“Jesus rose from the dead.”
“God raised Jesus from the dead.”
Which of these statements is the most correct? In the first sentence, the intransitive verb “rise” is used. Jesus is the one acting here: he himself came out of death. But in the second sentence, we have the transitive verb “raise”. God the Father is acting here: he brought Jesus out of death.
What is the proper way of speaking about Jesus’ resurrection? The Bible uses both “rise” and “raise”. In fact, the two sentences above come directly from the Scripture, from Acts 10:41 and from Romans 10:9. Both are valid ways of saying what happened on Easter morning.
This discrepancy in language is not really a contradiction. It has often been said that “the external works of the Trinity are one”, and that is clearly the case here. The Father and Son worked on the same thing: the Father raised up Jesus and the Son himself rose. Both aspects of this work of God are significant.
Jesus rose in his own power. This sets him apart from all the other resurrections in the Bible, such as the daughter of Jairus or Lazarus. They were raised, passively. They were not able to do anything themselves. But Jesus rose, that is, he raised himself.
In Romans 1:4, Paul emphasizes that Jesus’ identity and power as the Son of God is especially clear from his resurrection. He himself put down his life and took it up again (John 10:18). He “rebuilt the temple” of his body (John 2:19-21).
But God the Father also raised Jesus from the dead. “Jesus was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father.” (Romans 6:4) Even in his resurrection, the Lord Jesus did not act alone, but he worked together with the Father. This emphasis on being raised allows us to find hope in comparing ourselves to Jesus. We do not have the divine power of Jesus, and we are not able to escape death on our own. But: “By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.” (1 Cor. 6:14)
In all this, the Holy Spirit was just as much involved. And the Holy Spirit is the One who connects us very closely to the Father and the Son. Paul brings that out when he writes: “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of the Spirit who lives in you.” (Romans 8:11)
The Father, Creator of all things, raised the Lord Jesus. The Son himself, through who all things exist, rose from the dead in great power. And the Spirit, sent forth by both, makes us share in that same event of the Resurrection.
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