Revelation 20:5 (NASV) “The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed”

A common view by many Christians, based on Rev. 20:5, is that the resurrection and a quick judgment of mankind will occur at the end of the 1,000 years. The judgment is considered a formality since it is believed that the trembling sinner is judged hell based on his behavior before he died and he is not permitted any further opportunity to repent and be saved.

Again, this view seems quite an incredible stretch in light of the scriptures already examined. We have seen that

  • ALL people will be blessed
  • ALL people will worship the LORD.
  • Two distinct classes are saved – the Church and the world
  • The Future Mission of the Church is to save the world

Yet all scriptures should harmonize and none should be swept away. So let’s look at the text upon which is based the concept of the quick and final judgment at the end of the 1,000 years.

Except for this one text, the thrust of scriptures on this topic is for the resurrection and judgment to begin earlier in the Millennium and lasting throughout, the 1,000 years.

Rev 20:4-6

Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I {saw} the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years. – NASV

Notice that if you remove the phrase, “The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed.” the passage makes more sense. Verse 4 describes the saints who come to life (are resurrected) and reign with Christ. The end of verse 5 says, “This is the first resurrection.” Yes, the resurrection of the saints is the “first resurrection.” If you add back in the phrase, “the rest of the dead…,” those raised after the Saints are then described as the “first resurrection.” This makes no sense.   “The rest of the dead” would be a second resurrection, after the Saints are “first” raised. The general resurrection of the world of mankind cannot be described as the “first resurrection.”

The manuscript evidence on whether this phrase is authentic is mixed. About half of the 4th-13th century manuscripts omit it. It is omitted in Lamsa (as the Aramaic never included it) as well as RVIC-2000; the Anchor Bible also mentions the ms. evidence against the sentence.

2 Tim 4:1

I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom” – NKJV

Rev 20:1 indicates that Christ returns at the beginning of the 1,000 years, at which time he begins to bind Satan. The point here is that judgment of the living and the dead starts with the Church at the beginning of the 1,000 years when Christ returned.

Act 3:21-4:2

21 “whom heaven must receive until {the} period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.

25 It is you who are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘AND IN YOUR SEED ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH SHALL BE BLESSED.’

being greatly disturbed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.”

The Sadducees were greatly disturbed that the Apostle Peter preached the “resurrection from the dead.” Notice the connections. Christ’s return is associated with …

  • the period of restoration of ALL things
  • the blessing of ALL the families of the earth
  • the resurrection of the dead

As verse 25 shows, Christ’s return is the time when through Abraham’s seed (Christ & Saints – Gal 3:16,29) bless all the families of the earth by resurrecting mankind from the dead to begin the process of restoring them to perfection. This is how the Sadducees realized Peter was preaching the “resurrection from the dead,” by his reference to the “period of restoration” and the “blessing of all the families of the earth.

Consequently, we can see that the resurrection begins at Christ’s return (vs 21), starting with the Church and followed by all mankind.

 

————————————-

COMMENTS FROM BRO. JIM PARKINSON – 7/2/03

Bro. Pete: –   In the back of the new RVIC-2000 New Testament there are two separate analyses of Rev 20:5a. [Not sure if Jeff has included the appendices in the On-line Bible, but he and a few others have hard copies.] About 35-40% of the nearly 200 Rev mss. omit the sentence; about half of those 4th-13th century omit it; after that the percentage omitting drops rapidly towards zero.  The only pre-Constantine evidence is the Revelation commentary by Victorinus of Petau (Petavia): manuscripts (mss.) of the commentary omit the sentence, but Jerome a century later says he included it! The good mss. 2053 and 2062 (with Aecumenius’ commentary) omit it both times in the text, but the commentary adds it. A later revision of the Aecumenius text also omits it. The quality of the ms. evidence is pretty evenly balanced, but wherever there is a demonstrable change, it is towards adding the sentence, not omitting it. [The sentence also occurs in several different forms.] I’d have to say that the total evidence suggests that the sentence more probably did not originate with the Apostle John.  It is omitted in Lamsa (as the Aramaic never included it) as well as RVIC-2000; the Anchor Bible also mentions the ms. evidence against the sentence.

