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A Hidden Highlight in Jesus’ Appearances

30 Aug
Wave Sheaf

from Google Images

When chronology can be discerned, the order of Jesus’ post resurrection appearances is often very important. One such instance concerns the chronology of Jesus’ appearances to the women. It seems the first two of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances were to Mary Magdalene (John 20:11-18) and the other to a group of women on their way back to Jerusalem from the gravesite (Matthew 28:8-10). Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were probably part of the Bethany group of women, which I presume arrived at the tomb before the Jerusalem party, because they wondered about the stone (Mark 16:1-3), but the Jerusalem party did not (Luke 24:1-2). The reason being, Mary Magdalene had met them on their way to the tomb, after she left to tell Peter and the other disciple that someone had stolen the body, and informed them what she had already found.

The Jerusalem group of women hurried to the tomb and joined the women from Bethany. When they looked into the tomb they saw the two angels. Both groups of women were then told to tell the other disciples that Jesus was alive and had risen from the dead (Matthew 28:7-8; Mark 16:7). The Jerusalem party hurried back to the city (Luke 24:9), while the Bethany women returned to Bethany but didn’t find any of the disciples (Mark 16:8).

Meanwhile, Mary Magdalene had already gotten Peter and the other disciple and they came to the tomb another way, missing the women returning to Jerusalem. They found the tomb empty, and the men returned to Jerusalem believing Jesus’ body was stolen (John 20:2, 8). Mary, however, remained at the tomb, and Jesus appeared to her (John 20:11-18), and Mark tells us that Jesus appeared to her first, before anyone else (Mark 16:9-10). Not long afterward, while Luke’s group of women were still on their way to Jerusalem, at first having only the testimony of the angels that Jesus had risen from the dead (cf. Luke 24:4-9), Jesus appeared to them, as they hurried on their way (Matthew 28:5-9). Therefore, they had seen Jesus as well as Mary Magdalene, but how should we understand these two appearances with respect to one another, and why is it important?

The day that Luke highlights in Luke 24:1 is not simply “the first day of the week” (i.e. Sunday). Yes, it is the first day of the week (Sunday), but it was a **particular** first day of the week. Literally speaking, the day was “the First Day of the Weeks.” Notice the plural weeks. In each of the four accounts (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1 and John 20:1) the word translated week is plural, weeks in the Greek. In other words, it was the first day the Jews used to count toward Pentecost or the Feast of Weeks. This was the day following the weekly Sabbath that fell between the annual Holy Day Sabbaths that occurred during the eight day Passover Festival (see Leviticus 23:9-14).

About the time Jesus died upon the cross, some of the priests were in the fields tying together bundles of barley sheaves. In this manner they marked out those sheaves to be harvested for the Wave Sheaf Offering, which was celebrated about dawn (cir. 6 AM) on the First Day of the Weeks. The actual harvest of the bundles, however, occurred the night before the offering. That is, the harvesting of the barley sheaves occurred just as the weekly Sabbath ended at sundown (our Saturday). The amount harvested was about an ephah (cir. 3 ½ pecks).[1] This was the Firstfruits harvest, which represented Jesus’ resurrection (cf. 1Corinthians 15:20, 23), and may possibly indicate the time of Jesus’ resurrection.

Nothing could be harvested from the fields of the Promised Land, until the Firstfruits offering was harvested and offered as the Wave Sheaf Offering on the First day of the Weeks. This offering commenced a 50 day harvest season that culminated in the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost. Figuratively, this means no one who trusted in God could be harvested (resurrected), until after Jesus rose from the dead, and until his sacrifice was accepted by God about the time of the Wave Sheaf Offering in the year Jesus was crucified.

In this context, Jesus appeared to Mary (Mark 16:9) before his sacrifice had been formally accepted by his Father at the time of the Wave Sheaf Offering (John 20:17-18). In other words, the sun had not yet risen on Jerusalem when Jesus appeared to her. Moreover, an interesting point would be that the gravesite was only a distance of just over half a mile, and this would of necessity make Jesus appearances to Mary and Matthew’s group of women (Matthew 28:8-10) not far apart. A key point in understanding the chronology would be the fact that Jesus refused to allow Mary to touch him (John 20:17), but he did permit the other women to do so (Matthew 28:9). Why would this be important? The fact is, it shows us that Jesus had ascended to his Father in the Wave Sheaf Offering ceremony at the Temple (cf. Judges 13:17-20), which must have occurred between Jesus’ first two post-Resurrection appearances.

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[1] See Unger’s Bible Dictionary, Festivals; “The Feast of Unleavened Bread” (g) ‘The 16th of Nisan, Cutting the Barley Sheaf’; page 355.

 
8 Comments

Posted by on August 30, 2018 in Gospel of Luke

 

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8 responses to “A Hidden Highlight in Jesus’ Appearances

  1. Eddie

    September 10, 2018 at 08:23

    Greetings Patricia. Indeed, two minds are better than one, when both are seeking truth. Years ago, when I was settled in what I believed to be the truth, nothing would penetrate the stronghold I built up against what I called false doctrine. Nothing men could do would change me, but what was impossible for men to do, God did. I hope you are seeking the truth, for if you are as I was – settled in what you believe to be the truth – nothing I or anyone else could say will deter you from believing what you do. Nevertheless, I trust God will confirm you in the truth, regardless of what comes out of this discussion. With this in mind, let’s look at what you said.

