Who shared in the first resurrection of the dead?

Tue, 07/02/2012 - 11:00
Revelation 20:4-6

4a And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them and judgment was given to them,

4b and the souls of those beheaded on account of the testimony of Jesus and on account of the word of God,

4c and whoever did not worship the beast, not even his image, and did not receive the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand.

4d And they lived and reigned with the Christ a thousand years.

5a And the rest of the dead did not live until the thousand years might be finished.

5b This is the first resurrection.

6 Blessed and holy is the one having part in the first resurrection; over these the second death does not have authority, but they will be priests of God and of the Christ and will reign with him a thousand years.

Peter Wilkinson has disputed my argument about the resurrection of the martyrs in Revelation 20:4. I think that John has in mind a more or less literal resurrection of those who were martyred during the course of the early church’s clash with an idolatrous Roman imperialism. Peter thinks that this apocalyptic stuff is all somehow just a metaphor for being a Christian. He argues i) that there are at least three groups in view in Revelation 20:4; ii) that these groups are not raised but simply “live”; and iii) that “resurrection” is to be “taken in its secondary sense as the triumph which believers already share with the risen, ascended Christ”.

Here’s why I think he is wrong, though looking at the passage again has made me modify my view slightly.

John first sees an unspecified group who are given the authority to judge and who sit upon thrones (4a).

He then sees are the souls of those who were beheaded because they bore witness to Jesus and proclaimed the word of God (4b). The relation of these “souls” to the people seated on the thrones is not explained.

Do we have a third group in verse 4c: “whoever did not worship the beast”, etc.? I used to agree with Aune here, who comments: “It is more natural to construe the text as referring to a single group of martyrs, who had been executed for both positive reasons (v4b: their obedience to the commands of God and their witness to Jesus) and negative reasons (v4c: their refusal to worship the beast or its image and to receive its brand on their foreheads and right hands)” (David Aune, Revelation 17-22, 1088). But now I’m not so sure.

Those who share in the “first resurrection” (I’ll come to the meaning of this in a moment) are said to be “priests of God and of the Christ”, who will “reign with him a thousand years” (20:6). This idea is found in two earlier passages, where it appears to refer to a larger group than the martyrs:

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1:6)

And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign [over] the earth. (5:10)

We still have to reckon with the fact that they are defined specifically by their refusal to worship the beast, etc. Does this symbolism locate them in the particular story of the early church’s refusal to participate in Roman idolatry? Or does it have a much more general frame of reference, encompassing all faithful believers throughout the ages? I don’t think we do justice to the apocalyptic genre to generalize it in this way. This is not Pilgrim’s Progress.

So if the martyrs and those who did not worship the beast, etc., are distinct, they still form together a group that will participate in the “first resurrection” following judgment on demonic Roman imperialism. This might be understood to correspond roughly to Paul’s distinction between the dead and the living at the parousia in 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17. It is a slightly different way of saying that the faithful community as a whole, with special consideration given to those who died as martyrs, will be vindicated for having stood firm against the full savage force of pagan opposition to their God and his Christ.

But are we really talking about resurrection here? Does “they lived” (4d) mean “they came to life”—that is, were raised from the dead? Or does it just mean that they were alive, living, had new life in Jesus, etc., so that we could say that the “1000 years is a metaphor of time and triumph, encompassing all the faithful - alive and dead”? This question is simply answered by noting the following texts where zaō occurs in the aorist and refers to the resurrection of Jesus:

For to this end Christ died and lived (ezēsen), that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. (Rom. 14:9)

And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life (ezēsen).’ (Rev. 2:8)

These are “ingressive aorists”: they emphasize “the beginning or initial entrance into that condition or state” (Aune, Revelation, 1073 4.m-m).

There is no “again” in verse 5—I don’t know where that idea came from. The martyrs “came to life” (ezēsan) or “were raised”; the rest of the dead “did not come to life” (ouk ezēsan) or “were not raised”.

There appears to be no good reason, therefore, to question the view that “they lived” means “they came to life”. The subject of the verb is either the martyrs and those who did not worship the beast, etc., or the martyrs who did not worship the beast, etc. This coming to life is the “first resurrection”. It would also seem natural to identify the martyrs with the otherwise unspecified group seen seated on the thrones. The martyrs are raised to life and “reign with the Christ”, presumably on those thrones.

