The Beneficiaries of Resurrection from “Hell”
1, 2. (a) What Hebrew patriarch said he expected to go to “hell”? (b) How did Jesus, when defending the resurrection doctrine, give assurance of Jacob’s benefiting therefrom?
AMONG those who are dead in “hell” and who will benefit by the resurrection from the dead will be who? We remember that the patriarch Jacob expected to go to “hell” or Sheol. (Gen. 37:35) Will he be among the beneficiaries? Yes. We remember the words of Jesus Christ, who, before raising his friend Lazarus from his four-day-long death state, said to the sister Martha: “I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, although he be dead, shall live.” (John 11:25, Douay) Just some weeks after that, Jesus had to defend the teaching of the resurrection before Jewish unbelievers, the Sadducees. In doing so he referred to Jacob. In answer to the catch question put by the Sadducees, Jesus said:
2 “Now that the dead rise again, Moses also shewed, at the bush, when he called the Lord, The God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; for he is not the God of the dead, but of the living: for all live to him.”—Luke 20:37, 38, Douay.
3. (a) From whose standpoint are Abraham, Isaac and Jacob now alive, and why? (b) Of what kind of persons is Jehovah the God?
3 So, from God’s standpoint, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were then living. The resurrection of these faithful patriarchs was so certain in God’s appointed time, that God spoke of those three men as being then alive, although they were then dead, unconscious, in “hell,” in Haʹdes or Sheol. If they were to remain dead forever and never get out of “hell” (Haʹdes or Sheol), Jehovah would never have spoken to the prophet Moses at the burning thornbush in the desert of Sinai as being the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. So Jesus said God’s making this declaration proved that there would be a resurrection of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and, of course, of all others with them in “hell.” Jehovah is not a past God of people of the dead past, but is the God of his faithful worshipers who will live in the future by means of resurrection of the dead.
4. How does Hebrews 11:17-19 prove that Abraham believed in a resurrection for his son Isaac?
4 The patriarch Abraham believed in a resurrection for his son Isaac. In proof of this we have the inspired words of Hebrews 11:17-19: “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, as good as offered up Isaac, and the man that had gladly received the promises attempted to offer up his only-begotten son, although it had been said to him: ‘What will be called “your seed” will be through Isaac.’ But he reckoned that God was able to raise him up even from the dead; and from there he did receive him also in an illustrative way [figuratively, The Jerusalem Bible; as a type, Catholic Confraternity Version].”
5. How does Hebrews, chapter 11, indicate that men even before Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and men of faith since, believed in resurrection from “hell”?
5 Evidently before the time of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the men of faith named Abel, Enoch and Noah believed in the resurrection of the dead from “hell,” for they are listed among the “so great a cloud of witnesses” who are named in Hebrews, chapter 11. (Hebrews 11:1 through 12:1) When the inspired writer refers to how the prophet Elijah raised to life the son of the widow of Sarephta and how the prophet Elisha raised to life the son of the hospitable woman of Shunem, he says: “Women received their dead by resurrection; but other men were tortured because they would not accept release by some ransom, in order that they might attain a better resurrection. . . . And yet all these, although they had witness borne to them through their faith, did not get the fulfillment of the promise, as God foresaw something better for us, in order that they might not be made perfect apart from us.” (Heb. 11:35-40) Thus we have the inspired proof that, before the coming of Jesus Christ, men and women of faith in Almighty God Jehovah looked forward to the resurrection of the dead from “hell” or Sheol.
6. How did Martha of Bethany and Hannah the mother of Samuel express faith in resurrection from “hell”?
6 This is why the woman Martha of Bethany said to Jesus, before he raised her brother Lazarus from the dead: “I know that he shall rise again, in the resurrection at the last day.” (John 11:24, Douay) That is why, also, the woman Anna (or, Hannah) of more than a thousand years earlier said, when she presented her son Samuel to the high priest of Israel: “The Lord killeth and maketh alive, he bringeth down to hell [Latin, inferi; Hebrew, Sheol] and bringeth back again.”—1 Kings (or, 1 Samuel) 2:6, Douay.
THE TRUE CHURCH GETS BACK FROM “HELL”
7, 8. (a) In what way will the “gates of hell” not prevail against Christ’s true congregation? (b) How does Revelation 2:10 require that Jesus prevail against hell’s gates?
7 Not only did Jesus Christ himself go to hell and get out again, but he assured his apostles that the true Church, the true Christian congregation, would imitate him in this respect. When speaking to the apostle Peter in the hearing of the other apostles, Jesus said: “Thou art Peter [Greek, Petros]; and upon this rock [Greek, petra] I will build my church and the gates of hell [Greek, Haʹdes; Latin, infernus] shall not prevail against it.” (Matt. 16:18, Douay) By death the members of the true Christian congregation would enter through the gates into “hell.” (Isa. 38:10, 18, Douay) But those “gates of hell” would not prevail over the Christian congregation by keeping closed over the congregation forever. Why not? Because the resurrected Jesus Christ, who has the “keys of death and of hell,” will use the key and unlock those gates and let his congregation out by a resurrection.
