Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to
When Shall These Things Be?
The Resurrection of the Dead
Part 4 Acts 23:6 Paul’s Agreement With the Pharisees on a Coming Resurrection
David A. Green
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Strimple Argument #4: In Acts 23:6, Paul aligned himself with the
Pharisees regarding the resurrection of the dead. This indicates that Paul
believed with the Pharisees in a physical resurrection of the dead (296).
Answer: I am not aware of any evidence that the Pharisees would
have rejected a man from their party if he believed in a non-physical
resurrection of the dead. For all we know, a certain percentage of the
Pharisees (including Saul/Paul) believed in a non-physical resurrection
of the dead.
But even if there is evidence that belief in a non-physical resurrection
of the dead disqualified a man from being a Pharisee, the issue in
Acts 23:6-8 was not the nature of the resurrection of the dead. It was
the existence of the resurrection of the dead vs. the non-existence of the
resurrection of the dead. As we know, The Sadducees were denying that
there was any afterlife, while Paul and the Pharisees agreed that there was
an afterlife, and an imminent resurrection of the dead. Other issues connected
with the resurrection of the dead were not under consideration.
It has been argued by some that Paul would have had to have agreed
with every major doctrine the Pharisees taught about the resurrection
of the dead. It is argued that if he didn’t, then it would have been deceptive
for him to call himself a Pharisee in regard to the resurrection of
But this argument proves too much. Are those who make this argument
prepared to say that Paul believed that the souls of dead saints
hovered over “Luz bones”? Are they prepared to say that Paul believed
in a whole host of Jewish resurrection-myths, including the myth that
the dead will be raised wearing clothes, and the myth that those who
died outside of Jerusalem would have to dig their way back to the city in
order to be resurrected?
But beyond such myths, we know that Paul and the Pharisees could
not have possibly agreed on every major point touching the resurrection
of the dead. Though the Pharisees agreed with Paul that the resurrection
of the dead was a true doctrine and that it was about to happen,
the Pharisees definitely did not believe that Christ Jesus Himself
was “the Resurrection” (John 11:25); and they definitely did not believe
that the resurrection “hope” of Israel was “Christ in you” (Acts 23:6;
24:15; Col. 1:27). As concerns the Christological nature of the resurrection,
Paul and the Pharisees were worlds apart. Yet Paul said he was a
Pharisee concerning the resurrection of the dead, because Paul and the
Pharisees, in contast to the Sadducees, believed in the existence of the
resurrection of the dead. With that point of agreement, Paul divided
and conquered his enemies.