Explaining Daniel 12:2

Q. I have been trying to understand Daniel 12:2 about the resurrection of Old Testament saints so as not to have any conflict with Revelation 20, and I do not have the answer. Daniel 12:2 says, ” And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt”. The verse says “And many of those who sleep”, so not ‘all who those who sleep’, compare for example to Isaiah 54:13, “All your children shall be taught by the Lord…”. And too the verse in Daniel 12:2 says ‘some to everlasting life’ and ‘some to shame and everlasting contempt’ and from reading this verse it sounds like these two groups of people are resurrected at the same time. Could you spare time explaining Daniel 12: 2 to me?

A. Daniel 12:2 contains the Bible’s first clear mention of a resurrection for unbelievers. Daniel was being told that after the Great Tribulation, Old Testament believers will be raised up to everlasting life while unbelievers will awaken to shame and everlasting contempt. It’s not until Rev. 20:5 that we’re told the awakening of unbelievers comes at the end of the Millennium, 1000 years after the believers. This has come to be known as the second resurrection and is explained in more detail in Rev. 20:11-15.

Our understanding of the word many as sometimes meaning “less than all” is the culprit here. In effect the angel was saying “a great number” will awaken. The NIV uses the word multitudes, which I think is more appropriate to the context since we know that everyone who is conceived lives forever, and will either enjoy eternal life or suffer eternal punishment.

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