November 14, 2015

A Better Resurrection

I have wondered about Hebrews 11:35 before, and since it was part of today's reading, I decided to read some commentary on the verse.
Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection (Hebrews 11:35, NKJV).
Whenever I had read this in the past, my understanding had always been that when they refused to be released, that it was simply an option they had, to be released, but because they could have a better resurrection by being tortured further, that they did not. I assumed that better resurrection was more eternal reward in heaven because they had been tortured.

I decided to read some commentary on it today, to get a better understanding of it, especially since that did not completely comport with my understanding of other parts of Scripture. While suffering definitely has its place in the Christian life, there is also a precedent in scripture for not seeking it out or for turning away from it.

John Gill was one of the more helpful ones early in my commentary reading. While he quoted part of the apocrypha, another later commentary correctly pointed out that we should not take the apocrypha to be inspired.
not accepting deliverance; when offered them by the king, see the Apocrypha: "Now Antiochus, thinking himself despised, and suspecting it to be a reproachful speech, whilst the youngest was yet alive, did not only exhort him by words, but also assured him with oaths, that he would make him both a rich and a happy man, if he would turn from the laws of his fathers; and that also he would take him for his friend, and trust him with affairs. But when the young man would in no case hearken unto him, the king called his mother, and exhorted her that she would counsel the young man to save his life.'' (2Ma 7)
In other words, it was not as if they were being tortured, and then were simply offered release, and then turned it away for a better resurrection and more eternal reward because they had suffered more. No, it was that the release being offered was conditional on them renouncing their faith, because after all why were they being tortured in the first place?
that they might obtain a better resurrection; which they died in the faith of, see the Apocryha: "And him he sent with that wicked Alcimus, whom he made high priest, and commanded that he should take vengeance of the children of Israel. And said courageously, These I had from heaven; and for his laws I despise them; and from him I hope to receive them again. So when he was ready to die he said thus, It is good, being put to death by men, to look for hope from God to be raised up again by him: as for thee, thou shalt have no resurrection to life. (2 Maccabees)
Here the idea is that a better resurrection is not better in comparison of some amount of eternal reward compared to more eternal reward, but a resurrection that is simply better because it is a resurrection to life, and not a resurrection to eternal death.

I can't completely rule out my previous understanding as incorrect, but these make more sense and may be more consistent with the rest of Scripture.

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