Pittsburgh Gazette


Our text has been one of the bugbears and ignorance of superstition, chaining us to an irrational and blasphemous view of our Creator's character and plan. Thanks be unto God that in the dawn of the Millennial morning, which is bringing us blessings of a material kind on every hand, the eyes of our understanding are gradually opening to a discernment of the grandeur of the divine purpose respecting our race to a realization of the same precious truths which enthused the apostles and the early church, but which were so sadly buried under ignorance and superstition during the "dark ages."

The merest glance at our text shows it a poor translation. It declares a resurrection of life and a resurrection of damnation. Has life been dead that it needs a resurrection? Is damnation a thing which died and also needs a resurrection? What sense is there in this translation anyway? It is nonsensical! There is not the slightest ground for the word damnation in this text; the Greek word krisis is the word here imperfectly rendered damnation, in utter violation of the Greek and out of all harmony with the various renderings of the same form elsewhere. This word krisis occurs four other times in the same chapter with our text and is properly translated judgment. For instance, in the very next verse our Lord uses the same word, saying, "My judgment (krisis) is just" not my damnation is just. Why the translators rendered it damnation is utterly inexplicable, except upon the hypothesis that they thought they knew the mind of the Lord on the subject and that they could explain it better than he did. Such a course is always a mistake.

The translators had the fog of the "dark ages" in their minds. Their thought was that the judgment of every man is past when he dies, and that hence our Lord must have made a mistake when referring to any as coming forth to a resurrection of judgment. They were evidently trying to help the Lord to state matters according to their understanding of his plan. Our only safety is in holding fast to the word of the Lord.


In the revised version of the New Testament you will find a better translation, in that it renders krisis judgment instead of damnation. It also, however, labors with the false thought in speaking of a resurrection of life and a resurrection of judgment. The proper translation of the verse would be, "They that have done good unto a life-resurrection and they that have done evil unto a judgment-resurrection." Let no one get the impression from our vigorous opposition to the doctrine of eternal torment that we believe the Scriptures to teach that there is no punishment for sin. Quite to the contrary; our teaching is in accord with the Bible, that the Lord will render a just recompense of reward to every soul of man that doeth evil that they who sin against much light shall receive many stripes, while those doing evil and sinning against little light will receive correspondingly fewer stripes or lesser punishment.

It is a mistake to suppose that the horrible doctrines which have been taught us have drawn men to righteousness. It is truth and not error that sanctifies and draws us to God. As an illustration: In Atlanta, Ga., a man whom I had never before seen approached me and said, "I want to tell you, Pastor Russell, that I am a new man; that I have given my heart to God; that I hate the sins which I once indulged in. Your presentations of the Scriptures affected this change. I was a very, very wicked man, a liquor dealer; I indulged in every kind of sin. On the basis of my ignorance of the true teaching of God's Word I supposed that my eternal future was sealed; that God would never recognize me; that I would spend an eternity of torture. I determined that I would merit all that I might get, and went from bad to worse, until your teaching showed me the real wages of sin, the real stripes, the real punishments, which every wrongdoer would receive according to the Scriptures. Now by God's grace I shall endeavor to spend the remainder of my life seeking to build up character, and trusting to His grace to assist me. With a better knowledge of my Creator's character I can praise Him for the blessings and mercies and forgiveness which He has promised me." [HGL64] There are twelve readers of Zion's Watch Tower in the Columbus, Ohio, penitentiary, earnestly striving to cultivate the spirit of Christ, because they have learned the way of the Lord more perfectly. They are doing mission work among the other prisoners. When they entered that prison as criminals they held the usual view that eternal torment was the wages of sin, yet it did not deter them from sin. The love of God and the justice of God as seen in a proper view of His Word will change the heart and transform the life where error fails to do so. Hearken upon the streets as you pass how men damn one another to eternal torture, and reflect that faith in that wrong doctrine has probably driven them to their present attitude of mind and blasphemy.

Notice that almost every murderer executed professes to have been reared under the dogma of eternal torture and to be a full believer in it, yet the mischief did not hinder him from being a murderer. On the other hand, note the transforming influence of the truth upon the hearts, the characters, the lives of those who receive it into good and honest hearts. Let us remember, however, that according to the Scriptures a certain attitude of heart is necessary before the truth can be received and appropriated that, as the Scriptures declare, "None of the wicked shall understand." (Dan. 12:10.)


