Discourse 10 - The General Resurrection at the end of the world: only for the ungodly?




The Resurrection at the end of the world: only for the ungodly? / Reply - Marcus Franz 00, 2000-07-25

Why believe? / Will all men be raised? Discourse 96


(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(The Resurrection at the end of the world: only for the ungodly? / Reply MF02, 2000-07-25

Why does John write of a first resurrection? Are we perhaps to infer from this a special happening that applies only to the martyrs?

John plainly does not mean that there was no resurrection before this time, seeing that (in whatever way we understand the difficult accounts in Mt 27 about the saints being raised from the dead) of course there was a resurrection prior to this, namely that of Our Lord Jesus. To that extent we can be considered to hold the same view. The term "first resurrection" is to be seen here as being connected to the term "second death (Rev 20, 6.14; 21, 8). The "second death" is not the death of nature, which comes to all human beings, including the Christian faithful, but rather means final damnation, the eternal separation from God. There is a similar distinction made with reference to resurrection. For we are told here, in Rev 20,6, in a quite general sense (and not just with a specific reference to the martyrs), that anyone who has a part in the first resurrection has nothing to fear from the second death, but will be permitted to reign for a thousand with years with Christ. Daniel already wrote (Dan 12,2) that there is one resurrection to everlasting life, and another to disgrace and contempt. This point is picked up again by Paul later on, in 1Cor 15, when he writes about a definite sequence of resurrection events: first the resurrection of Jesus, then, on his Second Coming, all those who belong to him, and only after that the end.

Summing up, we may say that there is a resurrection of believers and of unbelievers.

Is John then really writing here only about the martyrs? Here too the exact context should be taken into account: before John speaks of the first resurrection in Rev 20,5, he writes that the rest of the dead will not come to life until the thousand years are completed. And ONLY then does he continue: this is the first resurrection.

John sees the first resurrection, then, as being connected with, or rather opposed to the "second" resurrection at the end of time, and so all he is doing here is making a distinction between the resurrection of believers and that of unbelievers. Other biblical passages make the same point. Now it is beyond question that there are plenty of biblical passages (see the ones mentioned above, amongst others) which speak of the fact that ALL the faithful are involved in the first resurrection, the resurrection of the faithful - not just certain specific individuals or groups.

(Marcus Franz, XXXXmarcus1973@t-online.de / http://www.marcus1973.privat.t-online.de/endzeit.html ).



In some Christian circles the view has been put about that at the First Resurrection before the Millennium all the faithful will rise from the dead. This is a consequence of that interpretation which abbreviates the Rapture and the First Resurrection, making them into a single event. Paul states (1Cor 15,50-53, 1The 4,15-17) that those who have died in Christ will be raised and caught up in the Rapture, along with the faithful who are living; and it now becomes necessary, of course, to fit this in somewhere among the events of the First Resurrection as well - the First Resurrection of which John tells us in Revelation (Rev 20,4-6). And seeing that Rev 20,4 also says, with reference to these persons who have been resurrected from the dead, that they will reign with Christ in the Millennium, the conclusion becomes inescapable that the entire congregation will join Christ in ruling over the Millennial Kingdom. And that regardless of the fact - as has already been mentioned frequently enough - that in the First Resurrection, in Rev 20,4, we are only told of those who have been beheaded: nothing is stated about the congregation as such, that is, those who have not been beheaded. But this interpretation gives rise to further problems.

-  If all the faithful have already been resurrected from the dead at the First Resurrection, there will not be any of them left to take part in the General Resurrection at the end of the world. And yet Scripture tells us - as we will demonstrate presently - that both believers and unbelievers will rise from the dead.

-  Moreover, the question what is to happen to those believing Christians who have been born during the Millennium and will also die in these thousand years (Isa 51,14; 65,20) would also still have to be addressed.


The following scriptural passages clearly show that at the General Resurrection, at the end of the world, the faithful too will rise from the dead, rise to eternal life - by contrast with the ungodly, that is, who will then rise to the "second death of everlasting damnation.

While you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them.

Mt 13,24 Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 13,25 But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. 13,26 But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. 13,27 The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’13,28 And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’

13,29 But he said, “No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them.

13,30 Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.’”; Mt 13,24-30;


See also Chapter 11: “The end of the world - the Last Judgment.“.)

In particular Mt 13,29 also shows us that that this incorrectly disseminated doctrine of a separate resurrection - of the just, or the wheat, on the one hand, and the wicked or “tares” on the other - is just what is being ruled out here. Both are to go on growing together until the harvest. And the harvest is the end of the world, as explicitly stated in Mt 13,39, - which means it is the General Resurrection, and not the First Resurrection!

The harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are angels.

Mt 13,36 Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.” 13,37 And He said, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man,

13,38 and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; 13,39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are angels. 13,40 So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of this world.

13,41 The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, 13,42 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 13,43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.” Mt 13,36-43;

At the end of the world the angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from among the just.

Mt 13,47 “Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a net that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind, 13,48 which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.

13,49 So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from among the just, 13,50 and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” 13,51 Jesus said unto them, “Have ye understood all these things?” They said unto Him, “Yea, Lord.” 13,52 Then said He unto them, “Therefore every scribe who is instructed unto the Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a man that is a householder, who bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.” Mt 13,47-52;

The hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe.

Rev 14,14 Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and sitting on the cloud was one like a son of man, having a golden crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand. 14,15 And another angel came out of the temple, crying out with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle and reap, for the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe.” 14,16 Then He who sat on the cloud swung His sickle over the earth, and the earth was reaped.

14,17 And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, and he also had a sharp sickle. 14,18 Then another angel, the one who has power over fire, came out from the altar; and he called with a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, “Put in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, because her grapes are ripe.” 14,19 So the angel swung his sickle to the earth and gathered the clusters from the vine of the earth, and threw them into the great wine press of the wrath of God. 14,20 And the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood came out from the wine press, up to the horses’ bridles, for a distance of two hundred miles. Rev 14,14-20;

Then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father.

1Cor 15,24 then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. 1Cor 15,24;


And from these passages it also emerges with great clarity, though some commentators turn a blind eye to this, that the event is to take place at the end of the Millennium - that is, at the end of the world - and not before the Millennial Kingdom. In the passage quoted above, Mt 13.39, we are told explicitly: “The harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.” The two preceding parables as well - of the field, and the catch of fish - are to a great extent self-explanatory, and point to a single event, not to two different “harvests” or “catches”.

We are further told in Mt 13,41: “The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness.” This kingdom is the Millennial Kingdom, and the ruler of this kingdom will be the Lord Jesus. That is why the Lord says here “out of His kingdom”, whereas two verses further on, when referring to the rest of the just who will enter into the eternal kingdom on an earth made new, the new Jerusalem, he speaks of “the kingdom of their Father”. Mt 13,43: “Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”

And to rebut now the point of view which argues that at the First Resurrection, before the Millennium, not only the martyrs but all of the just will rise from the dead, so that at the end of the world, in the General Resurrection, only the unjust will remain, we have the unambiguous assertion in Mt 13,49: “So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from among the just.” If, then, at that point there were none of the just remaining, such a “severing” would not need to be undertaken either.

(See also Table 13: “The judgment upon the resurrected nations.”)

The following statements also confirm this view:

You, Daniel, go your way until you will rise again at the end of the days.

Dan 12,13 “But as for you, go your way to the end; then you will enter into rest and rise again for your allotted portion at the end of the days” Dan 12,13;

At the end of the world: the angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from among the just.

Mt 13,9 “So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from among the just, 13,50 and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” Mt 13,49-50;

And will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life.

Jn 5,26 “For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; 5,27 and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. 5,28 Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, 5,29 and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment”. Jn 5,26-29;

There shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.

Acts 24,14 “But this I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets; 24,15 having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.” Acts 24,14-15;

Here we have a reference to the General Resurrection, in which all will rise who are in the grave (Jn 5,28), at the end of the world (Mt 13,49), to judgment (Jn 5,27), and in which both the just and the unjust will rise from the dead (Dan 12,2; Jn 5,29; Acts 24,15). Thereupon the wicked will be separated from the just, and cast into the furnace of fire (Mt 13,49-50).

