Bible Question:

Matthew 27:52-53 says that when the temple veil was torn, the tombs were opened and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life and went into the holy city and appearled to many people. Could you explain more about these two passages. I thought that when Christ comes again, the bodies of everyone will be raised again for final judgment. This seems like such an important revelation, but it is only mentioned in this passage in Matthew. Thank you.

Bible Answer:

This resurrection or return to life was a sign to those in the city that Jesus was God.

The Event

For those that were present on the day that Jesus died, there were several signs that should have told them that Jesus was not any ordinary man.

Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour . . . And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, and the earth shook; and the rocks were split, and the tombs were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many. Matthew 27:45, 50-53 (NASB)

The darkness was supernatural. Secular historians attempted to determine how this could have occurred. Today we know that there is no scientific explanation for what happened. It was not possible. Darkness occurred in the middle of the day. Since Passover was coming that evening, it was the time of full moon. A solar eclipse was not possible . The temple veil was also torn from the top to the bottom. The temple veil was massive and could not have been easily torn. The graves were opened. Those in them came back to life and walked around the city. These miracles all point to Jesus as God.

The Resurrection

Not everyone returned to life. Notice the words, “many bodies of the saints” Those who returned to life were saints. Only a portion of the saints returned to life. Matthew says “many.” We do not know who they were, but the people in the city did. This was a resurrection of Old Testament saints and not New Testament saints.

There are three more resurrections in the future. The first is the resurrection of all Christians since Jesus was here on this earth. That is called the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:3). The next resurrection is called the First Resurrection in Revelation 20:5. This is the first of two resurrections after the Tribulation Period has come to an end. It is the resurrection of all the saints who died during the time of the Tribulation. The final resurrection is called the Second Resurrection. This resurrection is for all non-Christians (Revelation 20:6, 11-14). It is a resurrection to the Lake of Fire.


On this day Christ died on the cross. He returned to life on Sunday and returned to heaven for 40 days (Acts 1:3). That resurrection occurred before He returned to heaven. Why did it occur? Listen to this . . .

Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” Matthew 27:45, 54 (NASB)

Now we are waiting for Him to return, and when He returns all believers will be resurrected. Praise the Lord.

Suggested Links:

Are the Old Testament saints resurrected at the rapture?
When and where does the Goat and Sheep judgment occur?