10.5 The first resurrection

The only place in Holy Scripture where the expression "first resurrection" can be found is in Revelation 20: 5-6, where it is mentioned in conjunction with a significant beatitude: "Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power ..." Those who are praised here as blessed and holy–that is those who will be caught up to God at the return of Christ, and the martyrs from the great tribulation–are exempted from the Last Judgement.

In 1 Corinthians 15: 20, 22-24 Apostle Paul makes reference to the "order" in the resurrection of the dead: "But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. ... For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power."

Apostle Paul thus highlights three important aspects:

  • Christ was the first to resurrect. He is the firstfruits of those who will resurrect. All hope for the resurrection of the dead is founded upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

  • The resurrection "afterward" is promised to those who belong to Christ when He comes: at His return the dead in Christ will resurrect, and will then be caught up to God along with the transformed living souls (see 10.1.2). In connection with Christ's coming with power and great glory, the martyrs from the great tribulation are promised resurrection. These two events frame the first resurrection. The following applies to all those who partake in it: "... they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years" (Revelation 20: 6).

  • The "end" of which Apostle Paul speaks in 1 Corinthians 15: 24 is a reference to the Last Judgement. Before this, the general resurrection of the dead will take place.

See also