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Resurrection of the Dead

All Christians hold firmly to the belief expressed in the Bible and mirrored in the resurrection from the dead of Jesus of the resurrection of all men and women.

By "resurrection" Christians do not mean only the return to life in the body of a dead human being; it means taking on a completely new existence. We believe that the souls of all those who have died will be reunited to their bodies; but those bodies will have different characteristics.

We Catholic Christians profess this belief often when we pray the Apostles Creed: I believe in ... the resurrection of the body. In the Nicene Creed, we profess: We look for the resurrection of the dead.

Mt 22:29-32

Jesus said to them in reply, "You are misled because you do not know the scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like the angels in heaven. And concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not the God of the dead but of the living."

Mt 5:29-30

(He [Jesus] began to teach them ...) If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into Gehenna.

Jn 11:22-26

Jesus said to her (Martha), "Your brother will rise." Martha said to him, "I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day." Jesus told her, "I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

Jn 6:40

(Jesus explained to them (the disciples):) For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him (on) the last day.

Jn 6:51

(Jesus told them:) I am the living bread ... whoever eats this bread will live forever

Jn 6:54

(Jesus told them:) Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.

Catholic Christians believe that the dead will rise with bodies similar to those they had on earth. Some important evidence for our resurrected bodies is to read the qualities of the resurrected body of Jesus:

    • appeared suddenly then disappeared;

    • passed through walls;

    • his body seemed to be the same as it was before death; but it was also very different;

    • he even changed his appearance so that his disciples didn't recognize him (Lk 24).

The Church believes we will resurrect the same bodies as we had on earth by the language of the Bible. The resurrection will change these bodies into a glorified form. The word "reawakening" is used in reference to the resurrection.

Catholic scholars have distinguished certain qualities of our resurrected bodies:

    • impassability: freedom from physical ills of any kind (sickness, death, etc.);

    • subtility: the spiritualization of the body--dominated by the soul;

    • agility: the ability of the soul to move the body with ease and speed;

    • clarity: freedom from defects--having great beauty and radiance.

Paul also speaks in language of reawakening instead of replacement:

1 Cor 15:53

For that which is corruptible must clothe itself with incorruptibility, and that which is mortal must clothe itself with immortality.

1 Cor 15:42-44

So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown corruptible; it is raised incorruptible. It is sown dishonorable; it is raised glorious. It is sown weak; it is raised powerful. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.

Scripture speaks of the resurrection of both the blessed and the damned:

Jn 5:28-29

(Jesus' answer:) Do not be amazed at this, because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and will come out, those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked deeds to the resurrection of condemnation.

Mt 22:23-32; Mk 12:18-27; Lk 20:27-40

On that day Sadducees approached him (Jesus), saying that there is no resurrection. They put this question to him, saying, "Teacher, Moses said, 'If a man dies without children, his brother shall marry his wife and raise up descendants for his brother.' Now there were seven brothers among us. The first married and died and, having no descendants, left his wife to his brother. The same happened with the second and the third, through all seven. Finally the woman died. Now at the resurrection, of the seven, whose wife will she be? For they all had been married to her." Jesus said to them in reply, "You are misled because you do not know the scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like the angels in heaven. And concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not the God of the dead but of the living."

Jn 11:22-26

Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise." Martha said to him, "I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day." Jesus told her, "I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

Acts 23:6

Paul was aware that some were Sadducees and some Pharisees, so he called out before the Sanhedrin, "My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of Pharisees; (I) am on trial for hope in the resurrection of the dead."

The Magisterium constantly proclaims the truth of the resurrection of the body.

Council of Toledo XI, 675

Thus, according to the model of our Head, we profess that there is a true bodily resurrection of all the dead... we shall rise in this very body in which we now live and are and move. (Denzinger 287)

Lateran Council IV, 1215

... He (Christ) will come at the end of the world; he will judge the living and the dead; and he will reward all, both the lost and elect, according to their works. And all these will rise with their own bodies which they now have so that they may receive according to their works, whether good or bad; the wicked, a perpetual punishment with the devil; the good, eternal glory with Christ. (Denzinger 429)

 

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