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Resurrection Types

  • In the bible, there are various "types" of resurrections.
  • The three types are; physical, spiritual, and the Resurrection of the Dead.
  • It is helpful to identify these resurrection types, in order to avoid confusion.


Different resurrection-like events can be mistaken for the Resurrection of the Dead, when in fact they are not.

In the bible, the concept of resurrection is used in several different ways. The three basic "types" of biblical resurrection are physical, spiritual, and the Resurrection of the Dead. Identifying these different types or usages is helpful, particularly in avoiding confusion about the Resurrection of the Dead.

The first, and most recognizable type, is physical resurrection. This is when someone is brought back to life in the flesh. An example of this type of resurrection is when Christ resurrects Lazarus, and calls him forth from the tomb, "And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes..." (John 11.43-44 KJV bible).

Next, there are spiritual resurrections. This is when a person (or group of people) are awakened, restored, and reborn in the Lord. Externally they look the same, but internally they have new hearts and minds in him. This type of resurrection comes through penitence, and faith in the workings of God, "Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead" (Colossians 2.12 KJV bible).

Lastly, there will be the great Resurrection of the Dead. The Resurrection of the Dead is best described as a transformation of individuals into spiritual bodies. It will be an eternal resurrection that is distinct from the other types, and without human precedent in scripture.

Examples of the first two types of resurrections can be easily misinterpreted as being the Resurrection of the Dead, when in fact they are not. One event that could be easily misconstrued as such, is the opening of the tombs after Christ's crucifixion, "And the graves were opened; and 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" (Matthew 27.52-53 KJV bible). On the surface, this may seem like it is the resurrection of the righteous, because some of the saints are brought back to life. However, unlike the great Resurrection of the Dead, these individuals are resurrected into flesh, not spiritual bodies.

The real purpose of this miraculous physical resurrection, was to demonstrate to the world that Messiah had been crucified. It was through the shedding of Christ's blood that a spiritual renewal of Israel would take place, and this renewal is symbolized by the opening of the graves after the crucifixion. So while significant, this event is fundamentally different from the great Resurrection of the Dead, and should not be substituted for it.

Spiritual resurrections are an important type of resurrection, and often times in scripture the physical resurrections foreshadow the spiritual ones. The greatest spiritual resurrection occurred during the time of Christ, among those of his own people who received him. Jesus resurrected Israel as a nation by ushering in a new priesthood (Hebrews 7), making a new covenant (Hebrews 8.8), and taking his rightful place upon David's throne, "He [Jesus] shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David" (Luke 1.32 KJV bible).

This great spiritual renewal through Christ was the fulfillment of Ezekiel 37, which is another passage that is often misinterpreted in relation to the Resurrection of the Dead, "Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live...So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army...Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel" (Ezekiel 37.5,10,12 KJV bible). This prophecy uses the imagery of a literal flesh and blood resurrection to depict the restoration of Israel under the second covenant, and is therefore a Messianic prophecy. It was only after Israel's rebirth, that the way was opened the for the gentiles to join with them, as brethren under the new covenant (Acts 10). While this prophecy and its fulfillment are vital parts of God's overall plan of salvation, they should not be misunderstood as the great Resurrection of the Dead.

Salvation is a type of Resurrection.

The so-called salvation experience is itself a type of resurrection, in which one is spiritually renewed and awakened in Christ. Multitudes of people have been experiencing this reality since Christ walked the Earth. While spiritual rebirth is certainly important, it should not be misinterpreted as being the Resurrection of the Dead. The challenge is to rightly divide between the two, because the language and imagery can be similar.

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live" (John 5.24-25 KJV bible). In this passage, Jesus proclaims that the time has arrived when the dead shall hear his voice and live. However, he is not talking about the raising up of those who are dead and in Hades, but rather those who are alive in the flesh, and yet abiding in spiritual darkness. Upon receiving Christ they go through a type of resurrection, wherein they pass from darkness to light, and from death unto life, "Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live" (John 11.25 KJV bible), "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren" (1st John 3.14 KJV bible). Those who believe in Christ have already passed from the bondage of sin and death, in order to follow him (see also ch.6 Spiritual Life and Death).

