Two Resurrections Or Three?

Q. I firmly believe in the pre-trib rapture and have studied much of your teaching on the subject. I have one area that I am still uncertain about. It is about the resurrection of tribulation saints. In your article “Defending the Pre-Trib Rapture (Again)” you explain that Rev. 20:4-9 shows that tribulation saints are resurrected at the same time as Old-Testament saints, at the end of the tribulation and before the millennium. I can see you are correct from that passage, but what proof do we have that these saints are not simply the church age saints who died in the tribulation?

That is what post-tribbers insist. I often hear the argument that a pre-trib rapture can’t be right since it makes it necessary for there to be three resurrections. They claim there would have to be one at the pre-trib rapture, a second for O.T. and trib-saints at the end of the tribulation, and a third for those who died outside of Christ at the end of the millennium. It does seem that way from the Rev. 20 passage, and verse 5 does refer to the tribulation saint’s resurrection as “the first resurrection”.

A. The post trib view on this doesn’t make sense. If Jesus was the first fruits of the first resurrection, and if at least some Old Testament saints were resurrected at that time as well (Matt. 27:52-53) and if Tribulation saints who are resurrected at the end of the Great Tribulation 2000 years later are still part of the first resurrection (Rev. 20:4-5), why wouldn’t the church also be part of the first resurrection? After all the rapture/resurrection of the Church takes place between the Lord’s resurrection and the resurrection of the tribulation martyrs, both of whom are part of the first resurrection.

Also, in Daniel 12:2 the angel spoke about some of Daniel’s people (Jews) being resurrected to everlasting life and others to shame and everlasting contempt. Daniel 12:1 tells us this will begin after the end of the Great Tribulation. From our New Testament understanding we know that those who are resurrected to everlasting life are part of the first resurrection and those who are resurrected to shame and everlasting contempt are part of the second resurrection, which takes place at the end of the Millennium. And yet the Old Testament believers who came out of their tombs with Jesus are also part of the first resurrection. If it’s proper for the resurrection of Old Testament believers to span 2.000 years, why is it not proper for the Church?

It’s obvious that not everyone in the first resurrection is raised up at the same time. If He wanted to, the Lord could have resurrected some believers every year for the last 2000 years and they’d all be part of the first resurrection, because the first resurrection is for those over whom the 2nd death has no power (Rev. 20:6), not those who come out of their graves at a certain time.

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