The Believer’s Resurrections

Something I’ve been pondering over since reading it recently:

24 Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life. 25 “Very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming, and is now here, 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, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself; 27 and he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28 Do not be astonished at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and will come out—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.  (John chapter 5emphasis added)

Within this passage many scholars see two resurrections: the first being a ‘spiritual’ resurrection (verses 24, 25). This first resurrection includes “only those who hear”. It being the initial act of salvation (being born-again) and being brought to life spiritually. “…the hour is coming, and is now here...” ( verse 25- present tense at the time Jesus spoke) when only some of “…the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live” 

The “dead” being a reference to being spiritually dead and then being given new life.

The second resurrection is a bodily resurrection (verses 28-29) and includes all people hearing His voice and responding. Of this resurrection Jesus says, “The hour is coming (verse 28, note the lack of “and now is”, as is read in verse 25) when all who are in their graves will hear”. The second resurrection is both to life and condemnation.

The first resurrection is present–the other future; the first is spiritual–the second physical; the first is restricted to only “those who hear”–the other includes everyone; the first is to life–the other is to judgment to life or to death.

Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. Over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him a thousand years. (Rev. 20:6

Source, The Millennium by Alistair W. Donaldson


6 comments on “The Believer’s Resurrections

  1. Reblogged this on The Diary of a Slave.

  2. This is a valuable study. I agree with Mr. Donaldson that two different resurrections are in view in this passage from John 5, a spiritual resurrection (verses 24-25) and a bodily resurrection (verses 28-29). I thought he did a good job articulating this position.

    It’s good to note that the second resurrection (verses 28-29) has Daniel 12:2 as its background:

    “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.”

    Here are the first seven verses of Daniel 12 for more context:

    “At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever. “But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” Then I, Daniel, looked; and there stood two others, one on this riverbank and the other on that riverbank. And one said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, “How long shall the fulfillment of these wonders be?” Then I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand to heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever, that it shall be for a time, times, and half a time; and when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished.”

    That resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous was to happen at the time of great trouble for Daniel’s people (Israel), and a time of incomparable trouble (this brings to mind Matthew 24:21). Those among Daniel’s people, whose names were “found written in the book,” would be delivered. (This, to me, calls to mind the testimony of Josephus that none of the Christians who fled Jerusalem and Judea – in 67 AD – in obedience to Jesus’ words – in the Olivet Discourse – were killed, but were given safe refuge in Pella, Jordan.) That time of trouble would last for 3.5 years (“a time, times, and half a time”), and would result in the power of Daniel’s people being completely shattered (verse 7).

    So for these and other reasons, I believe that the general resurrection of the dead took place in the first century, and that this resurrection is ongoing for those who have died (and will die) since that time (Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.” – Revelation 14:13). So this second resurrection is future for those of us who remain alive, as well as for those who will live and die after us, but has already taken place for those who have already died. That’s what I’ve personally come to believe, in any case.

    As far as Revelation 20 goes, I have more insight than I did a few years ago, but I’m far from having arrived at fully understanding that chapter!

    • I’m so glad someone commented on this.

      When i read it i got so excited because it was something i had never considered: that those in Christ have indeed (already) experienced an actual “resurrection”. Once i read the manner in which he explained it, and the scriptures he pointed to, i ‘saw’ it!

    • It IS exciting. Ephesians 2 also tells us that we have already been raised with Christ:

      “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), AND RAISED US UP TOGETHER, AND MADE US SIT TOGETHER IN THE HEAVENLY PLACES IN CHRIST JESUS, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:4-7).

      Paul here echoes the language he used in the previous chapter to describe Jesus’ resurrection and ascension:

      “…and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places…” (Eph. 1:19-20).

    • Amen!

      You know, it wan’t that i wasn’t aware of this, but the truth of our salvation being (actually) the first resurrection had completely escaped me Adam.

      This is why im always stressing we are ‘students’ of the Holy Spirit, forever learning, until the moment we leave this body! PRAISE GOD! I’ve read and studied the Word for 34 years and am still learning new truths. aha! The Spirit has used Donaldson’s little book, “The last days of Dispensationalism: a Scholarly Critique of Popular Misconceptions”, to open my eyes to a few important biblical issues concerning the Kingdom of God. I would highly recommend it to anyone.

      Guess you could say it’s given me a couple Eureka! moments 🙂

    • And amen to the point that we will never cease to be students of the Holy Spirit while in our earthly bodies. I’m still learning new things as well. Donaldson’s book sounds like a good one.

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