The Resurrection of Jesus and the Believer

The resurrection of Jesus Christ demonstrates that He is the Son of God and the promised Messiah-King of the Old Testament (Romans 1:3-4, Acts 2:22-36). The resurrection of Jesus is the foundation of the Christian faith and the guarantee that sins have been forgiven and believers have a future hope of resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-57). In addition to these results of Christ’s resurrection, this paper will assert that the resurrection of Jesus Christ directly affects the spiritual transformation of the believer. This paper will explore the historical and supernatural reality of Christ’s resurrection. This paper will further explore the union of Christ’s resurrection to the believer and the work of the Holy Spirit, enabling the believer to live new resurrection life right now. This paper will argue that the resurrection of Jesus impacts the believer’s salvation and their sanctification (Romans 10:9-10, Colossians 2:12-3:4).


Jesus was raised from the dead

Jesus the Messiah was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died an atoning sacrifice for our sins, and rose victoriously from the dead (Matthew 1:18-24, Hebrews 4:14-15, Hebrews 10:1-18, 1 Corinthians 15:1-57).  The miracle of Jesus’ resurrection took place in history. Jesus physically died and was resuscitated to resurrection life. (Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 21). Evidential facts can establish the historical reality of Christ’s resurrection. Gary Habermas comments,

I present below a list of some facts that are accepted as historical by virtually all scholars who research this area, regardless of the many differences in their thought.

  1. Jesus died by Roman crucifixion.
  2. He was buried, most likely in a private tomb.
  3. Soon afterward, the disciples were discouraged, bereaved, and despondent, having lost hope.
  4. Jesus’s tomb was found empty very soon after his interment.
  5. The disciples had experiences that they believed were actual appearances of the risen Jesus.
  6. Due to these experiences, the disciples’ lives were thoroughly transformed, even being willing to die for this belief.
  7. The proclamation of the resurrection took place very early, at the beginning of church history.
  8. The disciples’ public testimony and preaching of the resurrection took place in the city of Jerusalem, where Jesus had been crucified and buried shortly before.
  9. The Gospel message centered on the death and resurrection of Jesus.
  10. Sunday was the primary day for gathering and worshipping.
  11. James, the brother of Jesus and a former skeptic, was converted when, he believed, he saw the risen Jesus.
  12. Just a few years later, Saul of Tarsus (Paul) became a Christian believer due to an experience that he believed was an appearance of the risen Jesus.[1]

Jesus of Nazareth died on a cross and was raised from the dead three days later. The miracle of the resurrection is rooted in Old Testament prophecy and eyewitness verification. Acts 2:22-32 declares,

22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. 25 David said about him:

“‘I saw the Lord always before me.

Because he is at my right hand,

I will not be shaken.

26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;

my body also will rest in hope,

27 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,

you will not let your holy one see decay.

28 You have made known to me the paths of life;

you will fill me with joy in your presence.’

29 “Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. 32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it.

Speaking to an audience with firsthand knowledge of the facts, Peter boldly asserts that Christ’s resurrection happened within their midst. He appeals to both prophetic Scripture and the authentication of multiple witnesses.

In Peter’s apologetic, he references Psalm 16. This Psalm speaks of the resurrection of the future Messiah. Peter explains that David said prophetically that God would not abandon His servant to death but raise Him from the dead. Peter definitively states that Jesus is the Messiah whom God raised to life.[2] Peter adds to this that, “…we are all witnesses of it”. The resurrection of Jesus took place in public view with multiple witnesses to attest to it.

The Apostle Paul expounds upon the public resurrection of Jesus with eyewitness verification in 1 Corinthians 15. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8,

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.


Paul quotes an early Christian creed declaring the essential nature of Christ’s death and resurrection.[3] Paul states that Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead according to the Scriptures. The Scriptures interpret the meaning of the historical reality of Christ’s death and resurrection. The number and character of the eyewitnesses validate the historical nature of the resurrection. Paul recounts that the eyewitnesses included Cephas, the Twelve, more than five hundred people at the same time, James, and Paul himself.

The New Testament’s argument for the resurrection can be minimized to three salient facts: Christ died, the tomb was empty, and multiple eyewitnesses claimed to have seen and interacted with the resurrected Jesus. In addition to these essentials, the New Testament adds Jesus’ predictions of His resurrection, Jesus’s appearances and teaching over forty days after the resurrection, the transformation of Peter and the Apostles, and the transformation of the Apostle Paul (Matthew 16:21, Acts 1:1-11, Acts 2, Acts 9). The overwhelming testimony of the New Testament is that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead.

