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The Dead Will Rise

J ohn D . B arry

Tertullian on Isaiah 66

Dead folks walking around—new life in carcasses. This is not B-level, Zombie movie material. This is the Bible: Old (Isa 66:14–24; Ezek 37:1–14) and New Testaments (Matt 22:29–32; 1 Cor 15:12–49; Rev 20:5). These passages are seldom preached, but they are at the heart of what early Christians believed: Jesus rose, and we will rise with Him. The church father Tertullian was a defender of these truths. Because he was a small child, he is found “in their midst,” not teaching them but “asking questions” And again, (Isaiah says): “Your heart shall rejoice, and your bones shall spring up like the grass,” (Isa 66:14) ... In a word, if it is contended that the figure of the rising bones refers properly to the state of Israel, why is the same hope announced to all nations, instead of being limited to Israel only? … For the language is universal: “The dead shall arise, and come forth from their graves; for the dew which comes from Thee is medicine to their bones” (Isa 26:19). In another passage it is written: “All flesh shall come to worship before me, says the Lord” (Isa 66:23). When? When the fashion of this world shall begin to pass away. For He said before: “As the new heaven and the new earth, which I make, remain before me, says the Lord, so shall your seed remain” (Isa 66:22). Then also shall be fulfilled what is written afterwards: “And they shall go forth” (from their graves), “and shall see the carcasses of those who have transgressed: for their worm shall never die, nor shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be a spectacle to all flesh” (Isa 66:24). … Being raised again from the dead and brought out from the grave, (they) shall adore the Lord for this great grace.1 1 Tertullian, On the Resurrection of the Flesh, chapter 31 (ca. 207 ad; translated by Holmes). Adapted from A. Roberts, J. Donaldson and A. C. Coxe (eds.), The Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. 3: Translations of the Writings of the Fathers Down to ad 325 (Oak Harbor: Logos Bible Software, 1997), pg. 567. Pick up resources on church history at

Tertullian (ca. 160–225 ad) was converted to Christianity around age 37. He is often called the founder of Latin Christianity. He was a prolific writer in Latin and Greek. In opposition to the heretical, divisive leader Marcion, Tertullian argued that the God of the Old Testament was also the New-Testament God—loving and just. He also wrote against the Gnostics who viewed this world as completely separate from (and lesser than) the heavenly world. Although he was a polarizing figure, Tertullian’s influence in Africa and the wider church was tremendous.


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Bible Study Magazine ( delivers tools and methods for Bible study, as well as insights from respected Bible teach...

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Bible Study Magazine ( delivers tools and methods for Bible study, as well as insights from respected Bible teach...