Who Will Be Resurrected from the Dead?
“That the dead are raised up even Moses disclosed.”—Luke 20:37.
1. (a) Who proved to be the promised Prophet greater than Moses? (b) How do Moses and the Greater Prophet compare as to the subject of resurrection?
THE prophet Moses of thirty-five centuries ago foreshadowed a still greater prophet who would arise from Moses’ own race. That is what the Most High God told Moses himself. (Deut. 18:17-19) Nineteen centuries ago, or in the first century of our Common Era, that promised prophet who would be greater than Moses was identified as being a man who did greater miracles than Moses did, a man who came in the name of the same God as Moses did, a man of Moses’ own race who was called Jesus Christ. Numbers of people who heard him talk said: “This is for a certainty The Prophet.” (John 7:40) At the temple in Jerusalem he was proclaimed to be such Prophet, and also before the religious Supreme Court of Jerusalem. (Acts 3:22-26; 7:37, 38, 52) Quite agreeably, then, if Moses disclosed such a wonderful thing as the resurrection or raising up of the dead, Jesus Christ as the Prophet like Moses but greater than Moses would have much to say about the resurrection of the dead. Actually, he did say much about it. In fact, he himself had a resurrection from the dead.
2, 3. Why, in Matthew 11:20-24, did Jesus reproach Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum?
2 On one occasion in the year 31 of our Common Era this Prophet greater than Moses named ancient peoples and inhabitants of ancient cities and indicated something regarding their future. He spoke of the cities of Tyre, Sidon and Sodom. About this we read:
3 “Then he started to reproach the cities in which most of his powerful works had taken place, because they did not repent: ‘Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! because if the powerful works had taken place in Tyre and Sidon that took place in you, they would long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes. Consequently I say to you, It will be more endurable for Tyre and Sidon on Judgment Day than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you perhaps be exalted to heaven? Down to Haʹdes you will come; because if the powerful works that took place in you had taken place in Sodom, it would have remained until this very day. Consequently I say to you people, It will be more endurable for the land of Sodom on Judgment Day than for you.’”—Matt. 11:20-24; Luke 10:11-15.
4, 5. (a) By those words was Jesus arguing that pagan Tyre and Sidon will have no resurrection from the dead? (b) What does Ezekiel 32:21-30 indicate for the people of Tyre and Sidon?
4 Now comes the question: Will the people of those ancient cities have a resurrection from the dead? Are we to understand that Jesus meant that it will not be endurable at all for the people of pagan Tyre and Sidon on Judgment Day just because they were pagans and so they will have no resurrection at all? But suppose that the people of Tyre and Sidon will be resurrected and it will be more endurable for them on Judgment Day than for Jewish Chorazin and Bethsaida. As the Jewish people of Chorazin and of Bethsaida will have still less of a favorable prospect on Judgment Day, does that mean that they will have no opportunity at all and hence will have no resurrection?
5 In other words, should we take Jesus’ words to mean that the people of Jewish Chorazin and Bethsaida will no more have a resurrection from the dead than the people of pagan Tyre and Sidon will have? No! To the contrary of this, Ezekiel 32:21-30 plainly tells us that the pagan people of Sidon are in Sheol or Haʹdes, not in Gehenna. Hence they are in line for a resurrection when death and Haʹdes give up the dead in them on Judgment Day. (Rev. 20:11-15) The city of Tyre was a colony of Sidon. Her dead citizens too are in Haʹdes.
6. Why is it reasonable that the people of Tyre and Sidon should come back to life by a resurrection?
6 It is only reasonable that the people of Tyre and Sidon should be in Sheol or Haʹdes and should come back to life by a resurrection. Why? Because Jesus clearly shows that they had not reached the religious condition where they were beyond repenting and turning to God’s righteousness. They have not yet been given the fullest witness concerning Jehovah God and his kingdom of salvation. If they had been given the opportunity that the cities Chorazin and Bethsaida had received, “they would long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes.” They have not reached the religious condition like that described in Hebrews 6:4-6, where “it is impossible . . . to revive them again to repentance.”
7. What opportunity will the resurrection give to those people of ancient Tyre and Sidon?
7 The resurrection of the Sidonians and the Tyrians on Judgment Day will give them the opportunity to receive a thorough witness by God’s kingdom under Jesus Christ. Then they will be able to repent sincerely, as it were “in sackcloth and ashes,” not with a hope of life in God’s heavenly kingdom but with a hope of everlasting life on our earth transformed everywhere into a Paradise.
8. How long did Sodom exist, and why should we not argue that there will be no more a resurrection for Capernaum than for Sodom?
