The Resurrection and the Trinity

… we testified about God that he Raised the Christ . . .  (1 Corinthians 15:15)


(This article is #6 in a series on the Trinity)

More often than not the raising of Christ from the dead is attributed to God the Father.  It is also true that more often than not the title “God” is used for God the Father.  Thus in Sunday’s Epistle, the Apostle Paul explains that he and the other preachers of Christ, testified about God that he raised Christ. God the Father raised Christ Jesus from the dead. This fact is repeatedly attested in Holy Writ. For example, in his Pentecost sermon the Apostle Peter mentions it twice:…This Jesus…God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it…This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses [Acts 2:24, 32].

Because God is triune, the Christian rightly asks, “Was the Holy Spirit active in Christ’s resurrection?  Was the Son of God active in Christ’s resurrection?”  Yes and yes!  Scripture indicates that the works of the Trinity to the outside are undivided, and yet such works preserve the properties of each person of the Trinity.[1] Thus, for instance, we can say that the Father created the world, but because of the Trinitarian nature of God, both the Spirit and the Son of God are biblically identified as “creator” as well.

The biblically drawn confession of the Nicene Creed identifies the Holy Spirit as the Lord and Giver of Life. Jesus succinctly summarized, It is the Spirit who gives life [John 6:63a]. Because the Holy Spirit is identified as the breath of God, the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit is identified already in the creation of man: …then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature [Gen 2;7]. The Holy Spirit—the breath of God—gives life. Saint Paul references the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit:  If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you [Ro 8:11]. Even as the dead Christ was given life by the Holy Spirit so too our dead bodies will be vivified by the Lord and Giver of Life.

As the Spirit gave life to the dead Christ, likewise the Son of God would be actively involved in His own resurrection. Early in His ministry Jesus compared His body to the Jewish Temple: Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up [Jn 2:19].  Jesus here spoke of His physical body, and observe His declaration of self-resurrection, I will raise it up. Similarly in His description of Himself as the Good Shepherd, Jesus explains His authority to lay down His life for the sheep, and then to take His life up again from the dead:  For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again.  No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father [Jn 10:17,18]. Observe the authority of Jesus to take His life back up again. It is no coincidence that a few verses after these statements Jesus explains His God-oneness with the Father: I and the Father are one [v 30].  Indeed the Father raises the Christ, and the Son—one with the Father—takes His life back up again.

Because of Christ’s vicarious death and resurrection, our bodies shall also be raised.  The Father will breathe into our dust-returned bodies the breath of life, and the Father—one with the Spirit—will raise our bodies to immortality.  Will the Son of God raise us?  As recorded in John 6, no less than four times Jesus declares that He will raise our bodies to life. For example, consider verse 40: For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. Praise God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—who raises the dead!

[1] There is technical Latin terminology for this: Opera trinitatis ad extra sunt indivisa, scilicet servata cuiusque personae proprietate. This translates:  “The works of the Trinity to the outside are undivided, preserving, of course, the properties of each person.”