Identifying the Resurrected
1. As regards the resurrection, what do we desire with regard to ourselves and others, and what assurance do we have on this?
WHAT all of us who may have a part in the resurrection desire is to know our loved friends and relatives after their return from the dead. In fact, we desire to recognize our very own selves. We do not care to suffer a loss of memory so that we do not know who we ourselves are. God’s Word makes us sure of our mutual recognition of one another. The apostle Paul who trusted in the resurrection says: “Then I shall know accurately even as I am accurately known.” (1 Cor. 13:12) But what will be the thing by which to identify ourselves and others?
2. In view of the explanation given according to the Apostles’ Creed, what practical questions arise about resurrection bodies?
2 Will it be by having the very same bodies with which we died? That is the way the so-called Apostles’ Creed is explained. So, will the person who died with a malignant cancer running its tentacles through his body have to come back with the same body in the grip of that cancer? Will the person who dies eaten up with leprosy and disfigured terribly have to come back with the same body afflicted with that loathsome disease? The pregnant woman who died with an unborn child in her womb—will she be raised from the dead with that same pregnant body and give birth to the child on or after the resurrection day? Will a person who was caught in an explosion and had both arms and legs blown off and had to use artificial arms and legs afterward—will he have to be resurrected as just a torso minus limbs? Does God’s Word teach resurrection of the same body?
3. What cases may be argued in favor of resurrecting the same body, but what happened to the ones restored to life in such cases?
3 It is true that Elijah raised to life the same body in the case of that son of the Phoenician widow. Also, that Elisha raised the same body in the case of the son of the Shunammite woman. Also, that Jesus raised the same bodies in the cases of the son of the widow of Nain, of the daughter of Jairus, and of his dear friend Lazarus dead four days. The apostle Peter raised the same body of the charitable Christian woman Dorcas of Joppa. The apostle Paul raised the same body of Eutychus, who fell out of an upstairs window. But all these died again and came under the need of a future resurrection by God’s power through Jesus Christ.
4. What argument as to body may be used in connection with Jesus Christ, but what does 1 Peter 3:18, 19 say by way of correction?
4 Here some Watchtower readers may interrupt and say: ‘That is true. But Jesus Christ himself was raised with the very same body in which he was crucified, and that fact sets the pattern for all the other dead who are to be resurrected. And Jesus now has that same body in heaven to which he ascended.’ These readers have been taught so in the religious systems that they have attended. But does the apostle Paul agree with that? Does the apostle Peter agree with that? In 1 Peter 3:18, 19 he says, according to The New English Bible of 1961: “For Christ also died for our sins once for all. He, the just, suffered for the unjust, to bring us to God. In the body he was put to death; in the spirit he was brought to life. And in the spirit he went and made his proclamation to the imprisoned spirits.” Other modern translations of 1 Peter 3:18, 19 read similarly.
5, 6. (a) What events on Jesus’ resurrection day does Peter’s statement help to explain? (b) Why did Jesus have to materialize a body of flesh and bones on each occasion?
5 So, as regards Jesus’ resurrection, Peter says that “in the spirit he was brought to life.” This explains why on the resurrection morning when God’s angel rolled the stone from the door of the sepulcher the soldier guards did not see Jesus rise from the dead and come out, although they did see the materialized angel. (Matt. 28:1-4) This explains why, when the resurrected Jesus met two disciples walking that day to Emmaus and went along with them and started to take supper with them, they did not know him until he began to serve the bread; and then he disappeared.—Luke 24:13-35.
6 This explains why, when the apostles and other disciples were met together in Jerusalem behind closed doors for fear of the fanatical Jews, Jesus must have come right through the walls. For he amazingly stood right in among them, and, after eating and talking with them, he vanished from them, but not through any unbolted door. (Luke 24:36-44; John 20:19-24) Of course, for Jesus, who had been brought to life in the spirit, to make himself visible to his disciples, he had to materialize on each occasion a body of flesh and bones. Jesus himself then said: “A spirit does not have flesh and bones just as you behold that I have.” Since the flesh-and-bones disciples could not see what was not flesh and bones, they could not see a spirit and they could not see the resurrected Jesus, who was “in the spirit.”—Luke 24:39.
