The spiritualizing, allegorizing, and idealizing, expositors seek to evade the doctrine of the pre-millennial Advent of Christ, by teaching that the "First Resurrection." (Rev. 20: 5), is not a literal Resurrection of the Body, but means something else.  In like manner, they seek also to evade the fact that the sublime scene of the Diademed Warrior on the White Horse, (Rev. 19: 11-16), is not that of the Second Advent itself, but means something else.  Thus, the literal Resurrection denied here, the literal Second Advent is denied also.  But if the "First Resurrection" is literal here, it must be coincident with the literal Second Coming of Christ.  That the "First Resurrection" here announced is literal, the following testimony is adduced to prove.  It might have been multiplied to a volume:




"The view of Dr. Keil concerning the ‘First Resurrection’ is contrary to the Scriptures.  The ‘First Resurrection’ is literal and occurs at the end of the present world-period, at the visible personal Advent of Christ.  It is the same as that described by Paul I Cor. 15: 22, etc., and 1 Thess. 4: 14, etc.  After this are the 1,000 years." (Volck, Der Chiliasmus, 111-113.)




"As to the Resurrection, it is two-fold; the general resurrection at the final judgment, and previously to that, the ‘First Resurrection’ of Priests and Kings unto God, which finds place at the Advent of Christ followed by the 1,000 years’ kingdom." (Rinck Zustand, etc., 223.)




"That a literal resurrection is here presented is evident from verse 5, which informs us that the ‘Rest of the dead’ lived not till the 1,000 years were finished.  This ‘First Resurrection’ is nothing new.  It is only what Paul had already taught in 1 Cor. 15: 23, and 1 Thess. 4: 16." (Fuller. Offenb. Johan. 351.)




"Paul’s Basilica is here called the 1,000 years’ Kingdom, and is placed between the Parousia and the absolute Telos or End, named in 1 Cor. 15: 24.  There is no contradiction between Paul and John, but perfect harmony.  The ‘End’ in 1 Cor. 15: 24 is not the end of this Age, but of the 1,000 years." (Exegetisch. Handbuch on Rev. 20: 1-11.)




"This is the First Resurrection in the true and proper sense of the word, as the preceding verse shows.  What Paul in 1 Cor. 15: 23, calls the Resurrection of ‘those who are Christ’s,’ is here called the ‘First Resurrection.’  The ‘Rest of the dead’ are not raised until the close of the earthly kingdom." (Lammert. Offenb, Johan. Rev. 20: 1-4.)




"The 1000 years come in between Chap. 19: 11-21, and Chap. 20: 11-15.  He must deny the perspicuity of the Scriptures, altogether, who persists in denying this, or seeks to refute it.  The ‘First Resurrection’ is a corporeal one. The dead ‘became alive’ in that part in which they were dead or mortal, consequently in their body." (Bengel. Gnomon V, p. 365.)




"The word ‘Resurrection’ must here not be explained by the word ‘lived,’ but the latter, by the former which is added by way of expositionSo Ewald and DeWette.  It certainly means a return to life by a bodily resurrection.  It is the same word as in Rev. 2: 8.  In the same way Christ Himself says He ‘lived’ again.  This much is certain, that the 1000 years begin with the Visible Advent of Christ.  Here all agree, Bengel, Ewald, DeWette, Duterdieck, Hofmann, Ebrard, Luthardt, Auberlen, etc." (Kliefoth. Offenb. Johan. 267.)




" ‘This is the ‘First Resurrection See 1 Cor. 15: 23; John 5: 25-29; Rev. 20: 1-6.  In the succeeding resurrection, Rev. 20: 11-13, which introduces the great mundane catastrophe, and new heaven and [new] earth, the grand process of the world’s renewal has its fitting consummation." (Mod. Doubt, 453.)




"The Spirit of Glory is the Resurrection-Germ in the believer, Rom. 8: 11; 1Pet. 4: 14.  This Resurrection-Seed will become a Harvest in the ‘First Resurrection,’ 1 Cor. 15: 23, which belongs to the beginning of the cosmical consummation.  The ‘End 1 Cor. 15: 24, is the conclusion of ‘One Day’ which is with the Lord ‘as a 1000 years.’" (Bremen Lectures, p. 244.)




"The words ‘they lived,’ can mean nothing else than what is expressed in the explanatory clause, ‘This is the First Resurrection;’ the possession again of their bodily life in that glorification which the resurrection brings with it, to the saints.  It is what Paul says in 1 Cor. 15: 23, occurring at the Parousia of Christ.  Either this '‘First Resurrection'’ is a bodily one, or that of the '‘Rest of the deadRev. 20: 11-15, is not a bodily resurrection, and the Apocalypse shows no resurrection of the dead at the close of our age, or of the world’s history!’ Whatever ‘they lived’ means in the one case, it means in the other." (Steffann. Das Ende, 312.)


