“a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned." (John 5:28,29)

According to the above passage, the Bible seems to be teaching that not just the righteous, but also the wicked will experience a bodily resurrection.

It doesn't make much sense why God would go to the extent to furnish the wicked dead people with a new body just for it to be condemned and destroyed in the lake of fire.

The question therefore needs to be asked: How big is the scriptural support for the above view? And does scriptures teaching, or hinting, the opposite exist?

Biblical scriptures, apocryphal scriptures, scriptures of the church fathers, and other extra biblical scriptures are welcome. As are “reading between the lines” conclusions drawn from paradoxical bible passages.

  • Lots of passages teach the resurrection of all. Why do you think there would be an opposite teaching?
    – curiousdannii
    Oct 30, 2021 at 12:09
  • @curiousdannii I think the point is about a bodily resurrection (or not). I base this on a comment Constantthin made to me under my answer to hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/70637/…
    – Anne
    Oct 30, 2021 at 12:12
  • @curiousdannii. Don’t you think it is too early for me to answer my own question? Oct 30, 2021 at 12:13
  • 1
    @Constantthin You should be able to give some context to the question, be able to explain why you think it's somewhat likely for this to be the case. Have you come across some Christian group which teaches this? Because, in generally, it's not common for Christians to teach the opposite to something which is taught in many passages in the Bible.
    – curiousdannii
    Oct 30, 2021 at 12:27
  • 1
    Is this different from my recent answer to How do Christians justify lack of God's intervention during events where neonates get killed?, or others that explain that the second resurrection (physical) will be followed by a period when everyone will be given an opportunity for salvation? Oct 30, 2021 at 19:29

4 Answers 4


A very basic over-view of those who believe that the wicked will not get their body back on the Day of Resurrection and Judgment, is that they teach soul annihilation at physical death, combined with claiming that not everybody will be resurrected with a new physical body, designed for living forever on a paradise earth through, and beyond a literal millennial rule of Christ over the earth.

They have to deny Jesus' words that all will be resurrected, some to a resurrection of life, others to a resurrection of damnation, as per the scripture you quoted: "all who are in their graves... will come out". They claim that "all" does not actually mean "all". They exclude Adam and Eve from a bodily resurrection: God "meant that Adam would return to a state of nonexistence." (What Does the Bible Really Teach, p.63, 2005) They would exclude all people who died at a time of God's judgment, such as at the Flood. They view the coming Armageddon as a similar time of God's judgment, so that all who die then will have been judged and therefore not need to arise to life to be judged again. They also think that truly wicked people will have no chance of a future bodily resurrection.

Here is another quote from such a group: "...it is evident that there is no immortal soul separate and distinct from the body. The soul dies when the body dies... Some Not Resurrected [heading] ...God has the right to refuse to accept a ransom [hence, grant a resurrection] for anyone he deems unworthy... [a person] can thus die for such sin that is beyond coverage by the ransom... These would therefore not survive into the Thousand Year Reign of Christ, and since their destruction is 'everlasting', they would receive no resurrection. Resurrection During 1,000 Years [heading] ...the number of persons that have ever lived on earth - Not all of these, as it has been shown in the foregoing discussion, will receive a resurrection." Insight on the Scriptures Vol.II pp787-792, 1988

All who remain dead eternally are viewed as being wicked and not worthy of Christ’s ransom. As the belief is that the soul dies with the physical body, and some of the dead will never receive a resurrection, this is teaching soul annihilation, and that the truly wicked will never get their body back, or any kind of body.

Concurrent with this is the belief that hell is merely the grave. Others who have a variation on this point say that the truly wicked are immediately destroyed in hell (even if that's not just the grave). You have said in a comment that it doesn't make sense for God to "go to the extent to furnish them with a new body just for it to be condemned and destroyed in hell." But that is based on your interpretation of Mat.10:28, which most Christians do not hold to. Do read Jesus’ words on this in Luke 16:19-31.

