Acts 24:15 teaches,
“Having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.”
There is no question that the unrighteous are resurrected. The real question is this: a resurrection to what? Life? Death? Judgment? A second chance? The below quotes from the JW.org online library will explain the position of the Governing Body on this matter. Furthermore, the topic of judgment will be address as it relates to sins people commit in this life and how they will be judged. This post is intended to be purely informational in nature and is not intended to provide approval or refutation of the JW interpretation. I have commonly referred to the JW position as the “second chance doctrine,” which I find to be very fitting, though the Watchtower sees things differently.
“Not only the unrighteous ones but also the righteous ones will benefit from having the resurrection to an opportunity to live on earth under the all-powerful, perfect, heavenly kingdom of God’s dear Son, Jesus Christ, their Redeemer. As Isaiah 26:9, 19assures us: “When there are judgments from you for the earth, righteousness is what the inhabitants of the productive land will certainly learn. Your dead ones will live. A corpse of mine—they will rise up. Awake and cry out joyfully, you residents in the dust! For your dew is as the dew of mallows, and the earth itself will let even those impotent in death drop in birth.” Even the resurrected “righteous ones” will not become perfect instantly; and Hebrews 11:39, 40 is not correctly interpreted to mean that.” (SOURCE)
“What will the resurrection of the dead mean for those called “unrighteous” as well as for those called “righteous”? All of them died because of inheriting sin and its penalty death from the disobedient Adam and Eve. So they all died without having any righteousness of their own. (Romans 5:12; 3:23) So when they come back in the resurrection, untransformed as to their personal characteristics, even the “righteous” ones will not be humanly perfect, or free from imperfection and sinfulness. This was true in the cases of those men and women whom the prophets Elijah and Elisha and the Lord Jesus Christ and his apostles resurrected, brought back to life on earth. (Hebrews 11:35) In view of that, the “righteous” just as well as the “unrighteous” will need more than just liberation from the memorial tombs by resurrection from the dead. The “righteous” also will need liberation from sinfulness and human imperfection. Consequently, the heavenly Judge Jesus Christ cannot pronounce them at once actually innocent, perfect, free from condemnable sinfulness and hand down the decision on their very day of resurrection that they are worthy of eternal life on earth.” (SOURCE)
“For what purpose will God awaken this criminal? So that He mercilessly can hold his past sins against him? Hardly, for Romans 6:7, 23 says: “He who has died has been acquitted from his sin,” and “the wages sin pays is death.” Although his past sins will not be accounted to him, he will still need the ransom to lift him to perfection.
Therefore, theologian Albert Barnes was wrong and misleading when he asserted: “Those who have done evil shall be raised up to be condemned, or damned. This shall be the object in raising them up; this the sole design.” How beneath a God of justice and love! Rather, a resurrection to life on a paradise earth will furnish this former criminal (and other unrighteous ones) a golden opportunity to be judged by what they do after their resurrection.—1 John 4:8-10.” (SOURCE)
“The “unrighteous” will need more help than the “righteous.” During their lifetime they did not hear of God’s provision, or else they did not heed when the good news came to their attention. Circumstances and environment had much to do with their attitudes. Some did not even know that there is a Christ. Others were so hindered by worldly pressures and cares that the “seed” of the good news did not take permanent root in their hearts. (Matt. 13:18-22) The present system of things under the invisible influence of Satan the Devil has “blinded the minds of the unbelievers, that the illumination of the glorious good news about the Christ, who is the image of God, might not shine through.” (2 Cor. 4:4) It is not a ‘second chance’ for those resurrected ones. It is their first real opportunity to get eternal life on earth through faith in Jesus Christ.
The “unrighteous” will have far to go to reach perfection. But, under the far better, merciful conditions of Judgment Day, with Satan and his demons out of the way, and the present evil system gone, they will not again be hindered by outside obstacles. They will hear the good news under these better conditions and may accept or reject it. Those who reject it will die; theirs will be a ‘resurrection followed by conduct that brings on them condemnatory judgment.’ Those who accept it will have to begin making their minds over. (Rom. 12:1, 2) It will take time for them to do this.” (SOURCE)
“We note that this judgment is placed in the Bible in the account of events occurring during Christ’s Thousand Year Reign with his associate kings and priests. These, the apostle Paul said, “will judge the world.” (1Co 6:2) “The great and the small,” persons from all walks of life, will be there, to be judged impartially. They are “judged out of those things written in the scrolls” that will be opened then. This could not mean the record of their past lives nor a set of rules that judges them on the basis of their past lives. For since “the wages sin pays is death,” these by their death have received the wages of their sin in the past. (Ro 6:7, 23) Now they are resurrected that they might demonstrate their attitude toward God and whether they wish to take hold of the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ that was given for all. (Mt 20:28; Joh 3:16) Though their past sins are not accounted to them, they need the ransom to lift them up to perfection. They must make their minds over from their former way of life and thought in harmony with God’s will and regulations for the earth and its population. Accordingly, “the scrolls” evidently set forth the will and law of God for them during that Judgment Day, their faith and their obedience to these things being the basis for judgment and for writing their names indelibly, at last, into “the scroll of life.” (SOURCE)
“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.” (SOURCE)
“Death, not the dying process in itself, is the full payment for sin. The Bible says: “The wages sin pays is death.” (Rom. 6:23) This means that when a person has died his sinful record no longer stands against him. And were it not for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and God’s purpose to resurrect the person, he would never live again. Still, he would remain acquitted from sin, as God would not repeatedly reexamine his case and then sentence him to other kinds of punishment for his sin.” (SOURCE)
“In describing what will take place on earth during the time of judgment, Revelation 20:12 says that the resurrected dead will then be “judged out of those things written in the scrolls according to their deeds.” Those resurrected will not be judged on the basis of the works done in their former life, because the rule at Romans 6:7 says: “He who has died has been acquitted from his sin.” (SOURCE)
“According to the apostle John’s vision, “scrolls were opened,” and “the dead were judged out of those things written in the scrolls according to their deeds.” (Revelation 20:12) Are these scrolls the record of people’s past deeds? No, the judgment will not focus on what people did before they died. How do we know that? The Bible says: “The one who has died has been acquitted from his sin.” (Romans 6:7) Those resurrected thus come to life with a clean slate, so to speak. The scrolls must therefore represent God’s further requirements. To live forever, both Armageddon survivors and resurrected ones will have to obey God’s commandments, including whatever new requirements Jehovah might reveal during the thousand years. Thus, individuals will be judged on the basis of what they do during Judgment Day.” (SOURCE)
4 thoughts on “JW.org and the Resurrection of the Unrighteous”
Thanks for posting that , Mike. I believe it to be an accurate summation of the resurrection of the unrighteous. Willing to discuss it if need be.