Matthew 27:50-53 (NLT)50 Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit.51 At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart,52 and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead.53 They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people.
This question had never crossed my mind until a friend asked me where are all the people who were resurrected along with Jesus if you only die once?
His question was based on this scripture
Hebrews 9:27-28 (NLT)27 And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment,28 so also Christ died once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.
My friend followed up by saying “if man is appointed only once to die and then the judgement and the judgement will not come until Jesus returns where are those people”? My initial response was “those people obviously died again, they’re not still alive”. But that answer wasn’t good enough for him. I’ve looked for a better answer for him and this post is what I’ve found.
The Bible states that "it is appointed to all men, once to die and then the resurrection." However, some people apparently get to die more than once.
John 11:38-44 (NLT)38 Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance.39 “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them. But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.”40 Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?”41 So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me.42 You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.”43 Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!”44 And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!”
The widow of Zarephath’s son
1 Kings 17:17-23 (NLT)17 Some time later the woman’s son became sick. He grew worse and worse, and finally he died.18 Then she said to Elijah, “O man of God, what have you done to me? Have you come here to point out my sins and kill my son?”19 But Elijah replied, “Give me your son.” And he took the child’s body from her arms, carried him up the stairs to the room where he was staying, and laid the body on his bed.20 Then Elijah cried out to the LORD, “O LORD my God, why have you brought tragedy to this widow who has opened her home to me, causing her son to die?”21 And he stretched himself out over the child three times and cried out to the LORD, “O LORD my God, please let this child’s life return to him.”22 The LORD heard Elijah’s prayer, and the life of the child returned, and he revived!23 Then Elijah brought him down from the upper room and gave him to his mother. “Look!” he said. “Your son is alive!”
The Shunammite woman’s son
2 Kings 4:32-36 (NLT)32 When Elisha arrived, the child was indeed dead, lying there on the prophet’s bed.33 He went in alone and shut the door behind him and prayed to the LORD.34 Then he lay down on the child’s body, placing his mouth on the child’s mouth, his eyes on the child’s eyes, and his hands on the child’s hands. And as he stretched out on him, the child’s body began to grow warm again!35 Elisha got up, walked back and forth across the room once, and then stretched himself out again on the child. This time the boy sneezed seven times and opened his eyes!36 Then Elisha summoned Gehazi. “Call the child’s mother!” he said. And when she came in, Elisha said, “Here, take your son!”
Jesus raised the widow of Nain’s son
Luke 7:11-15 (NLT)11 Soon afterward Jesus went with his disciples to the village of Nain, and a large crowd followed him.12 A funeral procession was coming out as he approached the village gate. The young man who had died was a widow’s only son, and a large crowd from the village was with her.13 When the Lord saw her, his heart overflowed with compassion. “Don’t cry!” he said.14 Then he walked over to the coffin and touched it, and the bearers stopped. “Young man,” he said, “I tell you, get up.”15 Then the dead boy sat up and began to talk! And Jesus gave him back to his mother.
Peter raised Dorcas
Acts 9:36-41 (NLT)36 There was a believer in Joppa named Tabitha (which in Greek is Dorcas). She was always doing kind things for others and helping the poor.37 About this time she became ill and died. Her body was washed for burial and laid in an upstairs room.38 But the believers had heard that Peter was nearby at Lydda, so they sent two men to beg him, “Please come as soon as possible!”39 So Peter returned with them; and as soon as he arrived, they took him to the upstairs room. The room was filled with widows who were weeping and showing him the coats and other clothes Dorcas had made for them.40 But Peter asked them all to leave the room; then he knelt and prayed. Turning to the body he said, “Get up, Tabitha.” And she opened her eyes! When she saw Peter, she sat up!41 He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then he called in the widows and all the believers, and he presented her to them alive.
Paul raised Eutychus
Acts 20:9-10 (NLT)9 As Paul spoke on and on, a young man named Eutychus, sitting on the windowsill, became very drowsy. Finally, he fell sound asleep and dropped three stories to his death below.10 Paul went down, bent over him, and took him into his arms. “Don’t worry,” he said, “he’s alive!”
