Acts 24:15 reads, “I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust” (NKJV). The apostle Paul was defending His faith in Christ before Jewish leaders and in these words he stated that he had the same hope as they did; that there would indeed be a resurrection of the just and the unjust. The doctrine of the resurrection was taught clearly in the Old Testament, though the New Testament has shed more light on this subject.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses use this verse and others to teach terrible errors. The following excerpt on the subject of “The Resurrection” is taken from their website:

“The apostle Paul said: ‘There is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous’ (Acts 24:15). What does this mean?…Who are ‘the unrighteous,’ and what opportunity does Jehovah kindly give them? 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 the earth in serving Jehovah. It will be a wonderful time. This period is what the Bible refers to as Judgment Day.”

There are three deadly errors in this teaching. First of all, it teaches A SECOND CHANCE TO BE SAVED AFTER ONE DIES. Scripture teaches just the opposite, for Jesus said in John 8:24, “If you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (NKJV). Anyone who dies without faith in Christ will die UNFORGIVEN and will bear the judgment due to those sins. Secondly, it says nothing about faith in Christ as the way of salvation; instead it implies that one is saved by “serving Jehovah.” This is consistent with their teaching today that ONE MUST EARN THEIR SALVATION THROUGH GOOD WORKS. Scripture is clear that we are saved by faith alone and NOT by our works. Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” And thirdly, it teaches that THE RESURRECTION OF THE JUST AND THE UNJUST OCCUR AT THE SAME TIME; in other words, there is a GENERAL RESURRECTION. We must consider this error very carefully, for this error led the Jehovah’s Witnesses into many errors, including the ones just mentioned.

Revelation 20:4-6 declares, “And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them…and they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. THIS IS THE FIRST RESURRECTION. BLESSED AND HOLY IS HE WHO HAS PART IN THE FIRST RESURRECTION. OVER SUCH THE SECOND DEATH HAS NO POWER, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” These verses describe believers in Christ who have “part in the FIRST RESURRECTION.” Do you see how this passage completely refutes the teaching of a GENERAL RESURRECTION? There is NOT a GENERAL RESURRECTION but TWO RESURRECTIONS that are separated by one thousand years. The FIRST RESURRECTION involves BELIEVERS IN CHRIST who will live and reign with Christ for a thousand years. They are called “blessed and holy” because the “second death” (which verse 14 describes as the “lake of fire”) has no power over them. We saw that “the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished.” These are UNBELIEVERS who refused to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation while they were alive. They will be raised from the dead to stand before Christ to be judged for their sins and then cast into the lake of fire. You can read of this in verses 11-15. They are: 1) NOT given a second chance to be saved; 2) NOT lost because they failed to “serve Jehovah,” but because their names were not in the Book of Life; and 3) NOT resurrected at the beginning of the 1,000 year reign of Christ, but at the end.  (205.7)  (DO)