The Resurrection

The doctrine of the resurrection of Christ is the foundation of Christianity. It provides the physical, historical, space-time verification for the faith. Without it, Christianity is quite literally, dead. The resurrection of Christ is proclaimed vigorously throughout the New Testament, especially in the teachings of Paul. It is primarily because of Paul’s teachings that the resurrection has such a substantial place in Christianity. Indeed, there is no gospel without the resurrection.  Consider the following:

1 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve (1 Corinthians 15.1-5).

It is important to understand what is meant by resurrection. Jesus was the first person resurrected from the dead (1 Corinthians 15.20). His resurrection was the rising from the dead from an earthly body into a new kind of body. His resurrection body appeared to be like our present bodies but had dramatically different properties. These properties included eternal life and the ability the transcend normal space. God had raised, i.e., resuscitated several persons in the record of the Scriptures. Elijah resuscitated the widow of Zarephath’s son. Jesus raised (i.e., resuscitated) Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha. Paul raised Eutychus (Acts 20.7-12). These individuals were given new life but died again. A resurrected body is different; it can no longer experience death.

The chief historical verification for the resurrection was its effect upon the disciples. Christ’s crucifixion left the disciples defeated. Their world collapsed. Even though Jesus had told them He was going to die and rise from the dead, it never registered (Luke 18.34). After his resurrection, these weak disciples confronted and defied the authorities who had crucified Him. They boldly continued to preach His resurrection and that hope remained for the nation of Israel. These facts vindicate Christ’s resurrection as a fact of history (cf. Acts 4.1-22) for no other explanation is reasonable. They had everything to lose by perpetrating a fraud. Had they benefited from their efforts–prestige, wealth, etc. one might argue they had a vested interest in their activities. But, on the contrary, they obtained no benefit or reward for their bravery. They were ridiculed, beaten, stoned, and tortured. They laid down their lives because they were certain what they had witnessed was true.

The fact the Sanhedrin could not produce a body from the empty tomb–a tomb heavily guarded by the Roman army and sealed with a great stone–further attested to the historicity of the resurrection. Who does not believe the Jews of the Sanhedrin, who conspired in the murder of Jesus, exercised all their power to produce His body? Had they been successful, the claims of Jesus as the Messiah would have collapsed. Can anyone seriously believe the disciples risked their lives for a corpse?  Such a thought is not reasonable; they would not risk their lives for Jesus when he was alive! They all ran away when he was arrested.

Many Bible critics of the 19th and 20th centuries labored to remove the supernatural from the Scriptures. They advanced vigorous attacks and naturalistic explanations for events such as Jesus’ miraculous feeding of the 5,000, His walking on water, His healing of disease and demon possession, calming storms, etc. Critics attempted to demythologize the Scriptures, to remove the supernatural and miraculous from them. Some critics have claimed the witnesses and writers of that day were superstitious and naive. But it is clear from reading the New Testament that those who witnessed miraculous events knew they were extraordinary. They knew what they witnessed violated the laws of nature. When Peter walked on the sea to meet Jesus, he knew he was doing the miraculous. He was a fisherman. He didn’t walk on water to fish–he used a boat. When Jesus gave sight to the blind and raised Lazarus from death, the people knew the laws of nature had been suspended and overcome. They knew no one had ever restored sight to the blind (John 9.31-32). But those miracles, great as they were, pale in comparison to Jesus’ resurrection. The resurrection was the grand miracle. All other miracles were warm up acts. The resurrection of Jesus was the premier event of human history and the most important metaphysical event of the universe. It violated the most obvious and transcendent natural law–death, decay, and entropy. If one can believe in the resurrection of Christ, (and to be a Christian one must) to accept the other miraculous events recorded in the Bible is child’s play. The resurrection of Jesus is the big door. Through it all other supernatural and miraculous events follow.

When investigators remove the miraculous from Jesus, little of the historical Jesus remains. The so-called “quest for the historical Jesus” or separating the “Jesus of history” from the “Jesus of faith” is a game for fools. At the end of the “quest” the “historical” Jesus is barely recognizable. All we are left with is an ethical, moral, naive, religious teacher who fell afoul of envious religious teachers who executed Him. The supernatural acts of Jesus are indivisible from his natural acts. He is the God-Man. They are as much a part of Jesus as His eating and drinking.

