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The Resurrection From The Dead

by Robert Garrett

(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)

RobertGarrett In last week’s lesson we looked at the wonderful truths of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is the foundation of our faith. Today we want to look at the resurrection of the believer in Christ. This is guaranteed to us by our Lord who said in Revelation 1:18: I am the living one. I was dead and behold I am alive forever and ever and I hold the keys of death and Hades. We have the sure promise in Philippians 3:21 that when Christ returns he will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. However, it is not only Christians who will be resurrected. Jesus said in John 5:28 and 29 that everyone, the saved and the lost, will be resurrected. He said: Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out. Now pay attention to this. Those who have done good will rise to live and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.

We learn from this that the resurrection body of those who belong to Christ will be equipped to enjoy the things of heaven for all eternity. Those who rise to be condemned will have bodies equipped to suffer eternally in the lake of fire of which Jesus said in Mark 9:48 that their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.
Many Christians look forward with great expectation to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our subsequent resurrection, but are often confused as to who will be raised at that time. If you, dear listener, wish to know more on this important subject, then this little lesson is for you. We urge you to study carefully the Scriptures so that you might know the certainty of these things. Some believe in what is called a general resurrection. It is the idea that everyone good and bad, saved and unsaved, will be raised at the same time and brought before the judgment seat of Christ who will then separate the good from the bad. That idea is partly based on a misunderstanding that Matthew 25 verse 31 to 46 describes the resurrection. But there is no resurrection mentioned in that passage. It is the judgment of living nations.

Now John 5:28 and 29 which we have already quoted is also misunderstood. At first glance it seems to say that everyone will be raised at the same time. If that were the only verse on this subject we would probably all agree. However there are other verses to be considered before we jump to a conclusion. The sum of God’s Word is truth. Notice that the text is making a general statement. It says a time is coming. It does not say it is the same time for everyone, nor does it say it is not the same time. It is left open and can only be known for sure if there is more information elsewhere in the Scripture. But, first, if we examine the resurrection of Jesus Christ it will help our understanding of the resurrection of the believer.

Jesus Christ was raised from the dead. That expression from the dead is repeated 27 times in the New Testament. Now what does from the dead mean? The New Testament, of course, was originally written in Greek. Many years later it was translated into other languages. The word from is a translation of the Greek word ek. It means out from, from out of, from among. It is the very opposite of the words in and into. The word translated dead is the Greek word nekron. It is plural. It does not here mean the cemetery or place of the dead, but it means dead people. It is clear, then, that Christ was raised out from among the dead people. In other words, Jesus was not only raised from death, not only raised from the grave, but out from among those who are dead. When Jesus arose he left behind other dead people who were not resurrected. He came out from among those dead people. That is what that expression from the dead means. This clear indisputable fact is of tremendous importance to our understanding of the resurrection of the believer, because this same expression is used to describe the resurrection of the Christian.

Consider our Lord’s statement in Luke 20 verse 35. He said: But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead, will neither marry nor being given in marriage. Jesus was here naming a certain kind of resurrection, calling it not the resurrection of the dead, but the resurrection from the dead. Also we notice that Jesus made it to be an exclusive resurrection. It is only for those who are considered worthy. When these are raised, they are raised out from among those who are dead. It is not a general resurrection of the dead. It means that the rest of the dead people, the unworthy are not raised at that same time.

Now these passages, John 5:28 and 29 and Luke 20:35 are not in contradiction to each other. In the Luke passage Jesus is giving us additional information and explanation. He is telling us that the worthy and unworthy are not to be raised at the same time.

The apostle Paul said that it was his ambition to attain to this resurrection, the resurrection from the dead. We find that in Philippians three verse 10 and 11 where he said: I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings becoming like him in his death. And so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Now the old King James Authorized Version of 1611 is in error here because it uses the word of instead of from. If Paul was speaking of a general resurrection in which all are raised at the same time then Philippians 3:11 becomes meaningless. How could Paul strive to attain to a general resurrection into which everyone, good and bad, is going to be raised? In other words, you don’t strive to achieve something that is yours automatically without striving. No, Paul wanted to be in that exclusive resurrection that Jesus spoke of in Luke 20:35. It is a select resurrection. It is the resurrection out from among those who are dead.

It should be obvious that the idea of only one resurrection for everybody good and bad in life, all at the same time, cannot be correct, because Jesus and Paul both spoke of a select resurrection out from among the dead people. Those dead ones left behind, obviously, must wait for a later resurrection.

According to many translations such as the King James, the American Standard, the New American Standard, New King James, Christ speaks of two resurrections, which he calls the resurrection of life and the resurrection of judgment or condemnation. So those are two separate things. It should not be difficult to know which of these resurrections that Paul is aiming for. He certainly wasn’t aiming for the resurrection of condemnation. Jesus also speaks of those who will be rewarded in the resurrection of the righteous. That this in Luke 14:14, which is also called the resurrection of the just. When we put all these passages together, we conclude that there are two separate resurrections. First of all, there is this resurrection from among the dead. It is also called the resurrection of life or the resurrection of the righteous or the resurrection of the just. And this is the first resurrection spoken of in Revelation 20 verses four through six.

Then there is the resurrection of judgment which is the second resurrection of Revelation 20. It is also called the resurrection of condemnation, the resurrection of the unjust or the resurrection of the wicked.

