The Participants in the First Resurrection (20:4-6)

Submitted by admin on Mon, 2006-12-11 11:30.

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John then saw thrones. The ones seated on them were granted judicial authority. Evidently regarding this development, the apostle Paul wrote, “Do you not know that the holy ones will judge the world?” (1 Corinthians 6:2) Among the ones sharing in doing this judging would be those (the souls) who had been executed for their testimony concerning Jesus and “the word of God” (faithfully adhering to it and making it known to others). Furthermore, these faithful ones are identified as not having venerated the beast or its image and accepted the mark on their forehead and their hand. As Christ’s loyal disciples, they would be restored to life and share with him in his reign for the full period designated by the 1,000 years. (20:4; 6:9-11)

The reference to the coming to life of the rest of the dead at the end of the 1,000 years is missing from fourth-century Codex Sinaiticus, the oldest extant manuscript preserving this portion of Revelation. If the words are original, they are parenthetical, for they do not apply to the words that follow, “This is the first resurrection.” (20:5) According to the sequence in the vision John saw, the judging of the dead (other than those sharing in the first resurrection) takes place after Satan is released from confinement, and the parenthetical expression is apparently to be understood accordingly.

Sharers in the first resurrection are pronounced fortunate and holy. Theirs is a fortunate, blessed, or an enviable state of happiness as divinely approved persons, and they are holy by reason of their faithfulness to God and Christ and having the benefits of his sacrifice applied to them. As such blessed and holy ones, they would never be subject to the second death, which denotes the death from which no resurrection is possible. They would serve as priests of God and of Christ (functioning in priestly capacity for those then living on earth) and reign with Christ. (20:6)