    You began by showing what you say were similarities between the Matthew 27 saints and the 144,000 and concluding they must be the same people, but this cannot be so. Similarities are just that. For example, both you and I are believers, so were the 144,000. Both you and I are perfect in righteousness (having Jesus’ righteousness imputed to us), so, too, the 144,000. However, neither you nor I are the 144,000, for they were the whole Jewish believing community in Judea and Galilee during the first century AD. Not one was lost. You summed up a little over a page of your reply by saying:

    I have read at least two gentlemen’s viewpoints that, like yourself, Eddie, have shifted this resurrection event to a time period far removed from the Matt. 27 chronology. They interpreted the event to take place in our future; whereas you have placed it at the AD 66-70 time period. Either interpretation seems forced to me, since Matthew 27 is presented as a step-by-step “news report” of what occurred on that crucifixion day. To arbitrarily remove a single segment of the intact chronology (such as the Matt. 27:52-53 verses) and relocate it to a different time bracket lacks justification and does violence to the continuity of the text.

    You claim my interpretation of a 66-70 AD resurrection seems “forced” because I moved a segment of “intact chronology” to about 35-40 years later. Yet, Revelation 7 begins with “after these things…” What things? Those “things” refer to the first six seals—the false christs, the wars, famines and pestilences and the persecutions and the running to the mountains for fear of what was about to occur (Revelation 6). How does that fit a near chronology of Matthew 27 resurrection, which you claim was on the same day of Jesus’ resurrection? Who is “forcing” an interpretation here. I interpret the 144,000 in the context of Revelation 6. They were sealed “after these things…” Where is the context of concluding the 144,000 are the Matthew 27 saints? Because, **IF** the Matthew 27 saints were resurrected on the same day of Jesus’ crucifixion, their resurrection would have been their **seal** of God. Furthermore, the disciples remained **unbelievers** in the resurrection up until evening of the first day of the week. Did the Matthew 27 resurrected believers simply skip Jesus’ disciples when they went into the city and “appeared” to Jews?

    The 144,000 are saints who were to be spared the judgment of God’s wrath – the Trumpet Judgments and the Vial Judgments, which came in the 66-70 AD war with Rome. They were believers who lived through the trials of the first six seals. Nothing is said about them arising from the dead. This is something you add, but, for which you have no real context.

    Regarding the Eph. 4:18 text about the “multitude of captives” – these captives ARE the gifts. The actual gifts given in this text were not skills or abilities enabling ordinary living men to do extraordinary things. Rather, the gifts are resurrected HUMANS who were already characterized as being apostles, prophets, evangelists, etc., who were each given to some group or another of the early church. In your view, Eddie, who would you say these “captives” were that Christ was “LEADING” as He arose from the grave? Would it not be some in the same realm as those “spirits in *prison* ” who were the *dead* that Christ preached to in I Peter 3:19 and 4:6? Paul’s allusion to “gifts” was not to a Roman practice of a triumph procession of captives and gifts given, but to an Old Testament precedent for a high priest to offer “GIFTS and sacrifices” (Heb. 8:3). It was necessary that Christ also have some gifts to offer when He was inaugurated as our high priest, and it was the group of freed captive saints who had been in the grave that He offered as “gifts” to men.

    First of all, prior to Jesus’ resurrection the dead “slept.” There was and is no consciousness in the grave. The scriptures conclude men’s thoughts perish at death, so how could Jesus have “preached to the **dead,** while he was “dead”? If Jesus wasn’t dead, how could he have paid the price of mankind’s rebellion? What was the sacrifice, if he didn’t really die? Secondly, the “captivity” that Jesus led “captive” wasn’t the 144,000 (or the Matthew 27 saints). Those he led captive were his enemies. That is what the text means. Compare Deborah’s song in Judges 5. She mentions leading “captivity captive” in verse-12. Ephesians 4:6 quotes Psalm 68:18, which is an account of David crushing his enemies and spoiling them. Jesus fulfilled this spiritually by crushing the devil, the curse of the Law, death and sin, he spoiled his enemies who put him in the grave, thus making an open show of them through his resurrection. They judged him by murdering him, and he judged their judgment by resurrecting (compare Colossians 2:15).

    Another text that tells me this Matt. 27 resurrection actually did raise the multitude of 144,000 saints is the sickle harvest taking place in Rev. 14:14-16. This is in the same context as the 144,00 First-fruits who are described for us in Rev. 14:1-5. John saw the Son of Man (Christ) with a single crown on His head (showing He had been given the throne of His father David at His resurrection). He was sitting on a cloud (a reference to the glory-cloud of the temple in heaven, where He had offered His blood on the heavenly mercy-seat) and used His sickle to harvest the *dried* (long dead) “harvest of the earth” (ge – the land of Israel’s gravesites). This can’t be the AD 70 resurrection in view, because that harvest’s reaping would be done by the angels (Matt. 13:39). With this first sickle harvest, it was only the *single*-crowned Son of Man Himself doing the reaping (not the later *many*-crowned Son of Man from the AD 70 period – Rev. 19:12).

