What happened to the people who rose from the dead when Jesus was crucified?

Matthew 27:52,53 states that “many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” Is it known what happened to these saints? Did they go to heaven with Christ or did they return to their graves?


We are not told in the Scriptures, but the resurrection of these saints in connection with that of our Lord leaves little doubt, I think, on the matter. Our Lord Himself was shewn after His resurrection “not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God” (Acts 10:41), to make it easier for the people at large to believe in the resurrection. He was the first-fruits. “Many bodies of the saints arose and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” They could not deny their own senses that they had seen their dead friends alive, and if so, why should not the testimony of the disciples be that Christ had risen? Under such circumstances, it seems very difficult to believe that the resurrection of these saints was anything but a true and lasting resurrection. I believe this was the first stage in the First Resurrection, of which the resurrection of the sleeping saints, when the Lord comes, will be the second stage, and the remaining saints who have died when He returns in glory the final stage. “This is the first resurrection.” Had they returned to their graves, it might be said that He did, too. Surely they were part of that captivity which He led captive when he ascended on high.

W.H.