Our text divides the world of mankind into two classes, the good and evil. Similarly the apostle writes of a "resurrection of the just and of the unjust." Acts 24:15. That neither the Lord nor the apostle meant to intimate that any of mankind are good, perfect in the absolute sense, is most evident from the trend of the Scriptures, which assure us in various forms that the whole race is fallen, that "there is none righteous, no not one." (Rom. 3:10.) The "good" of our Lord's statement, the "just" of the apostle's statement are those who are justified in God's sight through faith, justified from sin, their sins covered, not imputed to them, because of their accepting the divine arrangement and because they are seeking to walk in the Lord's way. The apostle explains the situation elsewhere, saying, "The righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit." Rom. 3:4. These cannot walk up to the spirit of God's law, because of their inherited blemishes under the fall; but since these are covered by God's grace in Christ, such as are walking to the best of their ability after the spirit of God's law are reckoned as though walking up to the spirit of that law.

We might say something in defense of those here listed as doing evil. Many of them are heathen who know not God, whose eyes of understanding have never opened to a knowledge of the grace of God in Christ, and the hope there is before them of eternal life through the precious blood. Many of this class even in civilized lands could have something said on their behalf, as, for instance, that, although they have heard something respecting God and the Redeemer, what they have heard has not been good tidings of great joy to all people, but in the main the very reverse bad tidings of great misery for all people. They have thus been deceived by the confusion which abounds in all the creeds of Christendom on this subject, as the Lord declares through the prophet, "Their fear towards me is not of me, but is taught by the precepts of men." (Isa. 29:13)

Moreover the entire race is mentally, morally and physically impaired through the fall, and God alone knows how to make proper allowances for these conditions as they bear upon the various members of our race. It is for this reason that He warns us that we shall not attempt a final judgment of one another, "Judge nothing before the time." (1 Cor. 4:5)


How our translators fell into the mistake of giving this dreadful mistranslation of the word krisis is difficult to understand. The Greek word here rendered "damnation" is krisis, and, whether Greek scholars or not, you all know the meaning of the word crisis. Our English language absorbs words and phrases from all languages, and thus it has absorbed crisis from the Greek. We frequently use it, especially in connection with fevers. The physician when asked about the patient will sometimes say: "On the fourteenth day or twenty-first day we will expect the fever to reach its crisis, and the decision for better or worse will be prompt." This is the legitimate meaning of the word crisis wherever it occurs, and it is the meaning of it in our text. The crisis or judgment of the unjust will be reached at the time of their coming forth from the dead in that day in the Millennial day.

An explanation is here necessary, because the majority of people seem not to discern between awakening or coming forth and resurrection. Notice carefully that the implication of our text is that they who have done evil shall come forth unto or in order that they may have a resurrection by judgments. The coming forth is not the resurrection, but merely the awakening, such as Lazarus and others of that time had. They were not resurrected in the scriptural sense of the term; they were not brought to the full perfection of life; they were not lifted completely out of death. Indeed, the Scriptures in so many words assure us that Jesus was the "first that should rise from the dead" (Acts 26:23); that he "was the first-born from the dead." Col. 1:18.

Those referred to as having done evil that is, as not having come up to the divine standard of worthiness for the life resurrection will include many fine, noble men and women who, like Confucius, for instance, had never even heard of the only name given whereby we must be saved; and it will include also the depraved characters who have never yet received their share of the glorious opportunity secured through the great atonement sacrifice for sin. The intimation is not that all these shall come forth at the same time, but rather that the awakening of the world during the millennial age will be a gradual one, in the reverse order to which they went down to sleep in death. In other words, that Adam and his contemporaries will probably be among the last of the race to be awakened. Nor can we suppose that any of them will be awakened until the knowledge of the Lord shall have been well established among the living of the nations. [HGL65]


But we are especially interested in the resurrection which will be their privilege, their opportunity, after they shall have been brought forth from the tomb by the voice and call, the authority and power of our Lord. We notice the contrast between the resurrection promised to these and the promise to those who have passed divine approval. These are to have a resurrection by judgment. What does this mean? Notice first the meaning of the word resurrection, in the Greek anastasis. It signifies to raise up again. It implies that a thing was once up and got down, and is to be brought up again to the place where it originally was, if not higher, Applying this to the human family, we see that Adam was created perfect, in the image of God; that by disobedience he came under divine condemnation, and fell from that high position into sin, degradation, death, mental, moral and physical decrepitude and blemish into absolute extinction, for such was his penalty, and from such extinction he was saved by the great Atonement sacrifice of Christ, and because of this redemption he is not only to be awakened from the tomb under the favorable conditions of the Millennial age, with Satan and all evil under restraint, and the knowledge of the Lord filling and enlightening the whole earth, but he is to have the opportunity of coming back again to all that was originally lost.

