A Resurrection of Life and One of Judgment
1, 2. Why is Jesus’ declaration that authority to do judging had been given to him not too marvelous to be believed?
ON God’s “set” day his Son will use “the gift of life.” (John 5:26, Knox) He will resurrect the human dead to whom the benefit of his ransom sacrifice applies. The “day” will be a time of judgment, but not 24 hours long. It will be the period of 1,000 years as set for Christ’s reign. (Rev. 20:4-6) The process of judgment will result in life for some and in judicial condemnation to destruction for others. Does this sound marvelous to us today when there is so much miscarriage of justice and so much religious misunderstanding of what God’s day of judgment will be? It sounded marvelous to the Sabbath-keeping Jews of Jesus’ day.
2 Consequently Jesus said to them: “Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment. I cannot do a single thing of my own initiative; just as I hear [from the Father as the Supreme Judge], I judge; and the judgment that I render is righteous, because I seek, not my own will, but the will of him that sent me.”—John 5:28-30.
3. How are those who pass over from death to life and who do not come into adverse judgment different from those about whom Jesus spoke in John 5:28, 29, and what class of persons must they be?
3 Before Jesus said the above-quoted words, he spoke, in John 5:24, 25, about other “dead” ones whose “hour” for becoming alive had begun. Such designated ones were said to be “dead” and yet were not “in the memorial tombs.” They were even then hearing the spoken “word” of the Son of God and were believing the One who sent him. They were thus passing over from death to life and would not come into adverse judgment. Because of having passed over from death to life, these heeders of the voice of God’s Son were said to live and have the prospect of everlasting life. These must be the ones who become the heavenly joint heirs of Jesus Christ, namely, the 144,000 who are given a resurrection into the spirit realm to be with him in the Kingdom.
4. Instead of their being judged, what assignment is given to the 144,000 joint heirs of Christ?
4 These 144,000 joint heirs of Jesus Christ, instead of being judged, will sit with him on thrones of judgment. Revelation 20:4 says that “power of judging was given them.” Their resurrection is called “the first resurrection.” By it they are instantaneously resurrected into the heavenly estate.—Rev. 20:6.
5. When did the judgment period of the congregations of spiritual Israel begin, and what did Jesus say would be their privilege in his kingdom?
5 There was a previous judgment period for these 144,000 when they were on earth. This started at the birth of the Christian congregation of spiritual Israel on the day of Pentecost of 33 C.E. Such judgment period continues until the completion of this congregation of spiritual sons of God. (1 Pet. 4:17, 18) Concerning their glorious future, Jesus said to his faithful apostles on Passover night of 33 C.E.: “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, and sit on thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Luke 22:29, 30) So, in place of being judged during the millennial reign of Christ, they share with him in judging redeemed mankind.
6. For mankind in general to have a time of judgment, what does there need to be, and how will Haʹdes be destroyed?
6 For redeemed mankind in general to have a time of judgment here on earth there needs to be a resurrection of “all those in the memorial tombs.” In confirmation of that, Jesus said, in John 5:28-30, that the “hour” would come in which all these would hear his voice and respond. He would call them out of their graves, in the same way that he cried out to his entombed friend in Bethany: “Lazarus, come on out!” (John 11:43, 44) That “hour” would come during the 1,000-year reign of Jesus Christ with his 144,000 glorified joint heirs. (Rev. 20:6, 11-14) During that reign Haʹdes, or the common grave of mankind, is to be destroyed by its being emptied of all the redeemed dead humans. That means resurrection!
7. What two classes then come to view, and does this happen at the start of the resurrection program?
7 Jesus stated that two classes would then come to view. This, however, will not be at the start of the resurrection program, for not all the redeemed dead will come out of the memorial tombs at the same time. Jesus spoke (1) of “those who did good things” and (2) of “those who practiced vile things.” This does not refer to what the resurrected individuals are at the moment that they come out of the memorial tombs. Why do we say this?
8. (a) Because “the Lamb of God” died to take away the world’s sin, into what will they not come by being raised from the dead? (b) Yet, how will their former lives affect them, and why?
8 The determining factor as to how these resurrected humans will turn out is not what they were before they died. This is true, because at death they paid the penalty for their sinfulness. (Rom. 6:23) Also, Jesus Christ died as “the Lamb of God” in order that he might ‘take away the sin of the world.’ (John 1:29; 1 John 2:2) So what he “takes away” cannot be charged to the world of mankind after they are resurrected from the dead. To this effect, the apostle Paul wrote: “We should no longer go on being slaves to sin. For he who has died has been acquitted from his sin.” (Rom. 6:6, 7) Hence, by being resurrected no redeemed human comes into “double jeopardy,” to be punished again for what he did before his death. Consequently, the determining factor for resurrected mankind will be, What will they henceforth make of their lives, now that they are given a new start under Christ’s 1,000-year kingdom? Of course, during their sleep of death there comes no change in their personality. Hence, what they did or how they lived during the current wicked system of things will affect them as to their inclinations or attitudes toward Christ’s kingdom.
