Two Resurrections

The Bible speaks of two types of death—spiritual death and bodily death. It follows that there are two types of resurrections—a spiritual one and a bodily one. Spiritual resurrection is what happens to the LIVING. Bodily resurrection is what happens to physically DEAD people. (Jesus spoke of two types of death in such passages as Matthew 8:22 when He said, “Let the dead bury the dead.”)

All preterists and probably most other Christians reject the idea that resurrection entails physical corpses rising out of their graves. While there are different views among preterists, the Individual Body View of the resurrection (IBV) is that the immortal-body resurrection (and judgment) of the dead occurred at the Parousia—at the end of the age, in or just before AD 70. Hades, the temporary abode of the dead in their spiritual bodies, was emptied and abolished at the Parousia per Revelation 20:13.[1]

The nature of after-life bodies is sometimes referred to as the “soul” or “spirit” (1 Corinthians 15; 1 Peter 3:19-21), but Jesus said we will be like angels in heaven (Luke 20:36). The appearance of Moses and Elijah at the Transfiguration gives us a glimpse of the nature of our afterlife bodies. I believe we can conclude that we will have actual bodies in heaven, though different from our old flesh-and-bone bodies. I call this the “Personhood View” of the resurrection.

Thus, everyone who was residing in hades at AD 70 went to their eternal destination—heaven for believers, hell for unbelievers (hell being variously interpreted as eternal conscious punishment or annihilation). This was a ONE-TIME EVENT, which is clear from several passages. In Revelation 22:12 Jesus said He was coming soon to repay EVERYONE for what they had done. EVERYONE would be raised on the last day per John 6:39-40, 54. Other passages confirming the immortal-body resurrection (and judgment) include: Daniel 12:2-13; Matthew 13:36-43; 16:27-28; 25:30-46; Acts 24:15 (mello, meaning “about to”); John 5:28-29; 1 Corinthians 15:35-50; 2 Timothy 4:1 (mello); 1 Peter 4: 5, 17; Hebrews 9:27; Revelation 20:11-15.[2]

Spiritual death, on the other hand, is a biblical concept about being separated from God. So, spiritual resurrection is renewed fellowship with God, that is, “justification” in the language of theologians. In Ephesians 2:5 and Colossians 2:13-24, Paul said, “we are dead in our trespasses” (but made alive in Christ). This is spiritual death (and resurrection). In Genesis 2:17 we read that God told Adam that on the DAY he ate the forbidden fruit he would surely die. Adam ate the fruit but did not physically die that day. Indeed, he lived to be 930 years old. So, we must conclude that the death Adam experienced on that day was spiritual death. What Adam lost at the Fall was life-after-death, which was restored for believers by Christ.

Today, when believers die, we go directly to heaven in our immortal, glorified bodies (Hebrews 9:27). There is no sheol/hades. And there is nothing in Scripture about our bodies being reunited with our souls at the end of time, as some futurists teach.

Spiritual resurrection is an ongoing process of justification/regeneration when people believe. This is different IN NATURE from bodily resurrection. Passages that discuss this include: Luke 15:32; John 11:25; Romans 6:1-14, 23; 7:11; 8:6-11; Ephesians 2:1-7; 5:14; Colossians 2:12-14; 3:1-4; 1 John 3:14. What may confuse even some preterists is that there is a sense in the New Testament of the salvation of living believers being completed in AD 70—at the same time as the General Resurrection of the physically dead (Luke 21:28; Romans 8:18-23; Hebrews 1:14; 9:26-28; etc.). But this is not the same thing as the resurrection of spirits of the physically dead from hades to heaven.

Spiritual death and resurrection are related to bodily death and resurrection, as only those who are spiritually resurrected through Christ are promised eternal life. Adam was born mortal. He had a complete digestive tract, and indeed was given food to eat (Genesis 1:29-30)! And, of course, he had all the human internal organs which had to function to maintain life. It should be obvious that Adam would have died physically had he not eaten or had been injured. What was missing in Adam was life after death in heaven, which was granted to the faithful through Christ.

Spiritual resurrection is soteriological. Bodily resurrection is eschatological. Physically dead believers residing in hades at AD 70 had already received spiritual/metaphorical “resurrection”—when they first believed (Romans 4, etc.) They didn’t need to receive (again) something they already possessed! Thus, the resurrection of the physically dead was qualitatively different from the spiritual “resurrection” of living persons. This dual resurrection is reflective of what we believers experience today: We get saved while we are alive, and we go to heaven when we die.

Corporate Body View (CBV) preterists see no difference in these two types of resurrection. That defies reason to me.

For more discussion on this, see other articles at my website, including “The General Resurrection of the Dead,” “Salvation to Heaven after AD 70,” “The Personhood View of the Resurrection,” “Why I Am Skeptical of the CBV View of the Resurrection,” and “The Corporate Body View vs Covenant Eschatology.” Here’s the link:

Articles on Eschatology – Prophecy Questions

[1] There are several passages that teach that the general resurrection was from sheol/hades (the temporary abode of the dead) to heaven―not a reconstitution of our disintegrated (or cremated) flesh-and-bone bodies from the grave to earth. Consider Genesis 37:35; 42:38; Job 14:13; Psalm 16:10; 49:15; 89:48, Isaiah 14:9-10; Ezekiel 31:15-17, Hosea 13:14; Acts 2:27. Revelation 20:13-14 teaches that sheol/hades was emptied and abolished, implying resurrection to heaven rather than to earth. Remember that Revelation is about events that “must shortly take place” (Revelation 1:1-3; 22:6), so the general resurrection was a past event. Jesus opened the gates of sheol/hades (Matthew 16:18; Revelation 14:13). In 1 Corinthians 15:35-50, Paul teaches that the resurrection body is a spiritual body, having shed the old kernel/shell of one’s body (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:18-5:1). In Philippians 1:22-23, Paul clarifies that our heavenly body is not a fleshly one. When Jesus told the thief on the cross that he would be with Him in paradise (i.e. hades) that very day, it should be obvious that neither Jesus’ physical body nor the thief’s would be in paradise, as their physical bodies would remain on earth. Thus, it was their spiritual bodies that would unite in paradise. Daniel 12:2-3 and Philippians 3:21 teach the resurrection body is glorified, thus different from one’s earthly body. In Matthew 22:30 Jesus teaches that we will be like angels in heaven. In 1 Peter 1:4, Peter teaches that the afterlife body is a different one, suitable for heaven. And in 1 Peter 3:19, Peter said the Jesus visited the spirits in prison (i.e. hades), which is consistent with “spiritual bodies” described by Paul.

[2] John 5:24-25 has different interpretations. Some people note the word “now,” which appears to give an immediate time limitation different from verses 28-29. If this is correct, verses 24-25 may refer to spiritual resurrection. But Daniel Harden in his book The Resurrection of the Dead, chapter 20, argues that “now” in the Greek does not mean that these events were already occurring. Rather, that the events were set in motion that would result on their occurrence. It probably is the same resurrection as verses 28-29 which implies fulfillment of Jesus’ 3 resurrections (Lazarus in John 11:38-45, the son of the widow of Nain in Luke 7:11-17, and the daughter of Jairus in Luke 8;49-56). But these resurrections were merely precursors of the general resurrection of the dead when spirits came out of hades to heaven in AD 70.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply