By  B. W. Newton.


*This writing is from a tract supplied by The Sovereign Grace Advent Testimony.  [Editor’s notes are incorporated throughout.]


The Church at Corinth, even under the Apostle's own eye, began to question the fact of there being any resurrection?  "How say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?"  If, then, among those whom the Apostle himself taught, the fact of there being any resurrection was disputed, can we wonder that in these days in which the Scripture tells us falsehood would flourish, the truth of the First Resurrection should be denied?  Shall we, because few believe and teach it, say that it is false?  Or shall we, remembering the tendency in man's mind to quit its grasp on truth, refuse to be led blindly by the authority of others, and search for ourselves, humbly and diligently, the Scriptures of God ?


David and Mary not yet raised


Resurrection is, at present, seen only in Christ the Lord.  He alone has risen into glory as "the Firstfruits." "David," says the Apostle, "hath not ascended into the heavens."  The spirit* of David is indeed with Christ in the paradise of God, there, together with the spirits of all departed saints, comforted and blessed with joys unspeakable; but David, as to the integrity of his person, that is, in body as well as soul and spirit, is not there.  He is still, as to this, numbered amongst those "that have fallen asleep," whose "first-fruits" Christ is.  All, therefore, that Rome teaches respecting the assumption of the Virgin Mary, and the condition of the saints in heaven, is a blasphemous fiction - a lie from the father of lies.  Mary and the rest of the saints remain yet, as to their bodies, in the dishonour of death.  Their flesh has seen corruption.  The worm has fed on them. They [as disembodied souls in Hades] wait for the resurrection-morning.


[Note * The spirit ascends to God at the time of death; the soul descends into Hades-  ‘in the heart of the earth.’ See Acts 2: 31; cf. Matt. 12: 40.]


Christ the Firstfruits


The resurrection of the Lord Jesus is to us the manifested proof that the mighty debt which He undertook to discharge on behalf of His believing people has been fully paid.  As the Surety of His people, performing for them what they could not perform, and bearing for them what they could not bear, Jesus lived and died.  But as soon as He was able to say, "It is finished," the claim of Divine justice was satisfied.  The debt was fully paid: and this was proved when He burst the prison of the grave, where He had lain to fulfil the Scripture, and to show not only the reality of His death, but also that death had no longer power against Him; for it could not prey on Him.  His holy body saw no corruption.  Death never had any power against Him except as the Surety discharging the debt of His people.  As soon, therefore, as that debt had been discharged, death lost its title against those whose Surety He was: and of this His resurrection afforded the manifested proof.  It proved that every claim against them was satisfied for ever.


Moreover, the Lord Jesus rose as "the Firstfruits," that word being the pledge that all His believing people shall finally be conformed to His heavenly likeness.  In Him, too, their new covenant Head, they have life.  "Our life is hid with Christ in God."  In the Epistle to the Ephesians we read of the exceeding working of God's mighty power to us-ward who believe, which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places.  This mighty power was towards us, because, in raising Christ, it raised Him as our Head. Consequently, believers, though personally on earth, are representatively in heaven.  In Christ risen they are quickened; in Him they are "raised up and made to sit in heavenly places"; all this the result of His resurrection.  By resurrection, too, He has entered as our "Forerunner" within the vail, able to save to the uttermost those that come unto God through Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.


Resurrection Precedes the Righteous Reign


But there is an hour coming when the life which is now hidden for us with Him in God, will be no longer hidden, because the time of fruition and manifestation will have come.  But when, and under what circumstances?  We know that the earth is, in the Scripture, promised a period of millennial rest,* when "nations shall learn war no more"; when converted Israel shall blossom, and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit when creation which now groaneth, shall groan no longer; when the wolf and the lamb shall feed together; when Satan shall be bound; when the Lord shall be King over all the earth, and His name alone be exalted; when at last it shall be truly said, "O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: fear before Him, all the earth.  Say among the Gentiles that the Lord reigneth: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: He shall judge the people righteously.  Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof.  Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice before the Lord; for He cometh to judge the earth; He shall judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with His truth." (Psalm 96.)  Blessed words! that shall be fulfilled in their season.  But when the hour of their fulfilment comes, what shall be the condition of those who have fallen asleep in Jesus?  Will Abel and Abraham - will the patriarchs, prophets, and apostles, and all who have followed them in the path of suffering for Christ's sake, be shut out from the joy of that morning of life?  Will their bodies be still left in the corruption of death? or, will one of the first acts of their Lord in the day of His manifested glory, be the calling from the grave all who have suffered* for His name's sake, that they might share His joy, and administer His power?