    All of what you claim above is pure **subjective** opinion. You do not support any of it with additional scripture. The Apocalypse is extremely symbolic in its language, and one should be careful when using it to support one’s doctrine formed in another part of scripture. The word “sickle” is used 7 times in Revelation 14, and four times it is used by an angel who harvests the vine, whose grapes are cast into the winepress of the wrath of God—it is the judgment of spiritual Babylon—Jerusalem. The context points to 70 AD for Revelation 14.

    Concerning the **first resurrection** which you conclude to be that of the Matthew 27 saints (who are also the 144,000, according to your understanding), Paul tells us in Ephesians 2 that we were once dead in our sins, but the Lord has raised us to life (Ephesians 2:1-5). This is a spiritual resurrection and the **first** resurrection. Adam died first spiritually, then physically. The second death (physical death) has no power over those who have part in the first (spiritual) resurrection (Revelation 20:6). We were dead in our sins prior to our becoming the children of God. When we received his Spirit, we were made alive ‘spiritually’. From that point on we began to understand spiritual things (1Corinthians 2:6-13), which seemed foolish to us when we were dead in our sins (1Corinthians 2:14).

    Patricia, I could go on and on with the rest of your comment, but these things should prove to you that you are taking things out of context. If you wish me to address something specific from what you have already commented, tell me what that is, and I’ll do the best I can to respond, but this (my) reply is already three pages in my Word document. So, I’ll end here. Lord bless you as you consider these things.

     
  2. Eddie

    September 7, 2018 at 00:51

    Greetings Patricia, I don’ t mind discussing this with you, but you fail to keep in mind that I’ve already shown that in previous replies you place the Matthew 27 saints out of context in the scriptures you mentioned. Even if the above is correct, one must consider the context of the other scriptures. I’ll study what you have written above and reply in a few days. The weekend is coming up, and I must be prepared for my Sunday school class. Also, I have other study obligations to meet, so don’t be surprised if I don’t reply until Monday. Lord bless you as you study his word.

     
  3. Patricia Watkins

    September 6, 2018 at 22:43

    Hi Eddie,

    It’s an honor that you would take some of your blogging time to review the comments above. The very reason I submit these views is to see if anybody can spot a hole in them that I have not considered. Two minds are better than one.

    You mentioned that you decided to retract your statement that the 144,000 are the same as the Matthew 27 resurrected saints. Have you considered that every itemized description given of the 144,000 is one that fits the Matthew 27 saints also?

    #1) (Rev. 14:1) The 144,000 stood with the Lamb (the resurrected, sacrificed Jesus) on Mt. Zion (the Jerusalem temple location) just as the Matt. 27 saints went into the city of Jerusalem after Christ’s resurrection.

    #2) (Rev. 14:3) The 144,000 were “redeemed” from the earth (by the “redemption” of their mortal bodies – Rom 8:11,23), with “the earth” (tes ges) being the land of Israel’s location, just as the Matt. 27 saints were raised from graves opened by the earthquake at Jerusalem’s location.

    #3) (Rev. 14:4) The 144,000 were “virgins”, because those in a resurrected state (such as the Matt 27 saints were) do not marry, nor are they given in marriage (Luke 20:35).

    #4) (Rev. 14:4) The 144,000 “followed the Lamb” wherever He went after His crucifixion and resurrection, just as the resurrecting Christ was described as LEADING that multitude of captives out of the grave in Eph. 4:8. And just as Christ went into Jerusalem on His resurrection day to encounter the disciples (Luke 24:33-36), the Matt. 27 saints had also gone into the city.

    #5) (Rev. 14:5) In the mouth of the 144,000 there was “no guile”, and they were pictured as being “without fault” before the throne of God; a condition that can only be completely and finally true of resurrected, incorruptible, glorified saints (Jude 24), such as the Matt. 27 saints were.

    #6) (Rev. 7:3-8) These 144,000 were from specified Jewish tribes, which matches the fact that it was Jewish graves in proximity to Jerusalem’s earthquake that were opened in Matt. 27. Dan and Ephraim were not listed among the 144,000, since the members of those tribes as a whole had apostatized and historically experienced God’s rejection (I Kings 12:29-30, Jer. 7:15, Is. 7:8b, Hosea (9:11-17).

    I have read at least two gentlemen’s viewpoints that, like yourself, Eddie, have shifted this resurrection event to a time period far removed from the Matt. 27 chronology. They interpreted the event to take place in our future; whereas you have placed it at the AD 66-70 time period. Either interpretation seems forced to me, since Matthew 27 is presented as a step-by-step “news report” of what occurred on that crucifixion day. To arbitrarily remove a single segment of the intact chronology (such as the Matt. 27:52-53 verses) and relocate it to a different time bracket lacks justification and does violence to the continuity of the text.

    As far as I know, we are not told the names of any of those Matt. 27 resurrected individuals. We may think that their number should have rightfully included the famous “beloved” King David or Abraham, the “friend of God”, but the prophet Daniel was also “greatly beloved” and yet was not resurrected until AD 70, as the Dan. 12:11-13 prophecy foretold. God does not always select the greatly-renowned to accomplish His purpose.