8 Thus the “gates of hell” shall not prevail over Christ’s congregation, but Christ shall prevail over the “gates of hell” in behalf of his congregation. This explains why he said to the congregation: “Be thou faithful unto death: and I will give thee the crown of life.”—Apoc. 2:10; 1:17, 18, Douay.
9. How many will compose this Christian congregation, and what is the “something better” that “God foresaw” for them?
9 This true congregation of just 144,000 faithful members is called forth from “hell” (Haʹdes, or, infernus) to a heavenly, spiritual resurrection. Thus they become “the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” (Apocalypse 21:9 through 22:17, Douay) Like a faithful wife, they are united to the heavenly Bridegroom Jesus Christ in wedlock forever. It is written concerning their resurrection: “It is sown a natural body, it shall rise a spiritual body.” (1 Cor. 15:42-44, Douay) This heavenly spiritual estate is the “something better” that “God foresaw” for the congregation of faithful followers and imitators of his Son Jesus Christ.—Heb. 11:39, 40.
THE REDEEMED DEAD OF MANKIND GET OUT OF “HELL”
10. (a) In behalf of whom else will Jesus prevail over hell’s gates, and how? (b) So what was it that the apostle John saw take place in vision that others will see take place in actuality?
10 The resurrected Jesus Christ will do more than prevail against the “gates of hell” in behalf of his bridal congregation. He will also prevail against those “gates” in behalf of all mankind for whom he gave his life as a redemption. (Matt. 20:28, Douay) He will use his “keys of death and of hell” and unlock those symbolic “gates” and let all these of mankind out by a resurrection to life on earth under the heavenly kingdom of himself and his spiritual bride. Those who had a watery grave in the sea will be brought back to life on dry land. Those who were buried in the earth in single graves, or cemeteries, will likewise be brought out to life on earth under the new government, God’s heavenly kingdom by his Son Jesus Christ. Hundreds of thousands today living will survive the coming “great tribulation” to see in actuality what the apostle John saw merely in the apocalyptic vision, which he describes, saying: “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing in the presence of the throne, . . . and the sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and hell [Latin, infernus; Greek, Haʹdes] gave up their dead that were in them.”—Apoc. 20:12, 13; 7:14, Douay.
11 This will include Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Job, Moses, yes, all the dead in “hell” who went there before the Christian congregation was founded on the day of Pentecost of the year 33 C.E., when the apostle Peter spoke to thousands of Jews about the resurrection of Jesus Christ from “hell” (the common grave of dead mankind). It will include also all those of mankind who went to “hell” since that day of Pentecost and who did not become members of the bridal congregation of Jesus Christ. None of these belong to the “church of the firstborn, who are written in the heavens.” (Heb. 12:23, Douay) For all of these Jesus Christ died as a redemption sacrifice, just as the Christian apostle John wrote, saying to the congregation: “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2, Douay) In agreement with that the Christian apostle Paul wrote to Timothy: “For there is one God, and one mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus: who gave himself a redemption for all.”—1 Tim. 2:5, 6, Douay.
12. Why might the thought of all these returning from “hell” alarm some people?
12 However, some persons might be alarmed at the thought of this. They might say: ‘Will this not flood the earth with thousands of millions of evildoers and fill the earth with more wickedness and violence than it has ever had before? For did not the apostle Paul say: “There shall be a resurrection of the just and unjust”?’ (Acts 24:15, Douay) Certainly in the resurrection from “hell” the unjust ones will far outnumber the just ones. And for ordinary human rulers that would create a serious problem.
13, 14. (a) What forces will the opening of “hell’s” gates not release upon earth’s inhabitants, and why not? (b) What about imperfect human governments at that time and those finally found supporting them?
13 The opening of the “gates of hell” is not going to let loose upon earth’s inhabitants legions of demons and their prince, Satan the Devil. They have never been down in “hell” waiting for Jesus Christ to use the key and unlock “hell’s” gates.
14 Happily for mankind, at the time of emptying “hell” Satan and his demon angels will be bound as with chains and isolated and restrained in what the apostle John calls “the bottomless pit” or “the Abyss.” (Apoc. 20:1-3, Douay; The Jerusalem Bible) So these spirit forces that have spurred mankind onward in wickedness will be gone. There will be a righteous heavenly government over all the earth and all the resurrected dead. Moreover, the imperfect human governments that held control of the earth will be no more. They will have been crushed to pieces in the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon, immediately before the binding and abyssing of their invisible rulers, Satan the Devil and his legions of demons. (Rev. 16:13-16; 19:11-21; 20:1-3) In that universal “war of the great day” all the people who are found backing those human governments instead of God’s kingdom by Christ will be annihilated with them. They will not survive.
