On the third day, the Lord Jesus rose and put on bodily immortality. His resurrection was unto glory. He was the firstfruits of the future resurrection of God’s people. When Jesus returns, he will raise the dead (John 5:28–29). And this time the dead who come to life will not die again.
We know that when people die, their bodies stay dead—which is why our mouths drop open and our eyes widen when we read biblical stories of dead people coming back to life. The God of heaven and earth is the God of life.
In the Old Testament, there were three occasions when people died and came back to life.
- In 1 Kings 17:17–24, Elijah raised a widow’s son.
- In 2 Kings 4:18–37, Elisha raised the Shunammite’s son.
- In 2 Kings 13:21, a dead man revived when his body was thrown into the same place as Elisha’s bones.
In association with Elijah, one person came to life. In association with Elisha, two people came to life. That second person’s restoration to life confirms the greatness of Elisha’s ministry. This second person who was raised from the dead in 2 Kings had merely been thrown in the same place as Elisha’s bones. And “as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet” (2 Kgs 13:21). The fact that Elisha himself was dead is a confirmation of God’s power working through the prophet’s ministry—even in a posthumous scene like 2 Kings 13:21.
These three stories in the ministries of Elijah and Elisha tell of bodies brought to life that would later die again. Bodily restoration foreshadowed the physical glorification of God’s people, so it was not equivalent to this glorification. The Old Testament resurrections were of mortal bodies that remained mortal.