Lesson Two – The Resurrection of the Dead

The Resurrection Of The Dead

Lesson Aim:  To understand the Biblical view of the resurrection of mankind and the Christian’s spiritual body.


“How shall I survive?”  This is one of the fundamental questions ask by all people.  However, when we consider that one out of one dies our survival plan must transcend physical death.  Most religions offer some type of plan for the survival of death.  The Hindu and Buddhist religions offer reincarnation.  They believe a person may transmigrate through death to another being in this world, or travel the path of Nirvana.  This means their existence is “snuffed out” altogether.  Confucians and Taoists think in terms of joining the spirits of their ancestors after death.  The Muslims and some Jews look for the passage of their souls into heaven, although they reject Jesus Christ as the way.  Jesus said to Martha after her brother, Lazarus, died, “I am the resurrection, and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.”  And then He asked her, “Do you believe this?” John 11:25, 26.  Christians say we do.

In Lesson One we learned Christians will sleep in Christ when we die.  Because Jesus declared children are models for Christians, we must assume children also will have a peaceful sleep if they should die during their childhood (Matt. 18:3).  From Jesus’ story of the rich man and Lazarus we learned unsaved people go directly into torment in the Hadean world after their death.  In this lesson we will study what will happen when Jesus returns.  We will learn what will happen to the living and the dead.


Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings, and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.  Heb. 6:1, 2

According to the Hebrew writer, the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead is an elementary doctrine for Christians.  It is not the core, but like washings, laying on of hands and eternal judgment it is fundamental to our sanctification as sons of God.  The maturing of Christians, or sanctification, is the same as socialization into God’s kingdom, and this is what a Christian’s life is all about.  Our resurrection from the dead is merely a functional operation in our sanctification and final adoption into the kingdom of God.  But without it, the Paul proclaimed, the rest of the Christian faith is vain.  Please read I Corinthians 15:12-19.

Since “in Adam all die” God has provided a way in every age to survive death; therefore, the teaching about the resurrection did not begin with the Christian age.  Jesus said to the Sadducees, “But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the burning bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.  Now He is not the God of the dead, but of the living; for all live to Him.”  Luke 20:37, 38.  The following are other eschatological doctrines from the Old Testament prophets.

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.  Isa. 26:19

I will ransom them from the power of Sheol; I will redeem them from death.  O Death, where are your thorns?  O Sheol, where is your sting?  Compassion will be hidden from My sight.  Hos. 13:14

Abraham had the strength of character to obey God when He commanded him to offer his only son, Isaac, as a sacrifice, because “he considered that God is able to raise men even from the dead; from which he also received him back as a type.”  Heb. 11:19.  Jesus’ doctrine of the resurrection is inclusive of all the dead, like Daniel’s.  Both the good and bad will be resurrected in a manner complimentary to their judgment.  Daniel said, “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.”  Dan. 12:2.  Jesus concurs with him in the following scripture.

Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.  John 5:28, 29

Jesus made His doctrine of the resurrection of the dead powerfully convincing when He, Himself, came back to life and ascended to heaven forty days later (Acts 1:9-11).  He had already prophesied of this to His disciples.

From that time Jesus Christ began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.  Matt. 16:21   

After Jesus was killed His murderers recognized the value of the doctrine of the resurrection for Jesus’ cause.  They tried to stop even a rumor from spreading about His return from the dead (Matt. 27:62-66).  They failed in their evil attempt to kill this good news story because Jesus appeared to the apostles and more than five hundred others.  After Jesus returned to heaven He even appeared to the Apostle Paul (I Cor. 15:5-8).  Consequently, the doctrine of the resurrection was preached as a functional part of the gospel of the kingdom of God in the first century.

Peter and John healed a man at the temple gate called Beautiful who had been lame from his mother’s womb.  Afterwards, they proclaimed through Jesus the resurrection of the dead to the Pharisees and the Sadducees (Acts 3:1, 2; 4:1, 2).  The Sadducees did not believe in a resurrection of any type, and neither group believed Jesus Christ was the Messiah (Matt. 22:23, 41-46).  While on trial because of his hope of the resurrection of the dead, Paul used the Jews dissension over this doctrine to save himself from falling into their hands.  Read Acts 23:6-10.  Paul made the following confession before Felix, the governor of Israel.

But this I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers, believing everything that is in the Prophets; having a hope in God which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.  Acts 24:14, 15

When we look at all God has created and the wonderful things He has done for mankind we can understand where Paul was “coming from” when he asked King Agrippa, “Why is it considered incredible among you people if God does raise the dead?”  Acts 26:8.  The learned Greek Epicurean and Stoic philosophers sneered when Paul preached Jesus and the resurrection to them on Mars Hill (Acts 17:16-32).  One would wonder if they are still sneering as they howl in torment along side the rich man in Hades.  Most of our present day philosophers have not stopped sneering yet, but it has not changed Jesus’ doctrine.

After we are convinced there certainly is a resurrection of the dead, then we will want to know when and how.  Martha, the sister of Mary and Lazarus, named the day of the resurrection when, speaking of her brother, She said to Jesus, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”  John 11:24.  Jesus also said the last day is the day the dead can expect to be resurrected in the following scripture.

