Resurrection Revealed | Resurrection in the Apocalypse

General Resurrection

In proclaiming Himself to John the Apostle in the vision on Patmos, one of the things the Lord said about Himself was, “{I} have the keys of hell and of death” (Rev. 1:18).  He was thus informing John, and the churches, of His power to release those who had died, from the bonds of death.

In each of the letters to the seven churches in Revelation chapters two and three, promises are made to overcomers which can only become true through the resurrection of those addressed, as all of them are now dead.   In addition, to the church of Smyrna He says, “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (2:10).  What is this, but a promise that if they die as martyrs for the faith, there will be a resurrection?

In Revelation 11:18 we find the words, “The time of the dead, that they should be judged (is come)”.    The verse goes on to say that God’s servants, prophets, and saints, will be rewarded, and that those who destroy the earth will be destroyed.   Obviously this judgement cannot take place unless there is a resurrection first.

The final picture of the resurrection is in Revelation chapter 20.   Commenting on verse 5  Dr. Schofield writes:  “Although it is shown in both the O.T. and N.T. that the resurrection of the just to life eternal, and the resurrection of the lost to everlasting condemnation, are distinct from one another…here for the first time the precise interval between the two resurrections is revealed as a period of 1000 years.”    Those who take part in the first resurrection are blessed, because the second death will have no power over them  (v. 6). In v. 13  details of the resurrection to judgement are given – the dead are raised even from the sea, and death and hell (margin: the grave) deliver up the dead.

In the next chapter, and almost at the end of the Biblical record, we read that beautiful verse, Rev. 21:4.   The resurrection having taken place, “there shall be no more death”.

Resurrection of Christ

In Revelation 1 a glorious vision of the resurrected and glorified Christ is opened to our eyes.   As He speaks to John, He declares, “I am he that liveth and was dead” (v. 18).   He repeats this affirmation in His letter to Smyrna, “These things saith the first and the last, which was dead and is alive” (2:8).

In  the vision seen in Revelation chapter 4 a Lamb appears.    It was “a Lamb as it had been slain”, but it was now very much alive.   The Lamb, of course, represents the Lord Jesus Christ, who had died and been resurrected.  The Lamb appears a number of times in the book of Revelation, though the emphasis is usually on His death rather than His restoration to life; nevertheless His eternal glory is clearly depicted, as in 17:14.


Because the emphasis of this thesis has been on resurrection, we have not taken up the many verses speaking of eternal life.  Yet it is obvious there can be no eternal life for the masses born into this world who have already died, unless there is a resurrection.     And this we have abundantly verified from both Old and New Testament Scriptures.

We have seen the prophecies of both the general resurrection and of  Christ’s resurrection in the Old Testament, and the confirmation and

fulfillment of these prophecies in the New Testament.

Why is the resurrection such a vital truth?   Because on it hinges many important Christian doctrines.   Christ’s return, the gift of immortality to believers, the final judgement, the new heavens and the new earth are all dependent on the resurrection of the dead.

Regarding the resurrection of Christ, George Lindley Young (1866-1944) says,

“The fact of Christ’s resurrection sustained his claims, confirmed his atoning work, and    determined him to be the Son of God in truth…It was our Lord’s resurrection that made possible this ascent to the Father; made possible the forwarding of his mediatorial work;    even makes possible the completion of his redemptive work at his final return, his raising    of the dead and the bestowment on them of immortal glory.   Indeed the future and endless life of our Lord’s followers is somehow bound up with the great fact of his triumph over death…”1

To conclude, I quote Tanya Ferdinandusz (ellipsis is the author’s):

“Think of a loved one who has died.  Picture her or him standing taller, stronger, and more beautiful than you remember, unmistakably and gloriously alive, smiling…and walking towards you.   That’s our resurrection hope!  Believe, and praise God!”2


  1. quoted in “Resurrection: His and Ours” by David A. Dean, Advent Christian General Conference of America, Inc., 1977 []
  2. Tanya Ferdinandusz, Daily Bread, January-March 2005, p. 67.  Scripture Union International. []

About Beryl Ching

Beryl Ching, spent over 40 years on the mission field in India. Returning to New Zealand to “retire”, Beryl was for a long time secretary of the Conditional Immortality Association. ‘Resurrection as Revealed in the Old Testament and Confirmed in the New testament’ is the full title of her Thesis presented to the Faculty of the Freelandia Institute Biblical Theological College in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree Master of Biblical Studies.

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