The point of this is well expressed by Caird, who argues—rightly, I think—that this passage stands in a tradition of interpretation of the judgment scene described in Daniel 7:

Those who are seated on the thrones must then be those to whom the right has been given to act as judges, not those in whose favour judgment is given. What is much more important, however, is that in Daniel the judgment is not the last judgment, but one that happens in the course of history. In the earlier chapters of Daniel we have been told that ‘the Most High controls the sovereignty of the world and gives it to whom he wills’ (Dan. iv. 17, 25, 32), and in the judgment scene God is simply taking the sovereignty from one nation and giving it to another. ‘The court shall sit in judgment, and his empire shall be taken away…. The sovereignty… shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High’ (Dan. vii. 26 f.). The judgment committed to the martyrs is thus not the right to determine the ultimate destinies of men—this God reserves within his own authority—but the right to assume the empire of the defeated monster. (G.B. Caird, The Revelation of St John the Divine, 252-53)

The phrase “the rest of the dead” (5a) appears to imply that however many groups are mentioned in 4a-c, they are all dead—not metaphorically dead, but dead in the same way that those who will be raised at the final judgment are dead.

It could be objected here that a literal first resurrection of the martyrs would have required the disappearance of their bodies from their graves. My response would be that this “proto-resurrection” of the martyrs would be more like the final resurrection of the dead than Jesus’ resurrection. No one seriously suggests that at the final resurrection the decomposed or incinerated bodies of the dead will somehow be raised directly. At the resurrection the corruptible body is simply replaced by an incorruptible body (cf. 1 Cor. 15:42-49; 2 Cor. 5:1-5).

“The rest of the dead” (hoi loipoi tōn nekrōn), however, may not mean “the rest of humanity”. The account of judgment on Rome concludes with the capture of the beast and the false prophet, who had done the signs by which those who worshipped the beast were deceived. The beast and the false prophet are thrown into the lake of fire, but “the rest (hoi loipoi) were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse” (Rev. 19:21). Satan is bound in the abyss, and then we have the vision of the thrones, etc. Within this apocalyptic narrative, it would appear that what we have in 20:4-6 is a statement of what will happen to those who have been killed in the course of this eschatological crisis: the faithful martyrs will be raised; the dead who worshipped the beast or fought against Israel’s God will not be raised at this juncture but at the end of the world, as part of the second resurrection of all the dead.

This apocalyptic narrative also, I think, rules out the suggestion that the “first resurrection” is spiritual or the first stage in a two part process. It is a story about “warring nations”, to use Tom Wright’s phrase, not about personal salvation. I think Aune again gets it mainly right:

However problematic the conception of two resurrections might be, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that precisely such an innovation has been formulated by the author. (Aune, Revelation, 1090)

I would argue, however, that, terminology aside, this “first resurrection” is not such an innovation. I think it is of a piece with, for example, Daniel’s belief that there would be a limited resurrection of the dead at the time when Israel is delivered from the imperial oppressor (Dan. 12:1-2) and with Paul’s argument in 1 Thessalonians about a resurrection of the dead in Christ (1 Thess. 4:14-17) when he comes to deliver them from their persecutors. And a whole lot of other stuff.

Comments

Andrew - you've made some interesting points which I address below. You've also made some misinterpretation (perhaps deliberately) of my argument. There are also some technical misunderstandings.

 

Peter thinks that this apocalyptic stuff is all somehow just a metaphor for being a Christian.

There's plenty of apocalyptic stuff in my interpretation to keep you more than happy; I wasn't removing the force of the passage from its application to the 1st century at all.

The major problem with your point of view about a proto-resurrection of the 1st century martyrs is innovation. The other NT passages you use to promote the same idea all rely on inference, not explicit statement. The inference depends on your particular framework of interpretation. The validity of this framework over other frameworks of interpetation is open to discussion. But it remains inference. There is no explicit statement of a 1st century resurrection for the martyrs.

