The Universal Resurrection and Millennial Reign

The Universal Resurrection and Millennial Reign

Does 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 teach that the resurrection of the righteous will be at a different time and occasion than the unrighteous? It appears there may be two separate physical resurrections.

There will be only one physical resurrection from the grave. John 5:28-29 teaches this clearly. “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which ALL that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” Regardless of the teaching of many false prophets, Jesus said that the righteous and the unrighteous will be resurrected within the same hour, or within the same period. This is contrary to the millennial reign doctrine.

1 Thessalonians 4:16 tells us that when the Lord comes back the “dead in Christ shall rise first.” It continues in verse 17: “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” This passage gives a description of what will occur with the saints when the Lord returns. It does not address the fate of the wicked nor their resurrection to damnation as did Christ in John 5. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 was written to encourage those who had hope in Christ (v13) and to comfort the saints (v18).

There will be one universal physical resurrection at the coming of Jesus Christ.

Please explain Revelation 20:5- 6 in the context of what is written concerning the thousand years.

The passage in question reads: “But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:5-6).

As a preface to this passage, let us remember the simple teaching of Jesus in John 5:24-29 concerning the two resurrections. One was clearly present and spiritual (the hour is coming, and NOW is), while the second was in the future and physical (the hour is COMING).

Now, let us consider the question at hand. Revelation 20:5-6 is not speaking of a physical resurrection of bodies but of the souls that had been martyred during the reign of Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. This passage in no way teaches or insinuates a millennial reign on earth. Verse 4 speaks of the “souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus.” It was these souls, not the physical bodies of the saints, that were reigning in paradise while there was so much apostacy and deception during the dark ages and beyond. Prior to this thousand years, or symbolic long period of time, the early morning church was seen on earth as triumphant and victorious. During the apostacy, it was primarily a false church in view on earth. Hence, a revelation was given of a church still reigning in paradise in spite of the apostacy on earth. The souls of those that were reigning were those whom had experienced the life-changing power of the first resurrection when they obtained salvation on earth before they were martyred.

The first resurrection is not exclusive to those who were martyred in the past but it was the first resurrection that enabled these souls to be reigning with Christ rather than succumbing to the power of the second death, or eternal damnation. When the thousand years was expired, or a long period of time elapsed, the church was once more seen on earth as victorious and triumphant.