Re: Rev 20:4-5

From: Paul S. Dixon (
Date: Sat Oct 18 1997 - 20:37:02 EDT

On Sat, 18 Oct 1997 18:09:42 +0400 Carlton Winbery
<> writes:
>Paul 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
>>The two questions, of course, are not mutually exclusive. If we
>>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
>>probably find the reference to physical life; if constative aorists,
>>spiritual life. So, where do we start?
>I am aware of the other posts on this subject. I am running about a
>day behind in reading b-greek. I would like to raise only one issue,
>because much of what I would say about the larger issues here are part
>parcel of my theology and not just a matter of language.
>The contrast you make between "ingressive" and "constative" aorist
>confuses me. "Constative" is a term that most grammars which use it
define as
>the use of the aorist that views the action in its entirety without
>emphasis on the beginning or end. It may describe action that is
>(Mt.8:3, "He touched him."), or a series of events (Heb.11:13, "All
these died
>in faith."), an action of long duration (Rom. 5:14, "Death reigned from
>Adam to Moses."), or of short duration, (Gal. 1:18, "I remained with him

>fifteen days."). Others call this the "summary" aorist of the
>But I cannot see the use in Rev. 20:4 for I do not see how the verb
>indicates the whole event. "They came alive" makes good sense here, but
I >cannot see here the action in its entirety unless you think the living
ends with
>the end of a literal 1000 years. Or, are you saying that the aorist can
>seen as durative action?

Good question. The best way to take EZHSAN may be determined by its
parallel with the accompanying aorist EBASILEUSAN. If it is constative
(describing action in its entirely without emphasis on the beginning or
end), then what is the problem with taking EZHNSAN in the same way? One
might even expect these aorists to be taken in the same way. Do you have
a problem with taking EBASILEUSAN constatively? Do you want to say, "the
came alive and began to reign for a thousand years"? I don't think so.

You say, " I cannot see here the action in its entirety unless you think
the living ends with the end of a literal 1000 years. Or, are you saying
that the aorist can be
seen as durative action?" Be careful. How does seeing the action in its
entirety imply that the living and reigning ceases after the 1000 years?
Both might cease, one might cease, or neither one may cease, but it says
nothing definitely about what happens afterwards. It just affirms that
they live and reign with Christ for a thousand years. No, I do not see
the aorist here duratively. Following your suggested options for the
constative, I would put it closer to "an action of longer duration" such
as Rom 5:14 ("death reigned from Adam to Moses"), or possibly the summary
aorist of the historical.

The constative, as you know, by far and away, is the most common nuance
of the aorist tense. Here it makes good sense where John saw the souls
of those beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus (YUCAS TWN
souls lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

What does this mean? If the thousand years is not taken literally, but
figuratively for the period of time between the two advents of Christ,
then this should be taken as an encouragement for suffering and possibly
soon-to-be-martyred saints. Those who have gone on before us, and who
have suffered much, even to the point of death, are already living and
reigning with Christ. But, keep in mind, the passage does not imply that
only such martyred saints are living and reigning with Christ. Some have
drawn such an inference, but only to their detriment.

Paul Dixon

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