The doctrine about the resurrection is a basic tenet of Christainity. It is mentioned as one of the rudiments, or elementary word, of the Christ (Heb.6:1).Now if we are to press on to maturity we had better have the foundation straightened out. Some have asked the question several times that if after death Christians directly go to heaven what need there is to be resurrected at another time.
In our days teachings on resurrection seem to be one of the least understood, and this may be due to the fact that many believers are preoccupied with their so-called ascension to heaven when they die, while others will go to hell after their death. In fact there is another doctrine of the immortality of the soul imported from Greek philosophy into Christianity, and it has no truth whatsoever from the written Scriptural standpoint. Only God is immortal (1Tim.6:16), He cannot die, and all other creatures, including Jesus the Christ, receive their immortality from Him. Hence no soul is immortal in itself. God can destroy not only the body, but everything of man, his whole life, in the fire. Whichever of these two teachings – ascension into heaven when believers die or immortality of the soul – it came by the misunderstanding of certain passages, such as the following (emphasis mine):
Eccl 12:7 And the soil returns to the earth just as it was, And the spirit, it returns to the Elohim (the God), Who gave it.
Here, there is no mention that the spirit goes to heaven or hell. It simply means the spirit is under God’s jurisdiction, whether that be in hell (read hades, pit or grave (see below) or sheol), gehenna, Abraham’s bosom, tartaros, death, paradise or the heavens. Specualtions about which spirirt is where, based on whether one was a Christian or not, is mere futility. By the way there seems to be no consciousness in the spirit of the dead unless granted by God. Our Lord, Jesus committed his spirit into the Father’s hands (Ps.31:5; Lk.23:46). There is no mention of him ascending into heaven until after his resurrection. And hades is nowhere mentioned as the final state. The sea, hades - or the unseen - and death gave out the dead in them and the last two are casted into the lake of fire, which is the second death – a final state. Before this happens hades and death would have poured out the deads in them for judgement (Rev.20:11-15)
Lk 16:22 'And it came to pass, that the poor man died, and that he was carried away by the messengers to the bosom of Abraham-and the rich man also died, and was buried; 23 and in the hades having lifted up his eyes, being in torments, he doth see Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom,
This case is rather the contrast of the fate of Lazarus and the rich man. The main theme would rather be the calling of rich people’s attention not to trust in their uncertain riches that perishes with this present age, but instead to do good by opening their eyes to the sufferings of many around them, and extending a bountiful hand to those in need. Afterall there is no such statement as to which of the two belives in God or not. If the places they are confined to are that far away from one another, how could the rich man’s shout have been heard from the other end?
Phil 1:23 (Yet I am being pressed out of the two, having a *yearning for the solution and to be together with Christ, for it, rather, is much better.) 24 Yet *to be staying in the flesh is more necessary because of you.
Here the Apostle was getting tired of the situation he was in. There was much pressure, within and without and he was contemplating whether to continue his lodging in the body of flesh, or leave it and be at rest, till his resurrection.
Heb 9:26 For then must he often have suffered since the disruption of the world: but now once at the conclusions of the eons hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: 28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
Another way to say this would be „it is reserved to humans to be dying once, yet after this a judging.” This particular verse cannot and should not be disconnected from others either before or after it. It is saying that our Lord Jesus did not suffer many times since the „ruin” of the world, but altogether once, and that by the sacrifice of himself, just as it has been reserved to humans to die once. After his sufferings a righteous judging was meted out to him in resurrection by his God and Father. This is why „...he is designated son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead” (Rom.9:4).
Mt 27:50 Now *Jesus, again _crying with a loud voice, _olets out the spirit. 51 And lo~! the curtain of the temple is rent intoin two from above to the bottom, and the earth quaked, and the rocks are rent, 52 and the tombs were opened. And many bodies of the oreposing~ saints were roused, 53 and, coming out out of the tombs after His *rousing, they entered into the holy city and are disclosed to many. 54 Now the centurion and *those with him who are keeping *Jesus, perceiving the quake and the |occurrences, were tremendously afraid, saying, "Truly this was God's Son!"
The centrepiece again is the Lord Jesus, his death and resurrection, with a demonstration of God’s miraculous power to raise his holy ones and make them appear to many in the holy city of Jerusalem. They were not in their resurrection bodies to ascend to heaven, but lived and died again, awaiting their resurrection as a part of the firstfruits to God. The miracle discussed here could be likened to that which the Lord performed on dead Lazarus (Jn.11:41-45). Scriptures unanimously discuss the former, or first resurrection to be in unison and not in stages, since „we who are alive shall not outstrip those who are put to repose” (1Thess.4:15).
Rev 6:9 And when It opens the fifth seal, I perceived underneath the altar the souls of *those who |have been slain~ because of the word of *God and because of the testimony which they had. 10 And they cry with a loud voice, saying, "Till when, O *Owner, *holy and true, art Thou not judging and avenging our *blood outon *those dwelling on the earth?"
