Re: Rev 20:4-5

From: Paul S. Dixon (
Date: Sat Oct 18 1997 - 13:15:00 EDT

On Sat, 18 Oct 1997 07:32:49 -0400 Jonathan Robie
<> writes:
>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:
it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, >there is
also a spiritual body."

Good point. However, normally what is meant by this question (in Rev
20:4-5) is this: does the first resurrection refer to the true first
resurrection for believers, that is, the spiritual resurrection whereby
he has been raised with Christ and seated in the heavenly places in
Christ Jesus which has already occurred for believers (Eph 2:1-6), or
does it refer to the future bodily (albeit spiritual body) resurrection
to which you refer in 1 Cor 15:44?

>> Furthermore, should the aorists be taken ingressively (they came to
>> 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.

I understand your thinking here. Yet, there is no temporal indicator
here (like TOTE). If John had meant to communicate a certain chronology,
then he could easily have said KAI TOTE EZHSAN or something to that
effect. How do we get that they came to life then? It is possible, of
course, but it is also as equally (?) possible that the aorist is
constative (as it usually is) and that there is no necessary
chronological sequence, as though they did not come alive until John saw
the beheaded saints. It makes good sense to see it as a constative
aorist, then, if there is a chronological development, it would be only
that in line with Jn 11:25 where Christ says hO PISTEUWN EIS EME KAN
APOQANHi ZHSETAI, "he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies."
This presupposes, of course, that a resurrection has already taken place
and that the believer who has died physically (like the martyred saints
in Rev 20) continues to live spiritually.

>> 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
>> the first resurrection is also spiritual. But, is the second death
>> physical?

I asked this last question, expecting a negative answer (perhaps I should
have given it away by including MH somewhere :))

>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
>and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged,
>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
>15 And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he
>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.

Yes, the second death is spiritual. My point. If so, then we should
expect the parallel with the first resurrection to be spiritual. John's
point, of course, is that the one who has part in the first resurrection
does not have part in the second. It seems we ought to take both
consistently, that is, either the first resurrection and second death are
both physical or both spiritual. This is subject to further
investigation, of course, and perhaps we should pursue this some more,
but consistency in hermeneutics seems to call for it. This was Alford's
point, but he used it to argue for a physical resurrection. His problem,
however, is that he was comparing the first resurrection with the second
resurrection, the latter of which is not mentioned in the text. The text
contrasts not the two resurrections, but the first resurrection and the
second death.

>> 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
>Isn't this also implied by verse 13, cited above? The dead are given
>from the sea, death, and Hades, and judged according to their deeds.
>whose names are not written in the book of life are thrown into the lake
>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!)

Hey, I play niffle ball only when it's thrown at me. I'd much rather play
hardball. :)

>> 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
>> 5:13 ("for until the law sin was in the world;" does this imply that
>> the law sin was not in the world?) shows that the use of the word
>> 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
>opposite of infer.
>To use Grice's terms, I think that ACRI implies this, but does not state
>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
>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
>open, but there is nothing strange or paradoxical about the sentence.
>IS something paradoxical about the sentence "the gas station is open,
>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.

(In the following paragraph I will be using "implication" in the way you
use it above, not in the logically technical way.)

Yes, I have no problem with this. Likewise, if the normal use of ACRI
implies or suggests in Rev. 20:5 that afterwards the rest of the dead do
come alive, then so be it. But, if something cancels that out, as you
say, then so be it. I brought up just one occurrence of ACRI where that
implication is invalid (Rom 5:13). There may be more, a lot more. Even
in v. 3 where ACRI occurs, there is some reason to question if that
implication is valid, since John adds META TAUTA DEI LUQHNAI AUTON MIKRON
CRONON. The addition of this may suggest John did not mean to "imply"
just by ACRI alone that afterwards he would be released. So, there are
concerns to be considered which may "cancel" out this implication, as
you say.

On the lighter side, and equally joyful: my #2 daughter called last night
to announce her engagement to a fine, committed Christian. I knew it was
coming. He had called from Alabama last week requesting permission to
ask her hand in marriage. We are all delighted with great joy. God is


Paul Dixon

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