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Revelation 20:5 Confusion

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Revelation 20:5 Confusion

Postby PWS » Sat Apr 15, 2017 4:26 pm

I'm approaching this from the millennial standpoint. Can I assume that "the rest of the dead" are in contrast to those mentioned in verse 4? That is, unbelievers? If so, then since they did not come to life until the thousand years were completed, I assume that this "resurrection" would be simply a physical one, not a spiritual one, experienced at Christ's second coming--that is, a resurrection of the unjust. So, as unbelievers, they would have no part in the "first resurrection"--contrast with verse 6. What is really confusing is the last sentence of verse 5: "This is the first resurrection." It doesn't seem correct that "this" is in reference to "the rest of the dead." Does "this", then, refer to those in verse 4? Those who have been transformed from death to life upon embracing Christ and who continue to "live on" in heaven as souls?

Are there any amillennialists out there that can give me some guidance here? I've listened to several of Steve's youtube videos, but I still have questions. Thanks.
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Re: Revelation 20:5 Confusion

Postby dwilkins » Sat Apr 15, 2017 8:20 pm

It turns out that what you're trying to make fit is Rev. 20:5a. It is a textual variant that may or may not be a legitimate part of the text. Take a look at 4-6 with and without it, and consider whether or not is make sense:

With (ESV)

Rev 20:4  Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who 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 for a thousand years. 
Rev 20:5  The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. 
Rev 20:6  Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.

Without (ESV modified)

Rev 20:4  Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who 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 for a thousand years. 
Rev 20:5  This is the first resurrection. 
Rev 20:6  Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.
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Re: Revelation 20:5 Confusion

Postby TruthInLove » Sun Apr 16, 2017 8:15 am

Hi PWS,

I've wrestled with the passage quite a bit myself. Here are some observations in response to your questions.

PWS wrote:Can I assume that "the rest of the dead" are in contrast to those mentioned in verse 4? That is, unbelievers?

That would be my conclusion as well.

PWS wrote:If so, then since they did not come to life until the thousand years were completed, I assume that this "resurrection" would be simply a physical one, not a spiritual one, experienced at Christ's second coming--that is, a resurrection of the unjust.

This is certainly one way of looking at it. However, this "life" the dead are given after the 1,000 years appears to be the same type of "life" the faithful believers experienced in v. 4. The latter appears to have been spiritual according to the "souls" of v. 4 and that it is presented in opposition to the spiritual 2nd death v. 6. It would seem then that the "life" given to the dead unbelievers after the 1,000 years was also spiritual.

PWS wrote:So, as unbelievers, they would have no part in the "first resurrection"--contrast with verse 6.

That is correct. I realize, that seems to contradict my statements above that the "life" given to both the faithful before the 1,000 years and the "life" given to the unbelievers after the 1,000 years are one and the same type of life. That is, spiritual life. I can explore how this is possible in more detail if you'd be interested.

PWS wrote:What is really confusing is the last sentence of verse 5: "This is the first resurrection." It doesn't seem correct that "this" is in reference to "the rest of the dead." Does "this", then, refer to those in verse 4? Those who have been transformed from death to life upon embracing Christ and who continue to "live on" in heaven as souls?


I believe so. The NIV version shows the first sentence of verse 5 in parentheses. That is, the dead who came to "life" after the 1,000 years were unbelievers.
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Re: Revelation 20:5 Confusion

Postby willowtree » Sun Apr 16, 2017 11:17 pm

PWS wrote:I'm approaching this from the millennial standpoint. Can I assume that "the rest of the dead" are in contrast to those mentioned in verse 4? That is, unbelievers?


I agree that the "rest of the dead" are in contrast to those mentioned in verse 4. That, I believe is fairly self-evident. What I have trouble with, is the assumption/conclusion(?) that the rest of the dead are all unbelievers. This would mean that the first group, identified quite specifically as 'those who had been 'beheaded for 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', would have to be widened in scope to include many others who had not necessarily faced anything like the trauma that identifies this group.

Let us suppose, for the purposes of this discussion, that believers may be classified in two separate groups. In the first group are those which are described in v 4. The single characteristic of this group is that they were involved in a situation where they were either forced to renounce their commitment to Christ or they would be put to death. They did not die natural deaths, nor were they allowed to live out their lives towards spiritual growth and maturity. Satan, who had forced this situation of judgement, and had put unbelievable pressure on these Christians to deny their faith, had failed to do so, and thereby had lost any future cause to argue his case against them. John says of them that the second death has no power over them.

