AT death the body returns to the soil, the soul returns to the unseen, and the
spirit returns to God. The reversal of this is variously termed resurrection, rousing and
vivification. Each of these terms may be used of the return from death which we usually
call resurrection. In the Scriptures they are used with fine discrimination and are chosen
to suit each occasion. When viewed from the standpoint of the body, we read of
"resurrection." When the soul is especially in view "rouse" is used.
When the spirit is uppermost, it is "make alive" or "vivify."
It is not to be supposed from this that "rouse" recalls the soul alone, and
not the body and spirit. That could not be possible, because the soul is the result of the
combination of body and spirit. Nor is "raise" limited to the body. The body
could not stand up without the soul and spirit. "Vivify," indeed, involves far
more than the mere return of the body and soul, yet cannot be separated from them. There
can be no "resurrection of the body," no rousing of the soul, no
vivification of the spirit without each case including the others. Death destroys the
whole man and its recall requires the restoration of body, spirit, and soul.
The same figure is used of men while they are living. By metonymy a part is put for the
whole when that part is to be made prominent. We talk of a man as somebody. The
Scriptures often speak of souls when persons are intended, but looked at in
relation to their sensations. Even the spirit is spoken of as the man. He who is joined to
the Lord in one spirit (1 Cor.6:17). The Lord is a life giving Spirit (1
Cor.15:45). This by no means implies the absence of body or soul, but the dominance of
The term "raise," literally UP-STAND, when not used in reference to the dead,
is used of our physical frame. Thus Paul, at Lystra, said to the lame man, "stand
up [rise] erect on your feet!" (Acts 14:10). Paul himself stood up in the
synagogue at Pisidian Antioch when asked to address the people (Acts 13:16). Even when
used of resurrection, this is the foremost thought. Peter, after praying for Dorcas, said
to the body, "Tabitha rise." Then, giving her a hand, he raises
her (Acts 9:40).
"Rouse" is often used apart from resurrection. When Joseph was in a trance,
the Lord's messenger appeared to him, saying, "Rouse!" (Matt.2:13). This is
repeated when he is in a trance in Egypt (Matt.2:20). This clearly refers to the
unconsciousness of the trance state. When the Lord drowsed, and the disciples were afraid
the ship would sink, they roused Him (Matt.8:25). We are not at all sure that He
stood up. It would be more in keeping with His calmness to remain at rest. The apostle's
exhortation, "it is already the hour for us to be roused out of sleep"
(Rom.13:11), and "Rouse, O drowsy one" (Eph.5:14) are examples of its ordinary
When both "rouse" and "rise" are used we have an instructive
example of their difference. "Rouse," of course, must come before
"rise," for only a somnambulist would rise in his sleep. So the exhortation just
quoted, "Rouse," O drowsy one" is followed by "And rise from
among the dead" (Eph.5:14). Jairus' daughter responded to the words "Talitha
coumi!" which mean "Maiden, I am saying to you, rouse!" Then we read
"And straightway the maiden rose and was walking about..." (Mark
5:41,42). When our Lord had cast out the dumb and deaf-mute spirit out of a little boy,
who seemed to be dead, He "rouses him and he rose" (Mark 9:27).
The literal sense of make alive comes before us in the illustration of the
resurrection presented by the process observed in the lower life of plants. "What you
are sowing is not being made alive if it should not be dying" (1 Cor.15:36). By some
means, entirely beyond the ken of science, the spirit which gives life to the seed is
transferred to the plant which springs from it.
All life is the result of spirit. It is the spirit that vivifies (John 6:63). Hence,
when the term "make alive" is used of the return from death there is an
extraordinary emphasis on the spiritual aspect. It is not used of resurrection or rousing
merely, for life is implied in both cases. Resurrection is not the standing up of a dead
body but of one come back to life. Rousing is not possible without passing from death into
life. When vivification is superimposed it brings life, not only after death, but beyond
the reach of death.
We read that the Father is rousing the dead and vivifying them (John 5:21). Why
is this? If they are roused, are they not alive? They are, but the emphasis is on their soul.
