Hi Brenton: In Revelation chapter 20 at verse 4 it speaks of individuals who have part in the first resurrection--ones who will rule with Christ for 1,000 years. It says in verse 5 that the rest of the dead do not come to life until the 1,0000 years have ended. Then in verse 7-15 it tells us what will happen after the 1,0000 year period. One event being, death gives up all their dead then they are judged. My question:
Why do JWs teach that the dead are raised during the 1,000 years and are allowed to become perfect and then tested when Satan is set loose from the abyss.
My thoughts are: God will not recreate imperfect individuals that need to be tested. Every thing that God creates is perfect. From what I see from the scriptures dead ones are judged on the deeds they perform during their lifetime. Ones who are judged righteous and worthy of everlasting life are raised after Satan and his demons are thrown in the lake of fire (rev 20:10). There will be no one wicked at that time to test them. I appreciate any solid scriptural evidence that you can give that shows that the dead are raised during the 1,000 year millennium period and not afterwards.
Hello Beatrice ,
Thank you for an interesting question, I do hope that I can provide you with a scriptural answer that will satisfy you.
I understand why you feel that God would “recreate” perfect humans in the resurrection because ...”Every thing that God creates is perfect.”
. We agree with that. The Bible tells us that “All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial …. for setting things straight, ... ”(2 Timothy 3:16
) In view of that, However have you considered the Bible examples of previous resurrections?
For example in 1 Kings 17:17-24
we find the account of a young boy the God resurrected through the channel of the prophet Elijah. We have several examples of where God used Jesus to resurrect different ones. Acts 20:7-12
we find the account of where God allowed Paul to resurrect a young man Eutychus who had fallen asleep and fell out of an upper floor window.
In All these resurrections, the resurrected ones came back as imperfect humans again. The only record we have of a human going to heaven after a resurrection is Jesus, and he was raised to immortal life. Those that were raised back to earth were still mortal. What do we learn from that? Do we learn that those that have an earthly resurrection come back as they were?
Those that are resurrected after Armageddon will still need to prove themselves worthy of life by being obedient to the laws and commands of God without the influence of Satan.
The book of Revelation is not an easy one to understand. Many of the keys to understanding what is happening is found in other parts of the Bible. . For example, in the book of Daniel we see described four fearsome beasts. We are told that these beasts are portrayed ruling powers on earth. Hence, we are helped to understand that the beasts of Revelation represent political entities, including those now existing.—Daniel 7:1-8, 17; Revelation 13:2, 11-13; 17:3. So to with the mention of an earthly resurrection, the Bible indicates that they will be just as they were
We also understand that Revelation is not just one visions but a series of 16 visions. These visions are not presented in chronological order. Each has its own time period of fulfilment. The book of Revelation covers from before the Great Day of Jehovah, through the 1000 years and into the future. Some visions overlap in time period but depict different events happened at the same time. The visions often seem to start like the following, though that is not always the case
“After this I saw
. . .” ) Vision 2 A visionary look at Gods heavenly presence Revelation 4:1-5:14
” And I saw when the Lamb
. . .” ) Vision 3. The Lamb opens six seals of the scroll Revelation 6:1-17
“ After this I saw four angels
...”) Vision 4 There are four winds of the earth are held back for a period of time
When reading chapter 20 it is easy to feel that this is one vision. However, we understand that in chapter 20 there are two different visions
. The first Vision covers verses 1- 10, and, the second vision covers verses 11 to Chapter 21:8. We understand that these visions overlap in their time periods. The first one covers a slightly longer period that the other, the second one is of events that occur during the time frame of the first.
I have tried to provide you with an answer in my own words but I found I went of track and what I wrote wasn't very coherent as I tried to include so much background materiel. So I looked for another way of providing an answer
I do not like doing this but, on occasion I found that I have to, and that is to cut and past from one of our publications, so that is what I am doing. Please forgive me for not using my own words. The quotes below are taken from the book “Revelations Grand Climax” being quotes this becomes a long reply.
