2. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
2. Et multi ex dormientibus in terra pulvere, evigilabunt hi in vitam seculi, hoc est, perpetuo, hi vero in opprobium et in abominationem perpetuam.
As to the translation of the first words, it is literally, many who sleep in the earth of dust, or who are in earth and dust; for the genitive is used as an epithet, though it may be read as if in opposition with the former word sleep, meaning those who are reduced to earth and dust.
The angel seems here to mark a transition from the commencement of the preaching of the gospel, to the final day of the resurrection, without sufficient occasion for it. For why does he pass over the intermediate time during which many events might be the subject of prophecy? He unites these two subjects very fitly and properly, connecting the salvation of the Church with the final resurrection and with the second coming of Christ. Wheresoever we may look around us, we never meet with any source of salvation on earth. The angel announces the salvation of all the elect. They are most miserably oppressed on all sides, and wherever they turn their eyes, they perceive nothing but confusion. Hence the hope of the promised salvation could not be conceived by man before the elect raise their minds to the second coming of Christ. It is just as if the angel had said, God will be the constant preserver of his Church, even unto the end; but the manner in which he will preserve it must not be taken in a carnal sense, as the Church will be like a dead body until it shall rise again. We here perceive the angel teaching the same truth as Paul delivers in other words, namely, we are dead, and our life is hidden with Christ; it shall then be made manifest when he shall appear in the heavens. (Colossians 3:3.) We must hold this first of all, God is sufficiently powerful to defend us, and we need not hesitate in feeling ourselves safe under his hand and protection. Meanwhile it is necessary to add this second point; as long as we fix our eyes only on this present state of things, and dwell upon what the world offers us, we shall always be like the dead. And why so? Our life ought to be hid with Christ in God. Our salvation is secure, but we still hope for it, as Paul says in another passage. (Romans 8:23, 24.) What is hoped for is not seen, says he. This shews us how completely seasonable is the transition from this doctrine respecting God's elect to the last advent of Christ. This then is enough with respect to the context. The word many seems here clearly put for all, and this is not to be considered as at all absurd, for the angel does not use the word in contrast with all or few, but only with one. Some of the Jews strain this expression to mean the restoration of the Church in this world under themselves, which is perfectly frivolous. In this case the following language would not be correct, -- -Some shall rise to life, and others to disgrace and contempt Hence if this concerned none but the Church of God, certainly none would rise to disgrace and condemnation. This shews the angel to be treating of the last resurrection, which is common to all, and allows of no exceptions. I have lately explained why he calls our attention to the advent of Christ. Since all flyings in the world will be constantly confused, our minds must necessarily be raised upwards, and gain the victory over what we observe with our eyes, and comprehend with our outward senses.
Those who sleep in the earth and the dust; meaning, wherever the earth and dust exist, nevertheless they shall rise, implying the hope of a resurrection not founded on natural causes, but depending upon the inestimable power of God, which surpasses all our senses. Hence, although the elect as well as the wicked shall be reduced to earth and dust, this shall by no means form an obstacle to God's raising them up again. He uses earth and dust In my judgment 'dmt, admeth, |of the earth,| is the genus, and phr, gnepher, |dust,| is the species, meaning, although they are only putrid carcasses, yet they shall be reduced to dust, which is minute particles of earth. God, then, is endued with sufficient power to call forth the dead to newness of life. This passage is worthy of especial notice, because the prophets do not contain any clearer testimony than this to the last resurrection, particularly as the angel distinctly asserts the future rising again of both the righteous and the wicked. Eternity is here opposed to those temporal miseries to which we are now subjected. Here we may notice the admonition of Paul, that those momentary afflictions by which God tries us, cannot be compared with that eternal glory which never shall cease. (Romans 8:18.) This, therefore, is the reason why the angel so clearly expresses, that eternal life awaits the elect, and eternal disgrace and condemnation will be the lot of the ungodly. He afterwards subjoins, --