CCC 632 The frequent New Testament affirmations that Jesus was “raised from the dead” presuppose that the crucified one sojourned in the realm of the dead prior to his resurrection.1 This was the first meaning given in the apostolic preaching to Christ’s descent into hell: that Jesus, like all men, experienced death and in his soul joined the others in the realm of the dead. But he descended there as Savior, proclaiming the Good News to the spirits imprisoned there.2
CCC 655 Finally, Christ’s Resurrection – and the risen Christ himself is the principle and source of our future resurrection: “Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. .. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”3 The risen Christ lives in the hearts of his faithful while they await that fulfillment. In Christ, Christians “have tasted. .. the powers of the age to come”4 and their lives are swept up by Christ into the heart of divine life, so that they may “live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”5
CCC 668 “Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.”6 Christ’s Ascension into heaven signifies his participation, in his humanity, in God’s power and authority. Jesus Christ is Lord: he possesses all power in heaven and on earth. He is “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion”, for the Father “has put all things under his feet.”7 Christ is Lord of the cosmos and of history. In him human history and indeed all creation are “set forth” and transcendently fulfilled.8
CCC 991 Belief in the resurrection of the dead has been an essential element of the Christian faith from its beginnings. “The confidence of Christians is the resurrection of the dead; believing this we live.”9
How can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. .. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.10
CCC 996 From the beginning, Christian faith in the resurrection has met with incomprehension and opposition.11 “On no point does the Christian faith encounter more opposition than on the resurrection of the body.”12 It is very commonly accepted that the life of the human person continues in a spiritual fashion after death. But how can we believe that this body, so clearly mortal, could rise to everlasting life?
1 Acts 3:15; Rom 8:11; I Cor 15:20; cf. Heb 13:20.
2 Cf. I Pt 3:18-19.
3 I Cor 15:20-22.
4 Heb 6:5.
5 2 Cor 5:15; cf. Col 3:1-3.
6 Rom 14:9.
7 Eph 1:20-22.
8 Eph 1:10; cf. 4:10; 1 Cor 15:24, 27-28.
9 Tertullian, De res. 1,1:PL 2,841.
10 1 Cor 15:12-14.
11 Cf. Acts 17:32; 1 Cor 15:12-13.
12 St. Augustine, En. in Ps. 88,5:PL 37,1134.