Revelation 20:4
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
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(4) And I saw thrones, and they sat . . . There is a prominence given to the thrones, because the thought of the reign of the saints is uppermost in the mind of the seer. The thrones are seen, and those who sat on them. It has been asked, “By whom are the thrones occupied?” The answer is supplied in the latter part of the verse. Those who are in the latter part said to reign with Christ are clearly those who sit upon the thrones which first caught the prophet’s eye; these are all the real servants of God. They appear before the seer in two great classes:—First, the martyrs who have been faithful unto death; for he speaks first of seeing the souls of those who have been beheaded (strictly, “slain with the axe,” but clearly the special class of beheaded martyrs is to be taken as representing all), because of the testimony of Jesus, and because of the word of God. The number of the martyrs is now complete (comp. Revelation 6:11); these form the first class mentioned. Secondly, those who have been faithful in life occupy these thrones. The prophet sees these, even whosoever did not worship (during life) the wild beast, nor yet his image, and did not receive the mark (comp. Revelation 13:10) on their forehead and upon their hand. The triumph and sovereignty, whatever they be, are shared by all the faithful. These things are stated as constituting their privileges. They lived, whereas the rest of the dead lived not; they reigned, and judgment was given them. This last has been felt to be a difficulty. What sort of judgment is intended? The passage in Daniel (Daniel 7:22) is clearly suggestive of the present one. The phrase (judgment was given) is not there to be understood as meaning that right was done them (see Note in Speaker’s Commentary on Daniel), neither must it be so understood here. Judicial powers are given to the saints as to those who occupy thrones; “the chief power in governing” (Gebhardt) is given them (comp. Matthew 19:28, and 1Corinthians 6:2-3); they reign, they judge, they live; the true and full powers of life are seen to be theirs. And is not this the case always? Who, next to Him who knows the secrets of our hearts, exercises judicial powers over men? Do not those whose lives, as we read them, rebuke our own? Truly, those who lived for God, and refused the mark of earthliness, reign and judge us in our worldliness and weakness. This is their sovereign honour here, besides the glad reign in the unseen world.

Revelation 20:4-6. And I saw thrones — Such as were promised to the apostles, Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:30; and they — Namely, the saints, whom St. John saw at the same time; sat upon them, and judgment was given to them 1 Corinthians 6:2. Error and sin being restrained, the reign of righteousness succeeds, and the administration of justice and judgment is given to the saints of the Most High, Daniel 7:22. And I saw the souls — That is, the persons; of them that were beheaded — Namely, with the axe, as the word πεπελεκισμενων properly signifies: one kind of death, however, which was particularly inflicted at Rome, is mentioned for all kinds thereof: for the witness, or testimony, of Jesus — For testifying that Jesus of Nazareth is the true Messiah, the Son of God, the Saviour, Lawgiver, and final Judge of the world, and especially of those who believe in him; and for the word of God — In general, or for some particular and peculiarly important truth of it; or for bearing witness to the great truths of the everlasting gospel; and who had not worshipped the beast — Had not made any acknowledgment of subjection to the antichristian power of the beast, nor yielded to the prevailing corruptions; nor his image — The pope and his corrupt hierarchy; but had persevered in the true Christian faith against all opposition. See on Revelation 13:4-8; Revelation 13:11-17. Neither had received his mark in their foreheads, or on their hands — Had neither made an open profession of his corrupt religion, nor had secretly complied with its idolatries or superstitions. And they lived — Their souls and bodies being reunited; and reigned with Christ — It is not said, on earth. Doubtless the meaning is, that they ascended and reigned with him in heaven; a thousand years — Namely, before the rest of the dead, even the one thousand years during which Satan is bound, and truth and righteousness prevail over all the earth.

Although the martyrs, when thus raised from the dead, shall not continue on earth, it is highly probable that, in proof of their resurrection, they will appear to pious individuals, in the places where they were so cruelly martyred, and where they are raised: as those saints who, at Jerusalem, rose with Christ, went into the city, and appeared to many, Matthew 27:52-53. And if so, it is likely this circumstance will tend greatly to confirm the faith and hope of believers respecting the resurrection of the dead, and will check vice and profaneness, and contribute much to the spread of the gospel. “The martyrs and confessors of Jesus,” says Bishop Newton, “who are here represented as being raised from the dead, at least one thousand years before others, are not only those who were beheaded, or suffered any kind of death, under the heathen Roman emperors, but also those who refused to comply with the idolatrous worship of the beast and his image. All these have this peculiar prerogative above the rest of mankind: they all share in this first resurrection. And all of them the apostle here pronounces, Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection — He is holy in all senses of the word: holy, as separated from the common lot of mankind; holy, as endowed with all virtuous qualifications; and none but such are admitted to partake of this blessed state. On such the second death has no power — The second death is a Jewish phrase for the punishment of the wicked after death. The Chaldee paraphrase of Onkelos, and the other paraphrases of Jonathan Ben Uzziel, and of Jerusalem, on Deuteronomy 33:6, Let Reuben live, and not die, say, Let him not die the second death, by which the wicked die in the world to come.

The sons of the resurrection, therefore, shall not die again, but shall live in eternal bliss, and be priests of God and Christ, and reign with him a thousand years” — Before any others. For the Lord Jesus will not suffer any of his disciples to be, in the end, losers for their fidelity to him and his cause. These loved not their lives unto death, but voluntarily sacrificed them out of love to him; and he thus amply recompenses them. He gives each of them an infinitely better life than that given up for his sake — and this a thousand years before the other pious dead receive theirs. “Nothing is more evident,” says Bishop Newton, “than that this prophecy of the millennium, and of the first resurrection, hath not yet been fulfilled, even though the resurrection be taken in a figurative sense. For reckon the thousand years from the time of Christ, or reckon them from the time of Constantine, yet neither of these periods, nor indeed any other, will answer the description and character of the millennium, the purity and peace, the holiness and happiness of that blessed state. Before Constantine, indeed, the church was in greater purity; but was groaning under the persecutions of the heathen emperors. After Constantine, the church was in greater prosperity, but was soon shaken and disturbed by heresies and schisms, by the incursions and devastations of the northern nations, by the conquering arms and prevailing imposture of the Saracens, and afterward of the Turks; by the corruption, idolatry, and wickedness — the usurpation, tyranny, and cruelty, of the Church of Rome. If Satan was then bound, when can he be said to be loosed? Or how could the saints and the beast, Christ and antichrist, reign at the same period? This prophecy therefore remains to be fulfilled, even though the resurrection be taken only for an allegory, which yet the text cannot admit without the greatest torture and violence. For with what propriety can it be said, that some of the dead, who were beheaded, lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years, but the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished, unless the dying and living again be the same in both places, a proper death and resurrection? Indeed the death and resurrection of the witnesses before mentioned, chap. 11., appears, from the concurrent circumstances of the vision, to be figurative; but the death and resurrection here mentioned must, for the very same reasons, be concluded to be real. If the martyrs rise only in a spiritual sense, then the rest of the dead rise only in a spiritual sense; but if the rest of the dead really rise, the martyrs rise in the same manner. There is no difference between them: and we should be cautious and tender of making the first resurrection an allegory, lest others should reduce the second into an allegory too, like those whom St. Paul mentions 2 Timothy 2:17-18.

