Revelation 20:6
Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(6) Blessed and holy is he that hath. . . .—This is one of the benedictions of the Apocalypse. The blessing on those who have part or share in the first resurrection has this definite feature. On these the second death has not power (or authority). The second death stands in contrast with the first resurrection. The second death is not the mere physical dying; it is rather that more awful death which lies outside the region of the things seen and temporal. Whatever it means, and whatever the conditions which surround it, it is spiritual rather than physical. It is not the life of the body which protects the life of the spirit; it is the living and believing in God which protects from the second death; according to Christ’s word of such, “they shall never die” (John 11:26; comp. John 10:27-28). Blessed, too, are such in being priests and kings (they shall reign). Theirs is the priesthood of life who have offered themselves a living sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1). The kingship of life is theirs, who have overcome the world-powers in the word of God and in the blood of the Lamb; these truly reign. (Comp. Note on Revelation 5:10.)

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.Blessed - That is, his condition is to be regarded as a happy or a favored one. This is designed apparently to support and encourage those who, in the time of John, suffered persecution, or who might suffer persecution afterward.

And holy - That is, no one will be thus honored who has not an established character for holiness. Holy principles will then reign, and none will be exalted to that honor who have not a character for eminent sanctity.

That hath part in the first resurrection - That participated in it; that is, who is associated with those who are thus raised up.

On such the second death hath no power - The "second death" is properly the death which the wicked will experience in the world of woe. See Revelation 20:14. The meaning here is, that all who are here referred to as having part in the first resurrection will be secure against that. It will be one of the blessed privileges of heaven that there will be absolute security against death in any and every form; and when we think of what death is here, and still more when we think of "the bitter pains of the second death," we may well call that state "blessed" in which there will be eternal exemption from either.

But they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him - notes at Revelation 1:6; Revelation 5:10.

Section b. - Condition of the world in the period referred to in Revelation 20:4-6.

I. It is well known that this passage is the principal one which is relied on by those who advocate the doctrine of the literal reign of Christ on the earth for a thousand years, or who hold what are called the doctrines of the "second advent." The points which are maintained by those who advocate these views are substantially:

(a) that at that period Christ will descend from heaven to reign personally upon the earth;

(b) that he will have a central place of power and authority, probably Jerusalem;

(c) that the righteous dead will then be raised, in such bodies as are to be immortal;

(d) that they will be his attendants, and will participate with him in the government of the world;

(e) that this will continue during the period of a thousand years;

(f) that the world will be subdued and converted during this period, not by moral means, but by "a new dispensation" - by the power of the Son of God; and,

(g) that at the close of this period all the remaining dead will be raised, the judgment will take place, and the affairs of the earth will be consummated.

continued...

6. Blessed—(Compare Re 14:13; 19:9).

on such the second death hath no power—even as it has none on Christ now that He is risen.

priests of God—Apostate Christendom being destroyed, and the believing Church translated at Christ's coming, there will remain Israel and the heathen world, constituting the majority of men then alive, which, from not having come into close contact with the Gospel, have not incurred the guilt of rejecting it. These will be the subjects of a general conversion (Re 11:15). "The veil" shall be taken off Israel first, then from off "all people."

That is, they only are holy ones that shall be thus restored to share in the church’s happiness, and such as shall not perish eternally; but they shall be as priests to God and Christ, glorifying him with the spiritual sacrifices of prayer and praise, and shall enjoy a quiet and honourable station with Christ upon the earth for a long time. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection,.... This may be considered either as descriptive of the persons that shall partake of this privilege; as that they are only such who are blessed with spiritual blessings, with a justifying righteousness, with pardon of sin, and regenerating grace, and who are sanctified by the Spirit of God; these, and these only, will be first raised, and will be called to inherit the kingdom prepared for them, Matthew 25:34 or else as expressive of their happiness and holiness when raised; they shall be perfectly blessed in soul and body, and perfectly holy in both: they shall be "blessed", for

on such the second death hath no power; which is the lake of fire, Revelation 20:14 the sense is, they shall escape everlasting burnings, the fire of hell, the torment and misery of the wicked; they shall be delivered from wrath to come; and as their bodies will die no more, their souls will not be subject to any sense of wrath, or to any sort of punishment: and they will be "holy"; they will have no sin in them:

but they will be priests of God and of Christ; of God the Father, and of his Son Jesus Christ, being made so to the former by the latter, Revelation 1:6 or of God, even of Christ, that is, of God, who is Christ, since it follows:

and shall reign with him; they will be wholly devoted to and employed in the service of God and of Christ, and will be continually offering up the sacrifices of praise, or singing the song of the Lamb, adoring the grace and goodness of God and Christ unto them, shown them both in providence and in grace:

and shall reign with him a thousand years; this is mentioned again, partly to assert the certainty of it, and partly to point at the blessedness of the risen saints.

Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the {12} second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, {13} and shall reign with him a thousand years.

(12) That by this both body and soul, that is, the whole man is condemned and delivered to eternal death; Re 2:11.

(13) A return to the intended history, by resuming the words which are in the end of the fourth verse Re 20:4.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
An interpolated explanation of the preceding vision. Ἅγιος, if a continuation of μακ., must almost be taken in its archaic sense of ‘belonging to God”. The ordinary meaning reduces the phrase to a hysteron proteron, unless the idea is that the bliss consists in holiness (so Vendidad xix. 22, “happy, happy the man who is holy with perfect holiness”). “Blessed and holy,” however, was a conventional Jewish term of praise and congratulation (cf. Jub. ii. 23).—ὁ δεύτ. θάνατος κ.τ.λ. According to the Hellenic faith recorded in Plutarch (in his essay on “the face in the moon’s orb”), the second death, which gently severs the mind from the soul, is a boon, not a punishment. But John’s view reflects the tradition underlying the Iranian belief (Brandt, 586 f., 592) that the righteous were exempt from the second death (defined as in Revelation 21:8). The clause ἀλλʼΧριστοῦ refers to the permanent standing (Revelation 1:6, Revelation 5:10 a) of these risen martyrs not only during but after the millennium; otherwise it would be meaningless, since the danger of the second death (as the penalty inflicted on all who are condemned at the final assizes) does not emerge until the millennium is over. The subsequent clause καὶ βασιλεύσουσι κ.τ.λ. is independent, referring back to the special and temporary privilege of the first resurrection and the millennium. For this reason it is precarious to infer from ἔσονται ἱερεῖς τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ τοῦ Χριστοῦ (elsewhere τῷ θεῷ) that the occupation of these saints is the mediation of divine knowledge to the ἔθνη whom Satan is temporarily prevented from beguiling. The likelihood is that the phrase simply denotes as elsewhere the bliss of undisturbed access to God and of intimate fellowship. John ignores the current belief that the loyal survivors on earth would be rewarded (cf. Daniel 12:12; Ps. Sol. 17:50, etc.), which is voiced in Asc. Isa. iv. 14–16, but he reproduces independently the cognate view (Asc. Isa. iv. 16 f.) that “the saints will come with the Lord with their garments which are (now) stored up on high in the seventh heaven [cf. Revelation 6:11] … they will descend and be present in this world” (after which the Beloved executes judgment at the resurrection). He, retains, however, not only the general resurrection (12) but the variant and earlier idea (cf. 4 Ezra 7:26 f.) of a resurrection (ἔζησαν, 4) confined to the saints. He calls this the first resurrection not because the martyrs and confessors who enjoyed it had to undergo a second in the process of their final redemption but because it preceded the only kind of resurrection with which sinners and even ordinary Christians had anything to do (Titius, 37–40; Baldensperger, 74, 79 f.).—καὶ βασιλεύσουσι, apparently on earth. This would be put beyond doubt were we to take the view of the risen martyrs’ occupation which has been set aside above. But, even apart from this, in the light of all relevant tradition and of the context, the earth must be the sphere of the millennium; Christ might of course be conceived to execute his sovereignty from heaven, but, though Revelation 20:9 denotes a different cycle of tradition from 4–6, it is put on the same plane, and the vision of 4 (cf. Revelation 20:1) is evidently this world. ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς would be more in keeping with this context than with that of Revelation 20:10, where again the refrain of Revelation 22:5 (κ. β. εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων) would be more appropriate.—χίλια ἔτη. This enigmatic and isolated prediction has led to more unhappy fantasies of speculation and conduct than almost any other passage of the N.T. It stands severely apart from the sensuous expectations of current chiliasm (fertility of soil, longevity, a religious carnival, etc.), but even its earliest interpreters, Papias and Justin, failed to appreciate its reticence, its special object, and its semi-transcendent atmosphere. For its relevance, or rather irrelevance, to the normal Christian outlook, see Denney’s Studies in Theology, pp. 231 f., and A. Robertson’s Regnum Dei, pp. 113 f. When the millennium or messianic reign was thus abbreviated into a temporary phase of providence in the latter days, the resurrection had to be shifted from its original position prior to the messianic reign; it now became, as here, the sequel to that period.6. Blessed and holy &c.] He is sure of eternal blessedness, absolutely and indefeasibly consecrated to God. “Holy” refers to the relation to God into which this brings him, not to the foregoing faithfulness that is implied in his being admitted into it.