Consciuosness was and may be granted to these fellows and associates. That would mean they were given a form to put on, under the altar. Where were they reposing? It may sometimes seem as if everything happening in spirit are taking place in heaven, but that is not true. These souls were not flying all over the place. They were told to be resting further till their number be completed. In order words, it is like saying ’Folks, I am listening. Enrollment is not completed yet. Have patience, for you are mine, and rest still for a while.’
It is in the light of the above that the biblical doctrine of resurrections will be well understood. Let us however remember that Sadducees believe neither the resurrrection nor angels, but Pharisees do. The first disciples of our Lord were dealt with many times due to their proclamation of the Master and resurrection in his name. It was and is still the hope of the Israel of God (Acts 26:1-23). It is an apostolic message, the hope of God’s glory to be revealed through our Lord. It is present in all of the history of the people of God, the church of God.
Our Lord in his earthly ministry made clear statements about the resurrection and the characteristics of its participants. The fact about resurrection has nothing to do with what or not you believe. Still for us in the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ, it is central to our kerügma, our proclamation. It is in Christ Jesus that the resurrection has validity. You can find mentions of it in Moses, Job, Psalms and Isaiah. However, there is a particular group of creatures called Nephilim and Rephaim, who will not rise (Is.26:13-14; Job 26:5; Ps.88:10) . Hence the good news preached by the Christ and the Apostles cannot be separated from the resurrection of the dead. That is why it is one of the tenets or basics of the biblical religion. If not, then there would not have been need for Paul to be discussing its importance to the extent that he argued with those who were in errors and claiming the resurrection is already past.
2Ti 2:18 Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.
1Cor 15:12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: 14 And if Christ be not risen, then [is] our preaching vain, and your faith [is] also vain. 15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith [is] vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. 20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, [and] become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man [came] death, by man [came] also the resurrection of the dead. 22 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, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
1Pt 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our *Lord Jesus Christ, *Who, according to His vast *mercy, regenerates us into a living expectation, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ outfrom among the dead,
Acts 4:2 Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.
Acts 17:18 Now some of the Epicurean as well as Stoic philosophers parleyed with him, and some said, "Whatever may this *rook be wanting to say?" Yet *others, "He seems to be an announcer of strange demons," seeing that he brought them the evangel of Jesus and the resurrection.
Acts 24:14 'And I confess this to thee, that, according to the way that they call a sect, so serve I the God of the fathers, believing all things that in the law and the prophets have been written, 15 having hope toward God, which they themselves also wait for, that there is about to be a resurrection of the dead, both of righteous and unrighteous; 16 and in this I do exercise myself, to have a conscience void of offence toward God and men always.
Acts 24:21 except concerning this one voice, in which I cried, standing among them - Concerning a resurrection of the dead I am judged to-day by you.'
Mk 12:23 in the resurrection, then, whenever they may rise, of which of them shall she be wife - for the seven had her as wife?' 24 And Jesus answering said to them, 'Do ye not because of this go astray, not knowing the Writings, nor the power of God? 25 for when they may rise out of the dead, they neither marry nor are they given in marriage, but are as messengers who are in the heavens.
Lk 20:33 Therefore in the resurrection whose wife of them is she? for seven had her to wife. 34 And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: 35 But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: 36 Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.
While majority of passages above are discussing the fact of the resurrection and linking it with the Wave Sheaf, which is the Lord Jesus himself (Lev.23:9-14; Josh.5:10-12; Jn.20:1, 16-18) the verse below is talking about the same power of the resurrection as Paul would have wanted it to be manifested in him. He wanted to know Christ and that power of the resurrection, so that in a way, if possible, he may attain, while still alive, to that state. This is not to say that it is the only way in which God demonstrates His power. A foretaste of this „powers of the age to come” or, if you like, of the resurrection (Heb.6:5) was demonstrated many times through fellow-servants such as EliYah the Tishbite (1Kings 18:11-12), Enoch (Gen.5:24), Philip the Evangelist (Acts 8:38-39), the Lord and the Apostles (John 6:16-22).
Phil 3:10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
The idea portrayed here is not that far from living the resurrected life to which we are called, as a shadow of the life to come, a reflection of the reality in Christ. This is likened to baptism (read immersion), which has the symbolism and reality of the likeness of the Lord’s death (past tense) and resurrection (present), for those who are answering with a good conscience to God’s calling in their lives.
