Deaths and Resurrections

This post will be a sort of work in progress for me as I think through my position on Revelation 20 in relation to the two deaths and the two resurrections. My position might easily change, but this is what I currently think. I have found, through emailing Dr. Fowler White, that this is the Augustinian position. My understanding of it has definitely been shaped by Dr. White’s own work.

There are two deaths. The first death is the death of the body, and the second death is the death of the soul while both body and soul are in agony in Hell (this needs to be qualified by the fact that the unbeliever’s soul is always dead throughout life, death, and the resurrection of the body). There are two resurrections. The first resurrection is of the soul (this is identical to regeneration, which Paul describes in Ephesians 2 with resurrection language), the second resurrection is of the body, reuniting the body with the soul (though not automatically specifying which eternal destiny results).

The first death (of the body) that Adam and Eve brought upon themselves in the Garden of Eden established a link to the second death, in addition to securing the perpetual death of the unbelievers’ souls. For natural unsaved humanity, the first death leads to the second death. That link is what Christ came to break. Jesus simultaneously established a link between the first and second resurrection while breaking the link between the first and the second death. This new link is a guaranteed link, and it guarantees two things: it guarantees the second resurrection and, even more importantly, freedom from the second death (this is what Revelation 20:6 is talking about, according to Augustine). At the second resurrection, of course, believers are freed from the first death as well. So the first resurrection frees us directly from the second death and, through its guarantee of the second resurrection, frees us indirectly from the first death.

Lastly (and this is most directly influenced by Dr. White’s work), both resurrections have a certain irony to them. The first resurrection has this irony for the believer: it does not free him from experiencing the first death. It promises eventual emancipation, but not immediate freedom. The second resurrection has a mirror image irony: it does not free the unbeliever from the second death.

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16 Comments

  1. truthunites said,

    March 13, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    “For natural unsaved humanity, the first second leads to the second death.”

    You meant to say this, right? “For natural unsaved humanity, the first death leads to the second death.”

    Q: When you die the first death, where does your soul go? Does it go to Heaven right away?

  2. greenbaggins said,

    March 13, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    Thanks for the catch. I have fixed it. As to your question, I would say that the souls of believers go to heaven after death, which is NOT the eternal state. The souls of unbelievers go to Hell.

  3. Alan D. Strange said,

    March 14, 2014 at 8:45 am

    I think that you are spot on, Lane.

    I imbibed and embraced such teaching many years ago from, among others, P.E. Hughes, when Fowler and I were both still students at WTS. So while I did not learn this from Fowler, I do appreciate Fowler’s work in this area as an NT scholar and the particular insights that he has brought to these matters.

  4. Logan Almy said,

    March 14, 2014 at 9:16 am

    Lane, what are your thoughts re the Amill view that ‘the first resurrection’ does not refer to regeneration per se but to the regenerate ‘coming to life’ in the intermediate state to reign with Christ throughout the church age?

  5. greenbaggins said,

    March 14, 2014 at 9:31 am

    I think it is a bit unlikely that this is the precise meaning. The intermediate state is really not one of life, but rather death. The regenerate come to life at their regeneration spiritually, and then reign with Christ from the time of their regeneracy through the intermediate state, and on into the new heavens and the new earth.

  6. Ron said,

    March 14, 2014 at 9:54 am

    For what it’s worth, I might refine all this just a tad. I would say that the believer’s part in the first resurrection pertains to his existential union with Christ who is the first resurrection from the dead. In other words, Christ’s resurrection is the first fruits of a single harvest in which we participate in an already-not-yet manner. Our introduction into this participation is through regeneration. So, although our first resurrection in Christ cannot be separated from regeneration it can be distinguished in this way.

  7. rfwhite said,

    March 18, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    greenbaggins and 3 Alan Strange: you are both kind to express your appreciation. Now if only Greg Beale, who prefers Kline’s view, had appreciated Augustine’s wisdom! (I tease, of course.)

    6 Ron: I agree with your point. There is a certain combination of metaphors at work in the relationship between regeneration and resurrection. It is striking that the Gospel of John uses both regeneration (John 3) and resurrection (John 5) to describe the transition from death to life, with resurrection applied to both the inner man and the outer man. I take it that Rev 20 builds on the two resurrections (i.e., of the inner man and the outer man) in John 5.

  8. March 18, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    Pastor Lane,

    What books would you recommend on the Olivet Discourse? I’m getting ready to preach on Mark 13. Thanks!

    Joseph

  9. greenbaggins said,

    March 18, 2014 at 8:52 pm

    Joseph, actually Sam Storms’s book is incredibly helpful on the Olivet Discourse, imo.

    Dr. White, how come Sam Storms went with Kline’s view and not Augustine’s? Did you ever discuss it with him?

  10. rfwhite said,

    March 19, 2014 at 10:02 am

    9 greenbaggins: My understanding of the reason Sam went with Kline over Augustine is because he believes that “the first resurrection” describes the saints’ entrance into the intermediate state at death.

  11. truthunites said,

    March 19, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    Lane: “As to your question, I would say that the souls of believers go to heaven after death, which is NOT the eternal state.”

    Hi Lane,

    What’s the eternal state for believers?

  12. greenbaggins said,

    March 20, 2014 at 9:46 am

    The eternal state is the resurrected, glorified-body state, where the (glorified) body and soul are reunited, and we live in the new earth with no veil between heaven and earth.

  13. greenbaggins said,

    March 20, 2014 at 9:48 am

    Dr. White, a question, then. I usually understand the entrance into the intermediate state to be another way of describing death, not coming to life. I don’t see the Bible elsewhere calling the entrance into the intermediate state being described as life or resurrection. So aren’t Storms, Kline, etc., on this point doing the exact same thing they accuse the premils of doing regarding the 1,000 year period in Revelation 20 (i.e., using the apocalyptic tail to wag the rest-of-the-Bible dog)?

  14. rfwhite said,

    March 20, 2014 at 11:57 am

    13 greenbaggins: I wouldn’t characterize what Storms and Kline do in that way. As I see it, they are assigning a referent for the verb “come to life” and the noun “resurrection” that is different from the referent that the Augustinian interpretation assigns. The Augustinian takes the referent to be the event of the soul’s entrance into the state of regeneration // spiritual resurrection, an event that preceded and led to the bodily death of the saints; the Klineian takes the referent to be the event of the Christian soul’s entrance into life in the intermediate state. Kline, too, adds that layer that he calls the paradoxical schema, which essentially says death is life for the Christian.

  15. Jack Bradley said,

    March 20, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    # 14, This is also Warfield’s view:

    http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/sdg/warfield/warfield_millennium.html

  16. rfwhite said,

    March 24, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    15 JB — You’re right: Kline is Warfield with the overlay of the paradoxical schema.


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