The Resurrection in the Old Testament

The New Testament clearly presents the doctrine of the resurrection. But do you know any clear references to the doctrine of resurrection in the Old Testament? Here is a basic list of some key verses, among my personal favorites. Feel free to contribute others, because my list is not exhaustive.

Job 19:26-27

And though after my skin worms destroy this body, Yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, And mine eyes shall behold, and not another; Though my reins be consumed within me.

This appears to be the oldest recorded Bible reference to the resurrection, written perhaps as early at 2000 B.C. The patriarch Job declares in plain language that though his body would decay in the grave, he would stand before God, His Redeemer, with the same body resurrected, redeemed and renewed.

Gen. 22:5 (cf. Heb. 11:19)

And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide you here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.

According to Hebrews 11:19, Abraham believed that God was able to resurrect his only son, Isaac, from the dead. He lived as early as 1500 B.C. But where does this belief appear in the Old Testament? In Genesis 22:5, Abraham tells some men that he and Isaac would return to them after they worship God on Mt. Moriah. This is most remarkable, since he expected to sacrifice Isaac. Though he had never witnessed a resurrection, he believed that God would resurrect Isaac if he died as a sacrifice.

Daniel 12:2-3

And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.

Daniel foretells the end of all things. Those people throughout history who died apart from the redemption of God will enter eternity in bodily form, plagued by sin and conscious torment forever. Those who died as redeemed children of God will enter eternity with resurrected, renewed bodies, free from sin, death and decay, living triumphantly in the presence of God forever.

Psalm 49:15

But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: For he shall receive me. Selah.

David contrasts the death of those who die, trusting in themselves and their material possessions. These will die and decay without hope. But those who die trusting in the redemption of God will not be consigned to hopeless decay. They will be delivered out from the grave into the presence of God.


8 replies
  1. Frank Jones
    Frank Jones says:

    You forgot Psalm 2:7, commented by Paul in Acts 13:33 as referring to the resurrection. 🙂
    This must have been to “go-to” verse in evangelism among the Jews.

  2. TOvermiller
    TOvermiller says:

    Thanks for the contribution! The ones I’ve listed are my personal favorites. But you are right, there are some other references in Psalms, and the prophets, too. Not to mention the isolated cases of actual resurrection occurrences in the OT.

    Noticed your blog just now. I’m adding it to my feed. Looking forward to catching your future posts 🙂

  3. TOvermiller
    TOvermiller says:

    Doing some more digging on this today, and noticed that Paul appears to allude to Psalm 2:7 on another occasion as a reference to the resurrection of Jesus.

  4. Frank Jones
    Frank Jones says:

    I assume that you are referring to Hebrews 1:5; 5:5? It certainly is a pivotal passage. I hope you had a great Resurrection Day!

  5. TOvermiller
    TOvermiller says:

    Yes, Resurrection Day was blessed indeed! And yes, Heb. 1:5 and 5:5 are indeed allusions to Psalm 2:7 (though Paul as the author is not clear). But I am referring to Romans 1:4.

  6. Bill Hardecker
    Bill Hardecker says:

    Here are some O.T. passages on the Resurrection of the Lord (“according to the Scriptures”), this would add to the doctrine of resurrection in the O.T. and I would think since this somewhat relates to your topic either directly or indirectly.

    Isa. 53:12 – God the Father rewards the Son for having “poured out his soul unto death.” This maybe more of a construct but nonetheless, the Lord Jesus doesn’t get victory if he remained dead.

    Hos. 6:2 – Jamieson Fausset and Brown’s commentary has an interesting take on this passage, and if it is a valid view then this is an allusion to the Lord’s resurrection.

    Zech. 12:10 – This may seem like a stretch but you end up with the Jews looking at a returning and victorious Messiah, so although the verse doesn’t directly say he resurrected, you can’t have a returning Messiah without having gone through suffering and death, hence, he resurrected.

    Isa 25:8 – Again, not a direct reference but this is what he will do and starting with himself when he rose from the grave. (I personally love this passage – not hard to do).

    Four more passages to consider. Let me know what you think. Be well!

  7. TOvermiller
    TOvermiller says:

    Your first three references raise excellent examples of allusions to the resurrection of Christ. I’m not so sure that Isaiah 25:8 does the same. Regarding Hosea 6:2, Jamieson, Fausset and Brown is not alone. Duane Garret says this:

    The New Testament does not explicitly cite this verse, but 1 Cor 15:4 asserts that Christ arose on the third day “in accordance with the Scriptures,” and no other text speaks of the third day in the fashion that Hos 6:2 does.

    Duane A. Garrett, Hosea, Joel, vol. 19A, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1997), 158.

    For what it’s worth, here is a PDF link to a note sheet I prepared for a recent presentation to our church.

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