866. Verse 12.And I saw the dead small and great standing before God, signifies all who had died from the earth, and were now among those who were in the world of spirits, of whatever condition and quality, gathered together by the Lord for judgment. By "the dead" are signified all who had departed from the earth, or who were dead as to the body, concerning whom more will be said below; by "small and great" are signified of every condition and quality (as at n. 604); by "standing before God," that is, before Him who sat upon the throne, is signified to be present and gathered together to judgment. By "the dead" in the Word the same thing is signified as by deaths, and "deaths" signify various things; for "death" not only signifies the extinction of natural life or decease, but also the extinction of spiritual life, which is damnation; by "death" is also signified the extinction of the loves of the body or the lusts of the flesh, after which there is a renewal of life; in like manner by "death" is signified resurrection, because man rises again immediately after death; by "death" is also signified neglect, non-acknowledgment, and rejection by the world, but in the most general sense by "death" the same is signified as by "the Devil," wherefore also the Devil is called "death," and by "the Devil" is meant hell where they are who are called devils, hence also by "death" the evil of the will is meant which causes man to be a devil. "Death" is used in this last sense in the next verse, where it is said that "death and hell gave up their dead," and that "they were cast into the lake of fire." From these things it may appear who are meant by "the dead" in the variety of senses; here are signified all those who had departed out of the world, or who had died from the earth, and were then in the world of spirits.
 It is said in the world of spirits, because all come into that world immediately after their decease, and are there prepared, the good for heaven, and the evil for hell; and some stay there only a month or a year, and others from ten to thirty years; and they to whom it was granted to make as it were heavens to themselves, several centuries; but at this day not longer than twenty years. There is there a vast multitude, and societies there as in the heavens and in the hells, concerning this world see above (n. 784, 791). Upon those who were in that world, the Last Judgment was executed, and not upon those who were in heaven, nor upon those who were in hell; for they who were in heaven were saved before, and they who were in hell were condemned before. From these considerations it may be seen, how much they are deceived who believe that the Last Judgment is to take place upon earth, and that then men are to rise again as to their bodies, for all who have lived from the first creation of the world are together in the spiritual world; and all are clothed with a spiritual body, which before the eyes of those who are spiritual appear as men in a similar form, just as they who are in the natural world appear before the eyes of those who are natural.