They have come back to a life of consciousness and sensation, not to the life of the
spirit. Such will be the rousing of the irreverent before the great white throne. Their
bodies stand up, their souls are roused, but they have not that superabundance of spirit
which puts them beyond death, for they go into the second death. Only those who are
vivified escape the second death.
In this life the emphasis is laid on body and soul. Our bodies are soilish. We are
soulish (1 Cor.15:44-49, CV). And if the emphasis is laid on either body or soul by the
use of the words raise or rouse, resurrection or rousing, we are not free to infer that
these introduce us to a state of immortality, for there is no emphasis whatever on the
spirit, which alone gives life.
But when the reversal of death is described as vivification, a term which emphasizes
the spirit of life, then we are warranted in looking for life, superabundant life.
Resurrection implies life. Rousing requires life. Vivification brings immortality. Those
who are "made alive" are beyond the domain of death. Those who are roused or
raised may die again.
Vivification is used in other connections. These confirm the fact that it is used in a
special way of life imposed on life. Those already alive can be "made alive."
Let us consider the circumstances where our Lord said, "The spirit is that which is
vivifying. The flesh is benefiting nothing. The declarations which I have spoken to
you are spirit and are life" (John 6:63). He was not speaking to the dead, but the
living. Yet there was a life which they did not have unless they believed his
declarations. He came to give them a life of which they were not aware.
This is clearly discernable in the anomalous assertion "He ...will make your
mortal bodies live because of His spirit making its home in you" (Rom.8:11). A
mortal, or dying, body is not dead in the physical sense. How then can it be, made alive?
Only in the sense of a special and superior life being imposed upon the ordinary. This is
the life which those in Christ Jesus now enjoy because of the homing of His spirit. By its
power these bodies respond to the will of God, and its members actually do that which
The same fact is evident when the spirit is contrasted with the law: "The letter
[of the law] is killing, yet the spirit is vivifying" (2 Cor.3:6). "If a law
were given able to vivify..." (Gal.3:21). A man must be alive before the law can kill
him. And he must be alive before the spirit can vivify him. Vivification, when applied to
the living, implies a spiritual quickening above and superior to the common life of
mankind received through Adam. This now remains distinct and separate, for the body is
still soulish and is not changed to a spiritual one.
When the saints are raised from the dead, however, the spirit's life-giving power is
imparted to their bodies, so that these become spiritual, incorruptible, deathless,
immortal. This is not the case with unbelievers. The apostle's argument in the fifteenth
of first Corinthians cannot refer to the unbelieving dead who are raised, for these are
not in view until they are vivified at the consummation. If they are raised with
incorruptible, glorious, powerful, spiritual bodies, they certainly could not be consigned
to the second death. They could not even be judged. His whole argument is based on the
three occasions of the vivification of the dead, Christ, those who are Christ's at His
presence, and the consummation (1 Cor.15:23). But he uses the term
"resurrection" of those vivified because he is speaking of their bodies.
He is not describing their feelings or their life.
The careful precision and beautiful aptness with which these terms are used in the word
of God is worthy of study and full of enjoyment. They are never inter-changed. Always
"there is a reason." We may not perceive it at first. It may be lost on us. In
fact, the distinction between rouse and raise, is obliterated in most
versions. Luther's translation is far better than the English Authorized in this respect.
But the idiom of the English is so obtuse that it is almost impossible to preserve the
distinction at all times. Hence a literal sublinear is the only safe recourse.
These three aspects of humanity are seen in other connections also. Paul, in addressing
the Athenians, probably the most critically scientific audience he could find, made a
statement which involves far more than even the science of the present day has learned.
All that men really know much about is the human body. Yet even here, how much is still
hid from them! They cannot even distinguish between soul and spirit. And they are most
vehement in denying any connection between God and His creatures. How majestically
scientific is the apostle's simple statement! "In Him we are living and moving and
are" (Acts 17:28).
In Him we are living. This refers to the spirit, for it is the only source of life.
"Moving" is said of the soul, for only that which has life and moves has
sensation or soul. Plants have life but no soul. Animals which are detached from the soil
have souls. "Are" refers to the body. The little Jewish
"scrap-picker," as they called Paul, condensed more knowledge about God and
mankind into one sentence than could be found in all the philosophies of Greece. It was a
masterly analysis of man and his relation to his Creator.