Revelation 20:13
And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Revelation 20:13-15. And — That none might be exempt from being brought to judgment, the resurrection extended even to the waters; the sea — The lakes and rivers; gave up the dead which were in them, and, ο θανατος και ο αδης, death and hades — Or, the state of separate souls, delivered up the dead which were in them — Death gave up all the bodies of men, and hades their souls, to be united to their bodies. And death and hades were cast into the lake of fire — That is, were abolished for ever. For neither the righteous nor the wicked were to die any more; their souls and bodies were to be no more separated. Consequently neither death nor hades could any more have a being. Such is the awful end of the whole human race: they are plunged into that flaming and eternal ruin signified by the lake of fire, or are received into those abodes of glory, which are described in the next two chapters under the figures of a new heaven and a new earth.

Here then we have before us a most affecting view of those important events in which we are all most intimately, yea, infinitely concerned; even the illustrious day of the passing away of the heaven and earth, and the final judgment of all mankind, whether small or great. Therefore let all the living, both small and great, seriously weigh these things; let them often look forward to the awful period when the glorious throne shall be set, the important volumes opened, and our whole lives, all our tempers, words, and works, which are now perfectly known to God, shall be exhibited to the view of men, angels, and devils. Let us, therefore, judge ourselves impartially, that we be not condemned of the Lord; and, conscious how unable we shall be to stand in that judgment if he were to lay justice to the line, let us humbly and penitently apply to the throne of mercy, to the grace of the gospel covenant, through the blood of the Redeemer. So shall we find mercy of the Lord in that day, and reign with him, not a thousand years only, but for everlasting ages. In the mean time, let those who have no reverence for his majesty, nor esteem for his gospel, and who have never taken this awful alarm, have never fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before them, tremble at these awakening views. Let them all, of every condition, both small and great, say in their hearts, Who shall dwell with devouring flames, with everlasting burnings? Shall we have our portion in this lake of fire, into which every one who is not found written in the book of life shall be cast? and shall we be those wretched victims of the divine justice, who shall be tormented for ever and ever? Nay, rather let us turn to God in sincerity and truth that our souls may live, and an entrance be administered unto us into his everlasting kingdom!

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?And the sea gave up the dead which were in it - All that had been buried in the depths of ocean. This number in the aggregate will be great. If we include all who were swept off by the flood, and all who have perished by shipwreck, and all who have been killed in naval battles and buried in the sea, and all who have been swept away by inundations of the ocean, and all who have peacefully died at sea, as sailors, or in the pursuits of commerce or benevolence, the number in the aggregate will be immense - a number so vast that it was proper to notice them particularly in the account of the general resurrection and the last judgment.

And death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them - That is, all the dead came, from all regions where they were scattered - on the land and in the ocean - in this world and in the invisible world. "Death and hell" are here personified, and are represented as having dominion over the dead, and as now "delivering" up, or "surrendering" those who were held tinder them. On the meaning of the words used here, see the notes on Revelation 1:18; Revelation 6:8. Compare the Matthew 10:23 note; Job 10:21-22 notes; Isaiah 14:9 note. This whole representation is entirely inconsistent with the supposition that a large part of the dead had been already raised up at the beginning of the millennial period, and had been permitted, in their glorified bodies, to reign with Christ.

And they were judged, ... - All these were judged - the righteous and the wicked; those buried at sea, and those buried on the land; the small and the great; the dead, in whatever world they may have been.

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. By hell is meant all places where the dead are; whosoever shall be at that day in the state of the dead; the bodies of men, whether buried in the earth or sea; and the souls of men, whether they be in the place of torments or happiness, shall all be re-united to their bodies, that they may both in soul and body receive their final doom of eternal happiness, or eternal misery, accordingly as they have lived in the world; and those who shall be alive at that day, who shall be changed, ( as the apostle speaks, 1 Corinthians 15:51), are to be counted dead in the sense of this text, their change being instead of death to them. It is not said they shall be judged for their works, (though that as to the wicked is true), but

according to their works; which is true as to the elect, who though their names be written in the book of life, yet must work righteousness; and they shall have judgment of absolution, not according to the perfection, but the sincerity, of their works, done in obedience to the will of God.

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.

{25} And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

(25) This is a reply or an answer to an objection: for some man will say, But they are dead, whom the sea, death and the grave has consumed, how shall they appear before the judge? John answers, by resurrection from death, where all things (however repugnant) shall minister and serve at the commandment of God, as in Da 12:1,2.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
See Pirke Aboth, iv. 32: “Let not thine imagination assure thee that the grave is an asylum” (for, like birth and life and death, judgment is appointed before the King of the kings of kings). “And the earth shall restore those that are asleep in her, and so shall the dust those that dwell therein in silence, and the secret chambers shall deliver up those souls (of the righteous, iv. 35) that were committed unto them,” 4 Esd. 7:32—reproducing, as here, Enoch li. 1, “and in those days will the earth also give back those who are treasured up within it, and Sheol also will give back that which it has received, and hell will give back that which it owes”. Also En. lxi. 5 where the restoration includes “those who have been destroyed by the desert, or devoured by the fish of the sea and by the beasts”. Evidently drowned people are supposed not to be in Hades; they wander about or drift in the ocean (Achill. Tat. ver 313), μηδὲ εἰς ᾅδου καταβαίνειν ὅλως. According to the prophet’s conception (cf. Revelation 13:8; Revelation 13:14.f.) the fate of pagans must have been a foregone conclusion, when the Imperial cultus was made the test of character; in which case “the scene before the white throne is rather a final statement of judgment than a statement of final judgment” (Gilbert). But the broader allusioni to works here shows that the prophet is thinking of the general ethical judgment, which embraced issues wider than the particular historical test of the Emperor-worship.—ᾅδης κ.τ.λ., cf. Plutarch’s (de Iside, 29) derivation of Amenthes, the Egyptian name for Hades, as “that which receives and gives”. As in Slav. En. lxv. 6 and the later Iranian Bundehesh (S. B. E. ver 123 f.), the resurrection of the body is not mentioned, though it is probably implied (cf. En. li. 1, lxii. 14 and Matthew 27:52 f.).

13. death and hell] See Revelation 6:8. Sheol, the Hebrew equivalent of Hades, seems not quite determined in meaning between the receptacle of the bodies of the dead and of their souls, but is sometimes translateable as “the grave.” Here it seems implied that those who died in the sea are not in Hades, as those who were buried are: but all, whether buried or unburied, are raised and judged.

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). Revelation 20:13The sea

As commonly understood, the sea means the literal sea, and the passage signifies that the dead contained in it shall rise. So Alford. Other interpreters, however, say that it cannot mean the literal sea. Thus Milligan argues that the symbols of the Apocalypse must always be interpreted in the same way. "Symbols," he says, "are a form of speech, and therefore subject to the rules that regulate the interpretation of all speech... The power of that convention which links a certain sense to a certain sound in ordinary terms, is not less binding in the presence than in the absence of metaphor of any kind whatever. Thus when we read in the Apocalypse of 'the sea' as an emblem of the troubled and sinful nations of the earth, we are bound, unless forbidden by the context, to carry that interpretation through, and to understand the sea of the troubled and sinful world."

Hell (ὁ ᾅδης)

Rev., Hades. See on Matthew 16:18.

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