20.6.1. Births, Deaths, and Resurrections

Scripture knows of two births, two deaths, and two resurrections. Everyone is physically born once. Those who do not undergo the second birth, the spiritual birth, also undergo the second death which is the permanent separation from God with eternal torment.

Participation in Births, Deaths, and Resurrections
EventUnbelieverBelieverDescription
Born AgainNoYes The first birth is physical birth. The second birth is spiritual and occurs when a person comes to faith in Jesus Christ.1 Only believers are “born twice.”
1st DeathYesYesThe first death occurs at the end of one’s physical life.
1st ResurrectionNoYes The first resurrection is a category and occurs in stages, beginning with the resurrection of Christ (1Cor. 1Cor. 15:20) and ending with the resurrection just prior to the Millennial Kingdom (Rev. Rev. 20:5-6+). Only believers participate in the first resurrection.2 See Order of Resurrection.
2nd ResurrectionYesNo The second resurrection occurs at the end of the Millennial Kingdom at the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. Rev. 20:11-13+). Only unbelievers participate in the second resurrection. See Order of Resurrection.
2nd DeathYesNoThe second death is after the Millennium and the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. Rev. 20:14-15+). As there is eternal life beyond this present life for the faithful, so there is eternal death beyond the death of the wicked.3 The second death is commonly known as hell.4

When a person is born again (John John 3:3-7; 1Pe. 1Pe. 1:23; 1Jn. 1Jn. 2:29; 1Jn. 3:9; 1Jn. 5:1, 1Jn. 5:18), he will only undergo the first death, but the second death has no power over him: “though he may die [the first death], he shall live [be resurrected never to face the second death]” (John John 11:25b).


Notes

1 Luke Luke 15:24, Luke 15:32; John John 3:3, John 3:7; Gal. Gal. 6:15; 1Pe. 1Pe. 1:3, 1Pe. 1:23; 1Jn. 1Jn. 2:29; 1Jn. 3:9; 1Jn. 5:1, 1Jn. 5:18.

2 “The order of events in the resurrection program would be: (1) the resurrection of Christ as the beginning of the resurrection program (1Cor. 1Cor. 15:23); (2) the resurrection of the church age saints at the rapture (1Th. 1Th. 4:16); (3) the resurrection of the tribulation period saints (Rev. Rev. 20:3-5+), together with (4) the resurrection of Old Testament saints (Dan. Dan. 12:2; Isa. Isa. 26:19) at the second advent of Christ to the earth; and finally (5) the final resurrection of the unsaved dead [the second resurrection] (Rev. Rev. 20:5+, Rev. 20:11-14+) at the end of the millennial age. The first four stages would all be included in the first resurrection.”—J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1958), 411.

3 “As there is a life beyond this present life for the faithful, so a death beyond the death which falls under our eye for the wicked.”—Richard Chenevix Trench, Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1861), 111.

4 The King James Version translates both Hades and Gehenna—the Lake of Fire—as hell. They are actually two different places. The final destiny of the unsaved is the latter, an existence of eternal punishment: “ ‘Vita damnatorum mors est,’ [death is a life of punishment] is the fearful gloss of Augustine.”—Ibid.