Revelation 20:4  


Revelation 20:4

It seems that the resurrection at Revelation 20:4 is very restrictive. That is, it seems to apply to a very specific group of people and no one else can fit into that category.

However, before these martyrs are resurrected, we see a group of "previously" resurrected saints sitting on thrones.

"And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given to them."

It seems quite clear that there are two groups represented at verse 4. The ones who are seen sitting on the thrones and the ones who were martyred by the beast and are resurrected after Armageddon.

"And I {saw} the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had
not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for 1000 years."

There are two direct objects to the verb "saw."
(I saw) the souls.

1. I saw thrones and THEY sat upon them: these are seen as "AT THAT TIME" on thrones and having been already assigned the function of judgment.
This first group, then, refers to the raptured bride (church and Old Testament believers) who begin to
administrate their promised "judgment" function as joint-heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17; 1 Cor. 6:2a, 3; Rev. 5:10)

In the chronology of John's visions, Rev. 20 will occur after Armageddon.
At verse 4 John is shown a heavenly setting that will occur after Armageddon, and after Satan has been jailed.
The church will ALREADY be in heaven.
And so he sees them already there.
He does not see them come to life - he sees thrones and they sat on them. The THEY must refer to some group of people that John is familiar with - as already being in heaven.
Sounds like those of Rev. 7:9 right after the rapture at the 6th seal; and like those at Rev. 15:2, who are in heaven, sitting on the sea of glass, at the time the 7 bowls are to be poured out.
The thrones are probably to be taken as symbolic to portray the priestly and reigning status of the church after the rapture.
Rev. 3:10, "You have made them into a kingdom and priests to our God, and they will reign upon the earth.”
Rev. 1:6, "and He has made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father."

The rapture will occur after the tribulation ends, having been cut short by the arrival of Jesus in the clouds of the sky. Mt. 24:29-31.
Many from among these believers will have died at the hands of the beast. But after the rapture there will be many converts and from among these will be many who likewise die at the hands of the beast. It is these - martyrs after the rapture - that are in view with the second group.

2. The second group refers specifically to a group of martyrs, who are seen as "CAME to life."
The verb, zao occurs as - edzasan (aorist active indicative) - the EXACT same form that occurs in verse 5, "the rest of the dead did not come to life. ." (except the negative is at verse 5).

This aorist tense should be seen as a "point-of-time" occurrence. Ie, "came to life."
If it was intended to emphasis the "status" of living, it would be in the present tense (present active indicative = they are living, or they live). If the intent were to say, "they HAD come to life," then
the Greek would use the perfect tense.
What John sees is - a group of physically DEAD martyrs (their souls - obviously in heaven). And he OBSERVES that they came to life.
(incidentally, the word group, zao, very often is used to indicate resurrection.)

There is no way to make this involve anyone other than a group of saints who were martyred via the oppressive reign of the beast. It does not include "living" believers nor does it include any who died of natural causes throughout history.
It should be clear then, that this does NOT refer to the resurrection that takes place at the rapture. It therefore must refer to those who were martyred after the rapture.
And if there is no other resurrection mentioned, then the Old Testament saints must be included in the rapture and be among those mentioned as "sitting on the thrones."

At verse 5, the significance of the phrase, "this is the first resurrection," is tricky. It is a summary statement concerning the believers of verse 4, and does not include "the rest of the dead mentioned before it.
The statement could refer to the idea that this BRINGS TO COMPLETION the first resurrection which embraces both the raptured saints (Old and New Testament believers), who are sitting on the thrones, and the Day of the Lord martyrs, who die for their faith after the rapture and prior to Armageddon.

But that would SEEM to exclude the millennial saints from being part of the first resurrection.
Thus it might be better to see "this is" as "this is (part of) the first resurrection."
The term FIRST RESURRECTION, probably should be seen as simply the resurrection of the righteous in contrast with the resurrection of the unrighteous (at the end of the mil).
This agrees with the idea presented at Daniel 12:2; John 5:29 and Acts 24:15 - all which indicate that there are in fact TWO resurrections; the resurrection of the just and of the unjust.

Paul helps us at 1 Corinthians 15:23-24 by showing us STAGES or ORDERS to the resurrection of the righteous.    "Each in his own order"
1. Christ the first fruits.
2. Those who are His at His coming: this would include not only the rapture but also those raised AFTER his second coming agenda has been completed - i.e., after Armageddon. Two groups
then can be seen as being raised "at His coming."
3. But verse 24 says, "THEN comes the end," which refers to the end of the millennial kingdom, when Jesus turns everything over to the Father.
It should be obvious that there will be BELIEVING humans alive at this time who will need to be given resurrection bodies. The language at Revelation 20:4 does not exclude these from being part of the first resurrection.
It seems that the point at Revelation 20:4, is that the martyrs seen as "coming to life" after Armageddon ARE part of the first resurrection. And since they share the "reigning" destiny of those who have been resurrected before them, it seems best to include them in the same group, which is viewed as the BRIDE of Christ. There is no conflict here since the bride has not actually been "wedded" yet. Thus, the saints of Revelation 20:4 are resurrected, have their works judged, and are joined with the other resurrected saints - all BEFORE the start of the millennial kingdom. Then the wedding and the wedding feast will take place at the start of the kingdom.

Verse 5
The rest of the dead: As of the moment of time that the righteous are seen at Rev. 20:4-5, there are two classifications of people.
1. The righteous. the righteous are in two categories.
A. those who have already been resurrected.
John sees these sit on thrones.
B. Those who are dead and are yet to be resurrected.
John sees their souls first - and then sees them "came to life," that is, he sees them resurrected. And he sees them as also reigning with Christ for the next 1000 years.
2. The unrighteous.
These are seen as ALREADY dead, "the rest of the dead."
3. It cannot refer to believers at the end of the millennial kingdom because they are NOT YET DEAD. The only category of people who can be considered as "the rest of the dead" are all unbelievers who have died.
4. And these will come to life after the 1000 years and appear at the great white throne judgment, along with all the other unbelievers from the 1000 years. This is described at Rev. 20:11-15.



Questions and comments are always welcome

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