In the general, that there shall be such a happy period is the plain and express doctrine of Daniel 7:27; Psalm 2:8; Isaiah 11:9; Romans 11:25-26, and of all the prophets, as well as of St. John; and we daily pray for the accomplishment of it in saying, Thy kingdom come. But, of all the prophets, St. John is the only one who hath declared particularly, and in express terms, that the martyrs shall rise at the commencement of it, though, as has been observed, probably not to remain on earth, but to ascend and be with Christ in heaven; and that this happy state of the church shall continue for one thousand years. And the Jewish Church before him, and the Christian Church after him, have further believed and taught, that these thousand years will be the seventh millenary of the world. A pompous heap of quotations might be produced to this purpose, both from Jewish and Christian writers; but to enumerate only a few of both sorts: among the Jewish writers are, Rabbi Ketina, and the house of Elias; among the Christian writers are, St. Barnabas in the first century, Justin Martyr in the second century, Tertullian in the beginning of the third, and Lactantius in the beginning of the fourth century. In short, the doctrine of the millennium was generally believed in the first three and purest ages of the church: and this belief was one principal cause of the fortitude of the primitive Christians: they even coveted martyrdom, in hopes of being partakers of the privileges and glories of the martyrs in the first resurrection. Afterward, this doctrine grew into disrepute, for various reasons. Some, both Jewish and Christian writers, have debased it with a mixture of fables. It hath suffered by the misrepresentations of its enemies, as well as by the indiscretions of its friends; it hath been abused to the worst purposes: it hath been made an engine of faction. Besides, wherever the influence and authority of the Church of Rome have extended, she hath endeavoured by all means to discredit this doctrine; and, indeed, not without sufficient reason, this kingdom of Christ being founded on the ruins of antichrist. No wonder, therefore, that this doctrine lay depressed for many ages; but it sprang up again at the Reformation, and will flourish together with the study of the Revelation. All the danger is, on the one side, of pruning and lopping it too short; and, on the other, of suffering it to grow too wild and luxuriant. Great caution and judgment are required to keep in the middle way. We should neither, with some, interpret into an allegory; nor, with others, indulge an extravagant fancy, nor explain too curiously the manner and circumstances of this future state.

We must not imagine, as Fleming observes, that the appearance of Christ, to introduce this glorious state of the church, will be a personal one, any more than his appearance to destroy Jerusalem, and punish the Jewish nation by Titus, was such; for the heavens must retain him until the time of the restitution of all things. Nor are we to imagine that, in this prosperous state of the church, it shall be free from all mixture of hypocrisy, error, and sin, seeing that the sudden and general apostacy which will follow that period shows that all were not Israel that feigned themselves to be of it; otherwise it is not likely that God, in his equity and goodness, would suffer the enemies of his people so dreadfully to assault them as they are here represented to do. It is safest and best faithfully to adhere to the words of Scripture, and to rest contented with the general account, till time shall accomplish and eclaircise all the particulars.

20:4-6 Here is an account of the reign of the saints, for the same space of time as Satan is bound. Those who suffer with Christ, shall reign with him in his spiritual and heavenly kingdom, in conformity to him in his wisdom, righteousness, and holiness: this is called the first resurrection, with which none but those who serve Christ, and suffer for him, shall be favoured. The happiness of these servants of God is declared. None can be blessed but those that are holy; and all that are holy shall be blessed. We know something thing of what the first death is, and it is very awful; but we know not what this second death is. It must be much more dreadful; it is the death of the soul, eternal separation from God. May we never know what it is: those who have been made partakers of a spiritual resurrection, are saved from the power of the second death. We may expect that a thousand years will follow the destruction of the antichristian, idolatrous, persecuting powers, during which pure Christianity, in doctrine, worship, and holiness, will be made known over all the earth. By the all-powerful working of the Holy Spirit, fallen man will be new-created; and faith and holiness will as certainly prevail, as unbelief and unholiness now do. We may easily perceive what a variety of dreadful pains, diseases, and other calamities would cease, if all men were true and consistent Christians. All the evils of public and private contests would be ended, and happiness of every kind largely increased. Every man would try to lighten suffering, instead of adding to the sorrows around him. It is our duty to pray for the promised glorious days, and to do every thing in our public and private stations which can prepare for them.And I saw thrones - θρόνους thronous See Revelation 1:4; Revelation 3:21; Revelation 4:3-4. John here simply says, that he saw in vision thrones, with persons sitting on them, but without intreating who they were that sat on them. It is not the throne of God that is now revealed, for the word is in the plural number, though the writer does not hint how "many" thrones there were. It is intimated, however, that these thrones were placed with some reference to pronouncing a judgment, or determining the destiny of some portion of mankind, for it is immediately added, "and judgment was given unto them." There is considerable resemblance, in many respects, between this and the statement in Daniel 7:9; "I beheld until the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit"; or, as it should be rendered, "I beheld" - that is, I continued to look - "until the thrones were placed or set," to wit, for the purposes of judgment. See the notes on that passage. So John here sees, as the termination of human affairs approaches, thrones placed with reference to a determination of the destiny of some portion of the race, "as if" they were now to have a trial, and to receive a sentence of acquittal or condemnation. The "persons" on whom this judgment is to pass are specified, in the course of the verse, as those who were "beheaded for the witness of Jesus, who had the Word of God, who had not worshipped the beast," etc. The "time" when this was to occur manifestly was at the Beginning of the thousand years.

