Who will be resurrected? Jesus said that “all those in the memorial tombs will hear his [Jesus’] voice and come out.” (John 5:28, 29) Similarly, Revelation 20:13 says: “The sea gave up the dead in it, and death and the Grave gave up the dead in them.” (See the Appendix article “What Are Sheol and Hades?”) This collective grave will be emptied. All those billions who rest there will live again. The apostle Paul said: “There is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Acts 24:15)
. Who are included among “the righteous” who are to be resurrected, and how may this hope affect you personally?
18 “The righteous” include many of the people we read about in the Bible who lived before Jesus came to the earth. You might think of Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Ruth, Esther, and many others. Some of these men and women of faith are discussed in the 11th chapter of Hebrews. But “the righteous” also include Jehovah’s servants who die in our time. Thanks to the resurrection hope, we do not have to be afraid of dying.—Hebrews 2:15.
19. Who are “the unrighteous,” and what opportunity does Jehovah kindly give them?
19 What about all the people who did not serve or obey Jehovah because they never knew about him? These billions of “unrighteous” ones will not be forgotten. They too will be resurrected and given time to learn about the true God and to serve him. During a period of a thousand years, the dead will be resurrected and given an opportunity to join faithful humans on earth in serving Jehovah. It will be a wonderful time. This period is what the Bible refers to as Judgment Day. *
20. What is Gehenna, and who go there?
20 Does this mean that every human who ever lived will be resurrected? No. The Bible says that some of the dead are in “Gehenna.” (Luke 12:5) Gehenna got its name from a garbage dump located outside of ancient Jerusalem. Dead bodies and garbage were burned there. The dead whose bodies were thrown there were considered by the Jews to be unworthy of a burial and a resurrection. So Gehenna is a fitting symbol of everlasting destruction. Although Jesus will have a role in judging the living and the dead, Jehovah is the final Judge. (Acts 10:42) He will never resurrect those whom he judges to be wicked and unwilling to change.
THE HEAVENLY RESURRECTION
21, 22. (a) What other kind of resurrection is there? (b) Who was the first ever to receive a resurrection to spirit life?
21 The Bible also refers to another kind of resurrection, one to life as a spirit creature in heaven. Only one example of this type of resurrection is recorded in the Bible, that of Jesus Christ.
22 After Jesus was put to death as a human, Jehovah did not allow His faithful Son to remain in the Grave. (Psalm 16:10; Acts 13:34, 35) God resurrected Jesus, but not as a human. The apostle Peter explains that Christ was “put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.” (1 Peter 3:18) This truly was a great miracle. Jesus was alive again as a mighty spirit person! (Read 1 Corinthians 15:3-6.) Jesus was the first ever to receive this glorious type of resurrection, but he would not be the last.—John 3:13.
23, 24. Who make up Jesus’ “little flock,” and how many will they number?
23 Knowing that he would soon return to heaven, Jesus told his faithful followers that he would “prepare a place” for them there. (John 14:2) Jesus referred to those going to heaven as his “little flock.” (Luke 12:32) How many are to be in this relatively small group of faithful Christians? According to Revelation 14:1, the apostle John says: “I saw, and look! the Lamb [Jesus Christ] standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who have his name and the name of his Father written on their foreheads.”
24 These 144,000 Christians, including Jesus’ faithful apostles, are raised to life in heaven. When does their resurrection take place? The apostle Paul wrote that it would occur during the time of Christ’s presence. (1 Corinthians 15:23) As you will learn in Chapter 9, we are now living in that time. So those few remaining ones of the 144,000 who die in our day are instantly resurrected to life in heaven. (1 Corinthians 15:51-55) The vast majority of mankind, however, have the prospect of being resurrected in the future to life in Paradise on earth.
25. What will be considered in the next chapter?
25 Yes, Jehovah really will defeat our enemy death, and it will be gone forever! (Read Isaiah 25:8.) Yet, you may wonder, ‘What will those resurrected to heaven do there?’ They will form part of a marvelous Kingdom government in heaven. We will learn more about that government in the next chapter.