Scripture Query and Answer: The Rising of the Old Testament Saints

 •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 10
Q. When will the Old Testament saints be raised? Are they included in “them that are Christ's at his coming” (1 Cor. 15:2323But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. (1 Corinthians 15:23)), and raised when the Church is caught up? (1 Thess. 4) in which case they would be said to “sleep through Jesus,” and to be “the dead in Christ.” Or, do they wait some little time longer, and only raised on the sounding of the seventh trumpet (Rev. 11:15-1815And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. 16And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, 17Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. 18And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth. (Revelation 11:15‑18)), where “thy servants the prophets” are spoken of together with others (the seventh trumpet being the final one of this dispensation, and thus in keeping with the word to Daniel in chapter xii. 13, “Go thy way till the end be; and thou shalt rest and stand in thy lot at the end of the days")? And still more striking is that which Job says (chap. xix. 25-27), “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.... in my flesh shall I see God.” Was not this expecting Him on the earth, as Christ will be in the millennium? (Zech. 14, Acts 1) H. W. T.
A. I see no reason to doubt that all saints who have died will be raised up when Christ comes and changes us, the living, that remain to the moment of His presence, and both shall be caught up together in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. “Those that are the Christ's,” in 1 Cor. 15:2323But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. (1 Corinthians 15:23), seem to me a category put in an expressly large style so as to embrace the saints before the Church as well as such as compose it. Compare Heb. 11. And this is confirmed by the special communication which begins at 1 Cor. 15:5151Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, (1 Corinthians 15:51): “Behold I show you a mystery: we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” Here there is a secret beyond the Old Testament which revealed no more than the resurrection and the coming with the Lord in the day of His appearing. (Job 19, Zech. 14) But the apostle was inspired to add both the manner of raising the dead-saints and especially the change of us, the living, then found here below, who shall all he alike changed, and, according to 1 Thess. 4, caught up to meet the Lord above. Hence in this latter scripture “those put to sleep through Jesus” may be said of dead Christians (the occasion of the need of comfort to the living), while the next verse speaks with greater comprehensiveness of those fallen asleep in general. Again, “the dead in Christ” need not be restrained to those since redemption; it is in contrast with the dead in Adam or after a merely natural sort.
There is nothing said of raising saints from the dead under the seventh trumpet, though I do not object to the conclusion that, as it is the winding up of God's appeals to the world and the introduction of the world kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, so it announces the judicial recompense in broad terms up to the end. The time of award to His servants the prophets, and to the saints, &c., does not fix it as the moment of their resurrection—they may well have been raised before. At any rate nothing of the kind can be built on a passage which is silent as to that for which it is alleged.
Nor is there the least warrant to connect “the seventh trumpet” With “the last trump” of 1 Cor. 15, nor even with the “great sound of a trumpet” in Matt. 24 “The seventh” is of course the closing one of the Apocalyptic series and of the general course of the book up to the kingdom. “The last trump” of 1 Cor. 15 means simply the final summons when the heavenly saints leave their earthly sojourn to join the Lord—a figure, like others in the chapter, taken from familiar military matters. The trumpet in the gospel is rather connected with the divine call to gather Israel from all lands according to the prophets. There is no doubt that when this point is reached all the departments of the kingdom, heavenly and earthly, will be occupied and displayed by Christ, the risen saints, and the people of God, nor will it cease till every creature, even of the lost, bows and confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. Daniel and Job will be there, of course, among the rest.
The scripture which is most to the point (of proving saints raised just before the millennial kingdom begins) is Rev. 20:44And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4); but I see no reason to doubt that the first class already enthroned includes the Old Testament saints with the Church, while the two classes particularly described and then raised in addition to the foregoing are only the apocalyptic confessors. This then gives no countenance to the view that the Old Testament saints are reserved till then. The sufferers at the end of this age are specified as then made to live and reign with Christ: else they might seem to have lost all as regards the kingdom. No others are said to be raised at that time.