The resurrection of the dead is the one part of Christian faith which causes most controversy. It is the one point of the Gospel which causes most people to stumble (Acts 17:32). It is this one fact which divides Christianity from all other religions. In fact it is faith in the resurrection of the dead which sets the Christian apart as God's child, for "if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9). The resurrection of the dead is the key to salvation.

The resurrection is a unique solution to an age old problem. How else could God judge sin, yet save the sinner. We know that "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). From the very beginning God has declared that "the soul who sins shall surely die" (Ezekiel 18:4, 20). As we are all sinners, we must therefore all die. In this God's righteousness is fulfilled, but what happens after death is a different matter all together, "for he who has died has been freed from sin" (Romans 6:7). Therefore is fulfilled Jesus' words "Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it" (Matthew 10:39, Matthew 16:25, Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24, Luke 17:33, John 12:25). So we see the path through the sea (Exodus 14:22) that Jesus has opened for our deliverance. For Jesus is the "first begotten of the dead" (Revelation 1:5) "having the keys of hell and death" (Revelation 1:18). The way to God is made open only through death, trusting that He will raise us up to new life totally free from sin. Thus the words of Jesus are fulfilled when he said, "I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved" (John 10:9), for "I am the way, the truth and the life" (John 14:6). Therefore, let us "look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross" (Hebrews 12:2).

When we consider this incredible path of salvation we realise how God has set all things in place so that we must rely on him alone for our salvation. Once we are dead there is nothing further we can do for ourselves. We must trust God to raise us up again.

If the dead are then raised, as God has promised (Isaiah 25:8, Isaiah 26:19, Ezekiel 37:1-14, Daniel 12:2, Hosea 13:14, John 5:25), they shall arise free from sin. At present, God has permitted us to suffer the consequences of sin because of Adam's rebellion (Romans 5:18), but when the dead are raised up "The son shall not bear the guilt of the father" (Ezekiel 18:20). Therefore all who are raised up from the dead will:

  • Have suffered the consequences of sin (Romans 6:23).
  • Know the ravages of sin by personal experience.
  • Know the Lord, for it will be He who raised them from the graves. As God promised "Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up from your graves" (Ezekiel 37:13).
  • Be free from sin (Romans 6:7).


For a type of this in the Bible we must consider the crossing of the Red Sea by the children of Israel in their deliverance from Egypt. As anyone would know the Lord had lead Israel into an impossible situation in their flight from Egypt. In front of them was the Red Sea, behind them was the Egyptian army. It was impossible for them to save themselves. At this point God opened a path through the sea for them to pass through.

It is the same for us. Our Egyptian captivity is sin. Like Israel, we were made slaves, not willingly, but by inheritance. We face the same situation as Israel. We have the ravages of sin behind us trying to enslave us again and death in front of us. Jesus has opened a path through death for us to pass through. When the time comes we must pass through this path into the new world.

It is interesting to note that Israel in fact passed through the waters twice on their journey to the promised land. Once at the Red Sea on their initial deliverance from slavery and the second one a generation later when they passed through the Jordan into the new land. Likewise there will be two resurrections from the dead.


"The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live, for as the Father has life in himself, so has he given the Son to have life in himself and has given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the son of man. Marvel not at this, for the hour is coming in which all who are in their 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 5:25 - 29). The word translated as "damnation" here in this passage is the Greek word "krisis". It means "judgment". It is translated as "damnation" 3 times in the New Testament. The same word is translated as "judgment" 39 times. If we take its literal translation as "judgment", it does give this passage a very different interpretation. 


Careful observation of the scriptures shows us that there are two resurrections. The first is clearly reserved for "those who overcome" (The true Church) in this age (Revelation 2:11). Those who have part in the first resurrection can not be hurt by the "second death" (Revelation 2:11, Revelation 20:6, Revelation 20:14, Revelation 21:8). For it to be impossible to die, implies true immortality (1 Corinthians 15:53). 

Those who are in the first resurrection will be transformed to become true "children of God, but it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him [Jesus], for we shall see Him as He is" (1 John 3:2). We shall become like God who "alone has immortality" (1 Timothy 6:16). This is the great prize of our faith. Those who take their place in this resurrection will deserve it, for they are those who have endured the trial of their faith (1 Peter 1:7) in this "present evil world". 


The second resurrection is a raising to judgment (Revelation 20:12). All those who are not part of the first resurrection will be restored to human form and can be killed by the second death (Revelation 2:11, Revelation 20:14). These dead, and the remainder of the nations who have lived through the 1,000 years of Christ's kingdom, will be judged according to their deeds (Revelation 20:13).

After this judgment period, the Lord will separate those who are worthy of His kingdom from those who are not (Matthew 25: 31 - 46).

Created: 23 - Jan - 1997.
Last modified: 18 - Sept - 1998.
Copyright © 1998, Graham Brodie.

Maintainer: Graham Brodie, Email