Friday, April 17, 2020 -
Today “W” was reading to me from Thessalonians. It was the first time he’d read these books of the Bible. I explained how I Thessalonians 4:16-17 describes what many believe (myself included) is the rapture of the church – a term Scripture does not use. However, many believe that we will live through the tribulation rather than be taken out prior to the tribulation period, as I Thessalonians 5:9 would seem to indicate. But the Bible is not explicitly clear regarding this, and we cannot be dogmatic in our eschatological beliefs when it is not exact.
We also looked then at Revelation 19 and 20, in relation to Thessalonians. “W” was confused by Revelation 20:4-5 because the rest of the dead, those who are not resurrected with the dead in Christ, will not come to life until the end of the 1000 year period when we believers will reign with Christ, but verse 5 clearly says “This is the first resurrection.” “W” questioned how that can be the first resurrection when we believers who are dead have already been resurrected. This, at first, had me stumped, but I felt that first resurrection was referring back up to verse 4. The wording of verse 5 seems to indicate that the “rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed.” “W” disagreed so I looked to see what my dad had to say.
Dad had a very long explanation of this in his Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament and explains that the resurrection of Christ, of believers, and the rest of the dead are all part of the first resurrection of the dead. Here are “the souls of those who died, death being interpreted as the separation of the spirit from the material body. There is only one way that we can interpret the reviving of souls and that is their reunion with their separated bodies. Therefore, the resurrection actually is when the departed spirit is joined together with a new body.”
That latter statement may be so, but dear Dad, if this means believers and unbelievers are part of the first resurrection, and John calls it the first resurrection, what is the second, or last, resurrection? No other place in Scripture do we find another resurrection or type of resurrection spoken of.
Therefore, I truly believe the first resurrection is when the dead in Christ will arise to meet the Lord in the air (I Thessalonians 4:16-17) and we shall be changed and put on our imperishable bodies (I Corinthians 15:52-53). Yet when the rest of the dead come to life and are judged (Revelation 20:5, 11-13), 1000 years later, that will be the second resurrection.
I could be wrong about this, just as I could be wrong about the rapture. But all that really matters is that God created all things and that through Adam sin entered the world, and I am a repentant sinner who by faith believes that God sent Jesus to shed His blood for my sin, taking my punishment upon Himself, which provides me access to God and results in eternal life.
As Paul so adequately said, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known.” (I Corinthians 13:12) I look forward to that day when all of these mysteries will be known to me!