Skeptics will say that these people weren’t really dead that the were in a state that made them appear dead but in the case of Lazarus it was four days, and while scripture doesn’t say how long those who were raised with Jesus it does say that these people had been buried. I believe that when the Bible said that they were dead they were indeed dead.
Sin = Death
When Adam sinned in the Garden, God imposed death as the consequence of his sin.
Genesis 2:15-17 (NLT)15 The LORD God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it.16 But the LORD God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden--17 except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”
Genesis 3:17-19 (NLT)17 And to the man he said, “Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat, the ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. 18 It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains.19 By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return.”
Romans 5:12 (NLT)12 When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.
Romans 6:23 (NLT)23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Therefore, Adam, and everyone born since, has death, the penalty of sin, upon them. The death imposed in the Garden was both a spiritual death and a physical death.
Every time a person is raised from the dead, it is a stupendous miracle, showing that the God who is Himself the Source of Life has the ability to give life to whom He will—even after death. The simple answer is that they, those who were resurrected and brought back to life, were resurrected by a miracle of God. In doing this God set aside the natural order of what physical life has been since the fall of man. That is something only God can do, as the Giver of Life and the Almighty and All Powerful Creator.
The Bible says nothing more about the people raised from the dead before and after Jesus, leaving us to conclude that they eventually died and were buried again, and will remain there until the resurrection after Jesus comes to the earth again.
Scripture also tell us that the only one the God has resurrected to eternal life in a glorified body is Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 (NLT)15 We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died.16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves.17 Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever.
1 Corinthians 15:51-53 (NLT)51 But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed!52 It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed.53 For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.
Jesus’ resurrection is the first, and so far, the only“permanent” resurrection
All other resurrections were “temporary” and those people died again.
1 Corinthians 15:20-23 (NLT)20 But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died.21 So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man.22 Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life.23 But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back.
For anyone who has repented and trusts in Christ’s work on the cross and received Him as Lord and Savoir this will be a wonderful judgment. The judgment for our justification took place “at the cross.”
Romans 4:20-25 (NLT) 20 Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God.21 He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.22 And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous.23 And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded24 for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.25 He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God.
When Jesus saved us He also gave us His righteousness, which made us worthy to enter God’s presence immediately when we die.
2 Corinthians 5:6-8 (NLT)6 So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord.7 For we live by believing and not by seeing.8 Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.
And Then The Judgement
Revelation 20:11-15 (NLT) 11 And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from his presence, but they found no place to hide.12 I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books.13 The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave gave up their dead. And all were judged according to their deeds.14 Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death.15 And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.
I asked this question on the Social Media platform Quora. What happened to the people resurrected with Jesus if the Bible says you only die once"? Since this is a Social Media platform, as you can imagine there are many different responses to questions that address Christian subjects and/or opinions. Some of the answers and comments, in response to my question, were from non-believers, skeptics, and others intent on ridiculing Christianity, and questioning the existence of God. I am not including those answers because they do meet the intent of this blog which is to help people like you to understand what the bible says about faith and how the bible shows that faith in God will sustain you through all things. So the answers that you will see are those given by fellow Christians and which add to our knowledge as given in the Bible which is the Word of God.
Here are some of those answers:
Jerry Olsen, studied Mathematics & Computer Science
The Bible records a few places where a dead person was miraculously brought back to life. Jesus accounted for most, but not all of them (three instances are recorded in the Old Testament).
Miracles like this serve to show that the person through which the miracle occurred was a true representative of God (because only God can do actual miracles). Certainly, raising someone from the dead also has extra significance because it demonstrates God’s power over death.
However, we must assume that each person who had been raised from the dead eventually died again. We could even add that Elijah apparently went to heaven without actually dying at all (2 Kings 2:11).
One might argue that this contradicts what was written in Heb 9:27, but this is being unnecessarily pedantic. The point of the Hebrews passage is not to establish an absolute edict stating exactly how many times any person can possibly experience death, even apart from miracles. It is just saying that each person will naturally die once before the time of judgment, at which each person is resurrected to to face judgment — whether it be good or bad. This judgment is described in Revelation 20.
In other words, it would have been an unnecessary and distracting complication for the author of Hebrews to add a inject a caveat excepting miracles with regard to the number of deaths a person must have.
