Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.
Question: What does the Bible teach about the resurrection of the dead?
Answer: The doctrine of the resurrection of the dead is unique to the Jewish and Christian
religions because it is only taught in the Bible. It is also one of the most important, yet one of the
most misunderstood teachings of the Bible. Let us use Acts 24: 15 as our Scripture text:
“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.”
We ask: Why is a resurrection necessary? The entire human race is in a state of sin, imperfection
and on the road to death – extinction. The vast majority who have ever lived have already
entered the death state. This sad state of affairs can be traced back to the fall of Father Adam
through his sin of disobedience, in which he justly came under Divine condemnation. The whole
race as a result has fallen under the same condemnation by heredity.
The good news is that God foresaw and made provision for this calamity by sending His beloved
Son into the world to be the ransom sacrifice for Adam and his race, thereby assuring
deliverance from the condemnation of death and the opportunity to gain perfect life
(1 Corinthians 15: 21, 22).
The word “resurrection” when referring to mankind is translated from the Greek word anastasis.
It means a gradual re-standing, step by step, from the fallen condition into the perfection of
God’s image, the condition that Adam was in before he fell into sin. From this definition we note
that it is more than merely being awakened from the dead, which is only the beginning of the
Another important feature of the resurrection is that it is not the body that was buried which is to
be raised, but it is the person, the soul that will be raised, and God will provide each individual
with a body that is pleasing to Him (1 Corinthians 15: 35-38).
We may classify the different kinds of resurrection into two main categories as seen from our
text: “a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust:
(1.) “the just”: The first and most important class in this category to experience a
resurrection from the dead is the Church. Their resurrection, which occurs during the
time of Jesus’ Second Advent, is called the first resurrection, and is to the Divine
nature (Revelation 20: 6) (2 Peter 1: 4).
Long before the resurrection of the Church, however, Jesus, the great Head and Forerunner of
the Church, was the first individual to experience a resurrection from the dead, as seen from
Colossians 1: 18:
“And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead;
that in all things he might have the preeminence.”
(2.) “the unjust”: This class consists of the world in general. They are spoken of as
“wicked” because in the present life they have been in an ignorant, sinful, unjustified
condition, and therefore out of harmony with God.
Both the Church and the world are spoken of in 1 Corinthians 15: 23:
“But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his
coming.” Here, Christ and His Church are spoken of as “Christ the firstfruits,” and the world is
spoken of as “they that are Christ’s” − the afterfruits.
During the Millennial-Age Kingdom, the world will be awakened from the sleep of death, and
every individual will be placed on trial for life under favorable conditions. Christ and His
Church will be the Judges for a thousand years, as each individual experiences the judgment
process, which will consist of instruction, testing and chastisement for correction. The obedient
will be gradually restored to human perfection, and the earth will also become gradually
perfected − like the Garden of Eden. After one final and searching test, the faithful will be
granted eternal life upon the earth as their gift-reward.
Note: Please find a more thorough examination of this subject in Study 11 of Hope Beyond the