Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Revelation 20:6

Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.
New American Standard Version

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Nave's Topical Bible - Church;   Jesus Continued;   Millennium;   Priest;   Resurrection;   Righteous;   Vision;   Scofield Reference Index - Death;   Thompson Chain Reference - Priesthood;   The Topic Concordance - Blessings;   Death;   Government;   Holiness;   Priests;   Resurrection;   Suffering;   Worship;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Blessed, the;   Death, Eternal;   Resurrection, the;   Second Coming of Christ, the;  
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Death;   Millennium;   Resurrection;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Beatitudes;   Blessing;   Christians, Names of;   Death, Mortality;   Heaven, Heavens, Heavenlies;   Resurrection;   Second Coming of Christ;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Croisade, or Crusade;   Hell;   Millennium;   CARM Theological Dictionary - Amillennialism;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Millennium;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Araunah;   Canticles;   ;   Headdress;   Korah;   Priest;   Revelation of John, the;   Thousand Years;   Tire;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Blessing and Cursing;   Eschatology;   Millennium;   Revelation, the Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Chiliasm;   Millennium;   Parousia;   Priest;   Revelation, Book of;   Time;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Ascension of Isaiah;   Blessedness;   Church Government;   Day of Judgment;   Destruction;   Elect, Election ;   Heaven;   Hymenaeus;   Judgment Damnation;   Life and Death;   New Jerusalem;   Priest;   Resurrection;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Dispensation,;   Millennium;   Prophets, the;   Resurrection;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Fire;   Gog;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Priest;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Bread;   Millenarians;  
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Authority in Religion;   Death;   Hades;   Lake of Fire;   Print;   Reign;   Revelation of John:;   Satan;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Resurrection;  
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Adam Clarke Commentary

Blessed - Μακαριος· Happy. And holy; he was holy, and therefore he suffered for the testimony of Jesus in the time when nothing but holiness was called to such a trial.

The first resurrection - Supposed to be that of the martyrs, mentioned above.

The second death - Punishment in the eternal world; such is the acceptation of the phrase among the ancient Jews.

Hath no power - Ουκ εχει εξουσιαν· Hath no authority - no dominion over him. This is also a rabbinical mode of speech. In Erubin, fol. 19, 1; Chagiga, fol. 27, 1: "Res Lakish said, The fire of hell hath no power over an Israelite who sins. Rab. Elieser says; The fire of hell hath no power over the disciples of the wise men."

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These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Revelation 20:6". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Blessed - That is, his condition is to be regarded as a happy or a favored one. This is designed apparently to support and encourage those who, in the time of John, suffered persecution, or who might suffer persecution afterward.

And holy - That is, no one will be thus honored who has not an established character for holiness. Holy principles will then reign, and none will be exalted to that honor who have not a character for eminent sanctity.

That hath part in the first resurrection - That participated in it; that is, who is associated with those who are thus raised up.

On such the second death hath no power - The “second death” is properly the death which the wicked will experience in the world of woe. See Revelation 20:14. The meaning here is, that all who are here referred to as having part in the first resurrection will be secure against that. It will be one of the blessed privileges of heaven that there will be absolute security against death in any and every form; and when we think of what death is here, and still more when we think of “the bitter pains of the second death,” we may well call that state “blessed” in which there will be eternal exemption from either.

But they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him - notes at Revelation 1:6; Revelation 5:10.

Section b. - Condition of the world in the period referred to in Revelation 20:4-6.

I. It is well known that this passage is the principal one which is relied on by those who advocate the doctrine of the literal reign of Christ on the earth for a thousand years, or who hold what are called the doctrines of the “second advent.” The points which are maintained by those who advocate these views are substantially:

(a)that at that period Christ will descend from heaven to reign personally upon the earth;

(b)that he will have a central place of power and authority, probably Jerusalem;

(c)that the righteous dead will then be raised, in such bodies as are to be immortal;

(d)that they will be his attendants, and will participate with him in the government of the world;

(e)that this will continue during the period of a thousand years;

(f)that the world will be subdued and converted during this period, not by moral means, but by “a new dispensation” - by the power of the Son of God; and,

(g)that at the close of this period all the remaining dead will be raised, the judgment will take place, and the affairs of the earth will be consummated.

The opinion here adverted to was held substantially by Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, and others among the Christian fathers, and, it need not be said, is held by many modern expositors of the Bible, and by large numbers of Christian ministers of high standing, and other Christians. See the “Literalist, passim.” The opinion of the Christian fathers, with which the modern “literalists,” as they are called, substantially coincide, is thus stated by Mr. Elliott: “This resurrection is to be literally that of departed saints and martyrs, then at length resuscitated in the body from death and the grave; its time to synchronize with, or follow instantly after, the destruction of the beast antichrist, on Christ‘s personal second advent; the “binding” of Satan to be an absolute restriction of the power of hell from tempting, deceiving, or injuring mankind, throughout a literal period of a thousand years, thence calculated; the “government of the earth” during its continuance to be administered by Christ and the risen saints - the latter being now ἰσάγγελοι isangeloi- in nature like angels; and under it, all false religion having been put down, the Jews and saved remnant of the Gentiles been converted to Christ, the earth renovated by the fire of antichrist‘s destruction, and Jerusalem made the universal capital, there will be a realization on earth of the blessedness depicted in the Old Testament prophecies, as well as perhaps of that too which is associated with the New Jerusalem in the visions of the Apocalypse - until at length this millennium having ended, and Satan gone forth to deceive the nations, the final consummation will follow; the new-raised enemies of the saints, Gog and Magog, be destroyed by fire from heaven: and then the general resurrection and judgment take place, the devil and his servants be cast into the lake of fire, and the millennial reign of the saints extend itself into one of eternal duration” (Elliott on the Apocalypse, iv. 177,178).

Mr. Elliott‘s own opinion, representing, it is supposed, that of the great body of the “literalists,” is thus expressed: “It would seem, therefore, that in this state of things and of feeling in professing Christendom (a feeling of carnal security), all suddenly, and unexpectedly, and conspicuous over the world as the lightning that shineth from the east even unto the west, the second advent and appearing of Christ will take place; that at the accompanying voice of the archangel and trump of God, the departed saints of either dispensation will rise from their graves to meet him - alike patriarchs, and prophets, and apostles, and martyrs, and confessors - all at once and in the twinkling of an eye; and then instantly the saints living at the time will be also caught up to meet him in the air; these latter being separated out of the ungodly nations, as when a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats, and all, both dead and living saints, changed at the moment from corruption to incorruption, from dishonor to glory, though with very different degrees of glory; and so in a new angelic nature, to take part in the judging and ruling in this world.

Meanwhile, with a tremendous earthquake accompanying, of violence unknown since the revolutions of primeval chaos, an earthquake under which the Roman world at least is to rock to and fro like a drunken man, the solid crust of this earth shall be broken, and fountains burst forth from its inner deep, not as once of water, but of liquid fire; and that the flames shall consume the antichrist and his confederate kings, while the sword also does its work of slaughter; the risen saints being perhaps the attendants of the Lord‘s glory in this destruction of antichrist, and assessors in his judgment on a guilty world. And then immediately the renovation of this our earth is to take place, its soil being purified by the very action of the fire, and the Spirit poured out from on high, to renew, in a yet better sense, the moral face of nature; the Shekinah, or personal glory of Christ amidst his saints, being manifested chiefly in the Holy Land and at Jerusalem, but the whole earth partaking of the blessedness; and thus the regeneration of all things, and the world‘s redemption from the curse, having their accomplishment, according to the promise, at the manifestation of the sons of God,” 4:224-231.

To this account of the prevailing opinion of the “literalists” in interpreting the passage before us, there should be added that of Prof. Stuart, who, in general, is as far as possible from sympathizing with this class of writers. He says, in his explanation of the expression “they lived,” in Revelation 20:4, “There would seem to remain, therefore, only one meaning which can be consistently given to ἔζησαν ezēsan(they lived); namely, that they (the martyrs who renounced the beast) are now “restored to life,” namely, such life as implies the vivification of the body. Not to a union of the soul with a gross material body indeed, but with such an one as the saints in general will have at the final resurrection - a spiritual body, 1 Corinthians 15:44. In no other way can this resurrection be ranked as “correlate” with the second resurrection named in the sequel,” vol. ii. p. 360. So again, Excursus vi. (vol. ii. p. 476), he says, “I do not see how we can, on the ground of exegesis, fairly avoid the conclusion that John has taught in the passage before us, that there will be a resurrection of the martyr-saints, at the commencement of the period after Satan shall have been shut up in the dungeon of the great abyss.” This opinion he defends at length, pp. 476-490. Prof. Stuart, indeed, maintains that the martyrs thus raised up will be taken to heaven and reign with Christ “there,” and opposes the whole doctrine of the literal reign on the earth, vol. ii. p. 480. The risen saints and martyrs are to be “enthroned with Christ; that is, they are to be where he dwells, and where he will continue to dwell, until he shall make his descent at the final judgment day.”

II. In regard to these views, as expressive of the meaning of the passage under consideration, I would make the following remarks:

(1) There is strong “presumptive” evidence against this interpretation, and especially against the main point in the doctrine, that there will be a literal “resurrection” of the bodies of the saints at the beginning of that millennial period, to live and reign with Christ on earth, from the following circumstances:

(a) It is admitted, on all hands, that this doctrine, if contained in the Scriptures at all, is found in this one passage only. It is not pretended that there is, in any other place, a direct affirmation that this will literally occur, nor would the advocates for that opinion undertake to show that it is fairly implied in any other part of the Bible. But it is strange, not to say improbable, that the doctrine of the literal resurrection of the righteous, a thousand years before the wicked, should be announced in one passage only. If it were so announced in plain and unambiguous language, I admit that the believer in the divine origin of the Scriptures would be bound to receive it; but this is so contrary to the usual method of the Scriptures on all great and important doctrines, that this circumstance should lead us at least to doubt whether the passage is correctly interpreted. The resurrection of the dead is a subject on which the Saviour often dwelt in his instructions; it is a subject which the apostles discussed very frequently and at great length in their preaching, and in their writings; it is presented by them in a great variety of forms, for the consolation of Christians in time of trouble, and with reference to the condition of the world at the winding up of human affairs; and it is strange that, in respect to so important a doctrine as this, if it be true, there is not elsewhere, in the New Testament, a hint, an intheation, an allusion, that would lead us to suppose that the righteous are to be raised in this manner.

(b) If this is a true doctrine, it would be reasonable to expect that a clear and unambiguous statement of it would be made. Certainly, if there is but one statement on the subject, that might be expected to be a perfectly clear one, it would be a statement about which there could be no diversity of opinion, concerning which those who embraced it might be expected to hold the same views. But it cannot be pretended that this is so in regard to this passage. It occurs in the book which, of all the books in the Bible, is most distinguished for figures and symbols; it cannot be maintained that it is “directly and clearly” affirmed; and it is not so taught that there is any uniformity of view among those who profess to hold it. In nothing has there been greater diversity among people than in the opinions of those who profess to hold the “literal” views respecting the personal reign of Christ on the earth. But this fact assuredly affords “presumptive” evidence that the doctrine of the literal resurrection of the saints a thousand years before the rest of the dead, is not intended to be taught.

(c) It is presumptive proof against this, that nothing is said of the employment of those who are raised up; of the reason why they are raised; of the new circumstances of their being; and of their condition when the thousand years shall have ended. In so important a matter as this, we can hardly suppose that the whole subject would be left to a single hint in a symbolical representation, depending on the doubtful meaning of a single word, and with nothing to enable us to determine, with absolute certainty, that this must be the meaning.

(d) If it be meant that this is a description of the resurrection of the “righteous” as such - embracing all the righteous - then it is wholly unlike all the other descriptions of the resurrection of the righteous that we have in the Bible. Here the account is confined to “those that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus,” and to “those who had not worshipped the beast.” If the righteous, as such, are here referred to, why are these particular classes specified? Why are not the usual general terms employed? Why is the account of the resurrection confined to these? Elsewhere in the Scriptures, the account of the resurrection is given in the most “general” terms (compare Matthew 25:41; John 4:54; John 5:28-29; Revelation 2:7; 1 Corinthians 15:23; Philippians 3:20-21; 2 Thessalonians 1:10; Hebrews 9:28; 1 John 2:28-29; 1 John 3:2); and if this had been the designed reference here, it is inconceivable why the statement should be limited to the martyrs, and to those who have evinced great fidelity in the midst of temptations and allurements to apostasy. These circumstances furnish strong “presumptive” proofs, at least, against the doctrine that there is to be a literal resurrection of all the saints at the beginning of the millennial period. Compare “Christ‘s Second Coming,” by David Brown, p. 219ff.

(2) In reference to many of the views necessarily implied in the doctrine of the “second advent,” and avowed by those who hold that doctrine, it cannot be pretended that they receive any countenance or support from this passage. In the language of Prof. Stuart (Com. vol. ii. p. 479), there is “not a word of Christ‘s descent to the earth at the beginning of the millennium. Nothing of the literal assembling of the Jews in Palestine; nothing of the Messiah‘s temporal reign on earth; nothing of the overflowing abundance of worldly peace and plenty.” Indeed, in all this passage, there is not the remotest hint of the grandeur and magnificence of the reign of Christ as a literal king upon the earth; nothing of his having a splendid capital at Jerusalem, or anywhere else; nothing of a new dispensation of a miraculous kind; nothing of the renovation of the earth to fit it for the abode of the risen saints. All this is the mere work of fancy, and no man can pretend that it is to be found in this passage.

(3) nor is there anything here of a literal resurrection of the “bodies” of the dead, as Prof. Stuart himself supposes. It is not a little remarkable that a scholar so accurate as Prof. Stuart is, and one, too, who has so little sympathy with the doctrines connected with a literal reign of Christ on the earth, should have lent the sanction of his name to perhaps the most objectionable of all the dogmas connected with that view - the opinion that the “bodies” of the saints will be raised up at the beginning of the millennial period. Of this there is not one word, one intimation, one hint, in the passage before us. John says expressly, “and as if to guard the point from all possible danger of this construction,” that he “saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus”; he saw them “living” and “reigning” with Christ - raised to the exalted honor during that period, as if they had been raised from the dead; but he nowhere mentions or intimates that they were raised up from their graves; that they were clothed with bodies; that they had their residence now literally on the earth; or that they were, in any way, otherwise than disembodied spirits. There is not even one word of their having “a spiritual body.”

(4) there are “positive” arguments, which are perfectly decisive, against the interpretation which supposes that the bodies of the saints will be raised up at the beginning of the millennial period, to reign with Christ on the earth for a thousand years. Among these are the following:

(a) If the “first resurrection” means rising from the grave in immortal and glorified bodies, we do not need the assurance Revelation 20:6, that on such the second death hath no power”; that is, that they would not perish forever. That would be a matter of course, and there was no necessity for such a statement. But if it be supposed that the main idea is that the “principles” of the martyrs and of the most eminent saints would be revived and would live, as if the dead were raised up, and would be manifested by those who were in “mortal” bodies - people living on the earth - then there would be a propriety in saying that all such were exempt from the danger of the “second” death. “Once,” indeed, they would die; but the “second” death could not reach them. Compare Revelation 2:10-11.

(b) In the whole passage there are but two classes of people referred to. There are those “who have part in the first resurrection”; that is, according to the supposition, all the saints; and there are those over whom “the second death” has power. Into which of these classes are we to put the myriads of people having flesh and blood who are to people the world during the millennium? They have no part in “the first resurrection,” if it be a bodily one. Are they then given over to the power of the “second death?” But if the “first resurrection” be regarded as figurative and spiritual, then the statement that those who are actuated by the spirit of the martyrs and of the eminent saints, shall not experience the “second death,” is seen to have meaning and pertinency.

(c) The mention of the “time” during which they are to reign, if it be literally understood, is contrary to the whole statement of the Bible in other places. They are to “live and reign with Christ” “a thousand years.” What, then? Are they to live no longer? Are they to reign no longer with him? This supposition is entirely contrary to the current statement in the Scriptures, which is, that they are to live and reign with him forever: 1 Thessalonians 4:17, “And so shall we ever be with the Lord.” According to the views of the “literalists,” the declaration that they “should live and reign with Christ,” considered as the characteristic features of the millennial state, is to terminate with the thousand years - for this is the promise, according to that view, that they should thus live and reign. But it need not be said that this is wholly contrary to the current doctrine of the Bible, that they are to live and reign with him forever.

(d) A further objection to this view is, that the wicked part of the world - “the rest of the dead who lived not again until the thousand years were finished” - must of course be expected to “live again” in the same bodily sense wheat those thousand years were finished. But, so far from this, there is no mention of their living then. When the thousand years are finished, Satan is loosed for a season; then the nations are roused to opposition against God; then there is a conflict, and the hostile forces are overthrown; and then comes the final judgment. During all this time we read of no resurrection at all. The period after this is to be filled up with something besides the resurrection of the “rest of the dead.” There is no intheation, as the “literal” construction, as it is claimed, would demand, that immediately after the “thousand years arc finished” the “rest of the dead” - the wicked dead - would be raised up; nor is there any intimation of such a resurrection until all the dead are raised up for the final trial, Revelation 20:12. But every consideration demands, if the interpretation of the “literalists” be correct, that the “rest of the dead” - the unconverted dead - should be raised up immediately after the close of the millennial period, and be raised up as a distinct and separate class.

