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In many verses in John 6, Jesus says "I will raise them up at the last day". Does that mean to literally "revived" the ones who ate his body and drank his blood? Or what does it mean? Thanks!

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Can somebody explain why my question was voted down? It would help a lot for my future questions. Thanks! – User Dec 31 '13 at 20:05
I didn't downvote and don't know who did so I can't be sure, but I didn't upvote either: the question is OK, it starts from the text which is good, but it could use a little more development. Have you done a little reading around first? It's good to do so. – Jack Douglas Dec 31 '13 at 20:10
up vote 6 down vote accepted

The four instances of this clause in John 6 are:

  • 6:39 (NET) — "Now this is the will of the one who sent me—that I should not lose one person of every one he has given me, but raise them all up at the last day."

  • 6:40 (NET) — "For this is the will of my Father—for everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him to have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."

  • 6:44 (NET) — "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day."

  • 6:54 (NET) — "The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day."

The plain sense meaning of ἀνίστημι ('raise up') is "to cause to stand or be erect, raise, erect, raise up," generally in reference to images of deities or persons who are lying down (especially someone who was sick).1 However, it can also mean "to raise up by bringing back to life" and "to come back to life from the dead, rise up, come back from the dead."2

To shed further light on how John may be using the term in this context, we should examine other uses of the verb in his Gospel (we could also look in his other writings, but John only uses the verb in his Gospel). This leads us to four additional uses of the verb:

  • 11:23 (ESV) — "Jesus said to her, 'Your brother will rise again.'"

  • 11:24 (ESV) — "Martha said to him, 'I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.'"

  • 11:31 (NET) — "Then the people who were with Mary in the house consoling her saw her get up quickly and go out. They followed her, because they thought she was going to the tomb to weep there."

  • 20:9 (NET) — "(For they did not yet understand the scripture that Jesus must rise from the dead.)"

75% of these additional uses of ἀνίστημι are clearly in the context of raising from the dead, going so far as to specify that Lazarus would 'rise again in the resurrection on the last day' in 11:24 (ἀναστήσεται ἐν τῇ ἀναστάσει ἐν τῇ ἐσχάτῃ ἡμέρᾳ), which is virtually identical language to that used in the four instances of ἀνίστημι in chapter 6.

Given these additional uses of ἀνίστημι by the author, the context of eternal life (ζωὴν αἰώνιον) in John 63, and the numerous teachings about the resurrection by Jesus4 (which was an existing teaching that was popular among the Pharisees in second-temple Judaism), it is most likely that the meaning intended is that of rising in the resurrection on the last day (ἐν τῇ ἀναστάσει ἐν τῇ ἐσχάτῃ ἡμέρᾳ).

1 William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 83.

2 Ibid., 83.

3 cf. John 3:15,16,36;4:14,36;5:24,39;6:27,40,47,54,68;10:28;12:25,50;17:2,3.

4 cf. John 5:29;11:24,25 and Revelation 20:5,6.

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