Article The Wider Hope in the Second Resurrection

Ray Faircloth

Oct 16, 2020

The Wider Hope in the Second Resurrection

By Raymond C. Faircloth

Two Phases of Resurrection Demonstrated by

Daniel, Jesus, Paul, and in the Revelation

Generally, those scholars who take the pre-millennial view that there will be a literal 1,000 years between Jesus’ return and the judgment scene at the Great white throne, understand that there will be two phases of the resurrectionone phase for “the just” at the beginning of the 1,000 years and a second phase for “the unjust” after the 1,000 years are completed. This is evident from the biblical statements by Daniel, Jesus, Paul, and in the Book of Revelation. So, we start with Daniel.


Indeed, although the concept of resurrection was spoken of in the Hebrew Scriptures at a time earlier than the time of Daniel, he was the first to record important details of the resurrection events. He prophesied that: “many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, [1] these to everlasting life, [2] but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt” (Dan. 12:2 NASB). In terms of the translation of this passage the understanding given by Jewish commentators Saadia Haggaon (10th century) and Aben Ezra (12th century) on this passage was advocated by Bible translator S.P. Tregelles. This resulted in his rendering of verse 2 as:

“And many from among the sleepers of the dust of the earth shall awake; these shall be unto everlasting life; but those, the rest of the sleepers, those who do not awake at this time, shall be unto shame and everlasting contempt.”

Here the main focus is on the first phase of the resurrection but still noting the second. Nevertheless, this passage shows that there will be two classifications of people who will be resurrected. In Hebrew the word “many” is idiomatic as meaning “numerous” in the sense of how large the number is, but is not indicating a limit to the number. In fact, the universality of the complete resurrection is indicated by the phrase “the rest of the sleepers” sleeping in the ground i.e., all the remaining dead.

Many centuries later Jesus firstly speaks, in the gospel of John, of those not in graves who will come alive spiritually, saying, “I assure you that the time is coming, indeed it’s here now, when the dead will hear my voice—the voice of the Son of God. And those who listen will live” (John 5:25 NLT). After speaking of the raising to spiritual life of the spiritually dead in his time Jesus confirms Daniel’s statement that there will be two phases of the literal resurrection and showing that everyone will have been resurrected in either one of those two phases when he said:

“Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgement” (John 5:28, 29 ESV).

Because Jesus says “all” and only two groups are mentioned, i.e., “those who have done good” and “those who have done evil” it is clear that everyone who has ever lived and died and therefore in a “memorial tomb” will be resurrected in either the first or the second phase of the resurrection. Later the Apostle Paul spoke of these two phases of resurrection saying:

“I have a hope in God, which these men themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection, both of the righteous and the unrighteous” (Acts 24:15 CSB).

Again, this shows the all-encompassing nature of the resurrection by noting that there is no third class who are excluded from the resurrection. All people are either “righteous (just)” or “unrighteous (unjust).” So, Paul is restating what Daniel and Jesus have already said. This pattern is confirmed in the Book of Revelation, but with the additional important factor that the interval between the two phases of the resurrection will be 1,000 years.

God’s Judgment of Everyone Through Jesus

Paul speaks of this judgment showing that:

“[God] has set a Day when he will judge the inhabited world, and do it justly, by means of a man whom he has designated” (Acts 17:31 CJB). Also, Rom. 3:6b.

So, because the entire world is to be judged, this shows that everyone of both “the righteous” and “the unrighteous” dead will have to be resurrected. Indeed, in vision the Apostle John saw:

“the souls [lives] of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection”

(Rev. 20:4, 5 NIV).

The phrase “the rest of the dead” as separated from those of “the first resurrection” clearly refers to everyone else who has ever lived and died and is the same as Daniel’s the rest of the sleepers. Furthermore, in Revelation 20:12 John says: I saw the dead—the great and the small” i.e., everyone who had been dead but are now standing before the throne. Then in verse 13 John informs us that, “the sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in themall of these statements again emphasising the all-encompassing universalism of the resurrection (not universal salvation).

The Judgment of “The Rest of the Dead”

After speaking of the completion of the 1,000 years of the transition toward the final world conditions under God’s Kingdom, the terminating of the final rebellion, and the destruction of Satan, “the rest of the dead” (verse 5) must stand before the judgement seat. So, John saw:

“a great white throne and the one who was seated on it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled, and a place was not found for them. 12 And I saw the dead—the great and the small—standing before the throne, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to their deeds. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and each one was judged according to their deeds. 14 And Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death—the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev 20:11-15 LEB).

So, this judgment after the 1,000 years transitional period is completed concerns, “those who have done evil” (John 5:29) which is reiterated by Paul as being, “the unrighteous (the unjust) (Acts 24:15)” who are, “the rest of the dead” (Rev. 20:5) i.e., all those not resurrected at the time of the first resurrection at Christ’s return, and therefore a resurrection of even the most unrighteous/unjust people who have ever lived and had done evil along with those who have never known the true gospel and so have not lived lives in harmony with God’s desire for human living.

How does God, through Jesus, Deal with

These Resurrected Ones?

On this aspect of the second phase of the resurrection the amount of information given in Revelation 20 is somewhat limited, but we do know from this passage that:

“the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to their deeds” (verse 12).

“if anyone was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (verse 15).

So, whenever information is rather limited the Christian may choose to extrapolate the rest of the scenario from all that he or she has come to know about God’s character in terms of how He deals with people. Firstly, throughout human history God has always sought for humans to repent i.e., to change their mindset and lifestyle to harmonize with His purpose. So, Paul writes:

“perhaps you despise his [God’s] great kindness, tolerance, and patience. Surely you know that God is kind, because he is trying to lead you to repent” (Rom. 2:4 GNT).