And they sat upon them - Who sat on them is not mentioned. The natural construction is, that "judges" sat on them, or that persons sat on them to whom judgment was entrusted. The language is such as would be used on the supposition either that he had mentioned the subject before, so that he would be readily understood, or that, from some other cause, it was so well understood that there was no necessity for mentioning who they were. John seems to have assumed that it would be understood who were meant. And yet to us it is not entirely clear; for John has not before this given us any such intimation that we can determine with certainty what is intended. The probable construction is, that those are referred to to whom it appropriately belonged to occupy such seats of judgment, and who they are is to be determined from other parts of the Scriptures. In Matthew 19:28, the Saviour says to his apostles, "When the Son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." In 1 Corinthians 6:2, Paul asks the question, "Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?" The meaning as thus explained is, that Christians will, in some way, be employed in judging the world; that is, that they will be exalted to the right hand of the Judge, and be elevated to a station of honor, as if they were associated with the Son of God in the judgment. Something of that kind is, doubtless, referred to here; and John probably means to say that he saw the thrones placed on which those will sit who will be employed in judging the world. If the apostles are specially referred to, it was natural that John, eminent for modesty, should not particularly mention them, as he was one of them, and as the true allusion would be readily understood.

And judgment was given unto them - The power of pronouncing sentence in the case referred to was conferred on them, and they proceeded to exercise that power. This was not in relation to the whole race of mankind, but to the martyrs, and to those who, amidst many temptations and trials, had kept themselves pure. The sentence which is to be passed would seem to be that in consequence of which they are to be permitted to "live and reign with Christ a thousand years." The "form" of this expressed approval is that of a resurrection and judgment; whether this be the "literal" mode is another inquiry, and will properly be considered when the exposition of the passage shall have been given.

And I saw the souls of them - This is a very important expression in regard to the meaning of the whole passage. John says he saw "the souls" - not "the bodies." If the obvious meaning of this be the correct meaning; if he saw the "souls" of the martyrs, not the "bodies," this would seem to exclude the notion of a "literal" resurrection, and consequently overturn many of the theories of a literal resurrection, and of a literal reign of the saints with Christ during the thousand years of the millennium. The doctrine of the last resurrection, as everywhere stated in the Scripture, is, that the "body" will be raised up, and not merely that the "soul will live" (see 1 Corinthians 15, and the notes on that chapter); and consequently John must mean to refer in this place to something different from that resurrection, or to "any" proper resurrection of the dead as the expression is commonly understood.

The doctrine which has been held, and is held, by those who maintain that there will be a "literal resurrection" of the saints to reign with Christ during a thousand years, can receive no support from this passage, for there is no ambiguity respecting the word "souls" - ψυχὰς psuchas - as used here. By no possible construction can it mean the "bodies" of the saints. If John had intended to state that the saints, as such, would be raised as they will be at the last day, it is clear that he would not have used this language, but would have employed the common language of the New Testament to denote it. The language here does not express the doctrine of the resurrection of the body; and if no other language but this had been used in the New Testament, the doctrine of the resurrection, as now taught and received, could not be established. These considerations make it clear to my mind that John did not mean to teach that there would be a literal resurrection of the saints, that they might live and reign with Christ personally during the period of a thousand years.

There was undoubtedly something that might be "compared" with the resurrection, and that might, in some proper sense, be "called" a resurrection Revelation 20:5-6, but there is not the slightest intheation that it would be a resurrection of the "body," or that it would be identical with the "final" resurrection. John undoubtedly intends to describe some honor conferred on the "spirits or souls" of the saints and martyrs during this long period, as if they were raised from the dead, or which might be represented by a resurrection from the dead. What that honor is to be, is expressed by their "living and reigning with Christ." The meaning of this will be explained in the exposition of these words; but the word used here is fatal to the notion of a literal resurrection and a personal reign with Christ on the earth.

That were beheaded - The word used here - πελεκίζω pelekizō - occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It properly means, "to axe," that is, to hew or cut with an axe - from πέλεκυς pelekus, "axe." Hence it means to behead with an axe. This was a common mode of execution among the Romans, and doubtless many of the Christian martyrs suffered in this manner; but "it cannot be supposed to have been the intention of the writer to confine the rewards of martyrs to those who suffered in this particular way; for this specific and ignominious method of punishment is designated merely as the symbol of any and every kind of martyrdom" (Prof. Stuart).

For the witness of Jesus - As witnesses of Jesus; or bearing in this way their testimony to the truth of his religion. See the notes on Revelation 1:9; compare Revelation 6:9.

And for the Word of God - See the notes on Revelation 1:9. "Which had not worshipped the beast." Who had remained faithful to the principles of the true religion, and had resisted all the attempts made to seduce them from the faith, even the temptations and allurements in the times of the papacy. See this language explained in the notes on Revelation 13:4.

Neither his image - notes on Revelation 13:14-15.

Neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands - See the notes on Revelation 13:16.

And they lived - ἔζησαν ezēsan, from ζάω zaō, "to live." Very much, in the whole passage, depends on this word. The meanings given to the word by Prof. Robinson (Lexicon) are the following:

(a) to live, to have life, spoken of physical life and existence;

(b) to live, that is, to sustain life, to live on or by anything;


4, 5. they sat—the twelve apostles, and the saints in general.

judgment was given unto there—(See on [2740]Da 7:22). The office of judging was given to them. Though in one sense having to stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, yet in another sense they "do not come into judgment (Greek), but have already passed from death unto life."

souls—This term is made a plea for denying the literality of the first resurrection, as if the resurrection were the spiritual one of the souls of believers in this life; the life and reign being that of the soul raised in this life from the death of sin by vivifying faith. But "souls" expresses their disembodied state (compare Re 6:9) as John saw them at first; "and they lived" implies their coming to life in the body again, so as to be visible, as the phrase, Re 20:5, "this is the first resurrection," proves; for as surely as "the rest of the dead lived not (again) until," &c., refers to the bodily general resurrection, so must the first resurrection refer to the body. This also accords with 1Co 15:23, "They that are Christ's at His coming." Compare Ps 49:11-15. From Re 6:9, I infer that "souls" is here used in the strict sense of spirits disembodied when first seen by John; though doubtless "souls" is often used in general for persons, and even for dead bodies.