(e) There is no intimation in the passage itself that the “righteous” will be raised up “as such” in this period, and the proper interpretation of the passage is contrary to that supposition. There are but two classes mentioned as having part in the first resurrection. They are those who were “beheaded for the witness of Jesus,” and those who “had not worshipped the beast” - that is, the martyrs, and those who had been eminent for their fidelity to the Saviour in times of great temptation and trial. There is no mention of the resurrection of the righteous as “such” - of the resurrection of the great body of the redeemed; and if it could be shown that this refers to a “literal” resurrection, it would be impossible to apply it, according to any just rules of interpretation, to anymore than the two classes that are specified. By what rules of interpretation is it made to to teach that “all” the righteous will be raised up on that occasion, and will live on the earth during that long period? In this view of the matter, the passage “does not” express the doctrine that the whole church ofi God will be raised bodily from the grave. And supposing it had been the design of the Spirit of God to teach this, is it credible, when there are so many clear expressions in regard to the resurrection of the dead, that so important a doctrine should have been reserved for one single passage so obscure, and where the great mass of the readers of the Bible in all ages have failed to perceive it? That is not the way in which, in the Scriptures, great and momentous doctrines are communicated to mankind.

(f) The fair statement in Revelation 20:11-15 is, that all the dead will then be raised up and be judged. This is implied in the general expressions there used - “the dead, small and great”; the “book of life was opened” - as if not opened before; “the dead” - all the dead - “were judged out of those things which were written in the books”; “the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and hell (hades) delivered up the dead which were in them.” This is entirely inconsistent with the supposition that a large part of the race to wit, all the righteous - had been before raised up; had passed the solemn judgment; had been clothed with their immortal bodies, and had been admitted to a joint reign with the Saviour on his throne. In the last judgment what place are they to occupy? In what sense are they to be raised up and judged? Would such a representation have been made as is found in Revelation 20:11-15, if it had been designed to teach that a large part of the race had been already raised up, and had received the approval of their judge?

(g) This representation is wholly inconsistent, not only with Revelation 20:11-15, but with the uniform language of the Scriptures, “that all the righteous and the wicked will be judged together, and both at the coming of Christ.” On no point are the statements of the Bible more uniform and explicit than on this, and it would seem that the declarations had been of design so made that there should be no possibility of mistake. I refer for full proof on this point to the following passages of the New Testament: Matthew 10:32-33, compared with Matthew 7:21-23; Matthew 13:30, Matthew 13:38-43; Matthew 16:24-27; Matthew 25:10,31-46; Mark 8:38; John 5:28-29; Acts 17:31; Romans 2:5-16; Romans 14:10, Romans 14:12; 1 Corinthians 3:12-15; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 2 Corinthians 5:9-11; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10; 1 Timothy 5:24-25; 2 Peter 3:7, 2 Peter 3:10, 2 Peter 3:12; 1 John 2:28; 1 John 4:17; Revelation 3:5; Revelation 20:11-15; Revelation 22:12-15. It is utterly “impossible” to explain these passages on any other supposition than that they are intended to teach that the righteous and the wicked will be judged together, and both at the coming of Christ. And if this is so, it is of course impossible to explain them consistently with the view that all the righteous will have been already raised up at the beginning of the millennium in their immortal and glorified bodies, and that they have been solemnly approved by the Saviour, and admitted to a participation in his glory. Nothing could be more irreconcilable than these two views; and it seems to me, therefore, that the objections to the literal resurrection of the saints at the beginning of the millennial period are insuperable.

III. The following points, then, according to the interpretation proposed, are implied in this statement respecting the “first resurrection,” and these will clearly comprise all that is stated on the subject:

(1) There will be a reviving, and a prevalence of the spirit which actuated the saints in the best days, and a restoration of their principles as the grand principles which will control and govern the church, as if the most eminent saints were raised again from the dead, and lived and acted upon the earth.

(2) their memory will then be sacredly cherished, and they will be honored on the earth with the honor which is due to theft names, and which they should have received when in the land of the living. They will be no longer cast out and reproached; no longer held up to obloquy and scorn; no longer despised and forgotten; but there will be a reviving of sacred regard for their principles, as if they lived on the earth, and had the honor which was due to them.

(3) there will be a state of things upon the earth as if they thus lived and were thus honored. Religion will no longer be trampled under foot, but will triumph. In all parts of the earth it will have the ascendency, as if the most eminent saints of past ages lived and reigned with the Son of God in his kingdom. A spiritual kingdom will be set up with the Son of God at the head of it, which will be a kingdom of eminent holiness, as if the saints of the best days of the church should come back to the earth and dwell upon it. The ruling influence in the world will be the religion of the Son of God, and the principles which have governed the most holy of his people.

(4) it may be implied that the saints and martyrs of other times will be employed by the Saviour in embassies of mercy; in visitations of grace to our world to carry forward the great work of salvation on earth. Nothing forbids the idea that the saints in heaven may be thus employed, and in this long period of a thousand years, it may be that they will be occupied in such messages and agencies of mercy to our world as they have never been before - as if they were raised from the dead, and were employed by the Redeemer to carry forward his purposes of mercy to mankind.

(5) in connection with these things, and in consequence of these things, they may be, during that period, exalted to higher happiness and honor in heaven. The restoration of their principles to the earth; the Christian remembrance of their virtues; the prevalence of those truths to establish which they laid down their lives, would in itself exalt them, and would increase their joy in heaven. All this would be well represented, in vision, by a resurrection of the dead; and admitting that this was all that was intended, the representation of John here would be in the highest degree appropriate. What could better symbolize it - and we must remember that this is a symbol - than to say that at the commencement of this period there was, as it were, a solemn preparation for a judgment, and that the departed dead seemed to stand there, and that a sentence was pronounced in their favor, and that they became associated with the Son of God in the honors of his kingdom, and that their principles were now to reign and triumph in the earth, and that the kingdom which they labored to establish would be set up for a thousand years, and that, in high purposes of mercy and benevolence during that period, they would be employed in maintaining and extending the principles of religion in the world? Admitting that the Holy Spirit intended to represent these things, and these only, no more appropriate symbolical language could have been used; none that would more accord with the general style of the Book of Revelation.

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These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Revelation 20:6". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection,.... This may be considered either as descriptive of the persons that shall partake of this privilege; as that they are only such who are blessed with spiritual blessings, with a justifying righteousness, with pardon of sin, and regenerating grace, and who are sanctified by the Spirit of God; these, and these only, will be first raised, and will be called to inherit the kingdom prepared for them, Matthew 25:34 or else as expressive of their happiness and holiness when raised; they shall be perfectly blessed in soul and body, and perfectly holy in both: they shall be "blessed", for

on such the second death hath no power; which is the lake of fire, Revelation 20:14 the sense is, they shall escape everlasting burnings, the fire of hell, the torment and misery of the wicked; they shall be delivered from wrath to come; and as their bodies will die no more, their souls will not be subject to any sense of wrath, or to any sort of punishment: and they will be "holy"; they will have no sin in them:

but they will be priests of God and of Christ; of God the Father, and of his Son Jesus Christ, being made so to the former by the latter, Revelation 1:6 or of God, even of Christ, that is, of God, who is Christ, since it follows:

and shall reign with him; they will be wholly devoted to and employed in the service of God and of Christ, and will be continually offering up the sacrifices of praise, or singing the song of the Lamb, adoring the grace and goodness of God and Christ unto them, shown them both in providence and in grace:

and shall reign with him a thousand years; this is mentioned again, partly to assert the certainty of it, and partly to point at the blessedness of the risen saints.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Revelation 20:6". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

Blessed and holy [is] he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the 12 second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, 13 and shall reign with him a thousand years.

(12) That by this both body and soul, that is, the whole man is condemned and delivered to eternal death; (Revelation 2:11).

(13) A return to the intended history, by resuming the words which are in the end of the fourth verse (Revelation 20:4).

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Bibliographical Information
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Revelation 20:6". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Blessed — (Compare Revelation 14:13; Revelation 19:9).

on such the second death hath no power — even as it has none on Christ now that He is risen.

priests of God — Apostate Christendom being destroyed, and the believing Church translated at Christ‘s coming, there will remain Israel and the heathen world, constituting the majority of men then alive, which, from not having come into close contact with the Gospel, have not incurred the guilt of rejecting it. These will be the subjects of a general conversion (Revelation 11:15). “The veil” shall be taken off Israel first, then from off “all people.” The glorious events attending Christ‘s appearing, the destruction of Antichrist, the transfiguration of the Church, and the binding of Satan, will prepare the nations for embracing the Gospel. As individual regeneration goes on now, so there shall be a “regeneration” of nations then. Israel, as a nation, shall be “born at once - in one day.” As the Church began at Christ‘s ascension, so the kingdom shall begin at His second advent. This is the humiliation of the modern civilized nations, that nations which they despise most, Jews and uncivilized barbarians, the negro descendants of Ham who from the curse of Noah have been so backward, Cush and Sheba, shall supplant and surpass them as centers of the world‘s history (compare Deuteronomy 32:21; Romans 10:19; Romans 11:20, etc.). The Jews are our teachers even in New Testament times. Since their rejection revelation has been silent. The whole Bible, even the New Testament, is written by Jews. If revelation is to recommence in the millennial kingdom, converted Israel must stand at the head of humanity. In a religious point of view, Jews and Gentiles stand on an equal footing as both alike needing mercy; but as regards God‘s instrumentalities for bringing about His kingdom on earth, Israel is His chosen people for executing His plans. The Israelite priest-kings on earth are what the transfigured priest-kings are in heaven. There shall be a blessed chain of giving and receiving - God, Christ, the transfigured Bride the Church, Israel, the world of nations. A new time of revelation will begin by the outpouring of the fullness of the Spirit. Ezekiel (the fortieth through forty-eighth chapters), himself son of a priest, sets forth the priestly character of Israel; Daniel the statesman, its kingly character; Jeremiah (Jeremiah 33:17-21), both its priestly and kingly character. In the Old Testament the whole Jewish national life was religious only in an external legal manner. The New Testament Church insists on inward renewal, but leaves its outward manifestations free. But in the millennial kingdom, all spheres of life shall be truly Christianized from within outwardly. The Mosaic ceremonial law corresponds to Israel‘s priestly office; the civil law to its kingly office: the Gentile Church adopts the moral law, and exercises the prophetic office by the word working inwardly. But when the royal and the priestly office shall be revived, then - the principles of the Epistle to the Hebrews remaining the same - also the ceremonial and civil law of Moses will develop its spiritual depths in the divine worship (compare Matthew 5:17-19). At present is the time of preaching; but then the time of the Liturgy of converted souls forming “the great congregation” shall come. Then shall our present defective governments give place to perfect governments in both Church and State. Whereas under the Old Testament the Jews exclusively, and in the New Testament the Gentiles exclusively, enjoy the revelation of salvation (in both cases humanity being divided and separated), in the millennium both Jews and Gentiles are united, and the whole organism of mankind under the first-born brother, Israel, walks in the light of God, and the full life of humanity is at last realized. Scripture does not view the human race as an aggregate of individuals and nationalities, but as an organic whole, laid down once for all in the first pages of revelation. (Genesis 9:25-27; Genesis 10:1, Genesis 10:5, Genesis 10:18, Genesis 10:25, Genesis 10:32; Deuteronomy 32:8 recognizes the fact that from the first the division of the nations was made with a relation to Israel). Hence arises the importance of the Old Testament to the Church now as ever. Three grand groups of nations, Hamites, Japhetites, and Shemites, correspond respectively to the three fundamental elements in man - body, soul, and spirit. The flower of Shem, the representative of spiritual life, is Israel, even as the flower of Israel is He in whom all mankind is summed up, the second Adam (Genesis 12:1-3). Thus Israel is the mediator of divine revelations for all times. Even nature and the animal world will share in the millennial blessedness. As sin loses its power, decay and death will decrease [Auberlen]. Earthly and heavenly glories shall be united in the twofold election. Elect Israel in the flesh shall stand at the head of the earthly, the elect spiritual Church, the Bride, in the heavenly. These twofold elections are not merely for the good of the elect themselves, but for the good of those to whom they minister. The heavenly Church is elected not merely to salvation, but to rule in love, and minister blessings over the whole earth, as king-priests. The glory of the transfigured saints shall be felt by men in the flesh with the same consciousness of blessing as on the Mount of Transfiguration the three disciples experienced in witnessing the glory of Jesus, and of Moses and Elias, when Peter exclaimed, “It is good for us to be here”; in 2 Peter 1:16-18, the Transfiguration is regarded as the earnest of Christ‘s coming in glory. The privilege of “our high calling in Christ” is limited to the present time of Satan‘s reign; when he is bound, there will be no scope for suffering for, and so afterwards reigning with, Him (Revelation 3:21; compare Note, see on 1 Corinthians 6:2). Moreover, none can be saved in the present age and in the pale of the Christian Church who does not also reign with Christ hereafter, the necessary preliminary to which is suffering with Christ now. If we fail to lay hold of the crown, we lose all, “the gift of grace as well as the reward of service” [De Burgh].

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 20:6". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Blessed and holy (μακαριος και αγιοςmakarios kai hagios). A fifth beatitude (Revelation 1:3; Revelation 14:13; Revelation 16:15; Revelation 19:9) already and two more to come (Revelation 22:7, Revelation 22:14, seven in all). Here αγιοςhagios is added to the usual μακαριοςmakarios The second death (ο δευτερος τανατοςho deuteros thanatos). The spiritual death of Revelation 2:11; Revelation 20:14; Revelation 21:8 in contrast to the first or physical death. This language raises a question about the interpretation of the first and the second resurrections, whether both are of the body or one of the spirit. There seems no way to reach a solid conception about it. In 1 Corinthians 15:23 there is no mention of the resurrection of any save “those of Christ” (οι του Χριστουhoi tou Christou), though the end follows (1 Corinthians 15:24). However, Paul elsewhere (Acts 24:15) speaks of the resurrection of the just and of the unjust as if one event.

Priests of God and of Christ (ιερεις του τεου και του Χριστουhiereis tou theou kai tou Christou). As in Revelation 1:6; Revelation 5:10; Revelation 22:3, Revelation 22:5.

Shall reign with him (βασιλευσουσιν μετ αυτουbasileusousin met' autou). As promised in the same passages. The servants of God are to be priests with Christ and to reign with him (Matthew 19:28). In Revelation 5:10 επι της γηςepi tēs gēs (upon earth) occurs, but this item does not appear here. “No hint is given as to where this service is to be rendered and this royalty to be exercised” (Swete).

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Revelation 20:6". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

Hath part ( ἔχων μέρος )

A phrase peculiar to John as referring to a person. Compare John 13:8.

Second death

See on Revelation 2:11.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 20:6". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

They shall be priests of God and of Christ — Therefore Christ is God.

And shall reign with him — With Christ, a thousand years.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Revelation 20:6". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". 1765.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

Priests of God. The word priest is used in such a connection as this, simply to denote, in accordance with Jewish ideas, very honorable rank and station. It does not appear to be intended to convey to us any idea in respect to nature of the duties of that station.

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Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on Revelation 20:6". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". 1878.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

Ver. 6. Blessed and happy is he] The holy only have part in this resurrection, and are therefore happy, or out of harm’s way, as the word μακαριοι signifies.

The second death hath no power] For they are brought from the jaws of death to the joys of eternal life, where is mirth without mourning, riches without rust, &c.

But they shall be priests] {See Trapp on "Revelation 1:6"}

They shall reign] The righteous are kings, Matthew 13:17; cf. Luke 10:24; "Many righteous" is the same with "many kings." {See Trapp on "Revelation 20:4"}

A thousand years] These thousand years begin (saith Mr Brightman) where the former ended, that is, in the year 1300, whereby continuance thereof is promised for a thousand years forward, among some of the Gentiles; and how long it shall reign afterwards among the Jews, He only knows that knows all. The most interpreters by a thousand years here understand not any definite time, as Revelation 20:2; of this chapter, but an indefinite time, that is, for ever, as Psalms 84:10. This thousand years they take for eternity, and a further degree of glory for such as are called forth to suffer. See Ezekiel 37:1-14, Isaiah 26:19.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Revelation 20:6". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae



Revelation 20:6. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection.

RESPECTING the events spoken of in my text, and which are generally known under the name of the Millennium, commentators have been greatly divided. What has been spoken on the subject by wild enthusiasts, I shall pass over without notice: but the two leading opinions of pious and judicious men may fitly come under our review. Some have thought that there will really be a resurrection of saints and martyrs, who shall again live upon the earth a thousand years, and that the Lord Jesus Christ also will come down from heaven to reign over them during that period. Others conceive the resurrection to be altogether figurative, and that it imports no more, than that for the space of a thousand years there will arise a succession of holy men, resembling the saints and martyrs of former ages: and that the spiritual kingdom of Christ will for that period be established upon the face of the whole earth. I confess that, in my opinion, this latter sentiment is by far the more just and scriptural; and, feeling that persuasion, I will endeavour to shew you,

I. What we are to understand by the first resurrection—

The whole of the book of Revelation is confessedly mystical and figurative; and, if we interpret this passage in a literal sense, we make it essentially to differ from every other part. In confirmation of the view which I have of the first resurrection, as being not a literal, but only a mystical and figurative, resurrection, I would observe,

1. That the words do not by any means of necessity require to be taken in a literal sense—

[It is well known that a spiritual change is often spoken of in the Scriptures as a resurrection from the dead: we are said to be quickened when “dead in trespasses and sins;” and to have “passed thereby from death unto life [Note: Ephesians 2:1. 1 John 3:14.].” In several places, where the terms are quite as strong, or even stronger than those in the text, no one ever thought of putting a literal interpretation. When the Prophet Hosea says, “Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up: after two days will he revive us, in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight [Note: Hosea 6:1-2.];” every one understands him as speaking of a spiritual resurrection. The language used by the Prophet Ezekiel is yet more to our purpose. He represents the Jewish nation as not only dead, but as so long dead, that their very bones are scattered on the earth, and almost pulverized. And he speaks of their bones being re-united, each to its kindred bones, and the whole covered with flesh, and every body animated again by a living spirit which has entered into them, and restored them to life [Note: Ezekiel 37:1-10.]. But did ever any one understand him as speaking of a literal resurrection?