The second class of believers are faithful followers of Christ, have lived through trying circumstances and persecution, but never to the point of dying for Christ. Their lives were not terminated in martyrdom, but in the natural course of maturity, accident or old age. They died in faith, expecting and looking forward to meeting Christ and being with him forever. This class of believers are not part of v4 but belong with the rest of the dead in v5. , the rest were not conscious of the passing of time and were awaiting the resurrection and judgement.

Looking back through the book of the Revelation, we can see a number of references to the first group. They are first identified in the 5th seal (Rev 6:9-11 "souls... slain... white robes... more to be killed... judgement and avengement of our blood on those who dwell on the earth). In 7:13ff they are identified to John according to similar characteristics as in 20:4. The same is found in 12:11. In Rev 14 the 144,000 are mentioned as/or along with first fruits. Notice the similarities between first fruits and this group - both are picked early from the crop or flock, neither get to live out their natural lives, both are represented before God as sacrifices of worship. Both heaven and earth are blessed by their testimony and witness. In chapter 19, the armies of heaven return to earth, clothed in robes of fine linen (which are described for us by John as the righteous acts of the saints). Here they are able to witness the judgement they asked for in chapter 6. In these references they are presented as being in heaven, but not native to it. They are souls, wrapped in robes, not yet resurrected. In chapter 20 John recounts the events of their lives and how it all comes together.

Here is the sequence of events as I see them in chapter 20. The millennium begins at Christ's resurrection or not later than Stephen's martyrdom. It continues through to Christ's return at the end of this world. The thousand year length is given to cover this period. Peter explains this to his readers in his epistle. Some will have arrived early (e.g. Stephen), some will come in very late. The 'souls' (not bodies) of the first group come to life (not resurrected) and are transported to heaven to live and reign. They live and reign with Christ 1000 years ( v4). By way of note, the rest of the dead did not live again until the 1000 years were ended. v5 - that is, while the millennial reigners, at the same time, were alive and conscious.

John comments in v 6 that those who take part in the first resurrection are blessed. While no second resurrection is identified, it will be clear under these suppositions that the resurrection has both a beginning and continuing phase as well as the final culmination of events when the millennial reigners, now returned to earth (1 Thes 4:14), the believing rest of the dead (1 Thes 4:16) along with the unbelieving rest of the dead, together with those alive and remaining at the end of time (1 Thes 4:17) will all be together to be resurrected at the same time.

In the Biblehub.com under Rev 20:5, Matthew Poole's commentary notes allow for the idea that the millennial reigners are a restricted group, but does not find in scripture other references that give it support. Here are some other comments, that to me, give the idea some substance.

I believe the writer to the Hebrews references a select group in chapter 11 (heroes of the faith) and chapter 12, a great cloud of witnesses. Heb 11:35 talks about their refusal to deny their Lord in order to attain to a 'better' resurrection.

Paul states in his epistle to the Philippians that he wants, somehow to attain to a resurrection (out) of the dead. He is the one who tells us that everyone is going to experience a resurrection, so what is he looking to attain to?, if not one that is out of the ordinary.

Of all the people that may be considered qualified to reign with Christ in heaven, I would consider that martyrs would be near the top of the list.

Under this study, the millennium takes a much lesser significance. In many views the millennium accounts for 1/7 of humankind's earthly existence, and all manner of scriptures are dragged towards it to give it substance and structure. But, seen as for a select group, who cannot, or should not, or do not pursue it, lest it become a pursuit of pride, it can hardly be emphasized as a goal to reach for, or as a sign that one is more spiritual than another. The final determination of qualification for this position comes from Christ himself. John 5:21 may apply here. So one would not expect the writers of the New Testament to promote it. Yet in its understanding, it would have brought tremendous blessing to those who faced its reality. From what I read in the Bible, its rather minor place in our redemptive journey is not and should not be over-emphasized.

My own journey. The denomination I belong to are fence-sitters when it comes to eschatology, allowing the basics of the imminent and certain return of Jesus Christ, of judgement and eternal destiny. I have not been exposed to any die-hards, or have stayed away from those who were. I have favored an a-millennial view point as being most biblical and reasonable, and have read a number of books discussing various viewpoints. I do not use the a-millennial label lest I find myself aligning myself with baggage I do not favor. A few years ago, I read the advice of a pastor who advised that we should read the Bible as a little child. So I sat down one day to read Revelation 20 as I thought a child would read it. It was in this session, putting aside the few notions I had, and seeking to extract from the Bible what John was really saying, that I began to explore the above mentioned ideas.