For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.  John 6:40

Jesus Himself will raise us up on the last day.  Although Paul said God would raise us up with Jesus, there is no discrepancy between the Holy Spirit’s teachings through Paul and Jesus’ doctrine (II Cor. 1:9; 4:14).  In this we simply see the Godhead at work.  Final judgment, which we will investigate in our next lesson, will also happen on the last day.  This day is always associated with Jesus’ second coming (John 12:48; Heb. 9:27, 28).  The young church at Thessalonica got a very good description of the first events of the last day in the following scripture.

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord.  I Thess. 4:16, 17

No one knows when the day will come but God, Himself.  Many false prophets have said they know what Jesus said God alone knows (Matt. 24:36).  As foretold in the Bible, some false prophets say the day of the Lord has already come, while some scoffers say it will never happen (II Thess. 2:2; II Pet. 3:4).  Paul said we really do not need to know.  We do know it will come like a thief in the night; that is, the world will be doing business as usual (I Thess. 5:1, 2).  Also, we know some type of strong apostasy must happen before the last day (II Thess. 2:3).  However, when the last day does come, we will not need to wonder if it is here.  We will know.  The first clue will be the arrival of Jesus for all to see (Rev. 1:7).  We will know the last day is here when we see Jesus in the sky (Matt. 24:29-31).  The resurrection of the dead will happen on the last day – only God knows when.

Now, our second question is; “How will this happen?”  That is, “What kind of body do we get and what is the sequence of events?”  Paul anticipated this question and he answered it, but for Christians, only.  See I Cor. 15:35-58.  Naturally, we must die if we expect to be resurrected in a spiritual body.  All will not die before Jesus returns but they will be changed in a moment.  It should be noted; unless the Holy Spirit is present in our lives when we die, we cannot expect to be clothed with an imperishable, glorious, powerful, spiritual body (Rom. 8:11).

It is hard to comprehend the magnificent container faithful sons of God will receive for our eternal abode in God’s kingdom.  The Philippians were told Jesus will “transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.”  Phil. 3:20, 21.  Since we do not know what Jesus’ “body of His glory” is like, we will have to be satisfied with the promise from the Apostle John in the following scripture.

Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be.  We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.  I John 3:2

Since we know what Jesus is like in relation to His character and personality, John was speaking about His glorified body.  Surely, we will happily accept a promise of a resurrected body like the one Jesus has accepted.  Those who have had stomach troubles here on earth will be happy to know that we will not have a stomach (I Cor. 6:13).  We will not be angels but we will be like angels in that our resurrected bodies will not be physical.  There will be no concept of male or female, thus there will be no arguments about equality in heaven.  Jesus said, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage; for neither can they die any more, for they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.”                                              Luke 20:34-36

The dead in Christ will first be raised to meet Jesus in the air.  After this event is finished, the living faithful Christians will undergo a change and also join Jesus.  In the following scripture Jesus describes a common scene of friends and family being separated on the last day:

Then there shall be two men in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left.  Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left.  Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.  Matt. 24:40-42

The last day is the day Jesus will come to be glorified in His saints and be marvelled at by all who have believed.  Simultaneously, Jesus will be dealing out retribution to all who do not know God and those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus (II Thess. 1:6-12).  We do not have a description of the resurrection of those who are void of the Spirit of God.  We do know they will be resurrected for judgment.  At some point, judgment will take place and the earth and all created things will be destroyed.  These are the things we will study in our next lessons.

The Christian religion, like some other religions, offers a resurrection of the dead.  So what is the difference?  First we should note a Christian’s resurrection is merely one functional operation in God’s plan for mankind.  The total program is eternal sonship with the quality of life compatible for His kingdom.  The doctrine of our resurrection and glorified bodies are necessary features of the great overall plan of God for us.  The point is; we should look at the total offering of a religion.  The Christian plan is designed with our present and future needs in mind.  It is compatible with the way God created us.

Another big difference in a Christian’s hope of a resurrection and that of other religions is Jesus Christ.  He is the Son of God and He has already proven He has power over death; therefore, we can rely on His promises.  Please consider the following.

All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me; and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.  For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.  And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.  For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son, and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.  John 6:37-40

Jesus is now asking each of us the same question He asked Martha:  “Do you believe this?”

Questions for Discussion

  1. Name the doctrine most religions offer.
  2. Explain what the Hebrew writer meant when he categorized the doctrine of the resurrection as elementary.
  3. When was the doctrine of the resurrection first offered?
  4. How will our resurrection be complimentary to our judgment?
  5. How did Jesus make the doctrine of the resurrection convincing?
  6. Why were Jesus’ enemies unsuccessful in their efforts to silence the story of His resurrection?
  7. Why did Paul say he was put on trial?
  8. Who sneered when they heard about the resurrection of the dead?
  9. When will the resurrection of the dead happen?
  10. Explain the things that will happen at the resurrection of faithful Christians.
  11. Describe the general condition of things on earth when Jesus will make His next appearance.
  12. Who was the only one, while Jesus was on earth, who knew when He will return?
  13. What will be our first clue the last day has come?
  14. Describe the faithful Christian’s resurrected body.
  15. What are some problems that will be solved when we receive our glorified bodies?
  16. What do we know about the resurrection of the lost in regard to a resurrected body?
  17. Why should we believe in the resurrection offered in the Christian religion over the resurrection offered by other religions?
  18. What is your answer to the question Jesus asked Martha while Lazarus was dead?

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply