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The Grave of Judaism


When it comes to Realized Eschatology I am reminded of Pilate’s question to Jesus: “What is truth?” Whether his question was asked in sarcasm or not, Pilate was still questioning Truth and its existence. When a person questions truth it is because they either have not diligently searched for it, or while searching for it they, at the same time, suppress it. Paul speaks of this sort describing them as “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). Jesus says, “If you abide in My word you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32). How is it possible for Christians to arrive at such divergent and diametrically opposed views concerning Eschatology? While there are many reasons, there are two that stand out. The first is the failure to love the Truth enough to handle it correctly (2 Tim.2:15; cf. 2Thess. 2:10). Realized Eschatology is a system which forces symbolism into that which is literal, i.e., it makes that which is clearly literal, figurative. The second reason is the unwillingness to account for the significant principle that the “entirety (sum) of Your word is truth” (Psalm 119:160).


What Realized Eschatology amounts to is some new “Bizzarro World” where up is down and down is up, where in is out and out is in, and where a paradigm shift becomes an alternate universe of thought. The apostle Paul may have “turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6) but Realized Eschatology turns the Bible upside down and inside out. For instance, when it comes to understanding death and resurrection Realized Eschatology applies an entirely different definition. One proponent writes:

Paul’s preaching on the resurrection was based squarely on nothing but the teaching of Moses and the prophets. Moses and the prophets knew nothing about a resurrection of physical bodies out of holes in the ground, yet Paul said he preached just like them, and that the Corinthians received that same teaching” (Dawson, 132).

Regarding the apostle Paul’s teaching on the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15, Dawson writes, “[N]o one on earth interprets those Old Testament prophecies as of a resurrection of physical bodies out of holes in the ground.” (133). While continuing to reject a literal resurrection, Dawson opines:

Paul never used ‘bodies’ in this chapter. He spoke of the resurrection of one body, the Old Covenant faithful who were being transformed into the body of Christ. The question had to do with how Jewish and Gentile saints were going to be in that one body, along with Old Covenant saints who didn’t even see or obey Christ (181-182).

            The “father” of modern day Realized Eschatology writes:

Judaism was the metaphorical grave of the spiritual dead out of which this resurrection took place. The fall of Judaism was the defeat of the ‘ministration of death’ and the opening of the graves. Those who had previously heard and obeyed Christ were found worthy of eternal life in the new heaven and earth. The disobedient were raised to eternal hell or separation from God (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9) (King, 220).

And again,

Thus, out of the decay of Judaism arose the spiritual body of Christianity that became fully developed or resurrected by the end-time. Hence, this is the primary meaning of Paul’s statement ‘It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body and there is a spiritual body (200).

            Here we see how Realized Eschatology simply redefines every aspect related to our traditional understanding of Eschatology. From the above quotes we learn Realized Eschatology teaches that the resurrection of the dead occurs at Jesus’ Coming, and His coming was in the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, which was His judgment upon Israel. Therefore, the literal death of the body is redefined as a spiritual death, and the resurrection is no longer defined as the raising of the body from the grave, but is redefined as a the resurrection of Old Testament saints from the dead. The term “body” in (1 Cor. 15:35) is redefined as a corporate body that is raised, not human bodies (plural). Then, the church is the body that was raised in AD 70. Therefore, even the term “redemption of our body” (Romans 8:23) must be redefined as the “redemption of the church,” which is said to have been resurrected or raised in AD 70. After AD 70 it is claimed that there remains no bodily resurrection but at the moment of death the righteous dead go directly to heaven and the unrighteous dead go to hell.

            Therefore, according to Realized Eschatology, when Paul speaks of the “corruptible” body (1 Cor.15:50-54), it is not the dead human corpse, but the fleshly system of Judaism. Moreover, the resurrection which Paul addresses is not that of the human body, but is representative Christianity arising out of the figurative grave. Other words such as “flesh,” “fleshly,” and “world” must also be redefined as synonyms for the Judaism, while the term "spiritual" must be redefined as “Christianity.” In making that which is literal, figurative or “spiritual” dishonors the religion of Christ, especially when it is suggested that the Christianity is the merely the resurrection of dead Judaism.