If those condemned to the eternally burning lake of sulphuric fire (Rev.20:13-15) remained confined there for eternity, they would need a special body designed to endure that eternal punishment. But the ones 'raised in incorruptibility' have heavenly bodies. They are 'raised in glory', 'raised in power' 'a body spiritual' 'a spirit quickening'. All this refers to the justified. But given that 'corruption does not inherit incorruption', at the resurrection of the wicked, the form they receive would be different to the incorruptible spiritual body of the justified. But that requires a fresh question!

Paul said that just as there is a physical body, so there is a spiritual body (1 Cor.15:44). The physical one comes first, the other one at the resurrection. So, we are speaking of spiritual bodies, some fitted for life in heaven, others fitted for life in the lake of eternal fire. Jesus’ body was raised as a glorified, incorruptible body, fit for doing things on earth as well as ascending up to heaven to live there.

I would suggest that once you make the mental switch from thinking about only physical bodies being resurrected, and that a spiritual body is made, to reunite with the departed soul, or spirit, then it can be seen that this will answer to how eternal life can be enjoyed in heaven, and eternal damnation suffered by the wicked in that lake of eternal fire.

  • You wrote: "Here is another quote from such a group: "...it is evident that there is no immortal soul separate and distinct from the body. The soul dies when the body dies". The people who has this belief do they believe that this is just the case for wicked people, or for all people, including righteous ones? Oct 31, 2021 at 10:51
  • @Constantthin Yes, they disbelieve anyone has an immortal soul. And they claim only a tiny number of humans will be raised as Paul said in 1 Cor. 15:42-44, with a spiritual body, in order to reign with Christ (who, they say is also in spirit form). There are variations on such ideas with other groups, but I only give a very basic over-view and do not wish to promote such unorthodox beliefs.
    – Anne
    Oct 31, 2021 at 11:11
  • Interesting. // Do you believe that the New Heavenly Earth is spiritual as well? If so, is it round? Oct 31, 2021 at 11:48
  • 2
    The question is not scoped at jws but the answer singles out jw beliefs and rebuts them
    – Kris
    Oct 31, 2021 at 14:36
  • 1
    There is a lot of misrepresentation and conflation going on in this answer Oct 31, 2021 at 19:44

As an annihilationist, one who believes that the ultimate fate of the wicked is to be destroyed permanently in hell, the answer to why they would be raised is: for the sake of displaying God's judgment and glory.

When discussing heaven/hell, an aspect often glossed over or forgotten about is judgment day itself, when everyone who has ever lived will be held accountable for their actions, with Christians being redeemed by Christ and sinners given no excuse. This is why the wicked who have died will be raised even though they will be destroyed and cease to exist. In other words, for the sake of a fair trial.

The belief that they will not be given a new body/form or be resurrected at all is rare; what is more common is the belief that whatever form the wicked have at Judgment day will not be the immortal, renewed body that will be possessed by believers in Heaven.

I feel I should address some misunderstandings/conflations evident in Anne's answer, which seem to be based off one or two individuals:

  • Annihilationists do still believe in hell; while of course there are a handful of exceptions, as with any group, it is incorrect to say generally that they believe hell does not exist, or simply refers to the grave

  • While some do believe the soul ceases to exist at death and is tied to the physical body, this is not 'official' doctrine, and there are plenty who believe the soul continues until Judgment Day, either 'asleep' or in a waiting place. This isn't within the scope of annihilationism.

  • Annihilationism isn't only held by JWs - far from it. While few denominations of Christianity officially hold to it (for example, Seventh Day Adventists), there are many from all denominations who individually hold to it.

  • Annihilationists do not necessarily believe the destruction is instantaneous; again there are a spectrum of views on this. Some might think it is instant, some that it is a painful process that is the same for everyone, others that the pain and length of the process vary depending on the sins of the individual. Personally I lean towards the second one.

