Re: Rev 20:4-5

From: Jonathan Robie (
Date: Sat Oct 18 1997 - 07:32:49 EDT

At 03:58 AM 10/18/97 EDT, Paul S. Dixon wrote:
> 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)?

I don't know exactly what you mean by physical vs. spiritual life here. Are
you asking whether their physical bodies were brought to life? I don't think
the text tells us that, does it? There is a verse in 1 Cor 15 that discusses
the nature of our resurrected bodies:

SWMA PSUCIKON, ESTIN KAI PNEUMATIKON. "It is sown a physical body, it is
raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a
spiritual body."

> Furthermore, should the aorists be taken ingressively (they came to life)
> or constatively (they lived)?

They had been beheaded, KAI EZHSAN. Presuming that they had died as a result
of being beheaded, they were dead, and if they now live, this would be a
change of state (and a rather significant one!). I think this should be
understood as an ingressive aorist.

> 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?

There is a description of the second death later in the chapter:

Reve 20:13 (NASB) And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death
and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every
one [of them] according to their deeds.
14 And death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second
death, the lake of fire.
15 And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was
thrown into the lake of fire.

It looks like you have to have died once before you can experience the
second death, and I presume that the first death is what you mean by
"physical" death, but I'm not sure.

> 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.

Isn't this also implied by verse 13, cited above? The dead are given over
from the sea, death, and Hades, and judged according to their deeds. Those
whose names are not written in the book of life are thrown into the lake of
fire, implying that some of these dead DO have their names written in the
book of life. (In this last sentence, "imply" means pragmatic implicature a
la Grice - don't throw the NIF at me!)

> 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.

Well, I think there is more than one meaning to the word "imply", and the
answer you get depends a great deal on whether you are using the definition
that comes from formal logic or the sense n which imply is the opposite of

To use Grice's terms, I think that ACRI implies this, but does not state it.
Let me explain: if you walk up to my house with a gas can in your hand and
say you ran out of gas, and I say, "there is a gas station around the
corner", I am implying that the gas station is open, that they do in fact
sell gas, that there is not an unbreachable moat around the gas station,
etc. But I can also say "there is a gas station around the corner, but it is
closed". The clause "it is closed" cancels the implication that it is open,
but there is nothing strange or paradoxical about the sentence. There IS
something paradoxical about the sentence "the gas station is open, but it is
closed", because the sentence STATES that it is open, and does not merely
imply it. So "implies" in this sense means that you can normally assume it
unless there is something that "cancels" it.


Jonathan Robie
POET Software, 3207 Gibson Road, Durham, N.C., 27703

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