    And where Romans 8:23 in concerned, there is a distinct difference between the “Fruit of the Spirit” (as in Gal. 5:22-23) and the “FIRST-fruits of the Spirit” in Rom. 8:23. The “FIRST-fruits” invokes the OT harvest feast imagery, with a definite *temporal* aspect to it. On the other hand, when we display the “fruit of the Spirit” in our Christian living, there is no *time* aspect involved, such as the word FIRST entails. These are two different concepts entirely, with the “FIRST-fruits linked to something harvested.

    Regarding the Eph. 4:18 text about the “multitude of captives” – these captives ARE the gifts. The actual gifts given in this text were not skills or abilities enabling ordinary living men to do extraordinary things. Rather, the gifts are resurrected HUMANS who were already characterized as being apostles, prophets, evangelists, etc., who were each given to some group or another of the early church. In your view, Eddie, who would you say these “captives” were that Christ was “LEADING” as He arose from the grave? Would it not be some in the same realm as those “spirits in *prison* ” who were the *dead* that Christ preached to in I Peter 3:19 and 4:6? Paul’s allusion to “gifts” was not to a Roman practice of a triumph procession of captives and gifts given, but to an Old Testament precedent for a high priest to offer “GIFTS and sacrifices” (Heb. 8:3). It was necessary that Christ also have some gifts to offer when He was inaugurated as our high priest, and it was the group of freed captive saints who had been in the grave that He offered as “gifts” to men.

    Another text that tells me this Matt. 27 resurrection actually did raise the multitude of 144,000 saints is the sickle harvest taking place in Rev. 14:14-16. This is in the same context as the 144,00 First-fruits who are described for us in Rev. 14:1-5. John saw the Son of Man (Christ) with a single crown on His head (showing He had been given the throne of His father David at His resurrection). He was sitting on a cloud (a reference to the glory-cloud of the temple in heaven, where He had offered His blood on the heavenly mercy-seat) and used His sickle to harvest the *dried* (long dead) “harvest of the earth” (ge – the land of Israel’s gravesites). This can’t be the AD 70 resurrection in view, because that harvest’s reaping would be done by the angels (Matt. 13:39). With this first sickle harvest, it was only the *single*-crowned Son of Man Himself doing the reaping (not the later *many*-crowned Son of Man from the AD 70 period – Rev. 19:12).

    Another critical text for pinpointing the time for the resurrection of the 144,000 “First-fruits” is their identity in Rev. 20:5 as the comparatively small “remnant (loipoi) of the dead” who “came to life again” as the “blessed and holy” participants in the “FIRST resurrection”. The “FIRST resurrection” is what raised Christ the First-fruits and the 144,000 First-fruits saints together. This fits exactly in the setting of the Rev. 20:4 “thrones” being occupied by the disciples after Christ’s regeneration, when they were established as the leaders of the early church at Jerusalem in Matt. 19:28. Christ promised His disciples that they would sit on 12 thrones, judging the 12 tribes of Israel (as in Rev. 20:4 – “judgment was *given* unto them”) in those early days of the Jerusalem church’s beginning. This “thrones” context provides the immediate post-resurrection background setting for the “First Resurrection” to be that of Christ and His First-fruits Matt. 27 saints, who “came to life again” at that time.

    There is no problem with using the symbolism of numbers in the 144,000 figure. That number can be BOTH symbolic AND literal. In one sense, the 144,000 actually *did* represent the “whole of the believing community”, as you have said, in that their experience as bodily-resurrected saints was a pattern for what all believers would likewise experience in the same type of resurrections to follow.

    Eddie, you have mentioned that you believe none rose to life before Christ. That statement contradicts the resurrections taking place during Christ’s ministry by His hands and those of His disciples who were commissioned to raise the dead – and did so (Matt. 10:8 cp. Matt. 11:5). However, it is true that NONE of those raised from the dead were free to ascend to heaven with their bodily-raised forms until AD 70. The time arrived when men in their bodily-resurrected state could finally enter the temple in heaven and stand in God’s presence after the last 7th vial was poured out (Rev. 15:8). Until that AD 70 resurrection, though, Jesus Christ continued to be the only one who had yet entered heaven’s temple in a glorified, bodily-resurrected form, as His unique title of “the First-begotten” shows us.

    You also mentioned that Paul spoke of “some” sleeping in I Cor. 11:30, but that does not demonstrate that ALL the dead without any exceptions had continued to sleep in the grave until AD 70. After all, at the very least we have the two OT examples of “women received their dead raised to life again” in Hebrews 11:35. And if you are of the same persuasion as Full-Preterist Pastor David Curtis on his Berean Bible Church website, (which point I agree with), the resurrected John Eleazar (i.e. Lazarus) wrote our book of Revelation. Therefore, this “beloved disciple” John (a.k.a. Lazarus) truly did “tarry” on earth until Jesus came in AD 70, as Jesus told Peter in John 21:21-22.

