THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD.
THE first essential feature of the pre-millennial view to be examined has reference to the resurrection of the dead. Its advocates hold that the righteous dead alone are raised, and the living righteous changed, at the coming of the Lord, which they declare is at the beginning of the millennium. The wicked dead, they believe, remain in their graves until after this period and the great uprising of wickedness which follows it (Rev. 20:7-10). The post-millennial view, on the other hand, is that both the righteous and the wicked dead are to be raised at the coming of the Lord, which is thought to take place after the millennium. Our first question then is:
1. Do the Scriptures teach that the great period represented by the thousand years and the final uprising of wickedness of Rev. 20:4-11 intervenes between the resurrection of the righteous and the resurrection of the wicked? Or do they declare that there is but a single resurrection including both the just and the unjust?
Let it be clearly understood that it is essential to the pre-millennial view that the former of these positions be established from the Word of God. There is no one who doubts that the resurrection of the wicked is after the millennium, at the end of all probation and of the earthly history of our race in the flesh. If the resurrection of the righteous and of the wicked constitutes a single grand event, then this general resurrection and the coming of the Lord, which is indissolubly associated with the resurrection of the righteous, according to pre-millennial as well as post-millennial views, must be after the millennium. It is only as the resurrection of these two great classes is torn asunder by the interjection of this vast period that the pre-millennial view can stand. Here is a direct issue. Let us reverently consult the Word of God upon the question.
First: How are we to understand John 5:28, 29: “Marvel not at this (His giving spiritual life to the spiritually dead, v.25): for the hour cometh in which all that are in the tombs shall hear his voice and shall come forth: they that have done good unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done ill to the resurrection of judgment”?
Does this not appear to be as plain a declaration of a single and general resurrection of the dead, both righteous and wicked, as could well be given ? It includes “all that are in the tombs.” There is but a single “voice” or summons of the Son of God for all, both bad and good. This single summons all alike hear and all alike obey and “come forth.” Up to this point all is common for both classes. It is only the destinies which confront the two classes as they equally obey the summons and come forth, which are in contrast as tremendous as the difference between them in moral character. Language could scarcely be more specific. Can we conceive our Lord would have spoken in this explicit way of there being a single resurrection for both classes to their opposite destinies had He known that a great stretch of one thousand years, which many think to represent a year for a day, or 365,000 years, with time for the last great growth and struggle of evil added, was to intervene between the resurrection of the righteous and the resurrection of the wicked? However it might be with an ordinary uneventful period of this duration, would not the intervention of such a period—the most stupendous in the history of the race and the climax of the ages—be too great to be ignored? Would it not have separated these resurrections so clearly and well-nigh boundlessly that He could not have represented them as a single transaction—a common “coming forth” in response to the same call? The resurrection would have been two separate and distinct events which it would have been impossible to bring together in this way and speak of as one.
It is no reply to this to refer to v. 25, “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,” where our Lord is speaking of spiritual resurrection, and to argue that the “hour” here spoken of is a long period which has already continued for nearly two thousand years, and that, therefore, this “hour” of physical resurrection of v. 28 may be a long period likewise.
In the first place, it is anything but certain that the “hour” of v. 25 is meant to cover the whole period in which men are to receive spiritual quickening. For instance, had a man said in 1776, “The hour is coming and now is, when the United States shall be independent,” the word “hour” in that connection would not have been supposed to cover all the period in which they were to remain independent, but would have had exclusive reference to its beginning. Why should the word “hour” in the identical expression, “The hour is coming and now is when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God,” etc., be interpreted to cover more than the beginning of the period of spiritual quickening?
But allowing that “hour” in v. 25 does refer to this whole period, this “hour” of spiritual quickening is a period throughout which this quickening continues unbroken by any time in which it does not have place. So also of the “day” of salvation; it is a period during the whole of which salvation is to be had. There is not a moment of it wherein salvation is not to be obtained. The same is true in every case in which an hour or day is used for a long period, unless John 5:28 is an exception. That of which it is said to be the day or hour, as marking the great characteristic feature of the period covered by the word “day” or “hour,” is true of every moment of the period. Can we imagine that the whole period from the first coming of our Lord until the end would have been called the “hour” of spiritual quickening or the “day” of salvation were there to have been but a very brief—perhaps only momentary—display of quickening and saving power at its beginning and at its close, and long ages lying between when neither was to be had?
