Resurrection or resuscitation?


A Sacristan friend of mine insists that the Lord resurrected Lazarus. But I argue he must be mistaken.

Christ is the first fruits [scripture tells us]. If Lazarus was ‘resurrected’ then Christ could not be ‘first’!

Lazarus according to my understanding ‘rose’ to eventually die again because he rose in his earthly mortal body. Not his post-resurrection one.

The Lord therefore resuscitated not resurrected him. Is this correct?


Your are absolutely right in saying that Jesus was the first to be resurrected and that Lazarus was merely resuscitated into the same mortal body. Contra skeptics, there are good reasons to believe that Lazarus truly died. Lazarus was clinically dead as his flesh began to rot and smell [Jn 11:39] (due to not being embalmed) during the four days he was in the tomb; hands-on, prolonged Jewish funeral procedures precluded a premature diagnosis of death: the failure to notice the subtlest of vital signs, as well as indicators of death. Anti-Christian atheist Brian Holtz has suggested mortal wounds (irrelevant), algor mortis (would have been noted during diagnosis; implied), rigor mortis (would have been noted during diagnosis; implied), liver mortis (would have been noted during diagnosis; implied), adipocere (unlikely given dry climate), bloating, infestation, decomposition (implied), putrefaction (expected by Lazarus’ sister and implied), and mummification. Lazarus, Jairus’ daughter, and the widow’s son came back only when Jesus commanded them to; their miraculous reanimation (not resurrection since they still had mortal bodies) is the most parsimonious explanation.


He was Resurrected, not re-animated. Re-animation is no big deal - that’s what happened to the widows’ sons, in the OT & in the Gospel.

His Resurrection is unique not because of its order in time, but because of its public character; it is not an isolated private event, like those, but the cause of the renewal of the entire human race - perhaps of the universe. It is important because it is His Resurrection, with the effects that He has. It’s as creative as the creation of all things “in the beginning” was. And He is the “firstfruits”, because He is the perfect, final, definitive sacrifice for sin & “the beginning of all creation” - “His is the proteia, the primacy, in all things”: He has first place in death, & in life, as in everything else. And because He was Resurrected, we can be sure of our own resurrection in Him & according to the likeness of His Resurrection.

St. Paul is the man to read on what His Resurrection means


Actually there were many who were resurrected before Jesus. According to Matthew, at the very moment that Jesus died, the earth quaked, rocks were split apart, and the tombs were opened, and many bodies of sleeping saints came back to life.


As StRaphael has already stated, you are correct. Our Lord resurrected in His real, but now glorified body; Lazarus was resusitated to continue his life as it was.


I am curioius as to where you are getting the definition of resurrection that includes only being brought to life in a glorified body? Personally I would consider that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead as being the same as resurrecting Lazarus. Is that contradictory to Church teaching?

Merriam Webster:

Main Entry: res·ur·rec·tion
Pronunciation: \ˌre-zə-ˈrek-shən\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English resurreccioun, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin resurrection-, resurrectio act of rising from the dead, from resurgere to rise from the dead, from Latin, to rise again, from re- + surgere to rise — more at surge
Date: 14th century
1 acapitalized : the rising of Christ from the dead boften capitalized : the rising again to life of all the human dead before the final judgment c: the state of one risen from the dead2: resurgence, revival
3Christian Science : a spiritualization of thought : material belief that yields to spiritual understanding


You are right in saying that His body was “real” and “glorified.” It was a physical resurrection, not some “spiritual resurrection” like a lot of anti-Christians claim. Let’s review the typical reasons for making the claim that Paul teaches a so-called spiritual resurrection. Paul contrasts Jesus’ resurrection body (spiritual body) to the preresurrection natural body in 1 Cor 15:44. The Greek pneumatikos means a body dominated by the spirit as opposed to the flesh, i.e. an immortal and imperishable supernatural body and not an immaterial and invisible body or a natural one. The resurrection was explicitly physical in nature: A literal physical resurrection of Jesus is supported by the facts that Jesus was touched by human hands, His body had flesh and bones, He ate physical food on at least four occasions, His body had His crucifixion wounds [this is mentioned by Phlegon in Chronicles], His body was recognized, His body could be seen and heard, He was resurrected “out from among” the grave where corpses are buried, the word soma in the text always means physical body, the tomb was vacated, the grave clothes were unwrapped, and the body that died was the same one that was raised. Christ appeared to more than 500 people on 11 separate occasions over a 40 day period. The only good explanation for that the Bible describes a supernatural physical resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul again mentions the resurrection in 1 Thess 4:14; Heb 2:14-15


Dallas, although “resurrection” is sometimes used within Catholic theology when referring to the raising of Lazarus, more traditionally resurrection refers to dead bodies that are raised by God to join with their immortal souls either to a glorified state or to the state of the damned. So when Our Lord brought Lazarus back from the dead He was not bringing him back to a state wherein he would no longer be subject to death; bodily death and the future resurrection of mankind still awaited him. In discussing Lazarus, whether as “resusitated” or “resurrected” it’s important to make the distinction between his “resurrection” and that of Our Lord which is of an entirely different order.


And not only the claims of anti-Christians, StR; there are also some claiming a Christian identity who promote that same “spiritual resurrection.”


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit