John 5:24-29| Two Resurrections?

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Does John 5:24-29 predict two resurrections, at two times, separated by millennia?

Does John 5:24-29 Predict Two Resurrections

One of the favorite objections to the true preterist view of eschatology is an appeal to John 5:24-29:

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. 25 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. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. 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.”

Is this a prediction of two resurrections, of disparate nature and time?

The argument goes something like this:

Jesus spoke of the time then present (the hour is coming and now is), of the spiritual resurrection of those dead in sin, who would hear his voice and live.

However, he then spoke of “the hour is coming” in which all that were in the graves would come forth, some to life and some to condemnation.

So, we are told, we have here a temporal contrast between Jesus’ “now hour” and the hour that is coming.” We have two resurrections in John 5:24-29 of two different kinds, at two different times. But, is this a valid argument? Was Jesus contrasting the nature of two resurrections?

I suggest that this argument ignores many things, and so, in a few upcoming articles we will examine John 5 and its prophetic background, it relationship to the rest of John, and its relationship to the rest of the story of resurrection. This promises to be an important study, so, stay tuned!

As an initial consideration, take note that this argument turns God’s historical modus operandi on its head. Here is what I mean.

Two Resurrections and God’s Modus Operandi

God has always operated from the “physical” to the spiritual! For instance, Israel and everything about her was typological.
Her physical land – her physical city – her physical temple – her physical sacrifices, her physical priesthood, her physical circumcision, etc., all pointed to spiritual realities– not physical!

This is confirmed over and over in the NT. For instance, Peter cites and echoes the promise of Hosea of the last days restoration of Israel, to the land, with her temple, priesthood and ephod. And yet, Peter unequivocally interpreted that prophecy spiritually (1 Peter 2:4ff)! Peter knew nothing of a spiritual temple pointing to a literal temple, or a spiritual priesthood pointing to a literal, physical priesthood

Likewise, Paul was emphatic that these physical things foreshadowed spiritual realities– (Colossians 2; Hebrews 10:1f).

So, in God’s dealings with Israel, He had invariably gone from the physical, (“natural”, which is not precisely the same, but nonetheless is important) realities to the spiritual realities that those things foreshadowed. I am unaware of a single example in which YHVH went from the physical shadow to the physical! Nor am I aware of a single instance in which the Lord took a spiritual reality and pointed toward a physical reality.

But, per the futurist view of John 5:24-29, we find the spiritual resurrection that in fact (supposedly) foreshadows and anticipates the physical resurrection! Two Resurrections!

To say that this turns God’s method of operation on its head is an understatement. And, what is interesting, I have yet to read a single article, or a single argument, that in any way sought to demonstrate exegetically that this argument is valid. All I have seen is presuppositional argumentation with no actual exegesis. And the reason is simple. There is no support for this “first the spiritual, and then the physical” argument.

The doctrine of two resurrections in John 5:24-29 is specious and false. We have more coming, so, stay tuned!



5 Replies to “John 5:24-29| Two Resurrections?”

    1. There was a raising of dead bodies in Matthew 27. However, I find no support for the idea that this was, in any way at all, the “first resurrection” mentioned by Jesus in John 5. That incredible event is never mentioned again in scripture, and is most assuredly never referenced as the first resurrection. By the way, I did a series of articles on the question of whether Matthew 27 was the fulfillment of Daniel 12. You can find that series on this site, so take a look.
      The assumption lying behind the idea that Matthew 27 was the first, and that therefore, there is yet another, is the idea that Jesus was speaking of the resurrection of corpses in John 5. I believe that is fundamentally in error.
      Thanks for visiting our site and for your comments!

  1. Dr. Preston,

    What is the significance and proper interpretation of the resurrection that was recorded in Matthew 27? As the book of Matthew states, the physical bodies of many holy people were raised to life following the resurrection of Jesus.

    Could this event be one of the many physical foreshadows that God used to point to their spiritual counterpart? As you referenced above, how Peter and Paul, both, believed was the nature of how God revealed His plan to mankind; starting from the physical and contrasting to the spiritual.

    Is it possible that God used the resurrection of certain holy people’s physical body to act as testimony to a greater resurrection into a spiritual body that all believers in Jesus could expect? After all, Matthew records that following their resurrection, these holy people entered into Jerusalem and appeared to many. Perhaps it was these resurrected saints who testified that what Jesus promised was possible, since even Jesus’ disciples were perplexed as to what it meant to be resurrected.

    Your thoughts, please.

  2. Don,

    Saw this series posted on your FB page and thought it would be best to start at the beginning rather than at the article you most recently posted.

    Dale’s comment about Matthew 27 being in view here cannot be a resurrection in this context because that was limited whereas John 5 is speaking in much broader terms: “He that heareth..” is a pretty broad stroke to paint with.

    As I read through this first article, I realized I needed some direct clarification. You are saying that there is only one resurrection in question here in John 5 and that this resurrection happened AD 70, a movement of the souls of the faithful from Hades (Paradise) to Heaven and of the wicked from Hades (Torment) to Gehenna. Is that correct?

    If this is correct, I must disagree.

    “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.”

    Here, belief (and you and I know this is obedient belief, not dead faith) gives folks eternal life which means they will not come into condemnation (judgment). Hearing the voice of Jesus Christ is hearing the gospel. Obedient faith means they have already passed from death to life. This is spiritual rebirth, the reconciliation that happens when we are immersed into Christ (John 3:5; Romans 6). This can’t be a reference to a literal resurrection (either in AD 70 or some other time) because those who hear the voice pass from death to life and therefore will not suffer judgment. However, those who die physically and are subject to a final resurrection have sealed their destiny.

    If there is only one resurrection in question here, then it can only be this resurrection. If you believe the resurrection in verses 28-29 must refer to AD 70, then you must allow for there to be two resurrections in this passage.

    In Truth and Love.

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