There is the general/main/final RESURRECTION of the JUST and the UNJUST (Acts 24:15). This GENERAL RESURRECTION took place during the Parousia of Christ in AD 66-70. The key to understanding the RESURRECTION of the JUST and the UNJUST might possibly involve five aspects:
(1) Even though all of the faithful believers were redeemed by Christ’s blood atonement on the cross in AD 30, the fulfilling of “every jot and tittle of the law” was NOT YET FULLY CONSUMMATED until He came back out of the heavenly Holy of Holies at His second coming Parousia in AD 66 – 70 (Heb. 9:8, 28).
(2) “First Resurrection” – Part-One:
“9 When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and
for the testimony which they held ” (Rev.6:9).
This would have only included the martyrs who had been killed for their testimony of the Messiah, and the O.T. martyrs who “lived” by being made alive again and witnessing in Jerusalem at Christ’s resurrection (Matt. 27:52-53; Rev.20:4, 6). They then ascended with Christ to the unseen heavenly realm into the outer courts under the altar at Christ’s ascension (Eph. 4:8-9). They were given white robes and reigned with Christ during the transition period. They were not able to be numbered because they were perhaps being joined by the transition period martyrs; such as Stephen, James (brother of John), John, Paul, James (1/2 brother of Christ), Peter, and others as each died on an individual basis during the transition period (Rev. 6:9-11; 7:13-17; 20:4).
[See: Resurrection (First Resurrection) (Martyrs)].
(3) “First Resurrection” – Part-Two:
“6Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” (Rev.20:6)
These would have included the “Rest of the O.T. Dead (Believers),” who had died of natural causes and did not reign or give testimony in the same manner as the martyrs. They were apparently taken to Paradise in the 3rd heaven at Christ’s ascension and remained there until the transition period was finished (Eph. 4:8-9; 2 Cor. 12:2-3). They too were conceivably joined by the saints who died of natural causes, not martyrdom, on an individual basis during the transition period.
May 30 AD 66 (the night of Pentecost) at Christ’s Parousia these believers in both of these components of the “First Resurrection” were raised from their respective locations in the UNSEEN realm and their JUDGMENT proved that they were indeed faithful believers; and over such the second death had no power (Rev.20:5-6).
(4) “Second Resurrection – General/Final Resurrection” of the “rest of the dead”:
Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15)
Rev. 20:13 “And the sea gave up the DEAD ONES (plural) which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the DEAD ONES (plural) which were in them; and THEY (plural) were judged, every one of THEM (plural) according to THEIR (plural) deeds.”
There isn’t any mystifying needed to be done here about the “sea,” as it is what it says – the literal seas. It is not given for “where” the departed souls were still residing, but it is listed for us to understand the reference to all those who had died at sea (“where” they died), in contrast to those who had died on the land (and both together takes care of everyone).
(Important note: Nothing is stated at all about the “physical body” in this passage, and nowhere in the Bible does it say the “physical body” will come out of the ground. We even are told the physical dust body was not made to, nor capable of, entering the spiritual realm in 1 Cor. 15:50. No, we are to have a perfect “individual” spiritual body just like Christ had at His ascension (1 Cor. 15:48-50; 1 John 3:2; Phil. 3:21). The physical body is not “you or me” but the “soul” is. The physical body was simply the shell the soul dwelled in so it could live in the earthly physical realm.)
All of the “already departed souls,” (whether they died at sea or on the land) were already in the “unseen spiritual realm,” and would be raised/resurrected out of that waiting place those souls were in (Hades/Sheol) in the same “unseen realm” where they already were, which is why this event would not be seen in the physical realm on earth.
Rev. 20:14 “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.”
If one checks the Greek, they will notice the inference that both “Death” and “Hades” are personified. The “Death angel” and the Hadean angel who guarded the waiting place of “Hades (Sheol),” and the waiting place of Hades itself, were cast into the Lake of Fire forever. Why? Because after “that one-time past resurrection” to empty Hades, their power to imprison any souls in Hades was stripped away from them. Death could not kill the living saints at the Parousia, nor could any souls be held in Hades any longer after the Parousia. Hades was emptied and the dead souls were judged and sent to their appropriate places of eternal habitation (either Heaven or Gehenna/Lake of Fire).
Rev. 20:15 “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
(5) The FINAL RESURRECTION has already taken place ending in AD 70. There is NO FUTURE RESURRECTION:
From that “once in time past resurrection,” going forever forward, someone dying from after that day forward never would need to be resurrected because their soul “immediately goes before Christ upon physical death,” and the unsaved are judged and cast into the Lake of Fire according to the “wages of their sins,” and the believer is instantly clothed with their new individual, perfect, immortal, spiritual body (2 Cor. 5:1-2 was near future to the Corinthians at the time of the writing; however, instantly now for us today, as with everyone after that AD 70 “one-time final” resurrection, upon death the soul goes immediately before Christ). No one dies today and goes “down” to Hades/Sheol to wait for some resurrection (Hades/Sheol is now destroyed in the Lake of Fire) – that was a “one-time event in the past.” If you don’t need to go down to Hades/Sheol anymore upon physical death – then you don’t need to get resurrected.
(Important note: Did you also notice what was “not” said in Rev. 20:11-15? There is “nothing” mentioned about the “living.” This is highly significant and dispels the view that this is an end of world, end of time, resurrection judgment. No, this is speaking of an “in time” resurrection judgment. This final resurrection judgment had nothing to do with a supposed end of time judgment of every person dead or alive. This passage is about the resurrection judgment of the “dead” only. The timing was at the destruction of Babylon, i.e. Old Covenant Jerusalem. The fulfilling and complete “vanishing away” of the empty and obsolete old covenant as spoken of in Hebrews 8:13 had now come in AD 70.)
SUMMARY: The purpose of this resurrection judgment was to raise and empty all of the “dead” disembodied souls out of Sheol/Hades/Paradise. Then all of the unrighteous souls were cast disembodied into the Lake of Fire (second death/eternal separation from God) along with the Death and Hadean angels and the waiting place of Hades itself, and the righteous were raised to put on their individual immortal spiritual bodies God had reserved for them in heaven (2 Cor. 5:1-2) and entered the heavenly realm to forever be with the Lord.
This “past” final resurrection passage does not talk about judging the “living.” Revelation was not about the end of time and the physical heavens and earth, but was about the removal and dissolving of the Old Heavens and Earth administration and cosmological world order, and the bringing in of the “new heavens and earth” administration and cosmological order consummating the never ending Kingdom through the blood of Christ.
After AD 70, upon their physical death in this life, each faithful born-again believer, on an individual basis, “puts on” their new individual, incorruptible, immortal, glorified, visible, heavenly, body and goes immediately into the presence of Christ in heaven for all of eternity (1 Cor. 15:53-54; 2 Cor. 5:1-4; Matt. 25:46b).
Every unbeliever who rejected the one and only saving shed blood sacrifice of Christ on the cross will pay for his/her own wages of sin and be sentenced to eternal condemnation in his/her part of the Lake of Fire and brimstone (Rev. 20:15; Rev. 21:8; Matt. 18:9, 25:46a; Mark 9:47-48; Rom. 6:23).
See also related “Topic Studies & Terms”:
Related full “Study Series” (available upon request if not hyperlinked):
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 16 Lesson 7 Rev. Chapters 19 and 20”]
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 14 Lessons 1 through 7”]