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The Blue Letter Bible

Don Stewart :: What's the Difference between Resurrection and Resuscitation?

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Don Stewart
There is a difference between resurrection and resuscitation, or re-animation. Resurrection refers to putting on a new, glorified body, while re-animation, or resuscitation, mean raising the person in the old, mortal body in which they died.


The Book of 1 Kings gives us an example of God raising a person back to life. Elijah brought back to life the son of a widow.

Then the Lord heard the voice of Elijah and the soul of the child came back to him, and he revived (1 Kings 17:22).


Elisha the prophet also brought a child back from the dead,

And when Elisha came into the house there was the child, lying dead on his bed . . . He returned and walked back and forth in the house, and again went up and stretched himself out on him; then the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes (2 Kings 4:32-35 ).

Elisha's Body

The Scripture says the body of the dead prophet Elisha was instrumental in bringing a prophet back from the dead.

Then Elisha died, and they buried him. And the raiding bands from Moab invaded the land in the spring of the year. So it was, as they were burying a man, that suddenly they spied a band of raiders; and they put the man in the tomb of Elisha; and when the man was let down and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet (2 Kings 13:20,21).

God Has Capability

These Old Testament examples of God reviving the dead show us that He has the capability, as well as the desire, to restore life. However, all those who were revived eventually died again. Their restoration is not the same thing as the promised resurrection.

New Testament Examples

As was true with Old Testament examples, the New Testament gives us the accounts of people who have been brought back from the dead.


Lazarus had been dead four days when Jesus brought Him back to life

Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, 'Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me. Now when He had said these things, He shouted with a loud voice, 'Lazarus, come forth!' And he who died came out bound hand and foot with grave clothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth (John 11:41-44).

Jairus' Daughter

The daughter of a man named Jairus was raised from the dead by Jesus.

They were all weeping and wailing for her; but He [Jesus] said, "Do not weep; for she is not dead but sleeping." And they laughed at Him, knowing that she was dead. But He took her by the hand and called out, "Child, get up!" Her spirit returned, and she got up at once. Then He directed them to give her something to eat (Luke 8:52-55).

Widow Of Nain

There was a woman in the city of Nain who had a son who died. The Bible says that Jesus brought her son back from the dead.

Then He went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, "Young man, I say to you, get up!" The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother (Luke 7:14,15).

Though brought back to life, this young man had to die again someday.


There was also a woman named Dorcas, or Tabitha, whom Peter raised from the dead.

Peter put all of them outside, and then he knelt down and prayed. He turned to the body and said, "Tabitha, get up." Then she opened her eyes, and seeing Peter, she sat up. He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he showed her to be alive (Acts 9:40,41).


In the Book of Acts, we have the account of Paul bringing a young man named Eutychus back from the dead.

A young man named Eutychus, who was sitting in the window, began to sink off into a deep sleep while Paul talked still longer. Overcome by sleep, he fell to the ground three floors below and was picked up dead. But Paul went down, and bending over him took him in his arms, and said, "Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him." Then Paul went upstairs, and after he had broken bread and eaten, he continued to converse with them until dawn; then he left (Acts 20:9-11).


The Bible gives several specific examples of people who were resuscitated, or re-animated, back to life. Each of these people who were brought back to life had to die again. This is not the same as the biblical hope of resurrection. When believers are raised from the dead, they will receive a new, glorified body. This body will never perish.
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