This same spiritual resurrection is being spoken of when it says, "Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light" (Ephesians 5.14 KJV bible). Baptism is a ritual that symbolizes this rebirth, where one is buried into Christ's death, to be raised into his life, "Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Romans 6.4 KJV bible). These verses are referring to the resurrection of the individual from death to life in Christ, and not the Resurrection of the Dead. So a distinction should be made between the various types of resurrections in the bible.



Comments

Dewayne Short      01 Jul 2009, 23:07

Hi Doug,
I have a question:
In Matthew 27:52,53; wasn't that a one time affair? Some believe that this will happen again when Christ returns. I understand they believe it to be part of the "Rapture". (don't mean to change the subject)
I don't believe in any rapture that I have heard explained. It's pretty clear we are to put on the Gospel Armour and stand against Satan when he comes pretending to be Jesus Christ.

Doug Buckley      02 Jul 2009, 13:37

Hi Dewayne,

Yeah, Matthew 27.52-53 was a one time miraculous event. To my knowledge nothing like it will happen again, except maybe when the two witnesses are brought back to life (Revelation 11.11). It was not the resurrection of the dead. The deeper meaning of this event is that it symbolized the restoration and renewal of Israel that occurred through the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. God's nation was "brought back to life" spiritually.

When Christ returns at the seventh trumpet (end of the tribulation period), he will gather his elect from the four corners of heaven and earth (Mark 13.27), and they will "meet him in the air" (1st Thessalonians 4.17). This is the closest thing to a "rapture" that will occur. The important thing is that it happens at the second coming, and that they meet him in the air as he is returning to earth. God's elect will also be changed into spiritual bodies at this point (1st Corinthians 15.52). As you can see, Christ's return at the seventh trumpet will be a huge supernatural event.

God Bless

James Pan      05 Mar 2010, 14:22

Hi, how soon the resurrection takes place after a person dies?

Doug Buckley      05 Mar 2010, 17:28

Hi James,
The first resurrection will happen when Christ returns, and the second resurrection will take place at the end of the millennium. So it doesn't matter when a person dies. For more on the timing of the resurrection see chapters 19, 20, and 21 on the right.

nellie burton      28 Aug 2010, 22:10

i enjoyed your comments. I love Dr.Arnold too. What will the everyday life be like when Jesus comes back? Will we have houses gardens animal and so on.

Doug Buckley      29 Aug 2010, 10:12

Hi Nellie, good hear from you,
Despite what the hypocrites say, Arnold Murray is a servant of God who has exposed more people to more of the bible than probably anyone else in human history. Your question is a really tough one. The millennium will be a time of spiritual communion between God's elect and Christ, and a time for teaching and leading the dead. I don't believe there will be any flesh at this time, so everything will be very spiritual. Maybe life will be more dreamlike, but often it's hard to imagine a situation till we are there. I'll keep thinking on this one.

jackie      15 Sep 2010, 22:47

hi doug, I'm not sure the Bible is in chronological order, but it does say we will be there through the tribulation or part of it, then when the anti-Christ tries to mess with His elect, He intervenes, so is this in a physical body? [Jesus] or is He in some other form? are we taken to heaven during the millenium? cause the scriptures say there are people, martyrs who are asking God, how much longer will it take to judge the nations for our sakes. are the elect the same as the saints, or regular saved people? the Bible is so confusing in so many tings, why not just spell it out, so we could all understand what is coming, some say we will be gone when the anti-Christ is revealed , others say we will know who he is and look at his body, as a man full of worms, where does the millenium start in what order does it happen? jackie



Doug Buckley      16 Sep 2010, 19:38

Hi Jackie, yes we will be here during the tribulation, and even many will be imprisoned or killed by the one world government during this time (Revelation 13, 20.4). Jesus went to heaven immediately after his crucifixion to present his body as a sacrifice. Then he returned, and at his second ascension he took on a spiritual body. So he will return in a spiritual body to earth, and then the millennium will happen.