[* Note the conditional promise or reigning with Christ at this time which is attached to suffering for Christ and for righteousness’ sake, which is not fulfilled by every regenerate believer.  See. Romans 8: 17b; 2 Tim. 2: 12; Matt. 5: 10; Heb. 4: 11. Etc.]


Follows the Antichrists Reign


One thing certainly is evident, that that day of gladness cannot be until the dark day of evil described in the Epistle to the Thessalonians shall have first run its course.  The Apostle there teaches us that the mystery of iniquity then working should continue to work silently, until it should be at last manifested in all its fulness under "the man of sin," "the wicked" or "lawless one."  Now, without here inquiring who "the man of sin" is, this, at least, is manifest, that the reign of righteousness and peace cannot be coincident with the reign of "the man of sin."  Men cannot at the same time obey Christ and Satan.  The nations cannot at the same time bow down before Christ and before Antichrist.  The mystery of iniquity and its head must cease to be, before truth and righteousness triumph.  To what then does this great head of iniquity succumb?  By what is he consumed?  By "the brightness of the coming of the Lord," says the Apostle.  Therefore the brightness of the coming of the Lord Precedes and introduces the reign of peace.


But there is another event mentioned in this chapter as taking place at the coming of the Lord.  In the first verse the Apostle speaks of "our "* "being together gathered unto the Lord."  "Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together unto Him."  If, then, we are to be gathered to Him at His coming (and the fourth chapter of the previous Epistle describes how) it is evident that the resurrection of all* who shall have believed in Christ up to the hour of His appearing, shall take place when He comes to destroy the wicked one, and to introduce the glory of the millennial age.


[* It should noted that the ‘believers’ at Thessalonica were "exhorted" by the apostle to "walk worthy of God" and described later - as a result of their strict compliance to his wishes - will be "counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer." (1 Thess. 1:11 ; 2 Thess. 1: 5, 6, etc.  The ‘all who shall have believed in Christ,’ must therefore be limited to those who can be truly described as the Thessalonians: the “all” does not include all the regenerate.]


If, indeed, the history of the earth were to terminate at the coming of the Lord to destroy the wicked one, if there were to be no reign of peace, no period when righteousness shall flourish in the earth, then, doubtless, there would be no second period of resurrection, and consequently there would be no FIRST resurrection.  But if forgiven and converted Israel are to be in the millennial earth "holiness unto the Lord," if the spared heathen are to receive through Israel the gospel of grace, if Ethiopia shall then, at last, "stretch out her hands unto God," and the millennium be the great harvest-time for gathering souls into the heavenly garner, will they who shall be thus born again through the word of truth, never be brought into resurrection glory?  Will they never bear the heavenly likeness of their Redeemer?  Will they always remain in an earthy, fallen body?  No! this cannot be.  Well, then, if they are to be finally changed and glorified, there must be a second period of resurrection unto [immortality] life; and this, Scripture uniformly teaches.


Revelation Chapter Twenty


In this chapter we find the following passage: "I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.  But the rest of the dead lived not until the thousand years were finished.  This is the first resurrection.  Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years."


The obvious meaning of this solemn passage is frequently sought to be evaded on the plea that the Revelation is a symbolic book.  Now, what does this mean?  Does it mean that, because symbols are employed as the medium of instruction in the Revelation, therefore, no facts are taught therein?  It would seem to be the thought of some that symbols and figurative language can indicate nothing except that which is shadowy and impalpable.  It seems to be imagined that plain and intelligible facts can only be taught where no symbols and no figures are; and that the presence of these is a sign that the interpretation may be as loose as the symbols are supposed to be uncertain.  Yet does not such a thought impugn the wisdom of God, who has been pleased in the Scriptures so frequently to employ figures and symbols; shall we say that He intended that the trumpet should give an uncertain sound?


