Friday, July 6, 2018


     Dr. Spiros Zodhiates, author of the Hebrew-Greek Keyword Study Bible and many other books, has written an excellent commentary on 1 Corinthians 15 which I came across while doing some research for one of my articles. The book is titled Conquering the Fear of Death in View of the Empty Tomb
     By the way, in case any of you are wondering, Zodhiates affirms that the Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15 includes the four facts of Christ's atoning death, His burial, His resurrection on the third day, and the fact that He was seen afterwards by His disciples. 
     There are so many great quotes in this book! I wrote some of them down, but there are others too which I just did not have the time to write down. The book is massive. If I remember correctly, it's over 800 pages - and this is just commentary on 1 Corinthians 15! Here's what Dr. Zodhiates says in a chapter of the book titled: 


"He was buried . . . (I Cor. 15:4a)."

     "Here, then, a few sorrowful friends laid the mangled body of Jesus, consigning to a sepulcher the One whom they had hoped to see on a throne. Oh, the depth of the Saviour's humiliation! Here we witness the Prince of life, who holds in His hand the keys of hell and of death, and in whom we all 'live, and move, and have our being,' brought to the dust of death in a borrowed grave. Yet with what loving reverence was He attended and His body prepared for burial. Surely the decent solemnities of a funeral are not displeasing to God. There is a respect due to the body, especially that of a Christian as the temple wherein God has been served and honored. It is designed to be rebuilt in another world, and it ought not to be cast away like common dust in this one. 
     Since Christ's body was to be raised to life in three days, why was it necessary that it be committed to the grave at all? Why could it not have remained in the home of Joseph of Arimathea as safely as in his sepulcher? The reason is stated by Paul: 'He was buried, and . . . he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.' The phrase 'according to the scriptures' applies both to the burial and to the resurrection. Christ was buried in this manner so that the prophecies concerning Him as the Messiah should be fulfilled. So minute and precious were these prophecies that they not only foretold His incarnation, His passion, and the glorious resurrection that was to follow, but also His burial and the very mode and circumstance of it. His burial in the heart of the earth was prefigured by Jonah's enforced stay for three days and three nights inside the great fish; and Isaiah had expressly declared concerning Him, that He 'made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death' (Isa. 53:9).
     Under the circumstances, it seemed humanly impossible for these prophecies concerning Christ's burial to be fulfilled. The Roman law, under which the Savior was put to death, allowed no interment to the bodies of those who died on the cross; and lest any pitying hand should take their bodies from the tree and cover them with earth, a guard was usually stationed around them for several days.
     We are accordingly told by Matthew that the centurion, and those that were with him, still remained on the hill of Calvary, watching Jesus, after He had given up the ghost (Matt. 27:50-56). And even if these difficulties could be surmounted, there was another obstacle to be removed before He could have an honorable burial. The Jews had a public burial place for all who died as criminals, and if any interment were allowed to Jesus by the Romans, this pit appeared to be the only grave in which His countrymen would allow Him to rest.
     But what are difficulties and obstacles to God? He caused the very people who crucified His Son to prepare the way for the fulfillment of the prophecies that proved His deity and condemned their unbelief. The Jewish law required that malefactors should be buried on the day of their execution; and to prevent their city from being ceremonially unclean on the succeeding sabbath, certain men besought Pilate that the sufferings of the dying criminals might be ended and their bodies taken down. Pilate granted their request, and no sooner was it granted than the rich and honorable Joseph of Arimathea came forward to rescue the body of Christ from the hands of His enemies and to lay Him in his own new tomb. What infinite wisdom foretold these details; what infinite power fulfilled them! A mighty God never lacks means and instruments to fulfill His purposes. He often passes by those whom we might expect to be employed in His service and singles out others who will perform His will with the greatest glory to Himself."1


1 Zodhiates, Conquering the Fear of Death in View of the Empty Tomb (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1970), pp. 47-49.

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