The main point of the Hebrews 9 passage is that Christ’s unique sacrifice upon his first coming makes it possible for each person to to be saved when Jesus comes to judge at his second coming. Here is the verse in question, including the surrounding context, and some key points highlighted:
23 Therefore it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; 25 nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own. 26 Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
27 And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment,
28 so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.
Don Sadlier, studied at Uintah High (1985)
Before answering the question, first is the difference between a resurrected being and a revived person. After resurrection Jesus said that He had “flesh and bones” (Luke 24:39) yet when referring to mortals He would use the phrase “flesh and blood” (Matthew 16:17). It appears that the immortals no longer have blood in the body.
Another characteristic of an immortal body is that it has the ability to transcend dimensions. When the apostles were meeting in the closed room Jesus appeared (John 20:19). How did He get there? Certainly not as a mortal must. Another instance is when He sat down to dine with the two disciples in Emmaus and He vanished before their eyes. Where did He go? Into the Spirit world in an instant.
The resurrected body also has power over gravity. Jesus ascended into heaven against gravity and where the lack of oxygen would kill a human. The two prophets in Jerusalem will be drawn into heaven against gravity after they get resurrected.
Now to the question. There are those that are revived, not resurrected, such as Lazarus. Lazarus was very much mortal and could not transcend dimensions. Gravity still kept him to the ground. And yes, he even died again.
There ARE those that have been resurrected at the time of Christ. Those people, like Jesus, have the ability to travel between earth and the spirit world. Their home is in the spirit world. If they appear to mortals it isn't to reveal who they are but rather for God’s purposes.
Mike Ash, IT SysAdmin
Are you referring to Lazarus? I believe that in the Gospel of John’s story of Lazarus, it is a miracle, and miracles by their definition, break the mold. No man (not counting Adam) was ever born of a virgin birth except Jesus, for example. That was a miracle. (Although, technically the original Hebrew term for young woman in the Hebrew-language New Testament was translated into the Septuagint as “virgin”, so there’s some food for thought whether Jesus/Yeshua really was born of a virgin, but that’s for another Quora question.) The Bible also, contrary to the narrative, contradicts itself almost every step of the way. In fact, the first two chapters of Genesis already recollect two different creation accounts, so for anybody to claim the Bible doesn’t contradict itself, almost shouts out the fact that the person actually hasn’t read the Bible (couldn’t even get through first two chapters of Genesis, no less). two different creation stories in genesis But, returning to Lazarus, I believe if you read John, it shows that Lazarus lived out the rest of his days, after his resurrection from the dead by Yeshua, and then dies again. Lazarus of Bethany - Wikipedia
Vijay Pushkin, Truth Seeker
These were people who believed in Yahshua as the Messiah but died during His 3 year ministry. Since only those who have the spirit of YHWH will be firstfruits in the first resurrection (Ro 8:9-11) and the Holy Spirit had not been given yet, these people were simply resurrected the same as Lazarus was as a physical being so they could receive the Holy Spirit on Shavuot and then, they died later (Heb 9:27) and are waiting the Resurrection as all other true believers.
Well them and lazarus are thought to have gone back to sleep, yes they were resurrected but temporarily …same with the boy elisha raised and same with the body that was thrown into the pit where the dead body landed near elias as well the little girl jesus raised from the dead… There is a first and second ressurection when jesus comes back but thats the thing he has to come back, these examples are only a shadow or demonstration of what is to be fully…just like the temple and ark moses built were a shadow of those that are in heaven …as well this is probably why the hype of them isnt recorded much as probably those who knew them were amazed but of people after them who couldnt verify theyd been dead at one time or hadnt known them when they lived its hard to prove … Theres a man named turtle pigeon dog because he said he lived so long by having a quiet heart sitting like a turtle walking like a pigeon and sleeping like a dog …by his own claim he 177 in the 1930s …by chinese government and records he was over 200 yrs old born in the 1670s …like they have records of him, theres old men who verified their grandfathers said he was a man when they themselves were boys. There was a time magazine article about him an everything but yet hes little heard of and of where hes heard of its disbelieved yet they have records of him in the army and everything so as you can see between a little confusion and what experts think they know better when something miraculous is presented rather than try to search it out its often twisted and doubted into obscurity
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Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.