Facts more than Figures of Speech


Literal facts may be taught either by simple language, or by figurative language, or by symbols.  This is true both in Scripture and in the ordinary intercourse of men.  An Indian may come to me and say in simple language, "I desire to make peace with thee" or he may use figurative language and say, "Let us bury our weapons beneath the tree of peace"; or he may say nothing, but, silently, in symbolic action, may dig a grave beneath an olive tree, and there deposit his bow and his battle-axe: the modes of communication are in the three cases different, but the same substantial fact is conveyed by all, viz., his desire to make peace with me.  Nor is it otherwise in Scripture.  Thus, the future restoration and union of the twelve tribes of Israel (which when accomplished will be a literal fact) is taught sometimes in simple language, as when we read in Jeremiah 50: 4: "In those days, and in that time, saith the Lord, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the Lord their God.  They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten."  And again in Hosea 1. 11: "Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel."  In these two passages there is no figurative language, nor any symbol.  But in Ezekiel 37:16, we find the same event taught in symbol.  Ezekiel was commanded to take two sticks, to write on one, "For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions"; and on the other, "For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: and join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand."  Such was the symbol presented to the eyes of the people, and thus it was explained, "Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the Gentiles, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: and I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all."  Surely, after such an example we cannot say that a plain literal fact cannot be taught by symbol.


"Souls" - "Live."


But now to return to the passage quoted from the Revelation: the Apostle saw in the vision thrones occupied by persons who sat thereon, and to them "judgment " (that is, authority to rule) "was given."  "I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given unto them."  He saw, also, those who had suffered for the name of Jesus under Antichrist, in a disembodied state, for it is said he saw their "souls"**; but it is added, he saw them "live," that is, became repossessed of their ‘bodies’.  “They lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.  But the rest of the dead lived not (ouk ezesan) until the thousand years were finished


[*Such is the right reading in this passage.]


[* Note again that it is the SOUL that is raised at the time of resurrection.  That is, when spirit, soul and body are reunited.]


Let us suppose that to ourselves such a vision had been sent, suppose that we had seen those whom we had first beheld in a condition of death, LIVE and reign with Christ, should we have needed to be told we had seen a resurrection?  I think not.  But what if we had also heard an authoritative voice that said,




"Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years," could we have doubted, after hearing this solemn comment of God?  I say comment, for these words were spoken, not so much to show that "resurrection" was taught in the preceding vision, as to show what resurrection it was, and what was the blessedness and honour pertaining to those who were included therein.


Observe, also, these words: "They" (the [suffering] saints) "LIVED and reigned with Christ a thousand years.  But the rest of the dead LIVED NOT until the thousand years were finished."  Few, I suppose, will doubt that the last clause of this passage refers to the general resurrection described at the close of this chapter.  If, then, the word "LIVE," as applied in the last clause to the wicked dead, means resurrection, can we arbitrarily attach another meaning to the same word in the first clause, and say it does not mean resurrection?  No principle that at present guides us in the interpretation of language would remain, if such licence as this were allowed.


And if a resurrection unto life be not taught in the passage we have been considering, what evidence is there of there being any resurrection at all?  The same arguments that nullify the force of the words LIVE and RESURRECTION in this passage, would nullify these words, or any like words in any other part of Scripture.  The reasons urged against "resurrection" meaning "resurrection" in the central part of this chapter, tell with equal force against that solemn passage which described the last resurrection at the close of this chapter.  The doctrines of a first and of a last resurrection stand or fall together.  If the first be a mere figure of speech, so is the other.  Surely we must beware of explaining away on neologian principles, the "true sayings of God." Does it not approach very nearly to the sin described in the concluding chapter of this book? (see Rev. 22: 19).


It has frequently been said of late that the words, "THIS IS THE FIRST RESURRECTION," indicate not a resurrection of Persons but of principles.  The principles of the martyrs, which will, as it were, have died out, are, it is said, to be revived in great power at the commencement of the millennium; and this is termed a resurrection.


But does not such an interpretation as this lack the very semblance of plausibility?  For, in the first place, how can the principles of the martyrs be said to die out, when we know that during the whole antichristian period, on to its very end, they will be manifested in a power unequalled by any thing that has been seen among Christ's servants since the Apostles died?  And, secondly, how can the distinctive principles of the martyrs be found in the millennium seeing that then the time of the Truth's sufferings will have passed, and, consequently, martyrdom will have ceased to be?


