What Is the Resurrection?
The Bible’s answer
In the Bible, the word translated as “resurrection” comes from the Greek a·naʹsta·sis, which means “raising up” or “standing up again.” A person who is resurrected is raised up from death and restored to life as the person he was before.—1 Corinthians 15:12, 13.
Although the word “resurrection” is not in the Hebrew Scriptures, often called the Old Testament, the teaching appears there. Through the prophet Hosea, for example, God promised: “From the power of the Grave I will redeem them; from death I will recover them.”—Hosea 13:14; Job 14:13-15; Isaiah 26:19; Daniel 12:2, 13.
Where will people be resurrected? Some people are resurrected to life in heaven to rule as kings with Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:1; Revelation 5:9, 10) The Bible calls this “the first resurrection” and “the earlier resurrection,” both expressions implying that there is another resurrection to follow. (Revelation 20:6; Philippians 3:11) This later resurrection will be to life on earth, which the vast majority of those brought back to life will enjoy.—Psalm 37:29.
How are people resurrected? God grants Jesus the power to raise the dead. (John 11:25) Jesus will restore “all those in the memorial tombs” to life, each one with his unique identity, personality, and memories. (John 5:28, 29) Those resurrected to heaven receive a spirit body, while those resurrected to life on earth receive a healthy physical body, completely sound.—Isaiah 33:24; 35:5, 6; 1 Corinthians 15:42-44, 50.
Who will be resurrected? The Bible says that “there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Acts 24:15) The righteous include faithful people, such as Noah, Sarah, and Abraham. (Genesis 6:9; Hebrews 11:11; James 2:21) The unrighteous include those who failed to meet God’s standards but did not have the opportunity to learn and follow them.
However, those who become so wicked that they are beyond reform will not be resurrected. When such ones die, they suffer permanent destruction with no hope of a return to life.—Matthew 23:33; Hebrews 10:26, 27.
When will the resurrection take place? The Bible foretold that the resurrection to heaven would take place during Christ’s presence, which began in 1914. (1 Corinthians 15:21-23) The resurrection to life on earth will occur during the Thousand Year Reign of Jesus Christ, when the earth will be transformed into a paradise.—Luke 23:43; Revelation 20:6, 12, 13.
Why is belief in the resurrection reasonable? The Bible provides detailed accounts of nine resurrections, each confirmed by eyewitnesses. (1 Kings 17:17-24; 2 Kings 4:32-37; 13:20, 21; Luke 7:11-17; 8:40-56; John 11:38-44; Acts 9:36-42; Acts 20:7-12; 1 Corinthians 15:3-6) Jesus’ resurrection of Lazarus is especially noteworthy, since Lazarus had been dead for four days and Jesus performed the miracle before a crowd of people. (John 11:39, 42) Even those who opposed Jesus could not deny the facts of the matter, so instead they plotted to kill both Jesus and Lazarus.—John 11:47, 53; 12:9-11.
The Bible shows that God has both the ability and the desire to bring back the dead. He keeps in his limitless memory a detailed record of each person he will resurrect by means of his almighty power. (Job 37:23; Matthew 10:30; Luke 20:37, 38) God is able to restore the dead to life, and he wants to! Describing the coming resurrection, the Bible says of God: “You will long for the work of your hands.”—Job 14:15.
Misconceptions about the resurrection
Myth: The resurrection is a reuniting of the soul with the body.
Fact: The Bible teaches that the soul is the entire person, not some part that survives death. (Genesis 2:7, footnote; Ezekiel 18:4) A person who is resurrected is not reunited with his soul; he is recreated as a living soul.
Myth: Some people are resurrected and then immediately destroyed.
Fact: The Bible says that “those who practiced vile things” will receive “a resurrection of judgment.” (John 5:29) However, they will be judged based on what they do after they are resurrected, not before. Jesus said: “The dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who have paid attention will live.” (John 5:25) Those who ‘pay attention’ to, or obey, the things they learn after they are resurrected will have their names recorded in “the scroll of life.”—Revelation 20:12, 13.
Myth: When resurrected, a person receives exactly the same body that he had before he died.
Fact: After death, a person’s body would likely have broken down and disintegrated.—Ecclesiastes 3:19, 20.