Re: Rev 20:4-5

From: Rolf Furuli (
Date: Mon Oct 20 1997 - 15:45:25 EDT

Paul S Dixon wrote,

<You say, "In the OT the soul is mortal and it is, or is represented by
<the blood," and "there is no passage in the NT which explicitly expresses
<another view of the
<soul than the Hebrew one." I find this incredible. The same author, in
<the Gospel bearing his name, cites these words of Christ, "I am the
<resurrection and the life; he who believes in me shall live even if he
<dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you
<believe this?" (Jn 11:25-26). Is this not a clear teaching of the
<immortality of the soul which believes in Christ? Indeed it is.

<These words of Christ may very well be the backdrop and the key for
<helping us to understand Rev 20:4 ff. If it is true that the one who
<believes in Christ lives eternally, then even he dies physically, he can
<have the assurance of living and reigning with Christ. John saw the
<souls, TAS YUCAS, of the beheaded saints. Before we start trying to find
<this as a figure of speech for the physical body, why don't we first
<consider if John selected this word because this is specifically what he
<had in mind, the soul, and not the body. Again, this makes very good
<sense in light of what John heard Christ say (Jn 11:25-26). Sure, the
<bodies of these beheaded saints had died, but the souls had not. In
<fact, they were in that group that lived and reigned with Christ for a
<thousand years.

<Now, before somebody says this interpretation suffers because it sees
<these saints living and reigning only for that period of time, let me
<hasten to say this interpretation says no such thing. It does not imply
<that after the 1000 years these saints do not live and/or do not reign
<with Christ. It says nothing about what happens afterwards, if there is
<an afterwards (depending, of course, upon our interpretation of the 1000

Dear Paul,

Let us strive to discuss Greek and reduce theology to a minimum. The
central thought of John 11:25 is that Jesus is the RESURRECTION and LIFE.
Nobody can experience resurrection and life except through him. But what is
the meaning of the aorist subjunctive of APOQNHSKW and the future of ZAW
in the conditional clause? R.E. Brown says that "the aorist points to
understanding this as a reference to physical death; it discourages the
translation "even if he is dead /i.e. in sin/". The modern aspectual
understanding of Fanning/Porter and Mari enhances this.

More important for our subject, however is the time reference of the verbs.
I understand ANASTASIS as making dead persons alive and not making living
persons alive. It seems to me that the experience described by the future
of ZAW must occur AFTER the experience described by the aorist subjunctive
of APOQNHSKW. In other words: First death and then resurrection. Do we
have any parallel examples where a future can reach back in time in a
conditional clause like this,thus rescuing your immortal soul?

A final theological remark: Who should, according to v 25 live even if s/he
died? hO PISTEUWN EIS EME. Thus in any case can only those believing in
Jesus have an immortal soul! However, Jesus was speaking of the
RESURRECTION, the very opposite of an immortal soul, so the words may
simply mean that those believing in Jesus will get a resurrection after
they have died. Thus the scenario of the blood at the base of the altar in
Rev 20:4 in no way is contradicted.


Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

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