The apostle Paul informs us that the purpose of the Law of Moses was to bring the Jews to Christ, serving as their “tutor" or “schoolmaster” (Galatians 3:23), which was for the purpose of human redemption. There is nothing in the entire Bible which describes redemption as the resurrection of the Law of Moses and Judaism, nor is there anything which teaches that human redemption springs forth out the death of the Law of Moses and Judaism. The Law was simply a necessary vehicle in paving the way for human redemption to be provided through a new avenue or system. This was God’s plan in eternity long before the Law of Moses and the Creation of the world (Ephesians 3:10-11; cf. Acts 2:23).


In this section we will address two primary passages which are fundamental to the Realized Eschatology and its erroneous concept of the “Grave of Judaism.”

(1 Corinthians 15)

As stated previously, Realized Eschatology arbitrarily turns the literal into the figurative, an approach that allegorizes and or spiritualizes literal words and events. This approach is reminiscent of one radical scholar, John Shelby Sponge, who believes God is not a person but is rather an “essence” or a feeling “deep within us” (Jackson). In much the same, Realized Eschatology arrives at tis conclusions because of its opposition to the literalism of the Bible.

Any cursory reading of 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, will show that the apostle Paul is speaking about the facts undergirding the gospel, namely the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is also quite evident Paul is speaking about Christ’s physical body, rather than to an alleged representation of the burying of the Jewish system and the raising of the Christian system. This is fundamental to the entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 15. Therefore the question we must ask ourselves as we examine various parts of this chapter is: How does a literal, bodily resurrection of Christ compare in any manner to a figurative representation of the resurrection of a class of people?

Paul begins the chapter by discussing the resurrection of Christ’s body an d of the chronological events which follow, telling us of those who personally saw His resurrected body (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). Paul is indeed referring to a literal, human body. The apostle then proceeds to tell us that some in Corinth were guilty of denying the bodily resurrection of others, not just Christ’s resurrection (15:12). We know their denial was of a" bodily resurrection" because Paul begins by saying, "Now if Christ is preached that he has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?" Not only is Paul establishing his case that the general resurrection of the dead is founded upon the Christ’s own bodily resurrection. Paul’s point is that if they believed in Christ’s bodily resurrection, then how is it possible to make the claim that Christians are not raised in the same manner as He? To deny one is to deny the other

Notice what Paul says, "For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen” (15:16). Paul is telling them that if they do not believe dead bodies come out of graves, then they will have to deny that Christ’s dead body came out of the grave. This is the significance of denying the bodily resurrection. It should be underscored that the word “dead” is plural, and literal means “dead ones.” It is referring to a plurality of bodies, not to a singular body representative of a concept or to a particular class. In fact, Paul goes on to us the word “those,” which suggests individuals and not a singular religious system (15:18, 20, 23, 48). How in the world could a rational person come along and demand that when Paul speaks of that which is “dead” that he is referring to Judaism (the Jewish system), and when he speaks of that which is being “raised” he is referring to the church or the Christian system? Amazingly, amazing! But such is the fanciful notion of those touting Realized Eschatology. A “spiritualized” view destroys any connection Paul is making between Christ’s literal bodily, resurrection, and to the general resurrection of the "dead ones” (plural). Paul is making an “apples to apples” comparison, i.e., he is connecting Christ’s literal, bodily resurrection with the literal resurrection of the bodies of the “dead ones.” On the other hand, Realized Eschatology takes Paul’s comparison and turns it into a “apples to oranges” comparison, i.e., the literal resurrection of Christ is compared to the figurative “body” of Christianity out of Judaism. The absurdity of such an interpretation clearly demonstrated.

The word “body is found numerous times in thirty-five verses in 1 Corinthians (5:3, 6:12-20, 7:4, 34, 9:27, 10:16-17, 11:24-29, 12:12-27, 13:3, 15:35-44). When the word “body” refers to the church (6:19-20; 10:17, 12:12-27) it is clearly self-evident. The context will clearly indicate that the word “body” is referring to the church. However, every other time the word “body” is found it is referring to the physical body, including Christ’s body as it relates to the Communion. There simply is no guess work involved in making these determinations.

