THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD
By: John Bunyan
To wit, that there shall be a resurrection of the wicked. "There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust;" for as the just go before the unjust, in name and dignity, and honor, so they shall in the last day, go before them in the resurrection. Now, then, when the saints have thus risen out of their graves, given up their accounts, received their glory, and are set upon the thrones,
"for there are set thrones of judgment, the thrones of the house of David" (Psalm 122:5).
When, I say, they are all of them in their royal apparel, with crowns of glory, every one presenting the person of a king, then come the unjust out of their graves, to receive their judgment for what they have done in the body. As Paul saith, "We must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every one," both saints and sinners, "may receive the things done in the body, whether it be good, or whether it be bad."
But now, because I would prove by the word, whatever I would have others receive for a truth, therefore I shall in few particulars,
FIRST, prove the resurrection of the wicked.
First, then, it is evident, that the wicked shall rise, from the very terms and names that the raised shall then go under, which are the very same names that they did go under when they lived in this world. They are called the heathen, the nations, the world, the wicked, and those that do iniquity; they are called men, women, [of] Sodom, Sidon, Bethsaida, Capernaum, and Tyre. The men of Nineveh shall rise up in judgment (Luke 10:12- 14); the queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment (Matthew 12:41, 42); and it shall be more tolerable for Sodom in the day of judgment than for other sinners that have resisted more light (Matthew 11:21-24).
"The heavens and the earth, which are now, – are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men" (2 Peter 3:7; Joel 3:12-14).
Now these terms, or names, are not given to the spirits of the wicked only, but to them as consisting of body and soul. Further, Christ tells his adversaries, when they had apprehended him, and shamefully entreated him, that yet they should see him sit on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven (Matthew 25:31, 32; Matthew 26:64; Jude 1:14, 15), as John also doth testify, saying,
"Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him" (Revelation 1:7).
Now none of these sayings are yet fulfilled, neither shall they, until his second coming; for though the Jews did many of them see him, when he did hang upon the cross, yet then he was not coming in the clouds of heaven, neither did then all kindreds of the earth wail because of him. No, this is reserved till he comes to judge the world; for then shall the ungodly be so put to it, that gladly they would creep into the most invincible rock or mountain under heaven, to hide themselves from his face, and the majesty of his heavenly presence (Revelation 6:14-17). There shall therefore, that this may be brought to pass, be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. For though an opinion of no resurrection may now lull men asleep, in security and impiety, yet the Lord when he comes will rouse them, and cause them to awake; not only out of their security, but out of their graves, to their doom, that they may receive for their error, the recompense that is meet.
Second, The body of the ungodly must, at the last, arise out of the grave, because that body and their soul, while they lived in the world, were co-partners in their lusts and wickedness.
"The Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed" (1 Samuel 2:3).
He will therefore bring every work into judgment, "with every secret thing" (Ecclesiastes 12:14). And as he will bring into judgment every work, so will he also the worker thereof, "even the dead, small and great" (Revelation 20:12-14). It is not in God to lay the punishment where the fault is not, neither to punish a part of the damned for the whole.
"With righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity" (Psalm 98:9).
"Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Genesis 18:25).
As therefore the body was co-partner with the soul in sinning, so shall every man receive the things done in his body, according to what he hath done. Wherefore he saith in another place,
"Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be" (Revelation 22:12).
There shall therefore be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.
Third, The body of the wicked must rise again, because as the whole man of the just also that is the vessel of mercy and glory; so the whole man of the unjust is the vessel of wrath and destruction. There are, saith Paul, in a great house not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Now, as he sheweth us, these vessels to honor, they are good men, and the vessels to dishonor are the bad (2 Timothy 2:20, 21). Now as these vessels to dishonor, are called the vessels of wrath: so it is said, that God with much long-suffering, doth suffer them to be fitted to destruction (Romans 9:22). How they are thus fitted he also further sheweth, where he saith, They do
"after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasure up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God" (Romans 2:5)
which treasures of wickedness, James saith, it is treasure up against the last days (which is the time of judgment), and observe it, he saith, that then it shall eat their flesh as it were fire (James 5:2, 3). Now then, their bodies being the vessels of the wrath of God, and again, seeing with this wrath they must be possessed at the last day, that their flesh must with it be eaten, it is evident, that their body must rise again out of their graves, and before the judgment-seat appear; for it is from thence, that each of them must go with his full load to their long and eternal home, "where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched" (Mark 9:47,48).
Fourth, The severity of the hand of God towards his children, with his forbearance of his enemies, doth clearly bespeak a resurrection of the ungodly, that they may receive the reward for their wickedness which they have committed in this world. We know, that while the eyes of the wicked start out with fatness, the godly are plagued all the day long, and chastened every morning (Psalm 73:3-15), wherefore it is evident, that the place and time of the punishment of the ungodly, it is another world. If
"judgment must begin at the house of God, – what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?" (1 Peter 4:17, 18).
