The Two Resurrections

05 May

Jesus told Martha that he was the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:24), and here in John 5 Jesus was telling the Jewish authorities that there are two resurrections, one called the “Resurrection of Life” and the other called the “Resurrection of Judgment” (John 4:29). What does this mean?

Jesus said that, if we hear his voice and believe, we have everlasting life (John 5:24). In fact, if we hear Jesus and believe, we have already past from death to life and will not be judged in the “Resurrection of Judgment!”

Folks seem to have gotten the idea that Jesus was speaking of physical death and resurrection at this time, but he was not. He was speaking of coming alive from our spiritual death or, in other words, to be born again. He spoke of this in John 3 with Nicodemus. There he told Nicodemus one must be born of water (physical birth) and of the Spirit (spiritual birth) before one could enter the Kingdom of God (John 3:5).

Nicodemus didn’t understand and perhaps his ignorance is echoed by many today. To be born again is to have life come into our spirits and have the word of God open for our understanding. Paul described this in Ephesians 2. “We who were dead in sin…” (Ephesians 2:1). This is not speaking of physical death, but our spirits are dead to God when we are first born into this world. Nevertheless, God quickened or gave life to our spirits, opening up our understanding of Christ (Ephesians 2:5). This is a resurrection (Ephesians 2:6). It is what Jesus calls the “Resurrection of Life” (John 5:29).

On the one hand Jesus was not sent to judge the world (John 3:17), but on the other hand all judgment has been given to him (John 5:22, 27). But, how does Jesus exercise this judgment, if he has power to do so but was not sent to exercise that power?

Jesus claimed he could do nothing by himself, but he judged as he heard. That is, he did not seek a desire apart from the will of the Father. In other words, the will of the Father was Jesus’ will too. The Father willed and Jesus brought his will out into the physical realm (John 5:30).

Well, that’s all fine and good to know, but what does it all come down to in logical sense? The bottom line is: God sent Jesus to save the world, not destroy it (John 3:17). If we believe Jesus, this is evidence that we are part of the “Resurrection of Life”. But if we don’t believe, we are part of the “Resurrection of Judgment” (John 3:18). Jesus said that the judgment is this: “Light (i.e. Jesus) had come into the world, but men preferred darkness…” That is, the deeds of men are evil. We know they are evil because that is why we seek to hide them from public view (John 3:19). No one wants to be exposed, because public exposure brings judgment (John 3:20). However, if Jesus is our Life, and if he is our Resurrection then he is our Life, we don’t mind having our works exposed, even if the public hates what we do! This is because we are confident that what we do is the fruit of the Spirit of God in our lives (John 3:21).

All this means is those who are part of the “Resurrection of Life” are serving God today. We are not part of the “Resurrection of Judgment”, because our hearts and minds have already been opened to the things of God. However, this is not to say that the rest of the world is condemned or destroyed, because we must not forget that this was not Jesus’ purpose in coming (John 3:17). Those of us who hear the voice of Christ live (John 5:25) or already have eternal life dwelling in us. Nevertheless, all who are in the graves will one day hear his voice (John 5:28). This means all will one day live! They will **live** in the same sense we do today—having their minds and hearts open to the things of God. Although this is not true yet, the Scriptures claim Jesus is the Savior of the world—the whole world—but especially today of those who believe (1Timothy 4:10).


Posted by on May 5, 2011 in resurrection of the dead


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4 responses to “The Two Resurrections

  1. Eddie

    August 4, 2016 at 06:51

    The conditions of the living and the dead are simultaneous. That is, those who are alive in the spirit are alive at the same time as those who are spiritually dead. However, in saying this it is concluded that the two resurrections are two different events, occurring at two different times. The first resurrection occurs, as I concluded in “The Millennium and the First Resurrection” during the age Revelation refers to as the 1000-year period (Millennium). The second resurrection doesn’t occur until the time of the Millennium is over (cf. Revelation 20:5).

  2. Robert

    August 3, 2016 at 22:34

    Eddie, I just read “The Millennium and the First Resurrection” and I thought it was excellent, well done. Concerning the two resurrections, in your opinion are they separate events and time frames?

  3. Ed Bromfield

    May 5, 2011 at 14:01

    Greetings Rabbi, thanks, and I never thought about Nicodemus’ quandary in the way you put it, but it makes sense. I have recently considered both John the Baptist’s and Jesus reluctance to admit clearly about their respective offices because of a wrong Jewish understanding of those offices. John was supposed to fulfill the office of Elijah, but he told the Jews he wasn’t Elijah (not the one they expected). Similarly, Jesus refused to come out and say he was the Messiah, because of the Jews’ mistaken understanding of the office. Jesus used terms like ‘Son of Man’ which referred to the same thing, but he would not admit outright to being the Messiah–the one they expected. So, Nicodemus’ difficulty in understanding the term ‘born again’ makes good sense to me now that you explain it. Thank you.

    Lord bless,


  4. Return of Benjamin

    May 5, 2011 at 12:21

    Excellent post as always.

    As an aside, the reason Nicodemus didn’t understand was because the idea of being “born again” already existed in Judaism, but referred specifically to a Gentile proselytizing and becoming a Jew. Nicodemus’ question (which, to those who have studied the rabbis, was actually phrased in the self-deprecating manner that one expected a student to address his rabbi) pretty much amounted to, “Okay, but I’m already Jewish; what do I do?”

    Yeshua’s answer was, in essence, to say that even a born Jew has to partake of a conversion as radical as that of the Gentile proselyte, though one affected through the Spirit rather than through circumcision.

    Understand that according to Jewish Law, a proselyte really was considered a whole new entity, even down to voiding any legal contracts held by the old person. If his wife did not convert with him, the marriage was considered nullified by death, not divorce. (Paul upholds this view in Romans 6, incidentally.)

    Being “born again” in the Christian sense should be just as radical a procedure. Sadly, it’s a phrase that is bandied about without any real understanding by far too many.


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