And I saw the dead
An account being given of the Judge, next the persons to be judged are described, and in this clause, by the state and condition in which they had been; for it cannot be thought they were dead when they stood before the throne, but were raised from the dead; for this character is not descriptive of them as dead in trespasses and sins, though they are such as die in their sins, and rise in them, who are meant, but as having been corporeally dead; these are the rest of the dead, the wicked, who lived not again until the thousand years were ended, ( Revelation 20:5 ) as for the righteous, they will be judged upon their resurrection from the dead in the beginning of the day of the Lord; and will be declared righteous and blessed, and be called upon and introduced to inherit the kingdom prepared for them, which they shall have possessed a thousand years when these wicked dead will be raised: who are said to be small and great; which may refer either to their age, being children and adult persons; or to their condition, being kings and peasants, high and low, rich and poor; or to their characters, as greater or lesser sinners; and this description respects them as they are in this world, and is designed to show that no consideration whatever, of age, condition, or character, will exempt them from the general judgment. This is a way of speaking used among the Jews F8, who say,
``in the world of souls, (Mynjqxw Mylwdgh) , "the great and the small", stand before God.''The disputations of the schoolmen, about the age and stature in which mankind will rise and be judged, are vain and foolish: these John saw stand before God; that is, Christ, who is God and Judge of all; before his judgment seat and throne, in order to be judged; for they will stand not as ministering to him, nor as having confidence before him; in this sense they shall not stand in the judgment, ( Psalms 1:5 ) but as guilty persons, to receive their sentence of condemnation. The Alexandrian copy, the Vulgate Latin, and all the Oriental versions read, "before the throne"; the sense is the same; for if they stood before the throne, they must stand before God, that sat upon it: and the books were opened; the book of God's omniscience, which contains all the actions of the wicked, in which all their sins are taken notice of, and will now be brought to light; and the book of his remembrance, in which they are all written as with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond; and the book of the creatures, which they have abused, and which will witness against them; and the book of providence, the riches of whose goodness have been despised by them; and the book of the Scriptures, both of law and Gospel, as well as the book of nature, of the light of nature, see ( Romans 2:12 Romans 2:16 ) to which may be added, the book of conscience; the consciences of men will be awakened, and will accuse them, and bear witness against them, and be as good as a thousand witnesses:
and another book was opened, which is the book of life:
the same that is mentioned in ( Revelation 3:5 ) ( 13:8 ) ( 17:8 ) the book of eternal election, (See Gill on Revelation 3:5), (See Gill on Revelation 13:8), (See Gill on Revelation 17:8). No other use seems to be made of this book in the judgment of the wicked, than only to observe whose names were not written in it, as appears from ( Revelation 20:15 ) reference seems to be had to ( Daniel 7:10 ) . It is a notion that has obtained among the Jews F9, that
``at the beginning of the year (or every new year's day) (Nyxtpn) (Myrpo g) , "three books are opened", one of the wicked perfect, another of the righteous perfect, and a third of those between both; the righteous perfect are written and sealed immediately for life; the wicked perfect are written and sealed immediately for death; the middlemost are in suspense, and continue from the beginning of the year to the day of atonement; if they are worthy, they are written for life, if not worthy, they are written for death:''and in the same treatise F11, they represent God at the same time of the year as a
``King, sitting on a throne of judgment, and the books of the living, and the books of the dead, (Nyxwtp) , "open", before him:''this with them was a prelude and a figure of the future judgment:
and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the
books, according to their works;
that is, they were sentenced to everlasting condemnation and death, according to the just demerit of their wicked works; for no other are done by wicked men, nor can any other be in the books, since they are without God and Christ, and destitute of the Spirit, have no principle of grace to act from, nor any good end in view in any action of theirs. So the Jews say F12,
``all the works which a man does in this world are "written in a book", and they come into thought before the holy King, and they are manifest before him.''
F8 Tzeror Hammor, fol. 154. 2.
F9 T. Bab. Roshhashanah, fol. 16. 21.
F11 T. Bab. Roshhashanah, fol. 32. 2. & Erachin, fol. 10. 2.
F12 Zohar in Gen. fol. 118. 3.