Question: I understand that Christians will receive their
resurrection bodies at the rapture. Does this include the Old Testament
saints? For unbelievers, is it after the 1,000 year kingdom? At what
point in time will believers who die during the seven year Tribulation
When we die, our souls depart
for either heaven or hell, and our bodies remain here. When Christians
die, they meet the Lord here, in heaven, or in the
. . . we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather
to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. (NASB) 2
When we speak of resurrection, we are referring to the body's returning
to life on some future day. When the body does return to life, it will
For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and
this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have
put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality
. . . (NASB) 1 Cor. 15:53-54
There are four major resurrections in the scriptures. Two of them occur
before the Tribulation and two occur after.
Before The Tribulation. The first major resurrection has already occurred.
It occurred just after Jesus' death. The Apostle Matthew tells us that
many of the Old Testament saints were resurrected and walked around Jerusalem.
. . . and the tombs were opened; and many bodies of
the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs
after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many.
(NASB) Matt. 27:52-53
I can just imagine how the people in Jerusalem reacted. Many must have
finally understood who Jesus was when they saw their dead relatives,
or maybe their once notable citizens, walking around.
major resurrection will be the rapture. At that time those believers
in Jesus who had previously died will have their bodies resurrected and
united with their spirits in heaven (1 Thess 4:14-16). Their dead bodies
will return to life and be transformed into an immortal body. These immortal
bodies will be perfect (1 Cor. 15:51-52). 2 Co. 5:1-4 helps us understand
that there will be a time delay before we receive our resurrection bodies.
For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down,
we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in
the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed
with our dwelling from heaven . . . For indeed while we are in this tent,
we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed, but
to be clothed, in order that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
(NASB) 2 Cor. 5:1-4
When Paul says that he does not want to be unclothed, he appears to
be referring to the time that his spirit will not have a body. At the
rapture all of remaining the Old and New Testament saints who died will
also be resurrected. The prophet Daniel predicted that this would occur
when he said the following,
And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there
was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone
who is found written in the book, will be rescued. And many of those
who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting
life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt. (NASB) Dan.
Daniel predicted that the Old Testament saints would be resurrected
at a time of great distress.
The Tribulation. At the end
of the Tribulation, Jesus Christ will return with those who have been
resurrected and the souls of all the saints whose bodies were not resurrected
(Rev. 19:11-15). After He defeats the armies of the Anti-Christ (Rev.
19:19-21), Jesus then resurrects all of the bodies of those Christians
who died during the Tribulation. Revelation 20:4 includes the Tribulation
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given to them.
And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony
of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped
the beast or his image, and had not received the mark upon their forehead
and upon their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for
a thousand years. (NASB) Rev. 20:4
The final resurrection is for the non-Christians. These men and women
will unfortunately go to the Lake of Fire. There they will suffer forever.
Conclusion:When will the Old Testament saints
be resurrected? The answer is actually given in the Old Testament in
Daniel 12:1-2. These saints receive their bodies after the Tribulation
is over. it is important to remember that these souls are already in
heaven enjoying God. What a great joy it will be to be with God!