  • FWIW, Matthew 10:28 would seem to make it quite clear that the soul does not die when the body dies; not prior to the Judgment, at least.
    – Matthew
    Nov 1, 2021 at 17:19
  • @Matthew I wasn't arguing for or against that point Nov 1, 2021 at 19:48
  • I know, that's why my comment was "FWIW", i.e. just offering an additional point for consideration. (Though I wonder how those that argue the soul does die with the body interpret that verse...)
    – Matthew
    Nov 1, 2021 at 20:06

Will the wicked really get their body back?

Without doubt the short answer seems to be yes for many Christians.

St. John seems to points to this fact:

Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. - (John 5:28,29)

Let us not forget what Our Lord spoke about in the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. It almost says it all.

Now there was a certain rich man, and he was clothed in purple and fine linen, faring sumptuously every day: and a certain beggar named Lazarus was laid at his gate, full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table; yea, even the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and that he was carried away by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: and the rich man also died, and was buried. And in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things: but now here he is comforted, and thou art in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, that they that would pass from hence to you may not be able, and that none may cross over from thence to us. And he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house; for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. But Abraham saith, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one go to them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, if one rise from the dead. - Luke 16:19–31

If the wicked enjoyed the illicit pleasures of the flesh in this life, it stands to reason that their bodies should in some way, merit the torments of the flesh equally in the next.

St. Thomas Aquinas outlines many details that he wrote in his Summa Theologiae about the conditions of the bodies of the damned. Question 86. The conditions under which the bodies of the damned will rise again.

Whether the bodies of the damned will rise again with their deformities?

Deformity in the human body is of two kinds. One arises from the lack of a limb: thus we say that a mutilated person is deformed, because he lacks due proportion of the parts to the whole. Deformities of this kind, without any doubt, will not be in the bodies of the damned, since all bodies of both wicked and good will rise again whole. Another deformity arises from the undue disposition of the parts, by reason of undue quantity, quality, or place—which deformity is, moreover, incompatible with due proportion of parts to whole. Concerning these deformities and like defects such as fevers and similar ailments which sometimes result in deformity, Augustine remained undecided and doubtful (Enchiridion xcii) as the Master remarks (Sent. iv, D, 44). Among modern masters, however, there are two opinions on this point. For some say that such like deformities and defects will remain in the bodies of the damned, because they consider that those who are damned are sentenced to utmost unhappiness wherefrom no affliction should be rebated. But this would seem unreasonable. For in the restoration of the rising body we look to its natural perfection rather than to its previous condition: wherefore those who die under perfect age will rise again in the stature of youth, as stated above (Supplement:81:1). Consequently those who had natural defects in the body, or deformities resulting therefrom, will be restored without those defects or deformities at the resurrection, unless the demerit of sin prevent; and so if a person rise again with such defects and deformities, this will be for his punishment. Now the mode of punishment is according to the measure of guilt. And a sinner who is about to be damned may be burdened with less grievous sins and yet have deformities and defects which one who is about to be damned has not, while burdened with more grievous sins. Wherefore if he who had deformities in this life rise again with them, while the other who had them not in this life, and therefore, as is clear, will rise again without them, though deserving of greater punishment, the mode of the punishment would not correspond to the amount of guilt; in fact it would seem that a man is more punished on account of the pains which he suffered in this world; which is absurd.

Hence others say with more reason, that He Who fashioned nature will wholly restore the body's nature at the resurrection. Wherefore whatever defect or deformity was in the body through corruption, or weakness of nature or of natural principles (for instance fever, purblindness, and so forth) will be entirely done away at the resurrection: whereas those defects in the human body which are the natural result of its natural principles, such as heaviness, passibility, and the like, will be in the bodies of the damned, while they will be removed from the bodies of the elect by the glory of the resurrection.

Whether the bodies of the damned will be incorruptible?