It may be said, that, in our text, particular persons are specified, even those who have died as martyrs in the cause of Christ, and that therefore the text must be literally applied to them. I answer, that it is not of them personally that the Apostle speaks, but of persons resembling them in mind and spirit; just as Elijah is said to have come to introduce the Messiah, because John the Baptist “came in the spirit and power of Elias [Note: Compare Malachi 4:5. with Matthew 11:14; Matthew 17:12 and Luke 1:17.].” And, if we make their resurrection personal, we must then regard the resurrection of the wicked also as personal, of whom it is said, that, “when the thousand years shall be finished, the rest of the dead will live again [Note: ver. 5.].” But did ever any one suppose that the wicked would rise to live on earth again? Yet, if the pious dead, who have been slain by the sword of martyrdom, are literally to rise and reign on earth a thousand years, the ungodly dead, who have been slain by the avenging sword of the Almighty, must literally, and in their own persons, rise at the expiration of that time [Note: The οἱ λοιποὶ in ver. 5. are the same persons with οἱ λοποὶ in Revelation 19:21; and they, beyond all doubt, are spoken of symbolically, as designating, not individual persons, but persons of their spirit and character. This shews that we must understand ver. 4. also, not in a literal, but in a symbolical sense, as designating persons who resemble the martyrs of old time. The same mode of explication must apply to both; if the one be taken literally, so must the other be. Both must be literal, or both symbolical. And this quite, as it appears to me, determines the point at issue.].

But shall any, whether the risen martyrs, or others resembling them, live, and reign “a thousand years?” No: there is no reason to think that their lives shall be protracted to any such length: but there shall be a succession of saints during that period: and as that succession will be uninterrupted through that whole time, they are said to live through that time; because, though they do not personally live, their piety does live, and is transmitted unimpaired through all the successive generations that shall arise. It is in this sense that the two witnesses who prophesy in sackcloth, are said to “prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore prophetic days, (or years) [Note: Revelation 11:3.].” It relates not to their persons, but to others rising in continued succession in their spirit, to bear the same testimony. Indeed of them also is it said, that “they were overcome by their enemies and killed; and that their death caused exceeding great joy; but that, after three days (years) and an half, to the utter dismay of their enemies, they rose and lived again [Note: Revelation 11:7; Revelation 11:10-11.].” But no one ever imagined, that this was fulfilled literally; every one understands this of a succession of prophets who arose to bear the same testimony as they had borne who had suffered martyrdom for their fidelity: and in the same manner must the resurrection of the saints also, and their reigning for a thousand years, be understood of a continued succession of eminently pious persons reigning with Christ over all the enemies of their salvation; whilst the ungodly shall have no successors till the expiration of that time.

In any other sense than this, it would be extremely difficult to make this passage agree with what is spoken of the resurrection in other parts of Scripture; for the resurrection is always represented as taking place all at once, except that the godly will rise first, before those who shall then be alive upon the earth shall be changed [Note: 1 Corinthians 15:51-53. 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17.]: but in the sense we have annexed to it, it accords exactly with the language of St. Paul, when he says, “If the casting away of the Jews be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead [Note: Romans 11:15.]?” If it be thought, that this similarity of metaphor will occasion confusion in the sense, let it be remembered, that our blessed Lord used the very same terms to express the conversion of souls to him now, and their rising again to judgment in the last day: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation [Note: John 5:25; John 5:28-29.].” Here our Lord distinguishes the two resurrections, both effected by his almighty power; the one upon the souls of men, and the other on their bodies: the one in order to their reigning with him on earth, (for “they are made kings and priests unto God;”) and the other, in order to their reigning with him in glory.

Thus the very terms themselves are best explained in reference to a spiritual resurrection; whilst, if taken in a literal sense, they would establish a doctrine not found in any other part of Holy Writ. To all of which I may add, that the text speaks only of their souls living, which is never once in all the Scriptures used to designate the resurrection of the body.

In confirmation of the foregoing statement, I proceed to observe,]

2. That the event which a literal sense of them would establish, is neither probable nor desirable—

[One cannot conceive that the saints in glory should be brought down from heaven, where their happiness is complete and without alloy, and be placed again in a situation where they must be encompassed with infirmities, and be subjected even to death itself; or that the Saviour should leave his bright abodes, to sojourn here again in a tabernacle of clay for the space of a thousand years. If indeed he had plainly declared such an event, we should most readily submit to his all-wise determinations, and should expect assuredly that he would ultimately be glorified by it: but, when there is no other passage of Scripture that sanctions such an idea; and all similar expressions have confessedly a spiritual import; and the spiritual or figurative sense accords with innumerable other declarations of Holy Writ; I cannot hesitate about the true interpretation of the words, or about the expectations which they teach me to form respecting the glory of the latter day.

In this view of the passage I am confirmed by the circumstances which will take place at the close of the Millennium: “Satan will then be loosed out of his prison, and will go forth to deceive the nations, and to gather them together to battle, the number of whom will be as the sand of the sea. And with these he will compass the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire will come down from God out of heaven to devour them [Note: ver. 7–9.].” Now all this I can understand, on the supposition that there be a succession of saints for a thousand years; because I can easily conceive that hypocrites and apostates may at last arise from among them, just as they did from among the immediate converts of the Apostles: but I cannot possibly conceive, either that Satan should so prevail over saints that are brought down from heaven, as to occasion them at last to be cut off by fire from heaven; or that, though preserved faithful to their God, they should ever be subjected to such assaults from men and devils. We are told expressly, that “the sun shall not light on them, nor any heat,” and that “they shall have no more sorrow, or crying, or pain:” and therefore I cannot but conclude, that they shall be with Christ in Paradise, till they shall come forth at the last day to be reunited to their bodies, and to possess both in body and soul the inheritance provided for them from the foundation of the world.]

With such a view of the first resurrection, we are prepared to contemplate,

II. The blessedness of those that shall have a part in it—

“Blessed and holy” will they all be; and that too in a pre-eminent degree above the saints of other ages:

1. Their views will be more enlarged—

[Our light far surpasses that of the prophets: insomuch that the least and meanest of the saints under the Christian dispensation excels in that respect even the Baptist himself, who was greater than all the prophets: and amongst ourselves, some have far deeper and richer views of divine truth than others. But in that day, the great mystery of redemption will be exhibited in far brighter colours than it has yet been. Not that any fresh revelation will be vouchsafed to men; for I conceive that the canon of Scripture is closed: but there will be a more abundant measure of the Spirit poured out upon them, revealing to them the Saviour, in all “the brightness of his glory,” and in “the incomprehensible wonders of his love:” “the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun seven-fold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the Lord bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound [Note: Isaiah 30:26.].”]

2. Their graces will be more vigorous—

[They will be “blessed and holy;” and blessed, because holy. This indeed will be a necessary consequence of the foregoing; for the more “any man beholds the Saviour’s glory, the more will he be changed into the same image, from glory to glory, by the Spirit of our God [Note: 2 Corinthians 3:18.].” The whole vineyard of the Lord will then be watered more abundantly; and such “showers of blessings” will be poured out upon it, that every plant in it will grow, and “be fruitful in all the fruits of righteousness, to the praise and glory of our God.” We may form some idea of their state from what is recorded of the saints on the day of Pentecost: what exalted piety did they manifest towards both God and man! So will it be also in that day: “for brass they will have gold, and for iron silver, and for wood brass, and for stones iron [Note: Isaiah 60:17.]:” and that prayer of the Apostle will in a more ample measure be answered to them; “The God of peace, that brought again from the dead the Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, will make them perfect in every good work, to do his will, working in them that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ [Note: Hebrews 13:20-21.].”]

3. Their consolations more abundant—

[As their communications from God will be increased, so will their fellowship with him be more intimate and abiding. Their communion with each other also will be most profitable and endearing. Wherever they turn their eyes, they will behold a brother, or a sister, a partaker of the same faith, an heir of the same glory. If even now the communion of the saints be so sweet, that it is almost a foretaste of heaven itself, what will it be in that day, when the loveliness of each, and the disposition of all to exercise the principle of love, will be so greatly augmented? And what will the ordinances be in that day? What, but “the very gate of heaven?” Methinks, the pentecostal outpouring of the Spirit will then be a daily occurrence; and the language of earth be like that of heaven, one continued effusion of praise and thanksgiving. The descriptions given of that period in the Scriptures are precisely similar to those which are given of heaven itself; because the state of the Church then will be an emblem, and an earnest of heaven. So happy will they be in their intercourse with God, that “the sun will be no more their light by day, neither for brightness will the moon give light unto them; but the Lord will be unto them an everlasting light, and their God their glory [Note: Compare Isaiah 60:19. with Revelation 21:23; Revelation 22:5.].”]

4. Their progress more easy—

[“Satan will then be bound, and sealed up in the bottomless pit, so that he can have no access to harass and deceive them [Note: ver. 2, 3.].” Now it is well known, that this subtle enemy presents more formidable obstacles in the Christian’s way than all other enemies together; as the Apostle says, “We wrestle not with flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, and spiritual wickedness in high places [Note: Ephesians 6:12.].” How rapid then will be the progress of those who have not this tide to stem, and at the same time are carried forward by breezes the most favourable that heaven can bestow, and amply sufficient to fill all their sails! To this subject we may well apply that beautiful description which the Prophet Amos has given of that period; “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that the ploughman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop wine, and all the hills shall melt [Note: Amos 9:13.]:” for in a spiritual, as well as temporal view, so fruitful shall be the seasons, that the blessings of heaven shall almost supersede the labours of cultivation. And all who are bending their course heavenward will fly with the celerity of “doves to their windows,” and without interruption, as the clouds of heaven [Note: Isaiah 60:8.].]

5. Their prospects more glorious—

[Breathing thus, as they will do, the atmosphere of heaven, they will be ever ready to take their flight, and to wing their way to their celestial abodes. From the top of Pisgah they will view their promised inheritance: and when the Lord Jesus says, “Behold, I come quickly,” the united cry of all will be, “Amen: even so, come Lord Jesus [Note: Revelation 22:7; Revelation 22:20.].” In a word, their whole spirit and deportment will evince the presence, and the reign, of Christ in all their souls.]


But may not this period be anticipated? May we not at least have the commencement of it amongst ourselves? Yes, surely we may. We may assuredly enjoy the dawn of that light, which they will behold in its meridian splendour. With a view to assist you in the noble enterprise of forestalling and anticipating that blessed day, I would say,

1. Improve the privileges which you do enjoy—

[These, let me say, are equal to any that have been enjoyed since the apostolic age: for the light of the Gospel shines with a splendour unknown to former ages, and is diffusing its rays to an extent which but a few years ago no human being could have contemplated. Satan indeed exerts his utmost efforts to obstruct the progress of divine truth; but he cannot succeed: he is foiled in almost every attempt; and his kingdom trembles to its centre. I need go no farther than to you, my brethren, in proof of what I have asserted. You see how the Lord Jesus Christ is extending his empire, amongst yourselves, as well as in the world at large: and therefore you have every encouragement to fight under his banners, and to expect a successful issue of your warfare. It is worthy of observation, that the saints of the millennial period have no distinction above you, except that “they shall reign a thousand years;” for over you “the second death shall have no power,” any more than over them: and you, as well as they, are “priests of God and of Christ [Note: Compare ver. 6. with 1 Peter 2:9.].” Improve then, I say, your privileges, and seek to attain the graces that will distinguish them: they are characterized by their freedom from the pollutions of the world, and by the fidelity of their adherence to Christ [Note: ver. 4.]. “Be ye then faithful unto death; and know assuredly that God will give you the crown of life.”]

2. Look forward to a still better resurrection—

[We are ready to envy the millennial saints: but think how much more glorious a resurrection awaits you, than can possibly be enjoyed by embodied souls on earth! They will of necessity be subject to infirmities, even in their best estate: but in a little time you shall be as free from all infirmity as the angels around the throne of God: your souls shall be altogether perfected after the Divine image, and “your bodies be made like unto Christ’s glorious body, according to the mighty working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself [Note: Philippians 3:20-21.].” Then “shall you be ever with the Lord,” and possess in all its fulness the complete fruition of your God. Look forward with joy to that blissful period; and in the mean time, “Comfort ye one another with these words [Note: 1 Thessalonians 4:17-18.]—.”]

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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Revelation 20:6". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. 1832.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Revelation 20:6. ΄ακάριος, blessed) The word μακάριος is with great propriety applied to him over whom the second death has no power: for it is derived from μὴ, κὴρ, so that it denotes one who is immortal.— ἐν τῇ ἀναστάσει τῇ πρώτῃ, in the first resurrection) The Æthiopian Version, according to John de la Haye, has, on that day which precedes His coming.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Revelation 20:6". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

That is, they only are holy ones that shall be thus restored to share in the church’s happiness, and such as shall not perish eternally; but they shall be as priests to God and Christ, glorifying him with the spiritual sacrifices of prayer and praise, and shall enjoy a quiet and honourable station with Christ upon the earth for a long time.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Revelation 20:6". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

Блажен и свят Те, кто умирают в Господе (14:13), счастливы, потому что они избранные и войдут в Его Царство (см. пояснение к 1:3).

смерть вторая Первая смерть – духовная и физическая, вторая – вечная в озере огненном, последнем вечном аду (ст. 14). Он может находиться вне созданной вселенной в том виде, как мы ее знаем, вне пространства и времени и в настоящее время быть невидимым (см. пояснение к 19:20).

тысячу лет См. пояснение к ст. 2.

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Revelation 20:6". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: over these the second death hath no power; but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection ... This beatitude pertains to all who are "in Christ." Such persons already enjoy eternal life in the sense of possessing the promise of it, having the earnest of it, and participating in some of the joys of it.

They shall be priests of God and of Christ ... Preeminently, throughout the whole New Testament, this status of Christians is established as their status at the present time, and in this dispensation, now! Therefore, the priesthood and the reigning of these saints is exactly the same as that of the Christians of all ages, showing that no special period of any kind whatever is meant by this "thousand years" in this passage. See my comment on 1 Peter 2:5, and also in my Commentary on James, pp. 191-199. "All the evidence we have is against the theory of the first resurrection being understood otherwise than as a spiritual resurrection that takes place when any sinner is converted to Christ."[39]

And shall reign with him a thousand years ... "This living and reigning must not be limited to the time after the death of those mentioned."[40] All Christians are now living and reigning with Christ. Plummer paraphrased the thought here thus:

You Christians sit upon thrones and reign with Christ; yea, even those who suffered shameful death share that perfect safety and exaltation, though, in the eyes of the world, they were afflicted and degraded.[41]

A thousand years ... This is the whole period of the Christian dispensation, the same as the time and times and half a time, the same as the forty-two months, the same as the one thousand two hundred and threescore days. All these time-periods are exactly the same and refer to the entire period between the two Advents of Christ.

[39] G. B. Caird, The Revelation of St. John the Divine (New York: Harper and Row, 1966), p. 254.

[40] A. Plummer, op. cit., p. 472.

[41] Ibid.

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Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Revelation 20:6". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Revelation"s fifth beatitude reveals that those who participate in the first resurrection are blessed and holy. The "second death" is final death beyond physical death (cf. Revelation 20:14; Revelation 2:11; Revelation 21:8). It involves death of the soul (whole person) as well as the body ( Matthew 10:28). Specifically, the first resurrection involves deliverance from the lake of fire. Those who participate in the first resurrection are also blessed because they will be priests of God and Christ, and they will reign with Christ for1,000 years. Priests have unlimited access to and intimate fellowship with God. Exactly how they will reign remains to be seen, though the extent of their authority under Christ seems connected with their previous faithfulness (cf. Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:12-27).

Note that many of the promises to the overcomers in the letters to the seven churches find their fulfillment in the Millennium (cf. Revelation 2:11 with Revelation 20:6; Revelation 2:26-27 with Revelation 20:4; Revelation 3:5 with Revelation 20:12; Revelation 20:15; and Revelation 3:21 with Revelation 20:4). This seems to indicate that the rewards Christians receive from the Lord at the judgment seat will also involve serving under Him in the Millennium (cf. Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:11-27) and beyond ( Revelation 22:3; Revelation 22:5).

The phrase "a thousand years" occurs six times in this chapter ( Revelation 20:2-7). Since God revealed that events will occur both before and after Christ"s thousand-year reign, we should interpret this number literally (cf. Revelation 11:2-3; Revelation 12:6; Revelation 13:5; Revelation 20:3). John specifically located this reign yet future in this verse. This is a strong argument against interpreting it simply as Jesus Christ"s present reign in human hearts, or His reign throughout eternity, as many amillennialists do.

John gave us no information here regarding what life will be like on earth during the Millennium, but many Old Testament passages provide this revelation. [Note: See John F. Walvoord, The Millennial Kingdom, pp296-323, for a full discussion of government, spiritual life, social, economic, and physical aspects of the Millennium.] The main point here seems to be that the Millennium will follow Jesus Christ"s second coming, the main event in the Book of Revelation.

There are three major schools of interpretation that deal with millennial prophecies. Amillennialists interpret the Millennium figuratively and believe it does not correspond to any specific era. Some of them teach that it refers to Jesus Christ"s rule in the hearts of His people presently living on earth. For example, Arthur Lewis wrote that the Millennium of chapter20 is not a perfect state, but the future messianic kingdom is a perfect state. Therefore the Millennium of chapter20 cannot be the future messianic kingdom, but it is the present age. He believed the kingdom age is really the eternal state of chapters21,22. [Note: Arthur H. Lewis, The Dark Side of the Millennium: The Problem of Evil in Revelation 20:1-10. For a good critique of this book, see Jeffrey L. Townsend, "Is the Present Age the Millennium?" Bibliotheca Sacra140:559 (July-September1983):206-24.] Other amillennialists teach that the Millennium refers to Christ"s rule over His people in heaven throughout eternity. Berkouwer articulated the view of many amillennialists regarding this pericope.

