Categories
Bible Insights

10 People Raised from the Dead in the Bible

Resurrections Occur in Both the Old and New Testaments

In the Bible, dead people return to life. This happens on ten occasions, with three resurrections occurring in the Old Testament and seven times in the New. Check out these stories of people supernaturally raised from the dead.

1. Son of a Widow in Zarephath

The first person the Bible records as raised from the dead is the son of a widow in Zarephath. Her boy gets sick, his illness gets worse, and he dies. The woman lashes out at Elijah, blaming him and God.

Elijah shoves aside her hurtful words. He goes to where the boy’s body lays, and he cries out to God. Three times he stretches himself over the dead body and asks God to return the child’s life. God does, and the boy’s mother affirms Elijah (1 King 17:17-24).

2. Shunammite Woman’s Son

Elijah’s successor, Elisha, also raises a boy from the dead. The boy labors in the field with his father and gets a headache. The pain intensifies, and at noon the boy dies. His mother, a Shunammite woman, searches for Elisha and tells him what happened.

He sends his servant Gehazi to go to lay Elisha’s staff on the boy to bring him back to life. Gehazi tries but is unsuccessful. When Elisha arrives, he prays to God and lays on top of the boy. The boy’s dead body begins to warm. Elisha paces the room a bit and tries again.

The boy sneezes seven times, and his eyes open. He’s alive (2 Kings 4:18–37).

3. An Unnamed Man

In one of the more bizarre resurrections, a dead man’s body is hastily thrown into Elisha’s tomb. When the dead body touches Elisha’s bones, it comes to life and stands up, very much alive (2 Kings 13:20–21).

These are the three resurrections that occur in the Old Testament, one from Elijah and two from Elisha, albeit the second one after Elisha’s death. Interestingly, when Elisha gets ready to succeed Elijah, Elisha asks for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit.

God grants it, and we see it come to pass, with Elijah raising one person to life and Elisha resurrecting two (2 Kings 2:9–12).

4. Son of a Widow from Nain

In the New Testament, Jesus goes to the town of Nain. He sees a funeral possession and stops it. He tells the grieving mother, who is also a widow, to not cry. He commands the dead boy’s body to get up. The corpse sits up and talks (Luke 7:11–17).

5. Jairus’s Daughter

Another time, a synagogue leader, Jairus, begs Jesus to come to his house to heal his sick girl. Jesus agrees but another hurting person delays him along the way. Before he can get to Jairus’s house, the girl dies. Jesus tells Jairus to not worry and believe.

When Jesus arrives, he proclaims to the mourners gathered that she isn’t dead but merely sleeping. They mock him, knowing that she’s dead. Jesus takes her hand and tells her to get up. Life flows back into her body and she stands (Luke 8:40–56).

6. Lazarus

Lazarus is sick. His sisters, Mary and Martha, send for Jesus to come heal their ailing brother. Jesus doesn’t leave right away, and Lazarus dies.

By the time Jesus shows up, Lazarus has been dead and buried for four days. After interacting with the two mourning sisters, Jesus goes to the tomb were Lazarus’s body lays.

Jesus tells them to unseal the tomb, but the people object. They worry about the stench from Lazarus’s decaying body. But eventually they roll away the stone, unblocking the entrance to the tomb. Jesus commands Lazarus to come out. Lazarus does (John 11:1–44).

7. Many Holy People in Jerusalem

When Jesus dies, the curtain in the temple rips in half, the earth quakes, and tombs crack open. The bodies of many holy people buried in the cemetery come to life. They experience resurrection.

We don’t know their names or how many there are, but their reappearance would surely have astounded everyone (Matthew 27:50–53).

This mass resurrection symbolically shows Jesus’s victory over death, confirmed by many people rising from the dead. We see Jesus raising three specific people from the dead, along with many more who had lived holy lives.

8. Tabitha/Dorcas

In the early church, Peter also raises someone from the dead. Her name is Tabatha, also called Dorcas, and she lives in Joppa. When she dies the people in her hometown send for Peter.

When he arrives, he kneels and prays. Then he turns to the dead woman and tells her to get up. She opens her eyes, sees Peter, and sits up. Everyone is amazed (Acts 9:36–42).

9. Eutychus

Paul raises someone from the dead too, Eutychus. As Paul speaks to the people gathered, Eutychus, who sits in a window, falls asleep, and tumbles three stories to his death. Paul rushes down and throws his arms around the young man. He proclaims him alive. Then they celebrate (Acts 20:7–12).