Alas, poor creatures! they now plot against the righteous, and gnash upon them with their teeth; but "the Lord shall laugh at him, for he seeth that his day is coming" (Psalm 37:13); for as he saith, the wicked is reserved, or let alone in his wickedness, to the day of destruction, and shall then be brought forth to the day of wrath, though in the meantime, he may go to his grave in his banner, and rest within is tomb f7 (Job 21:29-32). As Peter saith again,
"The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished" (2 Peter 2:9)
And Jude saith, For them "is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever" (Jude 13). The punishment of the ungodly, it is reserved till the day of judgment, which will be the time of their resurrection. Observe,
1. The wicked must be punished.
2. The time of their punishment is not now, but at the day of judgment.
3. This day of judgment, must be the same with the resurrection of the dead, at the end of this world. "As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 13:40, 41). There shall then be resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.
4. The sovereignty of the Lord Jesus over all creatures, doth plainly foreshew a resurrection of the bad, as well as of the good. Indeed, the unjust shall not arise, by virtue of any relation they stand in to the Lord Jesus, as the saints shall; but yet, because all are delivered into his hand, and he made sovereign Lord over them; therefore by an act of his sovereign power, they that are ungodly, shall arise; this is Christ’s own argument,
"The Father judgeth no man," saith he, "but hath committed all judgment unto the Son" – that is, count him, and fall before him as their sovereign Lord, even as they honor the Father, and he hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. And then he adds, "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation" (John 5:22-29)
From hence also Paul argueth, saying,
"For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living," and then adds, "We shall all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ" (Romans 14:9, 10).
Pray mind these words, Jesus Christ by his death and resurrection, did not only purchase grace, and remission of sins, for his elect, with their eternal glory; but did thereby also obtain of the Father to be Lord, and head over all things, whether they be things in heaven, or things on earth, or things under the earth. "All power," saith he, "is given unto me, in heaven and in earth, and I have the keys of hell and of death" (Matthew 28:18; Revelation 1:18), So that all things, I say, whether they be visible, or invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions, or principalities or powers; all things were created by him, and for him (Colossians 1:16). This being thus,
"at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, – and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:10, 11).
Now, that this may be done, He hath his resolutions upon a judgment-day, in which he, to shew himself his people, his way, and word in their glory, will have all his enemies raised out of their graves, and brought before him, where he will sit upon them in the throne of his glory, and will shew them then, "who is the blessed and only potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords" (Matthew 25:31, 32; 1 Timothy 6:14, 15).
Behold, He comes,
"with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him" (Jude 1:14, 15).
Fifth, The great preparation that God hath made for the judgment of the wicked, doth clearly demonstrate their rising forth out of their graves.
1. He hath appointed the day of their rising.
2. He hath appointed their judge, to judge them.
3. He hath recorded all their acts and doings against that day.
4. He hath also already appointed the witnesses to come in against them.
5. The instruments of death and misery, are already prepared for them.
1. He hath appointed the day of their rising, which day John calleth the time of the dead, that they should be judged (Revelation 11:18), which time, Paul saith, is a time fixed;
"He hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world," etc. (Acts 17:31).
This time and day Christ brings down to an hour, saying,
"The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth;" etc. (John 5:28, 29).
2. As he hath appointed the day, so he hath appointed the judge,
"He hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained, whereof he hath given assurance to all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead" (Acts 17:31).
This man is Jesus Christ; for it is he that is
"ordained of God to be the judge of quick an dead" (Acts 10:42).
3. All their deeds and works, to a word and thought, are every one already recorded and enrolled in the books of the laws of heaven against that day.
"The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond: – upon the table of their heart" (Jeremiah 17:1)
And again saith God,
"Write it – in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come, even for ever and ever, that this is a rebellious people," etc. (Isaiah 30:8, 9).
4. God hath prepared his witnesses against this day (James 5:1-3; Job 20:27; Matthew 24:14; Romans 2:14, 15; Malachi 3:5).
5. The instruments of death, and eternal misery, are already prepared. "He hath also prepared for him the instruments of death; he ordaineth his arrows against the persecutors" (Psalm 7:13; Psalm 21:12)
Hell is of old prepared, he hath made it deep and large, the fire, the everlasting fire, is also now of a long time prepared (Isaiah 30:33; Matthew 25:41); the heavy weights of God’s curse are also ready (Deuteronomy 29:20) and their
"damnation now of a long time slumbereth not" (2 Peter 2:3).