7. How should we explain Jesus’ not mentioning blood when telling his disciples about what a spirit does not have?
7 Because Jesus did not mention blood, he did not mean a spirit has blood like that of a human person. When we feel a person, as his disciples then felt Jesus, we do not feel blood, but we feel the flesh and the bones, especially bones in the hands, the feet and the chest. A fleshly body without bones would just collapse.
8. What explanation can be given as to why, on occasions, the disciples did not recognize the resurrected Jesus?
8 On some occasions the disciples did not know or recognize the resurrected Jesus. (Matt. 28:16, 17; Luke 24:15, 16; John 20:14-16; 21:4-12) The explanation for this is given in the words found in the Latin Vulgate, the Roman Catholic Douay Version, the German Luther Bible and the Authorized (King James) Version, in Mark 16:12. This verse in the Douay Version reads: “And after that he appeared in another shape to two of them walking, as they were going into the country.” The Greek word there translated “shape” is morphé, which the Greek-English Lexicon says means “form, shape, fashion, appearance.” But even apart from what Mark 16:12 says, a careful study of the resurrection appearances makes it clear to the honest investigator, who does not need to be a Sherlock Holmes of a detective, that the resurrected Jesus materialized different bodies to suit the occasion. On at least two occasions he materialized bodies that resembled the one in which he had been nailed to the stake. (Luke 24:38-40; John 20:20-27) On other occasions the form or shape that he materialized left the disciples in doubt for a while.
9. When Jesus ascended to heaven, what did angels say to the onlooking disciples, but what did they not say about Christ’s return?
9 Possibly some readers will now think of Jesus’ ascension to heaven, how he led his disciples out to the Mount of Olives, where, “while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight,” and angels said to them: “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11, AV) In those words “in like manner” the Greek word for “manner” is, not morphé, but trópos. So the angels did not say that this same Jesus would return in the same form or shape but in the same manner. Neither did the angels say that those disciples would see Jesus return.
10, 11. (a) How do some argue around the fact that Jesus could not take a fleshly body to heaven as 1 Corinthians 15:50 shows? (b) How is it shown that there was no need to spiritualize material things?
10 Jesus could not take a human body through the Van Allen radiation belts and outer space to heaven, for, in discussing the resurrection, Paul says: “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption,” which agrees with Paul’s preceding statement: “It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption.” (1 Cor. 15:42, 50, AV) Oh! but some readers will say, he spiritualized his fleshly body in order to take it to heaven! But, we ask, did those angels who materialized human bodies in order to appear to the disciples on resurrection day and on ascension day spiritualize those bodies in which they appeared in order to return to the invisible spirit realm? Did Jesus spiritualize the clothing in which he appeared to his disciples?
11 Jesus certainly had to materialize clothing in which to appear, for the clothes he had on before he was impaled were divided among the soldiers and they cast lots over his seamless inner garment; and the bandages in which his corpse had been wrapped and the cloth that had been upon his head were left in the sepulcher. (John 19:23, 24; 20:5-7) If the resurrected Jesus could materialize new clothing, could he not also materialize new suitable bodies in order to appear and then dematerialize instead of spiritualize them? Yes!
SACRIFICE NOT TAKEN OFF ALTAR
12, 13. What would it mean if Jesus had taken his human body to heaven to enjoy there, and why so?
12 If Jesus were to take his body of flesh, blood and bones to heaven and enjoy them there, what would this mean? It would mean that there would be no resurrection of the dead for anybody. Why not? Because Jesus would be taking his sacrifice off God’s altar.
13 Jesus said: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread he will live forever; and, for a fact, the bread that I shall give is my flesh in behalf of the life of the world. He that feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has everlasting life, and I shall resurrect him at the last day; for my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.” (John 6:51, 54, 55) How could we eat Jesus’ flesh and drink his blood in order to have everlasting life and at the same time Jesus himself have the flesh and blood themselves in which to live in heaven? It is a common proverb that a person cannot have his cake and eat it too.
14. If Jesus had his human body in heaven, what would this mean about our knowledge of God and Christ, but how is this disproved?