"This vision is not a narrative account of a future earthly reign of peace at all, but is the apocalyptic unveiling of the reality of salvation in Christ as a backdrop to the reality of the suffering and martyrdom that still continue as long as the dominion of Christ remains hidden." [Note: G. C. Berkouwer, The Return of Christ, p307.]

Postmillennialists hold that Christ will return after the Millennium. Some of them believe we should interpret the thousand-year reign of Christ figuratively as referring to the present age in which we live. Others believe it is a literal thousand-year period yet future. Postmillennialism has not been very popular since the First World War. Since then it has become increasingly clear to most people that the world is not getting better and better but worse and worse. While there has been progress in many areas of life, it seems clear that worldwide peace and the other millennial conditions that the prophets described will never come without divine intervention that will change the course of history. Postmillennialism teaches that world peace and all millennial conditions will precede the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Premillennialists take the revelation in these passages more literally as a description of events that will proceed chronologically in order. We believe the Second Coming will precede a literal earthly millennial reign of Jesus Christ. [Note: For more information on these views, see John F. Walvoord, The Millennial . . ., pp263-75, or idem, The Revelation . . ., pp282-90. See also the diagram of premillennialism, postmillennialism, and amillennialism at the end of my comments on chapter6 in these notes.] Among premillennialists there are two main groups. "Historic premillennialists" (Covenant premillennialists) believe that God will fulfill His promises to Abraham ( Genesis 12:1-3; Genesis 12:7; et al.) through the spiritual seed of Abraham, namely, believers whom the Old Testament writers called Israel and the New Testament writers called the church. "Dispensational premillennialists" believe that God will fulfill His promises to Abraham through the physical seed of Abraham, namely, the Jewish people whom the writers of both testaments referred to as Israel.

Jesus Christ"s earthly reign will be the fulfillment of many prophecies in the Old Testament concerning the reign of a completely faithful descendant of David ( 2 Samuel 7:10-16; et al.). God promised David that one of his descendants would reign over the Israelites forever, that His kingdom would have no end. Most dispensationalists have believed that this reign will begin after Jesus Christ returns to earth at His second coming, and it will continue through the Millennium and on into eternity forever. We believe that since David"s kingdom was an earthly kingdom and since David and his successors ruled on the earth, the coming fulfillment of Davidic kingdom promises will take place on the earth. Progressive dispensationalists, on the other hand, believe that Jesus" rule as David"s successor began when He ascended into heaven following His resurrection and that it will move to earth at the second coming and will continue throughout eternity. They view the promised Davidic kingdom as having heavenly (already) and earthly (not yet) stages. Almost all dispensationalists believe that what is in effect now is some form of God"s kingdom program (cf. Matthew 13). The difference of opinion is over whether the present form of the kingdom, the church, is a stage of the Davidic Kingdom or distinct from it.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 20:6". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Revelation 20:6. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection. In chap. Revelation 19:9 all believers were pronounced ‘blessed,’ and the word ‘holy’ denotes the consecration that is given not to a few only but to all the saints of God (chaps. Revelation 18:20, Revelation 19:8): besides which, we are immediately told, they ‘shall be priests of God and of the Christ’ The whole description leads directly to the view that all Christians have part in the reign of the thousand years, whatever it may mean.

Over these the second death hath no power. We have spoken of the ‘first resurrection’ as a state, not an act. It is even more clear that the same thing must be said of the ‘second death.’ The Seer has indeed himself distinctly explained it when he says, in Revelation 20:14, ‘This is the second death, even the lake of fire’ (comp. also Revelation 2:11). It is more than the death of the body, more even than the death of the body (could we suppose such a thing) twice repeated. It is the death of the whole man, body and soul together, the ‘eternal punishment’ denounced by our Lord against those who refuse to imitate His example, and to imbibe His spirit (Matthew 25:46). As again bearing on our exposition of Revelation 20:4, it may be well to notice that escaping the ‘second death’ is spoken of in chap. Revelation 2:11 as the privilege not of those alone who are in a special sense martyrs, but of all believers.

But they shall be priests of God and of the Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. These words again mention privileges (1) that are common to all believers, and (2) that continue not for a thousand years merely, but for ever. All believers are ‘priests’ (chap. Revelation 1:6); all sit upon Christ’s ‘throne’ (chap. Revelation 3:21).

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Revelation 20:6". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". 1879-90.

Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books

They are blessed because they are resting from their labors (Revelation 14:13) and are living and reigning with Christ. They are pure, or holy, because Jesus" blood has cleansed them. They will not be cast into the lake of fire (verse 14), but will give the sacrifice of praise to God and Christ throughout Christ"s reign as king.

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Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Revelation 20:6". "Gary Hampton Commentary on Selected Books". 2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Blessed. Greek. makarios. Forty-eighth occurances in N.T.

in. App-104.

on such = over (App-104.) these.

power. App-172.

priests. See Revelation 1:6.

a. Some texts read "the". The "first resurrection" is the former of the two resurrections referred to in this passage. It is the antithesis of the resurrection implied though not specifically mentioned in Revelation 20:12. This is the resurrection which was both the subject of revelation and the hope of Israel. Compare the antithesis in Daniel 12:2. John 6:29. Acts 24:15. This "first resurrection" should not be confused with 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 (see notes there and on Philippians 1:3, Philippians 1:11).

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Revelation 20:6". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

Blessed - (cf. Revelation 14:13; Revelation 19:9.)

On such the second death hath no power - even as it has none on Christ now risen.

Priests of God. Apostate Christendom being destroyed, and the believing Church translated, there will remain Israel and the pagan, the majority of men then alive, who, not having come into contact with the Gospel, have not been guilty of rejecting it. These will be subjects of a general conversion (Revelation 11:15). "The veil" shall be taken off Israel first, then from off "all people" (Isaiah 25:7). The glories attending Christ's appearing, the destruction of Antichrist, transfiguration of the Church, and binding of Satan, will prepare the nations for embracing the Gospel. As individual regeneration goes on now, so a "regeneration" of nations then. Israel, as a nation, shall be 'born at once-in one day' (Isaiah 66:8). As the Church begins at Christ's ascension, so the kingdom at His second advent. The humiliation of civilized nations will be, that nations which they despise-Jews and barbarians, the negro descendants of Ham, under the curse of Noah, Kush, and Sheba-shall supplant them, (cf. Deuteronomy 32:21; Romans 10:19; Romans 11:20, etc.) Since the Jews' rejection, revelation has been silent.

Both Old and New Testaments are written by Jews. If revelation is to recommence in the millennial kingdom, converted Israel must head humanity. Jews and Gentiles stand on an equal footing, as both alike needing mercy; but as regards God's instrumentalities for establishing His kingdom on earth, Israel is His chosen people. The Israelite priest-kings on earth are what the transfigured priest-kings are in heaven. A blessed chain of giving and receiving-God, Christ, the transfigured Bride, the Church, Israel, the world of nations. A new time of revelation will begin by the outpouring of the Spirit (Zechariah 12:10). Ezekiel (Ezekiel 39:29; Ezekiel 40:48), son of a priest, sets forth Israel's priestly character; Daniel, the statesman, its kingly; Jeremiah (Jeremiah 33:17-21), both its priestly and kingly. In the Old Testament, Israel's national life was religious in an external legalism. The New Testament Church insists on inward renewal, but leaves outward manifestations free. But in the millennial kingdom, all spheres of life shall be Christianized from within outwardly. The Mosaic ceremonial corresponds to Israel's priestly office; the civil law to its kingly office. The Gentile Church, adopting the moral law, exercises the prophetic office by the Word working inwardly. But when the royal and the priestly office shall be revived, then-the principles of the letter to the Hebrews remaining-the ceremonial and civil law also will develop its spiritual depths in divine worship (cf. Matthew 5:17-19). Now is the time of preaching; then the time of liturgy of "the great congregation" shall come. Our present defective governments shall give place to perfect rule in Church and State. Under the Old Testament the Jews exclusively, in the New Testament the Gentiles chiefly, enjoy salvation; in the millennium both Jews and Gentiles united, under the first-born brother, Israel, walk in the light of God, realizing the full life of humanity.

The human race is not an aggregate of individuals and nationalities, but as organic whole, laid down once for all (Genesis 9:25-27; Genesis 10:1; Genesis 10:5; Genesis 10:18; Genesis 10:25; Genesis 10:32; Deuteronomy 32:8, declares that from the first the division of the nations was made with relation to Israel). Hence, arises the importance of the Old Testament to the Church. Three grand groups-Hamites, Japhethites, and Shemites-correspond respectively to man's three fundamental elements-body, soul, and spirit. The flower of Shem, the representative of spiritual life, is Israel: as the flower of Israel is He in whom all mankind is summed up, the second Adam (Genesis 12:1-3), Israel is mediator of divine revelations for all times. Even nature and the animal-world will share in the millennial blessedness (Isaiah 65:20-25). As sin loses its power, decay and death will decrease (Auberlen). Earthly and heavenly glories shall be united in the twofold election.

Elect Israel in the flesh shall stand at the head of the earthly; the elect spiritual Church, the Bride, in the heavenly. These elections are not merely for the good of the elect, but for those to whom they minister. The heavenly Church is elected, not merely to salvation, but to rule in love, and minister blessings over the earth, as king-priests. The glory of the transfigured shall be a blessing to men in the flesh; as at the transfiguration the three earthly disciples enjoyed the glory of Jesus, and of Moses and Elias, so that Peter exclaimed, "It is good for us to be here:" 2 Peter 1:16-18 makes the transfiguration the earnest of Christ's coming in glory. The privilege of "our high calling in Christ" is limited to the present time of Satan's reign; when he is bound, there will be no scope for suffering for, and so afterward reigning with, Him (Revelation 3:21 : cf. note, 1 Corinthians 6:2). None are saved in the present age, in the Christian pale, who shall not also reign with Christ, the preliminary to which is suffering with Christ now. If we fail to gain the crown, we lose all-`the gift of grace as well as the reward of service' (DeBurgh).

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 20:6". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(6) Blessed and holy is he that hath. . . .—This is one of the benedictions of the Apocalypse. The blessing on those who have part or share in the first resurrection has this definite feature. On these the second death has not power (or authority). The second death stands in contrast with the first resurrection. The second death is not the mere physical dying; it is rather that more awful death which lies outside the region of the things seen and temporal. Whatever it means, and whatever the conditions which surround it, it is spiritual rather than physical. It is not the life of the body which protects the life of the spirit; it is the living and believing in God which protects from the second death; according to Christ’s word of such, “they shall never die” (John 11:26; comp. John 10:27-28). Blessed, too, are such in being priests and kings (they shall reign). Theirs is the priesthood of life who have offered themselves a living sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1). The kingship of life is theirs, who have overcome the world-powers in the word of God and in the blood of the Lamb; these truly reign. (Comp. Note on Revelation 5:10.)

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Revelation 20:6". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

Foy E. Wallace's Commentary on the Book of Revelation

5. Part in the first resurrection. "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ and shall reign with him a thousand years"--20: 6.

There is an axiom which decrees that things equal to the same thing are equal to each other. In Revelation 2:11 it is said that overcoming the persecutions exempted them from the second death. But in Revelation 20:6 it is said that part in the first resurrection exempted them from the second death. Things equal to the same things being equal to each other-- part in the first resurrection referred to overcoming the persecutions and entering into the triumph of that victory. Again, it is the same kind of a resurrection prophesied in Isaiah 26:1-21 and Ezekiel 37:1-28.

On such the second death hath no power--the implication of the context is that the first death was the martyrdom of the saints as represented by the souls of them that were slain under the altar in chapter 6:9. Receiving the guerdon of martyrdom for their overcoming faith, promised by their Lord in chapter 2:10-11, these martyred saints had exemption from the judgment of them that had received the mark of the beast in submission to the imperial edict commanding the worship of the Caesar-image. They were in a state of special dispensation, not amenable to judgment. This in contrast with those who had "worshipped the beast" and "his image" and who had received "his mark," and in consequence shared the same retribution--the oblivion of eternal banishment.

Priests of God and of Christ--the expressions of "priests of God and Christ" and "reign with" in this imagery were used synonymously, as in chapter 1:6 and 5: 10; and compares with the phrase "kingdom of Christ and God" in Ephesians 5:5, in which all Christians reign with Christ. It symbolized the perpetual performance of heavenly functions in the presence of God and Christ in "the kingdom of Christ and God." In this heavenly state they shall reign with him a thousand years--that is, in complete victory and infinite reward, removed from transitory time and terrestrial place.

The use of thousand years here is further proof that it had no reference or application to a literal cycle of years. They shall be priests of God and Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. This, of course, referred to the souls who lived and reigned; and here shall reign with him referred to the continuity of that reign which had begun in the expression "lived and reigned" of verse four. It had reference to the same souls and the same reign and simply denoted its continuation,

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Wallace, Foy E. "Commentary on Revelation 20:6". "Foy E. Wallace's Commentary on the Book of Revelation". 1966.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
5; 14:13; 22:7; Isaiah 4:3; Daniel 12:12; Luke 14:15
the second
14; 2:11; 21:8
1:6; 5:10; Isaiah 61:6; Romans 12:1; 1 Peter 2:5,9
and shall
4; 1:6; 5:10; Romans 8:17; 2 Timothy 2:12
Reciprocal: Genesis 2:17 - surely;  Exodus 19:6 - a kingdom;  Deuteronomy 11:21 - as the days;  Psalm 45:16 - princes;  Isaiah 26:19 - dead men;  Isaiah 66:21 - GeneralZechariah 14:20 - HOLINESS;  Luke 20:36 - can;  Acts 8:21 - hast;  Acts 24:15 - that;  Romans 5:17 - shall reign;  1 Thessalonians 4:16 - and the;  James 5:20 - from death

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Revelation 20:6". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".

Walter Scott's Commentary on Revelation


Revelation 20:6. — "This is the first resurrection."{*It may be noted here that, according to the true reading, the living and reigning is certainly resurrection. "The rest of the dead lived not until," etc.; so that it is clearly used here for resurrection, as the following words confirm: "This is the first resurrection." — "Synopsis of the Books of the Bible," vol. 5, p. 636 footnote, Morrish ed.} Blessed and holy he who has part in the first resurrection: over these the second death has no power; but they shall be priests of God, and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years." The vision itself occupies verse 4 (the longest verse in the apocalypse) and the first part of verse 5. Then the interpretation follows, commencing with the words, "This is the first resurrection," and continues down to the close of verse 6. The interpretation we have transcribed in full. The change which will pass over the living saints at the Coming is equivalent to the raising of the dead (1 Corinthians 15:51-54). Then every trace of mortalityand corruption shall disappear, and all be glorified. The dead are raised in glory (v. 43). The bodies of saints,whether alive or in the grave at the Coming, are changed into the likeness of His body of glory (Philippians 3:21). "The first resurrection" is here regarded as completed. It is a term of special blessedness and import. To have part in it was the eager desire of the apostle (Philippians 3:11). The resurrection of the dead is equally taught in both Testaments,but resurrection from the dead is New Testamentrevelation alone, and is first taught in Mark 9:9; then in Luke 20:35 its application to believers is assured. The term "second resurrection" is never used of the wicked.

Every one who has part in the first resurrection is pronounced "blessed and holy." It is a matter of individual blessedness. The first term is descriptive of his happy condition: the second of his character. Happiness and holiness are inseparably associated, and must never be separated. "Over these the second death has no power." The expressions, "first resurrection" and "second death" are contrasted terms, because all who have no part in the one shall certainly share in the other. The second death is the lake of fire (v. 14). Into it the raised wicked dead are cast. But this awful death, dying yet never dead physically, has no title, no authority over those embraced in the first resurrection, for these "die no more." Their bodies are immortal. They can no more die than can angels (Luke 20:36). The "second death" has no claim over the "sons of the resurrection."

The positive blessedness of the risen and glorified saints is next declared, not simply their immunity from the eternal consequences of sin — the "second death" — "but they shall be priests of God and of Christ." Both the holy (1 Peter 2:5) and royal character of priesthood (v. 9) shall then be in fullest exercise, unceasingly and unhinderedly.We shall have continual access into God's presence as His priests, and in association with Christ exhibit in its blessed fulness the royal virtues of Him Whom our souls delight to honour.


. — "And shall reign with Him a thousand years."{*We have the authority of the late Dean Alford for the statement that for the first three hundred years the whole Church understood the thousand years' reign in its plain and literal sense. He also maintained, as we do in our exposition, that verse 4 of our chapter reveals three classes of saints.} The greatness of the statement and the grandeur of the subject leave the soul amazed. Once poor wretched sinners, then raised to such a height, only subordinate to Him Who redeemed us by His blood, and exalted us by His grace to such glory! This reign in regal power and splendour, this assumption of kingly dignity as Christ's fellow-heirs, continues for a thousand years, but the eternal state which succeeds shall disclose fresh glories and added dignities, although the mediatorial kingdom as such outlasts the longest span of life yet recorded. Methuselah lived 969 years, "and he died" (Genesis 5:27). Saints in the heavens and saints on earth shall live a thousand years,and shall not die.

