The Two Resurrections
Revelation speaks of two resurrections. But doesn't the Bible make it clear that there will be more than two?
by Dr. David R. Reagan
Yes, Revelation does speak of two resurrections (Revelation 20:4, 12). Elsewhere, the Bible speaks of "a resurrection of life" and "a resurrection of judgment" (John 5:29). In Acts 24:15 these two resurrections are referred to as "the resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked."
But the Bible clearly teaches there will be more than two resurrections. There will be a resurrection of Church Age saints at the time of the Rapture, before the Tribulation begins (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). At the end of the Tribulation, Old Testament saints and Tribulation martyrs will be resurrected (Daniel 12:1-2 and Revelation 20:4). And finally, all the unjust who have ever lived and died outside a faith relationship with God will be resurrected at the end of the Millennium (Revelation 20:11-12).
These seemingly conflicting passages present a problem of reconciliation. How can the promise of two resurrections be reconciled with the depiction of three?
Actually, the solution is rather simple. It seems clear that when the Bible speaks of two resurrections, it is speaking of two in kind, not two in number.
The resurrection of the unjust will occur all at one time at the end of the Millennium.
The resurrection of the just will occur in stages, and the stages will correspond with the three stages of a Jewish harvest: the first fruits, followed by the general harvest, and concluded with the gleanings. Jesus was the "first fruits" (1 Corinthians 15:23). The general harvest will occur at the Rapture when the Church Age saints will be resurrected and the living saints will be translated. The gleanings will occur at the end of the Tribulation at the Second Coming of Jesus. That is when the Old Testament saints and Tribulation martyrs will be resurrected.