Now let’s open our Bibles to 1 Corinthians chapter 15 verse 20 to 28. Here we see the sequence of the resurrection. If you can open your Bible to these, please follow along as I describe these things. The subject of this passage is not the end of the world. The subject of this world is the resurrection. Paul is describing the order or sequence of the resurrection of all who will be raised. But not all at the same time. In verse 23 he says it is each in his own turn. Now verse 20 here we read that Christ has already been raised out from among the dead. He is, therefore, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. Verse 21 tells us that death came by man. The resurrection of the dead also came by man. Then in verse 22 we are told that in Adam all die. So in Christ all will be made alive, that is, resurrected. Verse 23 says: Each in his own turn. Thus, first Christ is the first fruits, already raised almost 2000 years ago. Then—and the Greek word there means afterwards—then his… those who belong to Christ. They will be raised when he comes. The word then which divides the resurrection of Christ from the resurrection of the saints at his coming, has already lasted almost 2000 years. And in verse 23 there is no resurrection of the wicked there. It is only of the saints.
Then in verse 24 is the Greek word eida, which means next in turn. So that word in our Bibles, then, means in this place next in turn. It does not mean at that time. Next in turn, the end will come, the end of what? The end of the resurrection, of course. He is giving us this sequence of the resurrection. Verse 23 says nothing about the resurrection of the wicked, because they will not be raised at the second coming of Christ. Their turn will be… their turn to be raised will be at a later time and their resurrection is the end of the resurrection.

Now when will the end of the resurrection take place? Verse 24 says it will be when Christ hands the kingdom over to the Father. When will that take place? It is after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. Now how and when does he do that? Verse 25 and 26 tell us that he must reign until he has put all the enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. So this putting of all his enemies under his feet begins at his second coming with the resurrection of the saints and ends with the great white throne judgment and casting of death into the lake of fire. That is the scene of Revelation 19:11 to the end of chapter 20.

 

It was prophesied in Psalms 8:4-6 that God would put everything under the feet of Christ. This is quoted and explained in Hebrews 2:5-9. Here we are told that the world to come is to be subjected to Christ. We are also informed: For at the present we do not see everything subject to him. It is only at his second coming when he comes to rule the nations with a rod of iron that the world to come will be subject to him. Notice on verse 28 there it speaks of those who have fallen asleep. The death of believers is often referred to as sleeping or falling asleep. This expression is never used for the death of unbelievers.

Now Christ is therefore the first fruits of the resurrection of the faithful. We could speak of Christ as being the first fruits of the resurrection of life or the first fruits of the resurrection of the just. But it would be blasphemous to call him the first fruits of the resurrection of judgment or the first fruits of the resurrection of the wicked. So we see that those are separate resurrections. And in verse 23 we observe that it is only the faithful who are raised in this verse. It is those who belong to him will be raised when he comes. There is no unbelievers raised in that verse at all, because their resurrection is separate and apart from the resurrection of the Christian.

Now in every instance where the resurrection is connected with the second coming of Christ, only the faithful are spoken of as being raised. The reverse is also true. The resurrection of the wicked is never connected with the second coming of Christ.

Now in verse 24 it says: Then the end will come. The word then, as we have already noted, is the Greek word eida. It does not mean at time. It means next in turn. It allows a space of time, either short or long, before the next action. And the word end in that verse is the Greek word telos which is never used to speak of the end of a period of time. I quote from Thayers’ Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament. He says that it always means the end of some act or state, but not the end of a period of time, end quote.

So as Paul is giving us the sequence of the resurrection, the word in can only refer to the last act of the resurrection, the raising of those not included among those who belong to him of verse 23. Now there has already been a long period of time separating the resurrection of Christ, the first fruits, from the resurrection of those who belong to him. The word then which separates these two events has lasted almost 2000 years. There can, therefore, also be a period of time separating the resurrection of those who belong to him and the end of the resurrection, because the second then does not mean at that moment. It means next in turn or after that. It therefore allows a period of time to intervene between the resurrection of those who belong to him and the resurrection of the rest of the dead who constitute the end of the resurrection.

The text there does not reveal how long the time gap is to be, but there must be a time gap, because, as we have already seen, believers are raised out from among the dead.

The last book of the Bible reveals that there will be a period of one thousand years between the first resurrection and the resurrection of the rest of the dead. See Revelation 20 beginning with the last part of verse four. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection.

And let me pause there a moment to say: That is why Paul was aiming for that resurrection.

We continue reading: The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.

We conclude with the words of the apostle Paul as he tells us which resurrection he was aiming for. Reading from Philippians 2:11 in the Wiest translation we read: If by any means I might arrive at the goal, namely, the out resurrection from among those who are dead.

Which resurrection are you aiming for? Everyone is going to be raised. Some into that resurrection of judgment which leads to that terrible lake of fire. Some will be in that wonderful resurrection which is out from among the dead and they will enter into eternal life. Only those who have accepted and confessed Jesus as Lord and Savior can be in that resurrection. If you have not done so, we urge you to do so today before it is too late. For there is no salvation outside of Jesus Christ.

 

                                 Robert Garrett is a missionary to Zimbabwe and son of missionaries to Africa.




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I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16:33