Within in the chronological unfolding of the context, Paul correlates the literal, bodily resurrection of Christ’s physical body, with the resurrection of other physical bodies we call the general resurrection of the “dead ones”. Paul then makes mention of Christ being the "firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (15:20). Again, Paul ties together Christ’s resurrection from the dead to the resurrection of the “dead ones.” In other words, Paul is saying that the resurrection which occurred with Christ will be the same resurrection that will occur with the Corinthians (and all of us). Again, we must note Paul’s use of the word “those” (15:20, 23). The word speaks of the plurality of individuals, not to a singular thing, concept, or to the singular Christian system. Tehn there is the meaning of “firstfruits.” Just what does that imply? We understand from the Old Testament that the meaning of “firstfruits” was always the choicest part of the crop (Numbers 18:12), and it guaranteed the rest of the crop to follow. The “firstfruits” were of the very same nature as the rest of the crop which would follow (Deuteronomy 18:4; 2 Chronicles 31:5; Nehemiah 0:35-37). Therefore, if Christ’s bodily resurrection was the “firstfruits,” and it was the literal resurrection of His human body, then the fruit which follows the “firstfruits” must be of the same nature, being the resurrection of the literal human body (cf. Phil. 3:20-21; 1 Jn. 3:2). This is indeed the context and the connection Paul makes with Christ’s resurrection and the general resurrection of the dead. Along the same line, one writer observers:  

The resurrection of the dead endorsed by 1 Corinthians 15 is a future, bodily resurrection of mankind, based upon the fact of Christ’s bodily resurrection. If, however, the body to be raised in 1 Corinthians 15 is ‘Christianity out of Judaism,’ why must we believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ? If the later fruit is not the bodily resurrection of mankind, there is no reason to believe that the ‘firstfruits’ was the bodily resurrection of Jesus (Price).

Continuing through the chapter, Paul addresses the question that would naturally arise, "But someone will say, “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?” (15:35). In other words, if my body is going to be raised from the dead, what will it look like?  In explaining what the resurrected body looks like, Paul provides the illustration involving seed. When it is sown or planted it produces something that is based upon itself. What comes forth may not be identical to what was sown, but what was sown still comes forth nonetheless (15:42-44). Again, Paul says there is a correlation between what is sown and was raised. Then he says that, in like manner, literal human bodies are sown or planted in the ground and from them will come forth something that is connected. In this passage, Paul makes significant use of the word “IT”:

So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body” (15:42-44).

What is obvious in the passage is that very same “IT” that goes down is the very same “IT” that comes back up. Whatever dies is what is resurrected. In this case, the “seed” that is sown and is dead (1 Cor. 15:36) has a definite correlation and connection with the “seed” (15:37-38). We must not press the illustration beyond its intended meaning. Quite simply, the body that died is the body that will be raised (1 Cor. 15:35-38, 42-44). That means nothing is left behind in the grave, because what was placed in the grave is the very thing that comes out of the grave but is changed, fashioned for a heavenly dwelling (15:51-52).

The corruptible flesh (IT) will have put on the incorruptible (IT), which means the body (IT) that comes froth is then changed. The natural body (IT) is changed into a spiritual body (IT), and the mortal body (IT) becomes the immortal body (IT). In other words, the “IT” that dies is the very “IT” that is raised, and the very “IT” that is raised will certainly change, taking on new look for the heavenly realm, but the “IT” comes forth just the same and is not separated from that which comes froth. Therefore, the question we must ask is: just what is it that dies and is raised (resurrected)? Is it just the human spirit that is being raised, which necessarily rejects the bodily resurrection? Is it Judaism being raised, which means Judaism had never died even though Paul said it did (Romans 7:1-6). It also means that the obsolete (Hebrews 8:13) has once again been made to have relevance, but for what? Is it the church and or Christianity? Or is the human body the thing being raised? In noting all of this, Wayne Jackson writes:

“In the burial/resurrection analogy, whatever is buried is raised; whatever dies, comes to life. If it is Judaism that dies, then it is Judaism that comes back to life. If it is Christianity that is ‘raised,’ then it was Christianity that was buried. The King theory has Judaism being buried, and the kingdom of Christ being raised.” (Jackson, 72)

Herein lies the dilemma for Realized Eschatology. If the church and Christianity is said to be that which is resurrected, then it is implied that the church and Christianity was dead prior to AD 70, which is an absolute absurdity. If it is Judaism that is resurrected, then this contradicts Realized Eschatology which teaches that there was an overlapping of the Covenants, in which the Law of Moses and the Law of Christ (existed at the same time between Pentecost and AD 70 (King, Spirit of prophecy, 239).

In closing out the chapter, Paul says, “We shall not all sleep but we all shall be changed” (15:51). He then says the “dead will be raised incorruptible” which he then equates with “and we shall be changed” (15:52). Here, the “dead” is plural, not singular. The “we” are individuals who Paul is addressing, and they are living human beings, not some representation of concept or a system. Nowhere in this chapter is there even a hint that Paul has in mind at from out of the “Grave of Judaism” will Christianity be resurrected. Paul is discussing that which is connected to the bodily resurrection of Christ, the general bodily resurrection of the dead.

