When will the various resurrections described in the Bible happen?
The Bible speaks of many resurrections. Those that have already taken place include those God raised from the dead through prophets in the Old Testament, those raised by Jesus, those who rose at the death of Jesus, the resurrection of Jesus on the third day, as well as those raised from the dead by Peter and Paul in the book of Acts. However, the Bible also speaks of future resurrections. Following is our understanding of these resurrection prophecies.
The next great resurrection to take place is what is known as the rapture. First Thessalonians 4:13-18 describes this as an imminent, any-moment event at which the dead in Christ will rise first to meet Him in the air, followed by all believers living at that time. John 14:1-3 shares that Jesus will take His people to be with Him. First Corinthians 15:50-58 notes that believers will then receive new, incorruptible bodies.
Another resurrection will take place at the event called the second coming at the end of the tribulation period. Though believers will be taken up with Christ at the rapture, many more people will come to faith in Him during the tribulation. Those who become believers and die during the tribulation will be resurrected at the return of Jesus and reign with Him during the 1,000-year millennial kingdom (Revelation 20:4-6).
Some believe another resurrection will take place at the end of the millennial kingdom. This is based on Isaiah 65:20 that speaks of death during this future period. However, others argue that only unbelievers will die during the millennial kingdom. If believers do die during this period, it is argued some kind of transformation or resurrection will be required in order to give these believers a new body for the future new heaven, new earth, and new heavenly city.
Another, final resurrection is described in Revelation 20 as the great white throne judgment. At this judgment, unbelievers are raised for a final time of judgment and are cast into the lake of fire with Satan for eternity. It is described as the second death.
In addition to these major resurrections, Revelation also describes the resurrection of the two witnesses on the third day after their deaths (Revelation 11) and states that the Antichrist will recover from a fatal wound. In the case of the Antichrist, it is unclear whether he endures a near-death experience or a real resurrection. However, it is clear that he ultimately faces judgment in the end (Revelation 20).
While there are multiple resurrections to come described in Scripture, the vital application today is for every person to come to faith in Christ now. Those who do will either end this life and live in the presence of Christ (Philippians 1:21; 2 Corinthians 5:8) or will be caught up with Him immediately at the time of His coming at the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
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