Ro 6:4 we were buried together, then, with him through the baptism to the death, that even as Christ was raised up out of the dead through the glory of the Father, so also we in newness of life might walk. 5 For, if we have become planted together to the likeness of his death, so also we shall be of the resurrection; 6 this knowing, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of the sin may be made useless, for our no longer serving the sin;
And for those who are living by „carrying their „cross” everyday, following our Lord, their resurrection, the former one, is separated from the general or second resurrection. It is affirmed that „the wicked (lawless) shall not rise (stand) in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righetous” (Ps.2:5). The former resurrection is also referred to as the resurrection of the just, the resurrection of life, or a better resurrection. We have seen the sequence in 1Cor.5:22 to be of 3 stages. Christ is the Wave Sheaf, his holy ones the firstfruits and then the rest. Christ’s resurrection had taken place. He can never die again, he is alive forevermore. That of the holy ones is yet to come in their due time. We are hereby not getting into any parallel resurrections (of life and of judging) which may be taking place within the first resurrection itself.
Jn 5:28 Marvel not at this, for coming is the hour in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, 29 and those who do good shall go out into a resurrection of life, yet those who commit bad things, into a resurrection of judging.
Some of the descriptions of the former resurrection are found below.
Hb 11:35 Women received their dead resurrection: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection
Lk 14:13 But, whenever you may be making a reception, invite the poor, the cripples, the lame, the blind, 14 and happy will you be, for they have nothing to repay you, for it will be repaid you in the resurrection of the just."
Some are asking what the criteria is for participating in the first resurrection. It has a simple answer. It is the saints who will take part in the first resurrection, those who have been born from above, not of bloods (by parental heritage) nor the will of man, nor of flesh, but of God; those who obey and do the commandments (word) of God and the faith (testimony) of Jesus, to the extent that they are separated from this world in what they think, do and say (have refused and do not have the mark of the beast on their foreheads or hands), and, for that purpose, are persecuted, sometimes, till death. There is no talk of being born in a Christian home or family, or whether your parents are preachers or ministers. The prerequisite is not whether or not you have been to bible school. It has nothing to do with your PhD or DivD in biblical studies. It is not whether or not someone ’coerced’ you to accept the Christ, and whether or not you arrived first after the ’altar call’.
Let us look into another set of verses in 1Thess.4:13-18, from which certain things will be clear. .
13 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. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive [and] remaining unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 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: 17 Then we which are alive [and] remaining 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. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
As already mentioned previously, the former resurrection will not take place in stages, and nothing specifies that those who participate would have been killed or beheaded. Paul was expecting those who are still alive and in Christ Jesus at his coming to participate as well. This resurrection will be for those in the Lord, whether asleep (naturally dead or killed in any form for his testimony) or alive till that coming. Those whose name are written in the book oflife of the Lamb will rise. Such people will include Abraham, Noah, Moses, Elisha, Samuel, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Peter, James the brother of John, John, Paul, Stephen and James the brother of the Lord, just to name a few, whether they have died naturally like Moses or Abraham, or killed orbeheaded like Stephen and James the brother of John. One common thing that could be seen in all the cases is that they were persecuted in one form or the other, either severely or gently.
Re 20:4 And I perceived thrones, and they are seated on them, and judgment was granted to them. And the souls of *those executed because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of *God, and those who do not worship the wild beast or its *image, and did not get the emblem on their *forehead and on their *hand--they also live and reign with *Christ a thousand years. 5 (The rest of the dead do not live until the thousand years should be finished.) This is the former *resurrection. 6 Happy and holy is he *who is having part in the former *resurrection! onOver these the second death has no jurisdiction, but they will be priests of *God and of *Christ, and they will be reigning with Him the thousand years.
Believers who are now judged will not face judgement again in matters they already have been. There is that groaning in the whole of creation to be liberated. It is a yearning after our Creator. And there will be liberation, not due to any political party nor under-developed or developed regions of the world. „The whole world is waiting for the manifestations of the sons of God.” This liberation starts with the first resurrection and reign with our Lord for a thousand years. It continues with the binding and judgement of the Accuser, Satan, which is then followed by the rest of the dead who will come to life after the thousand years are over. Then comes the final judgement, atonement and restoration of the whole universe.
Re 20:10 And the Adversary *who is deceiving them was cast into the lake of *fire and sulphur, where the wild beast and where the false prophet also. And they shall be tormented day and night for the ages of the ages. 11 And I perceived a great white throne, and Him *Who is sitting~ upon it, from Whose *face *earth and *heaven fled, and no place was found for them. 12 And I perceived the dead, the great and the small, ostanding sight ofbefore the throne. And the scrolls were opened. And another scroll was opened which is the scroll of life. And the dead were judged by *that which is written in the scrolls in accord with their *acts. 13 And the sea _ gives up the dead *in it, and *death and the unseen (hades) give up the dead *in them. And they were judged, each in accord with their *acts. 14 And *death and the unseen were cast into the lake of *fire. This is the second *death--the lake of *fire.15 And if anyone was not found written in the scroll of *life, he was cast into the lake of *fire. 21:1 And I perceived a new heaven and a new earth, for the former heaven and the former earth pass away, and the sea is no more.