Moreover, is it not said that they who are raised in the first resurrection shall be made priests and kings unto God and unto Christ?  We can understand this of persons, but how could principles be made kings and priests unto God?  Is it not also said that over those who rise in the first resurrection, the second death shall have no power?  Can we speak of principles being subject to the second death?  Can principles be cast into the lake of fire?  And if the first resurrection be a resurrection of principles, why is not the last resurrection a resurrection of principles too?


1st Corinthians, Chapter 15.


But the Revelation is not the only book in which the doctrine of the first resurrection is taught.  In this chapter which is specially devoted to the subject of resurrection, we find a passage which expressly treats of the order of resurrection.  "Every one in his own order: Christ the FIRST-fruits; AFTERWARD (epeita) they that are Christ's at His coming; THEN (or NEXT, eita not tote) cometh the end."  The words translated afterwards, and then or next (epeita and eita) are what are called "particles of sequence," that is, they indicate succession of events at certain intervals, as when we say, first, second, third.  Accordingly, in this passage we are taught that the order of resurrection is, first, Christ's own resurrection: secondly, the resurrection of those who are Christ's at His coming: thirdly, the resurrection of those who live between that coming and the time when the last enemy, Death, is destroyed; which event, both here, and in the Revelation, is said to be at the close of Christ's millennial reign; after which, "He that sitteth upon the throne saith, Behold, I make all things new."


Unless, therefore, we can obliterate the words "AFTERWARD" and "NEXT," we must acknowledge that there are two distinct periods in which the saints will rise in life ; one when Christ (having, according to Daniel 7, been brought before the Ancient of Days and formally assumed the sovereignty of earth) shall come forth to put down all enemies; the other, when that object shall have been effected by the destruction of death, the last enemy.*  Thus both the commencement and the end of the millennial reign of Christ, that is to say, the period when He shall come forth in order to subjugate all enemies, and the period when He shall have subjugated all enemies, will alike be marked by a putting forth of that glorious power, whereby, as Son of the living God, He will quicken and bring into His own heavenly likeness those of His servants whom death will for a season have grasped.  If, then, there were no other passage but this in the Corinthians, we should be constrained to say that there is a first resurrection.  I scarcely need point out the accordance of this passage with that in the Revelation.


[* Regenerate believers are shown to rise after the Millennial Age by a separation being made at that time: "If any was not found in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire" (Rev. 20: 15).]


In the Fifth Chapter of John, verses 24-29


we find a passage in which the first resurrection is referred to in contradistinction with the last.  The 25th. verse speaks of the first resurrection, and the 29th. verse of the general resurrection; but as these verses, in order to their being properly understood, should not be separated from their context, it will be needful to consider the whole passage.


In the 24th. verse of the fifth chapter of John we find these words: "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 judgment (krisiw), but is passed from death unto life."  This verse speaks of the power put forth through the preached gospel; the word that Jesus was then preaching, not in the power of His manifested glory, but in humiliation, as the sower going forth to sow.  By that word believers were and are quickened as to their souls, "born again," says the Apostle, “not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, BY THE WORD OF GOD.  And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you."  But this blessed word, which when received bringeth our souls unto life, reacheth not our bodies.  Death still preys upon them, and the outward condition of believers contrasts sorrowfully with that of the "new man" within.  But it shall not always be so.  The quickening power of life that is in the Lord Jesus has reached the souls, and shall reach the bodies of His saints.  "Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead (hoi nekroi, the dead in body) shall hear the VOICE OF THE SON OF GOD ; and they that hear shall live."  Observe the words, "voice (phone) of the Son of God."  This is not the word which He preached in humiliation, a word often rejected and despised; that which the Apostle calls "the weak thing (to asthenes) of God, the foolishness of preaching."  "Voice" is a word denoting authority and manifested power, as when at the grave of Lazarus, "He cried with a loud VOICE, Lazarus, come forth."  And when He shall descend from heaven with a shout, it is with the VOICE of the archangel, and with the trump of God.  Jesus spake of the hour when this glorious power is to be manifested, as future: "The hour is coming." He said not this of the word of reconciliation which He was preaching, that was present; but the hour when death shall be effectually triumphed over in the grave is even yet not come.  We still wait for it in hope.*  Nevertheless, although the appointed hour for the full display of that power whereby death is triumphed over is yet not come, yet the power whereby this is to be effected was present in the earth when Jesus was present in the earth, He being Himself the resurrection and the life,"One in Whom all fulness dwells."  There is no form, no character of glorious power, that shall in the ages to come be displayed in Jesus glorified, that was not present in Jesus rejected, therefore, He adds the words, "now is."  "The hour is coming, and now is."  Of these last words the grave of Lazarus supplied the evidence; the scene there witnessed being the pledge to us that the same mighty voice that called Lazarus from the grave, shall soon be heard by every saint that sleeps.  Then death shall cease to sever those that have known and loved one another in Christ, and all be happy, and all be perfect, because all shall alike bear the image of their Lord.  But observe, all the dead are not spoken of as raised at that hour.  On the contrary, the concluding words of this verse put an express limitation - "THEY THAT HEAR shall live" - as if all the dead would not then hear that voice of power.  Nor will they. "The rest of the dead lived not until the thousand years were finished."