The reign of Christ and the confinement of Satan are associated facts. The tempter of men must be removed.The glory must not be dimmed nor the blessing marred by the further machinations of Satan. The reign of a thousand years is the grandest event in the history of the race. There are no details given, but simply a statement of the fact. The earthly blessings secured to Israel and the world under the sway of Christ are, in the main, the subjects of the prophets, whilst the heavenly character of the reign is unfolded from Revelation 21:9 to Revelation 22:5.The millennial reign is better described by the scriptural term THE KINGDOM. It consists, however, of two departments, respectively spoken of as the kingdom of the Son and the kingdom of the Father (Matthew 13:41-43).The former relates to the earth, the latter to the heavens. Daniel 7:27 unites the two. "Most High" is in the plural, and signifies "the heavenly places," as in Ephesians 1:3; Ephesians 1:20. "The people (Israel) of the saints." The people and saints are distinguished. Israel on earth is the former, the changed and risen saints in the heavenlies are the latter. The people are said to belong to the saints; for, after all, the kingdom in its widest extent forms the joint dominion of Christ and His heavenly people, although Israel shall exercise sovereign rule and authority amongst the nations — their head, and not as now the tail.

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Scott, Walter. "Commentary on Revelation 20:6". "Walter Scott's Commentary on Revelation".

E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

The first resurrection is that mentioned in the preceding verse of which John said he was going to speak. He is doing so now and telling us of the blessing that will be for those who have part in this first resurrection. In John 11:25 Jesus says "I am the resurrection and the life." Jesus was the first one to be resurrected never to die again ( Acts 13:34). To have part in the first resurrection means to have part in Christ. And to get the spiritual benefits of the resurrection of Christ as the bodily benefits, it is necessary to be faithful after coming into Him. That is what is meant in John 11:26 by "liveth and believeth in me." That person "shall never die" according to Christ"s statement to Martha, which means the same as on such the second death hath no power in our present verse. This second death is the punishment in the lake of fire and brimstone according to Revelation 21:8 of our present book. Shall reign with him a thousand years. This period is the same that is explained at verse2. Of course the word reign is not literal because Christ is the sole King on the throne. Thayer's explanation of the word as it is used here is as follows: "Paul transfers the word to denote the supreme moral dignity, liberty, blessedness, which will be enjoyed by Christ"s redeemed ones." The principle expressed will apply to the faithful in Christ of all ages. However, the present application is made to those who had been faithful to Christ under the persecutions of Babylon. This spirit of devotion in the presence of death was a reenactment of the spirit of the first martyrs ( Revelation 6:9-11), and they lived (were in evidence) all through this bright period of the Reformation. It is in that sense only that they were to be resurrected and reign with Christ through the thousand years. There was no prediction of any literal resurrection of some while others were to remain in their graves. There will be but one bodily resurrection (and it is still future), and at that same hour all human beings, both good and bad, will be brought to life ( Daniel 12:2; John 5:28-29). It is plainly taught in other passages that when Jesus comes again it will mark the end of the kingdom and all things on the earth. ( 1 Corinthians 15:24-25; 2 Peter 3:10). All statements of a resurrection that is to occur before the second coming of Christ are figurative only.

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Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Revelation 20:6". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. 1952.

Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation

Revelation 20:6

Revelation 20:6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

The second death hath no power over them.

They have all escaped the damnation of Hell, Romans 8:1-2; Revelation 20:14-15.

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Knollys, Hanserd. "Commentary on Revelation 20:6". "Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation".

Harold Norris' Commentary on the Book of Revelation



"Blessed and holy is he who shares in the first resurrection" ( Revelation 20:6). This first resurrection we described in our notes previously as the spiritual resurrection of our new birth--The first resurrection took place at our conversion according to Jesus" own words in John 5:24-29.

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Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms

Revelation 20:6. Blessed is he and holy, 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. The holy denotes here not the moral quality, but the glory of the state (comp. at Psalms 16:2, and Revelation 4:8; Revelation 11:18; Revelation 14:10, where the holy angels are mentioned). Believers are holy even in this life; they are found in the glorious state of the children of God; they are separated from a profane world, behind the show and glitter of which there lie concealed the deepest humiliation and the greatest misery. But the complete manifestation of holiness belongs to the future world. The glory is more distinctly unfolded in the words that follow, "they shall be priests," etc. "In a similar manner are glory and blessedness united together," says Bengel, "in 2 Timothy 2:10; he is blessed, with whom it is quite well; holy indicates something still higher."

On the second death, see at ch. Revelation 2:11. Parallel to the expression, "Over such the second death has no power," is John 11:26, "he that believeth upon me shall never die." In regard to the expression, "they shall be priests," comp. at ch. Revelation 1:6, Revelation 5:10. Bengel: "Saints are also priests of Christ, therefore is Christ true God, see Acts 14:13." The whole verse possesses a hortatory character. It calls upon us to regard the troubles and sufferings of this present life as nothing, if we may but attain to the glorious good of the first resurrection.

It seems proper, to introduce here the article that appeared some time ago in the Evang. K. Zeitung on the thousand years' reign, which tonches-on many points, that have been passed over in the exposition. In doing so, we shall make both some omissions and some additions, yet so as not to destroy the colour it assumed from the period of its origin (March 1848), nor to be greatly solicitous about saying nothing the second time, which may have been substantially said already.

"Blessed is he who reads and they who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep what is written therein"—so speaks St John at the beginning of the Apocalypse. And at its close we read, "But I testify to all, who hear the words of the prophecy of this book: If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book; and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book." If we consider the solemn earnestness there is in these words, we shall find it impossible to remain in a state of indifference toward this book. If we diligently apply ourselves to the consideration and understanding of its contents, even though this endeavour should at first be attended with little fruit, we should still not suffer the longing desire for a proper understanding of it to die in our souls; we should hold ourselves ready to receive benefit by all attempts that may be made to open to us its meaning. Nor shall our spirit also fail to have itself quickened and profitably exercised by what is said of the high importance of the book, if it does not suffer itself to be carried away by senseless objections, even though they should be uttered by pretended apostles and prophets.

The book, however, has a quite peculiar value for the present time. We learn its historical starting-point from ch. Revelation 1:9, "I John, your brother and companion in the tribulation and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle, that is called Patmos, for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ." Accordingly, the book was written by one, who himself had to suffer persecution for the sake of Christ, and languished in banishment: and at a time when all, who confessed Christ, were made to partake in the tribulation of Jesus Christ; according to the church tradition under Domitian, the author of the first general persecution of Christians, while that under Nero was confined merely to Rome.

When we look farther into the book, we are presented with the spectacle of a conflict of life and death waged by Satan against Christ, that had even then begun to burst forth. To delineate the course of this conflict and its glorious issue, seems to be the great object of the book. How should we, then, not listen eagerly to every word of such a book at a time, when Satan begins to make war on Christ and Christianity, on a scale that has never been attempted before! How should not we strive, through the help of this book, to be companions of the patience of Jesus Christ, and thereby attain also to his kingdom! Especially since from that kingdom (ch. Revelation 21:8) the fearful are excluded, as well as the unbelieving and abominable and whoremongers, and murderers and sorcerers and idolaters; an express warning to us, who are so ready to regard failure in the patience of Jesus Christ as a light and venial fault—so ready, in our distrust of God, to think little of forgetting the word, Lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh. That the Christian may remain stedfast and fearless where he is, even though it should be in the midst of a falling world, this book is fitted to render for such a purpose a most important service. We are not the first who have to make proof of it; it has already manifested its power to many thousands in all times of distress and persecution, who have constantly applied it to their hearts, while in more quiet times it has been less attended to and has even often been shamefully neglected. It has thus proved a blessing even to many, who but very imperfectly understood it. For it is wonderful, how the edifying power that resides in the book, forces its way even through the most imperfect understanding of its contents, if only the soul that applies to it is hungry and thirsty, weary and heavy laden, if it only stands in living faith on the divinity of Scripture and on the glorious consummation of the kingdom of Christ.

Bengel's example may render this quite manifest. In nearly all the leading points he has failed in obtaining the right view; and yet what rich nourishment has he derived from this book for his own inner man and for many thousands besides! One of the first questions in regard to the Revelation, which presses itself on us in an age of important movements like ours, is, where do we now stand? What have we behind, and what before us? The answer is, that we now have the thousand years' reign behind us, and stand at the loosing of Satan out of his prison at the end of the thousand years, and his going forth to deceive the heathen in the four quarters of the earth, and gather them together to battle (ch. Revelation 21:7-9). This answer, which was given sometime ago in an article on the beast of the Apocalypse, has, as we foresaw, because opposed to the traditional and current view, found but little response, has estranged many, and given serious offence to some. This imposes on the author, who is convinced of the soundness of the answer, the obligation of going now more fully into the defence and vindication of it.

The surprise occasioned by the view we have set forth would certainly have been much less, if people had remembered, that the now current exposition, which is commonly regarded as the properly ecclesiastical one, and by which the millennium is held to be still future, was first rendered current by Bengel, and was adopted by the Pietists. Schrekh in his biographies of distinguished men of learning, Th. III., p. 98, says, "Since Bengel's time the disinclination toward Chiliasm, which previously was a mark of sound faith in our church, has disappeared with many." Bengel himself admits in a great number of places, that he had the prevailing sentiment in the church against him (Chiliasm, or the doctrine of the thousand years' reign as still future is well known to have been repudiated by the 17th Art. of the Augsburg Confession). So in his Erklrten Offenbarung. p. 672, he says," The still future years were held for suspicious (in the Evangelical church), and the greater part fell in with those, who bound themselves to no particular confession. These took the matter up the more zealously, and thereby made themselves the more hateful."[Note: What is remarked above, however, has respect in its full compass only to the Lutheran church. In the reformed church, the opinion of a thousand years' reign still to arise in the future, had many adherents before the time of the Pietists. Wolf in his Curae says, Mille annoa jam praeteriisae, nostratium theologorum communis est sententia.

Secundam sententiam (holding the period to the future) ex nostratibus nonuulli, in primis vero illi, qui a fanaticis sententiis parum sibi caverunt, nominatim, J. G. Petersenius, ex Reformatis vero multi exornandam susceperunt.] The lively conviction, that Satan's authority and power to deceive were broken from the time of Christ's appearance, gave rise to the opinion, which certainly had nothing in the connection to justify it, that the thousand years were to be reckoned from the birth of Christ. Cassiodorus, in support of this view, which through the authority of Augustine was the prevailing one during the whole of the middle ages, appeals to the unanimous consent of the fathers (qui tamen consensu patrum a nativitate domini computantur ne credituras gentes libera potestate confunderet.[Note: What Cassiodoras says here of the consent of the fathers certainly needs limitation. During the times, that a Christian theology was only in process of formation, very few references are to bo found to the millennium—see Münscher, Die Lebre vom tansendjährigen Reiche in den drei eraten Jahrh. in Henke's Magazin Bd. VI. The belief was very common, that there should be a resurrection of the righteous before the general resurrection, that there should be an intermingling of these risen ones with those who had not yet died, an external restoration of Jerusalem, with a mixing up together of that which is said in the Apocalypse of the thousand years' reign, and what is said of the New Jerusalem, reversing the order of Scripture, which ascribes the first stage of blessedness to heaven, the second to the earth. Thus Tertullian says, adv. Marci. L. 3, c. 25, "We confess, that a kingdom is promised us on earth, before we get to heaven, namely the thousand years' reign after the resurrection, in the city of Jerusalem, made by God, which comes down from heaven." Compare what Eusebius says in B. III. c. 28, of Cerinthus,. Justin in his Dial, with Trypho. c. 80, Irenaens B. V., c. 33. But this interpretation of the Apoc. never was unanimously received. Justin says, there were many, even among those, who held the pure doctrine, who did not share in this faith—see on this statement of Justin, Semisch's Justin Martyr, vol. II. p. 469. "It is well known, that there is not a single trace to be found of the Chihastic views, neither in the epistles of the Roman Clement, of Ignatius and Polycarp, nor in the apologetical writings of Tatian, Athenagoros, and Theophilus of Antioch." The vagaries of the Montanists who espoused these views, which already existed in the church, strengthened the disinclination to receive them. As theology grew into a more regular form, their untenableness became more clearly manifest. They were also repressed by the consideration, that the church, even under the ordinary human relations of life, might yet attain to the ascendancy. Lactantius is the last defender of Chiliasm of any name. The reaction against it in the ancient church was a sound one, though from the imperfection of exegetical resources, an ill choice was often made in the weapons employed by its opponents.]) On the ground of this exposition, people were, about the year 1000, in the most anxious expectancy regarding the things that were going to happen. "Churches and monasteries were allowed to fall into ruin, many princes and nobles went on pilgrimage to Rome, built hospitals for the poor and for pilgrims, as also abbeys, whither some constantly repaired to wait in daily expectation."

It is not quite accidental, that sects have constantly had a predilection for Chiliasm, while the church has been disinclined to adopt it. In the very nature of the sects there lies a practical denial of the confession, I believe in one holy, Catholic church. They are always disposed to confine within the circle of their own party what is good, what is Christian, what properly marks the operations of the Spirit—as, for example, in the programme of the Irvingite party it is declared without any circumlocution, There is Babylon, here is Zion. Being able to discern the divine only in some particular form, and incapable of discovering it even through the strange garb and disguises, which it often assumes, they must on this account alone be inclined to transfer the thousand years to the future, because they think they apprehend in them an essential advance; a state of the church much more satisfactory in the main than what has ever existed in the past; a state in which the power of Satan shall be broken, and the power of Christ shall be triumphant. Another reason for the circumstance may also be assigned. Chiliasm rests generally, even in its more spiritual forms, on an intermixture of things incompatible—of elements, which belong to time and to eternity. Bengel, for example, saw the untenable character of the common chiliastic views, according to which the corporeally risen saints should be members of the millennial kingdom on earth; since thus the resurrection would be separated from the regeneration of the earth, with which it is most closely connected, and makes the risen and glorified church be attacked by mortal men at the close of the thousand years. Bengel, therefore, conceives, that the risen saints shall be withdrawn to heaven, and from thence shall exercise the government along with Christ. But he still destroys the connection between the resurrection and the regeneration of the earth, and transfers to heaven what, according to Scripture, and the natural view belongs to the earth. Then, Bengel maintains on the one side the continuance of sin in the millennial period—and how, indeed, could he do otherwise, since the great apostacy at the end of it admits of explanation, only if the scarlet thread of sin goes through the entire period? "Among the children of the kingdom, says he, "there shall be to the very end of the world children of the wicked one; the conflict with sin in the flesh shall not be taken away, nor death itself be swallowed up in victory. There will, however, be new, high, and hitherto unknown trials and temptations, agreeing with the rich bestowal of the gifts of grace, in place of Satanic assaults and outward persecutions." But, on the other side, Bengel denies any continuance of the efficacy of Satan during the period in question, and thus involves himself in a quite unscriptural view of Satan's relation to sin: for as sin entered into the world through Satan; so is he always actively engaged in connection with it; he takes the word from the hearts of those, who hear it, that they may not believe and find salvation (Luke 7:12); he has his work not merely in the children of unbelief, but believers also are sifted by him (Luke 22:31); they must constantly pray, that the Lord may deliver them from the wicked one, who would lead them into temptation; not Judas merely is exposed to his assaults, but Peter also escapes from them no otherwise than through the intercession of the Lord. Now, the unsound state of sectaries accords with such interminglings of heterogeneous things, while the sound mind of the church has a decided aversion to them. We must guard ourselves, however, against the appearance of supposing the honoured Bengel to be a party-man. What led him to adopt the chiliastic views, was above all his exegetical conscience. He believed he could not do otherwise, and contented himself with whatever was abnormal in the matter. He held with the church of his day, that the beast was the papacy. Chiliasm is the necessary consequence of this view. For, the thousand years' reign, according to ch. Revelation 19:20, only begins with the destruction of the beast. Since, therefore, the destruction of the papacy has still not taken place, the thousand years must necessarily be transferred to the future. The common theology of the church had rescued itself from this consequence, with true ecclesiastical tact, but only by violently tearing the twentieth chapter from its connection. Bengel was too good an expositor to concur in such a procedure.[Note: He says with perfect justice, "Caeterum ne passum quidem simul cum temporibus bestiae currunt hi mille anni, neque ex toto illa hi praecedunt, sed ex toto sequntur.] And the theology of the church was unable to oppose him; this could only have become possible, if any one had had the courage to abandon the false view of the beast, which had in a certain measure obtained the sanction of the church. Against those who stood fast by this interpretation, Bengel's reasoning was irresistible; and hence it came to pass, that after a feeble resistance from the orthodox, chiliasm obtained an almost universal diffusion through the church.

Strange truly is the prejudice against the view we have propounded of the thousand years' reign, as if it took from us somewhat of our consolation! as if it were fitted to overthrow our hope! a prejudice, which has been greatly strengthened by the too great support obtained by Bengel for the opinion advocated by him. On the contrary, it is very consolatory for us to know, that we have the thousand years already behind us; therefore, before us not the mere glimmering, but the clear day—not the preliminary victory, which is again to be succeeded by a heavy reverse, but the final conquest. If the old earth is always to get more corrupt and full of wickedness, it is a great consolation, that we have got so far over the pilgrimage to the new earth, on which righteousness dwells.

