Table of Contents
The raised saints
Only Matthew records the incident of the raised saints at the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. We read, “Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many” (Matthew 27:51-53). It should be noted that while the graves were opened at the time of Christ’s death, the resurrected saints did not rise till after Jesus arose (Matthew 27:53).
Old Testament prophecy
The Psalmist in the Old Testament prophesied about the raised saints saying, “Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men” (Psalms 68:18). The psalmist employed the figure of a conquering monarch (Christ) ascending victoriously to heaven, with a multitude of captives.
New Testament reference
Paul in Ephesians 4:8 referred to those held captive by death who were raised with Christ at His resurrection (Matthew 27:51–53) saying, “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.” The chain of death had been broken; the captives of Satan had been captured by the power of Christ.
Where did the raised saints at the resurrection of Jesus go?
These raised saints came forth with Jesus, immortalized, and later ascended with Him to heaven. It was appropriate that Christ should bring forth with Him from the grave some of the captives whom Satan that had been held in the prison house of death. These were a symbol of His triumph.
A glimpse of the final victory
The incident of the raised saints presented a miniature of the final victory over death that will take place at the resurrection of the rightouss at Christ’s second coming. At that glorious time, the redeemed will proclaim triumphantly, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:54,55).
The resurrection of the saints is the theme of all the books of the Bible for it reveals the restoration of man to his original condition of perfection and liberty from all the consequences of sin. This will be carried out by the great power of God through the ministry of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:19).
For this triumph over death and Satan, the saints will give praise and glory to God throughout the endless ages. The apostle John wrote about this: “Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing! … Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!” (Revelation 5:11–13; 15:3, 4; 19:5, 6).
In His service,