Jesus’s victory over death changes everything forever. Click To Tweet

10. Jesus

These are all amazing, eye-opening resurrections, but the most significant is Jesus’s resurrection from the dead (Matthew 28:1–10, Mark 16:1–7, Luke 24:1–49, and John 20:1–29).

Jesus’s victory over death changes everything forever. By rising from the dead, he takes that power away from the devil and frees us from the grip of death (Hebrews 2:14–17).

Thank you, Jesus!

(Read about other biblical references about dead people coming alive.)

[Discover more about the Bible at ABibleADay.com: Bible FAQs, Bible Dictionary, Books of the Bible Overview, and Bible Reading Plans.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Christian Living

Do You Believe in Miracles?

Consider How the Example of the Early Church Can Inform Our Actions Today

What is your perspective on miracles and supernatural signs? I’m talking about the things we read about in the Bible, especially the New Testament. This is about people receiving healing from their physical ailments and deliverance from their nonphysical afflictions.

It’s about the resurrection from the dead. It’s about hearing God when he speaks. And don’t forget speaking in tongues, interpretation, and receiving divine insights. Do you believe in miracles? These things occur in the Bible with regular frequency.

For some people this supernatural power continues today. What they read about in the Bible informs their expectations, actions, and reality. Their lives and their practices continue to build on what the early church began. It’s the kingdom of God present and at work in mighty ways.

Heresy or Not?

For others their life experience lacks miracles and spiritual power. They don’t believe in miracles, because they don’t see any. They adjust their theology accordingly. I once even attended an ultraconservative church that taught that the spiritual power that the early church enjoyed, died with the apostles.

The preacher said this meant supernatural power has no place in today’s world. He asserted that anyone who believes so is a heretic.

He could cite no biblical support of his conclusion, merely his experience—or lack thereof—relating to supernatural power from Jesus through the Holy Spirit. I suspect this person and others like him are the heretics, discarding what the Bible says because it doesn’t align with their experience and their comfort.

I Believe in Miracles

I do believe in miracles. I do believe in supernatural power from Jesus through the Holy Spirit. Though I long for it to be a regular occurrence in my life—like it was in the Bible—it does remain part of my experience, my theology, and my expectations.

Do you want more from your faith, or do you want the status quo? Are you open to believe in miracles? Click To Tweet

If we don’t experience God’s spiritual power like the early church did in the Bible, we have two choices.

We can push aside our supernatural potential and remain comfortably unchanged and unchallenged. Or we can open ourselves up to the possibility that God wants to give us more—much more—in our daily lives and in our witness for him.

Do you want more from your faith, or do you want the status quo? Are you open to believe in miracles?

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Christian Living

Do You Go To an Acts 2 Church?

I recently visited a church that upheld Acts 2:42-47 as their model for church. Shocked, I checked the passage to make sure I remembered it correctly.

Here is what the Acts 2 church looks like:

Their Four Keys

The church in Acts 2 has four priorities: studying good teaching, hanging out, sharing meals, and praying (verse 42).

That’s a great start, but many churches today don’t even do that, not really.

Their Miracles

Amazing supernatural things occur. People are amazed (verse 43).

Today, most churches don’t encounter miracles or anything supernatural. They forgot how or never learned. And for many who do walk in the power of the Holy Spirit, their focus is on the experience, not on people’s reaction.

Their emphasis is backwards. The purpose of “signs and wonders” isn’t to gratify themselves. It’s to show God’s power, pointing outsiders to him, not delighting insiders.

Their Finances

The kicker is that they pool their resources; they even sell their possessions to give to everyone in need. The church takes care of their own (verses 44 and 45).

Too many churches today do not even care for the needs of their members; they expect government or some other organization to. And I’ve never encountered a church that shares all their material possessions. That’s just un-American!

Their Pattern

They continue to hang out—every day—and share food. They are delighted (verse 46).

I don’t know of any church family that meets every day, but the Acts 2 church did.

Their Results

Because of all this, others esteem them and they grow (verse 47).

Too often today’s churches don’t have the respect of society but quite the opposite. Too many churches aren’t growing; they’re not even maintaining; they’re dying.

However, none of the things the church did in Acts 2 are commands for us to follow. The passage is descriptive; it shows what the church did and the outcome they enjoyed. It may be a viable model for us to follow.

Unfortunately, many churches today don’t even practice these four key actions; supernatural results are rare; and sharing everything is virtually nonexistent.

Is it any wonder why churches aren’t respected by society or growing? Perhaps they’re doing church wrong and not more closely following the Acts 2 model.

[Acts 2:42-47]

Read more about the book of Acts in Tongues of Fire: 40 Devotional Insights for Today’s Church from the Book of Acts, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover. [Originally published as Dear Theophilus Acts.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Christian Living

What Did Jesus Do?