       N.T. Appendix 1 attached (click below).                   With 1Co 10:31,    

Manuscript Evidence Rev 20-5

   Jim

3 comments to Revelation 20:5 (NASV) “The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed”

  • Brother Peter,

    Hello there!

    It has been too long. I hope you and your family have been blessed. Since my last visit here several years ago, I can say I truly have also.

    I really love the subject of when the resurrection takes place, and have thought and commented on this quite a few times over the years.

    In a nutshell, I do believe we can read it for what it says; the General Resurrection is a Judgement Day for those sleeping in Adamic death since Adam’s time. Not all will be released back onto earth to create havoc, as clearly Revelation shows, “the dead will be judged according to their deeds”.

    Again, it clearly states their previous life’s history will be reviewed by Christ, “the one appointed to judge the living and the dead”.

    “The dead will be judged according to what is written in the scrolls”…clearly their past life. The ‘scrolls’ that are opened are just that; the record of their actions in their past life. (Rev. 20:11-15)

    Romans 1 is very easy to understand, when it shows we all have the ability to discern right from wrong, and God will judge all who have lived according to their heart and actions. This is Bible 101. (Rev.11:18)

    Hitler, Mussolini, serial murderers, and all unrepentant evil seeds of Satan will be given the same chance as the good ones; all will stand before Christ at Judgement Day, according to Rev. 20…and John 5:28,29.

    But only those fit for life will be given a perfect body and allowed back into Paradise earth. No evil ones are allowed to ruin the peace of the New Earth.

    This is the meaning of ‘those who did good things to a resurrection of life, but those who did evil to a resurrection of judgement.”

    To me, this is the only way that is scriptural, fair to all, and logical.

    WT for years has clearly been dead wrong in their interpretation of the resurrection of mankind occurring during the 1000 Years, and should never have strayed from the clear instructions Jesus gave on this in Revelation, and John 5.

    The scriptures clearly show they are wrong saying when the Resurrection occurs, and who gets resurrected. (all mankind will be resurrected to stand before Christ in judgement, but only those deemed good will be granted life. All the wicked will be thrown into the Lake of Fire, as Rev. 20:15 clearly states)

    I believed the opposite before I was able to receive the rebirth of the spirit some 7 years ago, and then I re-read everything with a clean sheet of paper. It is too obvious doctrines of men had been laid upon my mind, not the clear scriptures. WT is responsible for the error, clearly.

    Peace be with you, Jacqueline, and others!

    • Brettstone

      John- couldn’t help but see your comment. If the portion of the verse here at Rev 20:5 is not spurious and is to be understood in light of the words “the rest of the dead didn’t come to life until the 1,000 years were ended” then the dead spoken of here have to be understood not to be literally dead people but those who are still dead in the sense that Jesus often spoke such as “Though you were DEAD in your trespasses you were made alive in the Christ”, or “Let the DEAD burry the dead” indicating these ones have not yet attained life in the sense of everlasting life. It is interesting that you spoke of the WT explanation of the resurrection to Peter as though the Bible Students don’t hold to the identical understanding of the resurrection as the witnesses. John Judgement day is not a literal day! Imagine Christ judging billions of personae in a literal 24hr period? That’s a couple hundred thousand per second!
      Read Isaiah 26:9,10 also Isaiah 65:20 each shows that even wicked are given favor to be resurrected during Christ reign of 1,000 yrs. John they have died and paid sins wages but the RANSOM gives them another chance at life! How they respond during the mellinium will determine wether or not they come to Life, that is everlasting life after the final test when satan is loosed.

    • Jacqueline

      John S, hellllo, so nice to hear from you again! What have you been doing? I am up so late after traveling today listening to sixscreen. I just finally made it home from the convention by way of, Washington DC and Indy. lol. I believe there will be some action that will prohibit violence until at least 100 yrs to give the person a chance to realize this is life or death.
      Let me go further to explain why. Because many will go with Satan after he is released. This all indicates to me that judgement day is a long period of time to allow even the unforgivable a chance. We might just find out that really bad people have a story to tell of what happened to them or their brain might even have been affected, twisted so they might be entirely different people from before.
      So wouldn’t it be unjust to judge a demented brain? Just thinking it thru. Br. Peter will see this in the morning, I am still listening to sixscreen they talked about BS tonight.
      But welcome back. Sincerely Jacqueline

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