beheaded—literally, "smitten with an axe"; a Roman punishment, though crucifixion, casting to beasts, and burning, were the more common modes of execution. The guillotine in revolutionary France was a revival of the mode of capital punishment of pagan imperial Rome. Paul was beheaded, and no doubt shall share the first resurrection, in accordance with his prayer that he "might attain unto the resurrection from out of the rest of the dead" (Greek, "exanastasis"). The above facts may account for the specification of this particular kind of punishment.

for … for—Greek, "for the sake of"; on account of"; "because of."

and which—Greek, "and the which." And prominent among this class (the beheaded), such as did not worship the beast. So Re 1:7, Greek, "and the which," or "and such as," particularizes prominently among the general class those that follow in the description [Tregelles]. The extent of the first resurrection is not spoken of here. In 1Co 15:23, 51; 1Th 4:14 we find that all "in Christ" shall share in it. John himself was not "beheaded," yet who doubts but that he shall share in the first resurrection? The martyrs are put first, because most like Jesus in their sufferings and death, therefore nearest Him in their life and reign; for Christ indirectly affirms there are relative degrees and places of honor in His kingdom, the highest being for those who drink his cup of suffering. Next shall be those who have not bowed to the world power, but have looked to the things unseen and eternal.

neither—"not yet."

foreheads … hands—Greek, "forehead … hand."

reigned with Christ—over the earth.

This is a very difficult text. Thrones are places of dignity and judicature; they seem here to signify only places of dignity.

And they sat upon them; those mentioned afterward in this text sat upon them.

And judgment was given unto them; that is, a power of judgment, 1 Corinthians 6:2,3, to be executed afterward. The persons sitting upon these thrones are described to be:

1. Such as had kept themselves from idolatry, or any compliance with antichrist, either in the form of the beast, or of the image of the beast.

2. And for that non-compliance had suffered death, and for witnessing to the truths of Christ contained in his word.

These are described as living with Christ in honour and dignity, all that space of the church’s rest and tranquillity before expressed. Our learned Dr. More interprets the thrones and judgment, concerning those thrones or places of judicature, upon which the dragon’s officers sat to condemn the saints of God, from whence issued the putting to death of many of the saints of God, and thinks that in this vision there is a recourse to the second thunder. Now these saints are said to

live and reign with Christ a thousand years; that is, say some, in heaven, in a blessed state of glory, while the militant church upon the earth enjoyed great rest and quiet on earth. Others have thought that these should be raised from the dead, and live with Christ on earth these thousand years. Which notion (if true) will solve a great phenomenon, and render it not improbable, that the number of the saints on earth will, during these thousand years, be enough to rule the world, and overbalance the number of all the wicked of the earth. Those who think thus, judge there will be two resurrections; the first, of martyrs, which shall antedate the general resurrection a thousand years: but the Scripture no where else mentions more than one resurrection. For my own part, I shall freely confess that I do not understand this and the two next verses, nor shall I be positive as to any sense of them: for the spiritual resurrection, as to the martyrs, it was long since past, or else they had died in their sins. But of this see more in the next verse. {Revelation 20:5}

And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them,.... Besides the throne of God the Father, and the throne of glory, on which the Son of God sits, and the twelve thrones for the twelve apostles of the Lamb; there will be thrones set, or pitched, for all the saints, Daniel 7:9 who will sit on them, in the character of kings, and as conquerors, and shall sit quiet, and undisturbed, and be in perfect ease, and peace, for they that sit on them are the same persons hereafter described in this verse; for after the binding of Satan, an account is given of the happiness and glory of the saints during that time:

and judgment was given unto them; that is, power, dominion, regal authority, possession of a kingdom, answerable to their character as kings, and to their position, sitting on thrones, Daniel 7:22 unless it should be rather understood of justice being done them, which does not so manifestly take place in the present state of things, and of which they sometimes complain; but now righteous judgment will be given for them, and against their enemies; their persons will be openly declared righteous; their characters will be cleared of all false imputations fastened on them; and their works and sufferings for Christ will be taken notice of in a way of grace, and rewarded in a very glorious manner. And so it may respect their being judged themselves, but not their judging of others, the wicked, which is the sole work of Christ; nor will the wicked now be upon the spot to be judged; nor is that notion to be supported by See Gill on Matthew 19:28, See Gill on 1 Corinthians 6:2, See Gill on 1 Corinthians 6:3. The Jews fancy that their chief men shall judge the world in the time to come; for so they say (w),

"in future time, (or in the world to come,) the holy blessed God will sit, and kings will place thrones for the great men of Israel, and they shall sit and judge the nations of the world with the holy blessed God:''

but the persons here meant are not Jews, but sufferers for the sake of Jesus, as follows:

and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God: these, with the persons described in the next clause, are they who will sit on thrones, during the thousand years of Satan's being bound, and will have judgment given them; even such who have bore witness to the truth of Jesus being the Son of God, the true Messiah, and the only Saviour of sinners, and to him as the essential Word of God, or to the written word of God, the whole Gospel, all the truths and doctrines of it; and who have been beheaded for bearing such a testimony, as John the Baptist was, the first of the witnesses of Jesus: and since this kind of punishment was a Roman one, it seems particularly to point at such persons who suffered under the Roman Pagan emperors, and to design the same souls said to be under the altar, and to cry for vengeance, Revelation 6:9. This clause, in connection with the former, is differently rendered; the Syriac version renders it thus, "and judgment was given to them, and to the souls that were beheaded", &c. the Arabic version, "and to them was given the judgment the souls killed", &c. the Ethiopic version, "and then I saw a seat, and the son of man sat upon it, and he rendered to them judgment for the souls of them that were slain for the law of the Lord Jesus".

