Re: Rev 20:4-5

From: Paul S. Dixon (
Date: Sat Oct 18 1997 - 03:58:20 EDT

On Fri, 17 Oct 1997 13:26:02 -0500 "John M. Sweigart"
<jsweiger@CSWNET.COM> writes:
>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
>> lived)? The two questions, of course, are not mutually exclusive. If
>> conclude spiritual life is in view, then we will probably also find
>> constative aorists, whereas if physical life is the picture, then
>> aorists. Conversely, if we take them as ingressive aorists, then we
>> will probably find the reference to physical life; if constative
>> 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.
>> the second death is spiritual, then the parallelism seems to suggest
>> 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
>> 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
>> that the rest of the dead come to life. The use of the word in Rom
>> ("for until the law sin was in the world;" does this imply that after
>> 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,
>have no part..."John 13:8.Could it mean that confession and cleansing
>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
>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?

Hi, John
I'm not sure I follow some of what you say. What exactly does Jn 13:8
have to do with the reigning in Rev 20:4? It seems like this is more of
an argument for the spiritual resurrection, but then you seem to argue
for a physical resurrection later. Am I missing something?

If YUCAS is "corpses," then I can see the argument for taking the first
resurrection physically. Yet, I don't see that necessarily follows.
John could be describing the heavenly reign of these saints with Christ
begun at their first spiritual resurrection and continuing with Him until
the second advent. Or, if YUCAS is "souls," the same thing results.

You ask, "does not the text argue that the first resurrection consists of
two parts?" Where do you get that? This follows only if we assume the
first resurrection is physical, which is the question being considered.
The text talks about a first resurrection and a second death (20:5-6).
It does not say anything explicitly about a second resurrection, nor a
first death, though both of these are apparently assumed. This is why I
think we err if we press Alford's classic statement to the effect that
the first resurrection must be physical, since the second one is. But,
John does not contrast these. The contrast is between the first
resurrection and the second death (hH ANASTASEI hH PRWTHi ...hO DEUTEROS
QANATOS). If the second death is spiritual, then the parallel seems to
suggest the first resurrection is spiritual.

Paul Dixon

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