Resurrection – the Bridge between Death and Judgment

In the previous article about the Number of Resurrections mentioned in scripture, I noted the conditions outlined for those who are partakers of the first resurrection found in Revelation 20:4. Let’s take a moment to review the conditions our Lord and Savior outlined for those are to inherit the kingdom. It begins with hearing.

Fourth Gospel(1) 5:25Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.

Those on the path to death (the wages of sin) will hear the words of life from the source of life, and they will live (Fourth Gospel 3:33-34).

Fourth Gospel 3:3,5-6 (ESV throughout)
3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

None of God’s children are initially born spirit. We’re all of the dust just as Adam was of the dust and became a living being, but a living being that is subject to death (Genesis 3:19).

Fourth Gospel 3:16b,18
16b . . . that whoever believes in him should not perish (in death) but have eternal life.
18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Death is where we perish (are condemned) if we do not have our confidence and faith in Christ. It’s not the first death in which the unbeliever perishes, but in the second death. That is the death Christ came to save us from (Fourth Gospel 3:36a; Revelation 20:6b).

Fourth Gospel 4:23-24
23 “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

This is the gospel of the kingdom which Jesus preached, and it continues to offer the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it (Ephesians 1:11-14).

Our State When Called

Were any who are faithful to the Lord, called into his light by their own righteousness? Certainly not. For while we were still weak, Christ came at the right time to die for the ungodly (Romans 5:6). And what did God do? How did he respond to our disobedience and disbelief?

Romans 5:8but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

So it is with all those who put themselves under the daily judgment of the Word of God and the Life in Christ (1 Peter 4:6,17), to be brought up into the maturity and image of Christ our Lord and elder brother. We know that it was by the grace of God and the free gift in Jesus Christ that we stand reconciled to God (Romans 5:17-19).

Although we were dead (in our sins), we stand in his grace which reigns through righteousness, and that righteousness leads to eternal life in Christ our Lord (Romans 5:21). This is our inheritance.

1 Corinthians 15:49-50,54-55
49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. 50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
     “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
      O death, where is your sting?”

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Israel’s State though Called

The hopes of the people of God began with a Gentile name Abram. God called him out of the land of Ur. Through Abraham, God will continue his creation work for humanity. God will bring Abraham to a new place and make him a great nation of many peoples. God will bless him and establish him as a ruling house. Those who share in the faith of Abraham will also have a part in the ruling house; a kingdom of priests.

Though the mystery of God in Christ has clouded the resurrection to glory for Israel’s forefathers, the promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel) carried with them and their descendants a hope for life beyond death. Throughout Israel’s(2) history there has been a hope for a future beyond death. This is not a hope that’s unique to Israel, but is shared by all the nations of the world. Yet all these nations must pursue that hope in ignorance and uncertainty. For Israel, however, there is continued assurance and certainty that life is an integral part of God’s plan for his people – to bring them into his own place(3).

But first a new High Priest and King will come from the loins of Judah, Abraham’s descendant. This king will be the source of righteous judgment, of rescue in time of need, and salvation to those who trust in him (Isaiah 31:4-9). He is the king who will succeed where others have failed. He will be King and High Priest in Israel, to a people who have stumbled and have known only darkness and deception (Isaiah 9:1-7; 11:1-5). The Apostle Paul outlines the situation Israel and the Jews find themselves in at the time their promised King arrives on the scene.

Romans 10:1-4
1 Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

Paul goes on to show that because the Jewish leaders have rejected their Messiah and choose to cling to their own righteousness before God, they are considered enemies of the gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 11:28). As a result, only a faithful remnant will be saved as the firstfruits to salvation (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14), the rest are hardened (Romans 9:14-16).

Romans 11:5-7
5 So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. 6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace. 7 What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened,

He continues to give the purpose and the outcome of the hardening and their stumbling.

Romans 11:11-12
11 So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather, through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. 12 Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!

Romans 11:15For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?

