"...resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment"
You know -I hope-, that the dead will be resurrected. And we, christians, look forward, that we, in case we already past away, will come to life again when the Lord returns.
This is the subject of this bible study.
About this subject it is possible to write a book, but that's not what I'm going to do. I will keep it simple and short. When you have questions which are not answered you can always email me.
Directly in the beginning of the bible we can read about dying:
"16 And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden;
17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."
Was it Gods intention that Adam and Eve immediately dropped dead after eating from that tree? Apparently not. After Adam and Eve sinned they lived for hundreds of years and got many children.
God has seemingly other standards then we have. For us men, dead is dead. For God there are at least two kinds of 'dead'. A dying of this earthly body and a spiritual death. The spiritual death makes it impossible to get eternal life with God. The earthly death has nothing to do with that.
Spiritual dead people are not spiritual dead after they die here on earth, but they can even be spiritual dead while they are here on earth.
About those dead people speaks Jesus in Matthew.
22 "But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead."
So, there is distinction between a 'physical dead person' and a 'spiritual dead person'.
Two chapters further Jesus speaks about those differences.
28 "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell."
People who died can be resurrected by God. Lazarus is an example of that. And likewise their are more stories in the bible.
But those people died finally again.
The first and, till now, the only human who died and became live again and still lives, is Jesus.
"18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy."
Jesus is the 'firstborn from among the dead'. The bible shows us here, being resurrected has to do with born again.
Nicodemus had problems with the idea that people can be born again.
"1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council.
2 He came to Jesus at night and said, "Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no-one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him."
3 In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no-one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."
4 "How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!"
5 Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no-one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.
6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.
7 You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.'
8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."
Those who want to see the Kingdom of God (and want to be part of that) have to be born again. Not from the flesh, i.e. like they were born the first time, but from the Spirit.
"11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you."
1 Corinthians 15:35
35"But someone may ask, "How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?"
Yes, that's of course the question.
How, but also when shall the dead be resurrected?
The same chapter gives already a part of the answer. Let's read that:
1 Corinthians 15:36-53
36 ..."What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.
37 When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else.
38 But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.
39 All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another.
40 There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another.
41 The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.
42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable;
43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power;
44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.
45 So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.
46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual.
47 The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven.
48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.
49 And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.
50 I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed--
52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality."
A natural body is sown, and a spiritual body raised. Is there a natural body then there is also a spiritual body.
That spiritual body is the raised imperishable body.
When will that spiritual body be imperishable?
That depends of someone is 'spiritual born again'.
Did you live like the 'first Adam', then you are 'spiritual dead'. Did you live and, with that, surrendered to the second Adam (Jesus Christ), then you will be transformed to His likeness.
That image is not a likeness of flesh and blood, because it is not possible for flesh and blood to be part of the Kingdom of God.
We, who believe in Jesus Christ, will bare the likeness of the the heavenly. The imperishable, the eternal life.
Paul explains in this part, that not everyone will die. There will be people, and who knows maybe we are there too, that will live when the Lord returns. And those who live at that time, and being born again, will be changed into a spiritual body.
When? When the last trumpet sounds.
That trumpet shall sound and then the dead in Christ will be resurrected, and we, when we still live at that time, will be changed. We will get an immortal body.
In another bible book Paul writes more about that.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-17
"13 Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.
14 We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
15 According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.
16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord for ever."
Apparently there were people sad that their loved ones already past away. Probably they thought that those fallen asleep wouldn't get changed, or maybe a lot later.
Paul assures them: When we believe, that Jesus died and was resurrected, God will also those, who have fallen asleep, through Jesus gather with us.
Not much later, but the fallen asleep will rise first and then we, who are still living at that time, will go together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord.
This all will happen ' in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye', as it is written in 1Corinthians 15.
What a wonderful event will that be!
What strikes attention in this part is, that we read again of a trumpet. Which trumpet is that?
In the letter to the Corinthians we read about 'the last trumpet'. That's more specific.
In the letter of John where he describes the Revelation that Jesus gave him, we read also about trumpets. There are seven trumpets.
Let's read those verses.
"15 The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever."
16 And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshipped God,
17 saying: "We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign.
18 The nations were angry; and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great--and for destroying those who destroy the earth."
19 Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a great hailstorm."