9. Those thus affected by their former life pattern will have what two outcomes possible for them?
9 Yes, the former life pattern will affect the problem of the resurrected ones as to their conforming to Kingdom requirements for righteousness and their progress toward attaining perfect human life on earth. There will then be two outcomes possible. As Jesus indicated, at John 5:28, 29, they will either turn to the course of doing good things or turn to the practicing of vile things. With what respective consequences?
10. In the expression “a resurrection of life,” what does “life” mean?
10 Jesus pointed to such consequences when he spoke of “a resurrection of life” and “a resurrection of judgment.” By the word “life” in this context, Jesus did not mean the measure of life that individuals have on coming out of the memorial tombs. Otherwise, not only would the doers of good things have “a resurrection of life,” but the practicers of vile things would likewise have such a resurrection, forasmuch as they also would have to start off by being made alive on earth. So, “life” as used in John 5:29 means perfection of life as attained by some at the end of Christ’s reign through their persistent doing of good things in obedience to his kingdom and judgeship.
11. In the expression “a resurrection of judgment,” what does “judgment” mean?
11 Similarly, “judgment” represents what results to other individuals either during or by the close of the millennial “day of judgment.” In John 5:29 “judgment” means the opposite of “life.” Hence, it means a condemnatory judgment, a sentencing of the practicers of vile things to eternal destruction. This is a destruction of soul and body in Gehenna.—Matt. 10:28.
12. So, then, what two possible finales are there to which a person’s being resurrected under Christ’s kingdom may lead?
12 Thus there are two possible finales to either one of which a person’s being resurrected under Christ’s kingdom may lead, either perfect human life or judgment that results in a loss of all life. Nicely An American Translation renders John 5:29 so as to read: “will come out to resurrection and life, and . . . to resurrection and judgment.”
13, 14. (a) What is it that Jesus hears before he and his associate judges render judgment? (b) Why is there no room for appeal from such judgment by Christ during the millennium?
13 During the millennium the judgeship of Jesus Christ and his associated judges will be a righteous one for all mankind. Jesus said: “Just as I hear, I judge.”—John 5:30.
14 What Jesus hears from the Supreme Justice, Jehovah God, he embodies in his own judgment. He will conform to the prophetic description of him as judge that his heavenly Father inspired Isaiah to write in Isa chapter 11, verses one through five. On the Bench, the 144,000 associated judges will imitate Jesus Christ. In this way it will really be Jehovah’s judgment that will be carried out, for his Son Jesus Christ will ever seek to do his Father’s will, not his own will. Hence, from such a judgment rendered by Jesus Christ there can be no appeal to a higher court. Thus at the end of his 1,000 years of judgeship, he will be able to turn over the Kingdom to the Supreme Justice, free of all charges of malfeasance in office. (1 Cor. 15:24-28) From then on Jehovah God will handle matters with regard to a final, determinative test on all men turned over to him by his Son.—Rev. 20:7-15.
THE “GREAT CROWD” AND THE RESURRECTION
15. In solemnly charging Timothy by Christ Jesus who is destined to judge the living and the dead, who did Paul mean “the dead” are?
15 The approaching day of judgment is something for all mankind to take into account. (Acts 17:30, 31) With a due recognition of this, the apostle Paul wrote to his onetime missionary companion Timothy: “I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus, who is destined to judge the living and the dead.” (2 Tim. 4:1) By the expression “the dead,” Paul refers to “those in the memorial tombs” and those in a ‘watery grave.’ But who are the ones whom Paul calls “the living”?
16. Who particularly are “the living”?
16 They will be those on earth who survived the coming “great tribulation” and the binding of Satan the Devil and his demons. These will therefore be still alive on earth when the 1,000-year reign of Christ over his earthly realm begins. The ones who then become his subjects with the hope of everlasting life in an earthly paradise are the ones particularly meant. Some of the anointed remnant of prospective joint heirs of Christ will also have survived, but whether they will start judging on earth before they are transferred to the heavenly kingdom remains to be seen. (1 Thess. 4:15-17; 2 Pet. 3:11-14) However, a “great crowd” of Christ’s “other sheep” will survive the “great tribulation,” along with the remnant of spiritual Israelites, and will enter the millennium alive. Revelation 7:9-17 proves this to be true.
17. How do we know whether the earth will be depopulated at the complete end of this system of things?
17 All this combines to establish that our earthly planet will not be totally depopulated at the complete end of this system of things. Thus the “great crowd” of Christ’s “other sheep” will be “the living” with whom the millennial day of judgment begins.
18. What will be the marvelous thing about this “great crowd” of “tribulation” survivors, and for what reason?
18 The marvelous thing about this “great crowd” of “tribulation” survivors is that they never experience a resurrection. Having never died and undergone the dissolution of the human body, they will have no need for the King Jesus Christ to call them out of the memorial tombs. Because of the way they treated the anointed remnant of Christ’s spiritual brothers in the past, these sheeplike ones have been put at the King’s right side of favor, and to them he says at the beginning of his millennial reign: “Come, you who have been blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world.” Thus they will be ushered into the way toward the gaining of perfect human life on a paradise earth. (Matt. 25:31-46; John 10:16) Great will be their privilege to be here when the reigning “Son of man,” Jesus Christ, starts calling those in the memorial tombs out in a resurrection that will afford them the opportunity to gain eternal life on earth.