All Bold and italics bellow are original
Crushing the Serpent’s Head
Vision 14—Revelation 20:1-10
Subject: The abyssing of Satan, the Millennial Reign, mankind’s final test, and Satan’s destruction
Time of fulfillment: From the end of the great tribulation to the destruction of Satan
DO YOU recall the first Bible prophecy? It was uttered by Jehovah God when he said to the Serpent: “I shall put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He will bruise you in the head and you will bruise him in the heel.” (Genesis 3:15) Now the fulfillment of that prophecy comes to its climax! We have traced the history of Satan’s warring against Jehovah’s heavenly womanlike organization. (Revelation 12:1, 9) The Serpent’s earthly seed, with its religion, politics, and big business, has heaped cruel persecution on the woman’s seed, Jesus Christ and his 144,000 anointed followers, here on earth. (John 8:37, 44; Galatians 3:16, 29) Satan inflicted an agonizing death on Jesus. But this proved to be like a heel wound, for God resurrected his faithful Son on the third day.—Acts 10:38-40.
2 What about the Serpent and his seed? About 56 C.E. the apostle Paul wrote a long letter to the Christians in Rome. In concluding it, he encouraged them by saying: “For his part, the God who gives peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.” (Romans 16:20) This is more than a superficial bruising. Satan is to be crushed! Paul here used a Greek word, syn·tri′bo
, that means to bruise into a jellylike state, to trample down, to destroy utterly by crushing. As for the human seed of the Serpent, this is due for a real plaguing in the Lord’s day, climaxing at the great tribulation in the complete crushing of Babylon the Great and the political systems of the world, together with their financial and military henchmen. (Revelation, chapters 18 and 19) Thus Jehovah brings to a climax the enmity between the two seeds. The Seed of God’s woman triumphs over the earthly seed of the Serpent, and that seed is no more!
3 What, then, is in store for Satan himself and his demons? John tells us: “And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven with the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he seized the dragon, the original serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. And he hurled him into the abyss and shut it and sealed it over him, that he might not mislead the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After these things he must be let loose for a little while.”—Revelation 20:1-3.
4 Who is this angel? He must have tremendous power to be able to dispose of Jehovah’s archenemy. He has “the key of the abyss and a great chain.” Does this not remind us of an earlier vision? Why, yes, the king over the locusts is called “the angel of the abyss”! (Revelation 9:11) So here we again observe Jehovah’s Chief Vindicator, the glorified Jesus Christ, in action. This archangel that cast Satan out of heaven, that judged Babylon the Great, and that disposed of “the kings of the earth and their armies” at Armageddon would surely not step aside to let a lesser angel deliver the masterstroke in abyssing Satan!—Revelation 12:7-9; 18:1, 2; 19:11-21.
5 When the great fiery-colored dragon was hurled down from heaven, he was spoken of as “the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth.” (Revelation 12:3, 9) Now, at the point of being seized and abyssed, he is described again in full as “the dragon, the original serpent, who is the Devil and Satan.” This infamous devourer, deceiver, slanderer, and opposer is chained and hurled “into the abyss,” which is closed and sealed off tightly, “that he might not mislead the nations anymore.” This abyssing of Satan is for a thousand years, during which time his influence on mankind will be no more than that of a prisoner in a deep dungeon. The angel of the abyss removes Satan completely from any contact with the Kingdom of righteousness. What a relief for mankind!
6 What happens to the demons? They too have been “reserved for judgment.” (2 Peter 2:4) Satan is called “Beelzebub the ruler of the demons.” (Luke 11:15, 18; Matthew 10:25) In view of their longtime collaboration with Satan, should not the same judgment be meted out to them? The abyss has long been an object of fear to those demons; on one occasion when Jesus confronted them, they “kept entreating him not to order them to go away into the abyss.” (Luke 8:31) But when Satan is abyssed, his angels will surely be hurled into the abyss with him. (Compare Isaiah 24:21, 22.) After the abyssing of Satan and his demons, the Thousand Year Reign of Jesus Christ can begin.
