resurrection. They have an earthly resurrection. Yet their resurrection is better than what those persons got whom the ancient prophets raised from the dead, the persons meant in the words, “women received their dead by resurrection.” Their resurrection will be under God’s kingdom with Christ as King. Hence they will not need to die again if they remain faithful.
28. To whose forefathers does Psalm 45:16 refer, and what will be done with them?
28 Psalm 45 refers to some of those ancient pre-Christian witnesses who are in line for that “better resurrection.” Psalm 45 talks prophetically about the Messianic King, Jesus Christ, and about his marriage to the bride class, the 144,000 joint heirs of him in the heavenly kingdom. Then, in addressing the King Jesus Christ, Psalm 45:16 prophetically says: “In place of your forefathers there will come to be your sons, whom you will appoint as princes in all the earth.” Among the forefathers of Jesus Christ as a man are Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and King David, who were faithful men, faithful witnesses of Jehovah.
29, 30. (a) What can be said about whether the appointment of princes in all the earth will be limited to Christ’s forefathers? (b) What does their appointment as princes argue about people’s coming forth in the resurrection?
29 In order to appoint his faithful forefathers as “princes in all the earth” under his heavenly kingdom, Jesus Christ will have to resurrect them from the memorial tombs. If the other people on earth are to get the benefit of the princely rule of Christ’s faithful forefathers during his thousand-year reign, such forefathers need to be resurrected early during his reign, even though they died thousands of years ago. If the reigning King Jesus Christ restricted the appointment of princes in all the earth to only the godly forefathers of his, there would not be many such princes in all the earth. Other ancient men were equally faithful among that “so great a cloud of witnesses.” So it is only reasonable that such faithful witnesses would likewise be considered worthy to be appointed as princes in various parts of the earth.
30 Their appointment to princely office argues that they would be resurrected earlier than the other earthly subjects of God’s kingdom. This suggests that order and rank will be observed in the earthly resurrection. That being so, then the earthly dead will not be given up by Hades and by the sea all at one time, without making arrangements beforehand to care for the returning dead.c
“RESURRECTION OF LIFE”
31. (a) How have some Bible commentators wondered about John 5:28, 29? (b) How did Jesus Christ split up those having a resurrection?
31 Jesus spoke of the coming out of the memorial tombs as one general operation. However, he points out that such a resurrection of all will lead to different results for different persons. In John 5:28, 29 he says: “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.” Hence some Bible commentators have wondered whether this meant two resurrections along these two lines, of the two classes here indicated.d However, here Jesus Christ is not discussing resurrection and splitting it up according to the “first resurrection” and the resurrection of all “the rest of the dead.” He splits up mankind only as to the outcome of the resurrected ones.
32. Whom do the doers of good who gain the “resurrection of life” include?
32 In John 5:29 we find the only place in the Bible where the expression “resurrection of life” occurs. Jesus said that those who enjoy it are “those who did good things.” Whom do such doers of good things include? The Bible answers, ALL those resurrected ones who attain to everlasting life in God’s coming righteous new order of things under his Messiah, regardless of whether that life is immortal life in heaven as joint heirs and associate judges of Jesus Christ or is life in human perfection on earth under God’s kingdom of his Messiah.e Such life is gained through Jesus Christ.
33, 34. (a) In itself does the expression “resurrection of life” mean an instantaneous entering into perfection of life? (b) What, though, can be said about the resurrection of Christ and his 144,000 joint heirs and the remnant of these?
33 The “resurrection of life” does not in itself mean an awakening from death to an instantaneous entering into perfection of life either in heaven as spirit creatures or on earth as human creatures. In the case of the 144,000 Christians who prove worthy of becoming associates of Jesus Christ as judges, kings and priests in heaven, their resurrection will indeed mean an instantaneous perfecting of them as immortal, incorruptible spirit sons of God. When their Leader Jesus Christ was resurrected, it was an instantaneous perfecting of him as the chief spirit Son of God. Like his, will be the resurrection of his 144,000 joint heirs. (Rom. 6:5) When the apostle Paul discusses the resurrection he speaks of faithful Christians who survive on earth till their Lord arrives and who do not need to sleep in death when finishing their earthly career, sleeping till his return. In 1 Corinthians 15:49-54 Paul writes:
34 “And just as we have borne the image of the one made of dust [the first man Adam], we shall bear also the image of the heavenly one [Jesus Christ]. However, this I say, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s kingdom, neither does corruption inherit incorruption. Look! I tell you a sacred secret: We shall not all fall asleep in death, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, during the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised up incorruptible, and 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.’”