[* The First Resurrection is a hope and not a certainty for every regenerate believer: "Others were tortured (Gk. ‘beaten to death’) not accepting their deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection" (Heb. 11: 35b).  And again: "If by any means I may attain unto the resurrection [out] from the dead" - literally ‘the out-resurrection out from the dead.’ See Greek. Phil. 3: 11. It should be noted that this select resurrection was the object for which the Apostle Paul sought to attain unto.  Furthermore, there are those in the churches who cannot hear this truth; hence the words repeated by the Holy Spirit: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches(Rev. 2: 7, 11, 17, 29; 3: 6, 13, 22.]


Judgment Exercised.


And see how clearly this intervening period of the Lord's millennial reign is referred to in this passage.  After He has spoken of the first resurrection in verse 25, but before He speaks of the general resurrection in verse 29, He says that the Father had "given Him authority to exercise judgment also" (i.e., kingly rule), "because He is the Son of Man."  As Son of the living God He quickens; but it is as Son of Man that He is to be brought before the Ancient of Days, to be clothed with the millennial power of earth.  "I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him.  And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages, should serve Him; His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed." In the eighth Psalm also it is Jesus, as Son of Man, under whose feet all things are to be subjected.  But His power is not limited to this.  He is not only to quicken, first the souls, and then the bodies of His saints, and to give them rule with Himself over the millennial earth; His power is also to reach back over all the past, over all the world of the dead; and He shall summon them all to life again, and shall be their judge. "The hour is coming, in the which ALL that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." This is the last, the general resurrection.  All the wicked dead of every dispensation, as well as the countless multitude of those who have lived and died in faith during the millennium, will be there, the righteous* rising in the resurrection of life, the others in the resurrection of damnation, to know for ever the second death.  And observe, how contrasted are the words of this passage with those of the preceding verse, where a limited resurrection is spoken of.  There it is said, "THEY THAT HEAR shall live”; but here, "ALL that are in the graves shall hear His voice."  Surely no words can more plainly contrast the two periods of resurrection.  Thus, too, the proper succession of these verses is preserved; for their subject is power appointed by the Father to be exercised by the Son, and its successional development is said to be this: first, that which He exercises through His preached word in quickening souls; secondly, that which He will, at "the end of the age," exercise in quickening the bodies of His saints; thirdly, that which He will exercise during the millennial reign; fourthly, that which He will exercise at the close of that reign, when the hour of the last resurrection shall have come.


[* Here, more than the imputed righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ is implied: it is blatantly obvious that a standard of personal righteousness is required also:- "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter" (Matt. 7: 21); "For I say unto youdisciples’], that except your righteousness shall exceed ... ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5: 20); Repentance and humility are also prerequisites in specified cases: "Except ye turn, and become as little children, yedisciples’] shall in no wise enter into ..." (Matt. 18: 3).]


Out from Among the Dead.


