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Jesus Christ teaches us about the hope of everlasting life and the resurrection

"I am the resurrection and the life"

(John 11:25)

Jesus Christ is the source of the everlasting life, he said it shortly before the resurrection of his friend Lazarus, who had been dead for four days (John 11). His teaching about the resurrection, gives us a  complete understanding of this Christian hope (Blue hyperlinks refer to other Bible study articles).

The resurrection is a re-creation or a rebirth

"in the re-creation, when the Son of man sits down on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will sit on 12 thrones, judging the 12 tribes of Israel"

(Matthew 19:28)

The time of "re-creation" is the moment of the earthly resurrection which will begin shortly after the great tribulation, mentioned in the prophecy of Daniel: "During that time Michael will stand up, the great prince who is standing in behalf of your people. And there will occur a time of distress such as has not occurred since there came to be a nation until that time. And during that time your people will escape, everyone who is found written down in the book. And many of those asleep in the dust of the earth will wake up, some to everlasting life and others to reproach and to everlasting contempt" (Daniel 12:1,2). The twelve tribes of Israel (also in Luke 22:30), represent the resurrected humanity and the great crowd that will come out of the great tribulation, during the thousand years reign of Jesus Christ, mentioned in the prophecy of Ezekiel chapters 40 to 48 (The 12 tribes of Israel are presented as the prototype or model of the future world people resurrected in the earthly paradise).

It will be an administration of the earthly resurrection and judgment, which will last 1000 years according to the information in the book of Revelation (20:1-7). Here is the prophetic description of that period: “And I saw a great white throne and the One seated on it. From before him the earth and the heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened. But another scroll was opened; it is the scroll of life. The dead were judged out of those things written in the scrolls according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead in it, and death and the Grave gave up the dead in them, and they were judged individually according to their deeds" (Revelation 20:11-13). The "scrolls" that are opened, will be new divine instructions, like  to those found in the Bible, and which will facilitate the worldwide administration of the resurrection. In the "scroll of life" will be written the names of the resurrected people who will have everlasting life, as the names of the resurrected righteous ones.

Coming back to the word "re-creation", translated from the Greek text: (παλιγγενεσία) palengenesia (re=palen; creation=genesia), new birth, reproduction, renewal, recreation, regeneration (Strong's Concordance (G3824). Therefore, it is easy to understand that the resurrected ones will be "re-created" with a new human body. There will not be the resurrection of the flesh, or the old dead body turned to dust, but new atoms and new cells, will make up this new human body. It is clearly evident that the resurrection is not a "reincarnation". Moreover, it is not part of a cycle of several lives and deaths or rebirths of the same person. In the prophecy of Daniel 12:1,2, but also in the teaching of Christ, it is written that after this first resurrection, there will be a judgment which will decide whether the resurrected ones will live forever or not. In the event of an unfavorable judgment, the person will definitively cease to exist: "Do not be amazed at this, for the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, and those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment" (John 5:28,29).

The resurrection or re-creation will bring back to life the same individuality or unique personality, with its own characteristics, which will allow to be recognized by the people of his own family and possibly of his old relationships. However, that person will have a new body, free from the defects associated with his old life under the law of the Adamic sin (inherited from Adam), which caused old age, sickness and death (Romans 5:12; 6:23). It is obvious, that even if this man or woman will be physically similar, maybe, it will not always be easy to recognize him (or her) at first, because there could be a big difference between his youth and his newfound physical beauty, and that (perhaps) we may always have known, old, sick, or disabled, in the old system of things (Job 33:25).

The resurrected Jesus Christ was recognized by the expression of his own past individuality and not by the different human bodies that he had (it seems) (because he has been resurrected as a spirit and, for to be seen, he had a human body (1 Corinthians 15:45)). After the death and resurrection of Christ, he remained about forty days on earth and presented himself several times to his disciples who did not always recognize him immediately, but only by his way of speaking (John 20:16 "Jesus said to her: “Mary!” On turning around, she said to him in Hebrew: “Rab·boʹni!” (which means “Teacher!”)", To bless and to break the bread before eating it (Luke 24:30,31 "And as he was dining with them, he took the bread, blessed it, broke it, and began handing it to them. At that their eyes were fully opened and they recognized him; but he disappeared from them") or perhaps old shared memories (John 21:4-7, his disciples recognized Jesus when he remade the miraculous catch (Compare with Luke 5: 5-8))... The return to life is of a unique personality that existed before, in a new human body, without sin or physical defect which in the past caused aging and death (Romans 5:12; 6:23).