8 What, then, shall we say about the people of ancient Sodom, which, with its neighbor city of Gomorrah, existed only down till when God rained down fire and sulphur from heaven and destroyed Sodom along with nearby cities? Shall we argue that on Judgment Day it will not be endurable at all for Sodom and hence it will not be endurable for the still more responsible city of Capernaum on Judgment Day, and that hence there will be no resurrection for Capernaum any more than for Sodom? No! Why not? Because Jesus put Sodom on a level or in parallel with Tyre and Sidon.
9. (a) How do we know whether the people of Sodom had got beyond the spiritual state of repentance? (b) How does Ezekiel 16:46-61 speak concerning Sodom?
9 As in the case of Tyre and Sidon, Jesus showed that Sodom, bad as it was, had not got to the state of being unable to repent. That is why Jesus said that, if his powerful works that had taken place in Capernaum had taken place in Sodom, “it would have remained” until Jesus’ day. And in that connection Jesus said that Capernaum, which had been exalted in a spiritual way to heaven, would be abased down to Haʹdes, not to Gehenna. Heaven for height and Haʹdes or Sheol for depth; and by using this contrast Jesus meant that Capernaum would undergo the deepest abasement. Though highly favored by Jesus, that city does not exist today any more than Sodom does. But if Sodom had had Capernaum’s opportunity Sodom would have had ten or more righteous persons in it and it would have continued over nineteen hundred years longer till Jesus’ day and then some. So the spiritual recovery of the dead people of Sodom is not hopeless. (Gen. 18:22-32) Ezekiel 16:46-61 speaks hopefully of people compared to ancient Sodomites.
10. When sending out his disciples to preach, what did Jesus say regarding Sodom and Gomorrah, and why so?
10 When Jesus sent out his disciples to preach God’s kingdom to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel,” he said to them: “Wherever anyone does not take you in or listen to your words, on going out of that house or that city shake the dust off your feet. Truly I say to you, It will be more endurable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on Judgment Day than for that city.” (Matt. 10:14, 15; Luke 10:10-12) Why was that so? Because Sodom and Gomorrah did not have such a witness concerning God’s kingdom.
11. To what extent did Sodom get a witness, especially in comparison with that given to Capernaum?
11 It is true that Abraham’s nephew Lot took up residence in Sodom, but Lot did not have the Kingdom message and could not give it to them. He even engaged his two daughters to marry two Sodomite men. It is true also that two angels of Jehovah God visited the city of Sodom, but that was only to stay overnight and to make a firsthand inspection of the city, but not to preach God’s kingdom to Sodom. What then happened to the angels that night did indeed show the deep degradation of the Sodomite men. But no message of repentance and conversion and everlasting salvation was preached to Sodom. Only Lot’s prospective sons-in-law were warned of the coming disaster. Manifestly they did not get such a Kingdom witness as the city of Capernaum got in the days of Jesus and his apostles.—Gen. 13:12, 13; 19:1-29.
A PROPHETIC TYPE
12, 13. (a) Under what unfavorable general circumstance were those Sodomites, but what city proved to be worse spiritually than they were? (b) In the light of 2 Peter 2:6-10, what questions come up about Sodom’s destruction?
12 The angels of Jehovah God did not find as many as ten righteous men, not to speak of righteous women, in Sodom. Those people of Sodom were Canaanites and hence were under the curse that the patriarch Noah pronounced upon their forefather Canaan. (Gen. 9:20-25; 10:19) But, relatively speaking, the city of Capernaum in Jesus’ day was worse off in a spiritual way and was more condemnable than Sodom. Well, then, was the destruction of Sodom’s inhabitants by fire and sulphur from heaven everlasting destruction? Or was it pictorial of the everlasting destruction of men who violate principles of the same kind but on a more blameworthy scale? What does 2 Peter 2:6-10 say about this? We read:
13 “By reducing the cities Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them, setting a pattern for ungodly persons of things to come; and he delivered righteous Lot, who was greatly distressed by the indulgence of the law-defying people in loose conduct—for that righteous man by what he saw and heard while dwelling among them from day to day was tormenting his righteous soul by reason of their lawless deeds—Jehovah knows how to deliver people of godly devotion out of trial, but to reserve unrighteous people for the day of judgment to be cut off [or, be checked], especially, however, those who go on after flesh with the desire to defile it and who look down on lordship.”—NW, margin, 1950 edition.