14 Just suppose that Jesus has his earthly human body in heaven. Since clergymen who insist that Jesus has his human body in heaven teach that he is also God himself, then we know what God looks like. He looks like Jesus when down on earth; he is possibly six feet tall, has a Jewish nose, possibly a beard, has man’s sex organs, and seems to weigh two hundred pounds or around a hundred kilograms. He is maybe like the painting by the Italian Michelangelo of the Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel of the Vatican. However, Jesus told the Jews: “The Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape [morphé].” (John 5:37, AV) The apostle John also said to Christians: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2, AV) John’s words would not be true if Jesus had his human body with him in heaven, for then we would know what Christians will be like in heaven after their resurrection from the dead.
15. If Jesus has his human body in heaven, what does this mean as the result of his eating and drinking with his disciples in heaven?
15 Another thing: If Jesus had his human body in heaven, then he has the entire digestive system, including the mouth and the stomach; and his faithful disciples, on going to heaven, would have the same things. We remember that Jesus said to them: “I make a covenant with you, just as my Father has made a covenant with me, for a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom.” (Luke 22:29, 30) Well, then, after eating and drinking, the food and drink would go through their digestive systems. So what? Well, Jesus said: “Whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught.” (Matt. 15:17, AV) Think of it! Since the arrival of human bodies, there now have to be draught houses in heaven, toilets, both private and public, with separate ones for men and women. And now and forever Jesus, who the clergymen say is very God himself, has to use a heavenly toilet, something that he never had to do in heaven before he became a man!* This has to be true if we carry arguments to their logical conclusions!
16. How, though, is the Bible reasonable in this matter?
16 How reasonable, though, the Bible is in saying that “flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s kingdom”! (1 Cor. 15:50) In explaining the annual Atonement Day or Yom Kippur of the Jews, the Jewish Christian Paul proves that Jesus Christ did not take his fleshly body with him to heaven but left it behind as a human sacrifice.
17. On the annual Atonement Day of the Jews how was atonement made?
17 As explained in Leviticus, chapter sixteen, on the yearly Atonement Day the Jewish high priest carried the blood of the sacrificial bull and the sacrificial goat into the Most Holy of the sacred tent or temple made by human hands. As for the skins, the flesh and the dung of the bull and goat, these had to be burned outside the camp or community and thus be disposed of. Both the bull and the goat pictured the sinless Jesus Christ as a human sacrifice. The Most Holy into which the blood of the bull and the goat was brought pictured heaven itself, where God the Creator is.
18 Here, now, is how God’s own Word explains this, in Hebrews 9:11, 12, 24-26: “When Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come to pass through the greater and more perfect tent not made with hands, that is, not of this creation, he entered, no, not with the blood of goats and of young bulls, but with his own blood, once for all time into the holy place and obtained an everlasting deliverance for us. For Christ entered, not into a holy place made with hands, which is a copy of the reality, but into heaven itself, now to appear before the person of God for us. Neither is it in order that he should offer himself often, as indeed the high priest enters into the holy place from year to year with blood not his own. Otherwise, he [Christ] would have to suffer often from the founding of the world. But now he has manifested himself once for all time at the conclusion of the systems of things to put sin away through the sacrifice of himself.”
19, 20. What does the disposition of the bodies of the atoning bull and goat picture as regards Jesus Christ?
19 How were the fleshly bodies of the Atonement Day sacrifices disposed of? Hebrews 13:10-13 answers: “We [Christians] have an altar from which those who do sacred service at the tent have no authority to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is taken into the holy place by the high priest for sin are burned up outside the camp. Hence Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Let us, then, go forth to him outside the camp, bearing the reproach he bore.”
20 According to the Atonement Day picture, as fulfilled by Jesus Christ, his fleshly human body was not taken into the true Most Holy, the heaven of God’s presence. Like the bodies of the atoning bull and goat, Jesus’ earthly body was disposed of according to God’s will, that believing mankind might feed upon it by faith.
