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Immortality and Resurrection

While none of the actual terms for immortality are found in the gospel teachings of Jesus, he addresses the subject in passages such as Luke 20:27-40 and John 11:25-26. Strawson claims that, for Jesus and his Jewish contemporaries, immortality was synonymous with resurrection (Jesus and the Future Life, p. 209). Murray Harris holds that, while the two terms are distinct, they are also inseparable, for the resurrection inevitably involves the acquiring of immortality. They are interdependent sides of the same truth. See his volume, Raised Immortal: Resurrection and Immortality in the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1983), pp. 199-201, 209-214, 232-236, for a stimulating and detailed study of this subject.

We also want to be clear that the term immortality is not to be confused with notions such as the Greek concept of immortality of the soul. Actually, three Greek synonyms (athanasia, aphtharsia, aphtartos) are used only eleven times in the New Testament (ten by Paul and one by Peter) to refer to the believer’s life after death. In no case are these terms applied directly to the human soul. In fact, the Greek teaching had very little influence in Palestine anyway. For several reasons why Paul, in particular, opposed this Greek belief, see the next section of this chapter. Further, Paul specifically used immortality and eternal life in a related manner in Rom. 2:7 (cf. Gal. 6:8; 2 Tim. 1:10), while interchanging his references to immortality and the resurrection of the body in 1 Cor. 15:50-55. He thereby asserts that the term eternal life in the New Testament “refers primarily to quality ... secondarily to quantity ... Immortality, on the other hand, refers primarily to quantity ... and secondarily to quality” (see p. 199; cf. pp. 273-275).

Immortality— The Other Side of Death by Gary R. Habermas & J. P. Moreland, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1992, p. 263.