Have you ever wondered if anyone in the Bible died more than once? As Christians, we know that Jesus rose from the dead and conquered death. But did anyone else experience resurrection or have more than one death recorded in Scripture?
In this post, we’ll explore three figures from the Old and New Testaments who seemingly died twice according to the biblical accounts. As we examine their stories, we’ll uncover the significance behind these unusual events. So keep reading to learn who died twice in the Bible and what we can learn from it!
- The widow of Zarephath’s son was revived by Elijah after dying of illness.
- The Shunammite’s son was raised from the dead by Elisha.
- Lazarus was resurrected by Jesus 4 days after his death.
- These resurrections point to God’s power over death and redemption through Christ.
- The second deaths highlight that all still face physical death, despite temporary revivals.
The Widow of Zarephath’s Son (1 Kings 17:17-24)
The first person we’ll look at is the son of the widow of Zarephath. This story occurs during the ministry of the prophet Elijah. Due to a severe drought, Elijah had been staying with a poor widow and her son in the town of Zarephath. God had miraculously sustained them by making a jar of flour and jug of oil last for many days.
But tragedy struck when the widow’s young son became ill and stopped breathing (1 Kings 17:17). The text simply states that his illness “was so severe that there was no breath left in him” (v.17). So it seems the boy died, although the passage doesn’t explicitly use the word “death.”
Understandably, the grieving mother asks Elijah, “What have you against me, O man of God? Have you come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to kill my son?” (v.18). Elijah then takes the lifeless boy from her arms, cries out to the Lord, and stretches himself upon the child three times (v.21). Miraculously, the Lord hears Elijah’s plea and restores the boy’s life!
The text says the child began to breathe again and was revived (v.22). Overjoyed, the widow declares to Elijah, “Now by this I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is the truth” (v.24). God used this resurrection to authenticate Elijah’s ministry and demonstrate His ability to overcome death.
Yet, this was only a temporary resurrection. The son undoubtedly grew up, lived his life, and still experienced physical death later on. But this scene gives us an early glimpse of God’s restorative power, which reaches its fulfillment through Christ. As Jesus declares, “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25).
The Shunammite’s Son (2 Kings 4:18-37)
A second resurrection account centers on a woman from Shunem and her only son. The prophet Elisha was a frequent visitor in their home. In gratitude for his ministry, the woman had convinced her husband to add a small room onto their house for Elisha’s use.
One day while Elisha was in the mountains, the Shunammite woman’s son suddenly became ill and died (2 Kings 4:18-20). She immediately set off to find Elisha and said, “Did I ask my lord for a son? Did I not say, ‘Do not deceive me?'” (v.28). Elisha sent his servant Gehazi ahead with instructions, but the boy did not wake (v.31).
So Elisha himself came to the house, went to the child, and lay on him, just as Elijah had done (v.34). Stretching himself out twice, Elisha pled with the Lord to restore the boy’s life. The Lord graciously answered Elisha’s prayer, and the boy began to breathe and revived (v.35). Once again, God demonstrated His power over death through resurrection.
Yet as before, this was not a permanent victory over the grave. We can presume the Shunammite woman’s son experienced normal death years later. But his resurrection pointed ahead to the greater resurrection through Christ. As Jesus proclaimed, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live” (John 11:25).
Lazarus of Bethany (John 11:1-44)
The most well-known biblical figure who died twice is Lazarus of Bethany. He was the beloved brother of Mary and Martha and a close friend of Jesus (John 11:1-3). When Lazarus became extremely ill, his sisters urgently sent word for Jesus to come (v.3). But Jesus purposefully delayed going for two days, saying “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (v.4).
However, by the time Jesus arrived in Bethany, Lazarus had been dead and buried for four days (v.17). Both Martha and Mary came to meet Jesus, grieving that if He had come sooner, Lazarus wouldn’t have died (vv.21, 32). Jesus reassured them that their brother would “rise again” (vv.23-25).
Then Jesus went to Lazarus’ tomb, instructed the stone to be rolled away, and cried out, “Lazarus, come forth!” (vv.38-43). In an amazing demonstration of His authority over death, Lazarus came out of the tomb alive, still wrapped in burial linens! Many who witnessed this incredible sign came to faith in Christ (v.45).
Yet Lazarus eventually died again later in life. But his resurrection gave a vivid picture of Jesus’ power to grant eternal life to all who believe in Him. As Christ declared, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live” (vv.25-26). Death could not defeat Christ or those who trust in Him.
Significance of Biblical Resurrections
As we have seen, the widow’s son, the Shunammite’s son, and Lazarus all experienced revivals from death during their earthly lives. A key significance of these miracles is that they demonstrated God’s supreme power over death, which reaches its fulfillment through Christ. As the Son of God, Jesus has authority over sin, death, and the grave.
These resurrections also point ahead to the greater hope of resurrection and eternal life for all believers. While these individuals later died again, Jesus’ resurrection ensures that one day all who have faith in Him will be resurrected to imperishable bodies and live forever in God’s presence (1 Corinthians 15). As Christ proclaimed, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies” (John 11:25).
Furthermore, these accounts reveal God’s compassion. In two cases, widows cried out in grief over their only sons and God mercifully responded. He cares deeply for those who are hurting and demonstrated His ability to restore and redeem, even from death.
Finally, these resurrections inspired many witnesses to have faith. The widow declared her faith in Elijah and God after seeing her son revived. Many believed in Jesus when they heard of Lazarus coming back to life. These miracles pointed people to the truth and glory of God. As Christ predicted, through Lazarus’ death and resurrection, “the Son of God may be glorified” (John 11:4).
In closing, the three figures who seemingly died twice in Scripture are the widow’s son, the Shunammite’s son, and Lazarus. Though each was revived from death during their earthly lives, they still eventually died again. Yet their resurrections foreshadowed Christ’s ultimate victory over death on our behalf. They also revealed God’s almighty power, compassionate care, and desire for people to believe.
Next time you read these accounts, remember the significance behind these miracles. Let them point you to the hope of resurrection through faith in Jesus, who declares “I am the resurrection and the life.” Though we may die, in Christ we will live again eternally. The grave could not hold Him, and it cannot hold those who are His. Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through Christ alone!