Born Again

Returning again to the Greek word palengenesia, translated as re-creation, it is also a question of rebirth. Is this rebirth or resurrection the same evoked in the conversation of Jesus Christ with a teacher named Nicodemus, in John chapter 3? “In response Jesus said to him: “Most truly I say to you, unless anyone is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God". Nicodemus said to him: “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter into the womb of his mother a second time and be born, can he?” Jesus answered: “Most truly I say to you, unless anyone is born from water and spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. What has been born from the flesh is flesh, and what has been born from the spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed because I told you: You people must be born again. The wind blows where it wants to, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from and where it is going. So it is with everyone who has been born from the spirit.” In answer Nic·o·deʹmus said to him: “How can these things be?” Jesus replied: “Are you a teacher of Israel and yet do not know these things? Most truly I say to you, what we know we speak, and what we have seen we bear witness to, but you do not receive the witness we give. If I have told you earthly things and you still do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? Moreover, no man has ascended into heaven but the one who descended from heaven, the Son of man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so the Son of man must be lifted up, so that everyone believing in him may have everlasting life" (John 3:3-15).

Depending on the context of the whole conversation, it can be said without hesitation that the expression "born again" applies to both everlasting life and the heavenly and earthly resurrection. However, being born again from water and spirit evokes Christ's baptism in the water and with the holy spirit which culminated in his death and resurrection. Likewise, the 144,000 who will have a heavenly resurrection are to be born again from water and in the spirit according to the example of Christ. The symbolism of Christian baptism in the moment of the immersion represents the death and after, the rebirth through resurrection, rising from the water (which acts as a womb), being revived by the holy spirit, from Jehovah God. Regarding the baptism of Christ, the disciples must take it as pattern (Matthew 3:13-17; Matthew 28: 19,20): "Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, in order to be baptized by him. (...) After being baptized, Jesus immediately came up from the water; and look! the heavens were opened up, and he saw God’s spirit descending like a dove and coming upon him.  Look! Also, a voice from the heavens said: “This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved”” (Matthew 3:13-17).

The Baptism into the Death and The Resurrection

The Baptism is a complete immersion of the body (and not a simple sprinkling). Then the person is immediately raised out of the water (βαπτίζω baptizō: to dip repeatedly, to immerse, to submerge (Strong's Concordance (G907)). This ceremony is a prophetic description of the whole Christ ministry on earth, beginning from his baptism, until his death and resurrection. His new birth did indeed take place, in a spiritual sense, at the time of his baptism. He became Christ, the nly-begotten Son of God, by his new birth. It had a value of the promise of God, which would be fulfilled only at the end of his ministry, in the time of his death and then his resurrection which would constitute his effective rebirth as a resurrected spirit (1 Corinthians 15:45). So this ceremony of a few minutes, only summed up the three and a half years of the Ministry of Jesus Christ on earth, leading to his death, and then to his resurrection, or rebirth to join his Father in Heaven. Thus, his immersion in water represented, the baptism into the death of Christ, his earthly ministry from that moment which would inevitably lead him to his sacrificial death (John 3:16). And the rising from the water, the rebirth and resurrection as a spirit that could return to the Heavens.

The apostle Paul explained, under inspiration, the meaning of the baptism into the death, like to that of Christ: a Christian ministry that would inevitably lead to death, and then, a similar rebirth, the resurrection as spirit (for the 144,000): "What are we to say then? Should we continue in sin so that undeserved kindness may increase? Certainly not! Seeing that we died with reference to sin, how can we keep living any longer in it? Or do you not know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? So we were buried with him through our baptism into his death, in order that just as Christ was raised up from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also should walk in a newness of life.  If we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be united with him in the likeness of his resurrection” (Romans 6:3-5).

