Re: Rev 20:4-5

From: John M. Sweigart (
Date: Fri Oct 17 1997 - 14:26:02 EDT

Paul S. Dixon wrote:
> 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
Hello Paul;
(1)A key interpretive problem here is how we understand MEROS. Compare
the discussion between the Lord and Peter "If I don't wash you, you have
no part..."John 13:8.Could it mean that confession and cleansing had
something to do with the "part,share" of the ruling and reigning? Also
the preceding context argues for physical martyrdom. As Carl has argued
in another post "the souls" in 20:4 could/should be translated
"corpses". Also, although it is certainly not a majority view, based on
verse 5, does not the text argue that the first resurrection consists of
two parts? Those who are not joint-heirs do not get raised until after
the 1000years since joint-heirship is contingent in Romans 8:17. Or is
the passage in 11-15 an expansion of verse 5? What is the literary
structure of chapters 20-22 anyhow?


Rev. John M. Sweigart Box 895 Dover, Arkansas 72837 Cumberland Presbyterian Church __________________________________

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