7 Will Satan and his demons be active while in the abyss? Well, remember the scarlet-colored, seven-headed wild beast that “was, but is not, and yet is about to ascend out of the abyss.” (Revelation 17:8) While in the abyss, it ‘was not.’ It was nonfunctioning, immobilized, to all intents and purposes dead. Likewise, speaking of Jesus, the apostle Paul said: “‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ that is, to bring Christ up from the dead.” (Romans 10:7) While in that abyss, Jesus was dead. It is reasonable to conclude, then, that Satan and his demons will be in a state of deathlike inactivity for the thousand years of their abyssing. What good tidings for lovers of righteousness!
Judges for a Thousand Years
8 After the thousand years, Satan is released from the abyss for a short while. Why? Before giving the answer, John brings our attention back to the beginning of that time period. We read: “And I saw thrones, and there were those who sat down on them, and power of judging was given them.” (Revelation 20:4a)
Who are these ones sitting on thrones and ruling in the heavens with the glorified Jesus?
9 They are “the holy ones” that Daniel described as ruling in the Kingdom with the One “like a son of man.” (Daniel 7:13, 14, 18) They are the same as the 24 elders who sit on heavenly thrones in the very presence of Jehovah. (Revelation 4:4) They include the 12 apostles, to whom Jesus gave the promise: “In the re-creation, when the Son of man sits down upon his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also yourselves sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Matthew 19:28) They also include Paul, as well as the Corinthian Christians who remained faithful. (1 Corinthians 4:8; 6:2, 3) They would include, too, members of the congregation of Laodicea who conquered.—Revelation 3:21.
10 Thrones—144,000 of them—are prepared for these anointed conquerors who are “bought from among mankind as firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.” (Revelation 14:1, 4) “Yes,”
continues John, “I saw the souls of those executed with the ax for the witness they bore to Jesus and for speaking about God, and those who had worshiped neither the wild beast nor its image and who had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand.” (Revelation 20:4b)
Among those kings, then, are the anointed Christian martyrs who earlier, at the opening of the fifth seal, asked Jehovah how much longer he would wait to avenge their blood. At that time, they were given a white robe and told to wait a little longer. But now they have been avenged through the devastating of Babylon the Great, the destruction of the nations by the King of kings and Lord of lords, and the abyssing of Satan.—Revelation 6:9-11; 17:16; 19:15, 16.
11 Were all these 144,000 royal judges physically “executed with the ax”? Likely, relatively few of them were in a literal sense. This expression, though, doubtless is intended to embrace all those anointed Christians who endure martyrdom in one way or another. (Matthew 10:22, 28) Certainly, Satan would like to have executed all
of them with the ax, but, in fact, not all of Jesus’ anointed brothers die as martyrs. Many of them die of disease or old age. Such ones, however, also belong to the group that John now sees. The death of all of them is, in a sense, sacrificial. (Romans 6:3-5) Additionally, none of them were part of the world. Hence, all of them have been hated by the world and, in effect, become dead in its eyes. (John 15:19; 1 Corinthians 4:13) None of them worshipped the wild beast or its image, and when they died, none of them carried the mark of the beast. All of them died as conquerors.—1 John 5:4; Revelation 2:7; 3:12; 12:11.
12 Now these conquerors live again! John reports: “And they came to life and ruled as kings with the Christ for a thousand years.” (Revelation 20:4c)
Does this mean that these judges are not resurrected until after the destruction of the nations and the abyssing of Satan and his demons? No. Most of them are already very much alive, since they rode with Jesus against the nations at Armageddon. (Revelation 2:26, 27; 19:14) Indeed, Paul indicated that their resurrection commences soon after the beginning of Jesus’ presence in 1914 and that some are resurrected before others. (1 Corinthians 15:51-54; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17) Therefore, their coming to life occurs over a period of time as they individually receive the gift of immortal life in the heavens.—2 Thessalonians 1:7; 2 Peter 3:11-14.
13 Their reigning and judging will be for a thousand years. Is this a literal thousand years, or should we view it symbolically as being an undefined, long period of time? “Thousands” may mean a large, indefinite number, as at 1 Samuel 21:11. But here the “thousand” is literal, since it appears three times in Revelation 20:5-7 as “the
thousand years.” Paul called this time of judgment “a day” when he stated: “He [God] has set a day in which he purposes to judge the inhabited earth in righteousness.” (Acts 17:31) Since Peter tells us that one day with Jehovah is as a thousand years, it is appropriate that this Day of Judgment be a literal thousand years.—2 Peter 3:8.