 

We still have to reckon with the fact that they are defined specifically by their refusal to worship the beast, etc. Does this symbolism locate them in the particular story of the early church’s refusal to participate in Roman idolatry? Or does it have a much more general frame of reference, encompassing all faithful believers throughout the ages?

You've misread me here. I wasn't suggesting a Pilgrim's Progress type allegorical application to Christians of all ages. I was keeping to the 1st century.

I also agree with your next point, that it is "the faithful community as a whole" who are being referred to in the passage (ie in the 1st century). This wasn't an issue.

Verse 4d

"Came to life" - ezēsan. Does this refer to (physical) resurrection? You refer to Romans 14:9 and Revelation 2:8, where the same verb is used of Christ's 'coming to life' at his resurrection. But you miss the point: Jesus's resurrection and coming to life after he died makes possible life (in the sense of new life) for believers before as well as after they die. This is clear from the passages I quoted, where (new) life experienced by believers before they die is described in terms of resurrection. Jesus's resurrection was unique; that of believers is enjoyed before and after death, leading to eventual physical resurrection. The relevant passages where resurrection terminology is applied to believers before death are John 5:24-30, Ephesians 2:6, and Colossians 3:1-4.

The 1000 years is a metaphor, whichever way you want to look at it, and includes, by this argument, those who were martyred as well as those who were faithful and refused to worship the beast, but had not been put to death (the third group). They each lived, enjoying an entirely new kind of life altogether, by virtue of faith in Christ and through his unique resurrection.

 Verse 5

There is no “again” in verse 5—I don’t know where that idea came from

Sorry Andrew, there is in my Greek New Testament. The verb is anazaō - "to live again". We should pay particular attention to the distinction between this form of zao, and the preceding use in verse 4. The contrast draws attention to one kind of life enjoyed by faithful believers living in the face of persecution from the beast (at that time), and life enjoyed by believers who had been put to death and "lived again".

 

The phrase “the rest of the dead” (5a) appears to imply that however many groups are mentioned in 4a-c, they are all dead

This would be arguable unless there were good reasons for thinking otherwise, which, in my opinion, there are. Also the preceding phrase "they came to life (or simply "lived") and reigned with Christ for a 1000 years", which might be taken to refer exclusively to the martyred dead, actually obliterates the boundary between the physically living and physically dead. Those still alive in the face of persecution from the beast enjoy a triumph which is both metaphorical in the sense of victory implied by 1000 years, and temporal in the sense of an immeasurably longlasting period of time (ie forever), which includes life beyond death.

 

“The rest of the dead” (hoi loipoi tōn nekrōn), however, may not mean “the rest of humanity”.

It probably does, but in the immediate context there is no dispute: it refers to thsoe who died in a state of non-belief at the time the passage refers to.

 

I would argue, however, that, terminology aside, this “first resurrection” is not such an innovation. I think it is of a piece with, for example, Daniel’s belief that there would be a limited resurrection of the dead at the time when Israel is delivered from the imperial oppressor (Dan. 12:1-2)

This depends how you read Daniel, and especially how Daniel is understood in the light of events as they transpired. Yes, there is a specific apocalyptic sense in which events occurred in AD 70. No, Daniel cannot be taken to find its fulfilment in AD 70 alone, and even in Daniel 12:2 - "Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to everlasting shame and contempt", the language is straining beyond AD 70, even if there were a resurrection of some (but not multitudes) at that time (which I personally dispute).

Finally, you haven't really addressed my point that the structure of the use of kai in Revelation 20:4 suggests that there are three groups in view in the passage. This is the key to avoiding the convoluted theories which have produced entirely new eschatological and theological categories alien to the rest of the NT. It avoids the endless controversies which have plagued eschatological interpretation over the years, and would have saved a great deal of the ink that has been spilled on the subject.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No wilful misreading, honest.

There is no explicit statement of a 1st century resurrection for the martyrs.

Well, Revelation 20:4-6 seems to me to be a perfectly explicit statement about a resurrection of the martyrs in conjunction with judgment on Rome (not first century) and prior to the thousand year period. There are lots of things in Revelation that it would be hard to find precedent for in the rest of the New Testament.