15. (a) What kind of start will human society be given as foreshadowed by Noah and his family after the flood? (b) What will be the new heavens to which Peter looked forward, and what will it enforce here?
15 Just as human society had a righteous new start in Noah and his family after the global flood of 2370-2369 B.C.E., so humankind will again have a righteous new start in the God-fearing survivors of the universal war at Har–Magedon, and this time without Satan the Devil and his demons being still on the loose to dominate the earth from their invisible, superhuman position. (Matt. 24:37-39; Genesis 8:15 through 9:17) Even the apostle Peter looked forward to that glorious time for mankind. Shortly before the cruel persecution blazed forth from Roman Emperor Nero against the Christian congregation, Peter wrote: “We look for new heavens and a new earth according to his promises, in which justice dwelleth.” (2 Pet. 3:13, Douay) The “new heavens,” namely, God’s heavenly kingdom in the hands of Jesus Christ, who has been given all the needed power in heaven and in earth, will irresistibly enforce absolute righteousness in the earth. (Matt. 28:18) So it is not for nothing that genuine Christians are praying: “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”—Matt. 6:9, 10, Douay.
16. How will the resurrection from “hell” proceed, and oversight of human affairs will be put in whose hands on earth?
16 Bear this fact in mind: “Hell” will not disgorge all its dead at one time, on one twenty-four-hour day, thus producing a bewildering population explosion for the relatively few God-fearing survivors of the universal war of Har–Magedon. The release of the dead from “hell” will be wisely controlled from heaven by God’s kingdom under Christ. (1 Cor. 15:23) None of the politicians of the past, destroyed worldly governments will be put back into power. Oversight of human affairs will be put into the hands of lovers of Jehovah God, from Abel to fearers of Jehovah God today, who, during the past millenniums of time, have looked forward to God’s kingdom.
17. Why will some not get their names written in the “book of life,” and what will be done with these?
17 All those who are released from “hell” and who, after an adequate period of test, stubbornly refuse to learn righteousness and obey the Kingdom will be executed. Their names will not be written in the “book of life” as worthy of eternal life. No, they will not be returned to “hell” and stay there forever. John tells us: “And hell and death were cast into the pool of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the pool of fire.”—Apoc. 20:14, 15, Douay.
18. (a) What does the “pool of fire” symbolize, and what happens to them therefore? (b) What kind of persons will “second death” of such unwritten ones leave on earth, and to what will the Supreme Judge justify them?
18 That “pool of fire,” which symbolizes “the second death,” corresponds with what Jesus when on earth called Gehenna. So it symbolizes eternal destruction, a death from which there is no resurrection. Just as death inherited from Adam and Eve and “hell” will forever cease to exist, so will these incorrigible earthly subjects of God’s kingdom cease to exist and will be as if they had never been. This will leave on earth only those who love righteousness with all their heart and who prove themselves unbreakably loyal to the theocratic government of Jehovah God the Almighty. These are the ones found written in the “book of life,” whom the Supreme Judge Jehovah justifies to endless life in peace and happiness in the Paradise of Pleasure then restored to earth.
19, 20. (a) Who are those who will never go to “hell,” and why not? (b) How may you be among them?
19 Just think of it, though! There are people today living on this polluted, war-threatened earth who will never go to “hell.” They will never have to be brought back from “hell.” Who are these, and is it possible for any of us to be among them?
20 These are sheeplike God-fearing persons who wholeheartedly give their support and service to the heavenly kingdom of God’s dear Son Jesus Christ and hence abstain from the politics of this world. (Matt. 25:31-46) Now, before the universal war of Har–Magedon, they sincerely hail Jehovah God on his heavenly throne and his Lamblike Son Jesus Christ. This class of Christian witnesses of Jehovah will be preserved alive through the violent end of the present global system of things and be ushered into God’s new system of things in which righteousness must dwell. (Rev. 7:9-17) There the death inherited from Adam and Eve, which has already put thousands of millions in “hell,” will be wiped out, so that these survivors will never have to fear “hell” then. By continuing their course of righteousness and devotion to God’s kingdom by Christ, they will live on to see the sea and “hell” give up the dead in them. Yes, by doing the right thing now, you may be among those blessed survivors.
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When Jesus cried out, “Lazarus, come on out!” he came to life after being dead four days. Jesus thus exemplified his earlier words: “I am the resurrection and the life”
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Among those benefiting from the resurrection will be Abel, Noah, Abraham, Moses and other men of faith mentioned in Hebrews chapter 11. The “righteous” in modern times who have died, faithful to God and his kingdom, will also benefit
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After the coming universal war, the God-fearing survivors will have a righteous new start—without the Devil and his demons to dominate the earth
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It will be a glorious time to live in God’s righteous and paradisaic new order and a thrilling joy to talk with resurrected faithful ones such as Abel and Abraham. Will you enjoy this privilege by doing the right thing now?