What a frightening time. Just before Jesus comes back it will be a time of great tribulation for the believers, but we can be sure of one thing: Jesus is the victor!
When the seventh angel blows his trumpet, that is the last trumpet, so that is the trumpet from 1 Corinthians 15, then the heaven will be opened. The ark of His covenant will be seen in the heavenly temple.
The ark of the covenant was already in the Old Testament the sign of the Messiah. The sign of Jesus.
When we then read Matthew 24 we can see that it is about the same time and the same sign.
29 "Immediately after the distress of those days "'the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.'
30 "At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.
31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
There will be a great distress, a great tribulation. We can can read about that in Revelation 12:13 till Rev.14.
Immediately after that tribulation the sun will be darkened and the powers of heaven shall be shaken. Compare Revelation 12:7-12 to read more about this.
And then the sign of the Son of Man (Jesus) will appear in the sky (the Ark). Not only the sign of the Son of Man will appear, but the Son of Man Himself will appear! On the clouds, with power and great glory!
When we go back to 1 Thes. 4, we see:
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
"16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord for ever."
Almost incomprehensible what is meant here, but especially what is going to happen. But also, how wonderful, that we, who believe in Jesus, will be part of that!
There is so much happening before that day will be there, we can't dig in this now because that goes beyond the foundation of our faith as this study is.
After Paul wrote those Thessalonians about the coming of the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4) he thinks it is necessary to give them a little bit more information.
We read about that in his second letter to the Thessalonians:
2 Thessalonians 2:1-4
1 "Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers,
2 not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come.
3 Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.
4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshipped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God."
Before the Lord comes and we will be united with Him, something will happen.
Before the day of the Lord will come the man of lawlessness will be revealed. He will sit in the temple of God. He will reveal himself as the Messiah.
Jesus made that clear in Matthew 24:15.
Jesus calls that person: 'the abomination that causes desolation'.
He is the antichrist who will (temporarily) show himself as the Christ.
That anti-christ, who initially will show himself as the real Messiah, will eventually persecute Gods people to distinguish them. But after that 3.5 year of great tribulation the Lord Jesus will return on the clouds. The last trumpet will sound and we, when we are still alive at that time, will be changed in a moment and go, together will all the resurrected saints, into the air to meet the Lord.
What a majestic time will that be, but also: how hard will those years of tribulation be. Unfortunately lots of christians will not survive and other will abandon God. But God will give strength.
And then will Jesus come. We will meet Him in the clouds and will be with Him for ever.
Are only the believers in Christ resurrected? Yes, the others have to wait for thousand years.
That will be the thousand years of God-government on this earth. The thousand year of peace. In those thousand years we, believers in Christ, will reign with Him as kings.
There is a lot more to tell about these things, but that goes beyond the foundation of belief. -->
What about eternal Judgment?
But also, what about those 'others' who will not be part of that first resurrection?
First one other question: Will the believers also be judged before Gods throne?
24 "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.
The ones who believe in God, through Jesus Christ, have eternal life and will not be judged. The condemnation is for those who didn't repent from their sins and didn't ask Jesus to be their Lord and Savior.
There will be a day where everyone, except the believers in Christ, will be judged.
We read about that in Revelation 20.
To see this in the right perspective it is good to read the whole chapter.
"1 And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain.
2 He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.
3 He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations any more until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.
4 I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshipped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
5 (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection.
6 Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.
7 When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison
8 and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth--Gog and Magog--to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore.
9 They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God's people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them.
10 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulphur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them.
12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.
13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done.
14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.
15 If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire."
A very fascinating bible part.
Again, there is much to say about this. For now we will have a look at the part about the great white throne.
The believers are already 1000 years 'alive' and reigned with Jesus over the earth.
And then it is time for the judgment.
All dead will be resurrected and stand before God who sits on the white throne. Nobody is condemned before it is clear what is written in the books.
Were the works according Gods law, or not?
Only when it is proven, by what is written in the books, they didn't live according Gods Law, they will be condemned.
There are also dead's who will not be condemned. Their names are written in the book of life. Those will get eternal life. Not in the same way the sons of God (we believers) have eternal life, but nevertheless it will be eternal life.
Again, there is much to say about this and that's what we are doing in other bible studies on this site.
I pray that Gods Word will fill your heart.
7 And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 9 The great dragon was hurled down--that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. 10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. 11 They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. 12 Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short."