We come now to a closer examination of the subject. The positive proof for our view is contained in the connection, in which the thousand years' reign is mentioned. Nor have we any need to go far back in investigating this. It is a fundamental error in the exposition of Bengel, and of many modern expositors, that they regard the Revelation as a progressive whole, proceeding in regular order from beginning to end. The right view is, that it is composed of a number of independent groups, each complete in itself, and each bringing prominently out some particular points, thus supplementing one another. For the establishment of this view it will be enough to point here to the one consideration, that undeniable references to the last end occur even in the beginning and the middle of the book. Thus, at ch. Revelation 6:12-14, we are brought into the territory of Matthew 24:29, "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken;" consequently into the time immediately before the coming of the Son of man (comp. Matthew 24:30). After the episode in ch. 7, which represents the fate of the elect during the judgments disclosed in the preceding portion, as going to alight upon the world, we have that coming itself referred to in ch. Revelation 8:1, "And when the seventh angel sounded, there was silence in heaven for the space of half an hour;" for the silence is that of the creature frightened at the presence of its Creator and Lord, when appearing in the awful majesty of the judge. So, also, we stand at the final end, the detailed representation of which is given by the Seer only in the last group, in ch. Revelation 11:15, as is placed beyond doubt by comparing Revelation 11:18, "Thy wrath is come, and the time for judging the dead." The end is also unquestionably referred to in ch. Revelation 14:14-16; and in ch. Revelation 16:17-21, comp. with Revelation 15:1.

How few solid objections can be raised against this proof is clear alone from the constrained and violent interpretations, which the advocates of the regular progression have been obliged to adopt at the places referred to.

Now, the independent groups are altogether seven, in accordance with the great importance, which after the example of the Old Testament is everywhere attached in this book to the number seven; as follows:
1. The seven epistles to the churches.
2. The seven seals.
3. The seven trumpets,
Revelation 8:2 to Revelation 11:19.
4. The three enemies of the kingdom of God

Satan, the beast, and the false prophet, and their war upon it, Revelation 12-14.
5. The seven vials, Revelation 15, 16.
6. The judgment on the three enemies, beginning with the beast and the false prophet, and rising from them to Satan, Revelation 17-20.
7. The New Jerusalem.

If, therefore, we would ascertain from the connection the time to which the thousand years' reign belongs, we need not go farther back than ch. 17, where we have an entirely new beginning, though forms certainly meet us which are pre-supposed to be known from what has gone before. Now, the result is not difficult to find here; it lies on the very surface. The thousand years' reign follows immediately on the destruction of the beast and the false prophet. If by these we are to understand (as we have already proved) the ungodly heathen power and wisdom, then the thousand years' reign cannot be future. For, in the regions which are everywhere kept mainly in view throughout this book, the lands of the Roman world, heathenism has for many centuries ceased to exist. Farther, as the last phase of the heathenish power of the world, with the overthrow of which the commencement of the thousand years' reign is immediately connected, the ten kings or peoples, who overthrew the Roman empire, appear in the preceding verse. If by these we are to understand the Germanic tribes, whose conversion to Christianity is represented in ch. 19 under the image of their conquest by Christ in a great battle, then the commencement of the millennium must be coincident with the Christianization of the Germanic tribes. Of this E. M. Arndt says, "We (Germans), and those races that are most nearly related to us, and whatever of our ancestors mingled with the wretched remains of the old world, have raised and carried forward in the most vigorous and beautiful manner the new European Christian life." This glory is now certainly gone, though only at the close of the thousand years, and we may well lament with the poet, German people, once in glory so transcendant, your oaks remain, you are yourselves fallen. The beginning of the thousand years' reign is, accordingly, somewhat uncertain, and so also must be its end. In the main, however, it must coincide with the thousand years' continuance of the German ascendancy. How the period was tending to its close in the time of Bengel—how even then significant tokens discovered themselves of the approaching release of Satan from his prison, may be gathered from what he says at p. 588 of Erläuterten Offenbarung, "The filth of the despisers of God is now so incredibly great, that one may well doubt whether the devil himself could carry matters farther. Yet it is not to be imagined that they have brought matters to the highest pitch, or can do so immediately. They are but the beginners, the real master-raillers are still unborn." We may now say, that we have long dwelt, as in Meshech and Kedar, among these "master-raillers;" and any one that previously was not aware of it, must now during these last four weeks have known, that Satan has been completely loosed from his prison, and has gone forth to deceive the heathen in the four quarters of the earth, and gather them together to the battle. If we see in the past a visible proof of the faithfulness of God's word, in the overthrow of Rome, in the conversion of the Germanic world to Christ, and the great falling away at the end of the thousand years, so in regard to the remaining point, to the falling of fire from heaven and consuming them, which we should revolve day and night in our hearts, that we may not be afraid of their threatenings, it will be easy for us to look with confidence for the fulfilment.

Let us now examine the objections which are brought against our view of the thousand years' reign. It is alleged, first of all, that the contents of Revelation 20:1-3 in ch. 20 cannot be proved to have had their fulfilment in the past, and must hence belong to the future. The deceiving of the heathen runs through the whole of the history that is already past, and its cessation, which is here given as the characteristic mark of the thousand years, must be looked for in the coming future. But the subject of discourse here, as the connection shews, is not Satan's deceiving in the general, but his deceiving with the view of stirring them up to an open attack on the kingdom of Christ, for the purpose of destroying it, and so as even to threaten its destruction. (Similarly even August, de 104: dei XX. 7: Nec enim dictum est, ut non seduceret aliquem, sed ut non seduceret, inquit, jam gentes). This more exact limitation of the meaning arises, on the one side, from the respect borne to what precedes, where such a conflict is spoken of, so great, public, and decisive, that the very existence of the kingdom of God was brought into question by it (comp. especially ch. Revelation 19:19-20). The same result, on the other side, is obtained from what follows, Revelation 20:7-9. Thus the deceiving of the heathen is more definitely explained, more narrowly bounded; and such a bounding, indeed, is demanded alone by the consideration, that at the end of the thousand years such a fearful assault is to be made, as is entirely inexplicable, on the supposition that the agency of Satan, and, what is closely connected therewith, sin, had altogether ceased during the thousand years.[Note: The following remark of Bengel is certainly not in accordance with the scriptural mode of representation: "The notions shall still be so constituted, that they could be deceived, if the devil were not in prison." We must not take the prison in so grossly external a manner. It is a mere figure, and simply denotes the restraining of his influence, the pre-requisite of which is, that the hearts and peoples sincerely given to Christ continue steadfast in their adherence to him.] But such being the case, there is no reason for denying the cessation of this deceiving of Satan according to the view we advocate. With all its corruptions, and in part also severe conflicts and losses in the case of individuals, it still was on the whole the period of Christ's undisputed sway. That a great change began at the end of it, must now at least, within the few last weeks, have become manifest even to those, who would drive too far the in many respects just, and by Scripture itself approved, dislike (Ecclesiastes 7:11) of extolling too highly past times.[Note: Vitringa would now certainly no longer ask: Haeocine acta fuerunt et gesta Satana legato et detruso in abyssum? Quid igitur tandem fiet Satano solute? And yet Satan has but begun his work.] During the period of the thousand years there are to be found no conflicts, which even remotely resemble those that precede, and come after it. Mahommedanism belongs only in part to it, and it left untouched the original ground of Christendom; it never brought matters to such a point as to raise the question, whether there should be or should not be a kingdom of Christ on the earth. The papacy can only be regarded, after an unhistorical mode of viewing it, against which Luther himself protested, when he was not carried away by the spirit of controversy, as standing on a level with ancient and modern heathenism. It is this very mode of viewing it, unhappily wide-spread and deeply rooted in former times, which has especially led to the abandoning of the historical ground. in determining the position of the thousand years, and flying off to the future. The thought has also had much influence, which is expressed by Bengel at p. 581, "Those make far too little of the matter, who understand the thousand years of something that is past, and consequently something quite insignificant." He who looks thus upon the past in the Christian church, at the same time cuts up, without perceiving it, the root of a living and reasonable hope for the future. If the word, "Lo I am with you always, even to the end of the world," has been kept so badly in the past, it will be foolish to expect, that it should suddenly begin in the future to receive a glorious fulfilment. It is so also with the individual believer; his hope respecting the future is a living hope, exactly in the same degree, that he can discern the blessing of God, which is concealed under the cross, the grace that lies hid behind sin; which he only can do, who can say from the heart, What I know not, teach thou me. That view of the papacy (whose dominion, besides, comprehends only a part of the thousand years, while, again, this period embraces the Reformation, and the whole spring-time of the evangelical churches[Note: The natural exposition of the Apocalypse runs as directly counter to the extravagancies of Catholic controversialists, as it does to those of the Evangelical party. The prevailing view of the Reformation in the Catholic church cannot be the right one, if the spring-season of the Evangelical church falls within the thousand years. The Satanic territory must, therefore, lie in another direction than that, which separates the Evangelical from the Catholic church.]), is a reproach on our own origin. The Reformation pre-supposes the existence of glorious powers of life, though in a slumbering state. Now that we have about us the Gog and Magog of unbelief, and no longer stand within the thousand years, we should feel our impotence, and call on the Lord to strengthen our weakness.

Another objection against our view of the thousand years' reign is taken from Revelation 20:4-6. According to what is written there the resurrection of the righteous must take place at the beginning of the thousand years, and these must continue on the earth during the whole millennial period. As nothing of this sort is to be perceived in the past, it is, men think, clear as day, that the thousand years still belong to the future. But it should be quite sufficient to shew the fallacy of such an argument, that it leads to a perfectly monstrous combination of things incapable of union: the church consisting of a mixture of members, partly living in mortal flesh, and partly risen and glorified—the latter abiding on the unrenewed earth, though as such only fit for the dwelling of mortal men; the risen and glorified at the end of the thousand years, entangled anew in the- troubles of earth, in war and conflict, which belong only to a present existence, and driven out of that rest from their labours which was promised them.

Let us now first present our view of the verses under consideration, and then advance what favours it and opposes the view we reject.

The whole book is designed to stimulate to patience, to stedfastness, to unmoved fidelity, and hearty joyfulness, those who are endangered by the pressure of the world against the kingdom of Christ. The chief means employed to accomplish this design, is a representation of the victory of Christ on earth, which takes place at every great conflict. This, however, is not altogether sufficient to inspire courage. Those who fall in this warfare, who depart in times of trouble and distress, who do not live to see the periods of triumph and peace, need some further consolation. The holy Seer directs their eye to the heavenly glory, amid which they are kept till the time, that the New Jerusalem comes down from heaven. Thus in ch. Revelation 7:1-8 it is represented how God, in the midst of the great tribulations which befal the earth, keeps his own people; then in Revelation 20:9-15 the view opens on the heavenly glory, which causes all the tribulations of earth to be forgotten. So also in ch. Revelation 14:1-5, after a delineation has been given of the cruel procedure of the beast on earth, and how those are kept in safety who would not worship his image, suddenly the curtain is lilted, and we see the Lamb standing on the heavenly Zion, and with him the whole multitude of the elect, who, with one voice, like that of many waters and of loud thunder, sing the new song of the Lamb, the earth with its temptations to apostacy lying wholly under their feet. This same multitude meets us again in ch. Revelation 15:2-4. They appear there standing on a sea of glass mingled with fire, on the ground of Psalms 36:7, "Thy judgments are a great flood," the symbol of the divine acts of righteousness and judgment, and sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb. The section before us is entirely similar in its structure. It contains nothing which belongs to the earth, and on the fulfilment of which history could give us its report. It rather leads us from the earth, and from the triumph which has been granted on earth to the cause and the servants of Christ to heaven, that we may see there the glory of those who had departed before the beginning of the thousand years, who were slain for the word of God and the testimony which they had, and loved not their lives to the death. The resurrection is ascribed to these persons only in a figurative sense, that, namely, of a transition into a new and glorious existence; as is indicated by the expression, "this is the first resurrection," employed for the purpose of distinguishing it from the second resurrection, which is that more commonly meant by the term.[Note: The first resurrection corresponds to the second death. In respect to both alike the Seer distinguishes the figurative from the proper use of the term by an additional word. Those who boast of holding by the latter, who think that the subject of discourse here must plainly be the resurrection in the literal sense, have in reality the letter against them. In the expression: the first resurrection, there is contained a distinct reference to the diversity. To understand the first merely of priority of time is forbidden by the analogy of the second death, which differs materially from the first.]

Now this view is first confirmed by the expression: they lived, or were again living. From this it is clear, that before the first resurrection the persons who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, and who had not worshipped the beast, had enjoyed no life worthy of this name. Now, if the bodiless existence of the departed righteous were a mere life of shadows, we might certainly conclude that nothing would be said of it, as is the case in respect to those who have not died in the faith. But the contrary is found to be the case. The Apocalypse points in the most attractive colours to the blessedness which the redeemed enjoy, even before the resurrection; they stand before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes and palms in their hands, and praise God and the Lamb, and serve him day and night in his temple (comp. ch. Revelation 14:1-5, Revelation 7:9-17). Such a blessed state cannot be ignored, it cannot be put on a footing with non-existence, and so nothing remains but to understand it as meant by the first resurrection.

Further, if we suppose here that a literal resurrection is meant, it must appear very singular that nowhere else in Scripture is any mention made of such a resurrection of the righteous before the general resurrection. For it does not at all follow from the passages, 1 Corinthians 15:22-23; Luke 14:14-15; 1 Thessalonians 4:16 what Ewald would still draw from them, that the righteous shall be raised at the last day before the wicked; they do not speak of a before and an after, but treat simply of the resurrection of the righteous. Such a resurrection, however, as is now supposed, is not merely ignored; it is also expressly denied. Thus in 1 Corinthians 15:22-23, "For as by one man came death, so also by one man comes the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every one in his own order; Christ the first-fruits, afterwards they that are Christ's at his coming." By this passage the resurrection only takes place at the period of Christ's coming. This, however, is not connected with the thousand years' reign, but with the time of the New Jerusalem, of which it is said in ch. Revelation 21:3, "Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell-with them;" and in ch. Revelation 21:22, "And I saw no temple therein; for the Lord, the Almighty God, is its temple, and the Lamb." Such a resurrection is also disproved by 1 Thessalonians 4:16, "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, and the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first."[Note: Quite fruitless is the attempt of Flatt, in his adnotationes ad locum 1 Thessalonians 4:16, etc. coll. cum Apoc. opusc. 409, etc. to bring these passages into unison with ours, on the ground that the latter treats of the literal resurrection. He thinks that those should be excepted from "the dead in Christ," to whom the first resurrection is accorded in the Revelation. But this first resurrection of the Revelation belongs to all the dead in Christ; not merely to the martyrs, but also to all those, "who bad not worshipped the beast, nor his image, and bad not received his mark on their forehead and on their baud." The "rest of the dead," who do not live during the course of the thousand years, are the ungodly (for Revelation 20:11, sq. shew how it went with them after the thousand years, bow positive punishment succeeds to the loss of an interest in the previously mentioned good). The books are only the books of guilt; and the book of life is merely opened to shew, that their names were not there. They are all appointed to the second death.] By this passage, too, the view of Bengel, which holds the resurrection to be corporeal, indeed, but holds heaven, and not the earth, to be the habitation of the risen saints, is excluded. It must then have been Christ's descending from heaven along with the saints, who had risen before and gone to heaven with their glorified bodies, that was spoken of—not Christ's raising them up, but his coming down with them. This is also to be taken into account, that the change on the living is coupled by Paul with the resurrection of the saints that are asleep. But such a change can only take place in connection with the general regeneration (Matthew 19:28), with the new heavens and the new earth. John 5:28-29 also, "The hour cometh, in which all that are in their graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth, they that have done good to the resurrection of life, but they that have done evil to the resurrection of damnation," hardly admits of the thought of a wide separation between the resurrection of life and that of condemnation.

Finally, after the example of our Lord himself in Luke 18:8, "When the Son of man comes, shall he find faith on the earth?" and in Matthew 24, especially Matthew 24:10, sq. Matthew 24:37, sq., Scripture generally testifies, that in the last times apostacy shall be very widely spread, and that even among the faithful the fire of their love and zeal shall be sadly cooled. Such descriptions, however, will not suit a church, which consists to a large extent of the risen saints; nor even a church, which has just passed out of the thousand years, on the hypothesis of Bengel. They require, that we must not attribute more to the Christian church than she has possessed in the past.

If, then, it is to be finally maintained, that Revelation 20:4-6 refer to those who are concealed from our view, that for what was to happen on this earthly stage we have but one mark given, in the continuance of the dominion of Christ during a period of a thousand years,—for the just made perfect reign with Christ during the thousand years—and that the other features of the thousand years' reign are to be derived only from Revelation 20:1-3, then we shall certainly find no other reason why we should seek it in the future instead of in the past; since there would then be the great impropriety, that the church's thousand years of a settled state would be passed over with perfect silence in the Revelation. What is said of the thousand years, is but a brief and simple notice, and is never in the remotest manner to be compared with the glory of the new Jerusalem, to which St John hastens forward with longing desire and with rapid step—a clear proof, that in the thousand years we are to seek no heaven upon earth.[Note: Ewald: Vates breviter tantum et festinanter regnum hoc milliare tangit, beantorumque praemia in regnum mundi novi coeleste sedulo cumulate omnia, 20:1-22. 25; tardarique paratam jam piis salutem sumnam in regno coelesti ex ch. 19:7, coll. 21:2 concludas.]

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Bibliographical Information
Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Revelation 20:6". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms.

Joseph Seiss' Lectures on Leviticus and Revelation

Lecture 46
(Revelation 20:6)


Revelation 20:6. (Revised Text.) Blessed and holy he that hath part in the resurrection the first! Over these the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of the God and of the Christ, and reign with him a thousand years.

My conviction is clear and positive that the resurrection here spoken of is the resurrection of the saints from their graves, in the sense of the Nicene Creed, where it is confessed: "I look for the Resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come." With the distinguished Dean of Canterbury, Dr. Alford, to whose critical labours the Christian world is much indebted, "I cannot consent to distort words from their plain sense and chronological place in the prophecy, on account of any considerations of difficulty, or any rise of abuses which this doctrine may bring with it." With Paul, "I can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth." (2 Corinthians 13:8.) The word here rendered Resurrection is more than forty times used in the New Testament and four times in the Apocrypha, and always in the one only sense of a rising again of the body after it has fallen under the power of death. The emphasizing of it as The Resurrection cannot, with any degree of propriety, be understood of any mere metaphorical or symbolic rising. The placing of it as the first in a category of two resurrections, the second of which is specifically stated to be the literal rising again of such as were not raised in the first, fixes the sense to be a literal resurrection. What it describes is located in the time of the judging of the dead and the giving of reward to the saints, for which recovery from their graves is a prerequisite. It exalts to an office of judging, shepherdizing, and reigning, the same which is elsewhere dependent upon the final victory and the complete redemption of the whole man. All the rewards, dignities, and honours promised to saints at and after the resurrection, are necessarily included in what is assigned to those who share in this resurrection. All the connections and surroundings, antecedent and consequent, and the impossibility of consistently adjusting it to the rest of the Apocalypse or the Scriptures in general on any other supposition, combine to show that the reference is and must be to persons in resurrection life and glory. I am also perfectly sure, that any candid critic, set to work to make out an honest list of the men of the first three centuries of the Church who believed in a literal resurrection of saints a thousand years before the resurrection of the wicked, would find in this chapter the most ample and cogent reasons for placing the Apostle John among them. I cannot, therefore, but take it as the true meaning and intent of the Holy Ghost, that we should here understand a real and literal resurrection of saints and martyrs from their graves.

Who partake in it? is the question suggested and answered in the text now before us, concerning which I remark:

1. It is a resurrection of saints only. They that have part in it are "blessed and holy." Whether the reference be to the qualifications for it, or to what it brings, or to both, the result is the same, that none but true members of Christ are in this resurrection; for none but such are "blessed and holy." Neither in this life, nor in that which is to come, can an unbeliever, a wicked or profane person, be reckoned with the "blessed and holy;" but every one that hath part in this resurrection is "blessed and holy."

Many have the idea that there is but one resurrection for all men, good and bad alike. It is also true that "as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." (1 Corinthians 15:22.) But it is immediately added, "every man in his own order." It is not a summary thing, all at once, and the same in all cases. The resurrection of the wicked is in no respect identical with that of the saints, except that it will be a recall to some sort of corporeal life. There is a "resurrection of life," and there is a "resurrection of damnation" (John 5:29); and it is impossible that these should be one and the same. There is a "resurrecti on of the just,"--"a better resurrection,"--a resurrection out from among the dead ( εξαν άστασις εκ νεκρων), for which great zeal and devotion are requisite (Luke 14:14; Hebrews 11:35; Philippians 3:10-11),-which is everywhere emphasized and distinguished from another, more general, and less desirable. As it is "the resurrection of the just," the unjust have no share in it. As it is a resurrection from among the dead ones, it is necessarily eclectic, raising some, and leaving others, and so interposing a difference as to time, which distinguishes the resurrection of some as in advance of the resurrection of the rest. Hence the Scriptures continually draw a line of distinction between the resurrection of the good and the resurrection of the bad; and when the two are mentioned together, the resurrection of the good is always mentioned first. Hence, in the celebration of the standing up again of the congregation of the righteous, the Psalmist is particular to say that sinners shall not stand up with them. (Psalms 1:5.) Thus Paul also assured the Thessalonians that "the dead in Christ shall rise first." (1 Thessalonians 4:16.) If we understand this "first" as over against the translation of living saints, as some take it, or as over against the resurrection of the dead not in Christ, as Professor Stuart claims the meaning to be, it is all the same. The declaration is that only "the dead in Christ" are partakers of this resurrection; and if there is this difference in time between "the resurrection of the dead in Christ" and the translation of the living "in Christ," all the more surely will there be a still wider difference in time between the rising of "the dead in Christ" and the rising of the dead not in Christ, who are altogether excluded from those who are said to rise first. It is not true, therefore, that we go contrary to the analogy of Scripture when we construe "the first resurrection," in which only the blessed and holy have part, as a literal resurrection of the saints, occurring long before and apart from the resurrection of the non-blessed.(157)

2. It is a resurrection which takes place in different stages, and not all at one and the same time. Paul tells us expressly that there is an "order" in it, which brings up some at one time, and others at other times. It starts with "Christ the first fruits;" afterwards they that are Christ"s at his coming; then (still later) the end, "completion, or last." (1 Corinthians 15:23-24.) Christ"s resurrection was also attended with the resurrection of others. The Gospel says: "The graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city." (Matthew 27:52-53.) This, Selnecker, one of the authors of the Formula Concordia, says "places and parcels out the resurrection of those who are raised to eternal life before the general resurrection at the last day; and the meaning properly is, that not only those of whom the Evangelist is writing become alive again, but also others, as Luther and Ambrose have written, and that such resurrections occur at various times throughout the whole period or dispensation of the New Testament, even up to the final day." These various particular resurrections he also calls "The First Resurrection, to which," he says, "belongs everything raised up again to eternal life before the final day."(158)

This statement agrees also with what we have found in the course of our exposition of this Book. In chapter 4, immediately following the sentences to the Churches, John saw a door open in the heaven, through which he was called to come up. That door and ascension indicate a resurrection and rapture of saints (answering to 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17); for John immediately beheld Living Ones and Elders in glory. They were saints from earth, for they sing of being redeemed by Christ"s blood "out of every kindred, and tongue, and tribe, and people." They are in resurrection life, for they are enthroned and crowned; and no saints are crowned till "the resurrection of the just." They correspond to "the Eagles" gathered together where the body they live on is, who are thus sheltered in the heavenly pavilion from the sorrows of the great tribulation. (Matthew 24:27-28; Luke 17:34-37; Luke 21:34-36; Revelation 3:10.) They are already in heaven, before ever a seal is broken, a trumpet sounded, or a bowl of wrath emptied.

Further on, in Revelation 7:1-17, under the sixth seal, a great multitude was seen, also in heaven, clothed with white robes, and bearing palms of victory. John beheld them with the Living Ones and Elders, but distinct from them, and then just arrived. Whence they came, is asked and explained. They come "out of the great tribulation,"-a tribulation from which the Elders or seniors in heaven were saved altogether, being "accounted worthy to escape all these things." They answer to the wise virgins, who were not ready when the watchful and far-sighted Eagles were "taken," but who, in sorrow and mortification, had now repented out of their misbeliefs, taken up the lamps of a better confession, and gone out in true advent faith to meet the Bridegroom, thus washing their robes and making them white in the blood of the Lamb, securing a heavenly portion indeed, but with certain losses, and at a period subsequent to the taking up of the Elders and Living Ones.

So at a still later period, even after the revelation of the blasphemous Beast, two great Witnesses appear, whom he finally slays. Three days and a half their bodies lie unburied. But, at the end of that time they come to life again, stand on their feet, and ascend to heaven in sight of their enemies. Whether any of their disciples are taken up with them, as might reasonably be inferred, or whether they alone are raised at this time, here is certainly another special or particular resurrection which goes to make up the company of the "blessed and holy."

Yet further on, in Revelation 14:1-20, still another special company appears, quite distinct from any thus far named, consisting of 144,000, "redeemed from the earth" and "from among men," singing a new song of their own, and joined with the Lamb to follow him whithersoever he goeth. They certainly belong to "the children of the resurrection," to the congregation of God"s glorified saints; but the season of their inbringing is not the same as that of the others referred to.

So, in connection with the gathering of the kings and their armies at Harmageddon, there is a note of indication that other saints were then on the eve of being taken (Revelation 16:15); whilst here in the vision of the whole body finally made up, some are described as having lived in the very last days of the Antichrist, yet did not worship him or receive his mark; indicating that the first resurrection is not finally complete until the very last period of of the Man of sin.

It is thus clear and manifest, even to the extent of demonstration itself, that the First Resurrection is not one summary event, but is made up of various resurrections and translations at different times, beginning with the resurrection of Christ, who is the head and front of "the resurrection of the just," and receiving its last additions somewhere about the final overthrow of the Beast and his armies.

3. It is a Resurrection which as a whole is nowhere pictorially described. As it does not occur all at once, it is not fully given in any one vision, as in the case of "the rest of the dead." The nearest to such a scenic presentation is that given in Revelation 12:1-17, in the picture of the birth of the Manchild, which is immediately caught up to God and to his throne. That birth and ascension is the pictorial "sign" of the bringing forth of all "the Church of the firstborn" into eternal life and resurrection glory, which began in the resurrection and ascension of Christ himself, and which reaches its completion when the last martyr under the Beast attains his final blessedness. But even there, no circumstantial details appear, except the malignant and murderous attempt of the Dragon to prevent it. It is quite too varied and diverse in its several sections, and in the different parts which the blessed and holy have in it, for any one picture adequately to represent it. Hence there is no such picture. What John here sees and describes is not so much the scene of its occurrence as the body of its subjects, the estate to which it brings them, the blessedness and honour with which it clothes and endows them. He beholds who and what they are that have part in it; but when, how, or in connection with what times, formalities, and surroundings they are made to live again, he does not here see or state, as in the case of those who live not again till the thousand years are ended. The reason is, that the subject is not capable of it, because so parcelled out in various particular scenes, relating to different classes and times, and with very diverse circumstances and attendant facts.

It i s not so with "the rest of the dead." As none of them share in the First Resurrection, so none of them belong to "the blessed and holy." They are all of the one general class of the non-saved. The reading in the Codex Sinaiticus is, that they are all κατεκρ ὶθησαν--condemned.

The book of life is opened and searched from end to end, but there is no account of any name of any one of them being found there. Leaving out the Beast and the False Prophet, who are then already in the lake of fire, they are all resurrected together. They all have their judgment at one and the same time, and all meet the same fate. One picture can readily give the whole scene, with all the circumstances and particulars. And so it is given, in connection with the great white throne. But, in the nature of the case, thus it could not be with "the resurrection of the just." Nor does Christ ever mount a throne of judgment toward his Church and people. They are his familiar servants, friends, and brethren. Leaving the world, he leaves them to occupy for him, and in his name. The Kingdom he gets is not against them, but for them, that they may share it with him. They are of the King"s party and household. When he comes, he comes, according to the Parables, first to one, and then to another, and so in succession, advancing each band of faithful and good servants to their reward one after another, "every man in his own order." He meets and rewards the best first, and so descends from class to class, as from time to time, till the whole body of his redeemed ones is made up ill all its variety of orders and degrees, according to fidelity to his word and service.

4. The completion of this Resurrection introduces a wonderful change in the earth"s history. It is the breaking through of an immortal power;--a power which sweeps away, as chaff before the wind, the whole economy of mortal and Dragon rule, and thrusts to death and Hades every one found rising up or stiffening himself against it;--a power which shears the Old Serpent of his strength, binds him with a great chain, locks and seals him up in the Abyss, pulls down all his works, tears off and clears away all his hoary falsehoods, which have been oppressing, deceiving, misleading, and swaying the world to its destruction for so many ages;--a power which gives to the nations new, just, and righteous laws, in the administration of immortal rulers, whose good and holy commands men must obey or die;--a power which cuts at once the cords of life for every dissembling Ananias and Sapphira, blasts every Nadab and Abihu that ventures to offer strange fire before the Lord, consigns to death and burning every Achan that covets the Babylonish garment or wedge of gold which God hath pronounced accursed, and causeth the earth to open her mouth and swallow up on the spot every Korah, Dathan, and Abiram that dares to open his mouth against the authority of the holy princes whom Jehovah hath ordained;--a power which grasps hold of the plethoric fortunes accumulated in meanness and oppression and held in greedy avarice for the pampering of lust and pride, hewing them down in righteousness and scattering them in restitutions to those out of whom they have been so uncharitably and dishonestly ground and wrung;--a power which goes forth in vindication of the worthy poor, the oppressed, the weak, the friendless, and the downtrodden, the righting of their cause, the maintenance of their just claims, and the enforcement of truth and brotherhood between man and man;-a power which lifts the mask from deceit, pretence, and false show, puts each one in his true place according to what he really is, gives credit only where credit is due, stamps an effectual condemnation on all false weights and measures, and tries everything and everybody in the balances of a strict and invincible justice. I think of the coming in of that power,--of the havoc it must needs make in the whole order of things,--of the confusion it will cause in the depraved cabinets, and courts, and legislatures of the world,-of the revolution it must work in business customs, in corporation managements, in political manipulations, in mercantile and manufacturing frauds, in the lies and hollownesses which pervade social life,--of the changes it must bring into churches, into pulpits, into pews, into worship, into schools, into the newspapers, into book-making and book-reading, into thinking and philosophy, and into all the schemes, enterprises, judgments, pursuits, and doings of men,--of how it will affect literature, art, science, architecture, eating, drinking, sleeping, working, recreating,--of what it must do concerning playhouses, and rmmshops, and gambling hells, and the unhallowed gains by which great masses of people have their living and keep themselves up in the world. And as I thus begin to realize in imagination what the irresistible enforcement of a true and righteous administration in all these directions and relations necessarily implies, I can see why the Book of God describes it as a shepherdizing with a rod of iron, and calls it a breaking like the dashing to pieces of an article of pottery. Think of the sudden collapse of all the haunts of sin, the rooting out of the nests and nurseries of iniquity, the clearing away of the marshes and bogs of crime, where every style of damning pestilence is bred, and the changes that must hence come;--think of the summary abolition of all infamous cliques, combinations, and rings,--political rings, whisky rings, municipal rings, state rings, railroad rings, mercantile rings, communistic rings, oath-bound society rings, and a thousand kinds of other rings,--all the children of wickedness, hindering just law, suppressing moral right, crippling honest industry, subsidizing legislation, corrupting the Press, robbing the public treasuries, eating up the gains of honourable occupation, perverting public sentiment, spotting and exorcising men who cannot be made the tools of party, transmuting selfish greed and expediency into principle, razeeing the dominion of virtue and intelligence, subordinating the common weal to individual aggrandisement, and setting all righteous administration at defiance;-think of the universal and invincible dragging forth to divine justice of every blatant infidel, perjurer, liar, profane swearer, drunkard, drunkard-maker, whoremonger, hypocrite, slanderer, trickster, cheat, thief, murderer, trader in uncleanness, truce-breaker, traitor, miser, oppressor of the poor, bribe-taking legislator, timeserving preacher, mal-practitioner, babe-destroyer, friend-robber, office-usurper, peace-disturber, and life-embitterer;--think of the instantaneous going forth into all the world of a divine and unerring force, which cannot be turned or avoided, but which hews down every fruitless tree, purges away all chaff from every floor, negatives all unrighteous laws, overwhelms all unrighteous traffic, destroys all unrighteous coalitions, burns up every nest of infamy and sin, ferrets out all concealed wickedness, exposes and punishes all empty pretence, makes an end of all unholy business, and puts an effectual stop to all base fashions, all silly conceits, all questionable customs, and all the hollow shams and corrupt show and fastidiousness of what calls itself society, transferring the dominion of the almighty dollar to Almighty Right, and reducing everything in human life, pursuits, manners, and professions to the standard of rigid truth and justice;-think of the tremendous revolution, in all that the eye can see, the ear hear, the hand touch, the heart feel, or earthly being realize, that must needs attend the putting into living practical force of such an administration,--the high it must make low, the famous it must make infamous, the rich it must make poor, the mighty it must make powerless, the loud it must sink to oblivion, the admired and worshipped it must turn to disgrace and abhorrence, and the despised and contemned poor it must lift into place and respectability,-the different impulse under which every wheel must then turn, every shuttle move, every hammer strike, every foot step, every mind calculate, and every heart beat;--the change that must come over the houses we enter, over the streets we walk, over the people we meet, over the words we pronounce, over the food we eat, over the air we breathe, over the sunlight of the day, over the repose of night, over the spirit of our waking hours and the very dreams of our slumbers, and over all the elements, relations, activities, and experiences which go to make up what we call life;--think, I say, of all this tremendous revolution, and conceive it going into invincible effect, unchangeably, without compromise, at once, and forever; and you may begin to have some idea of the alteration which The First Resurrection is to introduce into the history of our earth. For this, and nothing less than this, is the meaning of this sitting upon thrones, receiving power of judgment, shepherdizing the nations, and reigning on the earth, on the part of these blessed and holy immortals.

And a good thing it will be for the nations when that day comes. There can be nothing better than God"s law. There can be nothing more just, more reasonable, more thoroughly or wisely adapted to all the well-being of man and the highest wholesomeness of human society. All the blessedness in the universe is built upon it. All that is needed for the establishment of a holy and happy order is for men to obey that law, for it to be put in living force, for it to be incarnated in the feelings, actions and lives of men. And this is what is to be effected when "the children of the resurrection" get their crowns, and go into power, with Christ the All-Ruler at their head. They are to shepherdize, and deal with the nations, and with all that make up the nations, as unerring and immortal kings and priests, to direct, instruct, and feed them with all the loving care of angels, but with "a rod of iron" in their hands to enforce docility, obedience, and unreserved surrender to all the laws and requirements of the Lord God Almighty. And under this reign shall be fulfilled what the prophets have prophesied, and sung in golden numbers, about the peace and blessedness which is in reserve for this sin-hurt and long downtrodden inheritance of man. You may call it Judaism, if you like; you may sneer at it as fantastical conceit; you may denounce it as a carnal dream; you may brand it as heresy; but it is nevertheless the truth of God, to which you, and I, and all men, are inexorably bound; and which has every prospect of becoming experimental fact before the century approaching has passed away. I hail its coming, and I bid it welcome, as the great hope and regeneration of our depraved and misgoverned world.