Therefore, the Christian rebirth (in John 3), does indeed take place at the time of baptism, as a promise (if we remain faithful until the end (Matthew 24:13)), but it has an effective value, after the death and then, the resurrection: "But Jesus answered them: “The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified. Most truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just one grain; but if it dies, it then bears much fruit" (John 12:23,24). In the illustration, the grain of wheat which dies to give more fruit is the death (the immersion in water, or the burial as a "grain of wheat") and the resurrection, the grain which becomes an ear of wheat that bears fruit. In the conversation with Nicodemus, in John 3, the ear of wheat which gives fruit finds its correspondence with the lifting up of the copper serpent in the wilderness which saved the Israelites who were looking at him, after being stung by a serpent: "And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so the Son of man must be lifted up, so that everyone believing in him may have everlasting life" (John 3:14,15).

The apostle Paul used exactly the same illustration (of the grain which dies in the earth and is revived giving fruit) to describe the Christian ministry which leads to death (immersion in water) and then to the resurrection (the rising of water, during baptism): "You unreasonable person! What you sow is not made alive unless first it dies; and as for what you sow, you sow, not the body that will develop, but a bare grain, it may be, of wheat or any one of the rest; but God gives it a body just as it has pleased him, and to each of the seeds its own body. Not all flesh is the same flesh, but there is one of mankind, and there is another flesh of cattle, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish.  And there are heavenly bodies, and earthly bodies; but the glory of the heavenly bodies is one sort, and that of the earthly bodies is a different sort" (1 Corinthians 15:36-40).

In a much more general way, the symbolism of Christian baptism, immersion in water, representing death or change of condition, and rising water, rebirth or resurrection, is equally applicable to all of humanity, the offspring of Adam. Humankind is currently under the Adamic law of sin that leads to death, under water (Romans 5:12). In the prophecy of Isaiah chapter 25, this worldwide death sentence inherited from Adam is described by the image of an envelope "shroud that is enveloping all the peoples", and the resurrection by its withdrawal (which is similar to baptism, the disappearance in water, and reappearance by resurrection or new birth): "In this mountain Jehovah of armies will make for all the peoples A banquet of rich dishes, A banquet of fine wine, Of rich dishes filled with marrow, Of fine, filtered wine. In this mountain he will do away with the shroud that is enveloping all the peoples And the covering that is woven over all the nations. He will swallow up death forever, And the Sovereign Lord Jehovah will wipe away the tears from all faces. The reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, For Jehovah himself has spoken it" Isaiah 25:6-8). It is written this (a little farther on) of the prophetic narrative of the worldwide resurrection and the passing away of death inherited from Adam: “Your dead will live. My corpses will rise up. Awake and shout joyfully, You residents in the dust! For your dew is as the dew of the morning, And the earth will let those powerless in death come to life" (Isaiah 26:19). By the worldwide resurrection officially fulfilled at the end of the thousand years, mankind will be raised from the water, with a new birth (Revelation 20:5).

The Resurrection and the Marriage

Jesus Christ answered the question about the resurrection and the marriage. The Sadducess asked this question to embarrass him, because they did not believe in the resurrection: "On that day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came and asked him: “Teacher, Moses said: ‘If any man dies without having children, his brother must marry his wife and raise up offspring for his brother.’ Now there were seven brothers with us. The first married and died, and having no offspring, he left his wife for his brother. The same thing happened with the second and the third, through all seven. Last of all, the woman died. So in the resurrection, of the seven, whose wife will she be? For they all had her as a wife.” In reply Jesus said to them: “You are mistaken, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God; for in the resurrection neither do men marry nor are women given in marriage, but they are as angels in heaven. Regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, who said: ‘I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob’? He is the God, not of the dead, but of the living.” On hearing that, the crowds were astounded at his teaching" (Matthew 22:23-33).

