Resurrection of the dead is generally considered to at the end of the world during Christ’s second coming. When Jesus spoke about the resurrection of the dead, He reveals something totally different. In this post we will explore when this resurrection of the dead happens.
Resurrection is not a future event
Jesus answered and said to them, “Are you not therefore mistaken, because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God?Mark 12:24-27
For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. But concerning the dead, that they rise, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the burning bush passage, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’ ? He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living. You are therefore greatly mistaken.”
When Jesus spoke about the patriarchs that they are not dead, for God is not the God of the dead but of the living, in context with the resurrection of the dead, He is revealing that the patriarchs were resurrected already.
Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom. Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.Matt 16:28 – 17:3
When Peter, James and John saw Jesus coming in His kingdom (commonly referred to as transfiguration), we can see Moses and Elijah were already resurrected and speaking with Him. Hence, resurrection is not a future event, but rather, it happens as soon as we die.
For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the SonJohn 5:21-22
It is important to note that, even before Jesus died on the cross, the Father can raise whom He wants from the dead and give life. In other words, resurrection of the dead, can be done by both the Father and the Son. We just saw how the patriarchs, Moses and Elijah (to name a few) were resurrected by the Father.
Resurrection is a continuous event
Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. “And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”John 11:24-26
Just like most of us, Martha had the understanding that the resurrection is at the last day. Jesus however, corrects her saying, it is a continuous event. If we believe in Jesus and had done good, we will be resurrected instantly and will never die. Hence, resurrection of the dead is a continuous event which happens immediately after everyone dies. It is not a future event.
Immediate Judgment for those who are dead
Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth–those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.John 5:25-29
When Jesus was referring to judgment for the resurrection of the dead, He is clearly referring to a present time by saying ‘now is’ as if it is very close and not a far distant future. Here Jesus seems to be mentioning the authority He had received to resurrect and judge.
And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.Matt 27:50-53
Gospels also record an immediate resurrection of the dead as mentioned by Jesus when He died on the cross.
Final judgment for those who were living
Matt 16:27 “For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.
Matt 25:31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.
Matt 24:30 “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
Mark 13:26-27 “Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then He will send His angels, and gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest part of earth to the farthest part of heaven.
Jesus also mentions a final judgment but when He comes in the clouds, there was no resurrection mentioned but judgment only to those who live on this world at that time.
It is a general Christian understanding that Jesus Christ will come again at the last day to judge the world. But they often miss out what Jesus spoke about an immediate resurrection and judgment for those die before His second coming. We must also keep in mind that the Father has been resurrecting saints all throughout the history of this world. With what Jesus revealed about the resurrection of the dead as a foundation, we need to look at Scriptures and the book of Revelation.