COMMENTS TO A READER ABOUT
BY: JONATHAN MITCHELL
FEBRUARY 5, 2004
What does your knowledge of Greek show you about Acts 24:15? Paul says that he hopes for the resurrection of the wicked. Now, it’s difficult to believe Paul hoped for it if he believed their resurrection wouldn’t lead to an improved condition for them. This of course assumes that the word for “hope” here means the same thing it means to us. In the verse Paul says that this same hope is or was shared by “these men” as well. Are “these men” the “fathers” and/or the Prophets mentioned in verse 14 or is it the Pharisees? The Pharisees certainly didn’t believe in universal reconciliation as far as I can tell.
Acts. 24: 14-15, … constantly believing and trusting all the things corresponding to the Law and the things having been written in the Prophets, continuously holding (or having) an expectation [leading] into God, which these same ones are anticipating receiving: a resurrection being about to exist (or: an impending resurrection that shall be) – of just ones (or fair ones; of ones in accord with the Way pointed out) and even of unjust ones (of unfair ones; of those who are not in accord with the Way pointed out).
From the word “impending,” or the phrase “being about to exist,” I would not think that Paul is talking of a far-off event. Those of the “full Preterist” persuasion believe that Jesus returned in judgment on “that generation” and that there was a resurrection at that time – at the commencement of the “Day of the Lord.”
Historically, many in the church (at least from Augustine and through Reformed theology) believed that the “first resurrection” referred to the resurrection of the spirit of men into the life of Christ, being buried with Christ and also raised with Him (symbolized by baptism).
If Paul was here referring to this latter interpretation, then he may well have been referring to God’s then-present people (i.e., the Jews who considered themselves “just” – this would include the prophets to which vs. 15 refers) and also the Gentiles (the “unjust ones”) – that all are included in this resurrection of life (for he does not here speak of judgment for the unjust ones. Consider the context of this discourse and to whom Paul is speaking. He is answering accusations from the Jews. His reply referred to what the Jews called a sect (heresy), and was a defense of his beliefs and actions.
But even if this be interpreted as referring to a “so-called” final judgment, or to judgment of all men, upon death, it involves an expectation (or, hope) which is directed to and leads into God, so I think that your observation is correct – that said resurrection is to be a boon for all.
COMMENTS TO A READER ABOUT ACTS 24, 14-15 [Jonathan Mitchell] ~ BIBLE STUDY 1