11.  ROTHE


"The Apocalypse distinguishes a First and Second Resurrection.  The ‘First,’ which ensues at the time with the Advent, Rev. 19: 11-21, is expressly described as the ‘First’ in Rev. 20: 4-6.  In it, the martyrs, and those who have remained pure from contamination of the world-power, have a share.  Only these reign with Christ 1000 years, while the ‘Rest of the dead’ awake not to life.  After the expiration of these years, and victory over Satan let loose, then the ‘Rest of the dead’ arise for judgment." (Rothe. Dogmatik, Part2, p. 77.)




"This resurrection is called the ‘First,’ in distinction from the general resurrection of the dead to judgment, described in 20: 12, 13.  That the Seer means by it what Luke 14: 14 calls ‘the resurrection of the just,’ and what Paul speaks of as ‘the resurrection from the deadPhil. 3: 11; 1 Cor. 15: 23; 1 Thess. 4: 16, in which is included the change of the living, there can be no doubt.  The remaining dead, remain dead, during the 1000 years reign, until the general resurrection, the sleeping saints, of Christians ‘live,’ i.e., rise from the dead, and are glorified with Christ." (Gebhardt. Doct. Of Apoc. 280, 281.)




"This resurrection is called the ‘First,’ and opposed to it is another, the second.  A portion of the dead rise in that ‘First,’ the remainder in the Second.  The subjects of these different resurrections, at two different times, are opposed as a part of a certain whole to the remainder of that whole.  That whole is the aggregate or complex of the dead.  On every principle of division, the parts must be numerically distinct, and each exclude the other.  Unless a part of the dead do actually rise on the former occasion, they must all rise on the second.  But if they who rise on the second include those who rise on the first, then one part includes the other, and the remainder is equal to the whole!  These are absurdities we cannot avoid, except by allowing, in the plain sense of the book itself, that part of the dead do actually rise on one and a former occasion, and the rest on another and later; which reconciles everything, and makes what is otherwise a flat contradiction and impossible, perfectly consistent and possible." (Gresswell on the Parables 1, 327.)




"The Resurrection spoken of corresponds in every case, to the Death out of which it was a revival.  So constant and stringent is this rule that, in any doubtfully expressed case of Resurrection, there needs but to ascertain the nature of the Death revived from, to find an explanation of the Resurrection conformable thereto.  In the present case the Death is that of those who had been beheaded for the witnessing of Christ; a form of expression which identifies them with those John had seen on the 5th Seal’s opening- a literal bodily Death.  The expression, the ‘rest of the dead,’ absolutely and necessarily connects this remainder of the dead, later raised to life, with the other dead, just before said to have been earlier raised to life; as having been originally (i.e., prior to the abstraction of the dead first taken) part and parcel of the same community of the dead.  The Resurrection in both cases, therefore, is a literal one of the body, the death having been literal, the righteous dead, at the opening of the millennium, having then adjudged them an abundant entrance into Christ’s kingdom; the wicked dead being excluded from it prior to their other and final judgment." (Elliott Horae 4, 140.)




"'They lived' means they revived, came to life, returned to a life like the former one, viz., a union of soul and body.   So does the word mean in Rev. 1: 8, and in many other passages.  Any other exegesis here would seem to be incongruous. ‘They lived’ must mean, here, reviving, or raising from the dead.  Thus the Saviour spoke of Himself in Rev. 2: 8 as being He who was ‘dead and alive again.’  After the death of the body.  Thus too, it is said of the Beast, Rev. 13: 14, that had the deadly wound of the sword, that he ‘did live.’  Thus, in our context, also, it is said, the rest of the dead ‘lived not’ until, etc.  The point of antithesis, which decides the whole case, is the distinction of order, or succession, not of kind.  The exigencies of the passage absolutely demand the sense of a bodily resurrection.  Indeed, if this be not a position in the interpretation of Scripture, which is fully and fairly made out by philology, I should be at a loss to designate one which is." (Stuart Apoc. 2, 360, 475, etc., etc.)