Now, what are the facts in reference to this “hour” of physical resurrection in John 5:28, 29, according to the pre-millennial view Is this supposed to be an unbroken period throughout which men’s bodies continue to be raised from the dead, and of which, therefore, this physical resurrection is the abiding characteristic? By no means. The resurrection of the dead is not thought by Pre-millennialists any more than by us, to be a long-drawn process covering a millennium of years. All believe it to take place “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,” as Paul declares in 1 Cor. 15:51, 52. But our pre-millennial brethren hold that instantaneous resurrection is predicable of the righteous only. Succeeding this electric shock of quickening power is the long-stretching millennium— the most transcendent era in the history of God’s people. Like the period from the resurrection of Christ until that of the righteous, during these centuries there are to be none raised from the dead. It is only at its close that there is to be another flash of resurrection might, as the wicked dead are called forth to receive their final doom.
Can we believe, in defiance of all scripture usage elsewhere in reference to what is said to be the chief characteristic of periods designated by the word “day” or “hour,” that our Lord had so little regard for the long-stretching and transcendent period between these lightning-like flashes of quickening power, as to ignore it altogether, and speak of the whole period as the “hour” in which those “who are in the tombs shall hear his voice,” even representing the resurrection as but a single transaction in which there shall be a simultaneous coming forth of both righteous and wicked, in response to the same call? Are we not forced to believe that John 5:27-29 means just what it says, and that both righteous and wicked are raised in the same resurrection?
We must also remember that we have references to the summons to the dead in other descriptions of the resurrection. In 1 Cor. 15:51, 52 we read, “Behold, I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised,” etc. Also, in 1 Thess. 4:16, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first,” etc.
So far as we know, all are agreed that the “voice” of John 5:28, 29 and the “shout” and the “trump” of these passages refer to the same startling summons which shall call forth the dead. In 1 Cor. 15:52 it is called the “last trump.” If there were to be a call for the righteous at the beginning of the millennium and another at the close for the wicked, we cannot understand how this in 1 Cor. 15:52, which Pre-millennialists declare is of the righteous at the beginning of the resurrection, could be called the “last.” It would be the first, unless it is to continue during all the millennial period until the wicked rise at its close, which no one believes. No: there is but a single summons. It is called the last, because it comes at the end of the world. In Corinthians, as the apostle is speaking only of believers, they alone are mentioned as responding to it. In John 5:28, 29, where our Lord has reference to both classes, both are said to be raised in response to the same summons, which, in Corinthians, Paul calls the “last trump.” Thus it is seen there is but a single and general resurrection of all, and it is at the end of all things.
So, from whatever standpoint we view this passage, it seems impossible, without the greatest violence, or even with the greatest violence, to make it square with the pre-millennial theory of two distinct resurrections, separated by an immense and grand period. If, however, there be but a single resurrection including both good and bad, this view will be acknowledged by its friends to be without foundation, and the alternative post-millennial belief in a single resurrection at the close of the millennium will be established.
The resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked is admitted by all to be mentioned in Acts 24: 15, where Paul declares it to be the teaching of the prophets that “there shall be a resurrection both of the just and unjust.”
This declaration seems, also, to be perfectly explicit. It is a single resurrection in which both the unjust and the just are to share. The language could not have been better chosen to make any other meaning impossible. Paul does not say there shall be resurrections of the just and unjust, neither does he say there shall be a resurrection of the just and a resurrection of the unjust, which would have left room for a separate resurrection of each class. But the words “a resurrection both of the just and unjust” leave no room for a distinct resurrection of each class, separated poles-wide apart, by the intervention of a period covering the grandest triumphs and the most terrific struggle of the Church’s history. It seems simply incredible that the apostle could have used this language had he known that such was to be. If one is prepared to accept the plainest meaning of language, this passage shuts him in to a single resurrection, but one including both the righteous and the wicked, and therefore, in the most perfect accord with John 5:28, 29.
Let us also refer to a passage in the Old Testament which has the plainest bearing upon the question before us. Daniel 12:2 declares, “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”
This passage refers to the resurrection of the body, for it is “of those who sleep in the dust of the earth.” It is also a resurrection of both righteous and wicked: for it is to the contrasted destinies of “everlasting life” and “shame and everlasting contempt.” It is a single resurrection of both these classes, for both classes together constitute the “many” who are to awake, and they are to awake at the single definite time mentioned in the prophecy.
It is also said that, allowing this to be a single resurrection of both classes, it is not a resurrection of all the dead. It is claimed that the expression, “many of them that sleep,” implies that part of them that sleep are not raised.