(John 5:28-29)

This is one of the clearest passages in all the bible regarding the resurrection of the dead. Jesus says: “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth – those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

However, as stated previously, Realized Eschatology “spiritualizes” the many passages dealing with end times in general, and the resurrection in particular. Instead of taken this passage literally, it is viewed figuratively or spiritually. Note the following:

“In order to understand John 5:28 and 29, we must first look three verses above it, in John 5:25, where Jesus said that the hour “now is” when “the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live.”  As most Reformed interpreters agree, Jesus in that verse was referring to the preaching of His death and resurrection.  The preaching of that message commenced at Pentecost. 

“The dead” were physically living people who were spiritually dead in sin, and “the voice of the Son of God” was the gospel.  Having heard the gospel, those who were spiritually “dead” were spiritually resurrected.  They lived in that they received eternal life through faith in the gospel (“the voice of the Son of God”).The dead” were physically living people who were spiritually dead in sin, and “the voice of the Son of God” was the gospel. Having heard the gospel, those who were spiritually “dead” were spiritually resurrected.  They lived in that they received eternal life through faith in the gospel (“the voice of the Son of God”)

“Then, in verses 28 and 29, Jesus expanded His teaching on the resurrection to include those who were not only spiritually dead, but who were also physically dead. He did not call them “dead” (as He had already called the living who were spiritually dead), but He referred to them through another figure of speech as “all who are in the graves.” They were not literally in their graves or tombs, of course, but were in Hades/Sheol” (Sullivan,

            Here we see the gross spiritualization of the passage. All the dead are seen as only those who are spiritually dead – “dead in sin.” In this passage, however, Jesus does indeed speak of death in two ways. First there are the spiritually dead where these can pass out of death into life through hearing Jesus’ words and believing them. The time for this kind of resurrection, Jesus says, is at the very moment He is speaking. "The hour is coming, AND NOW IS, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live” (5:25). Even as He spoke, those who heard and obeyed would be able to enter the new kingdom in a very short time. But it should also be noted that 5:24-25 is completely divorced from 5:28-29. When Jesus says, “he who hears My word and believes” … “has everlasting life and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life,” also implied is that they will be a part of the resurrection which He will discuss in verses 28-29.   

Jesus then speaks of the dead who are "in the graves." It is to this resurrection which Jesus says, "The hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth …” (5:28). There is nothing within the context which demands the fulfillment of this resurrection to be at that time, because Jesus knew it was still in the future. It is from this resurrection, where the righteous saved “come forth” … “to the resurrection of life,” while those having done evil “to the resurrection of condemnation.” (5:29). It is within this resurrection that Jesus is referring to the resurrection of those “in the graves.” There is absolutely nothing in the context showing that Jesus, Himself, changes the literal understanding of the concepts of “death” and the “graves” into something figurative. In other words, Jesus nowhere spiritualizes the literal meaning of the words of this text. The resurrection Jesus speaks of in John 5:28-29 is not some figurative pronouncement of the death of Judaism and the rise of Christianity, but is rather a presentation of the literal resurrection of the dead. And of this, Jesus says it will occur at the final hour, when the dead will come forth out of the graves and stand before the judgment seat of God.

There is a resurrection wherein all the dead will come forth from out of all the graves (5:28-29). However, what proponents of Realized Eschatology willingly overlook is the significant contrast between what Jesus says in 5:24-25 with what He says in 5:28-29. Moreover, there is no accounting for the resurrection of the evil (John 5:29). Where did they go? Paul declares, “I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both the just and the unjust” (Acts 24:15). We know that the righteous will be raised (John 6:39-40, 44, 54; 11:24) and those who have done evil will be judged on the “last day” (John 12:48).


All Scripture quotations are from the NKJV unless otherwise indicated.

Dawson, Samuel G. Essays on Eschatology: An Introductory Overview to the Study of Last Things. Amarillo, Tex.: SGD Press, 2009.

Jackson, Wayne:

Jackson, Wayne. The A.D. 70 Theory: A Review of Max King Doctrine. 2nd ed. Stockton, CA: Courier Publications, 2005.

King, Max R. The Spirit of Prophecy. Warren, OH: M.R. King, 1971.

Price, Joe: Part 3

Sullivan, Michael:    Send article as PDF   

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