In Hebrews 6 the Apostle Paul states that the teaching of a resurrection from the dead, especially the first one, is a foundational principle of true Christianity (Hebrews 6:1 - 2). In this study we will examine what happens to those who die faithful to God and end up in the first resurrection of the dead.
The first 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 brought back to life at his return (1Thessalonians 4:16). Christians, when Jesus returns, will "always be with the Lord" (verse 17).
After the first resurrection He will come again to the Mount of Olives with these saints (see Acts 1:9 - 12, Zechariah 14:1 - 5). Those brought back to life will reign as Kings and Priests on earth (Revelation 20:4 - 6; 5:9 - 10, Daniel 7:13 - 14, 18, 22, 27).
When does this first resurrection take place? It occurs when the "last trumpet" sounds. This trumpet is the last of seven to be prophetically blown (see Revelation 8:1 - 9:21; 11:15 - 18). Paul discusses this trumpet when he states, " . . . but when the last trumpet sounds, we shall all be changed in an instant . . . the dead will be raised" (1Corinthians 15:51 - 52, see also 1Thessalonians 4:16 - 17).
As Jesus Christ returns to earth "with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. . . ." the dead who have been faithful will be the first to experience a resurrection. 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 angels with the mighty sound of a great trumpet to gather his converted servants (most of whom will be dead) from the entire earth (Matthew 24:30 - 31).
After meeting Christ in the atmosphere above the earth, the Saints will descend to the earth and land east of Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:4 - 5, see also Revelation 20).
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 it 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 be able to do so. However, he was brought back to life and is called the "first fruit" of the grave. He is the first individual resurrected with a spiritual body. Paul states, "For if there is no resurrection from the dead, neither has Christ been raised" (1Corinthians 15:13, HBFV).
God has a plan
There is a time order to God's plan for all man (1Corinthians 15:21 - 23). 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 Millennium, 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).
In Luke 14, Jesus teaches us that at the time of his return He will repay or reward resurrected Christians for their works in this life (Luke 14:12 - 14, Matthew 16:27, Revelation 22:12).
Rise and SHINE!
Many of those who have already died will live again . . . 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 all the dead will experience a resurrection and awake from their sleep of death. All those first brought back to life, and the vast majority of those who are brought back up in the second, will receive everlasting life.
Thankfully, only a very few folks will be made alive to experience "shame and everlasting contempt." These statement sound very similar to what Jesus said in John 5:28 - 29.
Those in the first resurrection cannot die again because they have been given new spiritual bodies and have received immortality (Luke 20:34 - 36, 1Corinthians 15:52 - 55).