21. What was pictured by the Jewish high priest’s taking the atoning blood into the Most Holy?
21 Even Jesus’ literal blood was not taken into heaven itself, but what his shed blood symbolized was taken by him to heaven. God’s Word says: “The life [Hebrew, néfesh] of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls [néfesh in plural]: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul [néfesh].” (Lev. 17:11, AV) According to these words Jesus’ shed blood pictured his human life poured out. It stood for the value of his sacrificed life. So, when the Jewish high priest with the atoning blood passed beyond the inner curtain into the Most Holy of the tent of worship, it pictured Jesus’ being resurrected from the dead and entering with the value of his human sacrifice into heaven itself, there to present this value to God his Father. His life symbolized by his blood was offered for our lives based on our blood.
22, 23. (a) If Jesus had been resurrected as a man, what work could he not have done? (b) With reference to resurrection bodies, what illustration did Jesus use and what did Paul not say?
22 That Jesus Christ might accomplish this atonement work in the heavens where spirits live, he was, as 1 Peter 3:18 says, resurrected or brought to life “in the spirit.” Had he been resurrected as a perfect man again, he could not have done this high priestly work in heaven. What body did he have in his resurrection and what bodies do his faithful followers have in their resurrection? The apostle Paul illustrates it with the growth of a plant from a seed. Even Jesus himself referred to a plant and said: “The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” (John 12:23, 24, AV) With what body does that fallen, dead seed come forth?
23 Nineteen centuries ago the Christians in Corinth put up to Paul the same question, With what body do the dead return in the resurrection? Paul did not answer: ‘I believe in the Apostles’ Creed; and it says that there will be “the resurrection of the body,” the same body identically with which people died. Even Christians who enter the heavenly kingdom get their human bodies back.’
24, 25. With reference to resurrection bodies of Christ and his disciples, what does Paul write in 1 Corinthians 15:35-41?
24 The apostle Paul wrote differently from the so-called Apostles’ Creed. Therefore let us read what he wrote in discussing the resurrection of Jesus Christ and his followers. Here it is:
25 “Nevertheless, someone will say: ‘How are the dead to be raised up? Yes, with what sort of body are they coming?’ You unreasonable person! What you sow is not made alive unless first it dies; and as for what you sow, you sow, not the body that will develop, but a bare grain, it may be, of wheat or any one of the rest; but God gives it a body just as it has pleased him, and to each of the seeds its own body. Not all flesh is the same flesh, but there is one of mankind, and there is another flesh of cattle, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish. And there are heavenly bodies, and earthly bodies; but the glory of the heavenly bodies is one sort, and that of the earthly bodies is a different sort. The glory of the sun is one sort, and the glory of the moon is another, and the glory of the stars is another; in fact, star differs from star in glory.”—1 Cor. 15:35-41.
26. What does Paul there show with regard to the bodies that he discusses?
26 Please note! Paul does not say there is a combination body, a body part heavenly and part earthly, a spiritualized human body, a body part fish and part bird, or part man and part monkey, or a God-man. Paul says that each body is of a distinct sort, a heavenly body of its own sort, an earthly body of its own sort. Well, then, what body does God give to the Christians who have been begotten by his spirit to a heavenly hope? Here is what Paul answers:
27. In 1 Corinthians 15:42-49 what does Paul write as to the resurrection bodies given to spirit-begotten Christians?
27 “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it is raised up in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised up in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised up in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised up a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual one. It is even so written: ‘The first man Adam became a living soul.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. Nevertheless, the first is, not that which is spiritual, but that which is physical, afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is out of the earth and made of dust; the second man is out of heaven. As the one made of dust is, so those made of dust are also; and as the heavenly one is, so those who are heavenly are also. And just as we have borne the image of the one made of dust, we shall bear also the image of the heavenly one.”—1 Cor. 15:42-49.
28. How do the foregoing words support the truth that Jesus Christ was resurrected “in the spirit”?
28 Paul’s words about receiving a different body in the resurrection apply to Jesus himself and not only to his faithful followers begotten by God’s spirit. Just as Peter said that Jesus was put to death in the flesh and resurrected to life in the spirit, so Paul here says that in the resurrection Jesus, who is the “last Adam,” was raised or “became a life-giving spirit.”—1 Cor. 15:45.
