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THEOLOGY > Future > The Final Judgment > Affirming the Resurrection


The resurrection is taught in both Testaments, therefore, it is not an isolated topic but appears frequently throughout the Scriptures.

Old Testament Affirmation

Directly and indirectly the future resurrection is referenced in the Old Testament; the following statements are sufficient to confirm the teaching:

For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another (Job 19:25-27);

For the Lord is righteous, He loves righteousness; the upright shall behold His face (Ps. 11:7);

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your Holy One see corruption (Ps. 16:9-11);

As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with Your likeness (Ps. 17:15);

But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for He will receive me (Ps. 49:15;

You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will receive me to glory (Ps. 73:24);

He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of His people He will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken (Isa. 25:8);

Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise (Isa. 26:19);

And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt (Dan. 12:2);

Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves” (Ezek. 37:12-14; a metaphor for what God will do for Israel; the point is obvious).

Resurrection in the Old Testament is pointedly eschatological—resurrection will occur at the end-time, when the Redeemer stands on the earth. Until then those who die will sleep in the dust, awaiting their time of awakening.

New Testament Affirmation

As in the Old Testament just a sample of the many verses affirming the resurrection will be listed:

And He will send out His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other (Matt. 24:31);

For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like the angels in heaven (Mk. 12:25; see: Lu. 20:34-38);

For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just (Lu. 14:14);

An hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear His voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment (Jo. 5:28-29);

I will raise him up on the last day (Jo. 6:40; see: vs. 44, 54);

Martha said to Him, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life” (Jo. 11:24-25);

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in the twinkling of an eye . . . the dead will be raised . . . (I Cor. 15:51-52);

And the dead in Christ will rise first (I Thess. 4:16);

I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne (Rev. 20:12).
To complement the Old Testament declaration that resurrection is eschatological, in the New Testament the resurrection is revealed to be Christological. That is, resurrection is assured by Christ’s own resurrection, it is dependent upon Him who is the resurrection and the life, and will be effected when He sends His angels to gather His elect. These various themes are developed throughout the New Testament.

For instance three times in John 6 Jesus states: “I will raise him up at the last day” (vs. 40, 44, 54). Two questions—who will be raised, when will they be raised, and why will they be raised—are answered by these texts.

The answer to the first question is that the one who believes in the Son and is given everlasting life (v. 40) is the one who will be raised. The one who is drawn by the Father and comes to the Son (v. 44) is the one who will be raised. The one who has eternal life because he has eaten the flesh and drank the blood of Christ (v. 54) is the one who will be raised. From these statements, it is obvious that those identified with Christ, those who have His salvation, are the ones who will be raised. These are believers, believers who belong to the Church. At the last day the bride will be raised. What other conclusion can be drawn? Of course this does not disallow the resurrection of unbelievers (see: Dan. 12:2; Jo. 5:28-29; Acts 24:14-15; Rev. 20:13-15); it is just that the focus of the text is believers. Note: there is the question of whether the resurrection is inclusive or limited (see: The First Resurrection).

As for the second question, believers will be raised “at the last day.” This last day is the day of the Lord’s return (Matt. 24:29-31; see: I Thess. 4:13-18; Rev. 19:11-16) when the “first resurrection” (Rev. 20:6; see: The First Resurrection) will take place (this view is predicated on the following concept of judgment; see: Reality of Judgment). Those who belong to Christ will be raised at that time, a time that is after the Great Tribulation according to the Olivet Discourse and confirmed by the sequence in Revelation (see: Sequence of End-Time Events). Jesus says: “This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day” (Jo. 6:39).

Those who are raised are “all” who belong to Christ, given by the Father. Is this “all” inclusive or exclusive? Surely “all” means “all.” And the “all” would be the saved from all the ages: those before Israel, those in Israel, those in the Church, those who come out of the Great Tribulation. “All” means “all”; all believers are included; no believers are excluded. Christ will lose none who belong to Him. This is the Father’s will. “At the last day” when it is time for “the first resurrection,” they will all be gathered, the “elect” of God (see: “Elect” in the Olivet Discourse).

In another sense “all” means that all will be raised at the same time. In the Dispensationalist scheme, only those in the Church are raised at the Rapture, and the rest of the saved are raised at the Revelation, seven years later (see: The Word “Saints”). But there is no hierarchy in the people of the Lord. All who are saved are saved by the Cross and the Person of the Cross. And all who are saved are “in Christ” and belong to the bride that the Father has chosen for His Son. At the end of the Tribulation “all” that the Father has given to the Son will be raised. None will be lost.

Finally, the third question—why will they be raised—is also answered by the text. Jesus affirms: “I will raise him up at the last day” (vs. 40, 44, 54). Believers will be raised because of the work of Christ, His past work on the cross, accompanied by His resurrection, and His future work of raising and calling His own to Himself.

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