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In 1 Cor, when Paul is laying out the the tradition of the resurrection to his readers, he lays out a tradition with his own testimony at the end.

1Cr 15:3-8 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. [NASU]

However, there is no quotation in Old Testament that the Messiah would be raised on the third day. This, then, must be an example of midrash, something applied to the Messiah that on the surface speaks of something else. For example, Matthew (2:15) applies a statement in Hosea (11:1) to Jesus, "Out of Egypt I have called my son."

What Old Testament Scripture is Paul drashing* from here?

*An Anglicization of the Hebrew verb, drash meaning "seek" and used by the rabbi to explore Scripture and find it's application to other issues which were not stated in the text.

Why Assume Paul Means the Old Testament

I conclude that he is referring to the Old Testament and not a Christian document because Paul uses the word graphe 14 times in his letters. 8 of these are followed by direct quotations of the Old Testament.

Rom 4:3 For what does the Scripture say? "ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS."

Rom 9:17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH."

Rom 10:11 For the Scripture says, "WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED."

Rom 11:2 God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? 3 "Lord, THEY HAVE KILLED YOUR PROPHETS, THEY HAVE TORN DOWN YOUR ALTARS, AND I ALONE AM LEFT, AND THEY ARE SEEKING MY LIFE."

Gal 3:8 The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU."

Gal 3:22 But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. (Here it is used as a synonym for Law which appears in both 21 and 24.)

Gal 4:30 But what does the Scripture say? "CAST OUT THE BONDWOMAN AND HER SON, FOR THE SON OF THE BONDWOMAN SHALL NOT BE AN HEIR WITH THE SON OF THE FREE WOMAN."

1Ti 5:18 For the Scripture says, "YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING," and "The laborer is worthy of his wages."

In the others, he is clearly alluding to the Old Testament.

Rom 1:2 which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures,

Rom 15:4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

Rom 16:26 but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith;

2 Tim 3:15 refers to the Holy Writings which Timothy had been trained in before he heard Paul's preaching. As Timothy's mother and grandmother were Jewish, logically, those holy writings would be the Old Testament. Paul continues with:

2Ti 3:16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;

If we add in grapho, the verb form of graphe, Paul uses that 62 times. Sometimes he refers to his own letters or general letters. More often, he quotes from the Old Testament. For example:

Rom 15:9 and for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy; as it is written, "THEREFORE I WILL GIVE PRAISE TO YOU AMONG THE GENTILES, AND I WILL SING TO YOUR NAME."

1Cr 9:9 For it is written in the Law of Moses, "YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING." God is not concerned about oxen, is He?

2Cr 9:9 as it is written, "HE SCATTERED ABROAD, HE GAVE TO THE POOR, HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS ENDURES FOREVER."

If we add in the Paul narratives from Acts, there are 2 times when graphe is used in reference to Paul (Luke uses the word at other times, also in reference to the Old Testament). These are:

Act 17:2 And according to Paul's custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures,

Act 18:28 for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.

In Acts 17, he is speaking in the synagogue. That would require basing his sermon off an Old Testament passage. Even if he then began quoting rabbinic interpretations of the Old Testament, he would have to start from an Old Testament scripture. The same is true of debating the Jews in public. He had to base his reasoning first on written Torah.

Which leaves only two occurrences of graphe, those under discussion:

1Cr 15:3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

From Paul's usage of the word graphe and grapho elsewhere overwhelmingly being to the Old Testament, we may reasonably conclude that in 1 Cor 15:3 and 4, he is also making his basis on the Old Testament (if you include the times that Paul alludes to the Old Testament or quotes it without an introduction, the evidence is even more overwhelming that he is thinking of the Old Testament).

Rabbinic Interpretations of a Dying Messiah

There are rabbinic and Essenic interpretations of Old Testament passages showing that the Messiah would die. Specifically, that the Messiah ben Yoseph or Messiah ben Levi would die for the sins of Israel. One of the Old Testament passages they cite as their basis is Isaiah 53. While modern interpretation sees this chapter as referring to Israel, the rabbinic commentaries until the 11th century understand Isaiah 53 as referring to the Messiah.

For example,

The Messiah---what is his name? Those of the house of Rabbi Yuda the saint say, the sick one, as it is said, 'Surely he had borne our sicknesses.' (BT Sanhedrin 98b)

And when Israel is sinful, the Messiah seeks for mercy upon them, as it is written, "By His stripes we were healed, and He carried the sins of many; and made intercession for the transgressors." (B'reshith Rabbah)

The Holy One gave Messiah the opportunity to save souls but to be severely chastised: and forthwith the Messiah accepted the chastisements of love, as is written, "He was oppressed, and he was afflicted." And when Israel is sinful, the Messiah seeks mercy upon them, as it is written, "By his stripes we were healed," and "He carried the sins of many and made intercession for the trangressors." (Bereshith Rabbah, Rabbi Moshe Hadershan)

Also interpreting Zechariah 7:10

"Messiah son of Joseph was slain, as it is written, "They shall look unto me whom they have pierced; and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son" (Suk. 52a)

To conclude that Paul is drawing from the same tradition in his interpretation of Scripture to say that the Christ would die for our sins is completely reasonable.

