Two Resurrections

St. Augustine of Hippo in Book Twenty of his De civitate Dei (City of God) mentions two resurrections, following two deaths. The one resurrection is spiritual, and it takes place in the present life; the other resurrection is bodily, and this will take place at the end of the world when the bodies of all the dead will rise.

Christ said: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live” (Jn 5:25). St. Augustine explains: “He does not speak of the second resurrection, that is, the resurrection of the body, which shall be in the end, but of the first, which now is. It is for the sake of making this distinction that He says, ‘The hour is coming, and now is.’ Now this resurrection regards not the body, but the soul. For souls, too, have a death of their own in wickedness and sins. . . . ‘They that hear,’ that is, they who obey, believe, and persevere to the end. Here no difference is made between the good and the bad. For it is good for all men to hear His voice and live, by passing to the life of godliness from the death of ungodliness. Of this death the Apostle Paul says, ‘Therefore all are dead, and He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them and rose again’ (2 Cor 5:14-15).”

Concerning the second resurrection, the resurrection of the body for the Last Judgment, Christ says: “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment” (Jn 5:28-29). The “resurrection of judgment” is damnation. Therefore, St. Augustine advises: “He, therefore, who would not be damned in the second resurrection, let him rise in the first.”

“As, then, there are two regenerations, of which I have already made mention,—the one according to faith, and which takes place in the present life by means of baptism; the other according to the flesh, and which shall be accomplished in its incorruption and immortality by means of the great and final judgment,—so are there also two resurrections,—the one the first and spiritual resurrection, which has place in this life, and preserves us from coming into the second death; the other the second, which does not occur now, but in the end of the world, and which is of the body, not of the soul, and which by the last judgment shall dismiss some into the second death, others into that life which has no death.” (XX, 6)

Quotations from A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Vol. II, ed. Philip Schaff (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1886).

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