How many resurrections are there? One? two? more? Are there different parts of the same resurrection? The answers to these questions will help one to understand the end times and to rightly divide the Bible. There are only two kinds of bodies to resurrect: the bodies of "spiritually alive" people and the bodies of "spiritually dead" people. Are the saved and lost raised together or at separate times? Several verses mention them together.
- Daniel 12:2
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.
- John 5:28,29
For the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29 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.
- Acts 24:15
There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both the just and the unjust.
Though they are mentioned together, does that necessarily mean that they occur together in time? No! There are references that put the birth of Jesus and Second Advent together, but timewise they are actually 2000 years apart. See Psalm 2:8-10; Isaiah 9:6; Isaiah 61:1-2; & Isaiah 1:1-4.
Many verses speak of the resurrection of the righteous dead alone, with no mention at all of the unrighteous dead. When speaking to the Jews, Jesus explained the resurrection of the righteous in Matthew 22:31-33; Mark 12:25-27; and Luke 20:34-38. He made it clear that God is the God of the living not the dead.
- Luke 20:38
For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him.
Obviously the living are those who are saved ("spiritually alive"); those who have made the one true God their own personal God. If a saved person's body is dead he would still be "spiritually alive" to God. These are the ones raised in the resurrection of the righteous dead. This is verified again in John 6.
- John 6:37
All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me Iwill in no wise cast out.
39 That of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
Anyone who trusts Jesus as his own personal Saviour will be resurrected with the righteous. In verse 39 Jesus refers to the resurrection of all those given to him as "it." Yet he goes on to repeat "raise him up at the last day" three times. There is one resurrection of the righteous dead, but it has three parts! This will be substantiated later. John 11:23-26 summarizes the righteous resurrection.
- John 11:23-26
Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.
24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.
25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. 26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
The bodies of those dead who had believed in him will be resurrected, and those who believe in him, who are alive at his coming, will never die. This is exactly the case in I Thessalonians 4:13-18 and I Corinthians 15:42-57. The bodies of physically dead saints are raised incorruptible, and the bodies of the living saints are changed. Both groups meet the Lord in the air. Now the original question was this: Are the righteous and unrighteous dead raised at the same time or at different times? Notice again that the unrighteous dead are not mentioned in the previous passages. When is the resurrection of the unjust?
- Revelation 20:11-15 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
Here are the unjust dead. But when were they resurrected? Look back further in Revelation
- Revelation 20:4,5,6
...And I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus... and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
6 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.
11 And I saw a great white throne...
12 And I saw the dead...
There are 1000 years between the First Resurrection of the righteous and the Second Resurrection of the unrighteous.
In verse 4 some physically dead Tribulation saints are resurrected and judged. Their reward is to reign with Christ 1000 years."The rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished." (v5) These are the unjust dead. All the unjust dead from Adam's time through the Millennium are judged at the same time. No where else in the Bible is the resurrection of unredeemed sinners described.
- Revelation 20:15
And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
Now the Bible likens the First Resurrection to the planting and harvesting of a crop. First the crop is planted.
- I Corinthians 15:35-37
But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?
36 Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:
37 And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be.
Harvesting has three parts: the firstfruits, the main harvest, and the gleanings. There are three parts to the First Resurrection.
- I Corinthians 15:22-24
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.
24 Then cometh the end.
Because people fail to differentiate between the three parts of the First Resurrection there is confusion. The first part is "Christ the firstfruits." It happened at Christ's resurrection at the time of the Passover.
- Matthew 27:52-53
And the graves were opened; and many of the bodies of the saints which slept arose,
53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
- Ephesians 4:8
Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
Verses on the second two parts: the rapture of the Church (the main harvest), and the rapture of the Tribulation saints (the gleanings) are often mixed and confused. Revelvation 20:5 declares "This is the first resurrection." At this point the First Resurrection, which began with "Christ the firstfruits" is complete; and the resurrection of the unjust is still 1000 years in the future. When John writes "This is the first resurrection" he has just described those last gleanings to be resurrected in verse 4.
- Revelation 20:4
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them 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.
Those souls are resurrected, judged, and rewarded at the time at the end of the Tribulation before the Millennium. They are also mentioned in Revelation 7:13-14.
- Revelation 7:13-14
And one of the elders answered, saying unto me,What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest, And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Now the Tribulation is a time of testing for the nation of Israel, not the body of Christ. The Church does not go through the Tribulation, the nation of Israel does! (See the paper "Rapture of Wrath?") In the gospels there is no Church that is the body of Christ. The nation of Israel is being dealt with.
- Matthew 5:24
But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
- Matthew 10:5,6
Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
Christ knows that the nation will initially reject him and warns them in the parable in Matthew 21:33-46.
- Matthew 21:43
Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.
Christ also knows that at the end they will finally accept him as their Messiah and Saviour. The whole chapter of Romans 11 covers this subject.
- Romans 11
1...Hath God cast away his people? God forbid...
11...Through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.
15 For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?
25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
26 And so all Israel shall be saved.
It is absolutely necessary to understand Matthew 24 in order to understand and differentiate between the last two parts of the First Resurrection. Matthew is a Jewish gospel, written to the Jewish people, about their Jewish King. Matthew 24 tells about the time of Jacob's Trouble called the Tribulation. There is not a Church Age Christian in the entire book of Matthew. It deals with the nation of Israel. Jesus Jewish disciples ask him:
- Matthew 24:3
What shall be the sign of thy coming, and the end of the world?