Nor is the indirect evidence of Scripture less conclusive as to the truth of a FIRST resurrection.  How, if there were not a resurrection of special and distinctive privilege, could we explain the words of our Lord, in Luke 20:. 35?  "They that shall be counted worthy to obtain that age (aionos) and the resurrection from the dead."  Here a resurrection is spoken of that cannot be universal, for it will be attained only by those who shall be "counted worthy  It must therefore be distinguishing and peculiar.  So also in the Epistle to the Philippians, the Apostle says, "If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection [out] from the dead."  He could not thus speak of the general resurrection, inasmuch as all must then arise.  His words could only apply to a resurrection [of reward]  that is distinguishing and peculiar which the first resurrection is.  Observe too, the expression FROM (ek, out of, or from among) the dead - anastasis he ek nekron. It is not the same expression as "resurrection of the dead," anastasis ton nekron.  Accordingly, it is never used of the general resurrection.  Indeed, such words could only be applied to a resurrection that is distinguishing and peculiar.  When we say of any that they have been taken out of an assembled multitude, our words imply selection: they imply that those not thus selected are left behind -[in Hades, the place of the dead, (Matt.16:18; Acts 2: 27)].  The word anastasis is once used in Scripture in its primary sense of rising again, in the sense in which one rises after a fall.  "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again (anastasin) of many in Israel."  In every other place (and it occurs forty-one times) it is used of resurrection, properly so called, i.e., resurrection of the body [and ‘soul’].


The reason why it is never applied to the quickening of the soul is obvious.  In that case, there is a new creation, not the rising again of anything that in any sense existed previously.  Accordingly, in Ephesians, we read of the "NEW MAN which after God is CREATED in righteousness," and similar expressions are used in the Colossians. Now, "creation" and "resurrection" are contrasted exercises of Divine power, and therefore we never find "resurrection" applied to the quickening of the soul.


Moreover, quickening of the soul must in every case precede the resurrection spoken of in the passages above quoted.  St. Paul was already quickened when he spoke on towards the resurrection from the dead.  The souls of those "beheaded for the witness of Jesus" were quickened before they were be headed, and consequently before they "lived and reigned."


Nor could the expression "church of the firstborn ones" (ekklesia ton protokon) be explained unless there were a first resurrection.  Christ is called "The firstborn from the dead," because He has first risen into glory.  On the same ground a part of the church are called, "The church of the firstborn," because they precede another part of the church, who will in due time follow: and form in the new heavens and new earth, which will be created after the millennial heavens and earth have passed away.  One glorified church for ever.


Old Testament Passages.


And if we turn to the Old Testament, how conclusive the evidence there!  In the last chapter of Zechariah, for example, we are taught respecting the coming of the "Day of the Lord," and how it will usher in the long promised blessing to Jerusalem and to the earth: "In that day Jerusalem shall be lifted up and inhabited in her place. ... and there shall be no more utter destruction, but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited."  "In that day the Lord shall be king over ALL THE EARTH; in that day there shall be one Lord, and His name one."  No one can say that these things have been fulfilled as yet; no one, unless he rejects the testimony of the prophet, will deny that these things will be fulfilled in their season.  But what event is spoken of as preceding the period of blessing to Jerusalem and "all the earth"?   The manifestation of the Lord with all His [‘accounted worthy’] saints.   That is the preceding event.


“His feet (the feet of the Lord) shall stand in that day upon the Mount of 0lives, ... the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with Thee."  No one, I suppose, will affirm that the saints who thus accompany the Lord. when He stands upon the Mount of Olives, will be in a disembodied state.  If any should affirm it, they may be referred to the Epistle of the Thessalonians, where the Apostle teaches us that the saints, in changed and glorified bodies will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, and to come with Him.  Now, if they meet the Lord in glorified bodies in the air, they must be in glorified bodies when His feet stand on the Mount of Olives. If then, as is taught by Zechariah, the saints accompany the Lord when He comes to the Mount of Olives, and if Jerusalem and the earth teem with inhabitants afterwards, there must be two periods of resurrection; for those in Israel and among the nations who are brought into the fold of faith during the millennium, must finally be changed, and bear the likeness of their risen Lord, otherwise, they could not be saved persons.  All the saved must finally bear the image of the Heavenly, even as they have borne the image of the earthly.


Again, in Daniel 7 where the Son of Man is seen to receive "dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages, should serve Him," we are also taught that "the saints of the high places shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever": and again, "judgment was given to the saints of the high places ; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom."  Shall we say that those who will thus reign together with Christ from the "high" or "heavenly places" are disembodied saints?  If not, there must be a first resurrection.


