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In the Gospel of John, Christ tells us the following:

John 5:28-29: “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, 29and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment."

The resurrection of life is stated in 1 Cor. 15:53 as a resurrection that is imperishable in an immortal body. However, do we know this is true regarding those who are lost — that they too will receive "imperishable, immortal" bodies? In other words, how does "resurrection of judgment" imply any bodily resurrection at all?

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    What is the biblical context of 'lost'?
    – steveowen
    Aug 10, 2021 at 6:20
  • @user48152 Thanks for the question. I'm referring to those who have never accepted Christ, have not obeyed the Gospel, and are eternally lost.
    – Xeno
    Aug 10, 2021 at 16:21

5 Answers 5

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Not that particular passage of scripture, no. There are others that imply a body of some sorts. Take Jesus' words in Matthew 5:28-30. There he says it would be better for someone not to have a lustful eye, or not to have a right hand doing something sinful, than for their whole body to be cast into hell. Now, if hell was merely the grave, that warning would make no sense, for all corpses are dead bodies, whether ravaged or intact. And corpses feel, see and know nothing. Jesus is warning about a body being in hell.

Then he told us more about a body being in hell, when a rich man died and found himself in torments in hell. This was contrasted with a beggar called Lazarus dying and finding himself in bliss in what Jewish people called "the bosom of Abraham". In Luke 16:19-31 Jesus was not speaking of the rich man's now-dead physical body being in hell. That was mouldering in the grave, where there is no knowing, or working, or thinking or anything going on except decay (Ecclesiastes 9:5). But chapter 12 concludes that, at death, "the spirit returns to God who gave it". And then comes the accounting or, the judgment. The whole of that last chapter of Ecclesiastes is clear about such an event after the spirit of the deceased has returned to God. But there is no mention of a body. The New Testament reveals more about that.

2 Corinthians chapter 15 is far too long to quote here, but needs to be read in its entirety to discover that, just as there is a physical body, so there is a spiritual body. Verse 35 asks the question: "How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?" The answer is:

"God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. All flesh is not the same flesh...So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body."

Now, some might say that Paul is addressing those who will be raised to eternity in heaven; they will not receive an adverse judgment. And you are asking about those who are lost - those who will be judged adversely. Well, notice how, years before John received the visions of the Revelation, Paul used wording used by John in connection with the Day of Judgment - "...at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed" (vs. 52).

Revelation chapter 11 deals with when that last trump (trumpet) sounds, when God's judgment is given, and chapter 20:10-15 details ALL the dead being raised to stand before God (just as Jesus said in John 5:28 that ALL in the graves shall come forth). This includes the lost, for hell has to give up those in it, to stand before God. The emptied hell, and death, are cast last of all into the sulphuric lake of fire where Satan and his hordes already are, and where the lost are also cast. Link in 1 Corinthians chapter 15 and this is where resurrection bodies are given to all who are raised, and all are raised, and all those who were in hell find themselves standing before God prior to be judged as going into that lake of fire (Rev. 20:10 and 14:11).

That is when death is swallowed up in victory (1 Cor. 15:53-57), after all the dead have been raised, "When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality" (NIV). That word, 'clothed' gives the sense of the spirit being clothed with an immortal body - a body that can never perish. And, as the lost find themselves in eternal torments in that lake of fire, whatever spiritual body was given to clothe their departed spirit with, it is one that lasts forever, in that awful place, or condition.

We are not told what a resurrection body will be like, only that it is of a different kind to that of mortal bodies. Jesus' resurrection body could both function on earth (eating, drinking, walking etc) and do supernatural things while on earth, and be raised up into the sky till clouds hid him from sight. We don't need to know what the resurrection body will be like. We will all find out on the Day of Judgment. All we need to know is that we pass over from judgment to eternal life, by the grace of God, before the last trump sounds and it's too late to repent.

Concluding Details: Related to this is the occasion when Lazarus had been dead for four days when Jesus arrived. Martha said she believed that her brother would live again in the resurrection at the last day (John 11:14-45). Then Jesus brought Lazarus back to physical life, with a physical body, but not the resurrection body that will be given him at the last day, because Lazarus died again, physically. Yet Jesus raised a visible body back to life, not a spirit, so all the witnesses to that would think of the resurrection in terms of a tangible body. Now, you only ask about the resurrection of the lost, and Lazarus was certainly not part of that group! But here's the point: the Bible never speaks of two different types of resurrection bodies at the last day. Whatever kind of body it is, it will be enabled to live in eternity, either in heaven or in that eternally burning lake of fire. We have reason to think the resurrection body is one kind of body, though some bodies will live in heaven, while others will experience torment in that sulphuric lake.

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The "resurrection to Judgement" is spelled out in more detail in other places:

  • 2 Thess 1:6-10 - God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.

See also Eze 18:4, 20, 24, Mal 4:1, 3 showing that the wicked will be destroyed, as well as:

  • Ps 37:20 - But the wicked will perish: Though the LORD’s enemies are like the flowers of the field, they will be consumed, they will go up in smoke.
  • Ps 92:7 - that though the wicked spring up like grass and all evildoers flourish, they will be destroyed forever.
  • Matt 10:28 - Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
  • Phil 3:19 - Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.

Thus, it appears that when the wicked are resurrected, they will be far from "imperishable" because they will perish and be destroyed.

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There are multiple doctrinal views concerning the concept of hell. Dottard presented the view of annihilationism with its supporting scriptures.

There is also the traditional view. In this case, hell is a place of endless, conscious punishment for sin. This punishment is sometimes interpreted literally (physical torment) and sometimes metaphorically (a state of being, spiritual suffering, separation from God). Jesus spoke in Matthew 25:46

“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

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  • Thanks for that. There may be at least 2 ways of looking at this. 1) The rich man in Hades seemed to possess bodily attributes: eyes, finger, hand, tongue... How these were expressed seems unclear (perhaps metaphorical). 2) If my hypothesis is correct and demons are the spirits of lost humans, we know that demons forever seek human hosts to possess: they need some bodily form to manifest themselves. What's unclear (to me) is that "resurrection to judgment" suggests any form of bodily resurrection, contrary to the saved. Hopefully I've not overwhelmed you with these thoughts of my own.
    – Xeno
    Aug 10, 2021 at 17:31
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Does the lost's “resurrection to judgment” (Jn. 5:28-29) imply any sort of bodily resurrection at all?

Heavenly Resurrection- The first resurrection

The scriptures say that there are two resurrections. First, there is the resurrection to heavenly life.

1 Corinthians 15:53 NASB

53 For this [a]perishable must put on [b]the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.

John 14:2 NASB

2 In My Father’s house are many [a]rooms; if that were not so, [b]I would have told you, because I am going there to prepare a place for you.

1 Peter 1:3-4 NASB

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,

Second resurrection -On Earth;

Second, there is the resurrection “of both the righteous and the unrighteous” with the opportunity to gain everlasting life on the earth.​ (Acts 24:15.)

John 5:28-29 NASB

28 Do not be amazed at this; for [a]a time is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, 29 and will come out: those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the bad deeds to a resurrection of judgment.

Similarly, Revelation 20:13 reads:

Revelation 20:13 NASB

13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them; and they were judged, each one of them according to their deeds.

How does "resurrection of judgment" imply any bodily resurrection at all?

During the period of a thousand years (Rev. 20:5 NET), the dead will be resurrected and given an opportunity to join faithful servants of God. How will they be Judged? If they were to be judged by their past deeds, they could be judged whilst they were in the grave and so there will be no need for a resurrection. The resurrected will be given a clean slate and will be judged according to their future deeds, free from the influence of Satan. The Bible says that not all humans will be resurrected, those are the dead in Gehenna (Luke 12:5 YTL)

God promises to heal all diseases, wickedness, and crime will be gone:

Psalm 103:3 NET

3 He is the one who forgives all your sins, who heals all your diseases,[a] Wickedness, crime, and violence will be gone.

Psalm 37:10-11 NASB

10 Yet a little while and the wicked person will be no more; And you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there. 11 But the humble will inherit the land And will delight themselves in abundant prosperity.

Psalm 72:16, NET. No food shortages.

16 May there be[a] an abundance[b] of grain in the earth;on the tops[c] of the mountains may it[d] sway.[e] May its[f] fruit trees[g] flourish[h] like the forests of Lebanon.[i] May its crops[j] be as abundant[k] as the grass of the earth.

