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Why ‘Rose Again from the Dead’?

Q: In the Nicene Creed, we pray that Jesus “rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures.” In the Apostles’ Creed, we say, “On the third day he [Jesus] rose again.” Don’t these expressions suggest that Jesus has previously risen from the dead? Is that true?

A: I think that you are giving too much importance to the term again in these prayers. In some languages, the terms rose and rose again would be regarded as meaning the same thing. By using the word again, the person responsible for this translation into English centuries ago was not saying that Jesus died and rose—and then died and rose a second time.

In Romans 6:10, St. Paul says that Christ “died to sin once and for all.” The author of the Letter to the Hebrews says that Jesus offered sacrifice for the people “once for all when he offered himself” (7:27). The term once is again applied to Jesus’ death in Hebrews 9:12.

Regarding again, sometimes we are tempted to read legal precision into biblical texts that focus on other issues.

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