Pananastasism: An Overview

Pananastasism (pronounced pan-ana-stas-ism) is a biblical understanding of Jesus Christ’s atonement arguing that His atoning work functions on two levels, having two aspects—both a universal aspect and a particular aspect, the combined result is a particular salvation for believers (the elect) only. These two aspects relate to the two primary problems that mankind faces due to sin.

Two Problems

Two primary problems are faced by mankind due to sin: a legal penalty and a natural consequence.

Sin results in a legal penalty because of the legal debt, the breaking of God’s commands (His law)—physical death. This is God’s own declared penalty, and had it not been dealt with by God, then regardless of faith, physical death would have been the end result of all people forever.

Adam’s Sin

Adam’s sin corporately brought death upon all people (Gen 2:17, 3:6, 3:22-24; Rom 5:12-14, 1 Cor 15:21-22, Eph 2:1; Heb 9:27).

Personal Sin

Each sin a person commits also deserves death (Rom 6:16, 23, 7:13; Jam 1:15).

A Natural Consequence

The natural consequence of sinning is becoming unrighteous. We are therefore no longer righteous like God designed us to be (Gen 1:26-27). This consequence manifests in two issues that lead to a final result of punishment for all those who reject God’s solution to this problem.

An Ontological Issue

Our physical and spiritual nature (our ontology) became unrighteous—unclean, sinful, i.e. not morally like God as God intended. Unrighteousness is the natural consequence of not doing right 100% of the time. This nature passed from Adam to all his offspring (Gen 5:1-3; Ps 51:5, 58:3; Rom 5:13, 7:14, 25; Titus 1:15).

A Relational Issue

Our relation to God became broken, a rift between what God designed and desires us to be (righteous like Him) and what we are (unrighteous and sinful). This is a natural consequence of how a righteous God relates to an unrighteous human—we became the enemies of God (Jn 15:18; Rom 5:10; Col 1:21) and God’s wrath is upon us (Jn 3:36; Rom 1:18, Eph 2:3, 5:6; Col 3:6), though that wrath is not yet fully expressed.

The Punishment Result

From those two issues of natural consequence, a second judgment occurs—can we stand before God as designed, that is, to be as righteous as God? If not, then we also have failed to enter into a right relation to God; we are still His enemy. The resulting punishment will be second death, the casting into the lake of fire, facing God’s fully expressed wrath eternally (Ps 21:8-9, 50:3, 68:2; Mt 18:8, 25:41; Mk 9:43-45; 2 Thes 1:8-9; see also Dt 4:24, Heb 12:29).

Two Solutions

God instituted two aspects to His atoning work to be solutions to counter the two problems. These two aspects have distinct salvific (i.e. saving) purposes. Each aspect saves from something, and without both aspects, no person would ultimately be saved in the fullest, biblical sense of the term. In one aspect, Christ is an effectual savior for all people, while in the other aspect, Christ is especially effective as a savior for believers (1 Tim 4:10).

The Corporate/Universal Aspect

Christ objectively offered Himself as the substitute sacrifice to pay the legal penalty of sin (i.e. a penal
substitutionary atonement
) for all mankind. Acting as both High Priest and Sacrifice (pictured by the
corporate Day of Atonement yearly sacrifice of the OT; Leviticus ch. 16), His offering of Himself to physical death once is effectual in exchanging for each person’s physical death, thereby corporately and universally

  • reconciling the whole world (all of humanity) to God legally (Rom 5:10; 2 Cor 5:19; cf. Col 1:20-21),
  • propitiating (appeasing) God’s legal judgment against sin by paying its penalty for every person (1 Jn 2:1-2; Rom 3:25),
  • redeeming (purchasing) every person from that death penalty through purchasing believer and unbeliever alike, to come to fruition at the resurrection, for the purpose of being able to work greater things in believers (universal purchase: Mt 20:28; Mk 10:4; Rom 5:6, 8; 8:23; Gal 3:13; Eph 4:30; 1 Tim 2:6; 2 Tim 1:10; 1 Pet 1:18-19; 2 Pet 2:1; for particular purposes: Gal 3:14, 4:5; Titus 2:14; Heb 9:12, 15),
  • granting forgiveness for the sins that brought that death (Jn 1:29; Acts 13:38),
  • providing resurrection out of that death penalty for every person according to His timing (Jn 5:29; Acts 24:15; 1 Cor 15:22-24; Rev 20:4-15),
  • founding a gospel message upon what God has done for all (Rom 10:9; 1 Cor 15:1-4, 17-19; 2 Tim 1:10, 2:8)

This understanding of an effectual, corporate, universal aspect of atonement is what distinguishes pananastasism from other views of atonement and where the view gets its name, for pananastasism is a term coined from the Greek words for “all” (pan) and “resurrection” (anastasis), and thus means all-resurrected-ism. The only reason anyone, believer or unbeliever, is righteously freed from God’s legal penalty of physical death is because Christ paid that penalty for them all.

The Individual/Particular Aspect

People must subjectively appropriate Christ as their Savior, through faith (i.e. believing), making Him their own personal sin offering (pictured by the personal atonement offerings of the OT; Leviticus chs. 1, 4-6, 14, et al.), thereby individually and particularly

  • accepting (receiving) forgiveness (Acts 26:18; Eph 1:7, Col 1:14; contrast Mk 3:29)
  • reconciling oneself to God in relationship (2 Cor 5:20; cf. Col 1:23)
  • being cleansed from sin by the application of His blood and the washing of the Holy Spirit (Acts 22:16; 2 Cor 7:1; Eph 5:26; Heb 9:14; Jam 4:8; 1 Jn 1:9),
  • being regenerated in their spirit (Eph 4:24; Col 3:10; Titus 3:5),
  • obtaining righteousness in God’s sight now (Rom 3:22, 4:5-6, 9, 22-23), and becoming righteous at the resurrection (Rom 5:19, 1 Jn 3:2),
  • being sealed as a believer (2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:13, 4:30),
  • being adopted (Rom 8:15, 23, 9:4; Gal 4:5; Eph 1:5),
  • inheriting (Acts 20:32, 26:18; Rom 8:17; Eph 1:11, 14; Col 1:12, 3:24; Heb 9:15; 1 Pet 1:4; contrast 1 Cor 6:9-10; Gal 5:21; Eph 5:5)
  • gaining glory (Jn 17:22; Rom 2:10, 8:17, 30, 9:23; 1 Cor 2:7, 15:43; 2 Cor 3:18; 2 Thes 1:12; 2 Tim 2:10; Heb 2:10)