And which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands, see Revelation 13:1. This describes such who shall have made no profession of the Popish religion, nor have supported it in any way; who shall not have joined in the idolatry of the Romish antichrist, but shall have protested against it, and departed from it, and shall have adhered to Christ, and to the true worship of God; see Revelation 14:1. And so this, with the preceding character, includes all the saints that lived under Rome Pagan, and Rome Papal, to the destruction of antichrist, and the setting up of Christ's kingdom; not that these martyrs and confessors, or even all the saints of their times, are the only persons that shall share in the glory and happiness of the thousand years' reign of Christ, and binding of Satan; for all the saints will come with Christ, and all the dead in Christ will rise first, or be partakers of the first resurrection; and all that are redeemed by his blood, of whatsoever nation, or in whatsoever age of the world they have lived, even from the beginning of it, shall be kings and priests, and reign with him on earth, Zechariah 14:5 though John only takes notice of these, because the design of this book, and of the visions shown to him, was only to give a prophetic history of the church, from his time, to the end of the world; and these particularly are observed to encourage the saints under sufferings for Christ:

and they lived; meaning not spiritually, for so they did before, and while they bore their testimony to Christ, and against antichrist, and 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 should live and reign with Christ in their room and 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; God is not the God of the dead, but of the living: but the sense is, that they lived again, as in Revelation 20:5 they lived corporeally; their souls lived in their bodies, their bodies being raised again, and reunited to their souls, their whole persons lived; or the souls of them that were beheaded lived; that is, their bodies lived again, the soul being sometimes put for the body, Psalm 16:10 and this is called the first resurrection in the next verse:

and reigned with Christ a thousand years; as all that suffer with him will, and as all that will live godly must, and do, 2 Timothy 2:12 2 Timothy 3:12. Christ being descended from heaven, and having bound Satan, and the dead saints being raised, and the living ones changed, he will reign among them personally, visibly, and gloriously, and in the fullest manner; all the antichristian powers will be destroyed; Satan will be in close confinement; death, with respect to Christ and his people, will be no more; the heavens and the earth will be made new, and all things will be subject to him; and all his saints will be with him, and they shall reign with him; they shall be glorified together; they shall sit on the throne with him, have a crown of righteousness given them, and possess the kingdom appointed for them; they will reign over all their enemies; Satan will be bruised under their feet, being bound; the wicked will be shut up in hell, and neither will be able to give them any disturbance; and sin and death will be no more: this reign will not be in a sensual and carnal way, or lie in possessing worldly riches and honours, in eating and drinking, marrying, and giving in marriage; the saints will not be in a mortal, but in an immortal state; the children of this resurrection will be like the angels; and this reign will be on earth, Revelation 5:10 the present earth will be burnt up, and a new one formed, in which these righteous persons will dwell, 2 Peter 3:13 of which See Gill on Revelation 21:1 and it will last a thousand years; not distinct from, but the same with the thousand years in which Satan will be bound; for if they were distinct from them, and should commence when they are ended, the reign of Christ with his saints would be when Satan is loosed, which is utterly inconsistent with it. The Syriac version very rightly renders it, these thousand years, referring to those of Satan's binding. Nor are these thousand years to be understood prophetically, for as many years as there are days in a thousand years; for as this would defer the judgment of the wicked, and the ultimate glory of the saints, to a prodigious length of time, so it should be observed, that prophetic time will now be no longer, according to the angel's oath in Revelation 10:6 but these are to be understood literally and definitely, as before, of just such an exact number and term of years; see 2 Peter 3:8 this is a perfect number, and is expressive of the perfection of this state, and is a term of years that neither Adam, nor any of his sons, arrived unto; but Christ the second Adam shall see his seed, and shall prolong his days longer than any of them, Isaiah 53:10. It is an observation of the Jewish Rabbins (x), that the day in Genesis 2:17 is the day of the holy blessed God (i.e. a thousand years), and therefore the first Adam did not perfect, or fill up his day, for there wanted seventy years of it: and it is a notion that prevails with them, that the days of the Messiah will be a thousand years (y); and so they will be at his second coming, but not at his first, which they vainly expect, it being past: and also they say (z), that in these thousand years God will renew his world, and that then the righteous will be raised, and no more return to dust; which agrees with John's new heaven and new earth during this state, and with the first resurrection: and so Jerom, who was conversant with the Rabbins, says (a) that the Jews expect a thousand years' reign.

(w) Yalkut Simconi, par. 2. fol. 41. 4. (x) Bemidbar Rabba, sect. 5. fol. 185. 4. vid. Jacchiad. in Daniel 7.25. (y) Midrash Tillim, fol. 4. 2.((z) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 93. 1, 2. & Gloss. in ib. Yalkut Simeoni, par. 2. fol. 42. 1. & 49. 3. Tzeror Hammor, fol. 150. 2.((a) Comment. in Zach. xiv. 16, 18.

{6} And I saw {a} thrones, and they sat upon them, and {7} judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were {8} beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which {9} had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

(6) A description of the common state of the Church of Christ in earth in that space of a thousand years, during which the devil was in bonds; in which first the authority, life, and common honour of the godly, is declared, Re 20:4. Secondly, newness of life is preached to others by the gospel after that time; Re 20:5. Finally, he concludes with promises, Re 20:6.

(a) For judgment was committed to them, as to members joined to the head: not that Christ's office was given over to them.

(7) This was a type of the authority of the good and faithful servants of God in the Church, taken from the manner of men.

(8) Of the martyrs, who suffered in those first times.

(9) Of the martyrs who suffered after both the beasts were now risen up, chapter 15. For there, these things are expounded.

Revelation 20:4-6. The one thousand years reign which begins with the first resurrection. The allusion to the glory to be expected in the same, which is at the same time the pledge of participation in the blessedness of the eternity to be opened with the second resurrection, is made not without an express emphasis of the paracletic point which lies in this goal of Christian hope.[4156]