The Testimony of Others

The resurrection is a fact of history as certain as Julius Caesar’s crossing the Rubicon. While some have tried to negate the resurrection, many have found the historical record sufficient and compelling. Professor Thomas Arnold, fourteen years a headmaster of Rugby, authored the famous History of Rome and held the Chair of Modern History at Oxford. He wrote,

“The evidence for our Lord’s life and death and resurrection may be, and often has been shown to be satisfactory; it is good according to the common rules for distinguishing good evidence from bad. Thousands and tens of thousands of persons have gone through it piece by piece, as carefully as every judge summing up on a most important cause. I have myself done it many times over, not to persuade others but to satisfy myself. I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times, and to examine and weight the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, then the great sign which God hath given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead.”1

Brooke Foss Westcott, Regius Professor at Cambridge University, wrote,

“Indeed, taking all the evidence together, it is not too much to say that there is no historic incident better or more variously supported than the resurrection of Christ. Nothing but the antecedent assumption that it must be false could have suggested the idea of deficiency in the proof of it.” 2

Dr. Simon Greenleaf, Royal Professor of Law at Harvard University, was one of the greatest legal authorities. He wrote, A Treatise on the Law of Evidence, considered by many the greatest legal volume ever written. Dr. Greenleaf believed the resurrection of Jesus was a hoax and determined to expose it. His investigation yielded a different result. After thoroughly examining the evidence, he concluded that according to the rules of legal evidence, the resurrection of Jesus Christ was supported by history. He stated,

“It was therefore impossible that the apostles could have persisted in affirming the truths they had narrated, had not Jesus Christ actually risen from the dead, and had they not known the fact as certainly as the knew any other fact.” 3

The Testimony of Jesus

Jesus taught the resurrection. When the Sadducees set forth a situation to confound him, he chided them,

29 But Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 31 But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God: 32 ‘I AM THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, AND THE GOD OF ISAAC, AND THE GOD OF JACOB’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living” (Matthew 22.29-32).

Jesus proclaimed God was not the God of dead people but of the living. Therefore, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all who had put their trust in Him were alive.

Jesus spoke of his own resurrection. Mark recorded,

27 Jesus went out, along with His disciples, to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way He questioned His disciples, saying to them, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 They told Him, saying, “John the Baptist; and others say Elijah; but others, one of the prophets.” 29 And He continued by questioning them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and *said to Him, “You are the Christ.” 30 And He warned them to tell no one about Him (Mark 8.27-31).

Several times Jesus declared He would rise from the dead (Mark 9.31; 10.34; Luke 18.33). His disciples, however, failed to comprehend His words because God hid it from them (Luke 18.34).

In addition to teaching His own resurrection, Jesus taught those who believed in him would be resurrected. John recorded:

35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day” (John 6.35-40).

21 Martha then said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” 23 Jesus *said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She *said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world” (John 11.23-27).

In His teaching of the resurrection of those who believed in Him, the timetable was that they would be raised on “the last day.” Later, God revealed to the apostle Paul, additional information about the resurrection.

The Order of Resurrection

There are two kinds of resurrections. One is to life and one is to judgment. Jesus declared He was the giver of life and the judge. Regarding these two resurrections, he said,

20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes. 22 For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, 23 so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. 24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life 25 Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; 27 and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, 29 and will 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 5.20-29).

The resurrection has a definite order and the picture is that of a harvest. Paul described Jesus’ resurrection as being “the firstfruits”. The book of Leviticus discusses various harvests which are pictures of the resurrections (cf. Leviticus 23.9-10; 19.9-10). Part of the doctrine of the resurrection is the Rapture, the removal of the Body of Christ, the Church, from the earth before God pours out his wrath in the Day of the Lord to a Christ-rejecting world and Jesus returns as judge to establish his earthly kingdom. Those who reject the Rapture are like the Sadducees, who in Jesus’ day denied the resurrection. They erred, not knowing the Scriptures. The Rapture was a “secret,” a doctrine God revealed to Paul. One will not find the Rapture taught by Jesus or any of the Twelve. It was a secret. Before God’s call and commission of Paul it was unknown. The order of the resurrections is not explicitly clear. Below is a probable order.

First Resurrection: Resurrection of Life
First-fruitsThe resurrection of Christ, first of the “the firstfruits” (Psalm 16.10; 1 Corinthians 15.20-23a).
The resurrection of additional “firstfruits”: Jewish saints buried around Jerusalem (Matthew 27.51-53).
Main HarvestThe resurrection of the Church, the Body of Christ: the Rapture (1 Corinthians 15.23, 52-53; 1 Thessalonians 4.14-17; 2 Thessalonians 2.3; Philippians 3.11).
GleaningsThe resurrection of Old Testament believers (Job 19.25-26; Daniel 12.1-2, 11-13; Isaiah 26.19-21).
The resurrection of Tribulation believers (Revelation 20.4-5).
Second Resurrection: Resurrection of Judgment
Great White ThroneThe resurrection of unbelievers: those who have rejected YHVH-Christ (John 5.28-29; Revelation 20.11-15).

The Bible teaches humans live forever. Jesus taught two resurrections: one to life (the first resurrection) and one to judgment (the second resurrection). The first resurrection, the resurrection unto life, will come in phases. Christ was the first to be raised and some saints buried around Jerusalem were raised shortly after that.

The next resurrection will be the resurrection of the Church, the Body of Christ. Of that group, those who have died will be resurrected first. Then those who are alive when Christ appears will be raised. This means a large number of people will not experience physical death. This event is known as the Rapture (ἁρπάζω, 1 Thessalonians  4.16) and was a secret until Paul revealed it (1 Corinthians 15.51-52). After the Rapture will follow the Day of the Lord or the Tribulation, as Jesus called it (Matthew 24.21), or the “time of Jacob’s trouble” as Jeremiah referred to it. During this time God will renew His plan with national Israel. Sixty-nine weeks of years from Daniel’s prophecy (Daniel 9.25-27) have already been fulfilled for national Israel and one week of years (7 years) remains.

The “rapture” is for the Church, the body of Christ, Christ’s return. The prophets of Israel, while they diligently searched the Scriptures (1 Peter 1.10-11) did not understand that the prophecies described two advents of the Messiah. Just as God revealed two advents to the Old Testament prophets, He revealed another advent to the apostle Paul. In the first phase, Jesus will return to claim his Church, the body of Christ, from the coming wrath, i.e “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30.7). In the second phase, he will come to rescue a repentant Israel (cf. Matthew 23.37-29) and establish His kingdom (cf. Acts 1.6-7). To understand the Rapture one must understand the distinction between the Church and Israel, law and grace, God’s heavenly people and God’s earthly people, and the “gospel of the kingdom” and the “gospel of the grace of God.” Without understanding the distinctions between these two programs (Israel and the Church), the Bible is a muddle. A theological system that fails to recognize these distinctions is incapable of providing sound interpretation of the Bible and eisegesis replaces exegesis.

The Church and Israel are distinct entities. Jesus, in his earthly ministry, came expressly to present himself as the King and Messiah of Israel (Romans 15.8). Gentiles were not included (cf. Matthew 10.5-7; 15.21-28) in Jesus’ earthly ministry although He made a couple exceptions, e.g., the Canaanite woman and the Roman centurion. Following the nation’s rejection of their Messiah, however, God acted in grace rather than judgment. Rather than follow the prophetic timetable of pouring out His wrath, God acted in grace and commissioned Paul as the “apostle to the Gentiles”. God revealed to Paul a new, “secret” entity, the Church, the body of Christ. Jesus did not teach it nor did the Twelve. It was a truth God kept hidden until He chose to reveal it to Paul (cf. Ephesians 2.11-22; 3.3-9; Colossians 1.26-27). Since Israel would not repent and accept Jesus as their Messiah-King, the nation has been temporarily set aside. Paul explained this in Romans 9-11.

For God to complete his work with Israel and fulfill His promises to the nation which He had made through covenants, Israel has to repent. Repentance was the message John the Baptizer, Jesus, and the Twelve proclaimed to the nation. It continued to be Peter’s message after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension (Acts 2.37-40; 3.19-21). The nation refused to repent and God judged the nation in 70 A. D. Since that time, God has been dealing with the Church, the body of Christ. After God removes the Church in the Rapture, He will renew His dealings with national Israel and judge a Christ rejecting world. This judgment is called “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30.7), the Tribulation, and the Day of the Lord. This judgment will result in a repentant Israel who will recognize and accept Jesus as their Messiah-King (Matthew 23.39; Zechariah 12.10). He will return to rescue them and all mankind from annihilation (Revelation 19 cf. Matthew 24.22).

