The resurrection of both good and evil, just and unjust, responsible to judgement is a basic Old Testament teaching (Daniel 12:2), repeated in John (John 5:29) and emphasized by Paul (Acts 17:31) and particularly when Paul talks of  “a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust” (Acts 24:15).

However, one passage that might be read against it is the mention of “raised incorruptible” in 1 Corinthians 15:42 and 52. It is sometimes read that “incorruptible” (not able to decay) is exactly the same as “immortal” (not able to die), which would render the raised bodies indestructible, even to God.

The passage is as follows (note that the ESV uses “imperishable” rather than the KJV “incorruptible”):

42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”;[e] the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall[f] also bear the image of the man of heaven. 50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:42-55)

It is true that some people read these words “perishable… immortality” (v.52) as purely a repeat for emphasis, that the putting on of the imperishable and the putting on of the immortal occur at exactly the same first instant of resurrection from the grave. And therefore, as far as the physical body goes, without God and judgement entering further into the equation.

We must all stand…

While the idea of those “on the right hand” going straight to the kingdom  without the sheep and goats judgement of Matthew 25:31-46 is appealing, there is nothing in the rest of the New Testament which stands against Christ’s description of a judgement at the resurrection being in some part literal. 

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[f] you did it to me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew25:31:46)


This then leaves us needing to reconcile passages including the following, with the two different words used in 1 Corinthians 15:.

10 Why do you pass judgement on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgement seat of God; 11for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” 12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. (Romans 14:10-12 ESV)

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. (1 Corinthians 5:10 ESV)

3 For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. 4 With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; 5 but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. (1 Peter 4:3-5)

Note that the last passage, 1 Peter 4:5, even extends being raised to judgement to those unfortunate unbaptized Gentiles who knew enough to mock Christians in Peter’s day. Passages like this show why Paul does not say “the dead will raised immortal” – because if they were raised immortal then it would read as if there was no judgement. Wheras “raised incorruptible” or “raised imperishable”, simply means not decaying, not raised with the illnesses of the last years of life before the first death. The one thing it does not mean is “raised indestructible even to God”.





Share →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *