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Sixth Edition, 1915
By Dr. John Thomas (first edition written 1861)



Chapter 20

3. The First Resurrection


"Blessed and holy is he who hath part in THE FIRST RESURRECTION."


The spirit and life words uttered by the Father, say, "I am the Resurrection and the Life" (John 6:63; 11:25). Here are two distinct things, the Resurrection, anastasis, and "the Life," the zoe. The life pertains to the thousand years, styled in Dan. 7:18, ad-ahlmah, wead ahlam ahlmaiyah; and in the English Version, for ever, even for ever and ever: but literally "during the hidden period, even during a hidden period of the hidden periods, the Saints shall possess the kingdom". This preeminent hidden period is termed in Dan. 7:12, "a season and a set time;" it is the COURSE OF TIME which reaches to "the end," when the Saints shall deliver up the kingdom, as mediatorially constituted, to the Father. In John's report of the discourses of Christ Jesus, this hidden and future course of time is termed aion; and in the Apocalypse, revealed to be of a thousand years duration; and the things related to it, such as "the life," and the kingdom, are termed aionian. The formula in Dan. 7:18, is equivalent nearly to the Apocalyptic form of words hoi aiones ton aionon, the Aions of the Aions; to the commencement of which, the Beast and the False Prophet are to be tormented by the Saints "day and night" (Apoc. 20:10).

There are two remarkable Aions contained in Daniel's one hidden period, or Ahiam, which is sometimes pointed at by the addition of the words waed, and beyond. The two Aions are first, the course of a thousand years, or "season and set time;" and second, the indefinite and interminable period which circles its course coevally with the absence of death from the earth, as expressed in the phrase, "There shall be no more death" (ch. 21:4). The life which is aionian, belongs to these two courses of time; so that he who, living under the Mosaic Law, and in the Times of the Gentiles, is justified by faith, and through the faith (Rom. 3:30), and patiently continues in well-doing (Rom. 2:7), will attain to the life of the thousand years' period, and consequently, of the endless period which is beyond it. But those who come forth from their graves, and therefore live, but are commanded away to share in the torment of the Beast and False Prophet, "the Devil and his angels", are not permitted to enter upon the thousand years, and fail therefore of reaching Life in the Aion.

In that remarkable discourse recorded in John 6, the speaker says, "I am the bread which came down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread he shall live in the Aion"  eis ton aiona (Ver. 51,58); and inch. 4:14, "whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall not thirst in the Aion" - eis ton ajona. Hence, the reader will perceive, that it is not living by resurrection simply that determines a man's destiny; this depends upon the resurrected being "accounted worthy of the Aion:" if at the Judgment Seat, they are accounted worthy to obtain of that, they are quickened by the Spirit; and become the children of the Deity, and the children of the resurrection, and equal to the angels (Luke 20:35,36). Such will not die in the Aion; nor will they hunger or thirst any more (Apoc. 7:16).

"The hour is coming," saith Jesus, "in the which all who are in the graves shall come forth". This coming hour is Apocalyptically styled "The time of the Dead Ones that they should be judged". He informs us. that the all who are to live and come forth, will consist of two classes, characterized by their deeds in a previous life. The two classes come forth in the same hour; and are defined as "they who have done the good things;" and "they who have committed the evil things". These are all resurrected in the same hour; but they are nevertheless, not all the children of the resurrection; nor will they all be permitted to "live in the Aion". They all "come forth unto" something good or evil. Some of them come forth to a good thing  a good thing which they have not got when they come forth. This good thing is styled by Jesus, "a resurrection of life". The resurrected good saints do not attain to this "resurrection of life," until he hath heard and judged them, and "quickened whom he will:" for he saith, "as I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just".

