Who are the saints that came out of the tombs in Matthew 27? Did those saints return to the tombs?
Regarding Matthew 27, we read:
Matt. 27:50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.
Matt. 27:51 And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split.
Matt. 27:52 The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised;
Matt. 27:53 and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many.
The saints who have “fallen asleep” refers to Old Testament believers who had died. At the death of Christ, their bodies were brought back to life and walked out of tombs. They then went into Jerusalem and appeared to the man who knew them to have died previously. Clearly, this was a shocking miracle intended to testify to the reality of Jesus’ claims.
These saints are never named in scripture because their identity doesn’t matter. What mattered was that people in that day knew them, so there could be witnesses to testify to the truth of the miracle.
Later, these revived saints died a second time, as did Lazarus who was raised by Christ. The resurrection to new, eternal life will not happen for the Old Testament saints until the start of the Kingdom, according to Daniel:
Dan. 12:1 “Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued.
Dan. 12:2 “ Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.
Dan. 12:3 “ Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.
Based on the context of Daniel 11-12, the time mentioned at the beginning of Daniel 12:1 is the end of Tribulation and the second coming of Christ. This will be the moment when all Old Testament and Tribulation saints will be resurrected. If you would like more information about the timing of these events, we recommend you listen to our Revelation Bible study, available for free here.