The Rest of the Dead
14 Whom, though, will these kings judge if, as the apostle John here inserts,“(the rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended)”? (Revelation 20:5a)
Again, the expression “come to life” has to be understood according to context. This expression can have varying meanings in varying circumstances. For example, Paul said of his anointed fellow Christians: “It is you God made alive though you were dead in your trespasses and sins.” (Ephesians 2:1) Yes, spirit-anointed Christians were “made alive,” even in the first century, being declared righteous on the basis of their faith in Jesus’ sacrifice.—Romans 3:23, 24.
15 Similarly, pre-Christian witnesses of Jehovah were declared righteous as to friendship with God; and Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were spoken of as “living” even though they were physically dead. (Matthew 22:31, 32; James 2:21, 23) However, they and all others who are resurrected, as well as the great crowd of faithful other sheep who survive Armageddon and any children that may be born to these in the new world, must yet be raised to human perfection. This will be accomplished by Christ and his associate kings and priests during the thousand-year Judgment Day, on the basis of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice. By the end of that Day, “the rest of the dead” will have “come to life” in the sense that they will be perfect humans. As we shall see, they must then pass a final test, but they will face that test as perfected humans. When they pass the test, God will declare them worthy of living forever, righteous in the fullest sense. They will experience the complete fulfillment of the promise: “The righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.” (Psalm 37:29) What a delightful future is in store for obedient mankind!
The First Resurrection
16 Returning now to those who “came to life and ruled as kings with the Christ,” John writes: “This is the first resurrection.” (Revelation 20:5b)
How is it first? It is “the first resurrection” as to time, for the ones who experience it are a “firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.” (Revelation 14:4) It is also first in importance, since those who share in it become corulers with Jesus in his heavenly Kingdom and judge the rest of mankind. Finally, it is first in quality. Apart from Jesus Christ himself, those raised in the first resurrection are the only creatures spoken of in the Bible as receiving immortality.—1 Corinthians 15:53; 1 Timothy 6:16.
17 What a blessed prospect for these anointed ones! As John declares: “Happy and holy is anyone having part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no authority.” (Revelation 20:6a)
As Jesus promised the Christians in Smyrna, these conquerors that share in “the first resurrection” will be in no danger of harm by “the second death,” which means annihilation, destruction without hope of a resurrection. (Revelation 2:11; 20:14) The second death has “no authority” over such conquerors, for they will have put on incorruption and immortality.—1 Corinthians 15:53.
18 How different from earth’s kings during Satan’s tenure of authority! These have ruled at most for a mere 50 or 60 years, and the great majority for just a few years. Many of them have oppressed mankind. In any case, how could the nations benefit permanently under ever-changing rulers with ever-changing policies? In contrast, John says of earth’s new rulers: “But they will be priests of God and of the Christ, and will rule as kings with him for the thousand years.” (Revelation 20:6b)
With Jesus, they will form the sole government for a thousand years. Their priestly service, in applying the merit of Jesus’ perfect human sacrifice, will lift obedient humans to spiritual, moral, and physical perfection. Their kingly service will result in building a global human society that reflects Jehovah’s righteousness and holiness. As judges for a thousand years, they, with Jesus, will lovingly guide responsive humans toward the goal of everlasting life.—John 3:16.
The Final Test
19 By the end of the Thousand Year Reign, all earth will have come to resemble the original Eden. It will be a veritable paradise. Perfect mankind will no longer need a high priest to intercede for it before God, since all traces of Adamic sin will have been removed and the last enemy, death, brought to nothing. Christ’s Kingdom will have achieved God’s purpose to create one world with one government. At this point, Jesus “hands over the kingdom to his God and Father.”—1 Corinthians 15:22-26; Romans 15:12.