35. Do the 144,000 undergo a judging before their resurrection to instantaneous perfection, and what does 2 Corinthians 5:10 indicate?
35 Since the 144,000 are resurrected to instantaneous perfection of heavenly spiritual life, does this mean that they are not first put under a judging? No! In 2 Corinthians 5:10 the apostle Paul writes to the congregation of Christ’s faithful followers: “For we must all be made manifest before the judgment seat of the Christ, that each one may get his award for the things done through the body, according to the things he has practiced, whether it is good or vile.” Thus Christ’s joint heirs are under a judging now.
36. Accordingly, what warning does 1 Peter 4:17, 18 give to the 144,000?
36 This is what the apostle Peter warns them about, in 1 Peter 4:17, 18, saying: “For it is the appointed time for the judgment to start with the house of God. Now if it starts first with us, what will the end be of those who are not obedient to the good news of God? ‘And if the righteous man is being saved with difficulty, where will the ungodly man and the sinner make a showing?’”
37. When and where do the 144,000 have to be proved “those who did good things”?
37 Therefore before ever they die and enjoy the “resurrection of life” the Judge must prove the fact that they are of “those who did good things.” Since in the resurrection these 144,000 joint heirs experience an instantaneous perfecting of life as spirit creatures in heaven, they must be proved to be doers of good in this era, in the flesh. This has to be done before ever they are instantaneously clothed upon with immortality and incorruptibility in heaven.
THE OTHER DOERS OF GOOD
38. As regards those resurrected to an opportunity for everlasting life on earth, what will determine their being written or staying written in the “scroll of life”?
38 What about persons who have an earthly resurrection with a hope of perfect life in an earthly paradise under God’s kingdom? These do not need or have an instantaneous transformation to human perfection on being awakened from death in the memorial tombs. Works will determine whether they will be written on the scroll of life or stay written there, but such works are not yet all in the past. What will their works on earth be during the thousand-year reign of Christ? Besides that, there lies ahead of them all the final testing when Satan and his demons are loosed from the abyss at the end of the thousand years. (Rev. 20:7-10) At that future time it will be decisively established whether they are “those who did good things” by remaining faithful under this test.
39, 40. (a) What will that “so great a cloud of witnesses” have to learn, even including John the Baptist? (b) What will that “cloud of witnesses” have to prove themselves, and of what provision for sins will they be able to avail themselves?
39 Take, for instance, that “so great a cloud of witnesses” of ancient times, including Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Moses, King David, John the Baptist. These we expect to be made “princes in all the earth.” They will have much to learn, especially about the Messiah Jesus and what part he plays in God’s purpose and arrangements. They will have to come to an understanding of this and be tested as to this information given to them after their resurrection. John the Baptist was beheaded about two years before Jesus Christ died and was resurrected and went back to heaven. So John has much to learn and to be tested upon after he is resurrected to life on earth. Even from his prison cell John the Baptist sent to inquire of Jesus whether he was the complete fulfillment of the Messiah or a different one was yet to come to complete matters.
40 Consequently, down to the end of Christ’s thousand-year reign the members of that “so great a cloud of witnesses,” who enjoy a “better resurrection,” will need to prove themselves doers of good things. In ancient times they had the benefit of only animal sacrifices that could not really take away human sins; but after they are resurrected on earth they will be able to avail themselves of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice and of his services as God’s High Priest for human sinners. Their everlasting life depends on this.
41. (a) To what class does the “great crowd” of Revelation 7:9-17 belong? (b) What is their hope of survival, and will they be transformed instantly to human perfection?
41 In Revelation 7:9-17 a “great crowd” is described. This is an earthly class of people. They are not a class begotten by God’s spirit. So they are not a class having a heavenly destiny. They belong to the “other sheep” whom the Fine Shepherd Jesus Christ brings into his one fold of saved persons, according to what he said in John 10:16. All the “other sheep” are to live in the “new earth” under God’s heavenly kingdom. But many of the “great crowd” of today expect to survive the war of Har–Magedon with which this system of things ends, just as the sons and daughters-in-law of Noah survived with Noah and his wife in the ark. Thus they expect to live on into the new system of things after Har–Magedon without dying. They will not be transformed instantaneously into perfect human creatures right after the war of Har–Magedon. As a class they will not attain to human perfection till the end of the thousand-year reign of Christ through the help of his kingdom.
42. When will those of the “great crowd” who die before the war of Har–Magedon gain human perfection and prove to be “those who did good things”?
42 Many of this “great crowd” have already died faithful in God’s service. Others of them will yet die before the war of Har–Magedon. So they will need to hear the voice of the glorified Son of man and come out of the memorial tombs in resurrection. They will not be raised instantaneously to human perfection any more than earthly survivors of the war of Har–Magedon will be transformed in an instant to human perfection right after Har–Magedon ends. Like such earthly Har–Magedon survivors those coming out of the memorial tombs will not attain to human perfection till at the end of Christ’s thousand-year reign. And then they will have to face the loosing of Satan and his demons, to prove whether they will keep on doing good things. Only those “who did good things” despite the brief loosing of Satan will gain everlasting life on earth.
43. Whom do the dead ones mentioned in Revelation 20:11-13 include?
43 As regards the dead of mankind in general, Revelation 20:11-13 says that both Haʹdes and the sea will give up the dead that are in them. Such dead ones will include the faithful prophets and witnesses from Abel down to John the Baptist, and also those of the present-day “great crowd” who die before Har–Magedon, and all the rest who are then, as Jesus said, “in the memorial tombs.”
44. What will then be the question with regard to them and according to what will they be judged?
44 Then the question is, Who will get his name written or keep his name written on the “scroll of life”? Evidently those who are finally judged as “those who did good things.” To be finally pronounced such, they must bring their lives into harmony with the symbolic “scrolls” of divine instruction that will be opened during the thousand-year reign of Christ. They will need those opened scrolls as a guide to their deeds during Christ’s reign, because it is “according to their deeds” that people standing before the “great white throne” will be judged.—Rev. 20:12.
45. (a) When will any of these be judicially pronounced “those who did good things?” (b) What will happen to those not found written in the book of life?
45 When the deciding test comes upon them by the loosing of Satan and his demons for a little while at the close of the thousand-year reign of Christ, they will have to pass this test faithfully. First after they pass this final, decisive test they will be judicially pronounced as being unchangeably “those who did good.” Their names will be “found written in the book of life.” Yes, some will be found written in the book of life, for what will happen to those who are then not found written in it is told in Revelation 20:15. Those unwritten ones will die the “second death.” In this way it will at last be determined who of those persons who came out of the memorial tombs came out to a “resurrection of life.”
Out of the Tombs to a “Resurrection of Judgment”
1. Who are the ones that John 5:29 speaks of as “those who practiced vile things”?
WHO are the ones whom Jesus, in John 5:29, called “those who practiced vile things” and who come out of the memorial tombs “to a resurrection of judgment”? Evidently these are all the ones who have not proved their resurrection to be a “resurrection of life.”
2, 3. (a) In John 5:29, does the word “judgment” allow for two possibilities for the ones judged? (b) At whom is the judgment directed, and what, in the light of other scriptures, would this indicate as to the kind of judgment for them?
2 In Jesus’ expression “resurrection of judgment,” does the word “judgment” mean an opportunity to have the court judge decide in favor of the person on trial? No! “Judgment” here does not mean a judicial trial with two possibilities, either that of the judge’s pronouncing a person not guilty and releasing him or that of the judge’s condemning him and adjudging him to punishment.a “Judgment” means the act of judging, the intellectual or mental process of forming an opinion by considering the facts of the case, the judicial decision of a case in court.b It must be either favorable or unfavorable. Which is the “judgment” here in John 5:29?
3 The very fact that, in John 5:29, the judgment is directed at “those who practiced vile things” indicates that it is an unfavorable judgment, a condemnatory judgment. Concerning persons who now make a practice of doing vile things, Jesus said: “He that practices vile things hates the light and does not come to the light, in order that his works may not be reproved. But he that does what is true comes to the light, in order that his works may be made manifest as having been worked in harmony with God.” (John 3:20, 21) In a warning to us against jealousy and contentiousness James 3:14-16 goes on to say: “This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is the earthly, animal, demonic. For where jealousy and contentiousness are, there disorder and every vile thing are.”—See Titus 2:8.
