Contemporary Interpretative Problems: The Resurrection of Israel -- By: John F. Walvoord

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 124:493 (Jan 1967)
Article: Contemporary Interpretative Problems: The Resurrection of Israel
Author: John F. Walvoord


Contemporary Interpretative Problems:
The Resurrection of Israel

John F. Walvoord

Few interpretive problems in eschatology test an interpreter’s skill like the doctrine of the resurrection of Israel. The subject has been ignored by liberals and neo-orthodox theologians who have been more concerned with the question of whether resurrection is literal or not. Within such a context particular attention to Israel could hardly be expected.

Orthodox theology has often assumed that saints of the Old Testament, including Israelites, will be resurrected at the second coming of Jesus Christ to the earth. This is the view of all conservative postmillenarians and amillenarians, and is also held by many premillenarians.

The only major challenge to this conclusion comes from the ranks of some dispensationalists who believe the rapture

and translation of the church will be before the tribulation and that Israel will be raised from the dead at the same time, that is, before the tribulation. This view was held by Plymouth Brethren writers and was popularized in the Scofield Reference Bible.1 A minor variation from this teaching has been the suggestion that the Old Testament saints arose in the resurrection mentioned in Matthew 27:52 which occurred immediately after the resurrection of Christ, but this has no support whatever in Scripture and has attracted practically no followers.

The question of whether Israel will be raised at the rapture of the church before the tribulation would not have attracted much interest if it had not been for its vital connection with the pretribulational point of view. Posttribulationists like Alexander Reese have seized upon this interpretation as a major evidence of the untenable character of the pretribulation rapture.2 This has led in turn to a re-examination of the whole question.

The interpretive problem of the time and character of Israel’s resurrection finds its solution in a careful examination of the two major passages on the resurrection of Israel in the Old Testament, namely, Daniel 12:1–3 and Isaiah 26:13–19, and a major New Testament passage in 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18. Collateral studies which cast light upon the subject are Ezekiel 37; 1 Corinthians 15:22–23, Galatia...

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