The believer is united with Christ’s resurrection

At the moment of salvation, the believer receives a new spiritual identity and is united with Jesus Christ. Luis Berkhof describes this as the believer’s “mystical union” with Christ.[4] Placed into Christ, every believer is united with Christ’s death, Christ’s resurrection, and Christ’s seating. The believer’s new position is described as being “in” Christ. According to Romans 5:15-21, human beings are born in Adam and, at salvation, are transferred to being in Christ. Paul declares,

17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the 20 The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Believers are in Christ and receive the saving life of Christ. According to Charles Ryrie, believers are now in the sphere of Christ’s resurrection life.[5] What is true for Christ becomes true for the believer.[6]

Being in Christ, the believer is united with Christ’s resurrection. Paul alludes to this in Romans 6:4-13,

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.

Paul uses baptism to describe the believer as being symbolically buried with Christ when they go under the water and symbolically raised with Christ when lifted up from under the water. Positionally, the believer is raised to live a new life. Paul explains this baptism analogy in Romans 5:5, “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.” Christ’s death and resurrection are the reference points for the believer’s new identity.

Being united with Christ’s resurrection is both an eschatological truth and a present reality for the believer.[7] The believer will be physically raised from the dead like Jesus (1 Corinthians 15), and the believer is right now raised with Christ. Our spiritual identity is buried and raised with Christ. Romans 6 declares that we have died with Christ and we have been raised up with Christ. Romans 6 also charges us to live in the light of our identity.

The first commands in the book of Romans appear in Romans 6:11-13. We are commanded to count ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Romans 6:11. Essentially this means to agree with what God says is true. F.F. Bruce comments, “This is no game of “let’s pretend”: believers should consider themselves to be what God in fact has made them.”[8] God has made us participate fully in Christ’s death and Christ’s resurrection. The commands in these verses correspond to our identification with Christ’s death and resurrection. Romans 6:12 commands us to stop the reign of sin in our bodies. In Romans 6:13, we are commanded not to offer the parts of our body to sin. Instead, we are to offer ourselves to God as those resurrected from the dead. Each of these commands is predicated on the believer’s new standing before God. We have died, and we have been raised to life in Christ. The logic is that resurrected people ought to live resurrected lives.

Another passage that alludes to the believer’s union with Christ’s resurrection is Colossians 2:12-3:1,

having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ….Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

Once again, Paul uses baptism as a backdrop to describe the believer’s union with Christ. Paul states that we were raised with Christ through our faith in the working of God. The object of our faith is God’s work by raising Jesus from the dead. We were dead in our sins, but God made us alive with Christ when we exercised faith in Him and His work. The imperative of Colossians 3:1 follows the indicative of Colossians 2:10-23. Because we have been raised with Christ, we should set our hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.[9] This indicative-imperative pattern is the same structure as Paul’s description and command in Romans 6:1-13.[10] Resurrected people ought to live resurrected lives.

A final passage that describes the believer’s union with Christ is Ephesians 2:4-7,

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

This passage declares that God made us alive with Christ, raised us with Christ, and God seated us with Christ. The believer is united with Christ’s death, resurrection and seating. This description of our union with Christ presents the complete salvation of the believer based on the operation of God’s grace. Paul explains the certainty of Christ’s resurrection and seating and inseparably links the believer to the work of Christ. Just as Christ was raised, so too, the believer has been raised with Him. Just as Christ was seated in the heavenlies, so too, the believer has been seated with Him.[11]

Grace initiated salvation transfers us from being dead in sin to being alive with Christ. The believer is raised up with Christ and seated with Christ. The truest thing about the believer’s new spiritual identity is what God says is true. Christ’s resurrection life is the birthright of every Christian. Every believer is co-crucified, co-resurrected, and co-seated with Christ. Christian living and spiritual transformation flow out of identity. It is the believers union with Christ’s resurrection that provides the foundation for subsequent progressive sanctification. When a believer knows their deepest identity in Christ and chooses by the power of the Spirit to walk in that identity, the result is spiritual transformation.[12]

The believer is spiritually transformed as the Holy Spirit produces Christ’s resurrection life within them


The Holy Spirit produces spiritual transformation. 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 states, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” The Holy Spirit activates progressive sanctification changing the believer to become more and more like Jesus. The Holy Spirit empowers Christ’s resurrection life within the believer.[13] The Holy Spirit performs this work because He is the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 8:11).