14. To what extent was there a deliverance of Lot, and in what way was Sodom’s destruction to serve as a pattern?
14 Lot was delivered from Sodom’s destruction, but he is not yet completely saved to everlasting life under God’s kingdom. He needs a resurrection to that end. Now notice, please, that 2 Peter 2:6 says that the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was only a “pattern,” one that was full of instruction for godly Christians as to what would happen to them if they stayed faithful to Jehovah God and what was sure to happen to them if they followed a course like that of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah.
15. (a) Does Peter say the people of Sodom and Gomorrah were forever destroyed? (b) In 2 Peter 2:12, 13, who does Peter say will be everlastingly destroyed, and why?
15 Were those Sodomites worse than the rest of the Canaanites? No; not according to Leviticus 18:21-28. And Peter does not say that the Sodomites and Gomorreans were destroyed everlastingly. However, the dedicated Christians, being in a position more responsible than the position of Sodom and Gomorrah, yes, more responsible than the position of unbelieving Capernaum, would be everlastingly destroyed. Hence 2 Peter 2:12, 13 says concerning the dedicated, baptized Christians who get corrupted: “These men, like unreasoning animals born naturally to be caught and destroyed, will, in the things of which they are ignorant and speak abusively, even suffer destruction in their own course of destruction, wronging themselves as a reward for wrongdoing.” They suffer a destruction like that of the lower animals.
16 Sodom and Gomorrah were wiped out for all time as cities; they did not remain as cities down to the very day of Jesus. But what about the destroyed inhabitants of those cities? We must have in mind what the Christian apostle Peter said above as we now read the following words: “So too Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities about them, after they in the same manner as the foregoing ones had committed fornication excessively and gone out after flesh for unnatural use, are placed before us as a warning example by undergoing the judicial punishment of everlasting fire.”—Jude 7.
17 So the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah were made a “warning example,” because they were not allowed to continue existing till the day of Jesus Christ and of Peter and Jude and fellow disciples. Not that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah were condemned to Gehenna and were hurled into the “lake that burns with fire and sulphur”; but that they were made a warning example to unfaithful Christians (”ungodly persons”) who will be judicially punished with “everlasting fire” or everlasting destruction.—Rev. 20:14, 15; 21:8; 2 Pet. 2:6.
18. How do Christians who become “ungodly persons” suffer a punishment more severe than that of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah?
18 The people of Sodom and Gomorrah were executed directly by the angel of God by means of fire mingled with sulphur, the effects of which upon the Sodomites and Gomorreans had continued for about two thousand years down to the days of Jesus and Peter and Jude. So they did not come to have the opportunity that the citizens of Jewish Capernaum had in Jesus’ day. However, the dedicated Christians who turn unfaithful and imitate those ancient people will suffer a punishment “more severe,” an everlasting destruction symbolized by “everlasting fire.”—Heb. 10:29.
19. (a) Against what, therefore, were Peter and Jude warning Christians? (b) Of what “primary doctrine about the Christ” do the unfaithful Christians lose an appreciation, according to Hebrews 6:1-8?
19 By their writings both Peter and Jude were warning Christians against becoming liable to the “judgment of Gehenna” and thus being sentenced to everlasting destruction. This would mean that after they died they would have no resurrection. The writer to the Christianized Hebrews gives us further information on the reason why an unfaithful Christian is sentenced to destruction without hope of a resurrection. Hebrews 6:1-8 explains that the Christians who refuse to “press on to maturity” lose an appreciation of even the fundamental teachings, the “primary doctrine about the Christ,” such as “repentance from dead works, and faith toward God, the teaching on baptisms and the laying on of the hands, the resurrection of the dead and everlasting judgment.” That is a vital reason for us to “press on to maturity.” Why?
20. Why, according to Hebrews 6:4-8, should Christians “press on to maturity”?
20 “For it is impossible as regards those who have once for all been enlightened, and who have tasted the heavenly free gift, and who have become partakers of holy spirit, and who have tasted the fine word of God and powers of the coming system of things, but who have fallen away, to revive them again to repentance, because they impale the Son of God afresh for themselves and expose him to public shame. For example, the ground that drinks in the rain which often comes upon it, and that then brings forth vegetation suitable to those for whom it is also cultivated, receives in return a blessing from God. But if it produces thorns and thistles, it is rejected and is near to being cursed; and it ends up with being burned.”—Heb. 6:4-8.