5. The completion of this Resurrection promotes the subjects of it to a transcendent glory. Saintship means honour. It is not so in this present world. The greatest of the Apostles, with all his great achievements and sublime experiences, was compelled to say, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most miserable." (1 Corinthians 15:19.) The great Master of all told his disciples from the beginning, "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." (John 15:19.) The unregenerate heart does not like the Gospel philosophy and the Gospel requirements; and whilst it continues unregenerate, it has no favours for those who defend and live it, and insist on its acceptance as the only hope for man. Hence the history of the Church, wherever it has been truest, purest, and most itself, is a Book of Martyrs. But "the resurrection of the just" brings the people of God their compensation. "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the Resurrection the First! Over these the Second Death has no power, but they shall be priests of the God and of the Christ, and reign with him a thousand years." Analyse a little the exultant statement.

First of all, they are partakers of resurrection, the first resurrection, the blessed resurrection. Not all of them actually suffer death. Such of them as are alive, and remaining, and ready, when the time comes, are "caught up," translated, carried off into the resurrection life, without dying at all. But the translation in those instances is the equivalent of the resurrection. It is the same change to incorruption and immortality, not from the grave indeed, but from mortal life, and so is included in the one term, which means, that, to all of them alike, a power is vouchsafed which strikes from every one of them forever every vestige of the old slavery to corruption, death, or mortal disability. Mere living again, great and wonderful as that is, is the smallest part of the matter. By the prophets, by Christ, and by the apostles, some were recalled to life, resuscitated, made to live again after they were dead, and yet died again as men ordinarily die, the same as if they had never been recalled from death. The living again in this case involves a far "better resurrection," even the renewal of the whole corporeal being, refashioned to a heavenly model, with heavenly qualities, and to a vastly sublimer life than ever was enjoyed before;-a resurrection, in which corruption puts on incorruption, dishonour puts on glory, weakness puts on power, and the earthy body becomes a spirit body, lifted quite out of the sphere of the earthly life, and over which neither the first death nor the second has any further power. Having been "accounted worthy to attain that world," they "neither marry nor are given in marriage; neither can they die any more; for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection." (Luke 20:35-36.)

They are holy. They were holy in their lives and aims while they lived in the flesh. They had "the testimony of Jesus" and "the word of God," and confessed it over against a gainsaying world, and held it fast against persecution and death, and willingly suffered the loss of all things, counting them but refuse and offal, rather than let go their confession and hope in Christ Jesus. They were the salt of the earth and the light of the world, the golden candlesticks of eternal truth in the realm of abounding sin and darkness, yet never content with that to which they had attained, but ever reaching forth unto still higher and better things, and, like the Olympian racers, pressed toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God. Reviled, persecuted, evil spoken of, and accounted the very offscourings of the world, because of their faith, devotion, and self-sacrifice for their Saviour and his cause, they resented not, but counted it all joy, and were exceeding glad, sure that it was working for them a far more exceeding and an eternal weight of glory. Many of them were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain the better resurrection; and others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, of bonds and imprisonments, were stoned, sawn asunder, tempted, slain with the sword, wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented, of whom the world was not worthy. But consecrated and set apart to God as his servants and lightbearers in their earthly lifetime, they are a hundredfold holier now. Released forever from the deathworking law in their fleshly members, their whole being has come under the power of a complete and untemptable sanctification, which sets them apart and consecrates them to a sublime and unapproachable holiness, to which dwellers in the flesh must stand in greater awe than ever was called for in the sublimest of earthly kings or the most sacred of Jewish high-priests;-a holiness which inspires while it awes, which attracts while it reproves and condemns, and which lifts and assures those whom it strikes with humiliation and dread. When Isaiah saw the Lord sitting upon his Almighty throne, and the seraphim with covered faces round about him saying, Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God of Sabaoth, he fell down and cried, "Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and dwell among a people of unclean lips." (Isaiah 6:1-5.) And something of this same awful holiness is then to appear in the immortal king-priests of this resurrection, before which men and angels will veil their eyes in reverence; for in them and through them God will set his glory among the nations, and all the earth shall be filled with it. (Ezekiel 29:21; Isaiah 6:3.) There is a great and awful majesty of consecration in a true child of God even while living and walking here in the flesh. To the outward eye and carnal view there is but little that is special. The thoughtful brow, the sober mien, the dignified behaviour, the reserved and careful utterance, the keeping aloof from the world"s wild pleasures and gaieties, and the solemn regard for holy names and holy things, along with a calm and firm confession of the truth as it is in Jesus, is about all that can be externally noticed. But his name is in the books of heaven. He is there enrolled as a celestial citizen and prince. The angels are ministers and servants to him. He is allied by regeneration to the blood-royal of eternity. He is marked with the name and sacrament of the King eternal, immortal, and invisible. He has upon him an unction from the Holy One, consecrating him for transfiguration to supernal principality. He is brother and joint-heir with Him who sits enthroned at the right hand of eternal Majesty, and who is presently to be revealed as the King of kings and Lord of lords. The very ground on which he treads takes on sacredness from his presence. The Holy Ghost dwells in his body, breathes in his breath, walks in his steps, and speaks in his words. Through that Saviour in whom he trusts, he is already in a measure a divine man, partaker of the divine nature. All of which shall be made complete, manifest, and visible when he comes forth in the sublime sanctity of the First Resurrection; for "blessed and holy is he that hath part in the Resurrection the First."

Further, they have very exalted place and occupation. John saw them seated on thrones. He beheld them endowed with judgeship. He pronounces them kings and priests. They share in the administrations of government. They reign with Christ. Their business is to shepherdize nations. These things all tell of official relations and prerogatives. They are not mere names and empty titles. The saints know no sinecures. No meaningless ceremonials or hollow designations find place in heaven. Nothing is there but substantial realities. The children of the resurrection are no sham kings, and no mock judges, but everything which these high titles and offices imply. They are not coregents and co-shepherdizers with Christ, without being and doing what such words import and express. The dignity is transcendently exalted, but it is all real; and the reality of the offices necessitates the reality of the activities which pertain to them. I said that saintship means honour; but saint honour means duty, activity, work, not idleness, not quiescence. There is no heaven for laziness; much less is heaven made up of it. Not for parade badges, but for corresponding services, do the children of this resurrection get their dignities. As kings, they are to fill the places and do the work of kings. As judges, they are to judge and administer justice. As priest-regents, they are charged with the cares and duties of royal priesthood. They not only have the name and place of sovereigns, but they reign, as truly and really as ever Saul, or David, or Solomon reigned. The end of their salvation is not to sit on clouds and sing psalms, or to luxuriate in the idle bliss of an eternal languor or ecstasy. They are redeemed and glorified for sublime offices and the work pertaining to those offices. The life of Christ in heaven is an intensely busy life. He is administering the Kingdom of the universe. When the present dispensation ends he will deliver up that Kingdom to the Father, and enter upon a new and particular administration of bis own, in which the children of the resurrection are to be joined with him, as angels are now associated with him in the administration of the Kingdom of the Father, yea, in a still closer union. The work to be done is the shepherdizing of the nations with a rod of iron,-the following up of the victory of the great day of God Almighty, putting in force the rule of eternal right and justice where the blasting rule of the Dragon has so perverted things and held disastrous sway for so many ages. For this they have their thrones. For this judgment is put into their hands. For this they are lifted high above all the infirmities of mortal life. For this they are perfected in holiness and invested with such divine and awful consecration. And in this they have their honour and their blessedness. Through their completed redemption in Christ Jesus they come into such full harmony with the mind and will of God, and into such living consociation with their Redeemer, as to know no higher dignity or joy than to fill out the great administration of reducing the mortal survivors of the awful day to divine order, and to employ their immortal energies in tutoring the race from which they have sprung, till returned to that Paradise from which it has been in exile for 6,000 years.

These are quite different ideas from those usually entertained about heaven. People spiritualize and explain away the great things of God"s Revelation until the whole matter evaporates in their hands, and the true Christian hope vanishes into insipidity and nothingness. They make ado about getting to heaven, but have lost all understanding of what it means. All the singing, and longing, and fond anticipation on the subject really amounts to very little more than a going to see Jesus, to meet some departed friends, and to make the acquaintance of some distinguished people who once lived. Crowns are sometimes alluded to, but they are only fancy crowns, glittering shadows, empty dreams, badges without corresponding dignities, administrations without subjects, thrones to which nobody is amenable. They talk of rest; but rest is not heaven, any more than sleep is life. And the impossibility of finding realities with which to fill up the scriptural images and descriptions of the final portion of the redeemed, on the part of those who spiritualize the First Resurrection, is ample evidence of their tremendous mistake. They, in effect, abolish everything that makes heaven heaven, and all their pictures of futurity are simply the taking of God"s ransomed kings into a world of shadows, to find their eternal bliss and ever-growing greatness in the languor of songs, or the dreamy joys of an endless spiritual intoxication, all as impossible as it is uninviting to rational natures, or to beings invested with immortal powers. No, the joys and honours of the children of the resurrection are, that they are made kings and priests unto God and Christ, installed and endowed as immortal benefactors of the nations upon the earth, the unerring lords, rulers, and invincible shepherds, of a renewing and renewed world, the everlasting guides, judges, and potentates of a redeemed race. So the word before us is; and to this outcome all the promises in the Book of God are fitted.

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Seiss, Joseph A. "Commentary on Revelation 20:6". Seiss' Lecutres on Leviticus and Revelation.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

6.Our seer now specifies the nature of the life of this first resurrection. Over that high and unique vitality the second death hath no power. By the first resurrection we are raised from beneath the power of the second death to above the power of the second death. This is initiated at our earthly regeneration, but it is not completed until the glorification of our spirits. Our souls pass through as true and literal a resurrection as our bodies; and it is by that resurrection of our souls that they become a fitting unity with our resurrection bodies. We might, perhaps, more truly say that it is by the resurrection and glorification of the body that it becomes fit for unification with the resurrect soul. Or, stronger still, it is by its own first resurrection that the blessed soul brings the raised body to a fitting unity with itself. It is the soul that glorifies the body. And thus soul and body both pass through each its literal resurrection to the final glorious unification. The first resurrection is, therefore, a resurrection of souls; the second, of bodies.

A thousand years—As we are here still in the land of symbol, there is ample reason for applying the symbolic interpretation to this number. We have the number of universality, ten, raised to a cube, and producing, on the year-day principle, 360,000 years. The 1260 years of antichristic rule dwindle thereby to an insignificant extent in comparison with the earthly reign of Christ. Glasgow well says, “Against the hypothesis of the contracted millennium there lies this startling objection: that it assigns to antichrist a more extended reign than to Christ. But, if the reign of Jesus be 360,000 years, and the end of antichrist or heathenism be speedily approaching, their duration is of no moment, being, at most, about 7,000 out of 360,000, or one-five-hundredth part.” We are then only in the morning dawn of human history. Progress is the law, not only in nature and in history but in the Messianic kingdom. It is not only the few that are finally saved. Entirely correct is the inference drawn from the doctrine of the millennium by Dr. Bellamy, that the number of the lost in comparison to the saved may finally be as the number of malefactors now hung to the rest of society. See our work on The Will, p. 359.

Alford, on the passage, in insisting that this resurrection of souls is a bodily resurrection, makes two points. 1. If the first resurrection is “spiritual,” so must be the second. To which we answer, If the first is not a “spiritual” resurrection, it certainly is a soul-resurrection: and a soul-resurrection is not a body-resurrection. It does not follow that if a soul-resurrection is spiritual, therefore a body-resurrection must, also, be spiritual. Professed “literalists” must render souls literally, and not figuratively, as bodies. 2. “Those who lived next to the apostles,” says Alford, “and the whole Church for 300 years understood them in the plain, literal sense;” that is, forsooth, understood souls to mean bodies! And that is a very queer “literal sense!” This argument, based on the authority of the post-apostolic Church, comes with a bad grace from Alford, who persistently maintains, in his Commentary, that the apostles themselves, even in their inspired writings, made the sad mistake of expecting the second advent to take place in their own day. And we call the attention of our readers to this special point: That this very mistake of expecting the advent in their own day is identical with the mistake of placing the advent before the millenium. Many of “those who lived next the apostles” did make this mistake. Bringing the advent into their own day, they, of course, thereby cut off the millennium, and placed it beyond the advent, and hence arose the errors of ancient Chiliasm, or pre-millennialism. This error was not held by “the whole Church for 300 years;” but, probably, by a decided majority of the post-apostolic Church. See the whole question of ancient Chiliasm discussed in our article on “Millennial Traditions,” in the Methodist Quarterly Review for July, 1843.

In his commentary on the Apocalypse, Mr. Glasgow has some ingenious methods of disproving the danger of millennial over-population. The fear of some is, that in 360,000 years of peace and prosperity the earth would be over-stocked with inhabitants. Glasgow first quotes many beautiful texts to prove the future increased fertility of the earth. “The wilderness shall be a fruitful field.” “I will plant in the wilderness the shittah-tree, and the myrtle, and the oil-tree.” “He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her deserts like the garden of the Lord.” “Break forth into joy, ye waste places.” “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose.”

The mountains, deserts, and morasses, may be, he thinks, rendered a fertile plain, and the earth become a garden by geological changes, by a better distribution of waters, and a diffusion, truly possible, of warmth over the Arctic regions. Nay, there are supposable methods by which the orb of the earth may be enlarged and furnish a larger area of life. In all which, he professedly and carefully states what may, and, for aught science can show can, be; not what certainly will be. The latest conclusion of science seems to be that the area of land is continually gaining upon the ocean.

But the most valid solution of this difficulty lies in what are now the known laws of population. In the animal creation it is found, largely, that low life is enormously prolific, and high life chary of over-population. The fishes spawn and the insects breed in trillions while the lion and elephant are generating a score. So also among mankind the poor, ignorant, and miserable are prolific, while the higher classes, the rich, the aristocratic, and the intellectually and morally cultured classes tend to sterility. The nobility of England would die out were it not replenished from the commons. People who have few resources for enjoyment fall back upon the animal and domestic gratifications within their reach. As the higher faculties find full play in a variety of directions, these enjoyments are often deserted. As the passions of mankind become regulated, fecundity becomes moderate, and a perfectly balanced race would never over-populate the earth.


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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Revelation 20:6". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

An interpolated explanation of the preceding vision. , if a continuation of ., must almost be taken in its archaic sense of ‘belonging to God”. The ordinary meaning reduces the phrase to a hysteron proteron, unless the idea is that the bliss consists in holiness (so Vendidad xix. 22, “happy, happy the man who is holy with perfect holiness”). “Blessed and holy,” however, was a conventional Jewish term of praise and congratulation (cf. Jub. ii. 23).— . . . . According to the Hellenic faith recorded in Plutarch (in his essay on “the face in the moon’s orb”), the second death, which gently severs the mind from the soul, is a boon, not a punishment. But John’s view reflects the tradition underlying the Iranian belief (Brandt, 586 f., 592) that the righteous were exempt from the second death (defined as in Revelation 21:8). The clause refers to the permanent standing (Revelation 1:6, Revelation 5:10 a) of these risen martyrs not only during but after the millennium; otherwise it would be meaningless, since the danger of the second death (as the penalty inflicted on all who are condemned at the final assizes) does not emerge until the millennium is over. The subsequent clause . . . is independent, referring back to the special and temporary privilege of the first resurrection and the millennium. For this reason it is precarious to infer from (elsewhere ) that the occupation of these saints is the mediation of divine knowledge to the whom Satan is temporarily prevented from beguiling. The likelihood is that the phrase simply denotes as elsewhere the bliss of undisturbed access to God and of intimate fellowship. John ignores the current belief that the loyal survivors on earth would be rewarded (cf.Daniel 12:12; Ps. Sol. 17:50, etc.), which is voiced in Asc. Isa. iv. 14–16, but he reproduces independently the cognate view (Asc. Isa. iv. 16 f.) that “the saints will come with the Lord with their garments which are (now) stored up on high in the seventh heaven [cf.Revelation 6:11] ’ they will descend and be present in this world” (after which the Beloved executes judgment at the resurrection). He, retains, however, not only the general resurrection (12) but the variant and earlier idea (cf. 4 Ezra 7:26 f.) of a resurrection ( , 4) confined to the saints. He calls this the first resurrection not because the martyrs and confessors who enjoyed it had to undergo a second in the process of their final redemption but because it preceded the only kind of resurrection with which sinners and even ordinary Christians had anything to do (Titius, 37–40; Baldensperger, 74, 79 f.).— , apparently on earth. This would be put beyond doubt were we to take the view of the risen martyrs’ occupation which has been set aside above. But, even apart from this, in the light of all relevant tradition and of the context, the earth must be the sphere of the millennium; Christ might of course be conceived to execute his sovereignty from heaven, but, though Revelation 20:9 denotes a different cycle of tradition from 4–6, it is put on the same plane, and the vision of 4 (cf. Revelation 20:1) is evidently this world. would be more in keeping with this context than with that of Revelation 20:10, where again the refrain of Revelation 22:5 ( . . ) would be more appropriate.— . This enigmatic and isolated prediction has led to more unhappy fantasies of speculation and conduct than almost any other passage of the N.T. It stands severely apart from the sensuous expectations of current chiliasm (fertility of soil, longevity, a religious carnival, etc.), but even its earliest interpreters, Papias and Justin, failed to appreciate its reticence, its special object, and its semi-transcendent atmosphere. For its relevance, or rather irrelevance, to the normal Christian outlook, see Denney’s Studies in Theology, pp. 231 f., and A. Robertson’s Regnum Dei, pp. 113 f. When the millennium or messianic reign was thus abbreviated into a temporary phase of providence in the latter days, the resurrection had to be shifted from its original position prior to the messianic reign; it now became, as here, the sequel to that period.



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Bibliographical Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Revelation 20:6". The Expositor's Greek Testament. 1897-1910.