Are There Two or Three End Time Resurrections?

Are there three general resurrections to come in these end times?

This question was posed to me and as I did not know of the answer I decided to look into it and see what the scriptures seemed to show.

Some Christians, it turns out, believe that there are three resurrections in the end times of people who have lived in past ages or who are living at the time (of these resurrections!).

These 3 resurrections they believe are for...

1. Those who have accepted Christ.
2. Those who have somehow never come to know the true God or Christ.
          (Who'd have to be given a future chance some way or other!)
3. Those who have knowingly rejected Jesus as their saviour.

It's interesting that those churches that believe in all members actively evangelizing the world and that God is giving everyone opportunity to know him, tend to think all people will have their chance in one lifetime.

On the other hand those churches which feel that they can leave evangelizing to the clergy or for after Christ returns, often think that those who are missed in this age (the majority, they believe) will have to be resurrected and given a chance in a new lifetime, at some future time!

In Romans, Chapter 1 & 2 though, the scriptures tell us that God can indeed judge all the world because all have been given knowledge of Him. Whether or not they have been evangelized specifically by a 'Christian', God says that they have seen His invisible attributes - His eternal power and divine nature and could chose to re-align their minds. So God says they have no excuse.

Rom 1:19-20 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

You can also check out Romans 2:12-16 in this regard!

Rom 2:12-16 For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

So according to this, God has given all people revelation about Him and His requirements in their hearts and consciences. And, He can judge or excuse (forgive) people according to how they react to this knowledge.

But maybe this is talking about something else some might say. Perhaps as others conjecture, there are extra resurrections which God will provide, giving people who are not reached, another opportunity or opportunities to learn about God and/or Jesus Christ.

We can check into this by looking first at Revelation 20:4-6.

Rev 20:4-6 Then I saw thrones, and the people sitting on them had been given the authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony about Jesus and for proclaiming the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his statue, nor accepted his mark on their forehead or their hands. They all came to life again, and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

This is the first resurrection. (The rest of the dead did not come back to life until the thousand years had ended.)

Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. For them the second death holds no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him a thousand years.

We see from this that there is a first resurrection for the dead in Christ and those alive 'in Him', when He returns at the start of the millennium.

We notice also that the rest of the dead are not resurrected at this point. They do not take part in the first resurrection. Those who have not accepted Jesus or have not lived attempting to follow what they knew of God by natural revelation, are resurrected after the thousand years are ended.

To confirm this, verse 6 points out that those who take part in the first resurrection are 'blessed and holy'. This cannot include any who have not lived attempting to follow God!

So that is resurrection No. 1.

The next resurrection that takes place is mentioned in Revelation, Chapter 20, verses 11-15.

The scriptures tell us that the rest of the dead are not raised until the 1000 years are ended. and here, after the 1000 years are over, we have a second resurrection detailed for us!

Rev 20: 11-15 And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from his presence, but they found no place to hide.
I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books.
The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave gave up their dead. And all were judged according to their deeds.
Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death.
And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.

In this resurrection of the other dead, to meet those still alive as carnal humans after the millennium, we see a judgement of people according to their deeds. They are not said to be judged on whether they accepted Jesus!

So according to the book of Revelation, we have those who were not in the first resurrection being brought to life after the millennium and after the millennium we have this 'White Throne Judgement'. These two things dovetail together as one and the same event, and those not found in the book of life are thrown into the lake of fire; they are not given another life to try again!

And notice that after this resurrection is completed and the people involved in it are judged, then death and the grave are thrown into the lake of fire. Since 'death' is the last enemy, this can only be the second and last resurrection and judgement. Not only that, any people not found in the "book of life" are also thrown into the lake of fire. That leaves no-one to be resurrected later!

So only two resurrections are obviously detailed in the book of Revelation.

But some will say what about Jesus own words when here on earth. What about Matthew 25:31-46.

Mat 25:31-40 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,f you did it to me.’

Mat 25:41-46 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

This judgement seems the same as the one detailed in the bible as the "White Throne judgement" of Revelation. All nationalities of people not in the first resurrection are here being judged according to their deeds. It's seemingly not talking about a new event since it speaks of the same people groups being judged and with the same distinctives! Life or death depending on what they had done.

One can also ask the logical question, "If this is a separate resurrection, when does it take place? It has to be before the "white throne judgement" because death is no more after that. But that would put it within the millennium and none of the other dead are resurrected until after the 1000 years are over! Logic says there can only be two resurrections!

Finally, someone will say, "What about people being resurrected to live for 100 years to be taught in the millennium?"

The scripture that they are referring to is, Isaiah 65: verse 20, which says...

Isa 65:20 "Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; the one who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere child; the one who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed".

If we read it carefully we see that it's not talking about a resurrection. Rather it's talking about those born during the millennium. Anyone then who dies at 100 years of age, for instance, will be thought a mere child. One hundred years is not the average expected lifespan, it's a pitifully short life that has missed out on it's full potential by a very wide margin.

This implies that in the last millennium the length of life will climb back up to be similar to what it was in the first millennium. People will have very extended lives compared to today and so most of the people born during the millennium will be alive at the end to be tested when Satan is released. And many will once more follow him.

The outcome after the millennium and the rebellion of some people against God, is the "white throne judgement" of all, alive or dead who were not part of the first resurrection.

So, the scriptures only suggest that there are two resurrections. Also, Romans, Chapters 1 & 2 tell us that God can judge all people fairly and reward them equitably, needing no more than those!
1. At "Jesus' return" before the millennium.
2. At the "white throne judgement" after the millennium.

It's a good plan as it relies on God's ability, insight, wisdom, and knowledge of His creation (man). It's not dependent on fallable man reaching all the people in the world individually!

It's God who reaches all people, some through us, some perhaps through angelic assistance as mentioned in Revelation, Chapter 14, but the rest He does Himself, as shown in the book of Romans, Chapter 1:19-20 & Chapter 2:12-16.

It's nice when a plan comes together! And when the plan is God's it cannot fail!

Best wishes for grace and the peace of Jesus.


Another thought...

Can all people know God? Click Here.
Can you lose salvation? Click Here.