21. What sin do such Christians finally commit willfully, and why would a resurrection be wasted on them?
21 Such Christian “partakers of holy spirit” as fall away sin at last willfully against the holy spirit, knowingly so, and thus harden themselves against ever repenting. Such sin against the holy spirit Jesus Christ mentioned to the Jews who maliciously misinterpreted the operation of God’s holy spirit through him. Jesus said: “On this account I say to you, Every sort of sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the spirit will not be forgiven. For example, whoever speaks a word against the Son of man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the holy spirit, it will not be forgiven him, no, not in the present system of things nor in that to come.” (Matt. 12:31, 32) Hence nothing could be gained and the opportunity would be wasted by resurrecting such ones to life in the system of things that is to come under God’s kingdom.
22. Why, according to Hebrews 10:26-31, do Christians need to meet together regularly to edify one another?
22 Genuine Christians want to avoid becoming liable to the “judgment of Gehenna.” So they need to meet together regularly and to encourage one another and build one another up spiritually. Why? Hebrews 10:26-31 answers: “For if we practice sin willfully after having received the accurate knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice for sins left, but there is a certain fearful expectation of judgment and there is a fiery jealousy [on God’s part] that is going to consume those in opposition. Any man that has disregarded the law of Moses dies without compassion, upon the testimony of two or three. Of how much more severe a punishment, do you think, will the man be counted worthy who has trampled upon the Son of God and who has esteemed as of ordinary value the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and who has outraged the spirit of undeserved kindness with contempt? For we know him that said: ‘Vengeance is mine; I will recompense’; and again: ‘Jehovah will judge his people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
“HOW MUCH MORE SEVERE”?
23. How much more severe is the punishment of unfaithful Christians than that of those Jews who disregarded the law of Moses?
23 Jesus Christ will not die again for persons who, as Christians, have been enlightened with accurate knowledge of the truth but who afterward sin willfully. These disown God’s Son Jesus Christ himself and they consider Jesus’ blood as having no more value to redeem and sanctify and to validate covenants than the blood of any other man. So, when they reject Jesus’ perfect human sacrifice, what sacrifice do they have left that can be offered to God to cancel their willful sin? None! Hence at death they are sentenced to Gehenna, to the “lake of fire” or “second death.” They do not go to Haʹdes or Sheol from which resurrection is possible. Thus their punishment is “more severe” than that of Israelites who were put to death “without compassion” for disregarding the law of Moses, who was only a type prophetic of Jesus Christ.
24. To what resurrection were such Christians at first looking forward, but what do they suffer at death?
24 The willful Christian sinner will therefore have no resurrection. The resurrection to which he was at first looking forward as a spirit-begotten son of God was the “first resurrection,” that of the 144,000 disciples who gain life in the invisible heavens as joint heirs with Jesus Christ the King-Priest. But the willful, unforgivable sin wipes out all possibility of such a resurrection to glorious heavenly life. At his death in the flesh he meets everlasting destruction at the “hands of the living God.”
25, 26. (a) Why, although not begotten to a heavenly hope at Pentecost of 33 C.E., was Judas Iscariot given such “more severe” punishment? (b) Where did Judas Iscariot go at death, and why?
25 Judas Iscariot was a Christian who fell into the hands of the living God and was recompensed with the “more severe” punishment of everlasting destruction. Judas did not live to the day of Pentecost of the year 33 of our Common Era to be baptized with holy spirit and to be begotten by God the Father to a heavenly hope. However, he had been chosen to be an apostle of Jesus Christ and had been given special powers by means of the holy spirit when he was sent forth with the eleven other apostles on preaching work. (Matt. 10:1-8) But Judas betrayed his Savior Jesus Christ, not to gain everlasting salvation but to get thirty pieces of silver from the murderous enemies of his Master.
26 Judas Iscariot made a bargain with those who Jesus said made proselytes that were subjects of Gehenna twice as much so as themselves, and who were themselves liable to the “judgment of Gehenna.” (Matt. 23:15, 33) Judas rejected the sacrificial “Lamb of God.” Thus he has no sacrifice to be offered for his willful sin. Logically he became a “son of destruction.” When he committed suicide, he went to Gehenna. He will have no resurrection, even in the flesh on earth.—John 6:70, 71; 17:12.
27-29. (a) Who is the other “son of destruction” whom Paul speaks about? (b) What does Paul say about him in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12?
