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!