4 In a number of Bible verses the words “judge” and “judgment” have the force of condemning, condemnation. For example, in Jude 4, 14, 15, which reads: “Certain men have slipped in who have long ago been appointed by the Scriptures to this judgment, ungodly men, turning the undeserved kindness of our God into an excuse for loose conduct and proving false to our only Owner and Lord, Jesus Christ.” “Look! Jehovah came with his holy myriads, to execute judgment [krisis] against all, and to convict all the ungodly.” Acts 7:7 says concerning Egypt: “‘That nation for which they [the Israelites] will slave I shall judge,’ God said, ‘and after these things they will come out and will render sacred service to me in this place.’”
5. When appointments are considered, against what kind of judgment should the newly converted man be protected?
5 The apostle Paul instructed to appoint, “not a newly converted man, for fear that he might get puffed up with pride and fall into the judgment [krima] passed upon the Devil.”—1 Tim. 3:6.
6 The world empire of false religion symbolized as Babylon the Great will have no resurrection from her coming destruction. So, according to Dr. Robert Young’s literal Bible translation, Revelation 18:8, 20 and Re 19:2 read: “In fire she shall be utterly burned, because strong is the Lord God who is judging her.” “Be glad over her, O heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets, because God did judge your judgment on her!” “Because true and righteous are His judgments, because He did judge the great whore who did corrupt the earth in her whoredom, and He did avenge the blood of His servants at her hand.”
7 In Hebrew the word mishpát is used in the sense of “cause or ground of condemnation.” Jeremiah 51:9 says about Babylon: “Clear to the heavens her judgment has reached.” In Psalm 9:19 and Joel 3:12 we read about how the nations are judged unfavorably. Obadiah 21 says concerning the ungodly nation of Esau or Edom: “Saviors will certainly come up onto Mount Zion, in order to judge the mountainous region of Esau; and the kingship must become Jehovah’s.”
8 The Jewish ruler Nicodemus defended Jesus Christ with the words: “Our law does not judge a man unless first it has heard from him and come to know what he is doing, does it?” (John 7:51) In Matthew 23:33 Jesus says to the Jewish scribes and Pharisees: “Serpents, offspring of vipers, how are you to flee from the judgment of Gehenna?” If this judgment is something from which to flee, how could this judgment (krisis) mean an opportunity to escape from Gehenna or endless destruction? It does not mean such!
9 Keep in mind also that, in John 5:29, Jesus Christ is making contrasts. He is contrasting “those who did good things” and “those who practiced vile things.” Correspondingly, he contrasts the “resurrection of life” and the “resurrection of judgment.”
10 In other places Jesus makes the same contrast between salvation (or life) and judgment. For example, after telling of God’s great love for the world of mankind Jesus said: “God sent forth his Son into the world, not for him to judge the world, but for the world to be saved through him. He that exercises faith in him is not to be judged. He that does not exercise faith has been judged already, because he has not exercised faith in the name of the only-begotten Son of God. Now this is the basis for judgment [or, this is the krisis], that the light has come into the world but men have loved the darkness rather than the light, for their works were wicked.” (John 3:17-19) In those verses all the cases of judging and of judgment are in a condemnatory sense. All are contrasted with salvation to everlasting life.—Compare John 12:47; Matthew 25:46.
11 In John 5:24, just a few verses ahead of where Jesus mentions the resurrection of the dead, he makes the same contrast between life and judgment, saying: “He that hears my word and believes him that sent me has everlasting life, and he does not come into judgment but has passed over from death to life.” Hence in John 5:28, 29 Jesus shows the two distinct and opposite outcomes of the general resurrection or coming out of the memorial tombs.
12 They are (1) “life” and (2) “judgment,” that is, a condemnatory judgment, a condemnation, a “damnation” in the now out-of-date language of the King James Version Bible; an adjudging to punishment by the utter loss of all life anywhere.
13. (a) A real contrast between “life” and “judgment” will not allow for what interpretation of the word “judgment”? (b) So then, what kind of thing does the word “judgment” here mean?
13 Jesus does not contrast (1) “life” and (2) a “judgment” the outcome of which is uncertain, either life if the resurrected one turns from practicing vile things or death if he does not turn from such practice. This would be no real contrast, for eternal life would then be possible by the “resurrection of judgment” as well as by the “resurrection of life.” And since Jesus said that “all” would come out and that all would come out to a “resurrection,” to a “resurrection” either of life or of judgment, it would then reduce itself to a universal salvation of “all those in the memorial tombs” who hear Jesus’ voice and come out. To the contrary of this, “judgment” here means, not a divisible judgment, but a single judgment with but one sentence that adjudges the practicers of vile things to a loss of all life.