I hope there is something in all this that may help you in your pursuit.

Graeme
God, who is Rich in mercy, made us Alive with Christ, Even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by GRACE you have been saved. Eph 2:4.
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Re: Revelation 20:5 Confusion

Postby dwilkins » Mon Apr 17, 2017 1:34 pm

Here's the problem: Those who reign for 1,000 years are those who were resurrected after having been killed for refusing to take the mark of the Beast. But, that mark isn't applied until the final 3.5 years before the climax of the battle of Armageddon, or the judgment of the Beast. So, the 1,000 reign could not have started in approximately 30AD (as the Amil position requires) because the mark wasn't being required at that time.

The source of the problem is trying to posit the "first resurrection" as 1,000 years (metaphorically or otherwise) before the "second resurrection" (AKA the General Resurrection). This only happens because of Rev. 20:5a's influence over the topic. If you take it out there is no indication that there is a second resurrection 1,000 years later that has to be shoehorned into eschatology. In fact, numerous scholars (including Wright in "Resurrection and the Son of God" and "Revelation for Everyone") point out that there is no place in Jewish or Christian history before compilation of the New Testament for two resurrections separated by a large time gap. There is only one eschatologically expected resurrection.

If you compare Rev. 20 with Daniel 7 you will see that Rev. 20:4-6, 11-15 is seen as a single scene anchored on the judgment the Beast. The Beast is said to overcome the saints, but judgment is made for the saints and then they reign forever with Christ. This matches Rev. 22:5 as well.

Doug
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Re: Revelation 20:5 Confusion

Postby TruthInLove » Tue Apr 18, 2017 12:33 pm

Hi Doug,

I've actually just finished reading your book "Making Sense of the Millennium". I recently purchased it from Amazon. I appreciate the research and work you invested in writing it.

In this book, you make some excellent points with respect to the topic of this thread. I found your discussion of the eternal duration of the kingdom and the distinction between Satan's 1,000 year detention and the 1,000 reign of the saints very interesting. This book was very helpful in understanding your position. I do have some difficulties with some of the case you presented though. Perhaps you could respond to a few of these points.

Regarding the doubts raised relating to the authenticity of Revelation 20:5a, I'm not an expert but from what I understand the earliest and most reliable manuscripts do include this sentence. But even if we grant that 20:5a is a variant not in John's original text, in the text following it, which I don't think you would dispute as being authentic, I think John's use of a qualifier (i.e. "proto") to describe the resurrection of the saints is very important. The function of this qualifier serves is to make this resurrection somehow distinct from some other resurrection. Whether we understand "proto" to mean "first" in a sequence or "superior" in quality (I think you would lean towards the latter), it seems that the resurrection of the saints is being contrasted with some other resurrection. The implication being that there is somehow more than one.

On pages 74-75, you state that your primary reasons for doubting that the resurrection of the saints started earlier than 70 A.D. relate to the parallels between the 4th beast of Daniel 7 and the beast of Revelation. While I'm sure most would agree with you that these beasts are one and the same, I and others like John Goldingay, Robert Gurney, Hank Hanegraaff and several others would argue that they are completely different entities. I think an excellent case can be made that the 4th beast of Daniel 7 is the Greek empire and the Seleucid dynasty. The beast of Revelation would then have to be some other entity. The evidence I've studied seems to favor Rome. I do appreciate your recommendation in another thread recently regarding the work of Adam Maarschalk of Pursuing Truth who suggests that the beast of Revelation may have been the Zealot movement. This is an intriguing idea which he's still developing on his blog and I've started following his posts. In any case, despite the superficial similarities between these beasts and the events surrounding them, I personally don't think Daniel 7 helps much in the way of interpreting the duration of the Millennium of Revelation 20 or the timing of the resurrection of the saints relative to the distributuion of the mark of the beast.

Finally, given the difficulties you see with the resurrection of the saints starting before 70 A.D., how do you then understand to statement of Jesus to the thief on the cross that he would be with Him in paradise that very day?