the second death] See Revelation 2:11, and Revelation 20:14. Cf. Romans 6:9-10.

they shall be priests] Cf. Revelation 1:6, Revelation 5:10.

of God and of Christ] The strongest proof, perhaps, in the book of the doctrine of Christ’s coequal Deity. If we read these words in the light of St John’s Gospel, or of the Nicene Creed, they suggest no difficulty, but without the doctrine there taught, they make salvation to consist in the deadly sin which the Moslems call “association”—the worshipping the creature by the side of the Creator. Notice, however, that the word “God” in this book always means the Father; and so throughout the N. T., with few exceptions.

thousand years] We should probably read, “the thousand years.”Revelation 20:6. Μακάριος, blessed) The word μακάριος is with great propriety applied to him over whom the second death has no power: for it is derived from μὴ, κὴρ, so that it denotes one who is immortal.—ἐν τῇ ἀναστάσει τῇ πρώτῃ, in the first resurrection) The Æthiopian Version, according to John de la Haye, has, on that day which precedes His coming.Verse 6. - Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years; over these the second death hath no authority. The first words describe the state of those who have part in the spiritual resurrection with Christ (see on ver. 5). The second clause gives to the oppressed Christian the culminating reason for patience and perseverance. The "second death" is the spiritual death of the lake of fire (ver. 14). Priests of God, etc. (cf. Revelation 1:6; Revelation 5:10). A thousand years; in complete and everlasting security (see on ver. 2, et seq.). We may in this place briefly indicate some of the other interpretations which have been given to this reign cf. the saints for a thousand years, or, as it is generally styled, the millennium.

(1) The literal interpretation of a future reign on earth of Christ with his saints for a thousand years. According to this view, there is to be a first resurrection of the dead (either of the holy dead or of all the dead), then the period of a thousand years, during which Satan will be bound, and the saints will reign; then finally the ultimate punishment of Satan - the casting into the lake of fire. Some limit the locality of this reign to a particular spot on the earth (e.g. Jerusalem), beyond which live the ungodly. The objections to this theory are:

(a) Amongst its advocates almost every detail is a matter of dispute. Some place the millennium in the future, others in the past. Of these latter some specify the first thousand years of the Christian age, others the thousand years from the time of Constantine. "The length of the period, the number and class of the believers who shall be partakers of its glory, the condition in which they are to live, the work in which they are to be engaged, the relation in which the exalted Redeemer is to stand to them," are all subjects for disagreement.

(b) The carnal nature of such a resurrection is at variance with the general teaching of the Bible, and unlike the spiritual nature which our Lord himself assumed after his resurrection.

(c) If the saints receive a glorified body for that period, it is impossible to conceive of them as living in the world in its present state, and a large part of which is inhabited by the ungodly.

(d) It is impossible satisfactorily to conceive what relations could exist between the saints in such a case and the ungodly. If Satan is bound during this period so that he can deceive the nations no more, whence comes the evil which exists among the ungodly portion of the world?

(e) There is no other example of a literal use of numbers in the whole of the Apocalypse.

(f) The teaching of the Bible elsewhere not only negatively fails to support this view, but is in positive opposition to it, in such points as a continuance of evil after Christ's second coming; the existence of an interval between his coming and the judgment instead of a sudden coming to judgment (comp. John 6:40, "I will raise him up at the last day").

(2) The spiritual interpretation, which makes the thousand years expressive of the whole Christian age. This seems to a certain extent true, since what the thousand years signifies does have its effect during this time in the reign of the saints. But it seems inexact, since it makes the thousand years symbolical of a length of time, instead of a quality attached to an action. What is meant is not that Christ bound Satan during the period of the Christian age (though, as we have seen, there is a sense in which he is so bound as regards believers), for, on the contrary, he goes about like a roaring lion; but that he bound and overthrew him completely for all Christians by his redeeming work. Hath part (ἔχων μέρος)

A phrase peculiar to John as referring to a person. Compare John 13:8.

Second death

See on Revelation 2:11.

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