The Resurrections: Who, What and When?
QUESTION: You mentioned that there are 3 resurrections. I thought there were only two. Could you please explain?
ANSWER: We mentioned that there are at least 3 parts to the resurrection of the righteous (the resurrection of Christ, the “first fruits,” the Rapture resurrection of the Church saints, and the resurrection at the end of the Tribulation of the Old Testament and Tribulation saints). Let’s take a closer look at the sequence of the resurrections.
Jesus said, “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.” John 5:28-29
Believers and unbelievers will be raised, but not all at the same time. Scripture, in the original language, says that believers will be resurrected “out from among” all of those who are dead. ( Luke 20:35; Philippians 3:11) That means that there will actually be two phases to the resurrection of people—one phase when believers will be raised, and another when unbelievers will be raised. This is confirmed in Revelation 20:4-6 where the resurrection is seen to actually come as two episodic events known as the “first resurrection [of believers]” and the [second] resurrection of “the rest of the dead.” Thus there will be two phases to the resurrection of people—one phase when believers will be raised, and another when unbelievers will be raised.
Furthermore, the resurrection of believers is specifically said to unfold “each in his own order” of succession. There is the resurrection of Christ “the first fruits,” followed by “those who are Christ’s at His coming [believers], ” then comes the end [and the resurrection of unbelievers at the end of the Millennial Kingdom, Rev. 20:11-15].” (1 Corinthians 15:23-24)
That means there will be several phases to the “first resurrection.“ Upon careful reflection on several passages of scripture, we can see the phases of the resurrections:
(1) Christ Himself was the first in the resurrection of the righteous.
(2) At the time of the Rapture of the church, the resurrection of all believers who have died since the time of Christ, will occur.
(3) Next will come the resurrection of all of the Old Testament saints who lived before Pentecost. Daniel 12:13 says that Daniel himself will “rise again for your allotted portion at the end of the age.” The “end of the age” is specifically said to occur at the time of the harvest when Christ comes to the earth. (Matthew 13:39)3. Those who have been martyred during the Great Tribulation will also be raised at this time. (Revelation 20:4)
(4) What about those who have been born into natural bodies during the Millennial Kingdom, who may die during that period? No saved person will die during the Millennium. (Isaiah 65:20; for the lost who die, see #5 below)
(5) Finally, all unbelievers are raised and judged at the end of the Millennium. (Revelation 20:11-15)
The resurrection of the righteous, then, is our greatest hope for the future. For any of you who are forlorn, downcast and weary, turn your heart and your face toward Jesus now, at this moment. If you have not received Him, ask Him to save you now, believing that He died for your sins and was resurrected to life so that you too may be raised to life eternal— with the promise that He will personally “raise [you] up on the last day.” John 6:39
If you have already received Jesus as your Savior, ask Him to remind you often that “this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:40