of the widows would physically die again. Even though they both had been resurrected from the dead, they would die again. How is it that there will be a “better resurrection” for those who died, were resurrected from the dead, then died again and also for those mentioned in the same verse who were tortured?

  3. They would obtain a better resurrection because they would never die physically again. Physical death, the last enemy, would finally be ultimately conquered on the last day (John 5:28,29; 1 Corinthians 15:54,55). 

  4. The boys of the widows were raised in the same bodies from which they had departed. In the “better resurrection” those of all the ages who are raised from the dead will be raised in the same body from which they departed, but that physical body will be transformed (1 Corinthians 15:42-44). It will be different and “better” (1 Corinthians 15:50,51; 1 John 3:1). That is why it is a better resurrection.

  5. NOTE: This better resurrection of Hebrews 11:35 has some connection to the raising of the physical body. The immediate context shows that this is a physical resurrection of physical bodies back to life - “women received their dead raised to life again.” This proves the covenant eschatology doctrine is false. One of the main tenets of covenant eschatology is that there will be no physical bodies raised in the future of both the righteous and the wicked.

Major Premise: If the resurrections of Hebrews 11:35 are physical resurrections and will bring about a “better resurrection” (which is a connection to the physical dead bodies), then the covenant eschatology system is false.

Minor Premise: The resurrections of Hebrews 11:35 are physical resurrections that will bring about a “better resurrection” (which is a connection to the physical dead bodies).

Conclusion: Therefore, the covenant eschatology system is false.

The premises are valid and are based upon the evidence weighed above. Therefore, it is a sound argument.







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