I am inclined to say that it is not the first resurrection of the martyrs that is the innovation in Revelation 20 but the final resurrection of all the dead. The first resurrection of the righteous as part of the vindication and restoration of Israel following judgment is a well attested theme biblically.

I don’t understand why my argument about 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17, say, is a matter of “inference”. It seems pretty clear to me that Paul expected the dead to be raised when Jesus “came” to deliver the Thessalonians from the wrath to come and from their persecutors. Those still alive would be “caught up together with them in the clouds” in order always to be with the Lord. Paul expected this to happen within a lifetime, in the context of the crisis that they faced, and he says nothing to suggest that he was thinking of a final judgment, renewal of creation, etc.

If “they lived” in verse 4d does not mean “they were raised” from actual death, how do you account for 5a: “the rest of the dead did not live until the thousand years might be finished”? Surely this looks forward to a “coming to life” after the thousand years at a final judgment of all the dead? Do the rest of dead humanity only metaphorically “come to life” at the final judgment—and wouldn’t that mean, by your account, that this is a new life in Christ?

The obvious way to read verse 6, too, is that a particular group reigns throughout the thousand years with Christ because they have overcome death—not that the church in the abstract reigns, one generation after another.

Sorry Andrew, there is in my Greek New Testament. The verb is anazaō - “to live again”.

What Greek New Testament is that? Nestle-Aland (26th edition) does not even have that as a textual variant. According to BDAG the verb literally means to “be resurrected… of the dead”, but gives Revelation 20:5 as an Erasmian reading “without known ms. evidence”; it is also given as variant in Romans 14:9 for Christ’s resurrection. So there is no distinction between the two uses zaō.

It probably does, but in the immediate context there is no dispute: it refers to those who died in a state of non-belief at the time the passage refers to.

That’s not quite what I’m saying. I suggested that John refers specifically to those who “worshipped the beast or fought against Israel’s God”. Not simply those who died at that time.

This depends how you read Daniel, and especially how Daniel is understood in the light of events as they transpired.

As far as I’m concerned, that is not a good way to do biblical interpretation.

Daniel 12:2 only says “many (polloi) of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt”. No “multitudes”. In any case, “many” is not all.

Finally, you haven’t really addressed my point that the structure of the use of kai in Revelation 20:4 suggests that there are three groups in view in the passage.

Kai occurs ten times in Revelation 20:4. Everything is connected by kai in this book—that’s how John writes. It’s also not correct to say, as you did in your original comment, that this first supposed group is introduced by kai: it’s the “I saw” that is introduced by kai, just as it is in 19:11, 17, 19 and 20:1. It would be remarkable if he hadn’t linked the martyrs and those who refused to worship the beast together with kai. The supposed “structure” proves nothing.

Notice that kai hoitines occurs in Revelation 1:7 where it clearly does not introduce a separate group: “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, and whoever (kai hoitines) pierced him…”. Those who pierced him are included in the first group, perhaps with some emphasis (ESV has “even those who…”). If we took Revelation 20:4a-c in the same way, we would have:

And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them and judgment was given to them, and the souls of those beheaded on account of the testimony of Jesus and on account of the word of God, even those who did not worship the beast, not even his image, and did not receive the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand.

I’m leaning towards the view that those seated on the thrones give judgment on behalf of the souls of the martyrs, etc. (see my response to Doug). But it still seems to me more likely that John sees one group of the dead (contrasted with the “rest of the dead” in verse 5)—the “the souls of those beheaded…, who did not worship the beast”.

It's extaordinary that so much eschatological speculation has arisen over the centuries from such a small passage, whose meaning, if all were honest about it, is not the clearest. Hence the variety of interpretations, including your own.

Of course you are making an inference of a 1st century reurrection from 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 (and the other passages you use to support the idea). You've lost sight of the fact that almost nobody else reads the passage that way (rightly or wrongly), since how you read it depends on the framework of reference you bring to it. There is no explicit statement of a 1st century resurrection in the passage.

5a "lived" or "lived again"; I've reached the end of my biblical resources here. My Greek NT is not at hand, so I can't supply the details of the version. I can assure you the verb was  anazaō. Also, that's how it appears in Strongs; Revelation 5:20 lived not again is listed as 326 anazaō. That's how it's translated in KJV, but not, I note, NASB, RSV or NIV.

