Who Will Resurrect the Dead?
The Resurrection of the dead is one of the basic and fundamental doctrines (Hebrews 6:1-2). The Bible teaches that there is more than just one resurrection. For instance, Revelation 20:5 speaks of the “first” resurrection, necessitating at least a second resurrection. In fact, there will be three resurrections, and our free booklets, “The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation,” and, “Biblical Prophecy—From Now Until Forever,” explain this fact in much more detail.
The first resurrection will occur when Christ returns, and those who have died in Christ will be resurrected to eternal life. The second resurrection or the Great White Throne Judgment is a resurrection to physical life and includes those who have died without ever having been granted the opportunity to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. They will be given that opportunity then, and, at the end of their judgment period, they will be given eternal life if they have qualified. The third resurrection is to physical life as well, but it is composed of those who have committed the unpardonable sin before they died. They will be thrown into the lake of fire to be burned up and extinguished.
Who, exactly, will resurrect those who have died? Who will bring them back to life?
The short answer is that God will do it. There is no biblical evidence that angels, let alone Satan and his demons, would have the power to resurrect the dead.
But since God is a Family, consisting of the Father and the Son, who within the God Family will bring about the resurrection?
We know from the Bible that it was the Father who raised Christ from the dead.
Galatians 1:1 says:
“Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead)…”
Note that it was the Father, not the Son or the “person” of the Holy Spirit, who resurrected Jesus Christ from the dead. Nor did the dead Jesus resurrect Himself. The teaching that God is a Trinity, consisting of three persons, is false. The teaching that the Son of God, as being part of the unalterable Trinity, stayed alive in heaven when Jesus died, is equally false and constitutes parts of the teaching of the spirit of antichrist. The idea that the Son of God resurrected Jesus is blasphemous, because Jesus WAS and IS the Son of God. When Jesus died, the Son of God died. And it was the Father who resurrected the Son of God—Jesus Christ—from the dead.
As God the Father raised up Christ, so He will raise us up as well.
1 Corinthians 6:14 states very clearly: “And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power”—the power of His Holy Spirit.
Romans 8:11 adds: “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit [which] dwells in you.”
2 Corinthians 1:2,9 says: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ… Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead.” Paul speaks in this passage of God the Father who raises the dead.
2 Corinthians 4:14 adds to this: “… knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you.”
Some commentaries have considerable difficulty with this last passage, since it says that “He”—the Father—will raise us up “with” Jesus. Due to the fact that most teach the Trinity, they have a problem with saying that the above-quoted Scripture states that the Father and the Son will raise up the dead, since the Holy Spirit is not mentioned. They therefore conclude that this passage does not even talk about the coming resurrection of the dead, but that it describes here a figurate resurrection to a new life and the community which we have with Christ today.
In this context, one might think of Ephesians 2:4-6 which states: “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus…”
Another passage, which might come to mind, would be Colossians 2:8-12:
“Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.”
However, an obvious difference should be noticed between passages such as Ephesians 2:4-6 and Colossians 2:8-11 (quoted above), and the above-quoted passage in 2 Corinthians 4:14, as Paul speaks in 2 Corinthians 4:14 about the future (He “will also raise us up”), whereas Ephesians 2:4-6 and Colossians 2:8-12 address the past and the presence. While those passages convey indeed a figurative concept, 2 Corinthians 4:14 does not.
Some say that 2 Corinthians 4:14 should be translated in this way: “… Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise us up also by Jesus…” (Authorized Version). The German Schlachterbibel and the Lutherbibel of 1891 and of 1964, and the Neue Lutherbibel 2009, all say that God the Father will raise us up “through Jesus.”
Before addressing this alternate translation, let us explore as to whether there is any biblical evidence that Jesus will resurrect us.
John 6:39-40, 44, 54 quotes Jesus as follows:
“This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day… No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day… Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
According to this passage, it is the Father’s Will that Christ should raise up or resurrect man… beginning with the first resurrection. Christ clearly said repeatedly in the above-quoted passage that HE will raise up those who died.