Move from asking “What Would Jesus Do?” to asking “What Did Jesus Do?”

The phrase “What Would Jesus Do?” was popularized in the 1990s. Often epitomized by colorful bracelets that bore the acronym WWJD, the concept was intended to serve as a constant reminder for followers of Jesus to act as he would act.

Therefore, in any given circumstance the goal of WWJD is for us to ask ourselves, what would Jesus do in this particular situation? Then we should act accordingly.

I like WWJD as an ongoing nudge to always strive to behave in a manner consistent with Jesus. However, this requires that we presume to know how Jesus would act today.

This necessitates interpreting his actions from two thousand years ago and projecting them into our modern culture, which we invariably do through the lens of our personal experience. Some call this contextualizing. The problem in doing so is that we make assumptions and might be in error.

Instead of presuming to know what Jesus would do, it might be better to look at the Bible to see what he actually did.

In reading the biblical books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—the biographies of Jesus—here are some of the things that Jesus consistently does:

Jesus Loves Everyone

The Bible shows Jesus loving everyone, especially those on the fringes of society, the people who “good” folks avoid. Jesus does the opposite, going out of his way to love those who few people love.

Jesus Questions Spiritual Conventions

A paraphrase of a reoccurring teaching of Jesus is “You have heard it said ____, but I say ____.” It seems Jesus consistently challenges the beliefs people have and the way they act.

His teaching delights the common people and frustrates the people who think they have everything figured out about God and what he expects.

Jesus Heals People

Jesus goes around healing people of their physical infirmities, from removing fevers to raising people from the dead. In this spectrum of need are people with odd afflictions that the Bible calls evil spirits.

It matters not if these people are really possessed by demons or if their struggle is actually mental illness. The reality is that Jesus heals them. He solves their problems and makes their lives better.

And for those who claim that miraculous healing doesn’t apply today, check out Jesus’s future-focused statement in the book of John : “Whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these” (John 14:12 NIV).

Jesus healed people and said that his followers would do the same—and more! Click To Tweet

Jesus Feeds People

On two occasions Jesus feeds hungry people, miraculously multiplying a measly amount of food to feed a multitude. Before you assume you can’t do that, go back to read the above verse in John.

Of course we don’t always need a miracle to feed people. We can just do it the normal way and feed hungry people from the resources we have.

Jesus Opposes Religiosity

Jesus opposes the religious status quo. Though Jesus clearly loves everyone, one group consistently earns his criticism: the spiritual leaders who follow regimented religious rules. They adhere to a spirit of religiosity.

Though they are devoted in their righteousness and adherence to their traditions and interpretations of the Bible, Jesus consistently has to correct their errant thinking.

These are the things that Jesus does. May we go out and do the same, to do what Jesus did.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Save

Categories
Bible Insights

Have You Run Out of Wine? A Metaphor of God’s Provision

Last weekend, my wife and I attended a wedding. The minister reminded us of when Jesus was at a wedding too. In his first recorded miracle, Jesus doesn’t address a big need, such as healing someone of a life-threatening illness or debilitating condition; he just turns some water into wine.

Although this kept the host from suffering an embarrassing social blunder, it falls far short of Jesus’ purpose to heal and to save.

Today we trust Jesus to save us and may look to him for healing, but what about more wine?

Sometimes we try to handle the small things ourselves, turning to God only for those big items or when we’re in a jam we can’t fix ourselves. But Jesus is interested in the lessor things too.

If he can provide some extra wine at a wedding, what else can he do for us? If we don’t ask, we’ll never know.

His answers may just surprise and delight.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is John 1-2, and today’s post is on John 2:1-10.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Bible Insights

We Often Criticize What We Don’t Understand

Once Jesus drove a demon out of a man. The man had been mute, but when the evil spirit was exorcized, he began speaking.

The people should have been in awe of the power Jesus displayed. They were not.

Instead they chose to be critical. Some questioned the source of his power and others insisted he does another miracle as if the first wasn’t enough.

Things aren’t much different today. When someone comes along with a variant understanding of God, lives life in a different manner, or walks with a greater degree of spiritual power, the common response is criticism.

Instead of looking for what makes us different, the better response is to focus on how we are the same. Click To Tweet

People tend to fear what challenges their status quo, to vilify what is different. They criticize what they don’t understand. It was done to Jesus two millennia ago and it’s still being done today.

Instead of looking for what makes us different, the better response is to focus on how we are the same. Pursue unity; avoid division. Celebrate diversity and embrace variation. I think that’s what Jesus would want us to do.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Luke 10-12, and today’s post is on Luke 11:14-16.]

