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The Second Resurrection

  • The second resurrection (or resurrection of judgment) is part of Judgment Day.
  • All nonbelievers will be raised up out of hell at the second resurrection.
  • Similar to the first resurrection, the second resurrection will be spiritual in nature.
  • At the second resurrection, people will be raised up and judged according to their deeds.

For the great multitudes of humanity, the second resurrection will be a dividing line between eternal life and eternal damnation.

The second resurrection, or resurrection of judgment, occurs after the resurrection of the righteous, and is the greater of the two in terms of the numbers of people involved. It will include not the redeemed ones, but the unjust ones that Paul speaks of when he says, "And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust" (Acts 24.15 KJV bible). Thus, the great masses of individuals who are not sanctified to partake in the first, will be raised in the second resurrection.

Jesus would say regarding the second resurrection, "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation" (John 5.28-29 KJV bible). Here Jesus is not referring to any of the redeemed ones, but to the ones who dwell spiritually in the graves. At the second resurrection, all of the nonbelievers will be raised up from the graves, or dust of the earth (see ch.8 Gateways to Heaven and Hell). For the ones who make it into eternity, it will be a resurrection of life, but for the ones who are cast into Gehenna, it will be a resurrection of damnation.

The nature of the second resurrection is brought forth in Revelation, which depicts the dead being released from the power of death for the purpose of a final judgment, "And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell [Hades] delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works...And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20.13,15 KJV bible). So the second resurrection is a day of judgment for the unsanctified multitudes, when the wicked are weeded out from among the righteous, and cast into eternal damnation (see ch.30 Eternal Torment).

In speaking of the second resurrection, Jesus warns of the condemnation to come, "The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and condemn them: for she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here" (Luke 11.31 KJV bible). At this final hour of judgment, the more righteous among the nonbelievers will also rebuke the wicked, because there is nothing that is hidden that will not be revealed.

We can further understand this decisive event with the gospel of Matthew. Here Jesus portrays the second resurrection as a gathering together of the nations, "And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world...Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matthew 25.32-34,41 KJV bible). Thus, the second resurrection will be a time of judgment and reckoning, when the dead are raised up from Hades, some to receive eternal life, but others eternal condemnation in Gehenna.

The Old Testament gives us a more symbolic depiction of the second resurrection.

In the Old Testament, we are given several veiled and fleeting glimpses of the second resurrection. They all describe a literal flesh and blood scenario, where people are raised out of their graves for a final judgment.

The book of Daniel makes clear reference to the second resurrection. It says that the deceased will awaken from the dust of the earth, some to life, and others to condemnation, "And many [or the multitude] of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt" (Daniel 12.2 KJV bible). Similarly, Job makes allusion to the dead awakening from sleep at the time of the end, "So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep" (Job 14.12 KJV bible). Another reference is in the book of Isaiah, where the second resurrection is described as a resuscitation of people's corpses, "Your dead will live; Their corpses will rise. You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy, For your dew is as the dew of the dawn, And the earth will give birth to the departed spirits" (Isaiah 26.19 NASB bible). This more literal flesh and blood scenario is even echoed in the New Testament, "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation" (John 5.28-29 KJV bible). So the question becomes how literally or symbolically should we interpret these passages about the second resurrection?

If we take these passages literally, particularly Isaiah, then we would have to conclude that the second resurrection will be a revitalization of people's flesh bodies. However, this conclusion would seem to contradict other scriptures which tell us that ultimately spiritual things will replace physical things, "While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal" (1st Corinthians 4.18 KJV bible). This includes the abolition of flesh bodies, and the foods that they require, "Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them" (1st Corinthians 6.13 KJV bible). Further, we know that under normal conditions a human corpse, including the skeleton, completely decays and dissolves away, "Then (in death) shall the dust return to the earth as it was..." (Ecclesiastes 12.7 KJV bible). How could a corpse be raised up if there's nothing left of it?

To better understand the nature of the second resurrection, recall what Paul says in 1st Corinthians, "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption" (1st Corinthians 15.50 KJV bible). In light of Paul's statement that "corruption cannot inherit incorruption", consider what Jesus says to the sheep on his right hand, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matthew 25.34 KJV bible). Now we can conclude from Paul's statement about corruption not inheriting incorruption, that if the masses are resurrected into flesh bodies in the second resurrection, then none could have an inheritance in the Kingdom of God. However, Jesus tells us plainly in Matthew 25 that some of them will receive an inheritance. Thus, we know that for the second resurrection to be for some a resurrection unto life, it must also be a spiritual resurrection. So then why does the bible sometimes describe corpses rising from the ground, or people coming forth from their graves? Perhaps we need to discern the deeper meaning of these passages.

Recall that there is a well-established three-way connection in scripture between the dust of the earth, the underworld, and spiritual death, "My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death" (Psalm 22.15 KJV bible). Dwelling or sleeping in the dust, is another way of saying that the soul has not been redeemed, but abides in Hades, which is associated with spiritual corruption. Therefore, the dead in the second resurrection are described as corpses dwelling in graves or the dust, because their disembodied souls dwell in a spiritual state of death resulting from their sins. This is why Revelation says, "And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell [Hades] delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works" (Revelation 20.13 KJV bible). In the resurrection, the dead will be spiritually, not physically, released from the dust of the earth or Hades, and thereby freed from the hold of spiritual death which reigns over them, "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (1st Corinthians 15.22 KJV bible). They will all be freed from death and quickened in a spiritual sense. Then after judgment, some will go on to greater death, and others eternal life.

Thus, we can think of the second resurrection as a spiritual, and not literal, raising up of the dead. The prisoners are released from Hades and death for the purpose of standing trial, after which the sheep will enter into the eternity, but the goats will be cast into Gehenna. Similar to the first resurrection, it will be a germination of souls wherein they receive spiritual bodies (see ch.15 Resurrection of the Body). After they all receive spiritual bodies, some of them will be given a measure of inheritance in the eternal Kingdom, to be with those from the first resurrection.

However, while the second resurrection is similar in nature to the first, the masses will not be raised with the glory of the saints. This is why Daniel 12.3 says, "And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever" (Daniel 12.3 KJV bible). The wise ones from the first resurrection will shine brighter than the others, because of what they have accomplished in turning many to righteousness. Their authority and inheritance in the Lord's Kingdom will be greater than the rest, because in proving themselves faithful over a few things, they will be put in charge of many things (Matthew 25.14-30). Also in the resurrection, people's spiritual bodies will probably be reflections of the type of seed from which they are brought forth, "God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body" (1st Corinthians 15.38 KJV bible). So the ones who have endured in Christ will be resurrected into greater power and glory than the rest.

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