How many resurrections are there?

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How many resurrections from the dead are there? What is their purpose in God's plan? Who will be in each of them? Will those not called and converted in this life have a FULL chance at salvation in the future? When, according to the Bible, will those who refuse to go God's way be brought back to life? What is their ultimate fate?

Without a doubt, the Bible does teach at least two resurrections. The first one is of the righteous at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (1Thessalonians 4:16) where they will be made alive and composed of the same substance as Jesus (1Corinthians 15:42-54). A second raising of the dead will also occur after the 1,000 (the millennium) reign of Jesus on earth. This raising is for all those who never have a full chance at hearing or understanding the gospel message (Revelation 20:5). People in this resurrection will receive a full opportunity to understand and believe the Gospel. There is also some scriptural evidence suggesting a third and final resurrection. Its purpose is to resurrect those who understood the truth of God yet willfully reject it and completely refuse to repent (Daniel 12:2).

Two Resurrections

No single passage in the Bible clearly shows all the resurrections God will perform, however, some sections do discuss two of them. Revelation 20, partially referred to from above, discusses two resurrections.

"And I saw thrones; and they that sat upon them, and judgment was given to them; and I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, and for the Word of God, and those who did not worship the beast, or his image, and did not receive the mark in their foreheads or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were completed). This is the first resurrection." (Revelation 20:4-5)

Jesus collaborates the above in John 5:28 - 29.

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Believers receive eternal life

The apostle Paul states, without a doubt, that a resurrection takes place at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. This is the first resurrection of the dead in God's great plan for all mankind (1Corinthians 15:51 - 52).

The second resurrection

This resurrection to a spirit-based life, however, is different than the raising of the dead back to a flesh-based existence that comes  after Jesus' 1,000 year rule. Ezekiel's strange vision of a valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37) is God's revealing of a resurrection back to a physical life for the majority of mankind. It is one of the main supporting passages of scripture that teach those who died ignorant of salvation will receive, through God's mercy, a chance to live forever. Ezekiel, in vision, finds himself in the middle of a valley of old dry bones. He then hears God make an incredible promise.

"Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews on you, and will bring up flesh on you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live."

"And He (God) said to me (Ezekiel), "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel."" (Ezekiel 37:5 - 6, 11)

During what is known as God's white throne judgment, the book of life is still open and the names of the newly resurrected (including those who Paul referred to as 'all Israel' - see Romans 11:26) can still be placed in it (Revelation 20:12). This resurrection does not include those who, with full knowledge, rejected God's way during their initial fleshly existence (Hebrews 6:4-6).

The last of three resurrections

Those who are evil will receive an execution by fire and will live no more.

On the day when I act, you will overcome the wicked, and they will be like dust under your feet. (Malachi 4:3)

Christ told those who followed and listened to him to fear God lest they be thrown into the fires of Gehenna.

"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body, but do not have power to destroy the life; rather, fear Him Who has the power to destroy both life and body in Gehenna." (Matthew 10:28)

The warnings in the bible about the wicked being burnt up are also for those God's now calls in this life (see Matthew 13 and John 6) but who ultimately are unfaithful and reject God (this is also known as the unpardonable sin). Every human being who ever lived will be resurrected with no one left out (Revelation 20:13). Because the second resurrection does not include those who are knowingly defiant of God and refuse to repent, the teaching of three periods when the dead are raised is Biblically-based.

The wicked die forever

Those who are incorrigibly wicked who perished prior to Jesus' Second Coming, and the ignorant who were made physically alive again in the second resurrection but who rejected God (possibly during a 100-year period stated in Isaiah 65:20) are killed forever all at once. The merciful execution of those who totally reject God and his ways will happen after the white throne judgment.


Every human being who ever lived dies at least once, with the possible exception of those few believers who are alive when Jesus returns to earth. The Bible clearly teaches 3 resurrections. The first is for the righteous when Jesus returns to rule planet earth. The second is for the masses of people who never had a full chance at hearing and understanding the Gospel. The third and final resurrection is for those who, with full knowledge, reject God's way and refuse to obey him. They will die a second death, a death brought by the lake of fire, from which there will be no resurrection EVER.

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