"Death is Swallowed up in Victory."


Again, observe the quotation from Isaiah in the fifteenth chapter of the first of Corinthians.  The Apostle is speaking of the time when "the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.  So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory."  These words,"Death is swallowed up in victory" - are a quotation from Isaiah 25.  But in what connexion do they there occur?  They occur in a passage which describes the final forgiveness and blessing of Israel, and the blessing of all nations in connexion with Israel.  The passage in Isaiah is as follows: "Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of Hosts shall reign in Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before His ancients gloriously." ... “And in this mountain (Zion) shall the Lord of Hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things ... and He will destroy in this mountain (Zion) the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations.  HE WILL SWALLOW UP DEATH IN VICTORY; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of His people shall He take away from off all the earth, for the Lord has spoken it. ... In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah."  If then the words of St. Paul in the Corinthians are to be fulfilled at the time when "the rebuke of Israel is to be taken away from off all the earth," and when they, together with the nations, shall be converted to the Lord, is it not very manifest that the resurrection of the saints precedes the reign of peace?


In the succeeding chapter too, a chapter devoted to the description of forgiven Israel's confession and praise, we find the following words addressed by the Lord to them: " Thy dead men shall live, my dead body, they shall arise.* Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust; for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead."  The departed saints of Israel are here spoken of as Christ's mystical body, at present dead.  The Lord calls them, "My dead body."  But in the morning of Israel's joy, they shall arise.  They shall be bound no longer then in the bonds of death.  Surely, it well becomes the great Head of Israel, in that day of glory, to call those who have mourned with Him over Israel's and the earth's darkness and woe, to rejoice with Him in the day of Israel's and the earth's gladness.


[*Such is the proper rendering of this passage.]


And do we doubt that at present all creation groaneth?  "The whole creation," says the Apostle, "groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now."  When, then, is this groan to cease?  When is creation to be delivered?  At "the manifestation (or rather 'revelation,' apokalupsis) of the sons of God."  Such is the statement of the Apostle in the eighth of Romans.  Shall we reject it?


Our appointed hope, therefore, is not resurrection only, but resurrection accompanied with certain circumstances of joy and triumph in earth and heaven, which, by God's appointment, throw an added halo of blessing around that hour of life.  The coming of the Lord to "reign gloriously," and to fill the earth with the blessings of truth, and righteousness, and peace; the destruction of the great human head of evil-Antichrist; the binding of Satan; the conversion of Israel, and subsequently of the nations; the release of creation from its groan; these, and like events are, together with our own resurrection, our appointed objects of expectation and hope.  And remember, it is God who appoints these objects, and therefore, it is not for us to substitute for them any self-chosen objects.  Truth only sanctifies.  "Sanctify them through Thy truth; Thy word is truth."  Our expectations are to be guided, not by our own conjectures, but by Scripture.  If God had bidden us wait for the general resurrection as our hope, then what would have been the right sanctifying object of expectation.  But if He has not commanded us this; If He has commanded us instead to wait for the joy of the millennial morning, when the heavens shall rejoice and the earth be glad; if He has been pleased to describe the character of the glory that is then to be ours, and has made the commencement of the day of the joy of Israel, His people, the moment also of our being raised into glory, shall we venture to despise these things, and say that they will never be ours; and persist in expecting things that God has told us not to expect - cancelling, as it were, the promise of His holy Word.





When I stand at the judgment seat of Christ, 
And He shows me His plan for me,
The plan of my life as it might have been
Had He had His way, and I see

How I blocked Him here, and I checked Him there, 
And I would not yield my will -
Will there be grief in my Saviour's eyes, 
Grief, though He loves me still ?

He would have me rich, and I stand there poor, 
Stripped of all but His grace,
While memory runs like a hunted thing 
Down the paths I cannot retrace.

Then my desolate heart will well-nigh break 
With tears that I cannot shed;
I shall cover my face with my empty hands 
I shall bow my uncrowned head.

Lord of the years that are left to me, 
I give them to Thy hand;
Take me and break me, mould me now 
To the pattern Thou hast planned !

                                                                                               - MARTHA SNELL NICHOLSON