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There is no quotation from the old testament that he would die for ones sins either. Why are we to assume that Paul is actually quoting scripture, as opposed to his own esoteric interpretation? It sounds like Paul is quoting some documents relating to Christ, like an early gospel document. –  Ron Maimon Apr 4 '12 at 3:31
    
I have edited to show my reasoning of how Paul uses graphe to refer to the Old Testament and how rabbinic interpretation showed a suffering and dying Messiah. Whether you agree with rabbinics or not, they did understand the Scripture to show a suffering Messiah. –  Frank Luke Apr 4 '12 at 14:56
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4 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The Hosea and Jonah references are good and quite valid, but I think I would approach this one a bit differently. But maybe it is just a matter of emphasis. Is the important point here that Jesus was raised or that he was raised after three days. I tend to think the former. If you agree, then what I'm about to say might make some sense :) If we talk general apostolic gospel (Paul talked about what he "received" after all, so this implication is broader than Paul), then I think you can basically pull in the Davidic royal psalms as a witness in general in early Christianity.

Davidic pedigree plays a pretty important part in Paul's gospel understanding (e.g. Rom 1:3), especially in his chat reported in Acts 13:29-37:

And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead, 31 and for many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people. 32 And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, 33 this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm, "' You are my Son, today I have begotten you.' 34 And as for the fact that he raised him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way, "' I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.' 35 Therefore he says also in another psalm, "' You will not let your Holy One see corruption.' 36 For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, 37 but he whom God raised up did not see corruption. (ESV)

You can see this same Psalm (16) at work in Peter's first sermon in Acts. Here is Acts 2:24-32 -

God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him, "' I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; 26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. 27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. 28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.' 29 ¶ "Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. (ESV)

Leaving Acts, Paul and Peter behind, you get this interesting gospel tidbit on the cross by Jesus via Matthew (27:46) and Mark (15:34):

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" that is, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (ESV)

Most will take this negatively. Up until recently, I would have as well. How you read this (and the next passage) will be determined by how you think the early Christians quoted the Hebrew scriptures. If you think this is taken somewhat out of context, then this reference won't mean much to you. But if you think that Christian writers quoted bits to also evoke context (a given for me ever since I read Richard Hays' "Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul"), then this quotation is not one of sadness but of coming victory. If you read Psalm 22 (of which it is a quotation), it starts with sadness but the expectation is of deliverance. And in this case, the deliverance would be interpreted as resurrection.

And one more. In John 15:22-25, another Davidic psalm is quoted:

If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: 'They hated me without a cause.' (ESV)

Perhaps this is a random quote taken out of context. More likely, Jesus through John's gospel identifies himself with David's experience in this Psalm. Here's the quote in context:

Let not those rejoice over me who are wrongfully my foes, and let not those wink the eye who hate me without cause (the part quoted in John). 20 For they do not speak peace, but against those who are quiet in the land they devise words of deceit. 21 They open wide their mouths against me; they say, "Aha, Aha! our eyes have seen it!" 22 You have seen, O LORD; be not silent! O Lord, be not far from me! 23 Awake and rouse yourself for my vindication, for my cause, my God and my Lord! 24 Vindicate me, O LORD, my God, according to your righteousness, and let them not rejoice over me!

In John's gospel, the context of Jesus' discussion is in fact his death and coming resurrection. He would soon depart (John 13:33) but they will see him again soon (14:18-19). So it fits like a glove.

I think there was a consistent pattern of applying Davidic promises to Jesus, promises of vindication, exaltation, eternal reign and non-decay, all of which require resurrection, and in different writers. The three-day note plays a part, but over all it strikes me as an important but lesser emphasis.

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+1 especially for considering the emphasis may be on raised rather than on the third day - there is no way of being certain of Paul's intent from the text so no justification for assuming Paul is referring specifically to both. –  Jack Douglas Apr 3 '12 at 7:25
    
I never considered that Paul was referring to "raised" being the part from Scripture. Thank you. I agree that the John quote from the Psalm is not taken out of context. –  Frank Luke Apr 3 '12 at 13:42
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What does Paul say in the same letter? We are unleavened because the anointed one our Passover has been sacrificed. We are therefore unleavened within him. So what does the scriptures say? The preparation of the Passover is the 14th of the first month. And the next day is day one of Unleavened Bread, and the reaping of the first fruits are during these, so likewise Paul calls the anointed one the first fruits.

