The Two Resurrections
By Grant Phillips
The Bible speaks of two bodily resurrections for all of mankind, one for believers and one for unbelievers.
The oldest patriarch, Job said, “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-27 NIV)
The writer of Hebrews said of Abraham, “Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.” (Hebrews 11:19 NIV)
King David said, “Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope” (Psalm 16:9) and “As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.” (Psalm 17:15)
The Lord Jesus said, “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” (John 5:28-29)
Yes, both resurrections will be bodily resurrections, one to life and one to damnation.”
The apostle Paul told Felix, “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)
The apostle John had this to say, “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: 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 and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” (Revelation 20:4-6)
Some teach that there will be one general resurrection of everyone, believers and unbelievers and then we’ll all answer to God at the great white throne judgment. This isn’t so.
Some think they will be able to plead their case before God, because their good works will be greater than any bad they may have done. Not so.
As previously stated, there are two resurrections. The second resurrection occurs after the Millennium. God the Son will raise all unbelievers of every age and they will all stand before Him at the Great White Throne Judgment. They will bow before Him and “confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
“Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11)
If they were an unbeliever on earth, their name will not be found in the book of life.
“And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:15)
All who have chosen to deny the Lord Jesus Christ will be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone.
“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)
The lake of fire is the second death, which has no power over any believer of God’s Son Jesus Christ.
“Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” (Revelation 20:6)
Anyone who is raised before God at the second resurrection will join Satan and his fallen angels in the lake of fire for eternity. Some passages, among others, that show the lake of fire as being eternal are; Isaiah 66:24; Daniel 12:2-3; Matthew 25:46; Mark 9:42-49; Revelation 14:10-11.
The Jewish harvest is a perfect illustration of the first resurrection. All those who are part of the first resurrection belong to God because of their belief in His Son Jesus Christ. They are not all resurrected at the same time however.
The Jewish harvest was the fruit of one season that was obtained by the farmers on three different occasions; i.e. firstfruits, main harvest and gleanings.
The firstfruits, which were an earnest or pledge of the greater harvest, were in the spring of the year. The main harvest was in the summer and was the greater part of the crops, and the gleanings were what was left in the fall of the year.
Jesus was our firstfruits. “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.” (1 Corinthians 15:20) He is the earnest or pledge for all who come to Him as believers. Also, when Jesus arose from the grave, “… 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)
It has been 2,000 years since the firstfruits of the harvest. The main harvest will occur next. It is called the Rapture of the Church or the bride of Christ.
“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
The gleanings part of the first resurrection will occur at the end of the Tribulation. The Tribulation Martyrs and Old Testament believers will be resurrected at that time.
“And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: 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 and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.” (Revelation 20:4-5)
“And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” (Daniel 12:1-2)
Let us briefly re-cap.
The First Resurrection (all believers)
- Firstfruits (Jesus and others He raised at that time)
- Main harvest (Rapture of the Church)
- Gleanings (Tribulation martyrs and O.T. saints at the end of the Tribulation)
The Second resurrection (all unbelievers)
- After the Millennium to face the great white throne judgment and the lake of fire