20 It is now time for a final test. Will that perfected world of mankind, in contrast with the first humans in Eden, stand firm in its integrity? John tells us what happens: “Now as soon as the thousand years have been ended, Satan will be let loose out of his prison, and he will go out to mislead those nations in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war. The number of these is as the sand of the sea. And they advanced over the breadth of the earth and encircled the camp of the holy ones and the beloved city.”—Revelation 20:7-9a.
21 How will Satan’s last effort fare? He deceives “those nations in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog,” and leads them to “the war.” Who could possibly side with Satan after a thousand years of joyful, upbuilding theocratic rule? Well, do not forget that Satan was able to mislead the perfect Adam and Eve while they were enjoying life in the Paradise of Eden. And he was able to lead astray heavenly angels who had seen the bad results of the original rebellion. (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6) So we should not be surprised that some perfect humans will be enticed to follow Satan even after a delightful thousand years of rule by God’s Kingdom.
22 The Bible calls these rebels “nations in the four corners of the earth.” This does not mean that mankind will have been divided once again into mutually exclusive national entities. It merely indicates that these will separate themselves from Jehovah’s righteous, loyal ones and manifest the same bad spirit that the nations show today. They will “think up an injurious scheme,” as did the Gog of Magog in Ezekiel’s prophecy, with a goal of destroying theocratic government on earth. (Ezekiel 38:3, 10-12) Hence, they are called “Gog and Magog.”
23 The number of those who join Satan in his revolt will be “as the sand of the sea.” How many is that? There is no foreordained number. (Compare Joshua 11:4; Judges 7:12.) The final total number of rebels will depend on how each individual reacts to Satan’s deceptive wiles. Doubtless, though, there will be a considerable number, since they will feel strong enough to overcome “the camp of the holy ones and the beloved city.”
24 “The beloved city” must be the city that is spoken of by the glorified Jesus Christ to his followers at Revelation 3:12 and that he calls “the city of my God, the new Jerusalem which descends out of heaven from my God.” Since this is a heavenly organization, how could those earthly forces ‘encircle’ it? In that they encircle “the camp of the holy ones.” A camp is outside a city; therefore, “the camp of the holy ones” must represent those on earth outside the heavenly location of New Jerusalem who loyally support Jehovah’s governmental arrangement. When the rebels under Satan attack those faithful ones, the Lord Jesus regards it as an assault on him. (Matthew 25:40, 45) “Those nations” will try to wipe out all that the heavenly New Jerusalem has accomplished in making earth a paradise. So in attacking “the camp of the holy ones,” they are also attacking “the beloved city.”
The Lake of Fire and Sulfur
25 Will this final effort by Satan succeed? Certainly not—no more than the attack that Gog of Magog is due to make on spiritual Israel in our day will succeed! (Ezekiel 38:18-23) John vividly describes the outcome: “But fire came down out of heaven and devoured them. And the Devil who was misleading them was hurled into the lake of fire and sulphur, where both the wild beast and the false prophet already were.” (Revelation 20:9b-10a)
Rather than being merely abyssed, this time Satan, the original serpent, will actually be crushed out of existence, pulverized, completely annihilated as if by fire.
26 We have already noted that “the lake of fire and sulphur” could not be a literal place of torment. (Revelation 19:20) If Satan were to suffer excruciating torture there for all eternity, Jehovah would have to preserve him alive. Yet, life is a gift, not a punishment. Death is the punishment for sin, and according to the Bible, dead creatures feel no pain. (Romans 6:23; Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10) Moreover, we read later that death itself, along with Hades, is cast into this same lake of fire and sulfur. Surely, death and Hades cannot suffer pain!—Revelation 20:14.
27 All of this reinforces the view that the lake of fire and sulfur is symbolic. Further, the mention of fire and sulfur calls to mind the fate of ancient Sodom and Gomorrah, destroyed by God because of their gross wickedness. When their time came, “Jehovah made it rain sulphur and fire from Jehovah, from the heavens, upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah.” (Genesis 19:24) What befell the two cities is called “the judicial punishment of everlasting fire.” (Jude 7) Yet, those two cities did not suffer everlasting torment. Rather, they were blotted out, obliterated for all time, along with their depraved inhabitants. Those cities do not exist today, and no one can say for sure where they were located.