    Finally, with regard to the Heb. 12:22-23 passage, this involves a bit more than “just men made perfect” in a *positional sense* of imputed righteousness that all living believers share in Christ. This “made perfect” feature is the same kind of term in which Christ was “made perfect” in His resurrection (Heb. 5:9). Christ’s being “made perfect” had nothing to do with His receiving imputed righteousness. He had a perfected physical body form of flesh and bones made immortally glorified when He arose.

    In the Heb. 12:22 verse, these “spirits of just men made perfect” (with a body form like Christ’s perfected one) are linked with the “myriads of angels” (messengers) which, as we both know, can be either human or celestial messengers. Since this Heb. 12 context is already talking about the reality of the New Jerusalem on the true Mount Zion (the spiritual reality of the NC church body of believers already on earth at that time), then we are not out of step to interpret this “myriads of angels” as being 10,000’s of HUMAN messengers – the “universal gathering” on earth of “First-born Ones” who were enrolled in the book of life. This is a description that fits any of the resurrected believers that were still on earth as “messengers” of the gospel – i.e., the Matt. 27 saints. These were some of the same “angels” or “strangers” that the apostle Paul and John both instructed the church to entertain in hospitality (III John 5-8, Heb. 13:2) as they journeyed to spread the gospel’s truths.

    I hope you’ll forgive me for belaboring this point, Eddie. There are a great number of eschatological truths linked to this event of the “First Resurrection” which can go astray if we don’t accurately identify the “First Resurrection” and place it in the correct position on the timeline. Not many are gracious enough to even consider my extended, wearisome comments, let alone post them, so I fully appreciate your patience and your critical appraisal. There truly is a wealth of material in scripture concerning the Matt 27 saints that is available to us, and it all points to the same conclusion: they were bodily-raised by a resurrected Christ and “remained”, or “tarried” on earth until AD 70 (just like Lazarus / a.k.a. John) for a unique, evangelistic purpose that no other group in history has ever duplicated (the “song” that none could sing except these 144,000).

     
  4. Eddie

    September 5, 2018 at 21:38

    Greetings Patricia and thank you again for your comments. You have an interesting point of view, not one that I am familiar with, so I needed time to consider what you are saying and how that affects what I already believe about Jesus and his resurrection.

    You are correct that Matthew 27:52-53 doesn’t specify EXACTLY when those saints arose (beyond saying that it was AFTER Christ’s resurrection), but Ephesians 4:8 does tell us the exact time. It says that WHEN He ascended up on high, (on the morning after His resurrection the evening before), that “He LED a multitude of captives” and GAVE them as gifts to men. These “gifts” of resurrected saints were composed of those that were apostles (meaning “sent ones”), prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. They were given to edify those in the early church for the work of the ministry (Eph. 4:12).

    The victors of war in the first century AD brought the princes of their enemies captive behind them as they marched in the streets of Rome, and the conqueror was given gifts, which he distributed among his men. This is the analogy Paul used to show Christ conquered death and rose out of the grave, triumphing over those who put him there (Ephesians 4:8; Colossians 2:15). The gifts he gave were the gifts of the Spirit—some apostles, some prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:11-12). I don’t see anything here that would allude to Matthew 27. Paul, as he often did, offered an analogy about life in the first century AD that he used to allude to Biblical truth. The resurrected saints of Matthew 27 would have been out of context here. I find nothing in this chapter that alludes to them.

    You mentioned that you believe these 144,000 were raised from the dead AND ALSO sealed sometime in the AD 66-70 era. If Christ was called the “First-fruits” (and He was), then if the 144,000 Matt. 27 saints were raised later, around AD 66-70 as you are proposing, that would make them the “Second-fruits” – not the “First-fruits”. The presence of the 144,000 Matt. 27 saints who had been raised from the dead PRIOR to AD 66-70 is found in the Romans 8:23 verse where Paul said that the church HAD the First-fruits of the Spirit’s work of quickening the mortal bodies of the saints. This is not speaking of the same thing as the “Fruit (singular) of the Spirit” of personal holiness in the believers. These were “First-fruits” SAINTS present among the church, who were part of that “multitude of captives” Christ brought out of the grave with Him, as in Eph. 4:8.

    Actually, I need to take back what I said about the 144000 being the resurrected saints of Matthew 27. Frankly, I don’t know what I was thinking when I wrote that. I may have slipped back into a former belief without realizing it, but it is not what I have recently come to believe. I had been studying the Apocalypse before I had to switch to Hebrews for my Sunday school class, but I will be blogging about Revelation sometime near the end of this year. However, I am only up to chapter 16. I trust I’ll be back studying the Apocalypse by December.

