Premillennialists believe that there will be two resurrection days, separated by 1,007 years. They typically teach: (1) The righteous dead will be raised and the righteous (both dead and living) will be raptured from the earth. (2) Tribulation will last 7 years on earth (some place tribulation before the 1,000 years. Others place it after the 1,000 years). (3) Jesus and the righteous will reign on this earth for 1,000 years. (4) Then, the unrighteous dead will be raised. This is the theory.
However, the Bible, in plain language, seems to teach all will be raised in the same hour. Consider: (1) John 5:28-29 – “The hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth – those who have done good, to the resurrection or life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.” This is to happen in an hour (a short period of time). This passage does not hint at there being two resurrections, separated by 1,007 years. (2) Acts 24:15 – “There will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust.” There is no indication in this passage of there being two resurrection days, separated by 1,007 years.
The doctrine of two resurrection days, separated by at least 1,000 years is inferred by premillennialists from Revelation 20. This chapter is highly figurative (I believe that the language refers to the resurrection of the cause. See article, Revelation: 1,000 Years).
When asked where two resurrections are taught in plain language, in a non-figurative passage of the Bible, some premillennialists appeal to 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. After all, it says, “the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Does this not imply two resurrections?
No, it does not. Such is not the context. The context does not concern those “in Christ” and those “outside of Christ.” It concerns “the dead in Christ” and those “who are alive and remain” when Christ comes (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). The righteous (dead and alive) are in view. The unrighteous are not under consideration in this context.
Let’s consider this beautiful section of Scripture.
“I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13).
I do not want you to be ignorant. This is common wording used by Paul (see: Romans 1:13; 11:25; 1 Corinthians 10:1; 2 Corinthians 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 4:13). This is something, which Paul really wants them to understand.
Some had fallen “asleep.” This language is found many times in the Bible (cf. Matthew 27:52; John 11:11-13; Acts 7:60; 1 Corinthians 15:6; 1 Thessalonians 4:13; etc.). It is a reference to death. The body is said to fall asleep (cf. Matthew 27:52). It is language from an earthly vantage point.
While there is nothing wrong with sorrowing over the loss of a loved one to death (John 11:35; Acts 8:2; 9:39; 20:36-38; Philippians 2:25-27), Paul did not want them to sorrow as those who have no hope. There is one true hope every Christian should have (Ephesians 4:4), and that is eternal life with God (1 Thessalonians 5:8; Titus 1:2).
“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 4:14).
If they believed that Jesus was raised from the dead, then they should have no problem accepting that the dead ill be raised. “If” (ei) sometimes carries the meaning of “since” (cf. Acts 4:9).
God will bring the dead with Jesus. Bring them where? The answer is to heaven (John 14:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:14; cf. 4:15-17).
“For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trump of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18).
When Jesus comes, some will be asleep (1 Thessalonians 4:16). They will be raised (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:52). “The dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16).
When Jesus comes, some will be alive (1 Thessalonians 4:17). All (whether asleep or alive) will be changed (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:51-53). “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Note: “We” does not imply that Paul expected to be alive when Jesus came. In other passages, Paul identified himself with the dead (1 Corinthians 6:14; 2 Corinthians 4:14).
Here is the comfort. It will not matter if we are alive or not when He comes. The dead will not miss out on anything; whether alive or not, the righteous are told that we shall “meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
Some spend a great deal of time speculating about the details of that great day; However, It seems to me that it is wise to spend more time preparing for that day, than speculating about the details of that day. While it is good to study what the Bible teaches on this subject, Let us ask: Are we ready for the judgment day?