The larger point has to be considered about whether "lived" can posssibly mean simply "new life in Jesus", when the verb (in whichever form) is also applied to the "rest of the dead" when they come to life after the 1000 years, clearly not enjoying new life in Jesus (unless Rob Bell is right about the final state of believers and unbelievers). For the sake of consistency in my position, I would simply say that the passage is not as clear in its detail as commentators, including you and me, would like to insist!

It’s also not correct to say, as you did in your original comment, that this first supposed group is introduced by kai: it’s the “I saw” that is introduced by kai

This doesn't have  much bearing on the interpretation. There is only one  introductory "I saw" statement, which appears before the first group. Interpreters have added a second "I saw" in an  attempt to clarify that there are at least two distinct groups that John saw. To limit the group to one only implies that only martyrs, those beheaded, reign with Christ on the thrones. This clearly does not agree with the rest of the NT. In the previous three occurrences of "thrones" in Revelation, those occupying them are the 24 elders (4:4, 11:16). The 24 represent the "kingdom of priests", glorified and enthroned (4:4). For the sake of consistency, the same should be true here.

Incidentally,  the word krima in (literally) "judgement was given to them" or better "a sentence was given to them", occurs three times in Revelation, in each case signifying a judgement made and given by God. This is the same as Daniel's vision - "judgment was given for the saints of the Most High" - Daniel 7:22.

Your next point, not connected with this, raises a much broader issue of interpretation:

This depends how you read Daniel, and especially how Daniel is understood in the light of events as they transpired.

As far as I’m concerned, that is not a good way to do biblical interpretation

Yes, I think this is a problem. You are extremely detailed in textual support of your interpretations, but I think very weak in dialoguing with actual historical evidence and experience beyond the texts. You do not often adequately expose your interpretations to the question of how they work out in historical or personal experience, how they account for the worldwide growth and spread of the church, and how they account for historical events. You'll no doubt disagree with this, but at least one way in which the bible has to be understood is in the light of asking what the Holy Spirit is actually doing in history and experience. This was what Peter had to do when he saw the Holy Spirit fall on Cornelius and his household. His tightly held biblical theology had to give way to what God did before his very eyes. The same theme underlies Paul's argument in Galatians. What the Holy Spirit actually did was not what God was supposed to do, according to the reasonably held biblical understanding of the best minds of the day. What the best minds believed then comes very close to what you seem to be saying too, in terms of limiting what God was doing to Israel, and allowing the Gentiles to participate only as an afterthought, as it were.

In the round, I think we would all do well to concede that interpretions of Revelation 20:4-6 have to be held lightly, since we are not simply looking at the detail of the text itself, but evaluating interpretations in the light of what the NT is saying elsewhere. That's where I question your particular interpretation, and many of the others, especially over the meaning of the 1000 years. Despite your observations, I still think my interpretation has many merits to recommend it, and conforms very well with the rest of the NT without introducing innovations.

That said, I think your particular interpretation, if your background framework is granted (which I don't grant), is better than the others. I also think that "first resurrection" is appropriate for martyrdom rather than faithful belief alone. So I'm not dismissing all these overtones. I think it goes too far to press it literally, and I think it makes just as much, if not better,  sense according to the way I have presented it, given the background of general suffering which believers were undergoing.

 

 

 

 

ἀναζάω anazao - Revelation 20:5

Andrew - your comment on my reference to this word in Revelation 20:5 -

What Greek New Testament is that? Nestle-Aland (26th edition) does not even have that as a textual variant. According to BDAG the verb literally means to “be resurrected… of the dead”, but gives Revelation 20:5 as an Erasmian reading “without known ms. evidence”; it is also given as variant in Romans 14:9 for Christ’s resurrection. So there is no distinction between the two uses zaō.

Just to clear up the muddle - the Greek New Testament I was using is the Stephens (1550) text, which became the so-called textus receptus published by Elzevir in 1611. It is based on the Erasmian 1516 Greek New Testament, which supposedly contains up to 2,000 variations from the Majority uncial compilation text (generally recognised as the best yardstick for translation). Erasmus was apparently guided by the Latin Vulgate text in producing his Greek text, and, it seems, sometimes corrected his Greek version according to that text.