The marriage covenant instituted by Jehovah God was a way of populating the earth by procreation: "And God went on to create the man in his image, in God’s image he created him; male and female he created them. Further, God blessed them, and God said to them: “Be fruitful and become many, fill the earth and subdue it, and have in subjection the fish of the sea and the flying creatures of the heavens and every living creature that is moving on the earth”” (Genesis 1:27,28). The introduction of sin into the world by Adam changed the situation by destroying his offspring through death: "That is why, just as through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because they had all sinned" (Romans 5:12). The resurrection of most of this offspring, this time, will be the result of a re-creation (not procreation). This is why Jesus Christ said that the resurrected ones will be "as angels in heaven", in the sense that they will be directly created with a new human body, just as the angels in heaven were directly created without the process of procreation. The response of Jesus Christ is therefore logical: "in the resurrection neither do men marry nor are women given in marriage".

According to the Bible, death ends the marriage covenant between a man and a woman: "For instance, a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is alive; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband" (Romans 7:2). Therefore, when two former spouses meet in the earthly paradise, at the resurrection, they will no longer be under the law of marriage. They will be able to continue to have human relationships based on brotherly affection, but without the privacy permitted only in marriage (Hebrews 13:4a). In Revelation 20:12 it is written that there will be new scrolls, that is, new divine instructions, which could, perhaps, fix the modalities of these brotherly relationships between the former spouses, without necessarily legislating in fine detail, but rather with the insight that comes with Christian maturity (Hebrews 5:14). God is love, therefore He will ensure that the gatherings at the resurrection, between former spouses who will have loved each other dearly (in the old system of things), will take place in the joy and the continuity of a brotherly affection, for ever (1 John 4:8).

The Resurrection of the Righteous and the Unrighteous

Jesus Christ taught that the righteous resurrected ones will not be "judged" or "scrutinized", but they will pass from death to life: "so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Most truly I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes the One who sent me has everlasting life, and he does not come into judgment but has passed over from death to life. (…) and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life" (John 5:23-24,29a). The apostle Paul referred to this resurrection of the righteous leading to everlasting life, and without judgment, by the expression "better resurrection": "Women received their dead by resurrection, but other men were tortured because they would not accept release by some ransom, in order that they might attain a better resurrection. Yes, others received their trial by mockings and scourgings, indeed, more than that, by chains and prisons. They were stoned, they were tried, they were sawn in two, they were slaughtered by the sword, they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, while they were in need, in tribulation, mistreated; and the world was not worthy of them. They wandered about in deserts and mountains and caves and dens of the earth" (Hebrews 11:35-38; chapter 11 there are some names of faithful people who will have a "better resurrection" without judgment, passing from death to everlasting life).

Jesus Christ taught that the unrighteous resurrected will be judged: "Do not be amazed at this, for the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, and those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment" (John 5:28,29). in the "resurrection of judgment", the unrighteous will live again in good conditions in the earthly paradise and will be taught and judged over a long time, enough to rule on whether he will obtain everlasting life or not. It is written in the prophecy of Isaiah that this period of observation, even leading to an unfavorable outcome, could last a hundred years or perhaps more: "For anyone who dies at a hundred will be considered a mere boy, And the sinner will be cursed, even though he is a hundred years of age" (Isaiah 65:20b).

The Final Test

The last part of the judgment of the unrighteous, will end with the final test at the end of the thousand years. At this time, according to the book of Revelation, there will be a last "sifting" of the whole of humanity, by the provisional release of Satan the devil and the demons of the abyss (the first "sifting" will take place during the great tribulation which is coming (Matthew 24:21)): "Now as soon as the 1,000 years have ended, Satan will be released from his prison, and he will go out to mislead those nations in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war. The number of these is as the sand of the sea. And they advanced over the whole earth and encircled the camp of the holy ones and the beloved city. But fire came down out of heaven and consumed them.  And the Devil who was misleading them was hurled into the lake of fire and sulfur, where both the wild beast and the false prophet already were; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever" (Revelation 20:7-10).

