The First Resurrection

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First, we must look at where the “first resurrection” is mentioned in scripture. It is actually only mentioned by this name once in the whole Bible.

Revelation 20:4-6
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

The resurrection is that of the dead and there are two types, there’s a resurrection of the just and of the unjust. Belief in the resurrection from the dead is central to the Christian faith. 1 Corinthians 15:12-30

John 5:25-29
Verily, verily, I say unto you, 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 hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the 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.

Acts 24:15
And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.


Unjust - “second resurrection”

I’ll start with the unjust because we know the unjust resurrection occurs only once, after the millennium. We know this because the rest of the dead (the unjust) don’t live again at the first resurrection until the second death. Revelation 20:5 That is at the great white throne judgment, the time of the second resurrection. This takes place after the end of the 1,000 year reign of Christ on the earth. Revelation 20:4 And just after this, the elements are melted with a fervent heat, 2 Peter 3:9-13, and the new heavens and new earth are brought forth. Revelation 21

Revelation 20:11-15
And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead, which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead, which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

So we see that the resurrection of the unjust doesn’t happen before the end-times, nor does it occur when the just are raised, but is held off until the great white throne judgment. They are specifically said to remain dead until the end of this world.


Just - “first resurrection”

For the just, we know there are at least three resurrections (explained below), but no specific number is attached to this first resurrection. Who are the just?

1 Corinthians 15:22,23
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: 1.Christ the firstfruits; 2.afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. 3.Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

Here we see that this first resurrection has three cases at least.

  1.  Christ, the firstfruits.
  2.  Those that are Christ’s at His coming. Christ comes twice at the end (1st for His bride, then to destroy the armies at Har Megiddo: “Armageddon”):

Christ Comes At Unknown time (aka: “day of the Lord”) Matthew 25:1-13 for the bride of Christ, The harpazo (Christ comes to the clouds and leaves with His bride, not returning to earth and touching His feet upon the mount of Olives as prophesied in Zechariah 14:4, but coming in the clouds to call His bride to be with Him and then leaving again with her to the marriage. Revelation 19:7-8) This is part of the resurrection of the just. (first resurrection) 

NOTE: The harpazo itself occurs after the resurrection. The dead in Christ are resurrected first, THEN we are caught up to meet Christ in the clouds. The harpazo isn’t actually the resurrection, but the resurrection occurs before the harpazo. It is simply the raising of the dead. Not all who go in the harpazo will have to be resurrected. Not all will die before Christ returns. That is why death is swallowed up in victory through Christ! 1 Corinthians 15:54-58

1 Thessalonians 4:15-18
For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

1 Corinthians 15:50-53
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

Matthew 25:1-13
Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. Matthew 7:13-23 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

People are living life like normal, not expecting anything to change like it will:

Matthew 24:37-44
But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this that if the Goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

Luke 17:26-37 (The Son of man first revealed to the world)
And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. {Unexpected}--> They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe [Noah] entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.
{Abomination of desolation (Matthew 24:15-22 | Mark 13:14-16)}--> In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it. I tell you, {harpazo (1 Corinthians 15:50-53 | 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 | Matthew 24:40-42)}--> in that night, there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.

3) Christ Returns At Known time to destroy the gathered armies and take the kingdom (We (We know it because of Revelation 13:5. The Beast is given his power for 3 ½ years (42 months) and the reason his power is taken away is that Christ returns and throws him and the false prophet into the lake of fire. Revelation 19:20) That means that he gets his power 3 ½ years prior to Christ’s return, the abomination of desolation, when indwelt by Satan. Revelation 13:11-18

Revelation 19:11-21
And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. {Bride of Christ (Revelation 19:7-8)} And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.
* This is 42 months after the beast is given power at the abomination of desolation

Revelation 13:3-7
And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. And they worshipped the dragon, which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him? And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.

4) The The “first resurrection” of Revelation 20:5 is after the second coming Revelation 19 & 20 It is therefore after “the end” in context of 1 Corinthians 15:22-23.


In review, we have 2 resurrections:

1) First resurrection: Resurrection of the just (Acts 24:15) ~ Split into at least three instances through time.

  1. Christ the firstfruits [32 AD] (1 Corinthians 15:22,23)
  2. They that are Christ’s at His coming [harpazo yet future] (1 Corinthians 15:22-24)
  3. Last day resurrection of the just 2 Peter 3:8 [End of the 70th week/StarStart of the millennium] (Revelation 20:4-5) (After Christ returns with wife in glory [Revelation 19:11])

2) Last resurrection: Resurrection of the unjust ~ Known to be held to only one instance (Revelation 20:4-5) just before the current heavens and earth are destroyed (2 Peter 3:9-13). At this point, they will be the only ones who have not been resurrected yet.

  1. Last day resurrection of the unjust at the great white throne judgment 2 Peter 3:8 [End of the millennium] (Revelation 20:11-15)

That means that all the resurrections are foretold. Just some were referred to as the resurrection on the last day. In 1 Corinthians 15:22-24, the bride of Christ is being told about the resurrection she will take part in.

In In John 5, 6, 11, 12 it is being preached to the Jews. For the past almost 2,000 years they have been blinded and do not represent the bride of Christ. (Luke 19:41,42 | Romans 11) Of course there are Old Testament Jews who are the bride of Christ, but the nation as a whole was blinded at the triumphal entry. So Israel represents a people who God has made irrevocable promises to of salvation, yet they are not the bride of Christ. God knows the heart and who are His. Many times in Christ’s ministry, he spoke in parables to fulfill prophecy that hearing they would not hear and seeing they would not see.

1 Corinthians 15:22-24 lays out the resurrections of the just that only the bride of Christ and the Groom participate in. (Christ the firstfruits and those that are His at His coming.) There are still just that will be resurrected “in the last day,” they are just not the bride.
We see this verified in Revelation 19:7-8, where the marriage of the Lamb occurs before Christ returns in glory in Revelation 19:11-14, so we must have been taken before then in order to be at the wedding. That means that we cannot be the resurrection in Revelation 20:4-5, which is clearly after Christ has returned in glory with His wife.

ThisThis fits because the day of the Lord starts God’s wrath pouring out and we are not appointed to His wrath. (1 Thessalonians 5:9) but salvation through Christ. That means the harpazo would be before the “day of the Lord” which is 1,000 years. 1 Corinthians 15:22-24 doesn’t cover all “first resurrections,” but only those for the bride of Christ, since that was who was being spoken to.

Hebrews 11:32-40
And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions. Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

It seems evident from this passage that it won’t be until the harpazo that all the just will be resurrected, including those who have died in faith before. This means that Matthew 27:52-53 must not have been a resurrection to the immortal bodies, but a resurrection from sleep in their mortal bodies.