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The Two Resurrections

All of us will eventually die. What happens when we die? The Bible tells us that when Christ returns in the air the dead in Christ will rise first and be re-united with their soul and spirit that comes down from heaven with Christ. Then the bodies of those that are alive will be changed and be caught up together to ever be with Christ. Are we all resurrected at the same time? Is there one general resurrection of the saved and unsaved as some teach? Or are there two resurrections one of the saved and one of the unsaved?

The Bible tells us in the clearest terms that all of the dead will be raised, 1 Corinthians 15:13-14. It should be noted that the Bible does not teach that we shall all be raised at the same time. There has already been a partial resurrections of believers, Matthew 27:52-53. Even so, many people, and Christians, have been taught that there is only one “general” resurrection of all the dead at the end of the world. No where in the Bible does it say that all men will be raised at the same time. Everyone will be raised and judged but the time, the place, nor the judgments are the same.

The two resurrections are different, occuring at different times and the subjects are also different. See our article on the “Seven Judgments of God”. We can distinguish the two resurrections as the resurrection of life and the resurrection of judgment, John 5:28-29. In the book of Acts the two resurrections are also called the resurrection of the “just” and of the “unjust”, Acts 24:15. The apostle John in the book of Revelation tells of the redeemed who lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years, but the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished, Revelation 20:4-5.

There are three stages for the resurrection of believers:

  • There was a resurrection of believers when Jesus was crucified on the cross, Matthew 27:51-52.
  • There is a resurrection of all believers at the time of Christ's return in the air, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; 1 Corinthians 5:52.
  • The third resurrection is near the end of the tribulation and is of believers saved during the tribulation.

In the first resurrection we see the Lord decending from heaven and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Those Christians that have lived and are now dead will be raised first, 1 Thessalonians 4:16, then those who are alive and remain are caught up and given their new incorruptible bodies, 1 Thessalonians 4:17. Christ will return in the clouds of heaven to catch up all believers to Himself. After the catching up of the believers they will be at the Judgment Seat of Christ being judged for rewards, not sins. The believers' sins were taken care of when they accepted Christ. Jesus paid for their sins on the cross and not only theirs, but the sins of the whole world. He offers it as a gift so one must accept the gift. Remember that the disembodied spirits of those that die are instantly in concious bliss or woe, in hell, and awaiting the second resurrection, Luke 16:22-23, see our article “Judgment at Death”. The second resurrection is when the unsaved dead are resurrected and stand before the Great White Throne, Revelation 20:11-14; 21:8. First comes death then judgment, Hebrews 9:27. See our article “What Happens at Death”.

The second resurrection will be after the thousand year reign of Jesus Christ. Near the end of the thousand years Satan will be loosed for a season and will cause some to follow him. God will destroy those that rise up against the believers and then He will begin the Great White Throne judgment. At this second resurrection it is only the dead, the unsaved, that stand before God and they will be judged according to their works, Revelation 20:12, 14. Notice that all believers have already been resurrected and given their new bodies, so the only dead people are those that are unbelievers. Only the lost in their resurrected physical bodies, will appear at this judgment and will be judged for degrees of punishment. Their eternal destiny was decided at their death and cannot be changed, Hebrews 9:27. When it is time for the Great White Throne judgment they will be resurrected, judged and cast into the lake of fire, Revelation 21:8.

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