καὶ εἱδον θρόνους. The prototype of Daniel 7:9; Daniel 7:22, and the κρίμα, expressly mentioned in this passage, show that the θρόνοι come into consideration not as thrones of kings,[4157] but only as seats of judges.[4158] The interchange of the definite idea of a judicial session with that of further dominion—possibly also manifested in judging—coheres with the decided misunderstandings that the πεπελεκισμένοι and οἱτινες οὐ προσεκύνησαν are to be regarded as the subjects of ἐκάθισαν ἐπʼ αὐτους, that the βασιλεῦσαι μετὰ τοῦ χριστοῦ ascribed to these must be esteemed synonymous with the assumed sitting of the same on thrones, and thus belongs to a conception of the whole, Revelation 20:4-6, that is in violation of the context. Thus, especially, Augustine and his successors.[4159] Who they are that sit upon thrones, and to whom judgment is given, is not said, and hence scarcely any thing except a negative determination is possible. According to what follows, they are not the martyrs and the other faithful believers who rather, by the judgment, become partakers of the one thousand years reign.[4160] The ἐδόθη αὐτοις forbids us to refer it to God himself and Christ.[4161] Ew. i. refers it to the apostles,[4162] but at the same time to martyrs and Christians in other respects distinguished; and Beng. to the ἅγιοι, Daniel 7:22. The most plausible explanation, if the idea is at all to be made more definite than is presented in the text, is to refer it to the twenty-four elders;[4163] for it is especially appropriate to ascribe the reward of victors to these representatives of the Church, who offer the prayers of the saints to God,[4164] and repeatedly testify to their blessed hope.[4165] [See Note LXXXVII., p. 473.] καὶ τὰς ψυχὰς

ἐπὶ τὴν χεῖρα αὐτῶν. They, to whom the κρίμα refers, are represented in two classes: the martyrs, viz., not only those whose souls already cry for vengeance, Revelation 6:9, but also those additional ones[4166] who have been slain throughout the whole earth by the beast, and with whose blood the harlot was drunken;[4167] and all other believers who, notwithstanding the persecution and threatening death, have not rendered homage to the beast[4168] The last class of believers also (οἵτινες οὐ προσεκύν, κ.τ.λ.) is to be regarded, at the point of time fixed in Revelation 20:4, as dead;[4169] partly because of the explicit ἔζησαν;[4170] partly because of the contrast οἵ δὲ λοιποὶ τῶν νεκρῶν, and the expression οὐκ ἔζησαν, applied to this death, from which a clear light falls upon the first ἔζησαν; partly also because of the definite and in no way allegorical designation ἡ ἀνάστασις ἡ πρώτη. The meaning of the text which is expressed regularly in all these points is, therefore, manifestly this, that while “the rest of the dead” are not revived until the second resurrection (Revelation 20:12 sqq.), in the first resurrection only the two classes of dead believers take part, viz., in order to reign with Christ during the one thousand years. It is just by the κρίμα (Revelation 20:4 a) that this first especial reward of victors is promised them.[4171] [See Note LXXXVIII., p. 473.] But the description of this glory, of this first part of the blessed mystery of God, which is fulfilled now for believers[4172] after the judgment already executed upon their enemies, John cannot give without repeating with especial emphasis the consolation (Revelation 20:6) which was united previously already,[4173] with the references to the future reward of fidelity: μακάριος καὶ ἅγιος, κ.τ.λ. The item of holiness here especially emphasized has a reference to the priestly dignity (κ. ἔσονται ἱερεῖς, κ.τ.λ.) of those who participate in the one thousand years reign;[4174] then the priestly, as well as the royal, character of believers comes forth in complete glory.[4175]

μέρος ἐν. Revelation 21:8. Cf. John 13:8 (μετά).

ὁ-g0- δεύτερος-g0- θύνατος-g0-. Cf. Revelation 20:14; Revelation 21:8. They who—after they have suffered bodily death, viz., the first—are revived at the first resurrection, intended only for believers, are thereby withdrawn from the power of the second death; for them the judgment of the world impending at the end of the one thousand years (Revelation 20:11 sqq.) brings only the eternally valid confirmation of the priestly and kingly glory which, during the former period, had formed for believers the beginning of the blessedness to be bestowed upon them eternally.

[4156] Revelation 20:6. Cf. Revelation 14:13, Revelation 16:15.

[4157] Eichh., Züll.

[4158] Heinr., Ewald, De Wette, Hengstenb., Ebrard, Bleek, Volkm.

[4159] See on Revelation 20:10.

[4160] Against Augustine, Züll., ete.

[4161] Against Grot., who, however, comprises the angels.

[4162] Cf. Matthew 19:28.

[4163] De Wette, Ew. ii.; cf. Hengstenb., who, besides the twelve apostles, understands the twelve patriarchs.

[4164] Revelation 5:8.

[4165] Revelation 5:9, Revelation 7:13 sqq., Revelation 11:16 sqq.

[4166] Revelation 6:11.

[4167] Revelation 13:7; Revelation 13:10; Revelation 13:15, Revelation 16:5 sq., Revelation 17:6, Revelation 18:24.

[4168] Cf., especially, Revelation 13:15 sqq.

[4169] Ewald, De Wette, Ebrard; against Hengstenb., etc.

[4170] Cf. Revelation 2:8.

[4171] Cf. Revelation 2:11.

[4172] Cf. Revelation 10:7.

[4173] Cf. Revelation 19:94. thrones] Daniel 7:9. “They” who sat upon them, to whom judgement (i.e. the right of judging: see 1 Corinthians 6:2-3) was given are identified by Daniel 7:22 as “the saints of the Most High”—saints, plainly, in the modern sense, as distinguished from angels.

[I saw] the souls] Cf. Revelation 6:9.

beheaded] Lit. struck with the axe, the old Roman mode of execution by sentence of the supreme magistrate. Capital punishment of citizens had been virtually abolished for the last years of the Republic: and when the emperors assumed the right of executing men for treason, it was done as though by military law (cf. St Mark 6:27), by a soldier with a sword. But the old constitutional punishment was inflicted on provincials down to the fall of the Republic (Cic. Phil. XIII. xvi. 33): and it is not impossible that it was revived when it was desired that a citizen should be executed in due form of law. Thus it is not unlikely that St Paul will be included among those thus designated.

which had not worshipped &c.] Revelation 13:12; Revelation 13:15-16.

reigned with Christ] 2 Timothy 2:12. This “reign” was foretold in Revelation 5:10. “The nations” of the world continue to exist as usual (Revelation 5:3), so it is no doubt over them that the saints and martyrs reign.

a thousand years] Only in this passage is the kingdom of Christ on earth (which is of course one of the most frequent subjects of prophecy) designated as a millennium or period of 1000 years. It may be added, that this is the only prophecy where there is at all good reason for supposing that the Millennium of popular belief is indicated, as distinct on the one hand from the Kingdom of God which already exists in the Christian Church, and on the other from that which will be set up at the last day.