I Coronthians 1:22 says that "The Jews require a sign." They require and expect a sign for the Second Coming just as they did for the First Coming. (Isaiah 7:14 and Luke 2:12) No where in the Bible does it say that Gentiles, of the Church, or the Body of Christ require or expect a sign. The disciples also asked about "the end of the world." Every time "the end" occurs in Matthew it is a reference to the end of a period of time. EVERY TIME! Matthew 13:39,40 & 49 all refer to the end of the world. Now if those verses are so clear (and they are) what is the problem with Matthew 10:22: "He that endureth to the end shall be saved," or
- Matthew 24:13
But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
Someone here is trying to endure until the end of the Tribulation not until the end of his life! The person enduring is not a Church Age Christian. Jesus is addressing Jews who are still observing the Old Testament Law and worshipping in the temple! "The end" in this passage is followed by the Second Coming. How possibly could "the end" refer to the end of someone's life, especially not a Christian's life?
- Philippians 1:6
Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.
Christians are secure in Christ until the day of the rapture. We have to endure nothing! But those Tribulation saints who do endure receive a special reward.
- Revelation 2:26
And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations.
Those people who have to endure and overcome are a different group of people, since Christians have to do neither! In this passage Jesus is talking to Jews about the Tribulation! Remember that verses on the rapture of the Church and the rapture of the Tribulation saints are often mistaken for each other. The Body of Christ and the Tribulation saints are not the same group of people. Things different are not the same! A further study of Matthew will show some of these differences.
There is no doubt as to the time spoken of in Matthew 24. Verse 29 says "the tribulation of those days." Jesus is still addressing Jews, and they have asked about a "sign" for his coming in Matthew 24:3.
- Matthew 24:30,31
And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Revelation 14:14-20 adds details to this description.
- Revelation 14:14
And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.
That is the sign mentioned earlier because seven verses later Revelation 15:1 says "And I saw another sign..." The gathering of the elect in Matthew 24:31 is described in Revelation 14:15,16.
- Revelation 14:15,16
And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of earth is ripe.
16 And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.
Here the "harvest is ripe" and the earth is "reaped." This reaping is the rapture of the Tribulation saints mentioned in Revelvation 14:12.
- Revelation 14:12
Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and have the faith of Jesus.
In the next verses two more angels deal with those people left after the Tribulation rapture. In Revelvation 14:17-20 they are reaped and cast into "the great winepress of God's wrath." Now Matthew 24:36-41 describes this Tribulation rapture as being like in the days of Noah. Luke 17:26-37 also includes the days of Lot. For both, the Lord states that some shall be taken and some left. Noah's flood and the destruction of Sodom are both types of the Tribulation. Noah, Lot and their families were "taken" to be preserved while those people left were destroyed. The Tribulation saint is told to "Watch therefore" (v42) and "be ye also ready" (v44).
- Luke 21:36
Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
So those who watch and are ready escape the great wrath of God poured out at the end of the Tribulation (Revelvation 14:19). They are "taken" or "reaped" in a "harvest." This is the Tribulation rapture, the gleanings, of the last part of the First Resurrection. Not only do they escape but they are also judged and rewarded.
- Revelation 20:6
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.
- Luke 12:42
And the Lord said, Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?
Matthew 24:45 reads similarly to Luke 12:42. The parable of the ten virgins is also a Tribulation parable about the rapture at the end of the Tribulation. This is apparent from the last verse before any of the others are even read.
- Matthew 25:13
Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day not the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.
Now this parable is usually taught as a Church Age parable corresponding with the rapture in I Thessalonians 4. A verse by verse examination will show, however, that this is not so, and will confirm that this is a continuation of the Lord's explanation of the Tribulation rapture from Matthew 24. Verse one introduces the "virgins." They cannot represent the Church that is Christ's body for that is spoken of as a "virgin" (singular).
- II Corinthians 11:2
For I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
Now some "wise virgins" show up in Revelvation 14:4. They are Jews and are sealed to go through the Tribulation as witnesses for the Lord. The virgins in the parable are going to meet the bridegroom (v6) not marry him! He is already married! He is returning from the Marriage of the Lamb. His Bride is the Church, the Body of Christ which was raptured as the main harvest described in I Thessalonians 4 and I Corinthians 15.
- Luke 12:36
And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.
If oil is a type of the Holy Spirit, works are involved in obtaining a fresh supply. The virgins are told to go and "buy for yourselves" (v9), not to believe on Christ alone. These can't be Church Age Christians who are all saved without works. (Ephesians 2:8,9). Also the virgins were said to be "ready" (v10) as in Matthew 24:44 and then the door was shut. Just like Noah! These virgins are wise and foolish. Some are taken and the rest are left! There is no question that this is a parable about the rapture of the Tribulation saints.
The resurrection of the righteous, called the "first resurrection" in Revelvation 20:6, clearly has three parts. Jesus shows this in John 6. In speaking of all that the Father gives him (vs37,39), he says that he will "raise IT up" at the last day (v39). Then he goes on to repeat "raise him up" three times in vs.40,44, & 54."IT" is the first resurrection which is comprised of three different "hims." Paul corroborates this in likening the resurrection to a harvest with three parts in I Corinthians 15:22-24. The phrase "Come up hither" is found three times in the Bible. Proverbs 25:7 for the firstfruits. Revelvation 4:1 for the rapture of the harvest, the Church. And Revelvation 11:12 for the rapture of the gleanings, the Tribulation saints. These three parts are also found in types in the Bible. Firstfruit saints are typified by Lazarus. Enoch was a Gentile who was caught up, as the Church will be. His translation, as that of the Church, was secret. Elijah has a witness to his chariot of fire as do the Tribulation saints. (Revelation 11:11,12 & Revelation 14:14,15) Understanding the three parts of the first resurrection is essential to understanding and rightly dividing the Bible. Difficult or contradictory passages are clarified when the parts are differentiated and the types studied.
Pensacola, FLorida, USA
D. J. Root
The King James Bible is the final authority for all doctrine,
faith, and practice. Any deviation from the text is purely inadvertent.
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