So it's possible that BDAG have this in mind in the comment you have quoted, but it is surprising that Nestle-Aland don't quote it as a textual variant - even if it was an invention of Erasmus, or followed the Vulgate.

ἀναζάω also appears in Luke 15:24 and 32, the lost son, who "was dead and is now alive again", Romans 7:9 - "sin revived"; Romans 14:9 - "Christ revived/returned to life", to which Stephens and textus receptus add anistēmi, "rose". So "resurrection as physical life after death is not really implied by the word.

All of this is to say that whatever form of zao appears in Revelation 20:5, the word is also used of those in 4c-d, who, I argue, form a different group from those of 4a seated on the thrones, and from the beheaded martyrs of 4b, the kai punctuation separating the groups in each case. Eidon - I saw (4a) is implied as an introduction to the second and third groups (4b, 4c), though most translations include it in the second group. If there are to be at least two groups distinctly separated in this way, there is reason to argue for a third group. So you would have:

1. And/kai I saw thrones and they sat upon them, and a sentence was given to them

2. And/kai (I saw) the souls of those beheaded on account of the testimony of Jesus and through the word of God

3. And/kai (I saw) those who did not do homage to the beast etc

The Greek may be fast and furious here, but does it lead us to suppose there is only one group in view, by the way it is laid out? And if two groups, why not a third?

Which then creates the possibility that all three groups were part of one body living and reigning with Christ 1000 years (4d), where the 1000 suggests victory as much as time, but would apply to the living and the dead if the living later died and joined the departed martyrs.

"The rest of the dead" - 5:20a would then be those not belonging to any of these groups, but specifically those who fought against the rider on the white horse and his armies (19:11-21).

If there was only one group, the departed martyrs, then we would have a strangely unique category of martyrs who live in their resurrection bodies after death, while the remaining faithful eventually join their enemies in death, only to be raised with them after the 1000 years. The martyrs are thus an exception to any rule of non-existence after death, which you are otherwise promoting, Andrew.

Doesn't it also seem odd that faithful non-martyred believers should be separated from their martyred brethen, and share the fate of their enemies after death, if this scenario is followed through consistently?

Doug needs to supply evidence for the claim that the entire verse of Revelation 20:5 is an editor's interpolation. I'd be interested to know where that idea comes from.  It would certainly solve a few difficulties!

 

 

 

I only have time for a quick comment.  The following link is to an article that McKenzie wrote going into some detail on the distinctiveness of Russell's position.  He includes his argument on Rev. 20:5a there:

http://planetpreterist.com/news-5017.html

Just to be clear, I'm not saying that he whole verse may be a gloss, just the first portion of it.

 

Doug

Andrew,

A couple of thoughts to complicate things.  In addition to the promise to believers in a coupld of different passages that we will be judges in the final judgment, the Apostles are given an even more elevated and specific role as judges of Israel.  I think it's likely that the first group of judges seated are the Apostles, with the rest of the believers seated afterward.  Also, Revelation 20:5 has a textual variant which brings into question whether the second 1/2 of the verse is an editor's note that was eventually incorporated into the text.  If this is so, then there is no explicit 2nd Resurrection (at least not on chronologically separated by the thousand years).  Then what's the purpose for the first one?  I think the answer might be in the term itself.  Protos can mean before, beginning, best, chief, first of all, or former.  If we take it as the "best" resurrection approach then v.6 makes better sense.  It's best because the second death has no power of the resurrected person.  But, this doesn't mean that there is necessarily a chronological gap between the best resurrection and the others (only 5b requires this, and I suspect that it shouldn't be there).  I think one general resurrection lines up better with Daniel 12 and Olivet Discourse passages that describe one judgment between good and bad and then punishment.  In addition, if you consider 7-10 a parenthetical statement about the Millennium, but consider the rest of the passage withouth that section, the setting up for judgment scene in Rev. 20 follows Daniel 7 (minus 13-14, which I consider a separate vision) very closely.  The scheme above follow's the Russell/McKenzie paradigm if you are interested in more on it.

