Matthew 27:52 specifically states that the bodies of these saints were resurrected: "And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised." Notice that Matthew does not describe them as having any outstanding or remarkable appearance, as the spirit bodies of Jesus and various others are highlighted as having (Daniel 12:3; Matthew 13:43; Mark 9:2-3; see also Matthew 17:1-2; Revelation 1:13-16).
Moreover, when these resurrected saints of AD 31 went into Jerusalem, they did not restrict their appearance to a comparative few as Jesus did after His spiritual resurrection. Rather, "they appeared to many."
Like Lazarus, and all the others who had been brought up in physical resurrections, these saints lived for a while longer—no one knows for how long—served the purpose for which they were raised, and then died once again. There is no record of them living eternally after this resurrection.
Resurrection AD 31
Were Those Resurrected at Christ's Death Raised to Eternal Life (Matthew 27:52-53)?
The Bible records a number of resurrections to human life; I Kings 17:17-24, Luke 7:11-17, and Acts 20:9-10 are examples. The passage in Matthew 27:52-53 is the only record in the Bible of a multiple resurrection: ". . . and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep [died] were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many." Matthew's wording clearly describes these saints as revived to normal, physical life. Like all humans before and after them who were resurrected, they all died again.
Some claim that Hebrews 9:27 says that human beings can only die once: ". . . it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment. . . ." Notwithstanding the several biblical examples of physical resurrection of people and their subsequent deaths, there is another way this verse can be understood: God has determined that all men must die at least once. No human being will live forever, as Paul explains in I Corinthians 15:36, 42 that all men are subject to corruption (decay) and mortality. Even those like Enoch and Elijah who were translated (see Genesis 21-24; II Kings 2:1-11) eventually died and await the resurrection to eternal life in their graves (see Acts 2:29, 34).
Christ is the only one ever resurrected to immortal life. The Bible reveals that no one will follow Him into immortality until the resurrection at His second coming (I Thessalonians 4:13-17; I Corinthians 15:50-53).
Where Are Enoch and Elijah?
Basic Doctrines: The Third Resurrection
Basic Doctrines: The Second Resurrection
Basic Doctrines: The First Resurrection
Resurrection AD 31
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Matthew 27:52: