“All Those in the Memorial Tombs”
CAN you be sure that most of the dead will live again? Yes, since Jesus said: “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.” (John 5:28, 29) Notice the expression “memorial tombs,” which is unique to the New World Translation. It reminds us of the importance of God’s memory in the resurrection.
Why is the usual rendering, “graves,” not used? Because Jesus did not use the plural of the Greek word taʹphos, which means “grave” or “burial ground.” Indeed, not all who ever died were buried in literal graves, or taʹphoi. Nevertheless, those whom God will bring back in the resurrection are in his memory. This is indicated by Jesus’ use of the plural form of mne·meiʹon, which is closely related to Greek words basically meaning “to remember.” (Matthew 16:9; Mark 8:18) The Greek-English Lexicon by H. G. Liddell and R. Scott translates mne·meiʹon as “memorial, remembrance, record of a person or thing, . . . tomb, . . . generally, monument.”
Thus, the New World Translation differentiates between the words taʹphos and mne·meiʹon. It is also worthy of note that many Bible translations similarly use two different expressions at Matthew 23:29 where both Greek terms appear. The Revised Standard Version renders them as follows: “You build the tombs [a form of taʹphos] of the prophets and adorn the monuments [a form of mne·meiʹon] of the righteous.”
The Creator of man does not forget the life patterns of thousands of millions of humans who have lived. (Psalm 139:16; 147:4; Matthew 10:30) In his due time, he will remember those in the “memorial tombs” and bring them back to life on a cleansed earth. How encouraged and comforted we are by knowing that God’s perfect memory cannot fail!—Revelation 20:11-13.