The stumbling of some in Israel (Romans 11:17) resulted in their being “broken off” from the nourishing root of the olive tree, which is Yeshua, the Christ. Yet what does Paul say about their fate?

Romans 11:23-24
23 And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.

He also warns the faithful Gentiles and gives them a sense of the larger context for Israel’s complete redemption and restoration, as indicated in the previous article (Romans 11:25-27). Though historically as a whole Israel did not recognize their coming Messiah as a suffering servant, God would remain faithful to them even though they weren’t toward him (Deuteronomy 32:15-22).

For the sake of his righteous name, the Lord will demonstrate faithfulness toward Israel and Judah in spite of their unfaithfulness. He will restore them to their own land and bless them in the presence of the nations. There he will enter into a new covenant with them while ruling in their midst (Jeremiah 30:1-3,8-11).

Jeremiah 31:31-34
31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Not only will the Lord bring them back from the nations where he dispersed them (Jeremiah 3:14-18), he will bring them back from the dead (Romans 11:15). The process the Lord will use to achieve this is outlined for us by the prophet Joel.

Joel 2

  1. (vs 1-11) Joel introduces the Day of the Lord. Up until that time their correction has come in part from the nations, in part from the wrath of Satan, and finally the Lord himself will correct them. Ultimately this correction is not for their destruction but for their redemption; to lead them to repentance (Ezekiel 33:11, 17-19; Jeremiah 3:6-12; Ezekiel 34:28-31).
  2. (vs 12-17) In the midst of the Lord’s correction is the call to repentance – to return to the God of their fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They’ve witnessed that the gods they’ve followed were not able to save them (Jeremiah 3:12-13).
  3. (vs 18-27) Yet the Lord is full of grace and extends mercy to his people. He will bring them back to their own land and bless them. This is the greater exodus spoken of in Jeremiah (Jeremiah 3:14-18; 23:1-8; Ezekiel 34:11-24; 37:20-28).
  4. (vs 28-31) Finally, the Lord will make a new covenant with them. With his Spirit he will write his law on their hearts; and they will be his people, and he will be their God (Ezekiel 37:11-14, 22-28; Isaiah 61:5-11; 62).
  5. (vs 32) All those who call upon the name of the Lord Yeshua will be saved. These the Lord will call from among the survivors.

The promise of the new covenant for Israel and Judah isn’t just for those alive at the time our Lord establishes his kingdom rule in Jerusalem. As we saw in the previous article, Ezekiel 37 shows that same covenant is offered to their resurrected dead also (Ezekiel 37:11-14).

The prophet Isaiah likens resurrection to the birthing process (Isaiah 26:16-18), like a pregnant woman near to giving birth. They then recognize with a clear and humbling acknowledgement that they have in no way accomplished deliverance on the earth, nor have they overcome the wicked. They must look to the Lord for both (Isaiah 26:11-12). For God has ordained that the earth will bear fruit (Isaiah 26:19):

  • Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise
  • Those dwelling in the dust (buried in the earth) will awake (be resurrected) and will sing for joy!

Unlike Ezekiel, Isaiah doesn’t indicate the form this resurrection will take, whether a resurrection in physical or spiritual form. It seems implicit they are both speaking of a resurrection to flesh and blood, since together with the other lost of Israel, they will all come and worship the Lord on the Holy Mountain at Jerusalem. Like Ezekiel’s account, Isaiah notes the timing for these things (Isaiah 26:21):

  • The Lord is coming out from his place (the heavens)
  • To punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity (the Day of the Lord)
  • Those slain on the earth will be covered no more. This has two applications; those opposing the Lord are slain and are left un-buried, and secondly, it leads to the Great White Throne judgment spoken of in Revelation 20.

A Resurrection to Judgment, not Condemnation

The resurrection and judgment of all the dead appears to occur at what we refer to as the Great White Throne judgment (Revelation 20:11), when all the dead are raised and the books are opened (Revelation 20:12a).