But some of the resurrected come forth to an evil thing   an evil thing which they have not in possession when they come forth. This evil thing which is before them is termed by the judge, "a resurrection of condemnation". The resurrected evil doers do not attain to this "resurrection of condemnation" until they have been heard. They are allowed to state their own cases, and to make the best of them. Some will tell the judge that he is "a hard man, reaping where he hath not sown, and gathering where he has not strawed"; in other words, that he exacted more from his servants than he had a right to; and that, if they returned to him just what they had received from him, he ought to be satisfied, and account them honest and good. Others will claim admission into the life, glory, and kingdom of the Aion, because they have acknowledged him as Lord, and prophesied, or preached, in his name; and even done many wonderful works in it. But “in that day” he will declare to them, and to all such, that he never acknowledged them; and will command them, saying, “Depart from me, ye that work iniquity”. Here is a certain end to which they came forth from the graves; and it is this end to which they attain that characterizes their coming forth as “a resurrection of condemnation”. Hence, it will be perceived, that the aggregate coming forth of this mixed multitude is not “the First Resurrection;” for all the subjects of the first resurrection are “blessed and holy,” and cannot be funerealized by the Second Death: “upon these the second death hath no power; but they shall be priests of the Deity and of the Christ, and they shall reign with him a thousand years”. “He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the Second Death” (ch. 2:11). All such living ones believing the doctrine of Christ, “shall not die in the Aion” (John 11:26).

It will be seen, therefore, that this mixed multitude comes forth at the same hour, for two separate and distinct ends, or destinies — the one sort, to die again, and reap of the flesh corruption, before the Aion of the Thousand Years begins; the other sort, to be “clothed upon with their house from heaven,” (when all “the mortal” in their grave-developed nature, will be “swallowed up of life,”) and to live in the Aion and beyond, possessing the kingdom of the Aion, with eternal glory. Hence, this mixed multitude is separated into two resurrections, for a short time contemporary the one with the other. The one resurrection consists of all the just who have emerged from the graves; the other resurrection, of all the unjust who have “come forth”. The just and unjust are all mixed up together in their coming forth; hence the necessity of some arrangement whereby the two classes may be respectively separated the one from the other. This is provided for in the institution of the Judgment Seat of Christ in Teman. Before this, patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and saints, whether good or bad, great or small, are all to be gathered for manifestation. Through the account each will be able to render of himself, it will appear who he is, and what he is (Rom. 14:10,12). The judge hears, that he may judge; and according to what he hears from each, so will he decide, making the words and principles of the open books the standard whereby the things laid before him will be determined to be right or wrong, good or bad. All this John saw in vision; and taking his stand at the opening of the Millennial Aion, when the Second Death had been consummated, he says, “I saw the dead, small and great, who had stood before the Deity, and books had been opened; and another book had been opened, which is of the life; and the dead had been judged out of the things which had been written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea had given up the dead in it, and death and the grave had given up the dead in them; and every one had been judged according to his deeds” (ch. 20:12,13). This is nearly parallel with what is written in ch. 11:18, “the time of the dead hath come, that they should be judged, and that the reward be given to thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and to them who fear thy name, both small and great”. This testimony states, that the time had arrived for the judgment to “begin at the House of Deity;” and to give the promised reward to the approved: and the passage in ch. 20, declares that the work had been accomplished with diversified results.

These diverse results of the judgment of the Divine household according to the deeds of its members, in the light of the things written, is thus stated Apocalyptically. “In a great house,” says Paul, “there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor and some to dishonor” (2 Tim. 2:20). So it is with the great house of the Deity. Inch. 20:14, the vessels of wood and of earth, the earthy vessels that come forth from the unclean charnel-house of the dead; and who are not accounted worthy of promotion to honor; and therefore remain in the earthiness with which they come forth; are symbolically represented by the phrase, “Death and the Invisible”, ho thanatos kai ho hades. This represents them collectively. The several classes of character comprised in this dishonorable and unworthy crowd, who, at the judgment, had been refused permission to “eat of the Tree of Life, and to enter through the gates into the City” (ch. 22:14) are styled in ch. 21:8, “the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers and idolators, and all liars;” and in ch. 22:15, “without the city are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolators, and whosoever loveth and inventeth a lie”. These are the characters who are the children of Death and the Grave; and have no part in the Life of the Aion. The fearful and unbelieving are a numerous class of professors of godliness, “who say Lord, Lord”, but neither believe what he says, nor do what he commands them. They acknowledge their ignorance of the prophetic writings; but refuse to be taught by them who are able to enlighten them. Jesus says, “I say unto you, that every injurious word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in a day of judgment: for by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Matt. 12:36); but the unbelieving, who love and invent lies, when their attention is directed to these words, reject them; and say they “don’t believe a word of it”. They say, that there is no judgment for the saints when they have come forth from the graves; and that the only judgment day for them is the time of their existence between immersion and death. In this time, they would have the simple believe, they are standing before the tribunal of Christ and giving an account of themselves; and that at death the account closes: so that in their coming forth from the charnel-house of corruption, sentence is executed; and they will know their acceptance before they even see Christ! Such is the latest invention in the department of lies, which the inventors, with good words and fair speeches, seek to impose upon the hearts of the simple.