These are inseparable, with the former comes the latter. The anointed one was the lamb without spot and blemish, remained in the grave for three days and were resurrected on the third day of Unleavened Bread (stick with me...).

Because of sin death entered into the world, and the resurrection unto immortality is the victory over death. And victory over death requires the pardon of sins (missing the Creator's mark). Therefore as it is written in the law, the offering of the lamb without spot and blemish, and the reaping of the first fruits are inseparable. When the lamb without spot and blemish are offered, then the reaping of the first fruits is inevitable. Therefore the anointed one on the stake said "it is finish" as he offered himself, knowing that his sinlessness would grant him favor to be resurrected from the death. The two cannot be parted from one another. After this comes the general resurrection of those who belongs to him.

When Daniel mentioned the resurrection of those unto immortality, it implied the resurrection of the first fruits, that is the anointed one, which inturn implies his offering for our sins.

The scriptures says that One would be anointed with the spirit of the Father, and he would declare the good news, and bring healing, and would be given for a covenant. This covenant, as it is written, would include the pardon of sins, and that there would be one who would suffer for our sins, and would be cut off. The qualification for someone to suffer for our sins is for himself to be "without spot and blemish" and he would have victory over death. When Paul wrote to the Corinthians that we are unleavened in Him, he was referring to the good news that he remained in the tomb for the first three days of Unleavened Bread according the scriptures. Luke confirms this when we read in the Greek that the third day is "from/APO" the day of the anointed one's offering, which falls in line with the days of Unleavened Bread.

Moreover the anointed One according to the scriptures would declare the good news and his appointed time, in that year he declared this, the offering of the Passover and the offering of the First Fruits were three days apart. He even referred to Jonah's experience to paint the picture.

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I've already answered with specific Scriptures, but by strange coincidence, I found a different sort of answer. I'm in a book group that is reading The God I don't Understand by Christopher Wright. Talking about the mystery of the Cross, Wright points out that Paul in this passage can not be referring to the Gospel accounts, which hadn't yet been written. In the chapter 8 ("The Cross—According to the Scriptures") he says:

What Paul meant was, "Jesus died and rose again, in agreement with and in fulfillment of what the Scriptures tell us." That is to say, it is not just that the death of Jesus is recorded in the Bible, but that the death of Jesus accorded with the Bible—the Bible that Jesus and Paul knew, which of course was what we now call the Old Testament. The significance of the death and resurrection of Jesus must be rooted in the Old Testament—the narratives, the law, the prophets, the psalms, and so on.

Above all, the life and death of Jesus the Messiah must be understood within the framework of the story of Old Testament Israel. For it was in fact the culmination, the climax, the destination of that whole story. That is certainly how Jesus understood it himself.—p. 145

Wright moves on in the rest of the chapter to tell the sweep of history that resulted in the Messiah dying on the cross. We can see Jesus doing the same thing with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus:

And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.—Luke 24:25-27 (ESV)

Paul focuses the rest of chapter 15 on the question of Resurrection. For him, the primary question was how was it that the Christ had died and in what way can we say that he was raised. His examples from Genesis, Isaiah, and Hosea emphasize not the timing, but the way Jesus was raised: bodily.

Summary

Paul and the tradition he cites are less concerned with how the details of Jesus' death and resurrection match with the Tanakh (though they do matter) than they are will the way that those events fit into the bigger puzzle of God's plan to redeem humanity from the bondage of sin.

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Thanks for adding more! And now I have a tough decision to make... Who gets the "accept." Course, it's still open so others could take a shot at the question. –  Frank Luke Apr 5 '12 at 13:59
    
@Frank: You chose wisely. ;-) –  Jon Ericson Apr 6 '12 at 18:06
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The two most likely candidates are:

After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will raise us up,
that we may live before him.—Hosea 6:2 (ESV)

and:

And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.—Jonah 1:17 (ESV)

N. T. Wright points out in The Resurrection of the Son of God that Hosea probably meant to mock his opponents in Hosea 6:1-3. But if you are willing to let Paul quote out of context, this passage fits very well. There is a clear connection between three days and being raised up. However, it doesn't fit so well when you consider the speaker is using a plural form of the object of the "resurrection" rather than the singular.

The Jonah passage actually has better pedigree: we know that Jesus (or at least the early Christians) applied it to the Resurrection:

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.—Matthew 12:38-42 (ESV)

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Someone might find page numbers useful for the Wright reference. I'm assuming you are referring to the discussion on pp 118 and 119? –  Mallioch Apr 3 '12 at 3:28
    
@Mallioch: Probably. ;-) I read the book last summer and returned it to the library. But this section was important for a Sunday School class I taught, so I have notes on it. –  Jon Ericson Apr 3 '12 at 16:01
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