"If, in a passage were two resurrections are mentioned, - where certain souls lived, at first, and the ‘Rest of the dead’ lived only at the end of a specified period, after that first, - the ‘First Resurrection’ may be understood to mean a spiritual rising with Christ, while the second means a literal rising from the grave, then there is an end of all significance in language, and Scripture is wiped out as a definite testimony to anything.  If the ‘First Resurrection’ is spiritual, then so is the second, - which I suppose none will be hardy enough to maintain.  But if the second is literal, then so is the first, which, in common with the whole primitive church, and many of the best modern expositors, I do maintain, and receive as an article of faith and hope.  I have ventured to speak strongly, because my conviction is strong, founded on the rules of fair and consistent interpretation.  It is a strange sight, in these days, to see expositors who are among the first, in reverence of antiquity, complacently casting aside the most cogent instance of unanimity which primitive antiquity presents.  I have again and again raised by earnest protest against evading the plain sense of the words, and spiritualizing in the midst of plain declarations of facts.  That the Lord will come in person to this our earth; that His risen elect will reign with Him here, and judge; that, during that blessed reign the power of evil will be bound, and the glorious prophecies of peace and truth on earth find their accomplishment; this is my firm persuasion, and not mine alone, but that of multitudes of Christ’s waiting people, as it was that of His primitive apostolic Church, before controversy blinded the eyes of the fathers to the light of prophecy." (Alford N. T. Vol. 2. Part 2, 335, 336, 1088, 1089.)




"The First Resurrection is a literal resurrection of the body; for, although John saw only the ‘souls’ yet . . . are now united with their bodies and are, by such union to be transplanted into still greater joy and glory.  Moreover he does not say that the ‘souls’ lived and reigned, but speaks of the whole person.  ‘They’ who were beheaded, and ‘they’ who had not received the mark of the Beast, became alive by union of the soul with the body, and reigned with Christ a 1000 years. That the word ‘lived’ means that they came to life, is clearly seen from Rev. 2: 8; 13: 14; John 5: 25; Rom 8: 13.  Again, it is not said ‘Blessed and holy is the soul that has part in the first resurrection,’ but speaks of the whole person, (He) consisting of soul and body, which has part therein. For, if the First Resurrection and Reigning with Christ were to be understood of the soul alone, then John must have said, verse 5, the rest of the souls lived not again - which he does not.  As, moreover, he speaks of the whole person, so in like manner, the ‘rest of the dead’ lived not again until the 1000 years were finished.  Therefore we must explain the living and reigning with Christ, verse 4, of the whole person." Strake. Synopis. Vol. 2 182.


18. BIRKS.


"We are told in the plainest terms that there are two resurrections which include all the dead; - that there is an interval of more than 1000 years between them; that all who rise in the first are blessed and holy; that the martyrs of earlier and latter times have this privilege; and that every one whose name is not found in the ‘book of life’ appears and is judged in the second resurrection.*  When part of the dead are raised it is self evident, that the ‘Rest of the dead’ remain unraised.  After the mention of those who live and reign with Christ ‘in the First Resurrection,’ we are told that the ‘Rest of the dead’ lived not again till the 1000 years are finished. After this negative statement, we naturally look for tidings of their later resurrection, under their own proper title, - ‘the dead.’ We find it in the exact place, where it might have been expected, from the order of the prophecy. Four marks are given that the Millennium is begun: (1) the Binding of Satan; (2) the Cessation of His deceits; (3) the Reign of the saints; (4) the Delay in the Resurrection of the ‘Rest of the dead.’ Four events are revealed in the very same order, to mark its close; (1) the Loosing of Satan; (2) the Deceiving of the nations; (3) the Compassing of the camp of the saints; (4) the Appearance of ‘the dead,’ small and great, before the Throne of judgment. It is perfectly clear that this judgment corresponds, by strict parallelism, to the previous mention of the ‘Rest of the dead’ whose resurrection was delayed till the 1000 years were finished. It is the judgment of the unfaithful dead, alone, and follows the Millennium." Birks. Unfaithful Prophecy. 114, 174.


[* The scripture does not say: 'That every one whose name is not found in the "book of life" appears and is judged in the second resurrection',  The scriptures say: "And if any was not found written in the book of life," - [which by implication the context suggests that there will be some whose name will be found in 'the book of life' at that time - "he was cast into the lake of fire" (Rev. 20: 15). The statement by Birks is misleading and teaches that only those who are eternally lost are resurrected and judged at this time. - Ed.]


