866. [verse 52] 'And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God' signifies all those of whatever condition and quality from on earth who, having died, were now among those who were in the world of spirits, gathered together by the Lord for judgment. By 'the dead' are signified all who have departed from on earth, or who have died as to the body, concerning whom more [is said] below. By 'small and great' are signified of whatever condition and quality (as n. 604). By 'to stand before God', that is, before 'the One sitting upon the throne' is signified to be present and gathered together for judgment. By 'the dead' in the Word the same is signified as by deaths, and by 'deaths' various things are signified; for 'death' not only signifies the extinction of natural life, which is decease, but also the extinction of spiritual life, which is damnation. By 'death' is signified also the extinction of the body's loves or the lusts of the flesh, after which there is a new beginning (innovatio) of life. In like manner by 'death' is signified resurrection, because a man after death immediately rises again. Also by 'death' is signified neglect, non-acknowledgment and rejection by the world. But in the most general sense by 'death' is signified the same as by the Devil, and therefore also the Devil is called 'Death', and by 'the Devil' is understood the hell where are those who are called devils. Consequently also by 'death' is understood the evil of the will that causes a man to be a devil. 'Death' is understood in this last sense in the following verse[s] 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 can be established who are signified by 'the dead' in every sense (in vario sensu). Here they signify all those who had departed out of the world or who had died from on earth, and were then in the world of spirits.  It is said in the world of spirits because all come at first into that world after their decease, and there the good are prepared for heaven and the evil for hell; and some stay there only for a month or for a year and others for ten years up to thirty years; and those who had been allowed to make as it were heavens for themselves [stayed] for several centuries; but at this day no [one stays] longer than twenty years. The crowd there is enormous, and there are societies there as in the heavens and in the hells. Concerning this world [something] may be seen above (n. 784, 791). The last judgment was executed upon those who were in that world and not upon those who were in heaven nor upon those who were in hell, for those who were in heaven were saved before and those in hell were damned before. From these things it can be seen how much they are deceived who believe that the last judgment is going to take place on earth, and that then men are going to be raised again as to their bodies. For from the world's first creation all who have lived are together in the spiritual world and are clothed with a spiritual body. In the sight of those who are spiritual they appear as men in a similar form, just as those who are in the natural world do in the sight of those who are natural.