(See also Chapter 12: “The Resurrection”)


This of course causes problems for those who advocate two qualitatively separate resurrections - one for the “good”, before the Millennium, and the other for the “wicked”, after the Millennium. If we now examine the argument advanced by advocates of this school of interpretation, it becomes plain that the mistake has occurred not here, in connection with the General Resurrection, but rather at an earlier stage, in their understanding of the First Resurrection. The false assumption is made that when this occurs all the faithful - that is, all the “good” - will rise from the dead.

This mistake shows itself with great clarity in an argument taken from “Das Buch der Offenbarung” [“The Book of Revelation”] by W. J. Ouweneel, referring to Rev 20 (page 477 of the book):

“The implications of this (sc. of Rev 20) lead to the unambiguous conclusion that ‘the rest of the dead’ can only be those who have died in unbelief, seeing that in verse 4, after all, all the faithful from the time of Abel onward are raised from the dead. These dead, then, ‘from the midst of’ whom they have been raised, must necessarily be the unbelievers.”


Here the original text:

The souls of those who had been beheaded came to life.

Rev 20,4 Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 20,5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Rev 20, 4- 5;


This view overlooks the fact that in verse 4 - as mentioned earlier - the “beheaded” are referred to. So not “all the faithful” will come to life at the First Resurrection, but only those of them who have been put to death for their faith. Abel, the first person to have been put to death because of his faith, is certainly among these. But all those of the faithful who left this life for reasons having nothing to do with their faith, had at this time already been raised at the Return of the Lord for Rapture or will only rise in the General Resurrection after the Millennium at the end of the world (Jn 6:40), and not here, before the Millennium.

Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection.

Rev 20,6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years. Rev 20, 6;


This statement too, in verse Rev 20,6, is interpreted by the author of the book quoted earlier with great latitude. There he writes:

“It follows from verse 6 that those who will rise in the second resurrection (the General Resurrection) are not ‘blessed and holy’, but fall a prey to the ‘second death’”.


The argument from the converse conclusion, now, is a quite outstanding analytical tool. However, this method is only suitable when we have to do with clearly demarcated statements, as would be the case here if after the “holy is” the word “only” were to be placed. But it is absolutely impossibly to conclude, from the statement “Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection”, that all those human beings who do not have a part in the first resurrection are automatically accursed. Otherwise those of the saints who rose from the dead on the death of the Lord (Mt 27,52-53) would also end up in the lake of fire.

It is equally untrue that all those who rise from the dead in the General Resurrection fall prey to the second death. At that time - as explained earlier - there will be both the just and the unjust. The unjust will be thrown into the lake of fire, but the just will enter the kingdom of their Father.

This can also be proved on the basis of scriptural passages.

These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

Mt 25,45 “Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 25,46 These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Mt 25,45-46;

Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.

Mt 13,41 “The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, 13,42 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 13,43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.” Mt 13,41-43;

Who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and will be raised up on the last day.

Jn 6,39 “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. 6,40 For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” Jn 6,39-40;

Jn 6,44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. Jn 6,44;>

Jn 6,54 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. Jn 6,54;


Here, in Jn 6,39.44.54, there is an unambiguous reference to the “last day”. What is being referred to, then, is the end of the world, and so also the General Resurrection and the Last Judgment. And here the Lord Jesus himself says that anyone who beholds him - all who saw him at his lifetime, that is - and believes in him will have eternal life. Thus the second death will have no power over him. And the Lord will raise him from the dead, not before the Millennium, at the time of the Rapture, but on the Last Day, in the General Resurrection, at the end of the world.

(See also Discourse 95: “Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”)


Incidentally, it can also be seen from the relevant parables related by the Lord that the resurrection specifically includes the faithful in the General Resurrection at the end of the world, along with the unjust. This is absolutely the sense intended, and it is also fully in keeping with Scripture.

Allow both to grow together until the harvest.

Mt 13,24 Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 13,25 But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. 13,26 But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. 13,27The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’13,28 And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’

13,29 But he said, “No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. 13,30 Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.’” Mt 13,24-30;


As we see from the above passage (Mt 13,24-30), the Lord explicitly wants the “wheat” and the “tares” - believers, that is, and unbelievers - to go on growing together until the “harvest”, that is to say, until the end of the world, so as to avoid the risk that if “weeding” takes place the wheat may be uprooted as well as the tares.

One of the most specific statements on this theme is to be found Rev 20,11-15:

And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Rev 20,11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.

20,12 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 from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.

20,13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.

20,14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.