But the expression “many” in Scripture is often used for “all.” For instance: Paul in Gal. 3:27, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ,” did not mean that only a part of the Galatian believers had been baptized.
In any case, supposing the resurrection to be partial, it is a simultaneous resurrection of both righteous and wicked, which is as much at variance with the pre-millennial idea as is a general resurrection of the two great classes.
Besides, the Word of God explicitly denies the resurrection of either class in sections, as the interpretation of Dan. 12:2 as referring to a part only of the righteous and of the wicked, would make necessary; for, as all the dead are to rise, if there is one partial resurrection, it must be succeeded by another of the same kind of those who remain. Now Paul in 1 Cor. 15:23, speaking of the resurrection of Christ and His people, says, “But each in his own order, Christ the firstfruits, then they that are Christ’s, at his coming.” Here Paul says all who are Christ’s are to rise at His coming. There is then only one resurrection of the righteous and that of all. The resurrection, then, of Dan. 12:2 must be of all the righteous, since it is of some of them, and it is there declared that the resurrection of the wicked is simultaneous with that of the righteous—a general resurrection of both classes.
It is also generally admitted that our Lord, in John 5:28, 29, borrows the language of Dan. 12:2. Daniel says, “Many that sleep.” Our Lord says, “All that are in the tombs.” If our Lord here does borrow the language of Dan. 12:2, He interprets the “many” of Daniel to mean “all,” and we must do likewise, and the two passages are mutually confirmatory in their teachings.
Others propose to set aside the force of Dan. 12:2 by the translation of Tregelles, made in the interest of the pre-millennial theory: “Many from among the sleepers of the dust of the earth shall awake, these shall be unto everlasting life: but those (the rest of the sleepers) shall be unto shame and everlasting contempt.”
So far as we are aware, no commentator has given this interpretation even a mention.
It is also significant that the first verse introducing this statement should correspond so closely with Rev. 20: 7-10, which describes the time of trouble previous to the resurrection and judgment of vs. 11-15. There is a period of unexampled tribulation for the righteous in each case. When the trouble was at the greatest, in each case, the deliverance came, and the deliverance is followed by a resurrection. In each case “the book” in which the names of the saints are said to be written, is mentioned. The two passages seem to refer to the same time and the same event. So far as it is made plain that Rev. 20:11-15 refers to a general resurrection, therefore Dan. 12:2 speaks also of a resurrection of all.
We need consider at length in this connection only Rev. 20:11-15: “And I saw a great white throne and him that sat upon it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away: and there was found no place for them: And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne: and books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it: and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death, even the lake of fire. And if any was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire.”
Pre-millennialists and Post-millennialists agree that this passage refers to a literal, physical resurrection of the dead. The former, however, are compelled to believe it a description of the resurrection of the wicked dead alone. It is only in this way that their interpretation of the previous part of this chapter, vs. 4-7, as of a physical resurrection of the righteous, can be maintained or their general position be saved from overthrow.
But the language of the passage seems very plain. The whole description is of such surpassing grandeur that we could scarcely think it had reference to the wicked alone, especially, as in the rest of the New Testament, chief prominence and emphasis is given to the resurrection of the righteous. Notice also the expressions used: “The dead,” “The dead, the great and the small.” Can the words, “I saw the dead,” mean the rest of the dead, after the righteous dead had been raised ? Can “the dead, the great and small,” mean anything less than all the dead? The inspired writer uses the expression “small and great” in four other passages, and in each passage it means all classes of those mentioned. Chap. 11:18, “Them that fear thy name, the small and the great,” and chap. 19:3: “All ye his servants, ye that fear him, the small and the great,” include all classes of God’s servants who fear Him. Chap. 13:16, “And he causeth all the small and he great, and the rich and the poor, and the free and the bond;” chap. 19:18, “The flesh of all fan both: free and bond, and small and great.” Neither can there be any doubt in these two passages that “small and great” includes all these specified, as well as “rich and poor,” “bond and free.” How can we believe, then, that in Rev. 20:12, “And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne,” “great and small” refers only to one class of the dead, that of the wicked, rather than to all the dead, righteous as well, as John’s usage of the expression as well as its very meaning requires? Had the writer meant to designate the dead, great and small, as the unrighteous only, would he not have said so?
Notice also other expressions: “The sea gave up the dead which were in it,” “death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them,” not the wicked dead, but “the dead” as a single great class, including all! What a strange pertinency in these expressions, if the wicked were all of the dead that remained in their graves!