From Job 19.25-26, Daniel 12.1-2, and Isaiah 26.19-21, it would appear Old Testament saints are not raised at the Rapture but later, following the Tribulation, at the time of the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom. All Old Testament believers as well as all Church believers will be resurrected before the Millennium. Also raised before the Messianic Kingdom are those martyred in the Tribulation. They are those who refused to worship the Antichrist as God (Revelation 20.4-5).

Life will be greatly extended in the Messianic Kingdom, but death will occur (Isaiah 65.20). No passage of Scripture clearly indicates the resurrection of Millennial saints but they may be resurrected at the end of the Millennial Kingdom.

The final resurrection will be the resurrection of those who have rejected Christ (Revelation 20.11-15). See the discussion on Hell and Judgment for a fuller treatment of this event.

The Myths of Resurrection

James Frazier, in his highly influential work, The Golden Bough, contented most ancient civilizations and cultures had myths of resurrection. These were expressed as myths of the dying god returning to life. The Egyptians had Osiris, the Phoenicians had Baal, the Babylonians had Tammuz, and the Greeks had Dionysius. The myths of the dying and resurrected god were associated with fertility cults and with the celebration of rebirth, regeneration, and the renewal of springtime. These celebrations revolved around the natural order of death and germination in the earth. Critics of the Bible took Frazier’s work and maintained the resurrection of Christ was just one more dying god/resurrection myth. Frazier’s work has received much criticism by scholars. The consensus is Frazier overreached–that stories of the dying god resurrecting to new life are based upon little evidence. Accepting Frazier’ thesis, C. S. Lewis wrote an essay entitled, “Myth Became Fact” in which he maintained that the resurrection of Christ fulfilled the shadowy world of the pagan resurrection myths with the true fact of resurrection. Thus, he argued, in Christianity, the myth of the dying god became real.

God’s creation of nature is like a black and white image of reality while supernature is a color picture. Nature is but a pale reflection of much greater reality: supernature. Nature is supernature on training wheels. Thus, seeds must die in order to germinate and bring forth new life. All manner of plant life returns to life in the spring. But dead humans do not. Dead, buried humans stay in the ground. But Christ, by his resurrection, broke the natural order of death. He is of a higher, supernatural order. What nature cannot do, supernature can do. Christ, the one who created heaven and earth and all that is, overcame the natural order. The dead Christ walked out of the tomb. Through His resurrection all who believe in Him and are united in Him through faith in His death and resurrection have hope of resurrection. Christ’s conquering death gives hope to all who have trusted in Him. This is the good news!

The apostle Paul witnessed to the pagan culture of his day regarding Christ’s resurrection. The Greeks had no belief in bodily resurrection. Some believed in the immortality of the soul but not of the body. This is evident from their writings and also from the testimony of the Scriptures. Plato discussed the immortality of the soul but never the body. When Paul went up to the Aeropagus in Athens, he taught the philosophers about the true God and the resurrection. The Scripture recorded their response:

32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, “We shall hear you again concerning this.” 33 So Paul went out of their midst. 34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them (Acts 17.32-34).

The preaching of the gospel always evokes a response. Either it is accepted or rejected. If one accepts it, the result is eternal life; if one rejects it, the result is eternal death.

The resurrection of the body was believed in by the Jews. Job’s testimony was,

19 As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God” (Job 19.25-26).

Jesus taught the resurrection of the body. It is clear from his conversation with Martha that the common people knew about it and believed it. John wrote of this conversation in his gospel,

23 Jesus *said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” Jesus *said to her, “Your brother will rise again” (John 11.23-26).

In Jesus’ day, the Jewish leadership of the Sadducees and the Pharisees was divided on the matter of the resurrection. The Pharisees believed in it; the Sadducees did not. Paul cleverly used this controversy to his advantage before the Sanhedrin when he was being accused and persecuted by the Jews. Luke recorded the event:

6 But perceiving that one group were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, Paul began crying out in the Council, “Brethren, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees; I am on trial for the hope and resurrection of the dead!” 7 As he said this, there occurred a dissension between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. 8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor an angel, nor a spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all (Acts 23.6-8).

