Daniel 12:2—Will the resurrection be partial or universal?

Problem: Some Scriptures leave the impression that only some will be raised from the dead. Daniel says “many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake” (Dan. 12:2). The NT often refers to resurrection “out from among” (Gk., ek) the dead, implying that not all will be raised (e.g., Luke 20:35; Acts 4:2; Rom. 1:4; 1 Cor. 15:12).

Solution: There will be both a partial resurrection and then later a complete resurrection. There are two resurrections—the resurrection of the “just” and then later the resurrection of the “unjust” (Acts 24:15). First, “those who have done good” will come forth and then “those who have done evil” (John 5:29). John informs us that these two resurrections are separated by “a thousand years.” The “first resurrection” is before the thousand years (Rev. 20:6). This is the resurrection of the saved who “lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years” (v. 4). But, “the rest of the dead [the unsaved] did not live again until the thousand years were finished” (v. 5). So, the first resurrection is partial, consisting only of the saved, and the second resurrection completes the picture, resurrecting all the rest, namely, the unsaved.

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.