    Revelation 7 seems to indicate that the 144000 were living people, not necessarily people who were resurrected from the dead ones. Certainly David was not among them, if the 144000 are the saints of Matthew 27 (Acts 2:29, 34), which would be quite odd since he was so loved by the Lord. One would think people like Abraham and David would be among the first resurrected after Christ. The sealing of the 144000 seems to allude to those sealed just before the original exodus from Egypt. This would point to believers sealed in the first century, but the number 144000 is an important number in Biblical numerology. 144 is the square of 12, and this number is multiplied by 10 cubed or 1000. The number 12 represents the people of God or the chosen ones (Apostles, 12 tribes etc.) and 10, if I remember correctly is a number representing completeness or wholeness. The numbers are squared and cubed for emphasis, and represent the whole of the believing community, which I presume refers specifically to the saints of the first century AD.
    The Wave Sheaf offering was a special offering among the firstfruits offerings. Nothing anywhere in the land could be harvested until after the Wave Sheaf offering. After that, the harvest began, and firstfruits of the land from each owner of every field were offered to the Lord. I understand this to mean, no one rose to life until sometime after Jesus was resurrected. All the dead slept until that time. Decades after Jesus rose from the dead, Paul continues to speak of the dead sleeping (1Corinthians 11:30), so I presume the resurrection of the dead saints in Matthew 27 couldn’t have occurred before Jesus returned to vindicate the believers and punish their persecutors (Matthew 16:27-28; 23:34-36), which was sometime during the war of 66 to 70 AD.

    Concerning Romans 8:23, I don’t see this as representing the resurrected saints of Matthew 27. It has to do with our receiving the Holy Spirit. The fact that firstfruits is in the plural, should not be taken as proof that it represents multiple entities. Jesus, himself, is called the Firstfruits (plural) in 1Corinthians 15:23. Therefore, the plural at Romans 8:23 should be taken to refer to the Holy Spirit, for throughout the chapter Paul refers to the Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of God etc. Context is everything. One cannot simply take Matthew 27 and apply it here out of the blue.

    The “First-fruits” are also found in Hebrews 12:22-23 as the church of “The FIRST-BORN ONES” who were “enrolled” in heaven (in the book of life, and with the seal of the living God in their foreheads), but who had not bodily arrived there yet. Those “First-fruits” or “First-born ones” were the “spirits of just men” (saints only) “made perfect” (or perfected – in the same sense that Christ’s body was “made perfect” upon His resurrection after His sufferings – Heb. 2:10, 5:9). Since Hebrews 12:22 (written around AD 64) says that the readers of Hebrews had ALREADY COME to this reality of the “Firstborn-ones” who had ALREADY been perfected (in glorified immortal bodies), this would place their resurrection change earlier on the timeline than the AD 66-70 era.

    Concerning Hebrews 12:22-23, I’m afraid, Patricia, that you are reading a lot into this scripture that simply is not there. Paul was trying to encourage the Jewish believers in Judea, because they were in danger of renouncing their faith in favor of returning to Judaism. He drew a comparison in this chapter to when the Lord came down to Mount Sinai and the mountain shook and was on fire, because he spoke. Anyone who touched the mount would have been killed. With that in mind, Paul told his readers that they were come to Mount Zion, the city of the Living God, which is the heavenly Jerusalem. This is a spiritual entity, not one that could be touched or seen (see Luke 17:20-21). Paul’s readers needed to become sensitive to the fact that they had come to the church of the firstborn sons (which is the Church of God or Christ), whose names are written in heaven, and to the God and Judge of all and to the spirits (not bodies) of just men made perfect (Hebrews 12:22-23). These were people living on earth—flesh and blood people, whose spirits had been made perfect in Christ. Jesus spoke of his disciples having their names written in heaven (Luke 10:20). Paul’s readers were begotten by the word of the Gospel, as a kind of firstfruits of God’s people (James 1:18). Nothing is mentioned about bodies being made perfect. There is nothing said here that would allude to Matthew 27 and the resurrection mentioned there.

    I dislike disagreeing with people, but the fact is, it is necessary. I don’t enjoy picking apart what others believe. When I first read your reply on my phone, I thought you were going in another direction, and I was interested in seeing where that would end up. However, after I looked at everything with my Bible in front of me, things took on another image. I’m sorry I am so negative in this reply, Patricia. I know you have spent a lot of time studying and putting this doctrine together, but, frankly, I simply cannot agree with it. But, may the Lord bless you as you study his word.

     
  5. Eddie

    September 3, 2018 at 21:48

    Greetings Patricia, I happened to catch your reply while I was on the run. I’ve been spending a lot of family time this weekend–an American holiday. You mention several interesting points that I would rather study for a bit before I offer a reply. Your take on this subject is not quite what I expected, and I don’t wish to simply discard it. Some things I definitely disagree with, but even that is not cast in stone. I’ve changed my opinions before. The problem is I am already in a deep study of Hebrews–that is my current Sunday School class, so it may take awhile before I can get back to you perhaps a few days, perhaps up to a week. I hope this is satisfactory. Lord bless you in your studies of his word.

     
  6. Patricia Watkins

    September 3, 2018 at 14:21

    Hi again Eddie,

    Certainly I am not displeased at your noted objections. There is a benefit for all concerned when we can still manage to communicate our differing points without rancor. You are correct that Matthew 27:52-53 doesn’t specify EXACTLY when those saints arose (beyond saying that it was AFTER Christ’s resurrection), but Ephesians 4:8 does tell us the exact time. It says that WHEN He ascended up on high, (on the morning after His resurrection the evening before), that “He LED a multitude of captives” and GAVE them as gifts to men. These “gifts” of resurrected saints were composed of those that were apostles (meaning “sent ones”), prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. They were given to edify those in the early church for the work of the ministry (Eph. 4:12).