Paul asserts in Romans 8:9-13,

You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

Every believer is in the realm of the Spirit because of the Spirit’s indwelling. At salvation, the Spirit regenerates, indwells, baptizes, seals and adopts the believer into God’s family (John 3:1-8, 1 Corinthians 3:16, 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, Ephesians 1:13, Galatians 4:1-6). Having the Spirit, believers belong to Christ. Being indwelt by the Spirit, believers now have Christ’s new spiritual life.

Romans 8:9-16 describes the Spirit as the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, and the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead. The Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead indwells every believer. Believers are united with Christ’s resurrection and are indwelt by the Spirit of resurrection. The Spirit produces Christ’s resurrection life in the believer. Romans 8:11 asserts, “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.” This passage guarantees that if the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead lives in us, and He does in all believers, then that same Spirit will flow resurrection life into our bodies. While many commentators interpret this to apply exclusively to the eschatological resurrection, John Calvin sees this passage as applying to the believer’s present victory over sin. Calvin comments,

By mortal bodies he understands all those things which still remain in us, that are subject to death; for his usual practice is to give this name to the grosser part of us. We hence conclude, that he speaks not of the last resurrection, which shall be in a moment, but of the continued working of the Spirit, by which he gradually mortifies the relics of the flesh and renews in us a celestial life.[14]

Supporting Calvin’s interpretation is the context of Romans 8:12-13, “Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.” The flow of Paul’s argument is that because the Spirit of resurrection lives in us and He produces Christ’s resurrection life in our body; then we are under obligation to apply that resurrection life by putting to death the misdeeds of the body. It takes resurrection life to overcome sinful practices. The resurrection life produced by the Spirit enables believers to mortify the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16).

The positive side of the Spirit’s activation of resurrection life is that being led by the Spirit vindicates a believer as a child of God. The Spirit of resurrection is not the Spirit of fear but the Spirit of adoption to sonship. The Holy Spirit bears witness with the believer’s spirit that they are a child of God. Spiritual transformation, or sanctification, is seen in both the mortification of the flesh and the positive experience of new life. The believer, united with Christ’s resurrection, indwelt by the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead, relies upon the Spirit to live a new life in Christ.[15]


Jesus Christ rose victoriously from the dead. His resurrection life is the basis for the believer receiving new spiritual life (1 Peter 1:3-4). At salvation, the believer is inseparably united with Christ and His resurrection. Possessing new spiritual life, the believer lives that life in the power of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:16-25). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of resurrection. He activates and empowers the believer to experience resurrection life in the body. It is the progressive experience of Christ’s resurrection that translates into spiritual transformation.






[1] Gary R. Habermas, The Risen Jesus and Future Hope, (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Lanham, Maryland, 2003) 9.

[2] Darrell L. Bock, Acts, vol. 3, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI., Baker Publishing Group, 2007) 129.

[3] Gordon D. Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, vol. 7, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI., William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2014) 706-808.

[4] Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI., William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996) 447-453.

[5] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Balancing the Christian Life (Chicago, Illinois, Moody Press, 1969) 50.

[6] George Eldon Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI., William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1974) 48-486.

[7] James Montgomery Boice, Romans, vol. 2, (Grand Rapids, MI., Baker Books, 1992) 67-672.

[8] F.F. Bruce, Romans, vol. 6, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Grand Rapids, MI., Eerdmans Publishing, 1993) 132.

[9] Peter T. O’Brien, Colossians-Philemon, vol. 44, Word Biblical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI., Zondervan Publishing, 2000) 159-163.

[10] David C. Needham, Birthright: Christian Do You Know Who You Are? (Portland, Oregon, Multnomah Press, 123.

[11] John MacArthur Jr., Ephesians, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago, Illinois, Moody Press, 1986) 59-60.

[12] Ryrie, Balancing, 63-65.

[13] Needham, Birthright, 191-197.

[14] John Calvin, “Commentary on the Book of Romans,” Romans Commentaries and Sermons, Precept Austin Website,

[15] Lewis Sperry Chafer, He That Is Spiritual (Grand Rapids, Mi., Zondervan Publishing Company, 1973) 96-133.