28 In harmony with this, the Bible itself explains the meaning of the lake of fire and sulfur: “This means the second death, the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:14) It is clearly the same as the Gehenna that Jesus spoke of, a place where the wicked remain destroyed, not tortured forever. (Matthew 10:28) It is complete, utter destruction without hope of a resurrection. Thus, while there are keys for death, Hades, and the abyss, there is no mention of a key for opening the lake of fire and sulfur. (Revelation 1:18; 20:1) It will never release its captives.—Compare Mark 9:43-47.
Tormented Day and Night Forever
29 Referring to the Devil as well as the wild beast and the false prophet, John now tells us: ”And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” (Revelation 20:10b)
What could this mean? As mentioned already, it is not logical to say that symbols, such as the wild beast and the false prophet, as well as death and Hades, could suffer torture in a literal way. Hence, we have no reason to believe that Satan will be suffering for all eternity. He is to be annihilated.
30 The Greek word used here for “torment,” ba·sa·ni′zo
, means primarily “to test (metals) by the touchstone.” “To question by applying torture” is a second meaning. (The New Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament
) In the context, the use of this Greek word indicates that what happens to Satan will serve, for all eternity, as a touchstone on the issue of the rightness and righteousness of Jehovah’s rule. That issue of sovereign rulership will have been settled once and for all time. Never again will a challenge to Jehovah’s sovereignty need to be tested over an extended period of time in order to be proved wrong.—Compare Psalm 92:1, 15.
31 Additionally, the related word ba·sa·ni·stes′,
“tormentor,” is used in the Bible to mean “jailer.” (Matthew 18:34, Kingdom Interlinear
) In harmony with this, Satan will be imprisoned in the lake of fire forever; he will never be released. Finally, in the Greek Septuagint
, which was well known to John, the related word ba′sa·nos
is used to refer to humiliation that leads to death. (Ezekiel 32:24, 30) This helps us to see that the punishment that Satan undergoes is a humiliating, everlasting death in the lake of fire and sulfur. His works die with him.—1 John 3:8.
32 Again, the demons are not mentioned in this verse. Will they be released with Satan at the end of the thousand years and then undergo the punishment of everlasting death along with him? The evidence answers yes. In the parable of the sheep and the goats, Jesus said that the goats would go off “into the everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels.” (Matthew 25:41) The expression “everlasting fire” must refer to the lake of fire and sulfur where Satan is to be hurled. The Devil’s angels were cast out of heaven with him. Evidently, they went into the abyss with him at the beginning of the Thousand Year Reign. Consistently, then, they will also be destroyed with him in the lake of fire and sulfur.—Matthew 8:29.
33 In this way, the final detail of the prophecy recorded at Genesis 3:15 is fulfilled. When Satan is hurled into the lake of fire, he will become as dead as a snake the head of which has been ground under an iron heel. He and his demons will be gone forever. There is no further mention of them in the book of Revelation. Now, having prophetically disposed of these, Jehovah’s spirit draws attention to a matter of pressing interest to those who cherish an earthly hope: What will result to humankind from the heavenly reign of the “King of kings” and “those called and chosen and faithful with him”? (Revelation 17:14) To answer, John brings us back once again to the beginning of the Thousand Year Reign.
Other scriptures say that Jesus was in Hades while he was dead. (Acts 2:31) We should not conclude, however, that Hades and the abyss are always the same. While the wild beast and Satan go into the abyss, only humans are said to go to Hades, where they are asleep in death until their resurrection.—Job 14:13; Revelation 20:13.
The ax (Greek, pe′le·kus
) was seemingly the traditional instrument of execution in Rome, although by John’s day the sword was more generally used. (Acts 12:2) Therefore, the Greek word here used, pe·pe·le·kis·me′non
(“executed with the ax”), simply means “executed.”
Interestingly, Papias of Hierapolis, who is understood to have received some of his Bible knowledge from pupils of John, the writer of Revelation, is reported by fourth-century historian Eusebius to have believed in a literal Thousand Year Reign of Christ (although Eusebius strongly disagreed with him).—The History of the Church,
Eusebius, III, 39.
