Okay, now this question about resurrections in the Bible has me wondering what the difference between resurrection and revival is. If resurrection "returns them to their proper embodied state, in which they will remain forever after", then how are the raising of Lazarus, the son of the Shunammite woman, the daughter of Jairus, and others, resurrections? Did these people become immortal (i.e. living forever, never dying) before Jesus did?


4 Answers 4


There are two types of Resurrections in the Bible.

1. Temporary Resurrection

Those who are brought back from the dead without a new body given to them. They will still die again when their time comes. This resurrection is mostly for the purpose of God's glory or to simply extend the life of the dead person on Earth as a result of prayer. This, even now is still happening in many parts of the world. Jesus resurrected Lazarus only to glorify God and himself through it.

When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” (John 11:4, NKJV)

2. Eternal Resurrection

Those who will be brought back from the dead for eternity. This will happen at "The Last Day". There are again two types based on the destiny of the resurrected person.

And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2, NKJV)

  1. Resurrection of the just: Those who will be resurrected to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. They will live with God for eternity. Their names are written in the Book of Life and they will live in the New Earth. Jesus Christ was the first one to be resurrected in this manner. This is also called "The First Resurrection".

    But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. (1 Corinthians 15:20-23, NKJV)

    And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. (Revelation 20:4-6, NKJV)

  2. Resurrection of the damned: Those who will be resurrected only to be judged and thrown into the Lake of Fire to be tormented for eternity.

    Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:14-15, NKJV)

  • 2
    I would avoid calling "raising from the dead" to a temporary, mortal existence "resurrection".
    – Bit Chaser
    Aug 20, 2015 at 9:48

There are two cogent factors we must consider in answering your question;

  1. the immortality of the physical body and;

  2. the immortality of the Spirit and soul.

The physical body cannot attain immortality;

Genesis 3:19 KJV In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

After man had disobeyed God, he decreed that the human body would return to dust. Therefore the ultimate destiny of the physical body will be decay.

The Soul on the other hand is by nature immortal:

Genesis 2:7 KJV And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

This living Soul is eternal (immortal) as is indicated by Jesus in:

Matthew 10:28 KJV And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Notice that Jesus said kill the body, but not kill the soul when talking about man, yet when talking about God he said destroy in Hell there is a very large difference there.

The original word used for kill in the Greek was:

ἀποκτείνω apokteino (ap-ok-tei'-no) v.

  1. to kill outright

  2. (figuratively) to destroy

KJV: put to death, kill, slay

While the word used for destroy was:

ἀπόλλυμι apollumi (ap-ol'-loo-mee) v.

  1. to destroy fully

  2. (reflexively) to perish, or lose {literally or figuratively}

KJV: destroy, die, lose, mar, perish

So in answer to your question what happened in these resurrections is that the immortal Soul, which came into being when life began, was returned from it's eternal habitation back into habitation in the human body where it originated. This is similar to God breathing the breath of life into Adam.

Once the Soul and subsequently the Spirit are created by God they will be eternal from then on which is the precept upon which Salvation is based in that you choose the eternal habitation for the Soul.

As far as revival goes it presumes that the Soul has never left the body to go to it's eternal habitation.


Resurrection means to be brought back to life after death.

Reincarnation means to be brought back to life in a new form after being dead. Those who have been reincarnated can die again and come back as some other living creature. Reincarnation is associated with some non-Christian religions that have this idea that people can be reincarnated as ants, worms or some other creature. This is why you'll see people who practice these religions not use fly spray or ant bait etc. This concept is not in the bible.

Lazarus was resurrected, he was brought back to life after death. But, Lazarus must have died again physically. Jesus died once, and was raised back to life and never died again. He concurred death.

As for being immortal, the worldly concept of immortality is to live forever in the body you have now. This is not what the bible teaches. The bible teaches that those who believe in Jesus and make him Lord in their life will live forever. Obviously not in their current bodies. Peter and all the apostles died physically, but their soul & spirit lives on. Lazarus would still have had to believe on Jesus to live forever despite being raised back to live in his restored body.

Physical death is when the spirit and the body are separated. When Stephen died, his spirit departed from his body and he was dead in a physical sense. But his spirit went on to be with God.

Acts 7:59-60

59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.

60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

The other form of death is the spiritual one and this is what happened to Adam and Eve. Their spirits were separated from God.

See here: When God said to man that if he sinned he would die, was he speaking of death of the human body or death of the Soul, or the Spirit?

True death is being separated from God eternally. The bible does not teach that death is ceasing to exist.


The top answer is spot on. Jesus' resurrects in His eternal body. He did not die again, nor will ever die again. His resurrection is the hope we all await for, and the proof Heaven exists. Conversely, Lazarus resurrection is "merely" another miracle of Jesus. Lazarus did not resurrected in his eternal body (recall the Creed: "I believe in the resurrection of the body"). He died afterwards.

My contribution to the post is in offering a different point of view. Recall the Jews offered sacrifices in the Temple in order to (among other things) ask for forgiveness of the sins of the people. They had to offer pure, immaculate victims. They performed this ritual over and over again. Jesus' death is the ultimate offering for forgiveness of humanity's sins. No other sacrifice is needed anymore. Jesus was the immaculate, first-born, pure Lamb.

In Chapter 10 of his letter to the Hebrews, St. Paul tells to the Jews:

The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. [...] we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. [...] And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.

This particular nature of Jesus' death is what brings a different nature to his resurrection too. In contrast, Lazarus death was "just another death". His "first" death wasn't a sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins (like us, we was a sinner, and not a spotless lamb). Thus, his "first" resurrection was merely a revival to this life.

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