In Revelation 20:12-13 John tells us that he saw “the dead, small and great, stand before God” or, in other words, John saw the resurrection of the just and the unjust take place (Acts 24:15). This would be one resurrection, not two. The first group that were resurrected were the just (Revelation 20:12), meaning the righteous, and they were judged out of the books. That is, they were judged by what is written in the Scriptures. Paul claimed in Romans 2:12, “…as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law.” The saints under both covenants will be judged by what was written in the word of God, not in the letter, but in the spirit (2Corinthians 3:6), and that according to their works, meaning, how they interpreted God’s word and applied it in their lives (Matthew 22:37-40).
This, however, does not mean the righteous are saved by their works (Acts 4:10-12; Romans 6:23). As we have already seen in Revelation 20:4, the righteous dead (as well as the righteous living) were given a verdict by those who sat upon the thrones (cp. Ephesians 2:8). That verdict was life, because they trusted in Christ (1Peter 1:18-19). Paul tells us that there is no condemnation (i.e. an adverse verdict) for them who are in Christ Jesus, i.e. those who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit (Romans 8:1). Those who have been saved are saved forever. Salvation is not in question here. This judgment concerns the saints reward, and that is determined by how they lived their lives, or how they loved God and their neighbors. Character is important in the Kingdom of God.
The second group of people who were resurrected were the unjust (Revelation 20:13). What I find interesting is that the first group were judged by what was written in the books (Scripture), and that according to their works. However, this group seems to be judged by their works alone (Revelation 20:13), which seems to be what Paul concluded in Romans 2:12 “For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law…” What comes to mind at this point is what Jesus said in the Gospel of Luke:
And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more. (Luke 12:47-48 KJV)
In other words, he who knew the will of God belongs to the first group of folks, and they would be judged more severely; but those who didn’t know God, or didn’t know the Scriptures were judged lightly. The first group knew their Lord or at least knew what he required, just as those in the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30). However, the second group seems to answer to those who didn’t know the Lord at all, like those in the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25:31-46). They who were part of the first group (the elect) who didn’t obey the Lord were cast out of that group (cp. Matthew 25:28-30) and judged according to the manner of the second group (the sheep and the goats).