Conclusion

The Lord Jesus Christ’s resurrection secured, sealed, and consummated His redemptive work. Through his work we have forgiveness of sins (Ephesians 1.7; Colossians 1.14) an eternal inheritance (Romans 8.17; Ephesians 1.11; Colossians 1.12), and the indwelling Holy Spirit (Romans 8.16; Ephesians 1.13-14; 2 Corinthians 1.22, 5.5) we know we will share in the benefits of Christ’s resurrection and victory with our own resurrection. This is the great hope of Christians. Christ’s appearing is our resurrection and our “blessed hope” (Titus 2.13).

1 Josh McDowell. Evidence That Demands A Verdict, p. 191.
2Josh McDowell, Evidence That Demands A Verdict, p. 192-3.
3Josh McDowell. Evidence That Demands A Verdict, p. 192.

©1999 Don Samdahl. Anyone is free to reproduce this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold.

Updated, August 28, 2010


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54 Responses to The Resurrection

  1. Mark says:

    Do you think unbelievers will rise to a physical bodily resurrection? Paul says the dead in Christ shall rise and then those that are alive. . . I also read that Paul said in Acts that there is a resurrection for the just and the unjust. I understand the purpose for the believers resurrection, but I don’t understand the purpose for a resurrection for the unjust. Are the unjust resurrected (physically) only to be judged and then physically destroyed? I don’t understand what the resurrection has in store for the unjust other than to be judged. Can you share your thoughts on this? Thanks again, I value your comment to my questions.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Mark,
      The Lord spoke on this subject in John 5.21-29. He declared a resurrection of the just (believers) and a resurrection of the unjust (unbelievers). At the Great White Throne judgment (Revelation 20.11-15), Jesus will exercise His role as judge as He stated in John 5. Unbelievers will appear before Him to be judged. A resurrection body is needed for unbelievers to spend eternity in the lake of fire.

      • james forrestal says:

        Can you show a verse in the Bible stating man has an immortal soul? Can you show a scripture explicitly stating unsaved Gentiles will be resurrected? *Daniel 12 and John 5 written to Judeans* If man is mortal and Christ only has immortality how is man immortal outside of Christ? Great white throne? To whom was John and the original 12 Apostles sent? If not to the Gentiles why do we assume they are there for judgement. Todah & good evening Brother.

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          James,
          Read Revelation 20.11-15. John saw all unsaved humanity before God to be judged. The Bible teaches not only that man’s soul is immortal but that his body is also.

  2. Ron says:

    Dear Doctrine again thank you for your years of labour in the Lord.
    Q. I am having difficulty placing the time of the resurrection of the old testament saints bodies could you please comment, also the saints bodies who are crying out under the alter are these united with glorified bodies at the glorious appearing at the end of the tribulation. Do you also have any comment on the placing of the little children and babies who die in the womb under the age of accountability as to the whereabouts in the plan/programme of God we may encounter them will the be in the millennium reign with Christ.
    Bless you Ron. from Ireland.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Ron,
      It appears that the OT believers will be resurrected 75 days after the Lord returns (Daniel 12.11-13). It is reasonable those killed who did not take the Beast’s mark will be resurrected then also. As for babies/children I think the most we have on this is David’s words (2 Samuel 12:14-31). David was confident he would see his child again. I think we can be safe in saying that God does not hold accountable any who are unable to comprehend or make a choice.

  3. Theresa says:

    If a person dies as a believer, does he go immediately to be with our Lord of does he “sleep” until the rapture when the dead in Christ go first.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Theresa,
      For the believer, to be absent from the body means to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5.8). Paul used “sleep” as a euphemism for death. The believer’s soul and spirit go to be with the Lord and await for a resurrection body at His return (1 Corinthians 15.51-54; 1 Thessalonians 4.13-18).

      • K G RAJ says:

        Praise the lord and Thanks.
        The believers soul and spirit with Lord after death. What about unbelievers Soul and spirit status after death?

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          K G RAJ,
          The unbeliever’s soul and spirit go to hell–the place of torment. See Luke 16.19-31.

