Questions From Readers
● What is the correct understanding of Jesus’ words at Luke 20:34-36 (NW): “The children of this system of things marry and are given in marriage, but those who have been counted worthy of gaining that system of things and the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. In fact, neither can they die any more, for they are like the angels, and they are God’s children by being children of the resurrection”?—H. K., Canada.
Jesus spoke thus in answer to a question raised by the Sadducees, who did not believe in a resurrection. They posed their question to Jesus regarding a woman under the law of levirate marriage, hence under Mosaic law and not a Christian. They were interested to know whether she or those in her class of humanity would marry in the resurrection, and, if so, whose wife would she be if she had previously had as husbands seven brothers, in accord with the levirate marriage arrangement. This woman under the law of Moses would have no heavenly hope, nor did the Sadducees know of a heavenly class. The question was concerning one resurrected in the flesh to live on earth. Hence Jesus’ answer concerns an earthly class.—Luke 20:27-33.
When “this system of things” is brought to an end at Armageddon, then persons can no longer be children of it. Consequently, those who were once children of this system of things but who died cannot be children of it if they come up in a resurrection. Only by a resurrection can any of the dead enter into the new world, “that system of things.” Having been counted worthy of a resurrection from the dead they will neither marry nor be given in marriage, as Jesus said. In this respect they will be like the angels, who do not marry and procreate their kind.—Matt. 22:30; Mark 12:25.
But after their resurrection during the thousand-year reign of Christ under that new system of things, the question is, Will they prove worthy to become children of that system of things forever? “Gaining that system of things” means more than just rising from the grave and entering and making a start in the endless new world. Will these ones brought back in a resurrection of the unjust take up the way of integrity to Jehovah and maintain it? We know that some will fail to do so in the final test that comes at the end of the millennium, that they will fail to gain it, going down in death, and hence will not be among those to whom it is said, “Neither can they die any more.” However, many others will maintain integrity right on through this final test and will be “counted worthy of gaining that system of things,” and for that reason they can never die at the hands of any other creature.—Rev. 20:7-9.
After that final test there will definitely be no marrying or being given in marriage then by those counted worthy of the new world and having the right to eternal life, just as angels have that right. But even before the gaining of the everlasting new system of things these ones brought back in the resurrection of mankind do not marry, because even prior to the final test they are children of the resurrection. Their being debarred from marrying and being given in marriage does not wait until their names are written in the book of life and they are counted worthy of the everlasting system of things. (Rev. 20:12, 15) By the time they return from the dead through a resurrection paradise will have overspread the earth and the token fulfillment of the procreation mandate will have been effected by the Armageddon survivors and their offspring. (Gen. 9:1; Matt. 24:37; Luke 23:43) That work will have been accomplished by those of the “other sheep” class now living and who survive Armageddon. They are not precluded from marriage and childbirth by the words of Jesus at Luke 20:34-36, since they never die and hence are not children of the resurrection.
It is even reasonable and allowable to entertain the comforting thought that those of the other sheep who now die faithful will have an early resurrection and live during the time when the procreation mandate is being fulfilled and when paradise conditions are being spread earth-wide and that they will share in this divinely given service. Jehovah holds that hope of service out to them now, and it seems reasonable that he will not let them lose out on it because of untimely death now, perhaps a death brought on because of faithfulness to him.—See “The Truth Shall Make You Free”, pages 362, 363.