    Many I have spoken to about these Matt. 27 saints have agreed with your view that Matt. 27:52-53 is the only place in scripture where these resurrected saints are spoken of, but I have not found that to be so. There are more than a couple dozen passages in the OT and NT scriptures that are related to the actions and the description of these Matt. 27 saints. For the better part of my 47 years as a believer, I have also read past these passages during Bible study without realizing who they were referring to..

    You mentioned that you believe these 144,000 were raised from the dead AND ALSO sealed sometime in the AD 66-70 era. If Christ was called the “First-fruits” (and He was), then if the 144,000 Matt. 27 saints were raised later, around AD 66-70 as you are proposing, that would make them the “Second-fruits” – not the “First-fruits”. The presence of the 144,000 Matt. 27 saints who had been raised from the dead PRIOR to AD 66-70 is found in the Romans 8:23 verse where Paul said that the church HAD the First-fruits of the Spirit’s work of quickening the mortal bodies of the saints. This is not speaking of the same thing as the “Fruit (singular) of the Spirit” of personal holiness in the believers. These were “First-fruits” SAINTS present among the church, who were part of that “multitude of captives” Christ brought out of the grave with Him, as in Eph. 4:8.

    The “First-fruits” are also found in Hebrews 12:22-23 as the church of “The FIRST-BORN ONES” who were “enrolled” in heaven (in the book of life, and with the seal of the living God in their foreheads), but who had not bodily arrived there yet. Those “First-fruits” or “First-born ones” were the “spirits of just men” (saints only) “made perfect” (or perfected – in the same sense that Christ’s body was “made perfect” upon His resurrection after His sufferings – Heb. 2:10, 5:9). Since Hebrews 12:22 (written around AD 64) says that the readers of Hebrews had ALREADY COME to this reality of the “Firstborn-ones” who had ALREADY been perfected (in glorified immortal bodies), this would place their resurrection change earlier on the timeline than the AD 66-70 era.

    I believe the whole controversy that Hymenaeus and Philetus introduced (II Tim. 2:17-18) sprang up because they were pointing to these Matt. 27 saints, (who were still living and working for the church after their Passover week resurrection), and were using those Matt. 27 saints as their proof that a one-and-only bodily resurrection had already happened and that the church could not hope for another resurrection in their future. Paul spoke against the results of that discouraging error by reassuring the sorrowful living believers in I Thess. 4 that there definitely WAS hope for a bodily resurrection for their dead loved ones. Those of the Matt. 27 saints (and others such as those raised by the disciples) who had been made “alive” and who had “remained” on the earth all that time (perileipomenoi – which carries the sense of being reserved, or, we could say “sealed”), would NOT be taken to heaven before Christ had ALSO raised the believer’s dead loved ones in the soon-coming AD 70 resurrection. Then ALL of these resurrected ones would meet Christ together in the air and be taken to be with Him in heaven. NO translation-type change for ordinary living believers is either stated or implied in I Thess. 4:13-18 or its corollary I Cor 15:51-54 verses.

    The actual date for that second resurrection fell exactly on the day of Pentecost in AD 70, according to the precise Daniel 12:11-12’s prediction for when the 1,335th day of resurrection for Daniel would arrive. God used those 3 required harvest feast celebrations of Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles from the Mosaic law to picture the times He would “harvest” the bodies of His saints from the dust of the grave throughout history. That would necessarily include a 3rd bodily resurrection event future to us, occurring at the time of year when the Feast of Tabernacles would have ordinarily been observed under Mosaic law. This is why we have that one harvest Feast of Tabernacles highlighted in Zechariah 14:16-19 for those living AFTER the AD 70 destruction of Jerusalem described in Zechariah 12:1 through 14:15.

    And I would certainly not be disappointed if you disagreed with the above, Eddie. In fact, I would be surprised if you didn’t.

     
  7. Eddie

    September 1, 2018 at 08:22

    Greetings Patricia, and thank you for reading my study and for your encouraging comment. I appreciate not only that you agree with the theme of my study, but also how you worded some of your reply as it pertains to the righteous. I often miss some of the descriptions of people and events, when I’m looking for the “big picture” so to speak. Sometimes the bigger picture is in those very descriptions. Lord bless you for your enthusiasm and obvious study of his word.

    Nevertheless, I do have a few things I cannot agree with you in your comment.

    It also was when those Matthew 27:52-53 saints arose at the same time with Christ – all 144,000 of them – who were also called the “First-fruits” as Rev. 14:4 says, just as Christ was given this same title. They shared the same title because they shared the same resurrection.

    Matthew 27:52-53 never says ‘when’ these saints arose. Your conclusion is simply a statement without proof. In this and in a previous study I warned folks not to be dogmatic about the order of these post-resurrection appearances. What I wrote may ‘fit’ well with the word of God, but it may not be exactly true according to chronology (although some events are supported in God’s word). Jesus came to fulfill all things in the Law and the Prophets. To me, this means he is our Wave Sheaf Offering, not the saints who rose in Matthew 27:52-53.