It’s often assumed that the judgment executed at this time is a reflection of what’s described in Matthew 25:31-46. Yet this is only an overview, and represents the final outcome for two distinct groups; the just, who surrender to the obedience of faith and find their names written in the Book of Life, and the unjust, who continue with unrepentant and hardened hearts which leads them to the second death.

But there’s more to the process than what is shown in Matthew 25. We must dig deeper to see it, together with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Recall that God intends to be the God of the entire world, not only of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, though it began with them (1 Chronicles 16:23-34; Matthew 24:14; Fourth Gospel 17:20-23). Let’s begin by looking at the example given through the destruction of the cities surrounding Sodom and Gomorrah. Those cities were destroyed as an example to the wicked who dwelt there. To remind the world of the power of God and the coming judgment. They would be among those included in this final judgment. What’s often overlooked, is that even Christ said that the opportunity for repentance awaits them as well (Matthew 11:21-24; Luke 10:13-15).

Let’s begin in Matthew 10, 11, and 12. Christ gathers the twelve disciples to confer a special blessing on them and to instruct them in their ministering. Those not willing to welcome them and listen to their words – that city will be challenged more than Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment.

Matthew 10:15  (NIV) – Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.

In what way will it be more bearable?

Matthew 11:20-24 (NIV)
20 Then Jesus began to denounce the towns in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades. For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”

It becomes clear that one objective of the judgment day is to lead to repentance, and the opportunity for repentance precedes final judgment.  In the case of Tire and Sidon, Christ claims that if they had seen the power of God, they would have repented. He makes the same claim about Sodom. This is also implied when reading Ezekiel’s account of God’s comparison of Jerusalem and her sisters, which includes Sodom. What’s notable though is his intention to restore them (Ezekiel 16:44-59).

As Christ hits at the heart of the Jews’ unwillingness to repent and the challenge awaiting them in the day of judgment he clarifies its purpose – repentance!

Matthew 12:41-42 (NIV) (Luke 11:31-32)
41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now something greater than Jonah is here. 42 The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now something greater than Solomon is here.

Here it shows that the repentant shall have influence, either directly or indirectly, on leading the previously unrepentant to repentance. Again, we see the underlying intent of God in the judgment of man is to lead men to repentance.

  You Shall Know the Lord your God

In the OT there are nearly one hundred examples of the Lord reminding his people of his motivation in performing good and evil toward them – so you shall know that I am the Lord your God. You might find it surprising that Yeshua, the Christ, made a similar request regarding his glory and the Father’s name being made known to the world. This he did during his intercessory prayer in the garden prior to his arrest (Fourth Gospel 17).

Though he was praying for those whom the Father had given him, and also for those who will believe in me through their word, they weren’t the only intended recipients of the revelation of his glory and the awareness of the Father;

  • so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (vs 21b)
  • so that the world may know that you sent me
  • so that the world may know that you loved them even as you loved me. (vs 23b)

In the resurrection to judgment, the ungodly who don’t know the way, and truth, and the life, will find themselves face-to-face with the express image of God in Christ our Lord. We know that Christ’s judgment is a righteous judgment. Not according to man’s view of judgment, but according to the righteous will of the Father (Fourth Gospel 5:19-30; 17:1-3). Those who’ve been in covenant with the Lord know the means he uses to judge – his word (Fourth Gospel 12:46-48; Romans 2:16). This is the same covenant he called disobedient Israel into (Joel 2), and it’s the same covenant he’ll call the resurrected dead into:

  • They’ve sinned and paid the penalty according to the law – the first death.
  • God, out of grace, mercy, and love, has resurrected them to life. Why?
  • So that they will know that he alone is the God who created them and has power over life and death.
  • In some cases Christ was the instrument of their death and destruction (for those opposing him) – to fulfill the requirement of the law. Yet he is also the instrument of their resurrection from the dead to mortal life – to fulfill the righteousness of God’s justice.
  • Christ is also now the instrument of any future life or future death:
    • Enter into a covenant with Christ, choose life, and be judged by the word of God which leads to his righteousness and eternal life (Romans 5:18-21).
    • Or reject Christ and continue in the state of sin, the wages of which is death (Romans 6:23). But this time it’s the second death – from which there is no hope a future resurrection.