          • patricia fevens says:

            this does not even make sense. You mean that when an unbeliever dies they go to hell only to be resurrected to be judged and than thrown back into hell??? I find it very difficult to believe this doctrine and the doctrine that a believer goes to heaven as soon as they die and are enjoying the bliss of heaven now only to be resurrected to go back to heaven??? Is there anywhere in scripture that says the soul will be reunited with the body? I know everyone quotes” half” of a scripture verse that says to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. You cannot build a doctrine on “half ” a scripture verse. You have to read the whole chapter. Paul is talking about the resurrection and being present with the Lord then. Ecclesiastes 9:5 says “For the living know they will die but the dead know nothing. Psalm 115:17 The dead do not praise the LORD, nor any who go down in silence. 1 Thessalonians 4: 13, 14 talks about “those who have fallen asleep” and “those who sleep in Jesus” I have another question, in verse 15 it say those who are alive at Jesus coming will by no means “precede” “those who are asleep” , my question, if the living are cannot precede those who are asleep why would God allow those who have died to precede the living? The Bible clearly states the dead are asleep, not a natural sleep but a sleep of death until the resurrection. ! Corinthians 15:51-53 talks about death, corruption, incorruption, mortal and immortality. we are corrupt, mortal beings and the dead and the living are only changed by putting on incorruption and immortality, our glorified body at the resurrection at the return of Christ and then and only then will death be swallowed up in victory. Right now death is our enemy and death has a sting and the grave seemingly has the victory but only until the resurrection at the return of our Savior. Jesus Himself said death was like sleep John 11:11. John 11:25 Jesus says ” I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live again. And he who believes in Me shall never die.” When he believers will never die I believe He is talking about death will never hold us in it’s eternal grip but we will be raised again to live forever forever and the unbelievers will live again to face the second death Revelation 20:7

            • doctrine doctrine says:

              Patricia,
              Resurrection deals with bodies. A resurrection body is eternal. Paul used the word “sleep” euphemistically for death. At the moment of death a believer’s soul and spirit go into the presence of the Lord (2 Corinthians 5.8) to await a resurrection body which will be given at the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4.13-18; 1 Corinthians 15.51-57). The unbeliever’s soul and spirit go to hell the moment of death to await resurrection after the Messianic kingdom and judgment by Christ (Revelation 20.11-15; John 5.22, 24-29). The result of that judgment will be that unbelievers will be imprisoned in the lake of fire with an eternal, resurrection body.

  4. Marco West says:

    Good article Don. I am mid-acts dispensationalists so I understand most of the articles here. But I want to ask a question:
    Just as you quoted Matthew 22:29-32, in the parallel Luke 20:34-36, Jesus said, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage.
    But they that will shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage.
    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.

    Now compare it with the passage in Isaiah 65:17-25, especially verses 20, 22 and 23, which suggest people will die though they will live very long lives and they will bear children in the new age.

    My question is how can we reconcile the two passages above or are they of two different context?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Marco,
      Thank you. In Isaiah we have two things, 1) new heavens and earth (Isaiah 65.17-19 or just 17) and 2) the millennial kingdom (Isaiah 65.18-25). In the new heavens and earth all will have resurrection bodies. Death will not exist. In the kingdom, some of inhabitants (believers who have survived the Tribulation) will be mortal, but with long-life. They can die. They will procreate and their children can also die. The 1,000 kingdom will have humans with mortal bodies and humans with immortal, resurrection bodies (resurrected OT saints) and possibly? probably? Church-age believers–we’re not told specifically.

  5. Marco West says:

    On point, Doctrine! It’s clearer now. Thanx.

  6. Marco West says:

    I have another question please: concerning whether this present Church age, the body of Christ, would rule with Christ as her Head here on earth:
    in 1 Corinthians 6:2-3:
    Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
    Know ye not that we shall judge the angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?

    So what is your take on this? Thank you for all your efforts on this blog.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Marco,
      This gets into the realm of speculation since we’re given little specific information about our future responsibilities. Paul wrote we are joint-heirs with Christ in Romans 8. What He has we share. Thus, it is reasonable we will have ruling responsibilities on earth as well as heaven (over angels). The word for “judge” is κρίνω. Most of the time when “judge” is used in the OT it means “rule” and I think this is the better sense (cf. Matthew 19.28).

  7. Becky says:

    Hi Don, this morning i was pondering the resurrected Lord Jesus. Is He still considered a Jew? I looked thru your list of studies to find one that fit closest with my thoughts and question. This study, by the way, is very insightful, answering questions i have had in the past. Thanks so much.