29. Why is a change of body necessary for the heavenly class, and what assurance does Paul give about this change?
29 If Jesus had been resurrected human, he would again have borne the image of the “first man Adam.” Hence in becoming like Jesus in their resurrection his followers would be bearing again the “image of the one made of dust” and not the image of anyone heavenly. But for these Christians a change of body is absolutely necessary, since Paul says right afterward: “However, this I say, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s kingdom, neither does corruption inherit incorruption. . . . we shall be changed. For this which is corruptible must put on incorruption, and this which is mortal must put on immortality. But when this which is corruptible puts on incorruption and this which is mortal puts on immortality, then the saying will take place that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up forever.’”—1 Cor. 15:50-54.
DOES ANYTHING SURVIVE DEATH?
30. With regard to the resurrection bodies of people without a heavenly hope, what rule must apply, as stated by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:37, 38?
30 So much for the spirit-begotten Christians with a heavenly hope. What about the billions of people, including faithful men and women of God, who died without a heavenly hope prior to Christ’s first coming? And what about people today? Hundreds of thousands of godly men and women are living without a heavenly hope. What about the resurrection of persons of this kind who die before God destroys this old system of things and introduces his new world or system of things under the kingdom of Jesus Christ? Regarding these descendants of the first man Adam Paul’s words quoted above say: “The first man is out of the earth and made of dust . . . As the one made of dust is, so those made of dust are also.” To these the rule about kinds of seed must apply, as stated by Paul: “God gives it a body just as it has pleased him, and to each of the seeds its own body.”—1 Cor. 15:37, 38.
31. Accordingly, what bodies will God give them in the resurrection?
31 So it will be with persons who remain part of the earthly seed of mankind and who have not been begotten of God’s spirit to become a heavenly seed. In the resurrection they will be raised with bodies belonging to the earthly seed. God will give them bodies just as it pleases him, human bodies, but not identically the same human bodies with which they died. ‘Oh! ‘ some readers may say, ‘how, then, will it be the same person?’ Almighty God will see to it that it is the same person, even without the same body.
32. What question is raised as to the need for something to survive to preserve identity?
32 At that these readers will ask: ‘Does not something have to survive death in order for the person to be the same person in the resurrection and not some newly created person like the person who died? You have proved from the Bible that the human soul dies when a human creature dies and that the corpse is either eaten up by the fish of the sea or by the worms of the earth and thus it goes out of existence. This being so, nothing survives, no soul, no body.’
33 That is Scripturally right. And Ecclesiastes 12:7 says: “Then the dust returns to the earth just as it happened to be and the spirit itself returns to the true God who gave it.” The spirit of the wicked as well as the spirit of the righteous returns to God who gave it. How so? Because the spirit [rúahh] here mentioned is not the soul [néfesh], which has died. The spirit is the force of life that God has given or has caused to be transmitted to every person that is born. God withdraws that life force from all mankind who are under the inheritance of death from Adam, and, when God withdraws this spirit or life force, the human soul dies. (Rom. 5:12) God alone can restore this spirit or life force and thus cause souls to live again. Psalm 104:29, 30 says: “If you conceal your face, they get disturbed. If you take away their spirit, they expire, and back to their dust they go. If you send forth your spirit [not, your soul or their soul], they are created.” These inspired words assure us that Almighty God can re-create, yes, re-create human souls.
34, 35. (a) Why is a question raised regarding God’s power to re-create? (b) Who determines whether anything of the dead soul shall live on, and what scriptures show this?
34 Here some readers will say, ‘How can God re-create souls or make the same souls over again, if nothing physical or spiritual lives on after the soul dies and the body goes to dust and gases?’
35 Ah, but there is something of the dead soul that lives on, if God chooses to have it so, and this something lays the basis for a re-creation. What is that? The life record of the dead soul. God can blot out the record of a wicked soul or he can preserve the record of a righteous soul for His own reference and use. Exodus 32:33 (AV) says: “The LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.” Deuteronomy 29:20 (AV) says: “The LORD shall blot out his name from under heaven.” Psalm 69:28 (AV) prays: “Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous.” Proverbs 10:7 (AV) says: “The memory of the just is blessed: but the name of the wicked shall rot.” Hence God does not keep the wicked ones in his memory. Because he blots them out of the book of the living, he will give them no resurrection from the dead.—Matt. 10:28; Ps. 145:20.
