These biblical characters were given a miraculous gift of life.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church offers a succinct explanation of these raisings from the dead and their relation to the resurrection of Jesus.
Christ’s Resurrection was not a return to earthly life, as was the case with the raisings from the dead that he had performed before Easter … These actions were miraculous events, but the persons miraculously raised returned by Jesus’ power to ordinary earthly life. At some particular moment they would die again. Christ’s Resurrection is essentially different. In his risen body he passes from the state of death to another life beyond time and space. At Jesus’ Resurrection his body is filled with the power of the Holy Spirit: he shares the divine life in his glorious state, so that St. Paul can say that Christ is “the man of heaven.” (CCC 646)
Nevertheless, these resurrections foreshadow that final resurrection of all people at the end of time, giving us hope that death will be no more and our tears will finally be wiped away.
Here is a simple list of these miraculous resurrections, both from the Old Testament and the four Gospels.
Son of the Widow of Zarephath
Then [Elijah] stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, let this child’s soul come into him again.” And the Lord hearkened to the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived. (1 Kings 17:21-22)
Shunammite Woman’s Son
When Elisha came into the house, he saw the child lying dead on his bed. So he went in and shut the door upon the two of them, and prayed to the Lord … the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes. (2 Kings 4:32-33, 35)
Man at Elisha’s Tomb
So Elisha died, and they buried him. Now bands of Moabites used to invade the land in the spring of the year. And as a man was being buried, lo, a marauding band was seen and the man was cast into the grave of Elisha; and as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood on his feet. (2 Kings 13:20–21)
Widow of Nain’s Son
And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” And he came and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” And the dead man sat up, and began to speak. And he gave him to his mother. (Luke 7:13-15)
“Do not weep; for she is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at [Jesus], knowing that she was dead. But taking her by the hand he called, saying, “Child, arise.” And her spirit returned, and she got up at once; and he directed that something should be given her to eat. (Luke 8:52-55)
[Jesus] cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with bandages, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” (John 11:43-44)
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