John 11:23-25 adds to this, when addressing the death of Lazarus and his sister Martha’s reaction: “Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to Him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.’”
Jesus is addressing here those who will be resurrected to eternal life. But Jesus’ words must not be misunderstood by concluding that it is He, alone, who will resurrect us. This would contradict the passages, quoted above, which show us that the Father is involved in the resurrection of man. Rather, the Truth is that the Father and Christ will act in complete harmony. Their Will to resurrect man, and whom at what time, is totally identical. In that sense, the Father and the Son are “one” (John 10:30; 17:11,20). They are of a completely identical mindset (compare John 5:19).
John 5:21 tells us: “For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will.”
To understand all of these quoted Scriptures correctly, we conclude that Christ will be the Person within the God Family who will actually raise man from the dead, but He will be doing it in complete harmony and agreement with the Father. In fact, it will still be the Father, as the highest in the God Family (John 10:29), who will resurrect us through Jesus Christ, as it was the Father who created everything through Jesus Christ (Revelation 4:11; Acts 4:24; 14:15; 17:24-31; Hebrews 1:1-2; 2:10; John 1:3, 10; Colossians 1:15-16; Ephesians 3:9).
John 5:25, 28-29 says:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live… Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth–those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation [better: judgment].”
Gill’s Exposition of the Bible explains this passage in this way:
“It will be the voice of the Son of God that will quicken and raise the dead.”
The Father is greater than Christ (John 14:28). Whatever Christ does is in submission to God the Father. (Compare also in this context 1 Corinthians 15:24-28, which says that at the end, Jesus will deliver the kingdom to God the Father). Christ would never act in any way contrary to the Father’s Will. And so, when He resurrects someone to eternal life, it is in accordance with the Father’s Will as well. It is still the Father who directs and does it, but He does it through or by Jesus Christ. As the Father created man through Jesus, He will also resurrect man through Jesus.
Returning to 2 Corinthians 4:14 and the question as to whether the Father will resurrect us “with” or “by” or “through” Jesus, let us note some concepts as brought forth by several commentaries:
The Jamieson Fausset and Brown commentary says:
“… shall raise up us also—at the resurrection (1Co 6:13, 14) by Jesus—The oldest manuscripts have ‘with Jesus.’”
The Pulpit Commentary agrees, stating:
“By Jesus–The reading supported by nearly all the best manuscripts is ‘with Jesus.’”
Even translating it in this way (“with Jesus”) would not negate Christ’s role or the Father’s role in the resurrection. Rather, the thought would be expressed that God the Father, together with Jesus, will resurrect us.
Barnes Notes on the Bible explains this passage as follows:
“By Jesus – By the power or the agency of Jesus. Christ will raise up the dead from their graves, John 5:25-29.”
We would agree with these conclusions, as it is indeed the Father who will resurrect man through Jesus Christ, as it was the Father who made man through Jesus Christ.
This then may pose an interesting question: God the Father resurrected Christ and gave Him eternal life and the glory which He used to have before He became a man; and the Father will raise the dead through Jesus. Could this indicate, then, that we, who will be resurrected by the Father through Jesus and receive eternal life in the God Family, will also have a part in resurrecting others in the second resurrection, especially our loved ones who died without having been given the opportunity for salvation? We will of course always be subject to the Will of God the Father and of Jesus Christ, as Christ is also always subject to the Will of the Father. To state it differently, the Will of Christ is and always will be IDENTICAL with the Will of the Father. Likewise, our Will—the Will of immortal God beings in God’s Family—will always be totally identical with the Will of the Father and of the Son. And as the Holy Spirit, like living waters, flows out of the Father and the Son, so the Holy Spirit—God’s power—will also flow out of us as well (John 4:13-14; 7:37-39).
The Bible does not say what part we will have in the second resurrection, if any; but it is most certainly an intriguing thought to contemplate that we might be right there to greet our relatives and friends when they come out of their graves in the second resurrection. We will have to wait however until God reveals to us what He has in store for us.
Lead Writer: Norbert Link