Just thoughts I wanted to raise for discussion. Not trying to be antagonistic. :)

Thanks in advance,
Carmine
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Re: Revelation 20:5 Confusion

Postby dwilkins » Thu Apr 20, 2017 3:16 am

1. Regarding the history of various manuscripts, below is a link to an article that focuses specifically on the textual history. Essentially, about 1/2 of the manuscripts available chose to include/exclude Rev. 20:5a until about the 13th Century. After that those that included it gained ground steadily. To say that the variant should be left out should definitely not be a radical proposition.

And, I'd point out that leaving it out should not make it difficult to prove the paradigm of the pro-20:5a position. The reason is that the rest of scripture should obviously support that position. But, it doesn't. There is no obvious proof text for two resurrections separated by 1,000 years outside of this variant.

http://www.heraldmag.org/2009/09so_6.htm

2. Regarding "protos", I have no problem saying that there are two classes of people resurrected, or even that there are two different clumps of them resurrected in a short cluster of events. The use of two reapings in scripture allow for this. But, they happen in order to populate the same narrative moment of judgment. They aren't see as being separated by 1,000 years (metaphorically or otherwise). The language of Daniel 12 is a good example of this:

Dan 12:2  And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 
Dan 12:3  And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. 

Clearly there is a greater and lesser resurrection seen happening at about the same moment, though it doesn't have to be literally simultaneously.

3. Regarding the fourth beast, I recognize that a number of credible scholars see it as a Greek character. But, a number see it as a Roman one (or at least one in the Roman era). I think on the whole the passages dovetails very cleanly with the character being Roman. I think the parallels between Revelation 20 and Daniel 7 are obvious. And, I've never seen a convincing attempt to make sense of the parallels between Revelation 20 and Daniel 7 with the fourth beast as anything other than a Roman era character.

4. Regarding the thief on the cross, I'm not sure exactly how to take that. I've seen commentators who point out that the common English grammar of the sentence is too presumptive. They'd argue that instead of:

Luk 23:43  And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” 

it should be:

Luk 23:43  And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you today, you will be with me in paradise.” 

I don't have enough skill in Greek to know if the placement of the comma in English is more valid one way or another. If this school is right it's possible that the phase is only meant to guarantee the reality of the promise, but not necessarily the timing. I don't pitch this answer too strongly, though, because it seems a bit too clever.

The real issue would be when those in paradise (assuming that's the positive compartment of the Hadean realm) are released to heaven, and whether or not that this is the same thing as the resurrection. I tend to think that they are released at the resurrection of Christ (or very shortly thereafter). If so, it's important to know if that's the eschatological resurrection. I doubt it is because in Revelation 6 and elsewhere you have good guys in the court of heaven observing heavenly activity, though they aren't said to be resurrected and seated on thrones, much less on a throne next to God himself. I tend to lean towards the thief being in the company of Christ for three days, then joining the multitude in the outer court until the resurrection and seating on thrones in 70AD.

Doug
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Re: Revelation 20:5 Confusion

Postby psimmond » Thu Apr 20, 2017 8:56 pm

I'm an amillennialist but I thought I'd throw out my opinion on what Jesus said to the thief on the cross. I believe his reference to being with him in paradise simply meant they would both dies that day and be counted among the righteous, i.e. Abraham's bosom. I believe paradise has less to do with location and more to do with one's position with God. The righteous in paradise (Abraham's bosom) will be resurrected prior to the final judgment to live on the new earth. (Of course Jesus was resurrected early as the first fruits.)
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Re: Revelation 20:5 Confusion

Postby Paidion » Sat Apr 22, 2017 1:19 pm

dwilkins wrote:1. Regarding the history of various manuscripts, below is a link to an article that focuses specifically on the textual history. Essentially, about 1/2 of the manuscripts available chose to include/exclude Rev. 20:5a until about the 13th Century. After that those that included it gained ground steadily. To say that the variant should be left out should definitely not be a radical proposition.


This post is informational only:

Doug, the number of manuscripts that include or exclude particular words may not be very significant since, when words have been added to a manuscript, they are often copied by copyists hundreds of times, and thus become existent in hundreds of manuscripts thereafter.

No manuscript prior to 300 A.D. contains any part of Revelation beyond chapter 17 verse 2.

As for the three big uncials:
Early 4th century Codex Vaticanus contains no part of Revelation.
Mid 4th century Codex Sinaiticus does not contain verse 5 of Revelation 20.
Early 5th century Codex Alexandrinus contains verse 5 in its entirety.
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