Monday, June 21, 2021

WM 206: Is Hosea 6:2 a prophecy of the third day resurrection?

Some notes for WM 206:

After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight (Hosea 6:2).

What is the issue?

As I’ve been preaching through Hosea, I have tried to call attention to places where there are “messianic” prophecies (e.g., Hosea 3:5) and I know there are more of these to come (cf Hosea 11:1//Matt 2:15).

Sunday before last, I was preaching through Hosea 6 and pondered the meaning of v. 2.

Is this a prophecy of an experience of the historical Israel or it is a prophecy of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ?

As I looked at a couple of commentaries I was struck by a stark difference in interpretation.

One hand, the MacArthur Study Bible comment on v. 2 flatly rejects this verse as relating to the resurrection: “Not a reference to the resurrection of Christ…”

On the other hand, there was Matthew Poole, who distinguishes between the historical and the “mystical” interpretation, but clearly affirms the latter.

This sent me on a survey of Study Bibles and commentaries:

Survey of commentaries:

Orthodox Study Bible: “The Church understands this text as a messianic prophecy regarding Christ’s resurrection….”

Calvin’s commentary: “We must always mind this, that we fly not in the air….”

Matthew Henry: “But this seems to have a further reference to the resurrection of Jesus Christ…”

ESV Study Bible: Acknowledges that this verse is behind the notion of Christ rising on the third day, but it suggests it does not speak of Christ “directly.”

Key NT passages:

Luke 24:46: And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:


Luke 9:22 Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.

Cf. Matt 16:21; Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:34.

Note also the charge of the chief priests and Pharisees to Pilate, “Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again” (Matt 27:63; cf. Matt 28:6).

1 Corinthians 15:3 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

Matthew 12:40: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.


Jonah 1:17 Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

Hosea 6:2 and Jonah 1:17 would appear to be two of the key prooftexts for the OT prophecy of the third day resurrection of Christ.

This recalls G. K. Beale’s classic 1989 article “Did Jesus and his followers preach the right doctrine from the wrong texts?”

The MacArthur Study Bible note is then potentially dangerous.

We see the start of a more rationalistic interpretation in Calvin, but it is not followed in the Protestant orthodox Poole and Henry, but revived in the modern era.

We might also ask what further implications Hosea 6:2 has for the doctrine of the descent (Note: It is not listed in the Scriptural index for either Matthew Emerson’s He Descended to the Dead or Samuel Renihan’s Crux, Mors, Inferi; both, however, have an entry for Hosea 13:14).


There is good reason to defend the traditional, pre-critical view that sees Hosea 6:2 as a Scriptural proof text for the third day resurrection of Christ.

We can trace rationalistic interpretation of Hosea 6:2 to the very early modern period (as in Calvin), but it seems that later Protestant Orthodox (like Poole, Henry) continued to defend the pre-critical view.

We should also note that Hosea 6:2, if related to the resurrection, stresses the benefits of the resurrection for believers. Compare:

Romans 4:25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

Romans 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.


1 comment:

pastorcup said...

I appreciated this article very much. I found it helpful & simply want to express my thanks.