Nevertheless, this passage is quite sufficient foundation for the doctrine, even if it stood alone: and there are many other prophecies which, if not teaching it so plainly, may fairly be understood to refer to it, if the doctrine be admitted to be according to the mind of the Spirit. We therefore have to consider the question, Is this prophecy to be understood literally? Is it meant that, for a period of a thousand years (or more), before the general Resurrection and the end of this world, this earth will be the scene of a blessed visible Kingdom of God, wherein the power of the Devil will have vanished, and that of Christ be supreme and unopposed? wherein Christ shall either reign visibly on earth, or at least shall make His presence felt far more unmistakeably than at present; while the martyrs and other great saints of all past time shall rise, and, whether on earth or in heaven, share in the glory of His reign?

Down to the fourth century, the decidedly dominant belief of Christendom was in favour of this literal interpretation of the prophecy: since then, at least till the Reformation, it has been still more decidedly against it. In the second century, Papias, who seems to have been more or less personally acquainted with St John himself, taught Millenarian doctrine decidedly: and St Irenaeus and others derived it from him. In the same age St Justin accepted the doctrine, though admitting that Christians were not unanimous on the subject: but he considers St John’s authority, in this passage, decisive.

And in fact, the rejection of the doctrine was usually on the part of those who rejected or questioned the authority of the Revelation as a whole: it was held to discredit the book, that it taught the doctrine. Thus in the third century, Caius the Roman Presbyter seems unmistakeably to ascribe the book, not to St John but to his adversary Cerinthus; on the ground of its teaching this carnal and Jewish doctrine of an earthly kingdom of Christ. And St Dionysius of Alexandria, who, though not admitting the book to be the work of St John the Apostle, yet on the whole recognises its inspiration and authority, thinks it necessary to refute a suffragan bishop of his own, who adopted Millenarian views, as though he were at least on the verge of heresy.

The case seems to have stood thus. The doctrine of the Millennium was current in the Church, but was most insisted on in that section of the Church whose Jewish affinities were strongest: and it is asserted—it is very likely true—that the heretical Judaizers expressed their millennial hopes in a coarse and carnal form. Orthodox Christians condemned their language: but while some of them, like Justin, felt bound, in obedience to the plain teaching of St John, to believe in a Millennium of spiritual blessedness on earth, others, like Caius, rejected altogether the doctrine of the Millennium, and rejected, if necessary, the Apocalypse as teaching it.

But when St Dionysius proposed to reject millennial doctrine without rejecting the authority of the Apocalypse, a course was suggested which, if less critically and logically defensible, was theologically safer than either. The Apocalypse was declared not really to foretell a millennium, but only such a kingdom of Christ as all prophecy does foretell, viz. a Church such as now exists. To expect His more perfect kingdom to be an earthly and temporal one was pronounced a heresy, a falling back to Judaism.

St Jerome who, living in Palestine, knew more than most men of the Judaizing heresies which still existed in his time, and had once been formidable, spoke very strongly (as his manner was) in condemnation of the Milliarii (this, not Millenarii, is the ancient Latin name of the sect). He apparently grouped together all believers in the earthly kingdom, whether they regarded its delights as carnal or not: and it seems that his strong language frightened the Church of his time into giving it up. St Augustine had held and taught the doctrine, of course in a pure and spiritual form: but towards the close of his life he abandoned it, and though admitting his old belief to be tolerable, he echoes Jerome’s condemnation of the Judaizing caricature of it. The opinion of these two great Fathers was adopted by the Church down to the Reformation, not formally or synodically, but as a matter of popular tradition.

At the Reformation, the Anabaptists proclaimed an earthly kingdom of Christ in the Millenarian sense, and certainly did all they could to discredit the doctrine, by the carnal form in which they held it. There was a tendency to revive the doctrine, among sober Protestants: but the alarm raised by the Anabaptists at first went far to counteract it; e.g. in England one of the 42 Articles of a.d. 1552 condemned it as “Jewish dotage.” But when the controversies of the Reformation quieted down, and both the Romanist and the Protestant Churches formulated their own beliefs, the former adhered to the tradition of SS. Jerome and Augustine, while the latter, for the most part, as was natural, went back to the literal sense of Scripture and the older tradition.

It thus appears, that Catholic consent cannot fairly be alleged either for or against the literal interpretation. Catholic feeling does of course condemn a Judaizing or carnal view of the nature of Christ’s Kingdom: but whether He will have a kingdom on earth more perfect, or reign more visibly, than is the case now, is a point on which Christians may lawfully differ; the Church has not pronounced either way.

If the question be theologically open, it appears that, as a matter of opinion, the literal sense is to be preferred: “when the literal sense will stand, that furthest from the letter is the worst.” Can anyone honestly say, that Satan has been bound during the time (already far more than a thousand years) that the kingdom of Christ on earth has already existed? that he deceives the nations no more till the present dispensation approaches its end in the days of Antichrist? It is far easier to hold that he will be bound for a long time (probably more rather than less than a thousand literal years), after Antichrist has been overthrown, but before the actual end of the world.