Similarly, Peter showed God’s history as having been a history of great patience with people and so allowing them a considerable amount of time to make changes in their lives as the Apostle Peter wrote, saying, “The Lord isn’t slow to keep his promise, as some think of slowness, but he is patient toward you, not wanting anyone to perish but all to change their hearts and lives” (2 Pet. 3:9 CEB). Also, God’s patience with people has always been according to their understanding of Him. We know this because Jesus had said concerning the world, “If I hadn’t come and spoken to them, they wouldn’t have any sin. But now they have no excuse for their sin” (John 15:22 GW). So, considering the hundreds of millions of dead people who had not been “spoken to” by Jesus it is evident that such ones would not simply be resurrected and then immediately destroyed. In fact, many of such people lived naturally according to many of God’s precepts even though they were not connected to Israel or to Christianity. Indeed, they maintained a godly conscience as Paul notes in his letter to the Romans, saying:

“For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus” (Rom. 2:14-16 ESV).

The “day when…God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus” is undoubtedly the time of the great white throne judgment after the general resurrection i.e., the second phase of resurrection.

What Will All of This Mean for

Those Standing Before the Great White Throne?

Certainly, “the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to their deeds” (Rev. 20: 12). This includes their deeds throughout “this age” up until they died. However, just as God, through Jesus, has always shown, “kindness, tolerance, and patience” in His “trying to lead [people] to repent” during “this age,” it is evident that He would treat those of the second phase of the resurrection in the same way because His character does not change. This would likely involve a necessary amount of time after their resurrection t0 allow people to learn what God’s will is for them if they are willing to learn and to repent. So, the judgment “according to their deeds” would also include their response after God’s patient educating of them in “trying to lead [them] to repent.” If they do repent then they are necessarily acquitted of their sins and then have their names written in the book of life. Any other view would present us with God as being a harsh person.

On the other hand, just as in “this age” there are many who do not wish to learn what God’s will is, so too, there will be many after the second phase of the resurrection who will reject God so that their judgment will be one of condemnation resulting in their destruction as noted in the Book of Revelation because, “if anyone was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev 20:11-15 LEB). This lake of fire is a symbol which pictures “the second death”a death which allows for no further future for them. These incorrigibly wicked persons are described as:

“cowards, faithless people, the unclean, murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters and all liars – their destiny will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death’” (Rev. 21:8 NTE).

This scenario of the great white throne judgment is one which demonstrates that justice has been done because prior to their deaths in “this age” those who have committed the most heinous of crimes against humanity have either answered only to a human court or have not answered in “this age” at all for those crimes. However, all must finally answer to God for what they have done; and certainly, Jesus will demonstrate godly wisdom and fairness in dispensing justice (Isa. 11:2-4, John 8:16). Nevertheless, it is not appropriate for any Christian to make judgments about how some of those infamous people from history who have done the most monstrously wicked things will react to their being confronted at the great white throne judgment. We must leave this to, “the righteous judge” (2 Tim. 4:8).




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Bible Challenge
Oct 13, 2020
Thank you! When I read the new testament this pass summer without WT glasses I saw these things so clearly the two resurrections. I always felt our loving Creator was going to bring back everyone who has ever lived because the blood of Christ and the love of God is that powerful and beautiful! Then when I was reading the new testament and saw 2 resurrections it was so simple and easy. It made sense. I would like your thoughts on Matthew 22:23-33, Mark 12:18-27, Luke 20:27-38. This is the account of the Sadducees testing Jesus on the resurrection with the woman who was married to 7 brothers and followed the "raising up offspring for the dead brother" practice. What do you think of those verses? If one is happily married will they reunite with their spouse?

I'm just asking for your opinion- I have mine and will share.


Well-known member
Dec 3, 2022
There is no marriage in the kingdom, no male or female.
There is one more category of humans, who will not be resurrected , those who have died before the great white throne that are guilty of the unpardonable sin are not resurrected. For these there remains no more sacrifice for sin. The blood of Christ will not apply that provides resurrections. Only those of this type alive at the great white throne are cast into the lake of fire.


Active member
Dec 5, 2023
I am a bit leery of jumping in to this discussion. However, as is my habit in scripture studies, I present scriptures that are worth considering so that people can ensure their understandings are found AFTER all scripture is viewed. So, for what it is worth to those who enjoy discussions from all points of view, I add:

First off, we find in prophecy that numbers matter. For the Hebrew mind, numbers we also symbols. A verse using 3 is likely to refer to the "number of God." When a verse talks about 4 of something, it usually symbolizes earth. If the verse talks about 7 of something, it would better be understood as 3 x 4 or 3 + 4: God working in the world. Thank of all the 12s and 7s seen in scripture. Then, the number 10 indicates completion of something. When something says 1000, it is actually 10x10x10 as in God owning the cattle on a thousand hills. We know there are more than 1000 hills in this world, but we know that God owns ALL the cattle. I think it is important to see numbers symbolically in prophecy. That being said, look at 1000 as an indication that something happens when God's plan is complete.


Well-known member
Dec 3, 2022
Ezekiel 37:1-28 is the second resurrection specifically of the house of Israel.
The verses speak of bones, tendons, flesh and skin along with the breath of life as this is a resurrection to mortal existence. These all will be given the Holy Spirit. The second resurrection is for all the people who have ever lived but were never converted and it occurs after the 1000 years or millennium. Also at this time Satan is released to tempt these people and some, Gog and Magog , commit the unpardonable sin and are destroyed.