19. MEDE.


"The ‘second death’ is that of bodies not less than of souls, and, this conceded, it is sufficiently evident that the ‘First Resurrection' is a corporeal one.  Since the second Resurrection is a corporeal one, similarly so is the ‘First’ as is proved by the adversative participle ‘but.’  John says, he saw ‘the souls of those who were struck with the axe for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and they lived and reigned with Christ 1000 years. But the rest of the dead lived not until the thousand years were finished.’ Who does not gather at once from this that both resurrections are of the same kind?  The use of the adversative requires this.  And, as to the ‘souls,’ it is well known as to need no proof that, in the Scriptures this word is used to denote not only persons, but dead bodies cadavera, Psal. 16: 1; Acts 2: 21; Exek. 44: 25; Levit. 19: 28, in a certain order, as the Apostle tells us, 1 Cor. 15: 23; the Martyrs first, indeed, and at the beginning, Rev. 20: 4-6; after that, the remaining righteous who have not born the mark of the Beast; some sooner, some later, as shall seem good to Christ the Judge. And this is called the ‘First Resurrection;’ in Luke 14: 14, 'the Resurrection of the Just.’  Then, 1000 years having passed away, the wicked also shall rise, and, at the same time, the last and universal Judgment be accomplished." Mede Works. 572, 573.




"The Aorist tense of the verb ‘lived,’ indicates one definite Act, a coming to life again, and finds its explanation in the added words, ‘This is Resurrection the First,’ so that by reason of the contrasted and corresponding Act, verses 5 and 12, it can only be a literal resurrection of the body that is meant, and no other.  It can be understood here only in a literal sense, the sense ‘they lived again.’  If, by the ‘Rest of the dead’ we understand Believers, who died either a natural or martyr death, the idea that ‘they’ should, first of all, come to a blessed life only after the 1000 years are expired, is contrary to Scripture.  If we understand Unbelievers, the idea that ‘these’ should come to a blessed life, after the 1000 years, is equally contrary to Scripture. The same is the case if we take both at the same time, either way. It is, therefore, incorrect to hold that the words ‘This is resurrection the First’ indicate any other resurrection than a proper and literal one. Hebart. Zweite Zukunft, pp. 188, 194.


21. Van Oosterzee.


"The Scripture, in the dim distance, opens up the prospect of more than one resurrection; first a practical one, and then an absolutely universal one.  Of the former, not only does the Apocalypse speak, Rev. 20: 4-6, but also the Lord, Luke 14: 14, and Paul, 1Thess. 4: 16, and 1Cor. 15: 23, as compared with verse 26, without, however, its connection with and difference from, the other one being more nearly indicated. Thus much is evident that the Gospel teaches a resurrection not only of the just but of the unjust also." Van Oosterzee. Dogmatik 11 786.


22. GILL.


"It does not mean that they lived spiritually, for so they did before, and whilst they bore their testimony to Christ and against Antichrist, previous to their death; nor in their successors, for it would not be just and reasonable that they should be beheaded for their witness of Christ and His word, and others live and reign in their stead.  Nor is this to be understood of their living in their souls, for so they live in their separate state; the soul never dies.  But the sense is they lived again, as in verse 5, - they lived corporeally, their souls lived again in their bodies, their bodies being raised and reunited to their souls. Their whole persons lived; and this is called the First Resurrection in the next verse." Dr. John Gill, in ioca.


23. SEISS.


"My conviction is clear and positive that the resurrection here spoken of is the resurrection of the saints from their graves, in the sense of the Nicene Creed, where it is confessed, ‘I look for the Resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.’  The placing of it as the ‘first’ in a category of two resurrections, the second of which is specifically stated to be the literal rising again of such as were not raised in the first, fixes the sense to be a literal resurrection of the body.  It is a resurrection of saints only.  It is a resurrection from among the dead ones, necessarily eclectic, raising some and leaving others, and so interposing a difference as to time, which distinguishes the resurrection of the some in advance of the resurrection of the rest.  The First Resurrection is one that takes place in different stages. It is a resurrection which, as a whole, is nowhere pictorially described." Seiss. Lect. On Apoc. Vol. 111., p. 316, etc.




"That this First Resurrection must be understood in the literal sense is clear from the context, v. 5, where the ‘Rest of the Dead’ live not until the 1000 years are expired.  We should do great violence to the words if, with Hengstenberg, we interpret the First Resurrection figuratively, and understood by it, the first step of a blessedness and rest in the invisible world.  Independently of all other considerations, it would remain inexplicable why this Resurrection v. 5, must first begin with the beginning of the 1000 years.  The word ‘lived’ has the same sense, here, as in 2: 8, i.e. ‘came to life,’ or as Bengel says, ‘returned to life.’  The passage teaches, as Lόcke, Hoffmann, Delitzsch, and others unanimously agree, a resurrection of saints and martyrs from bodily death to the full enjoyment of dominion with Christ, during the 1000 years; a condition pictured, purely and grandly, without any carnal traits whatever." Lechler. Apost. Zeitalter. 203, 204.