Revelation 20:4. [217]Τῶν πεπελεκισμένων) πέλεκυς, an axe, especially used by the Romans in punishments. Raphelius compares the passage of Polybius, μαστίγωσαντες ἅπαντας, κατὰ τὸ παρʼ αὐτοῖς (τοῖς Ῥωμαίοις) ἦθος ἐπελέκισαν.—ἔζησαν, lived) returned to life, [in that manner, in which the rest of the dead lived not again before the general resurrection.—V. g.].—The same word is thus used with the same force in Revelation 20:5 and ch. Revelation 2:8. John saw them not only when restored to life, but when in the act of reviving (comp. Ezekiel 37:7): as before he saw the dragon in the act of being bound, and not only in that condition.—μετὰ, with) They shall be with Christ (Revelation 20:6), and with God (Revelation 20:6), not Christ and God with them. Therefore that kingdom will be in heaven. Comp. ch. Revelation 21:3, μετὰ, with.—χίλια ἔτη, a thousand years) They who are held back by the article τὰ, here improperly inserted before ΧΊΛΙΑ,[218] greatly entangle themselves. Two millennial periods are mentioned in this whole passage, each three times: the former is the millennium in which Satan is bound, Revelation 20:2-3; Revelation 20:7; the other, that of the reign of the saints, Revelation 20:4-6. Lange wrote, Epicris. p. 421, that he finds no foundation for two periods of a thousand years, either in the text, or in the event itself, or in the connection of the parts of the Apocalypse. But the second millennium extends even to the resurrection of all the dead, Revelation 20:5; the former comes to a close before the end of the world, Revelation 20:7, etc. Therefore the beginning and end of the former is before the beginning and end of the second. On this account, as at Revelation 20:2 in the first mention of the former millennium, so at Revelation 20:4, in the first mention of the second, it is said without the article, χίλια ἔτη: in the other places, τὰ χίλια ἔτη, the article having the force of a relative, and meaning those thousand years, Revelation 20:3; Revelation 20:5; Revelation 20:7. Finally, χίλια ἔτη, without the article, is used in Revelation 20:6,[219] as though in a separate enunciation. The omission of the article conveys a less restricted meaning than its insertion. Many admit, that the millennium in which Satan is bound, is different from the millennium in which the saints reign, as Pareus testifies on the Ap. col. 1093, where he seems to hint at Brightman and Cotter. Jungman altogether agrees with them in his Observ. Germ. against Beverley, p. 71. To this are added all those who take the second millennium only for eternity itself, as Viegas on the Ap. p. 793, Nic. Collado, Corn. a Lapide, and Nic. Muler.

[217] θρόνους, thrones) tribunals, judgment-seats.—V. g.

[218] A rejects the τά: so Lachm. and Tisch. B and Rec. Text support it.—E.

[219] B and Syr., however, read in ver. 6 τά. But weightier authorities omit it, viz. A and others.—E.

This distinction between the two periods of a thousand years affords a great advantage, and that too of such necessity, as to prove this very distinctness of the millennial periods. In the judgment of an illustrious man, a serious difficulty is raised by the hope of better times, or even by the reconciling of the millennial kingdom itself with the final perverseness and damnable security of men of the last times. The keeping the times distinct alone remedies this difficulty. During the course of the former millennium, the promises which describe most flourishing times of the Church will be fulfilled: ch. Revelation 10:7; afterwards, while the saints who belong to the first resurrection shall reign with Christ, men on earth will be remiss and careless, Matthew 24:37, etc.; according to which explanation that remarkable passage, Luke 18:8, retains the natural meaning of the words. Respecting this [false] security, which will seize men, when the enemies are now removed, there is a valuable suggestion subjoined to the commentary of Patrick Forbes on the Apocalypse. The confounding of the two millennial periods has long ago produced many errors, and has made the name of Chiliasm hateful and suspected; the distinction between the two resolves the difficulties to which Chiliasm is justly liable, and aids in the sound interpretation of prophecy. Let the treatise, Erklärte Offenb., I beg, be consulted, p. 942, etc. As to what remains, what can orthodoxy itself blame? Let them pronounce sentence, on whose authority others depend. Add, that they who neither extend the remaining times of the world beyond the truth of Scripture, nor curtail them, they alone are well able to meet and contend with scoffers.

This is the last period in the age of the world; wherefore in this place we will comprehensively repeat an analysis of the times, which we have already abundantly spoken of, with sobriety and modesty.

The age of the world, contains

3½ Æons.

An Æon,

2 Chroni.

A Chronus,

5 καιροὶor times.

A Time,

2 ancient sæcula.

A Sæculum,

7 prophetical months.

A Month,

2 weeks of Daniel.

A Week,

7 59/63 ordinary years.

A Year,

365 97/400 days.

The same age of the world comprises 7777 7/9 natural years, which are 490 prophetical months.

Therefore a perfect septenary is displayed, I will not here say in the natural days, and that indeed a square, but in the prophetical months, and that indeed a square; in the natural years, it is seen through all the expressed articles of the whole sum, from the thousandth to the unit, and below. This TESSELATED CONFORMATION of times, natural and prophetical, of those of Daniel and those of the Apocalypse, ought to convince of their truth every one who has any capacity for receiving this kind of truth.

Verse 4. - And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them. This describes the position of Christians in this life. They sit upon thrones; that is, they reign with Christ. Judgment is given unto them; that is, by their conduct in the world the world is judged and condemned. St. John continually thus describes the Christian's position; and such a picture is specially applicable for his purpose here, which is to portray the glory of the Christian calling, and the certainty of the Christian's hope. The redeemed have been made kings, and reign (Revelation 5:10). So also St. Paul says we are "blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ" (Ephesians 1:2). And I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the Word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands. This is a special reference to the martyrs made with the object mentioned above, viz. that of encouraging Christians in their warfare. The class here described forms part of the whole body of Christians alluded to in the first part of the verse (cf. Revelation 6:10; Revelation 1:9; Revelation 12:17; Revelation 19:10; also Revelation 13; Revelation 15:2). In the same way the souls referred to in Revelation 6:9 are those existing during the period of this world, which we have here understood to be denoted indirectly by the "thousand years." And they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. "The thousand years" adopted in the Textus Receptus, is found in B and others, but omitted in א, A, and others. "They lived and reigned with Christ" in complete and perfect assurance, as in ver. 2, and for the reason given in ver. 2, viz. that, Satan was bound completely. This living and reigning must not be limited to the period after the death of the martyrs (though it is doubtless true in this sense also), notwithstanding the fact that St. John sees them here after their death. It is as though he would say, "You Christians sit upon thrones and reign with Christ; yea, even those who suffered shameful deaths shared this perfect safety and exaltation, though to the eyes of the world they were so afflicted and degraded." They lived is described in ver. 5 as the "first resurrection." This can only be referred to that first awakening from sin to the glorious life of the gospel, which St. John elsewhere describes in a similar manner. "He that heareth my Word... hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" (John 5:24); "We have passed from death unto life" (1 John 3:14). Revelation 20:4Thrones

See on Revelation 2:13.

They sat

All the faithful members of Christ's Church. Compare they reigned with Christ.

Beheaded (πεπελεκισμένων)

From πέλεκυς an ax. Only here in the New Testament.

They lived

Equivalent to lived again. Compare Revelation 20:5.

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