God’s Day of Judgment—Its Joyful Outcome!
Vision 15—Revelation 20:11–21:8
Subject: The general resurrection, Judgment Day, and blessings of new heavens and a new earth
Time of fulfillment: The Thousand Year Reign
AS HUMANS, we were created to live forever. If Adam and Eve had obeyed God’s commands, they would never have died. (Genesis 1:28; 2:8, 16, 17; Ecclesiastes 3:10, 11) But when they sinned, they lost perfection and life both for themselves and for their offspring, and death came to reign over mankind as a relentless enemy. (Romans 5:12, 14; 1 Corinthians 15:26) Nevertheless, God’s purpose to have perfect humans live forever on a paradise earth did not change. Out of his great love for mankind, he sent to earth his only-begotten Son, Jesus, who gave his perfect human life as a ransom for “many” of Adam’s offspring. (Matthew 20:28; John 3:16) Jesus can now use this legal merit of his sacrifice to restore believing humans to life in perfection on a paradise earth. (1 Peter 3:18; 1 John 2:2) What grand reason for mankind to “be joyful and rejoice”!—Isaiah 25:8, 9.
2 With Satan confined in the abyss, Jesus’ glorious Thousand Year Reign begins. It is now the “day” in which God “purposes to judge the inhabited earth in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed.” (Acts 17:31; 2 Peter 3:8) John declares: “And I saw a great white throne and the one seated on it. From before him the earth and the heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.” (Revelation 20:11)
What is this “great white throne”? It can be none other than the judgment seat of “God the Judge of all.” (Hebrews 12:23) Now he will judge mankind as to who will benefit from Jesus’ ransom sacrifice.—Mark 10:45.
3 God’s throne is “great,” emphasizing Jehovah’s grandeur as Sovereign Lord, and it is “white,” calling attention to his flawless righteousness. He is the ultimate Judge of mankind. (Psalm 19:7-11; Isaiah 33:22; 51:5, 8) He has, however, delegated the work of judging to Jesus Christ: “The Father judges no one at all, but he has committed all the judging to the Son.” (John 5:22) With Jesus are his 144,000 associates, to whom the “power of judging was given . . . for a thousand years.” (Revelation 20:4) Even so, it is Jehovah’s standards that decide what will happen to each individual during Judgment Day.
4 How is it that “the earth and the heaven fled away”? This is the same heaven that departed as a scroll at the opening of the sixth seal—the human ruling powers that are “stored up for fire and are being reserved to the day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly men.” (Revelation 6:14; 2 Peter 3:7) The earth is the organized system of things that exists under this rulership. (Revelation 8:7) The destruction of the wild beast and the kings of the earth and their armies, along with those who received the mark of the wild beast and those who render worship to its image, marks the fleeing away of this heaven and earth. (Revelation 19:19-21) Judgment having been executed on Satan’s earth and heaven, the Great Judge decrees another Day of Judgment.
The Thousand-Year Judgment Day
5 Who are left to be judged after the old earth and the old heaven flee away? Not the anointed remnant of the 144,000, for these have already been judged and sealed. If any of the anointed are still alive on earth after Armageddon, they must shortly thereafter die and receive their heavenly reward by resurrection. (1 Peter 4:17; Revelation 7:2-4) However, the millions of the great crowd who have now come out of the great tribulation stand conspicuously “before the throne.” These have already been counted righteous for survival because of their faith in Jesus’ shed blood, but their judging must continue through the thousand years as Jesus keeps on guiding them to “fountains of waters of life.” Then, having been restored to human perfection and thereafter tested, they will be declared righteous in the fullest sense. (Revelation 7:9, 10, 14, 17) Children who survive the great tribulation and any children born to the great crowd during the Millennium will similarly need to be judged during the thousand years.—Compare Genesis 1:28; 9:7; 1 Corinthians 7:14.
