What is the FIRST Resurrection?

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What is the FIRST resurrection of the dead taught in the Bible? When does it occur? Who is in it? What did Jesus teach about it? What is the order in which the dead are resurrected? In Hebrews 6 we find one the foundational doctrines of Christianity - the resurrection.

"Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment." (Hebrews 6:1-2).

In this study we will examine what happens, in God's great plan, to those who die faithful to God.

Second Coming

The resurrection of the dead occurs during the time of Jesus' second coming. "The dead in Christ" or "those who sleep in Jesus," deceased Christians, are resurrected at Jesus' return.

"For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will 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. Therefore comfort one another with these words." (1Thessalonians 4)

When Jesus returns Christians will "always be with the Lord" (1Thessalonians 4:17). Jesus ascended to heaven from the Mount of Olives (Acts 1:9-12). When He returns, He will return to the Mount of Olives, and His Saints will be with Him (Zechariah 14:1-5). After the return of Christ, the resurrected Christians will reign as Kings and Priests on earth (Revelation 20:4-6; 5:9-10; Daniel 7:13-14, 18, 22, 27).

Specifically, the resurrection takes place when the "last trumpet" sounds.

but when the last trumpet sounds, we shall all be changed in an instant, as quickly as the blinking of an eye. For when the trumpet sounds, the dead will be raised (1Corinthians 15:51-52, see also 1Thessalonians 4:16-17)

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This "last trumpet" is referring to the last of the seven trumpets of Revelation (Revelation 8:1-9:21; 11:15-18).

As Jesus Christ returns to earth "with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. . . ." the dead in Christ will rise first. Then those still living at the time of the second coming are "caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air" (1Thessalonians 4:16-17).

According to Matthew, as Jesus comes with the "clouds of heaven," He "will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other" (Matthew 24:30-31). After meeting Jesus in the atmosphere above the earth, the Saints will descend to the earth with Jesus, coming to the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:4-5).


"Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years." (Revelation 20)

The battle taking place during the second coming of Jesus is recorded in Revelation 19:11-21. An additional event happening at that time is the binding of Satan for a thousand years (Revelation 20:1-3). Those brought back to life at the return of Christ will take part in the First Resurrection - a 'better' one in that it is a more useful, serviceable and advantageous.

Paul's explanation

If any section of the Bible provides us with the greatest information on the subject at hand it is 1Corinthians 15. This chapter is known as the "resurrection chapter." By studying 1Corinthians 15, we will learn several very important facts.

One of the things we learn is that if Jesus had not risen from the dead, then no one else would ever rise from the dead.

Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. (1Corinthians 15)

Jesus is the firstfruit of the grave.

But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. " (1Corinthians 15:20)

Jesus as the first person in history to be resurrected from the dead into eternal life and is the "firstfruits" of many more to come. The apostle Paul expresses the same idea in Acts 26:23. Jesus is the first individual resurrected with a spiritual body.

An order

For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father (1Corinthians 15)

There is a time order to God's plan for all man. Jesus is the first person resurrected, followed by the dead in Christ at the second coming (1Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1Corinthians 15:51-56; Matthew 24:29-31; Mark 13:24-27). After the millenium there will be a second resurrection of all those who never heard or never fully understood the gospel (Revelation 20:5). Then God will bring back to life those who knowingly reject his way of life and refuse to repent in order that they mercifully be put out of their misery forever (Revelation 20:14-15).

Jesus' teachings

In Luke 14 Jesus teaches us that at the time of the resurrection of the just, He will repay or reward Christians for their works in this life. At the sound of the seventh or last trumpet when the resurrection happens (1Thessalonians 4:14-17), Jesus will return and will reward the servants, prophets and saints of God (Luke 14:12-14).

At His return Jesus will bring a reward, which He gives to the Saints based upon their works during this life:

For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. (Matthew 16)

"And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to everyone according to his work." (Revelation 22:12)

Jesus will reward Christians with authority to rule as kings under Him after His return (Revelation 1:5-6; 5:10; 2:25-27; 3:21; 20:1-6; Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:11-27).

Rise and SHINE!

2 Many of those who have already died will live again . . . 3 The wise leaders (any Christian who dies in the faith) will shine with all the brightness of the sky. And those who have taught many people to do what is right will shine like the stars forever. (Daniel 12:1-3)

There will come a time in the future when the dead, "those who sleep in the dust of the earth," awake from their sleep of death. Some of those resurrected will receive everlasting life. Others will receive "shame and everlasting contempt." This sounds very similar to Jesus' statement in John 5:28-29.

"Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth - those who have done good, to the resurrection of life . . . "

Those in this resurrection cannot die again because they have immortality (Luke 20:34-36; 1Corinthians 15:52-55). Those who awake to everlasting life are the wise who "shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever" (Daniel 12:3).


The first resurrection of the dead will occur at Jesus' second coming. At that time, Christians will rise from the dead with new spiritual bodies, and the bodies of those Christians still living will change from physical to spiritual.

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