“And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened.” (Revelation 20:12a) “The great and the small” embraces the prominent as well as the less prominent ones of humans that have lived and died on this earth during the past 6,000 years. In the Gospel that the apostle John wrote shortly after Revelation, Jesus said of the Father: “He has given him [Jesus] authority to do judging, because Son of man he is. 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 5:27-29) What a stupendous project—the undoing of the deaths and burials throughout all history! No doubt those countless millions in God’s memory will be brought forth gradually so that the great crowd—so few by comparison—will be able to handle problems that may arise because resurrected ones may tend at first to follow their old lifestyle, with its fleshly weaknesses and attitudes.
Who Are Raised and Judged?
7, 8. (a) What scroll is opened, and what takes place thereafter? (b) For whom will there be no resurrection?
7 John adds: “But another scroll was opened; it is the scroll of life. And the dead were judged out of those things written in the scrolls according to their deeds.
The Scroll of Life
11. (a) What is “the scroll of life,” and whose names are recorded in this scroll? (b) Why will the scroll of life be opened during the Thousand Year Reign?
11 John speaks of “the scroll of life.” This is a record of those in line to receive everlasting life from Jehovah. The names of the anointed brothers of Jesus, of the great crowd, and of faithful men of old, such as Moses, have been recorded in this scroll. (Exodus 32:32, 33; Daniel 12:1; Revelation 3:5) As yet, none of the “unrighteous” resurrected ones have their names in the scroll of life. So the scroll of life will be opened during the Thousand Year Reign to permit the writing of names of others that come to qualify. Those whose names do not get written in the scroll, or book, of life are “hurled into the lake of fire.”—Revelation 20:15; compare Hebrews 3:19.
12. What will determine whether a person gets his name written in the opened scroll of life, and how did Jehovah’s appointed Judge set the example?
12 What, then, will determine whether a person gets his name written in the opened scroll of life at that time? The key factor will be the same as it was in the days of Adam and Eve: obedience to Jehovah. As the apostle John wrote to beloved fellow Christians: “The world is passing away and so is its desire, but he that does the will of God remains forever.” (1 John 2:4-7, 17) In the matter of obedience, Jehovah’s appointed Judge set the example: “Although [Jesus] was a Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered; and after he had been made perfect he became responsible for everlasting salvation to all those obeying him.”—Hebrews 5:8, 9.
Opening Other Scrolls
13. How must resurrected ones demonstrate their obedience, and what principles must they follow?
13 How must these resurrected ones demonstrate their obedience? Jesus himself pointed to the two great commandments, saying: “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel, Jehovah our God is one Jehovah, and you must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind and with your whole strength.’ The second is this, ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Mark 12:29-31) There are also Jehovah’s well-established principles that they must follow, such as to repudiate stealing, lying, murdering, and immorality.—1 Timothy 1:8-11; Revelation 21:8.
14. What other scrolls are opened, and what do they contain?
14 However, John has just mentioned other scrolls that will be opened during the Millennial Reign. (Revelation 20:12) What will these be? At times, Jehovah has given specific instructions for particular situations. For example, in Moses’ day he provided a detailed series of laws that meant life for the Israelites if they obeyed. (Deuteronomy 4:40; 32:45-47) During the first century, new instructions were given to help faithful ones to follow Jehovah’s principles under the Christian system of things. (Matthew 28:19, 20; John 13:34; 15:9, 10) Now John reports that the dead are to be “judged out of those things written in the scrolls according to their deeds.” Evidently, then, the opening of these scrolls will publish Jehovah’s detailed requirements for mankind during the thousand years. By applying in their lives the regulations and commandments of those scrolls, obedient humans will be able to lengthen their days, attaining finally to everlasting life.
15. What kind of educational campaign will be needed during the resurrection, and how will the resurrection likely proceed?
15 What an extensive campaign of theocratic education will be needed! In 2005, Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide were conducting, on the average, 6,061,534 Bible studies in various locations. But during the resurrection, countless millions of studies, based on the Bible and the new scrolls, will no doubt be conducted! All of God’s people will need to become teachers and to exert themselves. Resurrected ones, as they progress, will no doubt share in this vast teaching program. Likely, the resurrection will proceed in such a way that those who are alive may have the joy of welcoming and instructing former family members and acquaintances, who, in their turn, may welcome and instruct others. (Compare 1 Corinthians 15:19-28, 58.) The more than six million Witnesses of Jehovah who are active in spreading the truth today are laying a good foundation for the privileges they hope to have during the resurrection.—Isaiah 50:4; 54:13.
16. (a) Whose names will not be written in the scroll, or book, of life? (b) Who are those whose resurrection will prove to be one “of life”?
16 With regard to the earthly resurrection, Jesus said that ‘those who did good things come out to a resurrection of life, those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.’ Here “life” and “judgment” contrast with each other, showing that those resurrected ones who “practiced vile things” after being instructed in the inspired Scriptures and scrolls are judged to be unworthy of life. Their names will not be written in the scroll, or book, of life. (John 5:29) This would also be true of any who previously followed a faithful course but who, for some reason, turn aside during the Thousand Year Reign. Names can be erased. (Exodus 32:32, 33) On the other hand, those who obediently follow the things written in the scrolls will keep their names on the written record, the scroll of life, and continue living. For them, the resurrection will have proved to be one “of life.”