|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
20:11-15 After the events just foretold, the end will speedily come; and there is no mention of any thing else, before the appearing of Christ to judge the world. This will be the great day: the Judge, the Lord Jesus Christ, will then put on majesty and terror. The persons to be judged are the dead, small and great; young and old, low and high, poor and rich. None are so mean, but they have some talents to account for; and none so great, as to avoid having to account for them. Not only those alive at the coming of Christ, but all the dead. There is a book of remembrance both for good and bad: and the book of the sinner's conscience, though formerly secret, will then be opened. Every man will recollect all his past actions, though he had long forgotten many of them. Another book shall be opened, the book of the Scriptures, the rule of life; it represents the Lord's knowledge of his people, and his declaring their repentance, faith, and good works; showing the blessings of the new covenant. By their works men shall be justified or condemned; he will try their principles by their practices. Those justified and acquitted by the gospel, shall be justified and acquitted by the Judge, and shall enter into eternal life, having nothing more to fear from death, or hell, or wicked men; for these are all destroyed together. This is the second death; it is the final separation of sinners from God. Let it be our great concern to see whether our Bibles justify or condemn us now; for Christ will judge the secrets of all men according to the gospel. Who shall dwell with devouring flames?
Verse 13. - And the sea gave up the dead which were in it. It is difficult to decide upon the exact signification of this clause.
(1) It may be inserted in order to show the universal nature of this resurrection, although it may not, in conjunction with the next part of the verse, constitute a strictly logical classification of the dead.
(2) The sea being a type of the ungodly nations, the sentence may mean those spiritually dead, but living on the earth at the time of the judgment. The next clause seems to support this view. And death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them; death and Hades (see Revelation 1:18; Revelation 6:8). As in Revelation 6:8, the two - really one - are mentioned separately, the latter being looked upon as the guard house of those whom the former has seized. This clause, taken in conjunction with the preceding one, may mean - From the ungodly nations, those physically living but spiritually dead were called up for judgment, and also those who were actually dead, having been seized by death and Hades. And they were judged every man according to their works. A solemn repetition of ver. 12 (which see).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the sea gave up the dead which were in it,.... Which is not to be interpreted metaphorically of the world, and the men of it, who are like the troubled sea; but literally of the sea, and of all such who have been drowned in the waters of it, as were Pharaoh and his host; or have died upon the mighty waters, and have been cast into them, and devoured by the fishes; and particular regard may be had to the men of the old world, drowned by the flood; these shall be raised from thence; the sea shall deliver them up: now this, and what is expressed in the next clause, will not be done after the judgment is set, the books are opened, and the sentence passed, but before all this, and in order to it, as the last clause of this verse shows:
and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them; "death", which is here represented as a person, and elsewhere as a king, reigning and having power over men, signifies death in general, and every kind of death of which men have died, whether natural or violent, over whom it will now have no longer dominion, but will be obliged to deliver up all its subjects; and "hell" signifies the grave, which will now be opened, and deliver up all its prisoners, all that have been buried in the earth; see Job 26:5 the Ethiopic version adds, "and the earth delivered up them that were dead in it": but this seems unnecessary after the former:
and they were judged every man according to their works; some to greater, some to lesser punishment, as their sinful works deserved.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
13. death and hell—Greek, "Hades." The essential identity of the dying and risen body is hereby shown; for the sea and grave give up their dead. The body that sinned or served God shall, in righteous retribution, be the body also that shall suffer or be rewarded. The "sea" may have a symbolical [Cluver from Augustine], besides the literal meaning, as, in Re 8:8; 12:12; 13:1; 18:17, 19; so "death" and "hell" are personifications (compare Re 21:1). But the literal sense need hardly be departed from: all the different regions wherein the bodies and souls of men had been, gave them up.
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