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The resurrection. There is a progression of understanding through scripture with regard to the resurrection. Old Testament Saints knew of a general resurrection, that is all (John 11:24). When Christ came He presented something new, that there would be a "resurrection from among the dead" (Matt. 17:9); i.e. that not all would be raised together. He taught that the resurrection would have two parts; those of faith would rise first, and then later those without faith would be raised for judgment (John 5:29). The "two resurrections" have several names:
  • The resurrection of life and the resurrection of judgment (John 5:29)
  • The resurrection of the just and the resurrection of the unjust (Acts 24:15)
  • The first resurrection [and the second death] (Rev. 20:5)
Paul adds even more detail: Christ would rise first, and then those that are Christ’s at His coming would rise (1 Cor. 15:23). Paul explained that some will rise at the rapture (1 Thess. 4:13-18), but he did not explain that another phase will occur at the Appearing. We learn, by joining Rev. 20:4 and Rev. 14:13, that the tribulation martyrs will form the last phase of the first resurrection. In Rev. 20:5, a detail is added as to the space of time between the end of the first resurrection and that of the wicked dead; the space would be 1000 years, or a “millennium”. While details are successively added throughout scripture, the later details do not contradict the earlier statements. Such is the perfection of scripture!

The resurrection of the body vs. immortality of the soul. The Greek philosophers (Socrates, etc.) believed, after a fashion in the immortality of the soul; but never in the resurrection of the body. There is something about the immortality of the soul in which man may exalt himself. He may think so highly of himself as to rule out any possibility that his soul could cease to exist. There were some who believed in trans-migration of the soul to other bodies (metempsychosis), where the consciousness lives on in another body, but the resurrection of the dead is distinct. To think of dust raised again into a living person goes beyond his thoughts. Rather than compliment his pride, it strikes fear in his heart. Resurrection is a glory which belongs only to God (John 5:21). It means – terrifying thought to man – that nothing is hid from His power. Even the wicked will be raised at the last day so they can be judged at the great white throne. Not only does the natural man fail to conceive of it, but his will immediately rejects it when the idea is proposed. "And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked." (Acts 17:32).

A proper view of the body. Paul gives us a proper view of the human body when he desires to warn against the abuse of the body for sexual pleasure (1 Cor. 6:13b-20). These bodies may return to dust, but one day they will be raised again. And meanwhile, they are joined to Christ, and are the temples of the Holy Spirit. These truths give the human body a wonderful place, and give the believer motivation to avoid fornication. The idea that the body is to be condemned is unscriptural. Yes, there is a connection between the physical body and indwelling sin, but the body has been purchased by the blood of Christ, and will one day be redeemed (Rom. 8:11, 23; Phil. 3:21). Not understanding this has resulted in the practice of corporal mortification, etc. which scripture condemns (Col. 2:23).


Matt. 17:9; John 5:29