Since in every movement there must needs be a principle of movement, movement or change may be withdrawn from a movable in two ways: first through absence of a principle of movement, secondly through an obstacle to the principle of movement. Now corruption is a kind of change: and consequently a body which is corruptible on account of the nature of its principles may be rendered incorruptible in two ways. First by the total removal of the principle which leads to corruption, and in this way the bodies of the damned will be incorruptible. For since the heaven is the first principle of alteration in virtue of its local movement, and all other secondary agents act in virtue thereof and as though moved thereby, it follows that at the cessation of the heavenly movement there is no longer any agent that can change the body by altering it from its natural property. Wherefore after the resurrection, and the cessation of the heavenly movement, there will be no quality capable of altering the human body from its natural quality. Now corruption, like generation, is the term of alteration. Hence the bodies of the damned will be incorruptible, and this will serve the purpose of Divine justice, since living for ever they will be punished for ever. This is in keeping with the demands of Divine justice, as we shall state further on (Article 3), even as now the corruptibility of bodies serves the purpose of Divine providence, by which through the corruption of one thing another is generated.

Secondly, this happens through the principle of corruption being hindered, and in this way the body of Adam was incorruptible, because the conflicting qualities that exist in man's body were withheld by the grace of innocence from conducing to the body's dissolution: and much more will they be withheld in the glorified bodies, which will be wholly subject to the spirit. Thus after the general resurrection the two aforesaid modes of incorruptibility will be united together in the bodies of the blessed.

Whether the bodies of the damned will be impassible?

The principal cause of the bodies of the damned not being consumed by fire will be the Divine justice by which their bodies will be consigned to everlasting punishment. Now the Divine justice is served also by the natural disposition, whether on the part of the passive body or on the part of the active causes; for since passiveness is a kind of receptiveness, there are two kinds of passion, corresponding to two ways in which one thing is receptive of another. For a form may be received into a subject materially according to its natural being, just as the air receives heat from fire materially; and corresponding to this manner of reception there is a kind of passion which we call "passion of nature." In another way one thing is received into another spiritually by way of an "intention," just as the likeness of whiteness is received into the air and in the pupil: this reception is like that whereby the soul receives the likeness of things: wherefore corresponding to this mode of reception is another mode of passion which we call "passion of the soul." Since therefore after the resurrection and the cessation of the heavenly movement it will be impossible for a body to be altered by its natural quality, as stated above (Article 2), it will not be possible for any body to be passive with a passion of nature. Consequently as regards this mode of passion the bodies of the damned will be impassible even as they will be incorruptible. Yet after the heaven has ceased to move, there will still remain the passion which is after the manner of the soul, since the air will both receive light from the sun, and will convey the variety of colors to the sight. Wherefore in respect of this mode of passion the bodies of the damned will be passible. But the glorified bodies, albeit they receive something, and are in a manner patient to sensation, will nevertheless not be passive, since they will receive nothing to distress or hurt them, as will the bodies of the damned, which for this reason are said to be passible.

The Catholic Encyclopedia mentions the following about the General Resurrection:

Resurrection is the rising again from the dead, the resumption of life. The Fourth Lateran Council teaches that all men, whether elect or reprobate, "will rise again with their own bodies which they now bear about with them" (cap. "Firmiter"). In the language of the creeds and professions of faith this return to life is called resurrection of the body (resurrectio carnis, resurrectio mortuorum, anastasis ton nekron) for a double reason: first, since the soul cannot die, it cannot be said to return to life; second the heretical contention of Hymeneus and Philitus that the Scriptures denote by resurrection not the return to life of the body, but the rising of the soul from the death of sin to the life of grace, must be excluded. (We shall treat of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ in a separate article; here, we treat only of the General Resurrection of the Body.)

