Rev 20:4-5

From: Paul S. Dixon (
Date: Fri Oct 17 1997 - 13:16:32 EDT

Recent readings in Revelation rekindled some thoughts in 20:4-5. Let me
identify 2 or 3 concerns.

First, how should we take EZHSAN ... EZHSAN (20:4-5)? Is it talking
about physical life, or spiritual life? Furthermore, should the aorists
be taken ingressively (they came to life) or constatively (they lived)?
The two questions, of course, are not mutually exclusive. If we conclude
spiritual life is in view, then we will probably also find constative
aorists, whereas if physical life is the picture, then ingressive
aorists. Conversely, if we take them as ingressive aorists, then we will
probably find the reference to physical life; if constative aorists, then
spiritual life. So, where do we start?

The contrast being drawn by John is interesting. It is not between the
first and second resurrections, but between the first resurrection and
the second death, v. 6. The point being made is that he who has part in
the first resurrection does not have part in the second death. If the
second death is spiritual, then the parallelism seems to suggest the
first resurrection is also spiritual. But, is the second death physical?

A second concern, probably not unrelated, is the significance of ACRI in
verse 5. The natural assumption is that it implies that after the 1000
years (again, spiritual or literal?) the rest of the dead live. But,
does this necessarily follow? Certainly not, if the life spoken about in
these verses is spiritual life. Are we to infer that after the 1000
years the rest of the spiritually dead come to spiritual life (and
possibly reign with Christ as the first group did)? Regardless of how we
take "life" in these verses, the use of ACRI does not seem to imply that
the rest of the dead come to life. The use of the word in Rom 5:13 ("for
until the law sin was in the world;" does this imply that after the law
sin was not in the world?) shows that the use of the word itself does not
necessitate this conclusion.

What do you think?

Paul Dixon

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