Resurrection! Part 2: The Unrighteous

The Resurrection of Lazarus, by Leon Bonnat, France, 1857

Part 1 described the Watchtower’s teaching on the earthly resurrection. It also gave some thought to whether the resurrected individual could possibly be the same person who died.

In part 2 we are going to discuss the resurrection of the “righteous and the unrighteous.” Especially the latter.

Resurrection of the “Unrighteous”

According to the Watchtower, the “unrighteous” are not bad people, but rather those who did not get a chance to know about Jehovah:

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…

What Does the Bible Really Teach? (WBTS, 2016 printing) p.72-73 parg.19

The majority of people who have ever died, died in ignorance of Jehovah. They are the untold billions of “unrighteous” to be resurrected to life on earth.


The Watchtower tells us that those who are killed at Armageddon will be just like those whom Jehovah killed in Noah’s day: they will not be resurrected; they will be dead forever. (See Reasoning From the Scriptures, Armageddon: Will the Destruction be Forever? p. 19, parg. 14).

Who will be killed at Armageddon? According to the Watchtower, everyone outside of the Watchtower organization will be killed:

Only Jehovah’s Witnesses, those of the anointed remnant and the “great crowd,” as a united organization under the protection of the Supreme Organizer, have any Scriptural hope of surviving the impending end of this doomed system dominated by Satan the Devil.

Watchtower 1989 Sep 1 p.19, parg. 7

But what about those “unrighteous” ones who never heard of Jehovah? Or does the Watchtower believe that they will reach absolutely everyone with their message before Armageddon? It turns out that the answer to that last question does not matter. The Watchtower tells us that those ignorant of Jehovah will be killed at Armageddon:

“There are billions of people who do not know Jehovah. Many of them in ignorance practice things that God’s Word shows to be wicked. If they persist in this course, they will be among those who perish during the great tribulation.” 

Watchtower 1993 Oct 1 p.19

So, those who were ignorant in the past are considered “the unrighteous,” and will be resurrected and have a chance to live forever. But those who are ignorant when Armageddon comes around? If, in their ignorance of Watchtower doctrine, they engage in “wicked” practices (such as donating blood, celebrating birthdays or Christmas, giving a toast…) then they are considered “the wicked,” and will be killed, and will be dead forever.

What about children and babies? Will they be killed at Armageddon? Well, this certainly follows from the above statement about every non Jehovah’s Witness being killed at that event. The Watchtower seems reluctant to answer the question explicitly, but it implies as much when it reminds us:

in times past when God destroyed the wicked he likewise destroyed their little ones.

Reasoning from the Scriptures: Armageddon: What About the Children? p. 48

So, the Watchtower teaches that all the children who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses will be killed at Armageddon. This is in spite of the fact that the Watchtower teaches that children younger than 15 years old have not reached an “age of understanding,” and so couldn’t possibly have come to “know Jehovah,” even if Jehovah’s Witnesses were able to reach them all with the “kingdom message.” So, at any other time prior to Armageddon, children would be considered part of the “unrighteous” due a resurrection.

An Unjust Scenario

Mary, a volunteer at the Red Cross, is a woman who has dismissed Jehovah’s Witnesses many a time from her front door.

One day, Mary gives birth to identical twin daughters: Ann and Barbara. Sadly, Barbara is still-born.

The following day, Armageddon begins. Mary and Ann are killed, and — following Watchtower doctrine — will never be resurrected.

But Barbara, having died before Armageddon, is resurrected as one of the “unrighteous.” A young sister is assigned to act as her mother, and Jehovah duly induces lactation in her. [She has an easier time of it than the sisters who will have to bring to term the millions of zygotes and fetuses who died prior to birth and prior to Armageddon.]

Barbara goes on to learn the truth, and lives forever in peace and happiness on a paradise earth. She remains blissfully ignorant of both her mother and her sister [who, if they are spoken of at all, are collectively referred to as “the wicked.”]

A Horrible Scenario

John is a loyal Jehovah’s Witness, eagerly looking forward to the New System. He is also very loving, and hates the thought that his non-witness co-workers will die at Armageddon, with no chance of resurrection.

But John knows that if his co-workers die prior to Armageddon, they will be resurrected. So, one day John buys a gun, walks into the office, and shoots them all dead.

“Jehovah will forgive me,” he tells the police; “I just saved their prospects for eternal life, in the ultimate act of self-sacrificing love!”

What’s Lacking

Justice and consistency are sadly lacking in the Watchtower’s doctrine of the “resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous,” in light of their beliefs concerning Armageddon.

Don’t miss Part 3: Judgment!