6 John, however, observes a throng far more numerous than the surviving great crowd. It will number into the thousands of millions! “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 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. And the sea gave up those dead in it, and death and Hades gave up those dead in them, and they were judged individually according to their deeds.” (Revelation 20:12b, 13)
A breathtaking spectacle indeed! ‘The sea, death, and Hades’ each plays a part, but note that these terms are not mutually exclusive. Jonah, when in the belly of a fish and therefore in the midst of the sea, spoke of himself as being in Sheol, or Hades. (Jonah 2:2) If a person is held in the grip of Adamic death, then likely he is also in Hades. These prophetic words give strong assurance that no one will be overlooked.
8 There are, of course, an unknown number who will not be resurrected. Among these would be the unrepentant scribes and Pharisees who rejected Jesus and the apostles, the religious “man of lawlessness,” and anointed Christians “who have fallen away.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3; Hebrews 6:4-6; Matthew 23:29-33) Jesus also spoke of goatlike people at the world’s end who go into “the everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels,” namely, “everlasting cutting-off.” (Matthew 25:41, 46) No resurrection for these!
9 On the other hand, some will be specially favored in the resurrection. The apostle Paul indicated this when he said: “I have hope toward God . . . that there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Acts 24:15) With regard to the earthly resurrection, “the righteous” will include faithful men and women of old—Abraham, Rahab, and many others—who were declared righteous as to friendship with God. (James 2:21, 23, 25) In this same group will be those righteous other sheep who died faithful to Jehovah in modern times. Likely, all such integrity keepers will be resurrected early in Jesus’ Millennial Reign. (Job 14:13-15; 27:5; Daniel 12:13; Hebrews 11:35, 39, 40) No doubt many of these resurrected righteous ones will be assigned special privileges in overseeing the tremendous work of restoration in Paradise.—Psalm 45:16; compare Isaiah 32:1, 16-18; 61:5; 65:21-23.
10 Who, though, are “the unrighteous” mentioned at Acts 24:15? These would include the great masses of mankind who have died throughout history, particularly those who lived in ‘times of ignorance.’ (Acts 17:30) These, because of where they were born or when they lived, had no opportunity to learn obedience to Jehovah’s will. Additionally, there may be some who did hear the message of salvation but who did not respond fully at that time or who died before they had progressed to dedication and baptism. In the resurrection such ones will have to make further adjustments in their thinking and life course if they are going to benefit from this opportunity for gaining everlasting life.
The Scroll of Life
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, 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 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 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 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 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.”
The End of Death and Hades
17 Next, John describes something truly wonderful!“And death and Hades were hurled into the lake of fire. 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.” (Revelation 20:14, 15)
By the end of the millennial Judgment Day, “death and Hades” are completely removed. Why does this involve a thousand years? Hades, the common grave of all mankind, is emptied when the last one in God’s memory is resurrected. But as long as any humans are tainted by inherited sin, Adamic death is still with them. All those resurrected on earth, as well as the great crowd that survives Armageddon, will need to obey what is written in the scrolls until Jesus’ ransom merit has been applied in fully removing sickness, old age, and other inherited disabilities. Then Adamic death, along with Hades, is “hurled into the lake of fire.” They will be gone forever!
18 Thus, the program that the apostle Paul describes in his letter to the Corinthians will come to completion: “For [Jesus] must rule as king until God has put all enemies under his feet. As the last enemy, [Adamic] death is to be brought to nothing.” What happens next? “When all things will have been subjected to him, then the Son himself will also subject himself to the One who subjected all things to him.” In other words, Jesus “hands over the kingdom to his God and Father.” (1 Corinthians 15:24-28) Yes, Jesus, having conquered Adamic death through the merit of his ransom sacrifice, will hand over a perfected human family to his Father, Jehovah. It is evidently at this point, at the end of the thousand years, that Satan is released and the final test takes place to determine whose names will remain permanently recorded in the scroll of life. “Exert yourselves vigorously” so that your name may be among them!—Luke 13:24; Revelation 20:5.
Those resurrected from the sea would not include earth’s corrupted inhabitants that perished in the Deluge of Noah’s day; that destruction was final, as will be the execution of Jehovah’s judgment in the great tribulation.—Matthew 25:41, 46; 2 Peter 3:5-7.
Perhaps this information will raise more questions. If they do please feel free to ask for further explanations