But now I say, how ridiculous a business would all this be, if these things should be all prepared of the only wise God, and there should be none to be judged; or if he that is ordained judge, should not, either through want of power or will, command these rebels, and force them before his judgment-seat. Glad indeed, would the sinners be, if these things might be true; glad I say, at very heart, if they might be in their secret places of darkness, and the grave for ever; but it must not be; the day of their rising is set; the judge is appointed; their deeds are written; the deep dungeon is with open mouth ever waiting for them; wherefore at the day appointed, neither earth, nor death, nor hell can hinder: There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.
Sixth and Lastly, Besides what hath been said, I cannot but believe, there shall be a resurrection of the wicked at the last day, because of the ungodly consequences, and errors that do most naturally follow the denial thereof. For,
1. He that taketh away the doctrine of the resurrection of the wicked; he taketh away one of the main arguments that God hath provided for to convince a sinner of the evil of his ways; for how shall a sinner be convinced of the evil of sin, if he be not convinced of the certainty of eternal judgment? and how shall he be convinced of eternal judgment, if you persuade him, that when he is dead, he shall not at all rise? especially seeing the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment must unavoidably be one the forerunner of the other (Hebrews 6:2). It was Paul’s reasoning of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come that made Felix tremble (Acts 24:25). It is this also he calleth the argument of terror, wherewith he persuaded men (2 Corinthians 5:10, 11). This was Solomon’s argument (Ecclesiastes 11:9); and Christ’s also, where he saith,
"that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment" (Matthew 12:36).
2. They that deny the resurrection of the wicked, they do both allow and maintain the chief doctrine of the ranters, with most of the debauched persons in the world. For the ranters deny it both in principle and practice, and the other in practice at least. Now to me it is very strange, that these men above all other, should both know and live f8 in the doctrines of the kingdom of God: especially seeing the denial hereof is an evident token of one appointed to wrath and destruction (2 Timothy 2:18). But to be plain; there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust: wherefore, whatever others may say or profess, being beguiled by Satan, and their own hearts, yet do thou fear him that can "destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matthew 10:28).
There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.
"And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them" (Revelation 20:13).
Having in the first place shewed you, that the wicked must arise; I shall in the next place,
SECOND, Shew you the manner of their rising. And observe it, as the very title of the just and unjust, are opposites, so they are in all other matters, and in their resurrections.
First then, as the just in their resurrection do come forth in incorruption: the unjust in their resurrection, shall come forth in their corruptions; for though the ungodly at their resurrection, shall for ever after, be incapable of having body and soul separate; or of their being annihilated into nothing, yet it shall be far from them to rise in incorruption; for if they arise in incorruption, they must arise to life, and also must have the conquest over sin and death (1 Corinthians 15:45), but that they shall not; for it is the righteous only, that put on incorruption, that are swallowed up of life. The wicked’s resurrection, it is called the resurrection of damnation (John 5:28). These in their very resurrection, shall be hurt of the second death. They shall arise in death, and shall be under it, under the gnawings, and terrors of it, all the time of their arraignment. As it were, a living death shall feed upon them; they shall never be spiritually alive, nor yet absolutely dead; but much after that manner, that natural death, and hell, by reason of guilt, doth feed on him, that is going before the judge, to receive his condemnation to the gallows. You know, though a felon go forth of the jail, when he is going to the bar for his arraignment, yet he is not out of prison, or out of his irons for that; his fetters are still making a noise on his heels, and the thoughts of what he is to hear by and by from the judge, is still frighting and afflicting his heart; death, like some evil spirit or ghost, doth continually haunt him, and playeth the butcher continually in his soul and conscience, with frights and fears about the thoughts of the sudden, and insupportable after-clap, by and by he is to meet withal.
Thus I say, will the wicked come out of their graves, having yet the chains of eternal death hanging on them, and the talons of that dreadful ghost fastened in their souls; so that life will be far from them, even as far as heaven is from hell. This morning to them, is even as the shadow of death. They will then be in the very terrors of the shadow of death (Job 24:17). As Christ saith,
"Their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched" (Mark 9:44)
From death to eternity, it never shall be quenched, their bed is now among the flames; and when they rise, they will rise in flames; while they stand before the judge, it will be in flames, even in the flames of a guilty conscience; they will in their coming before the judge, be within the very jaws of death and destruction. Thus I say, the ungodly shall be far off from rising as the saints; for they will be even in the region and shadow of death. The first moment of their rising, death will be ever over them, ever feeding on their souls; and ever presenting to their hearts, the heights and depths, of the misery that now must seize them, and, like a bottomless gulf, must swallow them up.
"They shall move out of their holes like worms of the earth: They shall be afraid of the Lord our God" (Micah 7:17).
Second, As the resurrection of the godly shall be a resurrection in glory: so the resurrection of the wicked, it will be a resurrection in dishonor. Yea, as the glory of saints, at the day of their rising, will be glory unspeakable; so the dishonor of the ungodly at that day, it will be dishonor beyond expression. As Daniel saith, the good shall rise to everlasting life, but the wicked to shame and everlasting contempt (Daniel 12:2). And again, "O Lord, when thou awakest," that is, to judge them,
"thou shalt despise their image" (Psalm 73:20).
