14-9 With What Nature Are We Resurrected?
We have shown that eternal life and being changed to God’s nature
are granted to the faithful after the judgment. Christ will firstly resurrect
those responsible to his judgment, and then judge them after they have
been gathered to him. Seeing that the reward of immortal nature is given
at the judgment, it follows that all those who are raised have mortal
nature first of all. If they are raised with immortal bodies, then there
is no reason for a judgment seat at which to dispense the rewards.
We enter the Kingdom of God straight after the judgment seat (Mt. 25:34);
the faithful are therefore not in God’s Kingdom before the judgment.
“Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God (so)...we shall
all be changed...For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this
mortal must put on immortality” (1 Cor. 15:50,51,53). It follows
that this change of nature, from mortal to immortal, occurs at the judgment
seat, seeing that is where we enter the Kingdom.
However, the inspired apostle Paul often speaks of “the resurrection”
in the sense of “the resurrection of life” - the resurrection
of the righteous, who will then receive eternal life after judgment. He
understood, of course, “that there shall be a resurrection of the
dead, both of the just and unjust” (Acts 24:15). He would have been
aware that the responsible “shall come forth (from the grave); they
that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have
done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” (Jn. 5:29).
In his positive way, Paul seems to have often referred to this “resurrection
of life” when he speaks of “the resurrection”. The righteous
come out of their graves “unto the resurrection of life” -
after emerging from the earth they will be judged and then given eternal
life. This whole process is “the resurrection of life”. There
is a difference between their “coming forth” from the grave,
and “the resurrection of life”. Paul speaks of his striving
to live the Christian life, “if by any means I might attain unto
the resurrection of the dead” (Phil. 3:11). Because he was responsible
he will be raised to give account at the judgment in any case; that he
strove to “attain unto the resurrection” must therefore mean
that “the resurrection” here refers to the “resurrection
Other examples of “the resurrection” meaning the “resurrection
of life” ( cf. Lk. 14:14) include Lk. 20:35; Jn. 11:24; 1 Cor. 15:21,42;
Heb. 11:35; Rev. 20:6. In Ps. 17:15 David speaks of receiving his reward
the moment he “awakes”. He had the same view of the resurrection,
although he knew there would be a judgment. The usage of this phrase,
“the resurrection”, like this in 1 Cor. 15 helps explain 1
Cor. 15:52 - “the dead shall be raised incorruptible”. It
is noteworthy that the phrase “the dead” sometimes (and especially
in 1 Cor. 15) refers to the righteous dead, who will be raised to receive
eternal life at the judgment: 1 Cor. 15:13,21,35,42; 1 Thes. 4:16; Phil.
3:11; Rev. 14:13; 20:5,6.
1 Thes. 4:16,17 lists the events associated with Christ’s return.
1. Christ visibly returns
2. The dead are raised
3. The responsible who are alive at the time will be snatched away to
The granting of eternal life is after this gathering together (Mt. 25:31-34;
13:41-43); therefore immortality cannot be given at the resurrection,
seeing that this precedes the gathering together. We have shown that all
the righteous will be rewarded at the same moment (Mt. 25:34; Heb 11:39
40). This would be impossible if immortality was granted at the resurrection,
seeing that the resurrection precedes the gathering together of the living
It should be noted, however, that our conception of time is very human;
God is not bound by it at all. It is possible to go too far in trying
to work out a specific chronology of events which will occur around the
time of Christ’s return. The resurrection and our change to immortality
at the judgment seat are described as occurring “in a moment, in
the twinkling of an eye” (1 Cor.15:51,52). It is a common Biblical
principle that each of those responsible to the judgment will give an
account of their lives at the judgment seat. The Bible teaches that eternal
life will be granted at the judgment seat rather than the resurrection.
For this reason 1 Thes. 4:17 speaks of the righteous being called away
to the judgment by a trumpet blast, whilst 1 Cor. 15:52 speaks of the
same trumpet being associated with their being given immortality. This
also explains why Paul thought of the resurrection as identical with acceptance
at the judgment seat (e.g. Phil. 1:23).