Doug

Interesting.

On reflection, it may make more sense to say that whoever is seated on the thrones passes judgment in favour of the martyrs, who then are given the right to reign with Jesus. But it is unlikely that the apostles would be given this role—at least, Paul is very conscious of the fact that he himself would have to stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Where else do we find a distinction between the apostles and the faithful that might support your argument?

The textual variant is hard to account for—thanks for pointing this out. But even if the shorter reading is the original one, we still have a judgment of the dead in 20:12-13, standing before the throne. They are not explicitly said to have been “raised”, but surely they are “alive” in some sense, in order to receive the judgment, which would have to mean that they have been raised at the end of the thousand years.

I disagree that Revelation 20:12-15 simply follows Daniel 7. Daniel 7 is a judgment of empires in favour of persecuted Israel. Revelation 20:12-15 is a judgment of all the dead, including those held by the sea, and then Death and Hades are themselves destroyed.

It still makes good sense to me to suppose that the New Testament envisages first victory over the pagan enemies of the people of God, and secondly victory over the final enemy of God’s creation, which is death. I don’t really understand why Preterism is so resistant to the idea that the creator God will finally defeat the forces that have corrupted his good creation.

Andrew,

I made a mistake in my previous post regarding Rev. 20:5 that I'm sure confused the issue.  Given the other typos, I obviously didn't do a very good job proofreading it.  What I meant to say was that Rev. 20:5a likely shouldn't be in the passage.  Removing that section would give you the following:

Revelation 20:4-6 (NKJV)
4 And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.   5 This is the first [or better] resurrection.  6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first [or better] resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.

Regarding the comparison to Daniel, I think the following comparison is compelling (it assumes that v.7-10 are parenthetical and is adapted from Duncan's paper on the topic, though not identical):

Daniel 7:9-11
As I watched, [A] thrones were set in place and [B] an Ancient One took his throne, his clothing white as snow and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames and its wheels were burning fire. A stream of fire issued and flowed out from his presence. [C] A thousand thousands served him and ten thousand times ten thousand stood attending him. [D] The court sat in judgment and the [E] books were opened. I watched then because of the noise of the arrogant words that the [little] horn was speaking. And as I watched, the beast was put to death, and its body destroyed and given over to be burned with fire.

Revelation 20:4, 11-12
Then [A] I saw thrones, and [D] those seated on them were given authority to judge. I also saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony to Jesus and for the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.  5 This is the first resurrection.  6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.  11 Then I saw [B] a great white throne and the one who sat on it; the earth and the heaven fled from his presence, and no place was found for them.  12 And I saw [C] the dead, great and small standing before the throne, and [E] books were opened. Also another book was opened, the book of life. And the dead were judged according to their works, as recorded in the books.

I hope that clears up my point.

Doug

Doug, thanks for the clarification, though I think I got what you were arguing. The crucial difference between the two passages remains: in Daniel 7 it is an empire that is judged and destroyed; in Revelation 20:11-15 all the dead are judged and death itself is destroyed. Empire doesn’t feature in Revelation 20:11-15 and death isn’t destroyed in Daniel 7.

And what reason is there for marking 20:7-10 as parenthetical—other than the fact that Preterists want to collapse the final judgment into the temporal judgment of Revelation 18-19?

The paradigm that I am describing is J. S. Russell's, which is different than Full Preterism in the association between Rev. 20:7-10 and Rev. 18-19.  I agree with you that Full Preterism makes those parallel concepts.  But, Russell's point is that the end of the Millennium is defined by the Gog/Magog war (or both Ezekiel and Revelation) and is still future to us (and thus not part of Rev. 18-19).  To paraphrase in summary what he sees in Revelation 20,

--

I saw an angel come down and bind Satan in a pit for 1,000 years.  At the conclusion of this he has to be released for a little while (compare with Daniel 7:12).

I saw thrones with people sitting on them for judgment.  There were also those who'd be martyred in the name of Christ who will reign with Christ for 1,000 years.  This is the first (or best) resurrection because the second death is not a danger to them.

(Now when the thousand years are finished Satan will be released, cause a rebellion, surround the good guys, and God will destroy them with fire.  Then, Satan will be thrown into the Lake of Fire where the beast and false prophet are already cooking (and have been for the 1,000 years)).

