The Blessed Hope of Resurrection
Pr. P. J. Daniel
Life after death is the blessed hope of a believer. A believer’s hope is beyond the blue. It never ends or gets extinguished with this earthly life. Apostle Paul exalts the experience of resurrection in the resurrection hymn of 1 Corinthians chapter fifteen. Because Jesus is risen from the dead we also have the assurance that we also will be resurrected. If the life of Jesus was finished with the cross, then our life would have beenso miserable and wretched. But I praise God that He is resurrected on the third day by defeating death and hades. So it is our blessed assurance that our life will not be extinct with death but we have the blessed hope of glorious eternal life.
As we learn the topic of resurrection we have to classify resurrection into two categories. One is the resurrection of the Just and the other is the resurrection of the Unjust. The following Bible verses will disclose this fact.
1) “And many 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.
2) “Marvel not this: for the hour is coming, in which all are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” John 5: 28, 29.
3) “. . . . there will be resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked” Acts 24: 15.
4) “They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them.” Revelation 20: 4 – 6.
The following table will give an explanation of these two resurrections
No Reference First resurrection Second resurrection
1. Daniel 12:2 Everlasting life To shame and everlasting contempt
2. John 5: 28, 29 Those who have done Those who have done evil
good to resurrection of life to resurrection of
3. Acts 24: 15 Resurrection of the Just Resurrection of the unjust
4. Revelation 20: 4- 6 First resurrection Second Resurrection
Blessed and Holy Wicked and unfortunate
It is evident from this table that there will be two resurrections in its kind. According to Revelation chapter 20 verses 4 – 6,it is obvious that there are two resurrections. If there is a first resurrection, definitely there will be a second resurrection. The first resurrection is for the righteous and the second for the unrighteous. It is also evident from Revelation 20: 5 that there will be a gap of thousand years between first and second resurrections. When the first group enters into the hope of glory, the second group enters into misery and gloom. What a privilege we have in Christ that we will be with our beloved Master in glory forever and ever!!!
Though we have seen that there are two resurrections in kind, according to Apostle Paul there are different ranks assigned in the resurrections (1 Corinthians 15: 20 – 24). “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruit of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man the resurrection of the dead come also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turns, Christ the first fruits; then when He comes, those who belong to Him, then the end will come”. From these verses it is obvious that all are not resurrected together, but each group has its own turn. The initial group is Jesus Christ as the first fruits. Second group has the turn when He comes. They are those who belong to him. The third rank is the end – the final resurrection.
Here it is stated in an agricultural term. When we examine the state of resurrection body Paul narrates in term of agriculture (1 Corinthians 15: 17ff) – sowing seed. So we can classify it as follows: First fruit, harvest, gleanings, and the chaff in the fire. From this it is evident that the resurrection of the saint has three different ranks. Then at the end all the chaff, which are the wicked will be put in the lake of fire.
The first rank is Christ the first fruits. Jesus was resurrected from the dead as “first fruit”. In the harvesting term first fruit means the initial and primary harvesting, this promises us a great harvest to follow. It is apparent that because Christ is resurrected from the dead, the saints of Jesus also will have a resurrection, which can be termed as “Harvest”. It is to note here particularly the term “first fruits”. It is not in singular but in plural. It denotes that there was a group of saints resurrected with Christ when he was resurrected. Matthews’s gospel 27: 52 - 53 corroborate this truth. Some of the Old Testament saints were resurrected with Jesus Christ, who appeared to the contemporaries who lived in Jerusalem, who were familiar to them. After they appeared to them, did not live with them and died again, but appeared to them as Jesus appeared to the disciples. This gave an assurance to the living saints that there will be a resurrection awaiting for them too.
The second rank is those who belong to him at His coming. At this juncture we should know something about His return. In Acts 1: 11 we see two heavenly men proclaiming that Jesus would come again in the same manner as He had taken up. When we study the scripture keenly we will come to know that He has gone to the father twice, one in secretly and the other publicly. John’s gospel 20: 17 reveal that he went to the father secretly with the captives of the Old Testament saints, who were in the hades known as Abraham’s bosom, to the heavenly paradise. (Ephesians 4: 8). Then He ascended to the father visibly after40 days of His resurrection a second time, when all were looking to Him (Acts 1: 9 – 11). So his second coming also will be in the same manner. Mathew 24: 43, 44 say that Christ shall come like a thief, who comes in secret. Revelation 1: 7 reveals that He shall come visibly, that every eye shall see him. The first appearance will be in secret and the second will be in public. The first one is known as the rapture. The second one is the revelation. The first one is the Parousia; the second one is the Epiphany. The first appearance is for receiving His own with him, and the second appearance is to return with his own.
If it is so, the resurrection also should have two phases. The first resurrection will take place at his rapture. It will be a secret coming in the mid-air. I Thessalonians 4: 16 – 17 reveals that all the dead in Christ will be resurrected first. This will be a great harvest. All the Old Testament saints and the New Testament saints will be resurrected at this time. Old Testament saints were looking forward for a better resurrection (Hebrews 11: 35 – 40). But God has planned a better one for us. Though all the Old and New Testament saints will be resurrect together, we will have a better resurrection - as the bride of Christ. This resurrection is known as the “harvest”.
Then there will be a “gleaning”. This will take place at His visible appearance on mount Olive. All the martyrs of the tribulation period will be resurrected at this time (Revelation 20: 4 – 6). So this will be a gleaning. With this resurrection of the martyrs of the tribulation period, the resurrection of the saints or the first resurrection will be completed.
The last resurrection will be for the wicked. They are the chaff and they will be put in the lake of fire (Revelation 20: 11 – 15). The first resurrection and the second resurrection will have a gap of thousand years. The first resurrection will be finished with the beginning of millennial reign of Christand the resurrection of the wicked will be taken place at the close of the millennial reign.Thus there will be a gap of thousand years in between the first and second resurrection.
Our resurrection body will be distinctively different from each other. Our reward will be given according to our good works and our physical glory will be as per our holy life. Some will be like the sun and some others will be like moon and still others will be like stars (1 Corinthians 15: 40- 41). If we lead a holy life like Joseph and Daniel, we will shine like the sun and some others will be dim like moon and still others will blink like stars. Eternity will reveal how we led our life on earth.
So, the resurrection of body is the culmination of our Salvation. Now our souls are only saved. Our body is not yet glorified. We are looking forward for the glorification of our body. So let us lead a holy and acceptable life before the Lord and one day we shall attain that glorious resurrected body.