If we take the place of Adam himself we have no difficulty in seeing that he lost the image and likeness of God, mentally, morally and in every way, under the sentence, "Dying thou shalt die," and that for him to be raised up again to what he was before would mean a wonderful blessing of restitution, restoration. Thank God! We shall be glad to see Father Adam come back again to all that he lost. But more than this, although his children were born in sin and shapen in iniquity, as the Scriptures declare although they never were on the mountain heights of perfection of life as he was nevertheless they were counted in him in his sentence, and are counted in with him also in the redemption accomplished by Jesus. Hence the uplift that is coming will not only bring Father Adam back to all that he lost, but will bring all the willing and obedient of his children as well back to the original perfection, to all that was lost. Those who will refuse to come back under favorable conditions and the clear knowledge of that Millennial day will die the death not again on Adam's account, however, not the Adamic death, but on their own accounts; and this death for their own sins is Scripturally called the Second Death.


Our text tells us that this resurrection will be by judgments, and we want to understand what this means. The apostle comes to our assistance, declaring, respecting the Millennial age, "God hath appointed a (thousand-year) day in which he will judge the world in righteousness," the church will be associate judges. His words are, "Know ye not that the saints shall judge the world?" (1 Cor. 6:2.) We see, then, that the judgment of the world is separate from the judgment of the saints. That the judgment of the saints takes place during this Gospel age is evident, and it will be after they have been judged and found worthy of the life resurrection, after the little flock shall be with the Lord as his bride and joint-heir in his throne and in his kingdom that the judgment of the world will proceed.

But this judgment which is recorded in the characters of men is not the judgment referred to in the Scriptures as belonging to the Millennial age. The whole world will start in the Millennial age on a footing of forgiveness under the terms of the New Covenant, just as believers by faith have such a justified start in their trial now during this Gospel age. As our sins and iniquities are passed over by the Lord, so will also the sins and iniquities of the world be passed over not held against them for future retribution. But as our past wrongdoings still trouble us through the aggravated disorder and degradation of our mortal bodies, so with the world in its flesh, awakened in practically the same condition in which it went into death, they will have the harvest of the present life according to their degree of unrighteousness.

When the Scriptures speak of the Millennial age as a day or age or epoch of judgment of the world they are contrasting that time with the present time, thus: Now the Lord does not judge amongst men. Earthly prosperity is not proof of divine favor and earthly adversity is not a proof of divine disfavor. On the contrary, as the Scriptures point out, it is "he that will live godly that shall suffer persecution" in this present time, while, as for the wicked, "their eyes stand out with fatness and they have more than heart could wish." (2 Tim. 3:12; Psa. 73:7.) The divine judgments are not now in the earth, but they will be everywhere manifest during the Millennial age.


The Lord speaking through the prophet (Dan. 12:2) declares respecting this coming forth from the tomb, that some shall come forth to "shame and everlasting contempt." The word everlasting here is an inaccurate translation; the Hebrew word signifies to an end instead of without an end. The thought would be more accurately rendered in English if "ever" were omitted. The awakening of those who have not made good use of opportunities will certainly mean shame to them, and in proportion as they in the present life have gone downward instead of upward they will deserve and have the contempt of all the right minded. We can imagine for instance, Nero, the murderer of his own mother, the murderer of many of the Lord's faithful disciples, coming forth, his history known to the world, his own meanness of disposition recognized by himself he would surely be an object of shame and contempt.

Nevertheless the great atonement sacrifice in redeeming the race included Nero, and he must have a share, an opportunity, for profiting thereby. Whatever measure of light and knowledge he lacked previously he will surely get in the world to come, in the Millennial age, when he shall have been awakened under the favorable conditions then prevailing. And his shame and contempt, thank God, may gradually be lifted, until he will be free from them provided he shall be responsive to the blessed conditions of that time. He will have a hard road to travel because of his miserable use of opportunities in the past; but his shame [HGL66] and contempt will culminate either in his full acceptance of the Divine blessing of restitution to perfection or to his utter destruction in the second death, and this illustrates the blessed righteous judgments which God has arranged for the day of Christ.

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