Christ, the Firstborn from the Dead

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People often ask: How can we experience our own genuine Pascha? That is, will we able to resurrect, and how? The Apostle Paul answers this question:

But if the Spirit of Him (that is, of God the Father) that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you (Rom. 8:11).

What is the meaning of Pascha? Many, even Christians, misunderstand. “He is Risen, and we will rise!” they say. Yes, this is understandable. “It would be better for many people not to resurrect at all,” wrote St. Gregory the Theologian. What a holiday it is for a sinner to resurrect! Christ is Risen, and he will resurrect and go to eternal torment. It’s not a holiday, it turns out, for the majority of mankind…

Although, to claim that Christ died for the sins of only those who will be in Paradise is a serious theological error. St. John Chrysostom writes: “He died not only for our sins, but for the sins of the entire world.” This raises a reasonable question: What then is the meaning in that He brought the fullness of salvation to those who will be eternally in hell? These people will have no reason to say on Judgment Day: “Jesus, you didn’t die for my sin! Jesus, you didn’t wash with me Your blood!” No one will be able to say this. When people find out at the Dread Judgment at the resurrection from the dead what God did for their personal salvation, it will be the greatest shock, and the torment of the castigation of love (which wasn’t received by many) will begin.

So what is the essence of the Christian feast of Pascha? There is no miracle of the Resurrection of Christ. Those who are surprised that He rose again simply forget that He is the God-Man. We exist in such a way that if you turn off our lights and water and take away our oxygen and everything else, we will cease to exist. But God is existence. He is self-sustained. The mystery is that He died. This is an unfathomable mystery. But that God arose again—that’s natural. It is said of Him that in Him we live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17:28). He is the source of existence for all of creation. If God stopped His dialogue with even a part of His creation for but a moment, it would immediately cease to exist.

Archpriest Oleg Stenyaev Archpriest Oleg Stenyaev     

When Christ lay in the tomb, His friends and His enemies waited: Will God the Father accept this Sacrifice? And when God the Father raised Him from the dead, Christ arose, meaning that the Sacrifice for the sins of all of mankind was accepted! This is why the Apostle Paul writes: If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins (1 Cor. 15:17). This is why the Apostle Paul writes about Christ that He was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification (Rom. 4:25).

The devil inspires you with the thought: “You’re a sinner! No one will ever forgive you your sins!” You have to say: “Yes, I have sinned, but Christ died for my sins. Christ also rose again for my justification!” This is the meaning of the Christian Passover! It’s the miracle of God’s forgiveness!

Therefore, faith in the Resurrection of Christ is faith in the forgiveness of sins, to which God the Father testified when He raised the Son, and which the Son revealed when He arose by the power of the hypostatic deity in the Holy Spirit.

We read from the Apostle Paul:

And He is the head of the Body, the Church: Who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence (Col. 1:18).

This is completely incomprehensible. How can we call Christ “the firstborn from the dead,” if Lazarus the Four-Days-Dead arose earlier, if the son of the widow of Nain was raised much earlier, not to mention the son of the widow from Zarephath of Zidon who was raised up by the Prophet Elijah? The Holy Fathers, resolving this perplexity, say that Christ is the firstborn of the dead because He showed us a new Resurrection. Those people resurrected, but they also died again.

And why did Christ not immediately ascend to Heaven, but, having risen, communed with His disciples for another forty days? He was showing the format of the new Resurrection. He is the firstborn, and we go behind the firstborn. In its spiritual and physical qualities, our resurrected body will resemble the body of the Lord Jesus Christ after His Resurrection from the dead.

Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ (Eph. 4:13).

St. Ignatius (Brianchaninov) writes:

“The pattern of the body, which together was the body and spirit, we see in the body of our Lord Jesus Christ after His Resurrection.”

It is our body that will be resurrected, although it will change, but it will be a recognizable body retaining individual characteristics:

For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality (1 Cor. 15:53).


For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: 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 (Job 19:25-27).

That is, we will receive our body again, but it will be changed.

First of all, we will all become younger:

Then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom. His flesh shall be fresher than a child's: he shall return to the days of his youth (Job 33:24-25).

This body will have absolutely no physical defects:

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing (Is. 35:5-6).

There will be no decay:

It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption (1 Cor. 15:42).

This is said about each of us.

There will be people who will live until the resurrection from the dead, who will not die, but will change. Their bodies will acquire the perfect quality of a resurrected body:

I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed (1 Cor. 15:51-52).

St. John Chrysostom believed that if we want to experience the resurrection to life, not the resurrection to death, then we must spiritually resurrect to God already in this earthly life; then we will not experience spiritual death in hell. The Holy Hierarch writes:

“When the fornicator becomes chaste, the avaricious becomes merciful, and the cruel becomes meek, in this is resurrection, serving as a beginning for the future resurrection.”

For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us (1 Cor. 5:7).

Christ is Risen!

Archpriest Oleg Stenyayev
Translated by Jesse Dominick


Joseph Bell4/25/2020 7:39 pm
After a simple online search at Pascha, I sent a friend this text message: Isaiah 26:19 "Your dead shall live, together with my dead body they shall rise. Awake and sing you who dwell in the dust;" Christ is Risen! Indeed He is risen!
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