Resurrection and Redemption

Central to the biblical doctrine of salvation is the promise of redemption. God will not abandon what He first created. The term signifies the recovery of that which was lost. The universe has been enslaved by sin and condemned to decay and death. All living creatures die eventually. However, in the redemptive plans of the Creator, the end state of the things and creatures redeemed by Him will be vastly superior to their original state. This idea is epitomized especially in the bodily resurrection of the righteous.

Until Jesus arrives, his Church must focus on preaching the Gospel to all nations. This is the task Jesus assigned to his Church between his ascension and the moment of his return “on the clouds of Heaven” when he will dispatch his angels to “gather his elect” from even the “uttermost parts of the Earth” – (Matthew 24:14, 13:36-43, 24:29-31, Acts 1:6-8, 2:36-39).

Rainbow life - Photo by Jonny Gios on Unsplash
[Photo by Jonny Gios on Unsplash]

The “
end” will not come until his people complete this mission, the factor that will determine the timing of that final day and trigger the “arrival” or ‘Parousia’ of Jesus.

Since his Church must bear witness to all men, allowing it to be destroyed or physically removed from the Earth before his “arrival” is not an option. Without the presence of his Church, there will be no light for humanity to behold, and Jesus will not allow the “gates of Hell” to overwhelm his Church.

When Paul discussed the future hope of the saints in Corinth, he based it on the past death and resurrection of Jesus. Their salvation was not achieved through his sacrificial death alone, but also through his resurrection from the dead - (1 Corinthians 15:3-4, 20-23).

The New Testament teaches redemption, not abandonment, rescue, not annihilation. Salvation will be actualized fully when the righteous dead are raised bodily to “meet” Jesus as he descends from Heaven.

Not only will dead believers be resurrected, but those who are still alive will be transformed. The fact that faithful followers of Jesus are still on the Earth at that moment demonstrates that his Church will still be in existence and functioning on the Earth. At his “arrival,” both dead and living saints will receive immortal bodies (“For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality”).

Paul consistently locates the resurrection and transformation of believers on the day Jesus “arrives.” In his first Letter to the Thessalonians, for example, he reassures the Assembly about the fate of their dead compatriots, which is why he stresses their future bodily resurrection.

All dead saints will be raised and thereafter participate in the glories of this final day. All members of the congregation, both the living and the resurrected, will meet Jesus. It will mean both individual and collective salvation, an all-or-nothing event - (e.g., 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, 1 Corinthians 15:20-28).

The passage in 1 Thessalonians does not state whether Jesus will take his saints back to “heaven” after meeting them “in the air.” It only ends with the declaration: “Thus will we be with the Lord forevermore.” This will be the day when he gathers his “elect…from one end of Heaven to the other” - (Matthew 24:31, 1 Thessalonians 4:18).


When interpreting this picture, the larger context must be kept in view. In the next chapter, Paul warns that the unprepared will be overtaken by that day, “like a thief in the night.” It will be the “Day of the Lord,” an event associated in Scripture with the judicial punishment of the wicked.

In his second Letter to the Thessalonians, Paul declares that when Jesus is “revealed from heaven,” the righteous will be vindicated but the unrighteous will receive “everlasting destruction.” Both events will occur at that time - (2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

In the Bible, Jesus is always “coming” on the last day, never “going.” When any physical direction is described, he is coming “from Heaven” and descending to the Earth - (Matthew 16:27, 24:30, 25:31, 26:64, Acts 1:11, 1 Corinthians 15:23, Revelation 1:7).

The most comprehensive list of final events is found in 1t Corinthians when Paul corrects false teachings about the resurrection - (1 Corinthians 15:20-28, 50-57).

The “arrival of Jesus from Heaven” will result in the cessation of death, the resurrection of the dead, the final subjugation of all hostile powers, the consummation of the Kingdom, and the transformation of those saints who are still alive from mortality to immortality.

The resurrection will mean the termination of death itself, and believers will be physically changed. This is the same scenario presented in 1 Thessalonians. The point is not the removal of the Church from the Earth, but the resurrection and transformation of its members, both dead and living.

That day will result in the separation of the righteous from the unrighteous. It will mean great joy for the prepared, but shame and punishment for the unprepared. The old creation will be dissolved, but it will be replaced by the “New Heavens and the New Earth” - (Matthew 13:30. 25:13, 25:31-46, 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10, 2 Peter 3:10-11).

The last day will be characterized by its finality. Death will cease, the old creation will disappear, both resurrected and transformed believers will be with the Lord, and the unrighteous will receive “everlasting” destruction - (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10, 2 Thessalonians 2:5-10).

Rainbow Panorama - Photo by Andi Kleeli on Unsplash
[Rainbow Photo by Andi Kleeli on Unsplash]

Salvation does not mean deserting the original creation, but its metamorphosis. It will include
resurrection and New Creation. The Gospel is about redemption. Already, the universe is “groaning” in anticipation of the resurrection of the “Sons of God” and the “restoration of all things” that it will produce - (Romans 8:19-25, 2 Peter 3:10).

The city of New Jerusalem will descend from Heaven to the Earth, and everyone who has been redeemed by Jesus will live forevermore in his presence free of all sorrow, suffering, and death.

  • Final Events - (In writing to the Corinthians, Paul outlines the events that will occur at or shortly before the arrival or ‘Parousia’ of Jesus on the Day of Christ)
  • Absent Church? - (The vision of John being summoned to Heaven is not a portrayal of the rapture of the Church)
  • The Death of Death - (When Jesus arrives in glory, the righteous dead will be raised and the Last Enemy, Death, will be overthrown)



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Language of the New Testament