But to these unbelieving lovers of lies, though they may say Lord, Lord, and prophesy in his name, Jesus says, “he that receiveth not my words, hath that which judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day”. To receive his words is to “believe on him”. They do not believe on him who receive not his words; but of them who do, he saith, “I will raise him up at the last day”. This shows that judgment by the Word is to be in the day of resurrection: concerning which Paul saith, in Rom. 2:12, “as many as have sinned without law shall perish without law; and as many as have sinned under law shall be judged through law in the day when the Deity shall judge the secret things of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel”. These sayings of Christ Jesus and Paul, expound the Apocalyptic idea of “the dead” being “judged out of those things written in the books, according to their deeds”.

“Death and the Grave,” then, represent those who come forth from the house of corruption, are tried before Christ “the Judge of all,” found guilty of cowardice, faithlessness, devotion to lies, and so forth, and are condemned. Though they “come forth” in the same “hour of judgment” with all well-doers, they are not “the first resurrection;” but simply heirs of the inheritance styled “Death and the Grave,” whence they came, and to which they are consigned again with shame, and the contempt of angels, and of those whose honor and privilege it is to “eat of the Tree of Life, and to enter through the gates into the city” (Dan. 12:2; Apoc. 3:5; Matt. 10:33; Luke 12:9).

The result of this denial before the Father, the angels, and the unreprovable (Col. 1:22), will be a terrible consummation of contempt. Not having kept their garments, they walk naked in shame (Apoc. 16:13), they “depart from” before the Judgment Seat with “weeping and gnashing of teeth,” and are cast into the lake of fire, which is to them the second death. This disposal of them is Apocalyptically represented by the saying, “Death and the Grave were cast into the lake of fire. This is the Second Death”. Others are also cast in the same lake, who had never died before. Such are the rejected vessels of wood and of earth in the House of Christ living in the time of his appearing; together with the worshippers of the Beast and his Image, and the receivers of the sign upon their foreheads, and in their hands; in short, all who have not been found written in the book of the life of the Aion; all these are cast into the lake of fire with the Devil and his Angels: so that the same fire becomes the first death to those who do not survive its judicial torments.

Perceiving, then, that “the First Resurrection” does not consist of the indiscriminate mingled people, who come forth from the graves in the hour of judgment; we proceed now to attend to what John declares the first resurrection is. He says, “I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded on account of the testimony of Jesus, and on account of the word of the Deity, and who had not worshipped the beast, nor his image, and had not received the sign upon their forehead and upon their hand; and they lived . . . This is the First Resurrection”, that is, the first resurrection consists of those who “come forth to a resurrection of life;” of the 144,000 redeemed from the earth, having the Lamb’s Father’s Name written in their foreheads; of the redeemed from among men, THE FIRST FRUITS unto the Deity and to the Lamb; in whose mouth is found no guile, and who are without fault before the throne of the Deity (Apoc. 14). These virgins, undefiled by the ecclesiastical woman of the Laodicean Apostasy — the Mother of Harlots, the State Harlots, and Nonconformist, or Dissenting, Abominations of the earth — with lamps well trimmed with the oil of the Truth (Matt. 25:4,7), together with the living who remain, and though mortal do not die (1 Thess. 4:17; 1 Cor. 15:51), these all, being “the firstfruits unto the Deity,” are apocalyptically styled “the First Resurrection”. It is not so styled in relation to a second or third resurrection; but because it is THE RESURRECTION OF THE FIRSTFRUITS. “Christ is the firstfruits; afterwards they that are Christ’s in his presence” — en ten parousia autou; and are “planted in the likeness of his resurrection” (Rom. 6:5) are resurrection-firstfruits also; and not only live, as “Death and the Grave” live before they are cast into the lake of fire; but, their names having been written in the book of the life of the Aion from the foundation of the world (ch. 13:8; 17:8), “they reign with Christ a thousand years”. Therefore “blessed and holy is he that hath part in the Firstfruits-Resurrection: on such the Second Death hath no power; but they shall be priests of the Deity and of the Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.




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