    I don’t believe Matthew 27:52-53 occurred until Jesus was about to return to judge Israel in 66-70 AD. The reason I do so is that they are sealed just before the blowing of the Trumpets of Revelation 8 but after the opening of the Seals of Revelation 6 (Revelation 7:1-4). While this doesn’t unequivocally identify the saints of Matthew 27:52-53 with the 144000, it does unequivocally put the 144000 much later in the first century AD than Passover of 31 AD. However, I am with you in that the 144000 are the saints of Matthew 27:52-53, but I cannot prove it to be so.

    AFTER Christ revealed Himself to Mary WITHOUT allowing her to touch Him (so that He could remain ritually pure before He was installed as our high priest in heaven), and BEFORE He revealed Himself to the other group of women who WERE allowed to touch Him then (since by that time, the blood sacrifice had been accepted by God, and believers were legally given imputed righteousness – no longer considered a defilement if they touched Christ)… it aligns perfectly with the time the sheaf handful would have been offered in the temple that morning – which would also be the time the 144,000 First-fruits Matthew 27:52-53 resurrected saints went into the city of Jerusalem to be seen of many of the Passover week celebrants.

    One could ‘align’ most anything one wishes with an event in the Bible, if he or she didn’t have to ‘prove’ what is said with scripture. I really like how you describe the saints above, and what you claim is supported with scripture. However, your saying the 144000 (Matthew 27:52-53) **is** the Wave Sheaf Offering isn’t supported with scripture. What I find illuminating about Matthew 27:52-53 is that none of the epistles mention the event, nor does Acts. If Matthew 27:52-53 is scripture, and I don’t think there is any doubt that it is, then it is an event that is really important and should have been mentioned elsewhere in the New Testament **if** it occurred before the rest of the New Testament was written. Since the event isn’t mentioned elsewhere, and Matthew is the only writer who mentions it, the event must have occurred really late in the times of the Apostles, some time near or just after their deaths. Anyway, this is what I think can be concluded from this scripture.

    Thank you once more, Patricia, for reading my study and for taking the time to comment. I hope you are not displeased with me that I have taken issue with some of your claims. Lord bless you in your studies of the word of God.

     
  8. Patricia Watkins

    September 1, 2018 at 01:42

    Hi Eddie,

    This is a great post, with a number of very significant details brought out that I agree with.

    Details like #1), “…the first day of the Weeks” (PLURAL). I didn’t know that was referring to the first day of the Pentecost period, but it makes sense.

    And like #2), the sheaf handful being harvested Saturday evening by the priests. As you suggested, and as far as I can tell, I think this most definitely indicates the time that Christ arose. It also was when those Matthew 27:52-53 saints arose at the same time with Christ – all 144,000 of them – who were also called the “First-fruits” as Rev. 14:4 says, just as Christ was given this same title. They shared the same title because they shared the same resurrection.

    The reason I think those Matthew 27 saints were raised together at the same time that Christ the First-fruits came out of the gave is because of the picture type we have of this in Leviticus 23:9-13. The sheaf handful of barley offered would represent the Matthew 27:52-53 resurrected, or “harvested” saints, and the single he-lamb without blemish offered along with the barley sheaf handful would represent Christ resurrected at the same time.

    But apparently this Matthew 27:52-53 “multitude of captives” (Eph. 4:8) did NOT ascend with Christ that morning to the Father, because Paul told us that the church still had the First-fruits saints with them in Romans 8:23 at that time.

    In another detail #3), you’ve nailed the time for Christ’s ascension perfectly, AFTER Christ revealed Himself to Mary WITHOUT allowing her to touch Him (so that He could remain ritually pure before He was installed as our high priest in heaven), and BEFORE He revealed Himself to the other group of women who WERE allowed to touch Him then (since by that time, the blood sacrifice had been accepted by God, and believers were legally given imputed righteousness – no longer considered a defilement if they touched Christ). As you said, it aligns perfectly with the time the sheaf handful would have been offered in the temple that morning – which would also be the time the 144,000 First-fruits Matthew 27:52-53 resurrected saints went into the city of Jerusalem to be seen of many of the Passover week celebrants.

    One thing that is very obvious from your intense study of these post-resurrection appearances of Christ is that women featured heavily in these accounts. This matches an Old Testament prediction of the role that women would play in spreading the news about Christ’s resurrection. Someone showed me this verse Psalms 68:11 in the ESV (and many other translations as well) that predicts that women would publish the news of Christ’s resurrection. “The Lord gives the word; the WOMEN who announce the news are a great host.” The participle “those that announce” is in the feminine gender, which should be rendered as women spreading the news.

    The very same feminine gender use is employed in another verse about women who would spread the news of a triumphant risen Christ. That one is Isaiah 40:9. “Oh THOU THAT BRINGEST good tidings to Zion” is in the feminine gender. Likewise the verb command to “GET THEE UP into the high mountain” is also in the feminine gender. So it would seem that this verse is encouraging those women who bore the news of Christ’s resurrection to “lift up thy voice with strength, lift it up, be not afraid, say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!” The groups of women who encountered the risen Christ attempted to do this on that day and following.

     
 
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