David Hollaz (1648-1713) lived during the period of transition from the century of orthodoxy following the Book of Concord (1580) to the prevalence of the Pietistic movement (late 18th century). This transition is the result of the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648), which produced a generation of people unfamiliar with orderly church life and strict Lutheran dogma. To the theologians of this era, Hollaz writes his most famous work, Examen Theologicum Acroamaticum (A Scholarly Theological Examination).
The Examen of Hollaz is considered by many Lutheran historians to be the last great textbook of Lutheran orthodoxy. Hollaz incorporates Gerhard and Calov’s style of organizing doctrine with his own attempt to clarify theological terminology for the benefit of his post-war audience. The Examen is renowned for its unquestionable orthodoxy, clearness of definitions, and devotional spirit.
The following is a translation of a chapter of the Examen that explains the Biblical teaching of the Last Day. The italicized words correspond to the author’s italicized text. All Biblical quotations, unless otherwise noted, are translated from the Latin included in the text. The question and outline format of the translation reflects Hollaz’s own organization of the material. This article represents the first half of a two-part installment. The second half of the chapter will appear in a later publication.
May God bestow on every reader a deeper understanding of His Gospel of salvation. Ipsi gloria et imperium in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
Question 16: What is the restoration of the dead?
The restoration of the dead is the action of the triune God, by which he, with the power of his righteousness, brings up the bodies of all the deceased and unites them with their souls that they may share in eternal blessing or eternal condemnation.
Note. Restoration and resurrection differ in regard to cause and effect. Restoration is the cause of resurrection, since people do not arise unless they have been restored. Restoration is the action of God; resurrection is the completion of that action, and it is thus a divine work.
Question 17: What is the resurrection of the dead?
The resurrection of the dead is the work of the triune God, by which all deceased humans receive precisely the same bodies which they had in this life, roused from death and reunited with their souls, that they may fully share in eternal blessing or eternal condemnation, a manifestation of divine righteousness, both rewards and punishments.
Note. The resurrection of the dead occurs either in a specific sense, or in a general sense. Specifically, it denotes the resurrection of bodies from a natural death. Generally, it occurs either metonymically, as Christ calls the resurrection, that is, the cause of resurrection, in John 11:25; or metaphorically, both for freedom from adversities, Psalm 41:8, and for the conversion of the sinner. This is elsewhere called the first resurrection, Rev. 20:5. Confer Eph. 5:14.
Question 18: Whether the resurrection of the dead ought to be investigated in the light of nature or in the light of Scripture?
Although the possibility of the resurrection of the dead…
A) is probably able to be revealed in the light of nature, …
…nevertheless, it is powerfully demonstrated
B) with the certainty of this from only the ancient, prophetic scriptures…
C) and from the apostolic scriptures of the New Testament.
Proof for A: If human reason is able to a certain degree to investigate the creation of man, why not also the resurrection of man? For, the sound reason of man probably considers thus: He who is able to fashion heaven, earth, and all things that are in them from nothing, he is also able to bring up the bodies of people from death, even those turned into ashes, and to unite them with their souls. For, the soul was immortal in the beginning, and the body naturally desired that to which it was united. Since that desire was by nature in vain and was never fulfilled by God, it was in no way realistic. Therefore, the soul was indeed abandoned in an imperfect and supernatural state. It follows that divine providence and righteousness would require that things would go well for the upright and go poorly for the wicked. Since that does not often happen in this life, reason considers that it will happen in another life: since this body was the tool of the soul in good or wicked deeds, it will also share in rewards or punishments. Therefore, it seems only fitting that the body of the dead will at last be restored.
Proof for B: From Dan. 12:2, Many will awake from sleeping in the dust of the earth, some to life eternal, but the rest in disgrace, in eternal shame. From this prophetic oracle we learn that a certain resurrection will surely happen, not only for the pious, but also for the wicked. For the former, the resurrection will be the path to a glorious life; for the latter, a transition into shame.