According to this prophecy, as the humanity will be completely regenerated both physically and spiritually, a strange phenomenon will occur, due to the temporary release of Satan the devil and the horde of rampaging demons, ready for the latest worldwide campaign of homicidal lies that previously in the old system of things caused the deaths of Adam and Eve and all their offspring (Romans 5:12). The situation will be likely just as strange as that described in Genesis 3:1-6, where it is written that the devil used a serpent as a puppet to preach a murderous lie (John 8:44 ). As it is written, many will believe and fall into the trap, "the number of these is as the sand of the sea", which does not necessarily mean that it will represent the majority of mankind. However, the prophetic record informs that their considerable number will be enough to put "the camp of the holy ones and the beloved city" in a critical situation. Since the prophecy mentions the expression "Gog of Magog" for Satan and his last earthly coalition, "to gather them together for the war", this will indeed be a last criminal attempt to exterminate the earthly holy ones, temporarily in a critical situation.

It is written that this time, according to the prophecy of Genesis 3:15, the head of the serpent will be permanently crushed with its heavenly and earthly offspring (Romans 16:20). It is written in Revelation 20:10: "And the Devil who was misleading them was hurled into the lake of fire and sulfur, where both the wild beast and the false prophet already were; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever" (Revelation 20:10). The "lake of fire and sulfur" is just as symbolic, as the wild beast and the false prophet, it represents the everlasting destruction. It is also written in Revelation 20:14, that "death and Hades” (Hades=Grave) were cast into the lake of fire, demonstrating, once again, that this is indeed a symbolic place.

However, it is worth dwelling on the careful consideration of the curious expression, "they will be tormented day and night forever and ever". It is also to be taken on a symbolic meaning, in the same way as the lake of fire. What does it mean? It is an everlasting imprisonment which is to be put in perspective with the fact that the devil had previously been thrown into the abyss for a limited time of thousand years (Revelation 20:2). However, in order to ensure that this is the correct interpretation, it is important to see the original Greek verb translated as "torment" or torture: (βασανίζω) basanizo: torment, pain, toss, vex, toil (G928 Strong's Concordance). In the Bible, there is a word with the same root, in the form of a name in Matthew 18:34: "With that his master, provoked to wrath, handed him over to the jailers until he repaid all that he owed". The word translated as "jailers" comes from the Greek word (βασανιστής) basanistes (the same root as basanizo) (tortoribus in Latin), which means tormentor, executioner (G930 Strong's Concordance). This means that Satan will be "imprisoned" forever in destruction. This is consistent with the prophecies of Genesis 3:15 and Romans 16:20, which describe the complete destruction of Satan (and not keeping alive for the purpose of everlasting torment (or torture) (which would be contrary to love of God (1 John 4: 8)).

The Second Resurrection

It is after the final test, that will be decreed the fulfillment of the second resurrection of the whole of humanity who will have the everlasting life in the earthly paradise (the first being that of the 144,000 at the beginning of the millennial reign): "(The rest of the dead did not come to life until the 1,000 years were ended.) This is the first resurrection" (Revelation 20: 5). Which will close, at the same time, the seventh day mentioned in Genesis: "And by the seventh day, God had completed the work that he had been doing, and he began to rest on the seventh day from all his work that he had been doing. And God went on to bless the seventh day and to declare it sacred, for on it God has been resting from all the work that he has created, all that he purposed to make" (Genesis 2:2,3).

Treacherously Satan the devil took advantage of this situation to attack God's right to sovereignty (Genesis 3:1-6). However, in his immense wisdom, Jehovah God has been able to temporarily delegate his authority to his beloved Son Jesus Christ: "All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth" (Matthew 28:18). As it is written, Jesus Christ will restore to his Father this authority, at the end (or before the end) of this seventh day, so that, finally, it will end as it began, with the divine blessing of Jehovah God: "But when all things will have been subjected to him, then the Son himself will also subject himself to the One who subjected all things to him, that God may be all things to everyone" (1 Corinthians 15:28).

The power of the Word of God will not fail to be glorified by the ineluctable fullfilment of his purpose, even when God "has been resting from all the work that he has created", to use the expression of Genesis 2:2,3: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, And your ways are not my ways,” declares Jehovah.  “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So my ways are higher than your ways And my thoughts than your thoughts. For just as the rain and the snow pour down from heaven And do not return there until they saturate the earth, making it produce and sprout, Giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, So my word that goes out of my mouth will be. It will not return to me without results, But it will certainly accomplish whatever is my delight, And it will have sure success in what I send it to do" (Isaiah 55:8-11).