But the most conclusive considerations remain. There is no dispute that all who share in the judgment here described in such grand terms have also shared in the resurrection which precedes it. If both righteous and wicked are described here as judged together, then both these classes are also declared to have been raised in the resurrection here portrayed. The answer to the question, “Are the righteous here judged ?” will be the answer to the question, “Were the righteous then raised from the dead?” And can we escape the conclusion that both righteous and wicked are here judged? When “the dead, the great and the small,” stood before the throne, “books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life.” Why the opening of the books, especially that of life, if only the wicked were then to be judged, and especially if the book of life had already been opened before the millennium, and all whose names were written in it had been reigning with the Lord on the earth ever since? In this case it would not be necessary to search the book, for none of those whose names were in it could be before the throne. What, then, is the true explanation of the sublime imagery used? The explanation evidently is that both righteous and wicked are before the throne, and as the description is given in the language appropriate to human tribunals, this book is represented as searched in order to determine who are to be rewarded and who to be punished. Notice the declaration, “If any was not found to be written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire.” It does not say, “Since none was found written in the book of life, all were cast into the lake of fire,” as our pre-millennial friends suppose the meaning to be, but, “if any was not found,” etc., implying, if the language is not to be wrested altogether from its natural meaning, that of those before the throne, some were found written there, and that some of those gathered there should not be cast into the lake of fire.
Finally, it is said “the dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books”—those in which their works are represented as recorded. Being “judged according to the things that were written in the books” (v. 12) is, therefore, being judged according to their works (v. 13). It does not say that they were rewarded according to their works—the degree of condemnation being measured according to the comparative evil of their deeds. They were judged. A general decision, which must be condemnatory or approving, was passed upon them, involving the presence of both classes before the throne. The language is in most exact harmony with a judgment of both righteous and wicked, each one according to his works, whether good or evil. How it can be made to harmonize with a judgment of the wicked only, where there is nothing but condemnation for evil works, seems hard to imagine.
So we find that the plain implication of almost every clause of this passage shuts us in to a single resurrection and judgment, including both the righteous and the wicked. Well may Mr. Hill, a pre-millennial writer, declare: “If it were lawful to consider it, as it has been in past ages considered, a description of a simultaneous and universal judgment of all that have ever lived, it would not be easy to find words more comprehensive than these, ‘the dead, small and great, stand before God,” etc. Indeed, there is scarcely any passage on whose interpretation exegetes have been more agreed. It is significant that Dr. Gordon admits that this passage refers to a resurrection of both classes, but assumes it to be of righteous people who die during the millennium. This view, committing those who hold it to the reign of death over a class of the righteous after the coming of the Lord, will, we are sure, appear to most readers to involve more serious difficulty than that from which it would relieve the pre-millennial view. In any case the evidence thus afforded, that this passage refers to a resurrection and judgment of both classes, is exceedingly strong.
We have finished our examination of the four great passages bearing most directly upon the first question at issue between Pre- and Post-millennialists—whether there is a single resurrection including both the just and the unjust, or whether there are two separate resurrections, that of the righteous before the millennium, and that of the wicked not until after this long and grand period. They all seem to declare, in language which could scarcely be more plain and explicit, for the former view. As these four are the only passages in which the resurrection of the wicked as well as of the righteous is directly referred to, their obvious agreement in the teaching of a simultaneous resurrection of the just and the unjust furnishes the very strongest argument against the pre-millennial view. We shall consider, in their place, Rev. 20:4-6, and one or two other passages which Pre-millennialists claim support their belief in two separate resurrections of the dead. We shall only in this place repeat what Dr. D. Brown says in view of the admission of Mr. Hill given above, but who still clung to Rev. 20:4-6 as proof of the soundness of the pre-millennial position: “He explains a passage about which there has been more unanimity in all ages than on almost any other portion of Scripture by a passage on which there has been more diversity than, perhaps, almost any passage of God’s Word.” How much less ought we to allow any special interpretation of this obscure passage to override the plainest meaning of the four plainest portions of Scripture bearing upon the question.
 Reference will be made further on to the view that there is a special resurrection of the tribulation saints.
 This passage is sometimes thoughtlessly quoted as though it declared the righteous dead were to be raised before the wicked dead. We have only to read the preceding verse and the one that follows, to see that the question was whether the living saints, at the appearing of Christ, should have precedence over the righteous dead. “No,” says Paul, “the righteous dead shall rise first and then with the living saints shall be caught up,” etc.
 “Lent. Lectures,” p. 294.
 “Ecce Venit,” p. 273.
 “The Second Advent,” p. 200.