  8. Becky says:

    Hi Don, when Paul says Jesus was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, what Scriptures is he referring to? The only thing is could come up with was Jonah, other than Paul himself stating it.

  9. Theresa says:

    Can you explain about the graves that opened right after Christ was crucified as written in the book of Matthew… The saints that rose from the dead….

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Theresa,
      Read the account again. The graves were not opened right after Christ was crucified. They were opened after Christ rose from the dead. They became part of the “firstfruits” of the resurrection.

  10. Theresa says:

    Another question I have is why the people did recognize him after the resurrection

  11. Theresa says:

    One more question, why do you think our resurrected Lord asked for food

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Theresa,
      The simplest answer is He was hungry. We know resurrection bodies are eternal but may need sustenance. Who knows? All we do know is it will be glorious!

  12. Theresa says:

    After the resurrection of unbelievers they are judged and forever separated from
    God, but are they now DEAD or forever alive knowing they are separated for all eternity

  13. Theresa says:

    I am wondering why in mark, the ladies while walking to the tomb carrying anointing oils to use on our Lords body began to discuss how they would move the large stone to get in….. First they would have to get past the guards then move a heavy stone?? Of course there was no need once they got there. Just one of those things I always pondered….

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Theresa,
      It was customary to anoint dead bodies with spices and ointments. These women came to the tomb with this purpose in mind. They thought someone would be there who would move the stone and allow them access to the tomb. As you state, “there was no need once they got there.”

  14. Roger Spielmann says:

    You wrote, “The Bible teaches that humans live forever.” My first comment is that the Bible is clear in saying that the soul can die (Ezek. 18:20; Matt. 10:28). So much for humans living forever. As for the intermediate state of the dead, I’m sure you’re aware of all the arguments about death being an unconscious state (sleep) until the resurrection (John 11:11; I Thess. 4:13; Eccl. 9:5-6; John 5:28-29; and so on). I’m also pretty sure you know the arguments against eternal torment (2 Thess. 1:9; John 3:16; and so on). The Bible is clear that the unjust are thrown into the Lake of Fire and are burned up (cease to exist). This punishment (ceasing to exist) is eternal. And, of course, the moral argument: the mere thought of a God who would inflict unending torture on his creations is morally repugnant.

    As I said, I’m sure you know all the arguments. My question is: what is meant by the “second death” in Rev. 21:8? The preponderance of biblical passages make it clear that we all die once but the unjust, along with Satan and his minions, will die again (the “second death”). No remembrance of sin will be left in the universe. No one worrying about grandma writhing in torture for eternity. The very thought is obscene.

    Christianity’s version of hell and eternal torment are based more on church tradition than they are on the Bible. The biblical evidence for ceasing to exist (destroyed, perish, burned to stubble, the second death) is much more in line with the image of God as revealed in the Bible, wouldn’t you agree?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Roger,
      I addressed the arguments against eternal torment in the article Hell and Judgment and in the attending comments. The short answer, which should be authoritative, is it is what Jesus taught. If you do not like it, your displeasure is with Him.

  15. George says:

    Hi bro Don,

    Concerning marriage in the millennium, can we safely say that body of Christ members do not get married and have no wives, as do ot saints with resurrected bodies, thus eliminating Solomon or King David procreating again? also in the new heaven and earth, does procreating stop all together seeing everyone then will have a resurrected glorified body.
    2 question- I see in this article that you take a couple of verses regarding eternal life in the kingdom gospels of John and 1st John and combine them with the Pauline grace epistles in order to emphasize having present eternal life, I think that’s ok but dispensationally I know that you believe that one can lose their present eternal life in the gospels which is based on belief in messiah and doing the commandments until the end whereas in Paul’s epistles one can never lose their present eternal life once one believes in the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ and appropriates HIS shed blood as their only means to heaven. I just find when preachers use this method without specifying right division that it causes confusion for Christians that cannot rightly divide. I would like to know your view on this, God bless you and have a nice day!

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      George,
      1. Yes. 2. I do not think I have ever written one could lose his salvation. Thank you, grace and peace.

