Monday, September 28, 2015

One, Two or Three Resurrections?

     In my theology class, I’m reading a book entitled The Judgment Seat of Christ by Samuel L. Hoyt. He points out that there are several views of our future resurrection. An interesting verse is Daniel 12:2, “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (ESV). He points out that there is agreement that the word many is precisely a word in Hebrew that means something less than all.[1] If the word all had been used, this verse would imply that there is only one resurrection. However, since many is used, the implication is that there will be more than one.

     Next, we jump to the end of the Bible and find Revelation 20:4-5, “Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection” (ESV). While Daniel only gave a hint of two resurrections, Revelation provides the detail of a significant separation in time from the first resurrection to the second. The timing of these verses in Revelation is immediately after Jesus’ return where he strikes down all the nations that have opposed Him and defeat Satan. The clear implication of these verses is that only those who have died while the Antichrist is active on earth will be resurrected after Jesus’ return.

     Now it gets sticky. How does 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 fit into this picture? “For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord” (ESV). If Revelation teaches that there will be a resurrection after Jesus’ return and 1 Thessalonians teaches that there will be a resurrection immediately before Jesus’ return for we will meet Him in the air, then it looks like there will be three resurrections.

     While this quick study is certainly not exhaustive, many books have been written on the topic, it certainly is food for thought. However you look at it, one thing is very clear. Sooner or later, everyone will be resurrected. Some to be with Jesus forever in heaven and other who have not trusted in Jesus will suffer forever. If you haven’t chosen Jesus today, then you should because you may not have another chance before you die or He comes back.
Bibliography
Hoyt, Samuel L. The Judgment Seat of Christ: a Biblical and Theological Study. Milwaukee, WI: Grace Gospel Press, 2015.



[1] Samuel L. Hoyt, The Judgment Seat of Christ: a Biblical and Theological Study (Milwaukee, WI: Grace Gospel Press, 2015), 1.

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