He was entombed

We all know the Gospel that Paul preached by now: That Christ died for our sins, that He was entombed, and that He was roused the third day. Most Christians claim to believe this, of course, but the truth is that very few actually do. I’ve gotten into other reasons why in other posts, so I’m not going to rehash those here, but there’s one point in there that many gloss over, and because of it they end up missing some majorly important details. That point, simply put, is that “He was entombed.”

Most Christians believe that, when Christ died, He went off to a place called paradise (misunderstanding the grammar of His statement to the thief on the cross, as well as the fact that “paradise” is simply a reference to a future state of the earth and not to an ethereal afterlife realm for ghosts), which they believe was a compartment within “hell” at the time (although, as those of us in the body of Christ know, “hell” doesn’t actually even exist, since “hell” is a mistranslation in certain English Bibles of various Hebrew and Greek words, none of which mean what most Christians think of when they use or hear the word “hell”) in order to free the righteous dead and take them to heaven (Christians also refer to this “paradise” compartment as “Abraham’s bosom,” based on a misunderstanding of a particular parable). The problem is, if this were true, Paul’s Gospel would instead be: That Christ died for our sins, that He went to another dimension while leaving His body behind on earth so it could be placed in a tomb, and that He re-entered His body so it could be roused the third day.

Why is this so important? Because if someone isn’t truly believing Paul’s Gospel, it means they haven’t joined the body of Christ. So if someone believes that Jesus went to another dimension when He died, it means they don’t believe that A) He actually died after all, but that only His body did, and B) that He wasn’t entombed as Paul said He was, but only His body was while He Himself was somewhere else altogether, and that means they haven’t believed the Gospel of Paul.

The fact of the matter is, Christ’s entombment wasn’t just a superfluous aside that Paul happened to throw in while explaining what his Gospel is. If it wasn’t an important element of his Gospel, he wouldn’t have included it in his explanation of what the Good News was, specifically, that his readers had believed when they were saved. It’s important to note that he didn’t include Christ’s death “for our sins” as something that also has to be believed in when he explained that belief in His resurrection was a crucial element of the truth which Israelites have to believe in order to be saved under the Kingdom Gospel (Romans 9 to 11 is primarily about Israelites, and Paul’s point about confessing and believing in that passage was connected to what Israelites have to believe in order to be saved under their Gospel), since His resurrection was only an important part of their Gospel inasmuch as it proves He is still able to be their Messiah because He’s no longer dead (the “for our sins” part isn’t something they had to be concerned with, at least not as far as faith in their Gospel goes, the way it is for those in the body of Christ, which is why Paul didn’t include it in that passage). Likewise, if Christ’s entombment wasn’t an important aspect of his Gospel, Paul wouldn’t have bothered to include it in the passage where he explains what his Gospel is.

And if you happen to agree that Christ was in His tomb for a brief period of time, but think that He then went elsewhere for the next three days as a ghost (which is something someone once tried to convince me is all that the line about Christ’s entombment in Paul’s Gospel meant), this would mean Jesus left His body on the cross, then followed the people who entombed Him all the way to the tomb, and then went elsewhere for three days. If this is the case, I have to ask A) why Jesus would even bother following the funeral procession to His tomb in the first place, and B) how the ”He was entombed” element of Paul’s Gospel is actually Good News rather than just an unnecessary piece of information about Jesus following His dead body being carried for a brief period of time with no bearing on our salvation at all if that were the case, unless you believe that Him following His corpse to the tomb somehow actually did contribute to our salvation. (Of course, “He was entombed” is a passive statement as far as Christ’s person goes; so even if you believe that Christ Himself actually ended up in the tomb temporarily as a ghost, the wording of that passage can’t be interpreted to mean He followed His body to the tomb from the cross as a ghost, then went somewhere else from there after His body was entombed, because the way it’s worded tells us He had no involvement in being entombed at all, other than passively having it happen to Him, so unless his pallbearers also had some sort of “Ghost Trap” like the fictional Ghostbusters used, in order to force Him into the tomb after He died, it can’t legitimately be said that “He was entombed” unless He was His body and nothing more at that point, as I’m claiming.) Of course, even if you don’t believe that the line about His entombment meant He was briefly in the tomb as a ghost, you still have to explain how His entombment is Good News and how it assisted in our salvation if it wasn’t referring to the fact that He was actually dead and no longer existed as a conscious being (and, again, it makes no sense for Paul to include that line in what he called the Gospel he preached if that part of it wasn’t also actually Good News).

And before someone tries to protest, saying that Jesus had the power to resurrect Himself, which means He must have been conscious, pointing out Jesus’ claim in John 10:18 in certain less accurate translations of Scripture that He had power to take His life again, the Greek word translated as “power” here (exousia/ἐξουσία) just refers to the sort of authority or right that someone “in power” has to have an action they wish to be completed actually be performed, not about having the strength or ability to perform that specific action themselves. Just because a king is said to have the power to tax the citizens of his country doesn’t mean he has the strength in-and-of himself to go to every single citizen of the country and force them to give him the money directly; it just means that he has the legal authority to demand they pay their taxes. But this is easily answered by pointing to more accurate translations, such as the CLV which renders it as, ”No one is taking it away from Me, but I am laying it down of Myself. I have the right to lay it down, and I have the right to get it again. This precept I got from My Father.” Likewise, when Jesus said in John 2:19 that He would raise His body three days after His death, it’s important to remember the fact that “He was entombed,” and that any passage we read about His resurrection has to be interpreted in such a way that it doesn’t contradict this crucial part of Paul’s Gospel, which means that Jesus could only be referring to raising His body in the sense of getting up off the slab in the tomb after His God and Father resurrected Him from the dead. The context of this passage wasn’t about His ability to resurrect Himself anyway; it was simply about the fact that He wouldn’t remain dead if those people He was speaking to killed Him.

As for those of us in the body of Christ, we understand that His entombment was a crucial element of our salvation (which is why Paul included it in the message he called his Gospel), since it tells us what it actually means when Paul wrote that Christ died, which also tells us what the faith of Christ that saves us really is. To quote Martin Zender:

So who cares whether Christ really died or He didn’t? You do! Only when you realize that Christ truly died can you appreciate His faith in going to the cross. He knew that, unless His Father roused Him, He would have stayed dead forever. It is this faith that saves us:
“Yet now, apart from law, a righteousness of God is manifest, yet a righteousness of God through Jesus Christ’s faith, for all, and on all who are believing” (Rom. 3:21-23).