The Importance of the Resurrection: Thoughts On Dr. Daniel Wallace’s “The Resurrection of Christ: Theological Implications”

Resurrection

Introduction

In “The Resurrection of Christ: Theological Implications” (click link for article), Dr. Daniel B. Wallace makes an impactful case for focus on the resurrection and the impact it has had on theology and the lives of every Christian. Dr. Wallace serves as a New Testament studies professor at Dallas Theological Seminary where he earned his PhD and he has been teaching since 1979[1]. His book Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament is used in many colleges and seminaries and he is the Executive Director for the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts[2].

Brief Outline Of Article

Wallace’s article is quite brief, yet impactful. While believers focus on the death of Christ, they are hesitant to focus on His resurrection as well in Wallace’s eyes and he contends, “If we neglect this part of the gospel, we offer a powerless gospel–one that cannot change lives.”[3] The first half of his article article discusses the resurrection prophecy in the Old Testament, early preaching on the resurrection, and how everything in Christianity hinges on the resurrection of Christ. In the second part, he addresses the significance of the resurrection itself which is presented as nine distinct areas of significance: miracles validated, God is alive and is God of living, Jesus’s predictions fulfilled, essential element of the Gospel, demonstration of the deity of Christ, believer’s resurrection validated, spiritual status of human body, power of the resurrection, and sins forgiven[4].

Strengths

Wallace’s article is ripe with scripture evidences for his positions. He takes verses that stand at the forefront of Christian thinking and describe them in a way that effectively shines light on the deity of Christ and the importance the resurrection holds in the life of each and every believer. His engagement of Paul’s writings to refute Rudolf Bultmann[5] was a brilliant touch which gave the article a great modern feel and showed just how lost Christians would be without Christ’s resurrection.

His nine points of significance demonstrated by Christ’s resurrection are the heart and soul of this article. Not only did Wallace offer up nine distinct areas of significance, he detailed them with sound scripture and reasoning. When he discusses the demonstration of Christ’s deity, he makes the point that the lives Christ brought back to life through miracles (such as Lazarus) returned to the grave which is an often overlooked correlation to the resurrection of Christ[6].

Towards the end of the article, Wallace speaks about the forgiveness of sins and engages John 19:30 to support the theological belief that the resurrection of Christ provides atonement for the sin of man and he states, “The world’s sins are not enough to keep Christ in the grave! His resurrection is proof that our sins are forgiven!”[7] He continues further and makes the case that man has no right to withhold forgiveness from another person as that would be a demonstration of man trying to be more righteous than God[8]. This thought strikes the heart at its core and closes the article on a very strong note.

Weaknesses

Wallace was willing to discuss the Old Testament teachings on the resurrection, but he was not as in depth as he could have been. He seems to miss a brilliant opportunity to discuss other verses that point to the resurrection of Christ such as Psalm 22 and Isiah 53 among others. His case could have been much stronger had it included more prophetical evidence for the Old Testament.

The length of this article is a weakness in itself. It can be argued that Wallace intended that the scriptures he presented be left to speak for themselves or encourage study, but even so there are instances where he simply lists references to scripture with no exegesis attempt at all. This writer feels Wallace could have expounded a bit more on his scripture selection as well as the impact they had on the original audience and the modern audience.

Personal Conclusion

Christians are defined by the resurrection. The resurrection highlights our inability to adhere to the lives God has asked us to live and emphasizes the grace and mercy which God has shown to us through His Son. Ephesians 2:8-9 highlights this ideal perfectly. In this selection, Paul demonstrates the understanding that salvation is a gift provided through Christ which cannot be earned by anyone[9].

Wallace is right that Christians need to teach the resurrection with the same respect they show the death of Christ. Christians need to be aware that when they gather to worship, they are not attending the funeral of a martyr, they are worshipping their Creator and the living Christ and Holy Spirit. If Christ has not resurrected, than He would not be a Savior and the Christian faith itself would be nothing.

The church has an obligation to witness about the resurrection of Christ. Too often, a witnessing opportunity is lost because the believer stops with “Christ died for your sins”. If this is the extent of our theology, then we are doomed in our efforts. Many historical figures have died in war, confrontation, activism, and witnessing. What makes Christ significant is that He resurrected and that should be the cornerstone of our teaching (Acts 4:10-12 brilliantly illustrates this). We are literally cheating ourselves of an opportunity to witness while we rob the skeptic of the revelation of God’s mercy. If we confine Christ to the tomb, we will be confined to the tomb as well.

More important than anything, the resurrection allows the sinner to be born again unto Christ. Though sinning will still occur, the believer’s focus and life is shifted towards God as the believer is being made new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says as much when Paul states, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”[10] The believer must be born again through Jesus to enter eternal life with the Father upon death. Jesus makes this point abundantly clear to Nicodemus in John 3 and if the resurrection is not taught or emphasized, it is impossible for any believer to be born again spiritually.

We must preach about the Christ who overcame death so that all who believed in Him could do the same.


[1] Daniel S. Wallace, “The Resurrection of Christ: Theological Implications” Bible.org (2004). Cited 23 February 2014. Online: http://bible.org/article/resurrection-christ-theological-implications.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Daniel S. Wallace, “The Resurrection of Christ: Theological Implications” Bible.org (2004): p. 1.

[4] Daniel S. Wallace, “The Resurrection of Christ: Theological Implications” Bible.org (2004): pp. 2-5.

[5] Daniel S. Wallace, “The Resurrection of Christ: Theological Implications” Bible.org (2004): p. 2.

[6] Daniel S. Wallace, “The Resurrection of Christ: Theological Implications” Bible.org (2004): p. 4.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Daniel S. Wallace, “The Resurrection of Christ: Theological Implications” Bible.org (2004): p. 4.

[9] Ergun Caner, and Ed Hindson (eds.) The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics: Surveying the Evidence for the Truth of Christianity. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2008: p. 428.

[10] NIV.

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charlestinsley

My name is Charlie Tinsley and I blog about The Bible. In particular, I post my thoughts, commentaries, and Bible Study teachings I have done. I hold a Bachelors Degree in Science in Religion Summa Cum Laude with a Biblical Studies Minor. I am currently studying for a Masters In Divinity at Eastern Mennonite Seminary with PhD ambitions in the study of Theology. I am married and have been for several years and I currently reside in Virginia.

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