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The Resurrections of the Dead

  • The Resurrection of the Dead is a fundamental part of Christianity.
  • However, there are many different interpretations and opinions about the Resurrection of the Dead.
  • To begin to understand the Resurrection of the Dead, one must realize that it is divided into two parts, which is to say that there is more than one.


That there will be a "Resurrection of the Dead" is a fundamental tenet of Christianity, that is mentioned numerous times throughout the bible. Despite the attention given to it, there is still alot of controversy surrounding the Resurrection of the Dead.

The revelation of this mysterious and terrific event begins in the Old Testament, where it is firmly entrenched in various passages, "So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep" (Job 14.12 KJV bible), "And many [or the multitude] of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt" (Daniel 12.2 KJV bible), "Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead" (Isaiah 26.19 KJV bible). These passages make clear that the multitudes will not "sleep in the dust" forever.

It's clear that many of the Jews in Jesus' time looked forward to the Resurrection of the Dead, as a time in which the deceased would be made alive again, "Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day" (John 11.23-24 KJV bible). The existence of the Resurrection of the Dead is often reaffirmed and expounded upon in the New Testament, "how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen. And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain" (1st Corinthians 15.12-14 KJV bible). Both the existence and importance of the Resurrection of the Dead is emphasized in the bible, particularly in the New Testament.

Yet despite the attention given to this subject by Jesus and his apostles, there remains terrible confusion and controversy over what exactly is meant by the Resurrection of the Dead. Will everyone resurrect? Is it a physical or spiritual event? When will the Resurrection of the Dead happen, or has it already happened? The answers to all of these questions and more are provided to us in God's Word, but only if we are willing to rightly divide it, laying aside the vain traditions received from men.

A good place to start is to recognize that there are two resurrections of the dead, and they are separated by an interval of a thousand years.

Paul instructs us concerning the Resurrection of the Dead, that not some, but all people will participate in it, "And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust" (Acts 24.15 KJV bible), "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (1st Corinthians 15.22 KJV bible). However, if there is a complete resurrection of the dead, both just and unjust, how do we account for the following verses, "but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage" (Luke 20.35 NASB bible), "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead" (Philippians 3.10-11 KJV bible)? If everyone automatically resurrects, then why should anyone try and attain unto the resurrection, as these verses suggest?

The answer is that Jesus and Paul are not speaking generally about the Resurrection of the Dead, but are instead referring to the resurrection of the righteous. This resurrection of the righteous is mentioned in the book of Hebrews, "and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection" (Hebrews 11.35 KJV bible), and also in the gospel of Luke, "And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just" (Luke 14.14 KJV bible). So we come to the realization that there are not one, but two resurrections spoken of in scripture. There will be a resurrection of the righteous or just ones, which we aspire to only through the sanctification of Jesus Christ, and for the rest of mankind a resurrection of judgment, "And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell [Hades] delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works" (Revelation 20.13 KJV bible).

We also need to understand that these two resurrections, righteousness and judgment, do not occur simultaneously, "and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived [or came to life] and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived [or came to life] not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection" (Revelation 20.4-5 KJV bible). So the resurrection of the righteous, which is also the first resurrection, occurs at the start of the thousand year period known as the millennium. However, the resurrection of judgment, which is the second resurrection, occurs at the end of the thousand year millennium. Therefore, the Resurrection of the Dead is not a single all encompassing event, but rather it is subdivided into two parts that are separated by an interval of a thousand years.

In studying the Resurrection of the Dead, we need to consider which of the two resurrections a particular passage is referring to, or if the passage applies to both of them. Also, because there is much more written concerning the first resurrection than the second, we need to extrapolate from our information about the first to understand the second.

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