Proof for C: From John 5:28,29, The hour is coming in which all who are in their graves will hear the voice of the Son of God and come out, those who have done good, into a resurrection of life, those who have done evil, to a resurrection of judgment. These words of Christ are not to be understood as a spiritual resurrection through penance. For, those who arise spiritually do not come out from the graves of sinners to a resurrection of condemnatory judgment, because it is asserted about them that they come forth from their graves to hear the voice of Christ. Therefore, a universal resurrection of the dead is understood. Indeed, the Savior is speaking about all those cast into their graves, and he divides them into those to be saved and those to be condemned.
This is the antithesis of the Atheists, the Sadducees, and the Epicureans, who deny the universal resurrection of the dead. They present the following:
The heroes do not rise, Isa. 26:14. We respond: The heroes do not rise to this temporal life, nor do they rise to the height of their previous power. For the prophet adds, You have scattered them and have destroyed all remembrance of them.
He who does not awake from his sleep does not rise. But man “lies down and does not rise; till the heavens are no more, men will not awake or be roused from their sleep.” Job 14:12. Therefore. We respond: Job does not deny the resurrection in an absolute sense, but in a limited sense. For, he adds this limitation, until heaven is destroyed. For, the universal resurrection will be delayed until the day of the final judgment, on which heaven itself will be destroyed.
God remembers whomever he restores. But there are many people whom he does not remember, Psalm 88:5. Therefore. We respond: We distinguish between a simple memory and a benevolent memory. God does not forget a single person, but he does not benevolently remember the wicked after they die, lest he bestow upon them eternal blessings.
Those whose death is similar to the departure of animals will not rise. But the death of certain people “is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal. Everything is meaningless.” Ecc. 3:19. Therefore. We respond: King Solomon is speaking about the necessity of dying, to which both animals and people are bound. He is not speaking about our condition after death.
In this instance. But King Solomon adds, Who knows whether the spirit of a man rises upward and the spirits of animals goes downward? We respond: Because of the external events that bind not only animals and people, reason left to itself does not know with certainty the immortal blessing of souls. But Solomon, and any other reborn person, is made new from the word of God, in that his soul returns to God, Ecc. 12:7.
The wicked will not stand in the judgment, Psalm 1:5. Therefore, they will not rise. We respond: The wicked will not stand well in the judgment; they will not stand firmly. But on account of their abandoned goodness they will be ruined in destruction.
Whoever rises to eternal life praises God; the dead do not praise God, Psalm 6:5. Therefore, they do not rise to eternal life. We respond: The dead, insofar as and for as long as they are dead, do not praise God with their bodily members, although their souls may celebrate God. But when the bodies of the pious will be restored, both their bodies and their souls will sing praises to God.
Question 19: Who will restore the dead?
The triune God…
A) the Father
B) the Son, and
C) the Holy Spirit
…will restore the dead. However, in a unique way, the restoration of the dead is appropriated to…
D) Christ, the God-man.
Proof for A: From II Cor. 4:14, He who raised Jesus, the same one will also raise us through Jesus. And God the Father raised Jesus, Acts 3:26.
Proof for B: From John 5:25, The dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.
Proof for C: From Rom. 8:11, If the Spirit of him who restored Jesus from death lives in us, he who restored Christ from death will also give life to our dead bodies because of his Spirit living in us. The Holy Spirit preserves spiritual life in us, and if we steadily follow his direction, he will guard us until we obtain eternal life, into which we will enter through the resurrection.
Proof for D: In a unique way the resurrection of the dead is appropriated to Christ, the God-man because…
Just as God the Father has given to Christ the power to make judgment, since he is the Son of Man, John 5:27, so also to Christ, insofar as he is human, has he entrusted the power to restore the dead.
The fruit of the glorious resurrection of Christ is that he holds dominion over the dead and the living, Rom. 14:9. King Jesus reveals that universal dominion in the resurrection of the dead.
Christ, in a perceptible voice and visible in the clouds, will summon the dead from their graves to judgment, Matt. 25:31, I Thes. 4:16.