Getting back to the throne, God is going to judge people.  If they are in the Book of Life then they are spared the Lake of Fire, or Second Death.  If they aren't, they are judged according to their works and cast into the Lake of Fire.

--

So, Russell's chronology has Revelation 18-19 associated with 70AD, and is the time the Beast and False Prophet are thrown in the Lake of Fire.  Then, 1,000 years later (taken as a metaphorical number for a long time into the future) Satan is released, finally conquered, and cast into the Lake of Fire.  This destruction of Satan would still be future to us in 2012.

One of the reasons he comes to this conclusion is the description of the Gog/Magog war in Ezekiel. 

Ezekiel 38:8 (NKJV)
8 After many days you will be visited. In the latter years you will come into the land of those brought back from the sword and gathered from many people on the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate; they were brought out of the nations, and now all of them dwell safely.

That verse is clear that the war is against people who were long ago regathered and are now living in peace and prosperity.  This couldn't reasonably apply to saints in 70AD (as would be required by the Full Preterist approach).  I'm not sure if that answers the cosmological question yoyu have about a global recreation, since it seems to me that Russell's position post-Gog/Magog war is similar to the Full Preterists.  That is, Ezekiel describes the enemy being burried and life moving on in the same creation that existed before as opposed to the conclusion of that war resulting in the dissolution of the material universe.  I'd suggest that I am trying to follow the text in this instead of forcing philosophical or theological presuppositions on it.

I hope that answers your question.

Doug

Hi Andrew,

You said:

"No one seriously suggests that at the final resurrection the decomposed or incinerated bodies of the dead will somehow be raised directly"

Why not? Isn't our bodies to be transofrmed in to His glorious body?

Phil 3:21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

I completely understand the contention youmay have with the nature of the resurrection of the dead, but wouldn't your statement contradict the two examples we had in scripture, one fo Christ, and the other of the Matt 27:52-53 saints that wer raised from the dead? Their bodies that lay in the tombs for all to see?

This ideas would appear to contradict not only the two examples given, but that of the consistent interpretation to this doctrine that had been handed down from the apostolic and ecclesisatical generations,  and that of the entire historic church whether Roman Cathiolic, Greek Orthodox, Syrain, Protestant, Anglican and so on.

You said in The Future of the People of God:

"Creation itself, which has been subjected to futility, is said to await not its own redemption, but th vindication of the suffereing church in the foreseeable future, the deliverance from persecution, the victory over paganism and superstition, because it knows that it will also share finally, in and unforeseeable future, in the glory and freedom from corruption that will be revealed in the sons of God, in the fellow heirs of Christ, in the brothers of Jesus, in the opressed community of the Son of Man. The redemption of these martyrs' physical created bodies must entail the final redemption of the whole of God's creation."

Pg 123, last paragraph.

It would seem by this statement you made, you are inferring that the redemption of the physical bodies as in Phil 3:21, are transformed into the glorious body as Christ's in His resurrection, and that of the saints of Matt 27. I agree in your assement of 1 Thess 4:16 and the like paralleled verses in that there is a two fold prophetic applcaiton and scenerio involving the vindication/resurrection of the martyred and persecuted chruch, but the scriptures, and not only the teaching of Paul as noted in Acts 23:6, and the Pharisaical interpetation of the resurection from the dead, is that it entails the body that which is laid, and thus is transformed in the world to come.

I would have to agree with this, as there are no other examples given in scripture as I see, that would indicate an ontological resurrection different from that of Christ's or the saints of Matt 27.

Thanks.

Ken, you make some good points. Just to be clear, though, I’m not saying that people are not raised bodily, only that we might question whether a bodily resurrection strictly requires the disappearance of the old body from the grave, as in the case of Jesus and the peculiar resurrection of the sleeping saints in Matthew 27:51-53. The practical problem remains, not all bodies are in tombs, not all bodies exist in any coherent form, that they might be raised.

Of course, the other way to approach this would be to say that Paul and John expected a literal, visible resurrection to accompany the victory of the church over pagan Rome, and were wrong.

At random...

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