27 Besides Judas, there is another “son of destruction,” whom the apostle Paul speaks about. This is not an individual like Judas Iscariot; it is a class of professed Christians, who have come on the scene since Pentecost of 33 C.E. and particularly after the death of the twelve faithful apostles of Jesus Christ. This class, known as “the son of destruction,” is made up of professed Christian leaders who have fallen away from the true Christian doctrines taught in the Holy Bible and who have become violators of God’s law although they still pretend to be followers of His Son Jesus Christ. They have organized themselves into the religious clergy of Christendom, which is today the dominant part of Babylon the Great (the world empire of false religion). In 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12 Paul warns us of this “son of destruction”:
28 “Let no one seduce you in any manner, because it will not come unless the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness gets revealed, the son of destruction. He is set in opposition and lifts himself up over everyone who is called ‘god’ or an object of reverence, so that he sits down in the temple of The God, publicly showing himself to be a god. Do you not remember that, while I was yet with you, I used to tell you these things? And so now you know the thing that acts as a restraint, with a view to his being revealed in his own due time.
29 “True, the mystery of this lawlessness is already at work; but only till he who is right now acting as a restraint gets to be out of the way. Then, indeed, the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will do away with by the spirit of his mouth and bring to nothing by the manifestation of his presence. But the lawless one’s presence is according to the operation of Satan with every powerful work and lying signs and portents and with every unrighteous deception for those who are perishing, as a retribution because they did not accept the love of the truth that they might be saved. So that is why God lets an operation of error go to them, that they may get to believing the lie, in order that they all may be judged because they did not believe the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness.”
30. How is it evident against whom the “lawlessness” of this “son of destruction” is, and until when was he held in restraint?
30 The lawlessness of this composite “man of lawlessness” or “man of sin” (AV; AS; Dy) is against the Most High God. This is evident from the fact that this lawless one tries to exalt himself over everything revered as a god. He even tries to take the place of the true God in his spiritual temple. This lawless one wants the worship and reverence for himself, and pushes God’s Holy Bible aside in favor of religious traditions and pagan doctrines. He is full of religious deception and is the willing tool of Satan the Devil, the original liar. This lawless one was held in restraint until the death of the faithful twelve apostles. After that he pushed himself forward more easily and increased his power over those who claimed to be Christians.
31. (a) Why is the name “son of destruction” appropriate for this one? (b) Why is it not strange that Christendom’s clergy oppose the Kingdom message?
31 However, the Lord Jesus, during his presence in his heavenly kingdom, will do away with this lawless one and bring him to nothing. He will utterly destroy this lawless one, for which reason this one is called “the son of destruction.” Those making up this “man of lawlessness” down through the past nineteen centuries are judged adversely and sentenced to Gehenna at their individual deaths. They will have no resurrection any more than that other “son of destruction” will, namely, Judas Iscariot. They just do not love the truth that leads to salvation. Hence they believe the lie and persistently spread the error. It is not strange, then, that the clergy of Christendom oppose the message of God’s Messianic kingdom and persecute the messengers. When Babylon the Great is destroyed forever, this “man of lawlessness” will also be executed with the “judgment of Gehenna.”
“THAT EVIL SLAVE”
32. In his parable of the servants in Matthew 24:45-51, what other professed Christian group will be sentenced to destruction?
32 Another group claiming to be Christians that will receive the same sentence as the “man of lawlessness” is the group that Jesus called prophetically “that evil servant” or “that evil slave.” (Matt. 24:48-51, AV; NW; Luke 12:45, 46) These are dedicated and baptized Christians who have been begotten by God’s spirit to a heavenly hope and who have been associated with the faithful Christian congregation whom Jesus called “a faithful and wise servant” or “faithful and discreet slave.” (Matt. 24:45-47, AV; NW) However, the “evil slave” class becomes rebellious and seeks to manage the Lord’s affairs according to its own pleasure and serves itself according to its fleshly craving and mistreats those of the “faithful and discreet slave” class.
33. (a) Why is the “evil slave” class more blameworthy than the hypocrites outside the Lord’s household? (b) With what other classes pictured in Jesus’ parables is this slave identified?
33 The Lord Jesus Christ catches the “evil slave” in the midst of such misconduct. He punishes him “with the greatest severity” and puts him out of the house and among the religious hypocrites, where this “evil slave” class belongs. For having been in the Lord’s real household and having been entrusted with his valuable spiritual things, the “evil slave” class of Christians is even more blameworthy than those hypocrites outside the house. They are guilty also of being traitors to their faithful Christian brothers, just as Judas Iscariot was toward the Lord Jesus Christ. They will have no resurrection any more than Judas will. Identical with or included in with the “evil slave” class is the “wicked and sluggish slave” with one talent of his Lord, as pictured in Jesus’ parable in Matthew 25:15, 16, 22-30; also, the “wicked slave” who refused to negotiate with the one mina of his Lord, as described by Jesus in Luke 19:13, 20-27. The Holy Bible leaves no hope for the resurrection of such to heavenly life.