14. (a) Since the word “judgment” is used only in connection with “those who practiced vile things,” does this mean that the gainers of life do not pass through a testing? (b) Since the 144,000 gain an instantaneous perfection in heaven, when do they have their judgment period?
14 Accordingly, John 5:28, 29 indicates two general classes that are distinguished from each other by the outcome of their course of action after they are resurrected. In John 5:29 Jesus uses the Greek word krisis only in connection with those who do vile things, but this does not mean that those who gain the “resurrection of life” do not pass through a trial or testing before they actually enter into their life eternal.c In the case of the 144,000 who become associate judges with Jesus Christ in heaven, they have an instantaneous entrance into perfect immortal spirit life with Christ. But they have been on trial here on earth, for, as 1 Peter 4:17 says, “it is the appointed time for the judgment to start with the house of God. Now if it starts first with us, what will the end be of those who are not obedient to the good news of God?” Consequently, when they die faithful in the flesh, the end of their judgment period comes. In God’s due time they take part in the “first resurrection” and then “the second death has no authority” over them. (Rev. 20:4-6) They then become judges instead of being put on judgment.
15. When do those who experience the “resurrection of judgment” have the judgment executed upon them?
15 However, when do those who come out of the memorial tombs to a “resurrection of judgment” on earth have the judgment pronounced and executed on them? Not immediately after they take their stand before the “great white throne and the one seated on it,” but only after they “practiced vile things” either during Christ’s thousand-year reign or at the end of the thousand years when Satan and his demons are released from the abyss to tempt restored mankind.
16. Having their names “written in the book of life” depends upon what, and when may the “second death” be applied, and why then?
16 Revelation 20:11-15 pictures how all those on earth who are given up by the sea and Hades and death have an opportunity to get their names “written in the book of life.” Whether they will be judged worthy of that will depend on how they lived up to the “scrolls” of instruction that will then be opened up and according to which they will be judged. Some of these may be found unworthy before the thousand years are ended. So they may then and there be executed with the “second death,” because in a vile way they have refused to live up to the Kingdom requirements and to progress toward human perfection and holiness.
17. When will others be executed, and why then?
17 Others will be executed after the thousand years are over. By then they will have attained to human perfection and to ability to live sinlessly in harmony with all the laws of God and in support of his universal sovereignty. But when Satan and his demons are loosed to test them, they will vilely turn from righteousness and side in with Satan the Devil, the great rebel against the universal sovereignty of the Most High God. For committing such vileness they will fail under the final test and prove unworthy of eternal life. They will then be “those who practiced vile things.”
18. For such people their resurrection turns out eventually to be what kind?
18 Revelation 20:14, 15 says: “This means the second death, the lake of fire. Furthermore, whoever was not found written in the book of life was hurled into the lake of fire.” For such people the resurrection that they enjoyed when they came out of the tombs turns out to be a “resurrection of judgment,” to annihilation; because when the time finally came for the judicial award of life or condemnation to be made, their record showed them to be “those who practiced vile things.”
19, 20. (a) In the face of this understanding of John 5:28, 29, does it matter how we live now? (b) How do Peter’s warning and the fulfillment of prophecies for our time determine the right answer?
19 From all the foregoing, let nobody draw the conclusion that it matters little how we live now and that only what we do under God’s kingdom after Har–Magedon will really decide our eternal future. Remember 1 Peter 4:17 to the effect that the appointed time of judgment has already begun at the Christian house of God. Also, Babylon the Great (the world empire of false religion) is in the “hour of the judgment by him,” that is, judgment by God. She has fallen under his adverse judgment and is now approaching her violent destruction from God. The kings of the earth and their armies are also being gathered under demon influence to their destruction at Har–Magedon. Do we want to be destroyed with all of them and forfeit a resurrection from the dead? Then get out of Babylon the Great now! Break away from the international march to Har–Magedon. Save yourself from Gehenna!—Rev. 14:7, 8; 16:13-16; 18:4; 19:19-21.
20 The people of the nations are now being separated like sheep and goats according to the parable that Jesus gave at the close of his prophecy on the end of this system of things. Do you want to prove yourself a “goat”? No! For “these will depart into everlasting cutting-off [punishment, the opposite of life], but the righteous