Isaiah 65:21-24 The earth will become a paradise, Compare Isaiah 11:6-9, 33:24 . 35;5-6

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Does “resurrection of judgment” imply bodily resurrection at all (Jn. 5:28-29)?

Short Answer: Not necessarily (although likely based on 1 Cor. 15:52).

Perhaps we should first differentiate between the human spirit and the human body because a great deal of confusion arises when discussing the death of the body. Each and every one of us is destined to physically return to the dust of the ground:

Genesis 3:19: "By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return."

God pronounced a universal curse on all humanity. Surprisingly, many seem to believe that we will forever retain our current physical form upon our transcendence into heaven. But that is unbiblical, just as the verse above demonstrates. We will all return to dust.

However, this is not true of our spiritual makeup — our mind and consciousness, our "inner person" as described by the apostle Paul:

2 Corinthians 4:16: "Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man [physical body] is decaying [and will die], yet our inner man [our spirit] is being renewed day by day" (emphasis added).

In the New Testament, we are told that the saved will receive imperishable, immortal bodies (1 Cor. 15:53, 1 Pet. 1:4, 23, etc.). Let us review the passage in question by the OP:

John 5:28-29: "Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, 29and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment" (emphasis added).

Resurrection to life is the same as Paul describes elsewhere, a real, immortal, spiritual resurrection (however we interpret that):

1 Corinthians 15:50-53: "Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality."

Suppose we break down what Paul has said:

1. Flesh and blood, our current form, cannot inherit spiritual life.
2. Flesh and blood is perishable: it decays and will return to the dust.

Note that the spirit, our intellectual being, does not do this.

3. The saved ("we" vs. 51) will all be changed at death and raised imperishable.
4. Our current, perishable constitution must put on an imperishable, immortal body.

There is a hint here, that the lost (those lost forever, separated from God) might also receive immortal bodies. In verse 52, Paul does not appear to distinguish between the saved and the lost when he writes, "the dead will be raised imperishable, and we [the saved] will be changed." Notice that the apostle refers to those "raised imperishable and we will be changed".

If we are to understand anything, we need to understand this: "the dead" are those who physically perished (all of us eventually). Our spirit does not reside in a grave because that is death, and is a direct contradiction to Christ's promise:

John 8:51: "[If] anyone keeps My word he will never see death" (emphasis added).

John 11:26: "[Everyone] who lives and believes in Me will never die” (emphasis added).

Scripture often refers to those who have physically died as having "fallen asleep". The following passages are only a fraction of the many describing death as "sleep":

Matthew 27:52              Luke 8:52         1 Thessalonians 4:13-15, 5:10    
Acts 7:60, 13:36           2 Peter 3:4       1 Corinthians 15:6, 18, 20, 51
Daniel 12:2, 13            Psalm 13:3        Isaiah 26:19

Why does Scripture do this? Because our physical body is biblically referred to as "tent," or "vessel," or "dwelling," or any number of other terms used to portray the body as a temporary receptacle for our spirit. God is not as concerned about the outcome of our physical makeup — but He is intensely interested in our spiritual being!

Perhaps it might be helpful to think of what it means to be separated from God eternally. Elsewhere, we have determined that our "goodness" — all of it, comes from God. Without that goodness, Christ describes our wretched condition in the Gospel of Mark:

Mark 7:21-22: "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness."

If that isn't enough, suppose we consider that which is written in the Letter to the Romans:

Romans 1:29-31: "[The godless,] being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful;"

If God has withdrawn all goodness from us at death, precisely what remains of who we once were based on Mark and Romans? Is this not as close a description as we ever find of a demon — a being without the slightest redeeming qualities at all? This may be exactly what we all are without the goodness of God, rather than the "nice people" we generally tend to think we are.

Now, if such an ugly creature does receive an immortal body, it must last throughout eternity in the flames of Hell. It must somehow be able to endure unfathomable torture in that unspeakable realm of horror. Without question, it must be a spiritual body to do this.

Perhaps we cannot know if the lost receive immortal bodies based on John 5:28-29. However, 1 Corinthians 15:52 does seem to imply that they do. Whether it is imperishable as well seems hard to say, but it will be defiled on a scale beyond human imagination in any case!

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