Death and the Grave are Destroyed

If we look deep enough at the work Christ is doing in his earthly kingdom, we can see the same pattern of redemption for disobedient Israel (Joel 2) being applied to the disobedient nations as well.

  1. Though all were deceived during their time in this world, some opposed Christ while others did not. Yet they all experienced the wages of sin – the first death. Those that opposed Christ experienced God’s wrath, intended to lead them to repentance. But for many, their hearts were too hardened and they would not repent (Revelation 9:20-21).
  2. In his grace and mercy, the Lord has now resurrected them to mortal, physical life. For those who’ve seen his wrath and great power to destroy, now they’ve seen his great power to give life. Perhaps that resurrection event will be sufficient to open their eyes, give them ears to hear, and soften their hearts toward the Lord of life. (Fourth Gospel 12:46-48; Acts 17:30-31; 2 Corinthians 4:3-4; Hebrews 9:27-28)
  3. If they’re willing, the Lord will enter into a new covenant with them just as he did with resurrected Israel; just as he did with the countless Jews and Gentiles called as firstfruits before them. The goal of our Lord has not changed – lead many brethren into the obedience of faith toward God and the inheritance he offers – eternal life in his kingdom.
  4. All those who call upon the name of the Lord Yeshua will be saved (Joel 2:32; Romans 10:12-13). Only those whose names are not entered into the Book of Life will be cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14-15).

Whether dead or alive, all will be judged by Christ’s righteous judgment (2 Corinthians 2:15-16). For those willing to surrender to the obedience of faith, they can hope for a future glory in the kingdom of God. For those unwilling to surrender to the truth and obedience to Christ, their fate is death (Romans 2:3-11). As God’s command to Adam promised – in dying you shall surely die. The death God spoke of was not the first death, but the second; a final death from which there is no hope of resurrection. This is the death in which men perish. This is the death Christ saves us from.

Not only is this second death described in Revelation 20:14-15, as being thrown into the lake of fire, one cannot ignore the reality that even Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This realization creates enormous conflicts for those who want to claim that the unrepentant will be tortured eternally with never-ending death(4). Clearly, if death itself is destroyed, God has no intention of utilizing it further as a form of punishment or correction.

When all is said and done, and Christ has handed the kingdom over to the Father (1 Corinthians 15:22-26), what is God left with? Those who’ve chosen the life-giving Spirit over death are given life – everlasting life. Those who’ve chosen death over a life in Christ are destroyed in death, which is the only penalty for their sin (Ezekiel 18:4,20; Romans 6:22-23). But this death is a second and final death which is permanent and everlasting. God’s righteous justice is satisfied, allowing death and the grave to also be cast into the lake of fire – signifying there is no further purpose to either of them.


After all God’s enemies have bowed down to the Son of Man, then, and only then, does the Son hand the glorified kingdom over to the Father. What is spoken of in Revelation 21 is then fulfilled.

Revelation 21:3-8
3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

Related Articles

The following series of articles provide related and additional insight into the kingdom-building process Jesus Christ is engaged in.

Do You See the Three Kingdoms of God?
What is the Kingdom of Priests?
The Kingdom of the Son
The Kingdom of the Father

There is much more to learn about each of these topics, and links have been provided to related articles. Those tagged with Read more lead you to related channel questions and their basic answers. Those tagged Discover more are part of a more in-depth study program. Any tagged with Learn more address methods, processes, and resources which can aid your approach to learning. All are free resources to assist you in gaining a more unfiltered view of God’s word.


At the close of each article, the relevant presuppositions that support it will be cited. This enables the reader to gain a clearer and deeper understanding of the context. To learn more about presuppositions, see the About page.