"No doctrine of the Christian Faith", says St. Augustine, "is so vehemently and so obstinately opposed as the doctrine of the resurrection of the flesh" (In Ps. lxxxviii, sermo ii, n. 5). This opposition had begun long before the days of St. Augustine: "And certain philosophers of the Epicureans and of the Stoics", the inspired writer tells us (Acts 17:18, 32), "disputed with him [Paul] ...and when they had heard of the resurrection of the dead, some indeed mocked, but others said: We will hear thee again concerning this matter." Among the opponents of the Resurrection we naturally find first those who denied the immortality of the soul; secondly, all those who, like Plato, regarded the body as the prison of the soul and death as an escape from the bondage of matter; thirdly the sects of the Gnostics and Manichæans who looked upon all matter as evil; fourthly, the followers of these latter sects the Priscillianists, the Cathari, and the Albigenses; fifthly, the Rationalists, Materialists, and Pantheists of later times. Against all these we shall first establish the dogma of the resurrection, and secondly consider the characteristics of the risen body.

New Testament

The resurrection of the dead was expressly taught by Christ (John 5:28-29; 6:39-40; 11:25; Luke 14:14) and defended against the unbelief of the Sadducees, whom He charged with ignorance of the power of God and of the Scriptures (Matthew 22:29; Luke 20:37). St. Paul places the general resurrection on the same level of certainty with that of Christ's Resurrection: "If Christ be preached, that he rose again from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen again. And if Christ be not risen again, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain" (1 Corinthians 15:12 sqq.). The Apostle preached the resurrection of the dead as one of the fundamental doctrines of Christianity, at Athens, for instance (Acts 17:18, 31, 32), at Jerusalem (xxiii, 6), before Felix (xxiv, 15), before Agrippa (xxvi, 8). He insists on the same doctrine in his Epistles (Romans 8:11; 1 Corinthians 6:14; 15:12 sqq.; 2 Corinthians 4:14; 5:1 sqq.; Philippians 3:21; 1 Thessalonians 4:12-16; 2 Timothy 2:11; Hebrews 6:2), and in this he agrees with the Apocalypse (xx, 12 sqq.).

  • +1. Interesting. Thanks. Nov 6, 2021 at 8:40

Many are confused about John 5:28,29 because it isn't immediately clear what time period this will take place. Here are some scriptures to ponder when personally assessing this:

  1. Armageddon is depicted as a judgment by the destruction of wicked mankind. This judgment is permanent, so John 5:28,29 cannot be referring to these people (Rev 19:17-21).
  2. After Armageddon, the scriptures refer to a thousand-year reign during which there will be a resurrection of the "righteous and the unrighteous"(Acts 24:15). This is remarkably similar to the picture John presents. So what would be the purpose of the thousand years during which Satan and his demons (yet unjudged) would be locked up?
  3. After the thousand years, Revelation says that the demons will be unleashed and free to influence mankind again, but only for a little while (Rev 20:1-3). Why?

Properly reconciling and understanding these scriptures fills a big gap in understanding John 5:28,29. Perfect justice prevents God from executing eternal judgment on persons who didn't receive a fair warning. For example, what of the thousands (maybe millions) of people who lived in a time or place where true knowledge wasn't available? What of persons whose life was cut short by some uncontrollable circumstance? Should these people be condemned by God, even though they didn't receive ample time to learn and reflect on Bible truth? It certainly wouldn't seem in God's character to resurrect a person only to condemn him back to death. Such a gesture would be pointless. There must be a logical reason for them to be brought back.

I submit that the Thousand Years is a loving provision by God to ensure that every human has a chance to accept Him without demonic interference and the time after will be to test that devotion with fire. In other words, everyone will have their own personal "40 days in the wilderness", so to speak. Only those who do what is evil during this time period will be condemned and it is entirely congruent with the other scriptures that breach this topic.

  • The text in question totally agrees with, and links to Rev, 20:11-15, where the dead, small and great, are all given resurrection bodies in order to stand before Christ for the judgment. It could not be clearer that they are not given a second chance to 'get it right' thereafter. To say that, is to say that what Christ achieved by his death and resurrection is insufficient, incomplete. To say that, requires an interpretation of a literal 1,000 years on earth before this judgment day. Rev.14:6-7 shows everyone gets a fair warning. Angels don't get it wrong.
    – Anne
    Sep 9, 2022 at 16:07

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .