The ostensible basis for Christian hope in the New Testament is the resurrection of Christ.’43 The clearest example of this is 1 Peter 1:3, where the author blesses God that ‘we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead’. ‘Born anew’ signifies the decisive new stage in life, as we enter into the life of Christ, the life of the new age. This new life contains future elements and in the context it is the eschatological goal of the rebirth which has priority. The end in view is hope.44

This rebirth has taken place because of Jesus’ resurrection,45 which has demonstrated the reality and nature of life after death. His resurrection has inaugurated the new age, opening up a new order of life. It is this that we have entered through regeneration. But this new life is accompanied by a living, vibrant hope, further defined as an inheritance in verse 4. This, too, stems from the resurrection of Jesus. Thus the living Lord gives a living hope.46

Paul would concur with this, for while he does not depict the dependence of hope on the resurrection of Christ in such concise terms, he does express the truth in two passages.47

One is 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18. The apostle has cause to address himself to a problem which is confronting the Thessalonians:would their fellow Christians who died before the parousia have a part in it? He begins his comforting reply by urging the believers not to grieve as do pagans who have no hope (verse 13), and who can therefore be expected to be distressed when their friends die. He speedily adds the positive grounds for the Christians’ hope in contrast to the hopelessness of unbelievers. Believing that Jesus died and rose again, we are thus confident that those who have fallen asleep through Jesus, God will bring with him (verse 14).48 The death and resurrection of Jesus form the basis of assurance concerning the future. The dead are with Christ and will return with him at the parousia. There need be no anxiety concerning them. The Christian’s hope for the future life is traceable to ‘the victory over death wrought in the death-resurrection of Jesus Christ.’49 Nevertheless, in view of the context which focuses on life, resurrection, and the second coming, the emphasis tends to be on Jesus’ resurrection.50

In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul is again expounding the resurrection. At Corinth there were those who denied that the dead would be raised, but this was intolerable to the apostle. If true, it would mean that Christ himself had not been raised (verse 13), and hence no salvation was possible. Faith is then vain (verse 14), our sins remain unforgiven (verse 13), and Christians who have previously died have perished (verse 18). ‘If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied’ (verse 19).

By thus laying bare the consequences of such a denial, Paul proves that the belief that was being aired was impossible for a Christian. Indeed, to claim the name of Christ and at the same time to entertain the possibility of no resurrection was the utmost folly, and made a farce of Christianity.51 Those who promoted such a view exhibited a shallow understanding, and revealed that they had not followed their position through to its logical conclusion. Truly, the Christian has set his hope on Christ, but if there really is no future life with him the situation is tragic indeed. ‘In that case, Christians would be toiling and suffering here under a great delusion, a hope that has no foundation and will never be fulfilled—and such a glorious hope!’52

But this is not true. It is based on a false premise. We shall be raised in the future (verses 21, 23); therefore the denial of a future eschatology is defective. And this coming resurrection is certain because Jesus has risen from the dead (verse 20a). Therefore Christian hope is securely founded. The certainty of the believer’s resurrection is enhanced by the further statement that the risen Christ is ‘the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep’ (verse 20b). ‘First fruits’ is derived from the idea of the first fruits of the harvest (e.g., Ex. 34:22, 26). This was the first part of the crop and the assurance that the rest of the harvest would follow. Just as the first fruits are the promise of the full harvest, so Christ’s resurrection is the guarantee of the resurrection of believers.53 Moreover, as the beginning of the harvest, the first fruits were offered to God, representing the whole crop. The hallowing and acceptance of the first fruits is the hallowing and acceptance of the crop. The unity between Christ and believers is similar and thus our future resurrection is guaranteed.54 Here is additional support for our hope.

The solidarity of Christ and believers is reiterated, in different language, in the following two verses. As death came by man, so the resurrection of the dead came by man (verse 21). ‘For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive’ (verse 22). To be ‘in Christ’ is to belong to him and the community of which he is head. Hand in hand with this go the benefits achieved by his act of obedience. As union with Adam brings death to humanity, so union with the last Adam will bring life to the new humanity.55 The context, the parallelism with the previous verse, and the future tense (zōopoiēthēsontai) combine to confirm that the verb refers to bodily resurrection. All, therefore, who are in Christ can be sure of attaining the resurrection.

Thus it is evident that these verses expand the claim that Christ is the first fruits of the dead, and consequently add further weight to our hope of resurrection. Truly it is a sure hope, for it is guaranteed by Christ’s own resurrection.

D R Denton, “The Biblical Basis of Hope,” Themelios 5, no. 3 (1980): 25–26.

The Evangelism Explosion
of the 21st Century

We desperately need a revival of evangelism in America.

This book and study paves the way. It shows a practical, workable, proven method to train your people in lifestyle evangelism 

Josh Hunt ● ● ●  1964 Sedona Hills Parkway, Las Cruces, NM 88011
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software