By Joseph L. Watkins
"There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust."
This statement of facts seems to settle any and all arguments that may be presented for consideration, for most see this as saying all men are to be resurrected: the saved and the unsaved, the believing and unbelieving, the holy and unholy - all men. This view is the view of most all sincere Bible-loving people.
However, is this a correct view? Is this what the One Teacher of all truth said or meant as He used the words justand unjust?
The word just, #1342, is also translated right, righteous and meet; the word unjust, #94, and four other related words: #'s 91, 92, 93 & 95, which we find some 71 times, is rendered unjust, wrong, hurt, offender, injured, wronged, evil doing, iniquities, iniquity, wrongful and unrighteousness, but never used to express this word, or what is inherent in this word. Nor do we find such words as, the lost, the dying or the ungodly.
Now, we need to bring into our view the context in which we have our questions. Paul is defending himself before Felix, the Roman Governor in Caesarea, and says:
"This I confess...so worship I the God of my fathers...And we have hope toward God, which they (my accusers) themselves also allow (or wait for, look for, hope for) that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both just and unjust." (no articles).
Paul is not engaged in teaching his audience the subject of the resurrection, his purpose is his defense against any wrong doing on his part. And here he is bringing this into view because it was the point of contention that moved these folks against him in the first place. See Acts 23:1-23.
Paul is wanting Felix, and any other that would judge him, even as I am wanting my readers to see that the resurrection of the dead is the work of God only toward those "in Christ Jesus" - those having a trusting faith in that great power of God, and never towards the sons of Adam; those not being in Christ Jesus. For such we see no hope.
Paul is not considering "the saved or the unsaved," only that one having God in view - "the saved." However, among the saved sons or children of God, we find a few that may be worthy to be called the just, and we feat that most of God's people, both His sons and His children, might well be called unjust, wrong, evil doers, unrighteous. Even the very ones that have come to falsely accuse him he may see as wrong and evil doers, but he cannot truthfully or rightly view them as unsaved, for just a few days ago he could be found doing this same service toward God.