The martyrs are depicted in heaven before Christ's return, because that's where the saints (or elect) go when they die (see ch.4). The elect are basically all the Christians who are faithful, and have not fallen away.

jackie      16 Sep 2010, 23:01

what do you mean second ascension? the Bible says that he came once for all time, and upon the last return or second coming so to speak He meets us in the air and we are changed in a twinkling eye and will live forever with Him, isn't that what it says? or am I wrong? when mary went to touch Him , He had a physical body, cause He told her not to touch Him cause He had not yet ascended to the Father, so, that was a few days later, and He was still around later and told thomas that He was not a spirit, and thomas touched His wounds, we cannot see a spirit, it's invisible, but they saw and felt Him, so He had a glorified body.what does it all mean? and how and where did yo read about a second ascension? by the book. jackie

Doug Buckley      19 Sep 2010, 03:19

Hi Jackie, your pretty close. After the resurrection Jesus is in a flesh body. Then he ascends in his crucified body into heaven. Then he comes back, still in a flesh body. It's at Jesus' final ascension he takes on his spiritual glorified body (see Luke 24, verse 51 is the second ascension).

jackie      10 Oct 2010, 23:49

i had never heard of a second ascension, after He had appeared to many He was seen by a crowd and two angels appeared as He was taken up in a cloud (which i believe was a space ship of some kind) and the angels told the lookers on that why were they gazing, that He would return the same way that He left, if He was the same then why come back different the third time? and i remember Johns vision saying one was found to open the book, was that then or later? how many appearances did Jesus make, the Bible says He came once for all time, to do what He did, how can we be sure His appearance will be a physical one? and on a different note, why ressurect the onesthat pierced Him, only to kill them again? these passages are very strange to me. jackie

Gabe      18 Oct 2010, 00:50

2 cor 5:16 says though we knew him after the flesh (Christ), we know him no more. Jesus will never again be
seen by the world in a visible form, John 14:19- the world seeth me no more. It is only thru the comforter that he will abide with us forever, John 14:16 . he also told his disciples , it is expedient that I go away, for if I go not away, the comforter will not come unto you, but if I depart, I will send him unto you. John 16:7.

Doug Buckley      18 Oct 2010, 13:02

Jackie, He left in glory as he ascended to the right hand of God (the place of power). He will also return in glory with the clouds of heaven. So he will return similar to how he left, in glory and power with the clouds of heaven, and all the world will see it (Matthew 24.30).

Jesus will resurrect the wicked on Judgment Day (Revelation 20). Jesus resurrects all of the dead so they are not just bodiless souls. This is like letting someone out of jail, and into the courtroom to hear their crimes and stand trial. They will have to answer to Jesus.

Doug Buckley      18 Oct 2010, 14:10

Gabe, it sounds like you're a preterist, and obviously I'm not. I am not a literalist, but based on a whole lot of scriptures, I feel that Christ's return has to be understood as a literal cataclysmic event. I look at the dark times we live in, and believe that things will only be set right at Christ's triumphant return (2nd Thess 1.7, Isaiah 66.15, 2nd Peter 3.10-13). (see also ch.22, Day of the Lord)

2nd Cor 5.16 is talking about living according to the flesh, and that we are new spiritual creatures in Christ. Also, I feel that John 14.19 is referring to the change that would take place (Christ invisible to the world), but doesn't exclude his future return in his glorified spiritual body.

Doug Buckley      20 Oct 2010, 11:56

Hi Gabe, when Paul refers to rest in 2nd Thess 1.7, I think he means relief from worldy troubles at Christ's return. All Christians experience this to some extent (2nd Tim 3.12). Isaiah 66.15 refer mostly to Christ's return and the battle of Armageddon which precedes the millennium (Revelation 19). 2nd Peter 3.10-13 refers more to general time of the Lord's Day, which technically includes the millennium and the second resurrection of the dead. It is called the "last day" in John 12.48.