      • George says:

        What about Annanias and Saphira, would you say they had tasted of the heavenly gift of eternal life that John writes about but sinned against the Holy Spirit thus causing them to lose their eternal life. the question I am asking you is can a person in the kingdom of God/heaven program lose eternal life that they had let’s say a few months ago in the gospels kingdom program/tribulation/millennium?

        • doctrine doctrine says:

          George,
          Ananias and Sapphira were believers who sinned and were judged. They did not lose their salvation. In the early chapters of Acts we have a preview of kingdom life when the Lord will be ruling the earth. He will rule with a rod of iron, i.e., sin will be dealt with immediately.

  16. Kerri says:

    I have a question I know you can help me with. In Revelation 20:5 it calls this the first resurrection. Is this called the first resurrection because it is the first resurrection to judgement? I have some friends who do not believe in the rapture because of this verse. They believe that because it states the first resurrection occurs just prior to the thousand year reign of Christ, this means there is no rapture. I believe that the rapture is not mentioned as the first resurrection because there is no judgement at the rapture but rewards. Could you clarify this for me. Thank you so much. I love reading your articles. I read them over and over until they sink in. They help me so much as I study my bible.

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Kerri,
      John wrote to Jews. Revelation concerns Jews and the nations. The Church is not present. Jesus stated there were two resurrections: one to life, the other to judgment. Jesus revealed nothing in His earthly ministry about the Church, the body of Christ. The Rapture belongs to the resurrection of life but since Jesus revealed nothing of the Church, He revealed nothing of its Rapture. The OT believers and the Tribulation martyrs will be resurrection to go into the kingdom. This is the first resurrection. The second resurrection occurs at the end of the Tribulation after the final rebellion. John didn’t call it the second resurrection. He called it the second death–for eternal separation from God (Revelation 20.14).

  17. Theresa says:

    I hope even those who have died rejecting Christ will be given another opportunity to be saved

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Theresa,
      If it would make a difference God would provide another opportunity. But nothing would change. The Lord addressed this issue in Luke 16.19-31. Also recommend The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis who develops this truth.

  18. Joe says:

    I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

    In I Corinthians 15 the word ‘flesh’ is included with ‘blood’. I think I understand the part about blood not being included but how can we have a body if we don’t have flesh?

    thank you, Joe

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Joe,
      Flesh and blood constitutes a mortal, corrupted human body. Flesh and bone constitutes a spiritual body (1 Corinthians 15.39-40, 42-44, cf. Luke 24.39; Ephesians 5.30 (KJV)).

  19. Joe says:

    It seems that blood has more of a meaning than the obvious. Early in the bible instructions to eat animals excluded blood. Blood in sacrifices even pagan sacrifices. Communion services using wine as a substitute. I may be mistaken but I think Catholics believe Christ took his blood to Heaven. The blood types between mother and child in the womb are often different and never passed between them.

    I’ve heard that sin is passed down from the father (earthly father) through the blood. Joseph was not Jesus’ father. ….I think Catholics speak often of the immaculate conception. If I’m not mistaken, unknown to most, the IC is of Mary and not our Lord.

    Doctrine, do you have an essay addressing blood in a biblical sense?

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Joe,
      I touch on the subject in The Virgin Birth and The Preaching of the Cross. Correct on IC with regard to Mary. Mary in RC did not inherit original sin from Adam.

  20. Elvie Manrique says:

    Hi Don,
    Please explain 1st Corinthians 15:17? Thanks

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Elvie,
      The resurrection was the proof of the effectiveness of Christ’s work on the cross. Had He not risen we would remain in our sins. Next week is Easter, the great, high holiday of Christians.

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  22. Leonito says:

    Good day sir:

    Who are the additional “firstfruits” or the Jewish saints buried around Jerusalem?
    Can you show a verse in the Bible states who are they or their names?

    Thank you sir

    • doctrine doctrine says:

      Leonito,
      The Scriptures give no indication as to their identity. One thing one can say is that was a happy day for them!

  23. courtney says:

    Brother, this is always a refreshing article. Well done and put. Thank You

  24. Sean says:

    Meanwhile Jesus is also the head of Church comprising mainly of gentiles. So He is head of All.

  25. George says:

    Hello Bro Don, regarding the timeline of Jesus’s ressurection, especially in the context of the disciples on the road to emmaus ” ” ” this day ( Sunday ) is the third day since jesus death? What day and time do you think Jesus died in ? Thanks!

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