Never was toad or serpent more loathsome to any, than these will be in the eyes of God, in their rising forth of their graves. When they go to their graves, saith Job,
"His bones are full of the sin of his youth, which shall lie down with him in the dust" (Job 20:11).
And arise they shall, in the same noisome and stinking condition; for as death leaves, so judgment finds them. At the resurrection then of these ungodly, they will be in a very loathsome condition.
The ungodly at their death are like the thistle seed, but at their rising, they will be like the thistle grown; more noisome, offensive, and provoking to rejection abundance. f10
Then such dishonor, shame, and contempt will appear in them, that neither God nor Christ, saints nor angels, will so much as once regard them, or vouchsafe once to come near them. "He beholdeth the wicked afar off;" because in the day of grace, they would not come to hand, and be saved, therefore now they shall, all as thorns, be thrust away, as with fences of iron (2 Samuel 23:6, 7), Their rising, is called the resurrection of the unjust, and so they at that day will appear, and will more stink in the nostrils of God, and all the heavenly hosts, than if they had the most irksome plague-sores in the world running on them. If a man at his birth, be counted as one cast forth to the loathing of his person; how loathsome, and irksome, dishonorable, and contemptible, will those be that shall arise Godless, Christless, Spiritless, and graceless, when the trumpet sounds to their judgment, they coming out of their graves, far more loathsome, and filthy, than if they should ascend out of the most filthy hole on earth.
Third, As the just shall arise in power, so the wicked and unjust, in weakness and astonishment. Sin and guilt bringeth weakness, and faintness in this life; how much more, when both with all their power and force, like a giant, fasten on them; as God saith,
"Can thine heart endure, or can thine hands be strong, in the days that I shall deal with thee?" (Ezekiel 22:14).
Now will the ghastly jaws of despair gape upon thee, and now will condemnings of conscience, like thunder-claps, continually batter against thy weary spirit. It is the godly that have boldness in the day of judgment (1 John 4:17); but the wicked will be like the chaff which the wind driveth away (Psalm 1:4). Oh the fear, and the heart-aching that will seize them in their rising! the frightful thoughts that then will fill their throbbing hearts! Now must that soul that hath been in hell-fire among the devils possess the body again. Possess it, I say, with the hot scalding stink of hell upon it. They shall not be able to lift up the head for ever; pangs shall take hold on them, all their hands shall faint, and every man’s heart shall melt;
"They shall be amazed one at another, their faces shall be as flames" (Isaiah 13:6-8).
Everything they see, hear, or think of, shall tend to their discomfort. They must needs be weak, whom God hath left, whom guilt hath seized, and whom death is swallowing up for ever.
Fourth, As the just shall arise spiritual bodies, so the unjust shall arise only as mere and naked lumps of sinful nature; not having the least help from God, to bear them up under this condition. Wherefore, so soon as ever they are risen out of their graves; they will feel a continual sinking under every remembrance of every sin, and thoughts of judgment; in their rising they fall – fall, I say, from thenceforth, and for ever. And for this reason the dungeon into which they fall is called "bottomless" (Revelation 20:1). Because, as there will be no end of their misery, so there will be no stay or prop to bear them up in it. Only, as I said before, they shall not now, as afore, be separate body from soul; but both together, be bound in the cords of sin and iniquity, in which they shall now tremble as thieves and murderers, etc., as they go before the Judge, to hear what he will say unto them.
[THIRD – The examination and judgment of the wicked.] – Now, when the wicked are thus raised out of their graves, they shall, together with all the angels of darkness, their fellow-prisoners, be brought up, being shackled in their sins, to the place of judgment; where there shall sit upon them Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Lord Chief Judge of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth. On whose right hand, and left, shall sit all the princes, and heavenly nobles; the saints and prophets, the apostles and witnesses of Jesus; every one in his kingly attire, upon the throne of his glory (Joel 3:11-14). Then shall be fulfilled that which is written,
"But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them" (Luke 19:27).
 "Go to his grave in his banner," alluding to splendid funerals, the hearse being ornamented with banners captured in war, or armorial bearings. – Ed.
 Unsanctified knowledge, accompanied by a degree of conformity in conduct, may be the portion of some who indulge soul- destroying heresies. – Ed.
 A graphic writer, addressing us at the distance of two centuries, frequently makes interesting mention of manners and customs prevailing at the time wherein he lived. From the illustration here employed by Bunyan, we learn that the culprit before trial, and therefore before convicted of crime, was in a manner prejudged, and loaded with fetters. These extreme judicial severities belong to the past.
 "Abundance," exuberance, more than enough. – Ed.