The Prophetic Context of the Millennium Part IV: The Resurrection at the Second Advent -- By: John F. Walvoord

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 114:456 (Oct 1957)
Article: The Prophetic Context of the Millennium Part IV: The Resurrection at the Second Advent
Author: John F. Walvoord

The Prophetic Context of the Millennium
Part IV:
The Resurrection at the Second Advent

John F. Walvoord

The Resurrection at the Second Advent

One of the major revelations concerning the second coming of Christ is the prediction of the resurrections which will take place at that time. According to Revelation 20:4–6, the event described as the “first resurrection” takes place immediately after the second coming. The Apostle John records the vision in the following words: “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, and for the word of God, and such as worshipped not the beast, neither his image, and received not the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand; and they lived, and reigned with Christ a thousand years” (Rev 20:4–6).

The expression “first resurrection” has constituted an exegetical problem for all interpreters. Posttribulationists cite this reference as evidence that the rapture could not occur until after the tribulation. Pretribulationists have rightly held that the first resurrection is not an event, but an order of resurrection. It is evident that our Lord rose from the dead as the first one to receive a resurrection body—others previously raised from the dead had merely been restored to their former natural bodies. His resurrection, though widely separated from resurrections which follow, is included in the first resurrection, otherwise the event

described in Revelation would not be “first.” According to 1 Corinthians 15:20, Christ is “the firstfruits of them that are asleep,” i.e., the first part of the resurrection of all saints. Likewise, the evidence that the translation of the church takes place before the tribulation would point to a large segment of the righteous dead being raised before the tribulation. These also would qualify as taking part in the first resurrection.

In contrast to the first resurrection of Revelation 20 is the resurrection of the wicked dead portrayed in the latter part of the chapter. The first resurrection therefore becomes the resurrection of all the righteous in contrast to the final resurrection which is the resurrection of the wicked. The question remains, however, concerning the identity of these who take part in the first resurrection at this time.

The resurrection of the tribulation saints. According to the description given in

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