Death and the Work of the Messiah

Death and the Work of the Messiah

Yesterday we began a discussion about the biblical view/meaning of death.[1] Today we shall look at death with respect to the work of the Messiah. Two things need to be discussed: the two types of resurrections, and the kind of death that Yeshua (Jesus) died.

The Two Types of Resurrections

When the Bible speaks of resurrection from the dead, one must distinguish between two types of resurrections.

1.  Restoration Back to Physical Life

The first type is only a restoration back to natural physical life. What this means is that later the person will die again physically. This restoration-type resurrection occurred twice in the Old Testament (2 Kg. 4:32‑37, 13:20‑21) and at least four times in the New Testament (Mat. 9:18‑26; Mk. 5:21‑24, 35‑43; Lk. 8:40‑42, 49‑56; Lk. 7:11‑17; Jn. 11:1‑44; Mat. 27:52‑53). In all of these resurrections, each person died again later.

2.  True Resurrection Life

The second type of resurrection from the dead is the type that means resurrection life, in which one is no longer subject to death (Rom. 6:9). True resurrection life means a person is no longer capable of dying physically, because there was a change in the nature of the body that has been resurrected. So far, Jesus is the only one who has been resurrected in this way. That is why Yeshua is called the firstfruits of the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:23; Col. 1:15, 18; Rev. 1:5). Critics have often felt that this statement is contradictory, for how could Jesus be called the firstfruits of the resurrection since there were others who had been resurrected before Him. But all the others who were resurrected before Yeshua underwent the first type of resurrection, which was merely a restoration back to natural life

The Kinds of Deaths the Messiah Died

What kind of death/s did Yeshua the Messiah die? Two types (see yesterday’s study):

1. Spiritual Death

First, He died a spiritual death. During the second three hours upon the cross when the whole world was enveloped in darkness, those three hours of darkness marked the three hours in which He was separated from God the Father. At that point, the sins of the world were placed upon Yeshua the Messiah, and at that point, God the Father turned away. There was a separation between the Father and the Son, Jesus the perfect man. For three hours, Yeshua was spiritually dead.

We must remember that the Messiah was the God-Man, meaning that He was only one Person, but with two distinct natures: divine and human. As for His divine nature, there was never any separation between the Father and the Son; that is, there was always an unending, uninterrupted fellowship with God the Father. However, as for His human nature, there was a three-hour separation as Jesus died spiritually on the cross. It must be emphasized that this was a separation in His humanity, not in His deity.

2. Physical Death

At the end of those three hours, He cried: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Yeshua died spiritually and was resurrected spiritually (Matt 27:45‑46; Mark 15:33‑34; Luke 23:44) before He died physically (Matt 27:50; Mark 15:37; Luke 23:46; John 19:30).

Jesus died two types of death on the cross. First of all, He died a spiritual death; and, secondly, a physical death. It is the physical death that was necessary for the Atonement. The spiritual death was not necessary for the Atonement, but it was necessary for Him to become a sympathetic High Priest (Heb. 2:17‑18). Because of the kind of deaths that Yeshua died on the cross, He changed the whole nature of death for the believer.

[1] This post is a modified version of Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s original Messianic Bible Study. The full version may be obtained here.


5 thoughts on “Death and the Work of the Messiah

  1. “So far, Jesus is the only one who has been resurrected in this way. That is why Yeshua is called the firstfruits of the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:23; Col. 1:15, 18; Rev. 1:5)”

    Please clarify this for me and forgive my ignorance. When a believer dies today and joins Yeshua in Heaven are not they too “Truly ressurected”?

    Thank you!

  2. Thank you for the question. The answer is no, at least not yet. When a believer dies and joins Yeshua in heaven, the physical body is separated from the soul. Physical death, however, will be abolished in the future in different ways. We will discuss this in more detail in next week’s blog entry. For now, however, for those Church saints who are alive when the rapture takes place (before the Tribulation), physical death will be abolished (1 Cor 15:50-58). Physical death will also be abolished (i.e. by resurrection) for the Old Testament saints after the Tribulation and after Messiah’s Second Coming. A third group of saints are the Tribulation saints, who will be resurrected after the Tribulation (Rev 20:4-6). And Finally, the Millennial saints will not need to be resurrected at all (Is 65:20) because they will not die. Unbelivers will die, however. So the answer is that, since the Rapture has not yet taken place, only Jesus has been physically resurrected, never to die again, to date. All resurrections of this type for believers are still future.

  3. Hello dear Ariel

    I have spent ages over the past few days with my Bible, and scouring “Footsteps…”, trying to confirm to myself that Jesus was indeed separated from His Father on the cross, then lo, and behold, I found this precious info. 🙂

    Recently I mentioned this on a fellowship blog, and their reaction left me feeling like an accursed heretic. They even denied Jesus had a human spirit, which is easily refuted from e.g. Luke 4:40; Mark 2:8; Mark 8:12, made even easier by the translators using the lower case ‘s’ for His own personal spirit, not ‘The’, definite article with capital ‘S’ to define The Holy Spirit.

    How long did Jesus’ spirit stay separated from His Father? Was it for just the three hours, or did He remain separated until His resurrection? I wonder because on the cross, He committed His spirit to The Father in Matt 27:50; Luke23:46.

    Also, in order to be a substitute for mankind; was it essential that, like the first Adam; Jesus, the last Adam HAD to also have a human spirit or He couldn’t be the substitute?

    Would it be fair to say the teaching that He didn’t have a human spirit, and wasn’t separated from the Father; would be making ‘another’ Jesus? Much like the LS false gospel? Or is that being too harsh as God knows the heart even if the wrong wording is used?

    Thank you for the opportunity to ask my questions. Much love and thanks to Arnold.
    God bless you all.

  4. may I ask why my question has been ignored. Have I broken a rule that excludes me? Why is it that I keep being let down when asking for just a little kindness and fellowship? I am already ‘down’; is the extra kick of being ignored meant to keep me there. Once I was young, but now I am old, and I continue to see the lonely and elderly treated with contempt as we lose our worth. I always thought Arnold was better than that.

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