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Genesis and the Resurrection

by Joel Tay


In the early church, the Apostle John was known as “John the theologian”. John’s gospel stands out from the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) for its emphasis on Christology (the doctrine of Christ).1 One significant passage is found in John 3. Here, we read about the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus. Jesus told Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:4). Nicodemus became confused and responded, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” (John 3:5).

The reason for Nicodemus’ confusion is often overlooked by those who are unfamiliar with New Testament Greek. In this passage, the Apostle John employs a double entendre—a phrase that has two meanings, somewhat like a pun. The phrase “born again” in Greek is actually the same word as “born from above”. Jesus was telling Nicodemus that he needed to be “born from above”—spiritual rebirth/regeneration; but Nicodemus was confused because he thought that Jesus was speaking about physical birth—“born again”. When Nicodemus expressed doubt, Jesus replied, “If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” (John 3:12).

This statement holds significance because Jesus’ teachings on earthly things did not stop with John chapter 3. Jesus went on to teach Nicodemus about heavenly things: the Gospel. The famous ‘Gospel’ verse in John 3:16, when translated from Greek, reads as follows: “For in this way God loved the world, so that he gave his one and only Son, in order that everyone who believes in him will not perish, but will have eternal life.”2 This verse is part of Jesus’ dialogue with Nicodemus and comes just four verses after His earlier statement about believing what Jesus said about earthly matters.

Similarly, the resurrection of Jesus alone would not accomplish much if those who have died are never resurrected (John 5:25–29). Yet it is within the context of the resurrection of the dead and the larger context of Jesus’ authority as the Son of God in John 5 that Jesus said, “For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?” (John 5:46–47).

Jesus staked his authority on the inerrancy and infallibility of the words of Moses. Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible (Exodus 17:14; 24:4–7; 34:27; Numbers 33:2; Deuteronomy 31:9, 22, 24). If there are mistakes in Genesis, why believe what Jesus wrote? Was Jesus wrong about earthly things such as a recent creation (Mark 10:6–9), and a global Flood (Luke 17:26–27)? And if Jesus was mistaken, why should we believe what Jesus tells us about heavenly things?

It is no surprise that liberal theologians who doubt that Moses wrote Genesis, usually go on to doubt the resurrection of Jesus and other important ‘heavenly’ teachings. This was the exact warning that Jesus pronounced when he taught concerning Lazarus and the rich man, “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead” (Luke 16:31).

Every year, Christians around the world commemorate the resurrection of Jesus. But why should we believe in Jesus’ resurrection (John 2:19–22; cf. John 20:9), the future resurrection of the dead (John 5:25–29), or the Gospel itself (John 3:16)?

Science’ tells us that the dead do not rise. And if Jesus was mistaken about earthly things, then why should we believe what Jesus tells us about heavenly things? At the end of the day, why do we even believe in a recent creation and the global Flood? It boils down to this question:

Do you believe Jesus?

Published: 22 June 2023

References and notes

  1. John, more than any other New Testament writer, is also known for his thorough use of literary devices such as irony, double entendre, and symbolism, to bring out a greater emphasis from within the text. Return to text.
  2. As translated in the Lexham English Bible. Return to text.

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