36. How is God’s ability to preserve records of dead souls shown to be most reasonable?
36 Talk about preserving records, men today make motion pictures of a person on a film together with a sound track of his voice. This can be reproduced over television. In fact, men today can preserve on a phonograph record the speech and singing of a person. Even on a magnetic tape men can invisibly preserve television pictures and the voice of an actor. If imperfect dying men can do this because man was created in God’s image, what can Almighty God himself do in keeping records, even in his own memory, concerning persons for whom he reserves a resurrection from the dead by means of Jesus Christ? So our record with God is what counts.
37. (a) What does each one’s record with God represent? (b) How is it proved that soul according to the pagan Grecian idea is not the seat of intelligence and thought and personality?
37 Each one of us makes his own record with God. That record represents you! It tells of your personality. Your personality does not altogether depend upon your physical body. Because of the continual wearing out and repairing of the tissues and organs of our bodies we get a completely new body every seven years or so. Yet our personality remains as an identification of our being the same person. Even our personalities can change, not because our bodies are renewed, but because God’s holy spirit or transforming force acts upon us. Each one develops his own personality pattern, and this is stored up in each one’s brain, also in the blood to some extent. The seat of intelligence, of thought, of memory, or consciousness and of personality is not some pagan Greek idea of a soul or psykhé. Pagans argue that a soul resides in each of us and is the seat of intelligence and personality; but we know that if the physical brain is damaged in anyone, he loses his intelligence or sanity and no so-called soul inside him keeps him intelligent, sane or possessed of memory and thinking ability. This disproves the pagan theory of an immortal soul as the seat of life and thought.
38. How will God re-create dead souls, and what does Ecclesiastes 11:3 indicate regarding this?
38 God knows all this. At his time for resurrecting the earthly dead souls under the kingdom of his Son Jesus Christ, God can consult his records of each one or his own memory of each one. He can give each person resurrected to life on earth a “body just as it has pleased him,” with its distinct type of blood. That body will have a human brain, not made, of course, of identically the same atoms or molecules that the person had in the brain with which he died. Yet it will be the same brain. How? In that God will exactly reproduce the brain that the individual had at death. He will repeat its convolutions and implant in them the record that the individual made of himself in the former life. God will implant the exact impressions and memories of all things that happened during the person’s previous consciousness, his power of recognizing people and scenes and locations, and all his personality traits, and everything that displays his mental growth or retardation. This will be because, when he died as a soul, he experienced no mental or personality changes afterward in death. At what state of attainment his personality and mentality fell in death, there they remained.—Eccl. 11:3.
39. Thus why would the person resurrected be, not some newly created person like him, but the person that died?
39 Thus in the resurrection that person with that personality and brain ability will be the individual that died, not some other person like him. Nobody else made the record that is reproduced in this resurrected person; and no person who is merely like him could account for having such a record in himself since he did not work out that particular record. So if you were to die and have a resurrection, and God provided a body with a brain like yours and with your record at death, that resurrected person would be you, nobody else but you. Your acquaintances would know it was you.
40. (a) What opportunity will the resurrection of dead souls on earth open up to them? (b) What special opportunity do proclaimers of God’s kingdom today have before them, and why?
40 How wonderful that in God’s resurrection of the dead souls we shall know one another and also remember God’s past loving-kindness to us! The resurrection of the dead souls to life on earth will open up an opportunity for them to gain life everlasting on a paradise earth under the perfect government of God’s kingdom. (Luke 23:42, 43, Ro; NW) Besides that, there lives on earth today a great crowd of God-fearing people who are proclaiming God’s kingdom worldwide and who will not need a resurrection from the common grave of dead mankind. These people will survive the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” with which this wicked system of things will end shortly. (Rev. 16:14, 16) Thus without dying they will enter into the new world under God’s kingdom and gain the prize of everlasting life for themselves. They will also be on hand to welcome back the earthly dead in the resurrection. But that is a subject for discussion some other time.
Compare with this the words of the prophet Elijah concerning the false god Baal who was likened to a human, at 1 Kings 18:27: “And it came about at noon that Elijah began to mock them and say: ‘Call at the top of your voice, for he is a god; for he must be concerned with a matter, and he has excrement and has to go to the privy.’”
[Picture on page 237]
“Last Judgment”—Sistine Chapel