When my dad passed away the first time, eighteen years ago, EMTs came rather quickly and brought him back to life — a simulacrum of life, anyway; he remained in a coma the rest of his days and even breathed on his own for the last several of them. A couple of weeks later, pneumonia finished what his coronary episode had been cheated out of accomplishing.
For a while, though, my dad was resuscitated.
People in scripture died and were resuscitated. A widow’s son (1 Kings 17:7-24). Another widow’s son (Luke 7:11-17). A little girl (Matthew 9:18-23; Mark 5:21-43; Luke 8:40-56). Lazarus (John 11:1-43). Perhaps even a young man who fell out of a window (Acts 20:9-12). They were raised to life. Eventually, they died again.
Being resurrected is something entirely different. Jesus was not the first to return from the dead, but He was the firstborn of/from the dead (Colossians 1:18; Revelation 1:5) — and I have to wonder if this means that He is not only pre-eminent from the dead, but also the first to be resurrected rather than just resuscitated.
The resurrection body is different; it is imperishable; it cannot die again (1 Corinthians 15:52). The immediate context of that verse is revealing:
I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” ~ 1 Corinthians 15:50-54
May I propose that this change does not necessarily apply to everyone, but to “brothers and sisters” whether they “sleep” or not? That “the dead” refers to the dead among the believers, not all of those who have died? Because “the perishable cannot inherit the imperishable,” perhaps those who have not been obedient are – at the day of judgment – not resurrected at all, but resuscitated? Given back their mortal forms in order to stand at judgment as well?
I don’t intend to be dogmatic about this; I’m just proposing it.
Unconvinced? That’s okay. It’s not a test of fellowship. It’s a proposition. But consider the verses of the larger context, immediately before these just quoted:
So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:42-49
That may or may not mean that “earthly man” refers to those who will not obey. It could, as is usually understood, simply refer to our mortal forms — whether believer or not. I’m speculating. I acknowledge it again.
But this could explain how all will face judgment – no matter what degree of decay or even atomization their mortal form may have taken (Revelation 20:11-13) – yet the disobedient can be destroyed (2 Thessalonians 1:9; 2 Peter 3:7) while those given grace also receive immortality (2 Timothy 1:10); eternal life (for the aeons – Mark 10:30; John 3:16; John 5:24; John 17:2; Romans 2:7, etc.)
And the last enemy to be destroyed is death (1 Corinthians 15:26).