Q. I just read an article about the first resurrection that has shaken my belief in the pre-trib rapture. Can you show me why the writer has to be mistaken?
A. This article makes its case on the presumption that the term “first resurrection” is a single event that takes place on a single day, the day of the Lord’s 2nd Coming. But it really consists of multiple events that involve a single type. Everyone agrees that there are two resurrections, one for believers (first resurrection) and one for non-believers (second resurrection). Therefore every believer is part of the first resurrection, no matter when his or her resurrection takes place.
So let’s look at the different times believers either have been or will be resurrected. The first was Jesus, and with Him there were the holy people who came out of their tombs in Matt. 27:52-53. Then we have believers who died in Christ and will be resurrected at the time of the rapture (1 Thes. 4:16-17), and finally the resurrection of tribulation martyrs (Rev. 20:4) and Old Testament saints (Daniel 12:2) at the time of the 2nd Coming. They are all part of the first resurrection. Therefore the Bible clearly indicates that the first resurrection spans a period of about 2,000 years. It follows then that any teaching that requires all believers to be resurrected on the day of the Lord’s 2nd Coming is flawed.
But there’s more. In 1 Thes.4:16-17 Paul wrote that the resurrection of Church Age believers will coincide with the rapture. Isaiah wrote of a resurrection that would precede the time of God’s wrath (Isaiah 26:19-20), and Paul said the rapture would also precede the coming wrath (1 Thes. 1:10). Jesus confirmed this in Rev. 3:10. Since the resurrection of the Church and the rapture will happen at the same time, this can only be the resurrection of those who died in Christ. So the resurrection of Church Age believers has to precede the 2nd Coming by at least 7 years, the duration of the time of God’s wrath.