20,15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Rev 20,11-15;


These passages describe the General Resurrection of the dead at the end of the world. Death and Hades - and even the sea - give up the dead they hold, all of them, both great and small. And then the books - the “books of deeds” - will be opened, and judgment will be passed. The book of life will also be opened, in which the names are recorded of those who are to be permitted to enter into eternal life. And each of those who have been resurrected will be examined, and if someone’s name is not found in the book of life, he will be thrown into the lake of fire.

A perfectly clear and unambiguous statement, or so one would suppose. But the author of the book mentioned earlier does not see it like this. He writes:

“In verses (Rev)11-15, in the judgment before the great white throne, there is not a single believer any longer to be seen; there are only the ‘dead’, and only the lake of fire is mentioned.”


In the first place, this last statement, that “only the lake of fire is mentioned”, is untrue. In verses 12 and 15 we are told about the book of life, in which just those are entered who are to inherit eternal life, and over whom the second death has no power.

On the other hand, though, the author skates over the first part of verse 15. Here we are told, “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire”. If “not a single believer” were to be included at this point, there would be no need for this conscientious “monitoring”. They could all just be thrown directly into the lake of fire. And in consistency it would then also have to read, “As no one was found...” But the formulation that we have here - “And if anyone’s name was not found...” - implies precisely that there will be those too who “are found”, and so that believers as well, and specifically believers, will take part in this General Resurrection and in the Last Judgment at the end of the world, and will enter into eternal life.

But the peculiarity of this argument is not so surprising. The advocates of this school of interpretation have the problem, after all, that when it comes to the Last Judgment they have mislaid the just - seeing that they “allow” all believers to come to life earlier on, in the First Resurrection.

A similar problem arises in connection with those of the just who die in the Millennium. As we see from the passage below, Isa 65,20-22, in the Millennial Kingdom the faithful will live to a great age.

The youth will die at the age of one hundred.

Isa 65,20 “No longer will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, Or an old man who does not live out his days; For the youth will die at the age of one hundred And the one who does not reach the age of one hundred Will be thought accursed. 65,21 They will build houses and inhabit them; They will also plant vineyards and eat their fruit. 65,22 They will not build and another inhabit, They will not plant and another eat; For as the lifetime of a tree, so will be the days of My people, And My chosen ones will wear out the work of their hands.” Isa 65,20-22;


Going by what Isa 65,20 tells us, we can conclude that human life expectations will be multiplied by something like the power of ten, as compared with present day conditions. A boy aged about ten counts as a “youth” today, and will then, in the Millennium, have an age of about a hundred years. The just will live to be as old as a tree, which today - if allowed to grow without being influenced by human “care” - can attain an age of a thousand years and more.

But without regard to these fantastical assumptions, we are also told in the verse Isa 65,20 that there will be no old people who do not live out their days. This “living out of their days” means that they will reach the age appointed to them by God, and then die. Likewise we are told in this passage that “the youth will die at the age of a hundred”. And he cannot be one of the “accursed”, for as the passage says, the latter will not even reach the age of a hundred. These are justified believers, then, who die even during the Millennium, and so of necessity will only be resurrected from the dead in the General Resurrection, after the Millennium, at the end of the world.

The view that in the Millennium there will be no more death flies in the face of all these statements, just so as to be in a position to maintain that other incorrect theory - the theory, that is, that at the Last Judgment believers will no longer be represented. But as it is easy to see, this completely incorrect auxiliary structure is just the consequence of another error of interpretation, namely the idea that the Rapture and the First Resurrection are just one single event.

As has already been explained earlier, the fact is that in Rev 20,4-5 John speaks of beheaded believers - martyrs, that is - who will come to life in the First Resurrection. A number of these martyrs have already put in an appearance in Rev 6,9, where they are characterized as the souls of those “who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained.” In the Rapture, on the other hand, as prophesied by Paul in 1The 4,16, and 1Cor 15,52, all dead in Christ will be raised and caught up into the sky with the faithful who are alive, but they will not “come to life” in the sense intended by Rev 20,4 - rather, they will be souls with God in heaven. They will then all come to life, together with the faithful who die during the Millennium, at the end of the world in the General Resurrection.

(See also Discourse 07: “The Rapture and the First Resurrection: a single event?”)