  1. The election of God is not limited to Gentiles in this age only. It started with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel) and continues today. (Psalm 132:13-18; Galatians 3)
  2. The work of Jesus Christ and the will of God unites the faithful of the first covenant with the faithful of the new covenant. (Ephesians 2; 3; Romans 5; 8; 9; 10; 11)
  3. Faith, which is a gift of God, is the basis of the hope of salvation for all those committed to the Lord. (Romans 11; 1 Peter 1; 2 Timothy 3:14-17; Jude 3)
  4. The grace of God is greater-than the sin of humanity (Romans 5)
  5. Christ’s work results in a new creation (Fourth Gospel 3:1-21; Romans 8:28-31; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Galatians 6:14-18)
  6. God’s redemptive work on humanity’s behalf is to save them from the second death, not the first death. (Genesis 2:16-17; Fourth Gospel 3:16-21; 5:24; 6:40; 17:1-3; Romans 5; 6; 1 Corinthians 15:19; Hebrews 9:25-28; Revelation 20:6)
  7. The divinity and supremacy of the Son of God – the creator and finisher of all things. He alone is given authority to judge in righteousness according to the will of God (Fourth Gospel 1:1-5; Psalm 96:10-13; Isaiah 11:1-5; Acts 17:30-31; Romans 2:5-11; Revelation 5; 19:11-16)


1) We adhere to the belief that the authorship of the Fourth Gospel has been misrepresented. Typically this authorship is attributed to John, the brother of James and author of the Book of Revelation of Jesus Christ. I have concluded on the side of such authors like J. Phillips (ISBN13: 978-0-9702687-3-0) who has shown conclusively John could not be the sole author and instead attribute primary authorship to Lazarus – the disciple whom Christ loved. Due to this, I will refer to the book as the Fourth Gospel.
2) When I refer to Israel, like the authors of Scripture, I’m referring to the descendants of Jacob (renamed Israel). This does not fit the description of the modern nation of Israel, which consists of people from many assorted nationalities. Also, the modern Jews (Judah) represent only one of the twelve original tribes of Israel. In the near future, God will call to himself, for a specific purpose, descendants from all twelve tribes as part of his kingdom-building process (Romans 9:4-5; 11; Revelation 7:4-8).
3) The Kingdom of God and the Glory of the Cross, Patrick Schreiner, (pages 18-21)
4) In the book The Two Views of Hell, Edward Fudge and Robert Peterson debate the conditionalists view with that of the traditionalist. Peterson, the traditionalist, cites numerous figures from Christian church history along with notable theologians from our own century who support the idea of eternal and never-ending killing as penal punishment for those cast into the lake of fire. Starting with Tertullian who rightly recognizes the everlasting penalty ascribed to the fire of hell, the lake of fire. It is clearly ascribed to Satan and his angels in Revelation 20:7-10. Where supposition enters is in applying the same punishment of Satan and his angels to humans. Tertullian is obviously overlooking the clear meaning of the scripture being commented on. He goes even further to imply God has rendered never-ending “killing”, a more formidable circumstance than death as a suitable judgment for man’s sin. Unfortunately, this appears contradictory to this reader’s understanding of the gospel and divine judgment as represented by Christ. Here are a few examples to note:

  • The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23)
  • Christ clearly states that the condemnation, as a result of final judgment, awaiting those who don’t believe is death (Fourth Gospel 3:18)
  • Yeshua the Christ is the source of immortality, eternal life. That likeness in spirit is applied conditionally, only to those who’ve received the Holy Spirit, those who’ve surrendered to the obedience of faith.
  • Prior to ushering in the New Heavens and New Earth, Christ destroys death and the grave (Revelation 20:14) to signify his full victory over death as expressed by Paul (1 Corinthians 15:54-56). Why destroy death if the wicked and unrepentant are to be killed over and over again endlessly? To do so is logically, theologically, and characteristically incoherent of God’s will and intent.

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Published by GMajella

Husband, father, and author on theological topics, with a focus on the underlying presuppositions which either cloud or enhance our view of reality. My focus is to challenge and guide fellow Christians into a deeper knowledge of God; his work, his will, and his overall purpose. My primary methods will be through books, blogs, and virtual or personal events.

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