Christ is not only the effecting cause but also the meritorious cause of the resurrection, in regard to the glorious resurrection of the Faithful. It is this which the very author of life meant in John 11:25, I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, even if he dies, will live. And all who live and believe in me will never die.
Question 20: Whether all people arise?
A) All people arise, …
B) who were dead, …
C) both the pious…
D) and the wicked.
Proof for A: The universal resurrection of the dead stands in Dan. 12:2 and John 5:29, which classic words we have adduced in Question 18.
Proof for B: From Isa. 26:19, Your dead will live and will arise with their bodies. From these prophetic words, we consider two things:
Dead people are the subject of the resurrection. For this reason, Enoch and Elijah, who never died, and those people whom the last day of the world will snatch away alive, according to the preparations of Christ the Judge, they will not arise from a natural death, because their souls were not separated from their bodies. However, they will be changed by the judge of heaven. Paul informs us about that change in I Cor. 15:51: Behold, I am telling you a mystery. To be sure, we will not all sleep; nevertheless, we all will be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. Paul calls the doctrine of that change a mystery. For, this change, or mutation, will be remarkable, miraculous, inscrutable, and unspeakable. Paul says this same thing: that it may not happen that we all will sleep. Therefore, this miraculous change will not be substantial, referring to either the dissolution of the soul and the body, or to any substance of the body. But it will be accidental, in regard to its state and qualities, resulting in the corruptible body of the living assuming incorruptibility on the last day. Because of this incorruptibility, neither will the bodies of the wicked be annihilated by flames, nor will the bodies of the pious undergo any alteration before the throne of God.
We consider that the subject of the resurrection is not the soul but the body * of a deceased person. For, the prophet says, *They will arise with their bodies. Since a soul is immortal, that is, it does not die, thus it does not rise. For, the resurrection is formally for only something which has fallen, a position restored. Only the body, not the soul, has fallen. Therefore, only the body, not the soul, will rise.
Proof for C: From the testimony of Christ speaking in John 11:25, He who believes in me, even if he dies, he will live. From this, Paul says in I Thes. 4:14, God will bring back those who have fallen asleep through Jesus with him.
Proof for D:
From Acts 24:15, I have the hope in God which these here also expect, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, of the righteous and of the unrighteous.
You say: The unrighteous are not able to hope in the resurrection because it would not be good for them. We respond: Someone given a second chance is able to hope in the resurrection, insofar as the righteous are accused by the unrighteous in regard to the innocence of man and are oppressed by accusations. Paul was this kind of person; he makes known the facts regarding the resurrection and judgment of the unrighteous with the utmost clarity.
From II Cor. 5:10, It is necessary for all of us to appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive the things which were done through his body, according to the things he has done, whether it be good or bad, whatever it might have been.
Whoever undergoes the punishment for the crimes of the devisor in the body, their bodies also will rise to the punishment. For, the surpassing resurrection of the body ought to be imposed as a consequence for being in this position, namely by exercising, with divine help, judgment upon the body.
This is the antithesis of the Socinians, who deny the resurrection of the wicked. They present the following:
The wicked die eternally, II Thes. 1:9. Therefore they do not rise. We respond: The wicked do die eternally, because they have been deprived of the glorious life of the elect. However, they will eternally live the disgraceful life of the condemned. This life is called death, because it is bereaved of all happiness, all comfort.
The wicked will not rise in the judgment, Psalm 1:5. We respond: The word küm means not only to rise but also to stand. The wicked will not stand firm in the judgment; they are not able to endure the sternness of divine examination. Confer Isa. 7:12.
The resurrection is an enormous blessing, Phil. 3:9, of which the wicked are not worthy. We respond: The resurrection to eternal life is an enormous blessing. But the resurrection to eternal condemnation is an enormous punishment.
God will bring back those who have fallen asleep through Jesus with him, I Thes. 4:14. Therefore, only believing Christians will rise in the end. We respond: Paul discusses the glorious resurrection of the righteous. However, he does not speak exclusively; he does not exclude the resurrection of the unrighteous, to which he makes mention in Acts 24:15.