Gabe      20 Oct 2010, 12:39

Hi bro, Doug, Let us not label or name call to one another. Let the scriptures speak for themselves, going back to what Jackie quoted, "and the angels told the lookers on that why were they gazing, that He would return the same way that He left". Acts 1:11 How can it be a literal cataclysmic event? Was it a cataclysmic event when he left? Jesus said that he was going to come in his fathers glory Mathew 16:27, just as the Father had come in glory many times in what we know as the old testament Jesus would also come in like manner. Isaiah 13, in destroying Babylon, Isaiah 19-20 in the destruction of Egypt, this even talks about the Lord riding in a swift cloud coming into Egypt. So if Jesus was coming in the same glory that his Father had come? Why did it have to be a glorified spiritual body. The Father never came in a glorified spiritual body. The only glorified spiritual body that the scriptures speak about is the Church the bride of Christ, of which he is the head. Ephesians 1:22-23 There is One Body, and One Spirit, One Hope; One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism and One God- Jesus Christ, who is above all, and through all, and in you all Ephesians 4:4-6.

Lets look @ the scriptures you posted, 2 Thess 1:7 - Do you believe God gave the brethen in Thess rest? If so when did he give them that rest? Also what was the rest given to them? Isaiah 66:15, The Lord coming with fire. Is this before or after the millennium? 2 Peter 3: 10-13 I assume you believe as I do that Peter is quoting from Isaiah 65 - 66 , is this before or after the millennium? Please provide scriptures as well. Thanks Doug

Doug Buckley      20 Oct 2010, 12:43

Hi Gabe, I think actually the opposite case could be made from Acts 1.11 and Matthew 16.27, that Jesus is saying his return will be a visible event, as opposed to something gradual or unseen. He will come with glory and power with the clouds of heaven, just like he left. It won't be exactly the same, but that may not be the message.

Labeling you a "preterist" is not meant to be derogatory, and I do respect preterism as a legitimate attempt to understand the bible. I don't believe that Isaiah 13-14 has come to pass yet though. The army of the Medes and Cyrus is used here as a prophetical type for the return of Christ, and the king of Babylon is type for Satan. Chapter 14 even refers to his imprisonment in the millennium. The historical Cyrus never destroyed Babylon or did the things described there. I believe that Babylon, Egypt, Edom, etc., in these particular contexts, refer to spiritual kingdoms of the end times, based on what they stood for and their historical sins against God's people (Revelation 18 describes end
times Babylon more). As I said before, I am not a literalist.

Spiritual bodies are mentioned many times in the bible, including 1st Cor 15.44 (also see ch 16. on right).

When Paul refers to rest in 2nd Thess 1.7, I think he means relief from worldy troubles at Christ's return. All Christians experience this to some extent (2nd Tim 3.12). Isaiah 66.15 refer mostly to Christ's return and the battle of Armageddon which precedes the millennium (Revelation 19).
2nd Peter 3.10-13 refers more to general time of the Lord's Day, which technically includes the millennium and the second resurrection of the dead. It is called the "last day" in John 12.48.

Genia      15 May 2011, 15:28

Shalom,
According to our Sunday school teacher that there are 3 kinds of
Resurrection & they're :
1- national
2- spiritual
3- physical
What does he mean by national ?
Please explain in simple way.
And what does it mean "former & the latter rain in the book of
Joel 2:23 ? Just the verse 23 ?
Thanks & God bless

Doug Buckley      16 May 2011, 15:35

Hi Genia, I can't speak for your sunday school teacher, but it sounds like he does not consider the resurrection of the dead as one of his types of resurrection. Also he considers national resurrection a different type of resurrection from spiritual. I consider them the same, the difference being the number of people. He seems to know more than most, but maybe he should add the resurrection of the dead to his list of resurrection types.

Joel 2.23 is an interesting verse. The word that is translated as early rain can also mean teacher, and so some feel it should be translated that God gives the "teacher for righteousness". Either way it is a reference to Christ, and the whole chapter from that point forward refers to the Messianic resurrection and restoration of Israel. We are still in this period of time. God Bless

Diane      30 May 2011, 12:00

My mother was in hospital. She passed away and before I knew it they were in her room doing cpr. She came back to life but when she did she was speaking a different language that neither my sister or I knew what she was saying. The next day she was speaking English again and had no recollection of what had happened. Do you have any explanation for this? Mum did pass away a month later.
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