Read more about the book of Luke in That You May Know: A 40-Day Devotional Exploring the Life of Jesus from the Gospel of Luke, now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Bible Insights

Bookends to the Desert Experience

After the Israelites left Egypt, God gave them a 40-year timeout in the desert. This was because of their lack of trust in his pledge to provide for them as they entered into the land he promised.

This meant that what should have been an eleven-day journey, ended up being a 40-year desert experience—which for most, literally lasted a lifetime.

While their desert sojourn was marked by complaining and disobedience, there were a couple of significant bookend events to their time of waiting.

First, they celebrated Passover for the first time just before they left Egypt to head to the desert. Then they celebrate it again, 40 years later after they leave the desert. The first Passover was marked by God’s provision for them to leave Egypt, while the subsequent ones were intended as a reminder of the first.

Second, two miracles occurred, allowing them to enter and later leave the desert. After leaving Egypt, and being pursued by its army, God parted the sea so they could escape the attack and enter into the desert.

Forty years later, when it was time to leave the desert, God parted the Jordan River—at flood stage—allowing them to leave.

So their desert experience began with Passover and the parting of the sea; it ended with the parting of another body of water and another Passover celebration.

[Leviticus 23, Joshua 5:10, Exodus 14:21, Joshua 4:18]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Bible Insights

There’s More to Discover in the Bible

Check out these books of the Bible, which are not found in all versions, but are in others, such as The Jerusalem Bible:

Tobit

Tobit is a story of Tobiah who journeys with Raphael to retrieve some money for his father (Tobit). Along the way he is attacked by a fish and gets married; when he returns home, he restores his father’s eyesight.

Judith

Judith is an account of beautiful and pious women, who daringly and single-handedly delivers the Jewish people from their enemy, using her beauty and charm, while remaining pure and chaste.

1 Maccabees

1 Maccabees is both a historical and literary work about stoic faith; it addresses the politics and military situation around Israel circa the second century BCE.

2 Maccabees

2 Maccabees covers approximately the same time as First Maccabees, but from a different perspective and includes signs, wonders, and miracles.

Wisdom

Wisdom (aka The Wisdom of Solomon) is like other wisdom literature in the Bible.

Sirach

Sirach (aka Ecclesiasticus, not to be confused with Ecclesiastes), is a compilation of sayings similar to Proverbs, concluding with a tribute to notable Jewish figures.

Baruch

Baruch, written by Baruch (Jeremiah’s scribe), is effectively a sequel to the book of Jeremiah, written after the people are exiled.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Bible Insights

The End of John the Baptist

John (referred to as John the Baptizer) was Jesus’ cousin and a couple of months older. John preceded Jesus in ministry, pointing people to Jesus.

God gives us what we need. Click To Tweet

John did his work admirably and without fault, albeit amidst criticism. He was eventually imprisoned because of what he said.

With all the amazing things Jesus did and the miracles he performed, you’d think that he would have freed John from jail. He could have, yet he didn’t. At least he could have visited his cousin, yet that doesn’t appear to have happened either.

So, John is sitting in jail, pondering his fate (he would soon be executed); his faith in Jesus begins to waiver. We know this because in what is likely the darkest days of his life, he sends his followers to Jesus, asking if Jesus is the “one” or if they should be expecting someone else.

John seemingly wants validation for his work and confirmation that his life of service to Jesus was not in vain.

Jesus replies, providing John with the assurance that he sought.

Sometimes God acts strangely, not giving us what we want or expect, but he does give us what we need—just like he did for John.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Matthew 11-13, and today’s post is on Matthew 11:3-6.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Bible Insights

Miracles and an Ant Farm

Miracles and an Ant Farm

If you accept that God exists and exercises providential care over his creation, it is, therefore, reasonable to expect that from time to time, miracles will occur—either for our own good or for his pleasure.

As such, an occasional divine intervention is not an irrational desire, but a reasonable expectation.

At the risk of trivializing God and his care for us, consider a person wishing to enjoy an “ant farm.” That person would need to first establish the ant colony and would therefore understandably opt to do what is needed to ensure its ongoing survival.

At the same time, he or she would also seek an overall “hands-off” mentality in order to most effectively enjoy the ants in their natural, everyday existence. 

In other words, the ant farmer would intervene (that is, do an “ant miracle”) when there was a prevailing reason to do so, but not as a matter of course.

Although God is much more generous and caring then an ant farmer, the analogy is nonetheless helpful in understanding the possibility of miracles occurring in our world today.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.