Revelation 20:4
Parallel Verses
New American Standard Bible
Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

King James Bible
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.

Darby Bible Translation
And I saw thrones; and they sat upon them, and judgment was given to them; and the souls of those beheaded on account of the testimony of Jesus, and on account of the word of God; and those who had not done homage to the beast nor to his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and hand; and they lived and reigned with the Christ a thousand years:

World English Bible
I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, and for the word of God, and such as didn't worship the beast nor his image, and didn't receive the mark on their forehead and on their hand. They lived, and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

Young's Literal Translation
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given to them, and the souls of those who have been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus, and because of the word of God, and who did not bow before the beast, nor his image, and did not receive the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand, and they did live and reign with Christ the thousand years;

Revelation 20:4 Parallel
Commentary
Barnes' Notes on the Bible

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;

continued...

Revelation 20:4 Parallel Commentaries

Library
The Life of the Blessed in Heaven.
Having examined the glorious gifts with which the risen body is clothed, and seen that it perfects the soul in all her operations; understanding, moreover, that the glorified senses are to contribute their share to the happiness of man--we shall now consider the happy life of the blessed in heaven, including the resurrection. But, remember, it is not a new life that is now to occupy our thoughts. It is a continuation of the same life that was begun the moment the vision of God flashed upon the soul.
F. J. Boudreaux—The Happiness of Heaven

The Sea of Sodom
The bounds of Judea, on both sides, are the sea; the western bound is the Mediterranean,--the eastern, the Dead sea, or the sea of Sodom. This the Jewish writers every where call, which you may not so properly interpret here, "the salt sea," as "the bituminous sea." In which sense word for word, "Sodom's salt," but properly "Sodom's bitumen," doth very frequently occur among them. The use of it was in the holy incense. They mingled 'bitumen,' 'the amber of Jordan,' and [an herb known to few], with
John Lightfoot—From the Talmud and Hebraica

"Now the End of the Commandment is Charity Out of a Pure Heart, and a Good Conscience, and Faith Unfeigned. "
[It is extremely probable that this was one of the probationary discourses which the author delivered before the Presbytery of Glasgow, previous to his ordination. The following is an extract from the Record of that Presbytery: "Dec. 5, 1649. The qlk daye Mr. Hew Binnen made his popular sermon 1 Tim. i. ver. 5 'The end of ye commandment is charity.'--Ordaines Mr. Hew Binnen to handle his controversie this day fifteen dayes, De satisfactione Christi."--Ed.] 1 Tim. ii. 5.--"Now the end of the commandment
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning

The Second Coming of Christ.
^A Matt. XXIV. 29-51; ^B Mark XIII. 24-37; ^C Luke XXI. 25-36. ^b 24 But in those days, ^a immediately after the { ^b that} ^a tribulation of those days. [Since the coming of Christ did not follow close upon the destruction of Jerusalem, the word "immediately" used by Matthew is somewhat puzzling. There are, however, three ways in which it may be explained: 1. That Jesus reckons the time after his own divine, and not after our human, fashion. Viewing the word in this light, the passage at II. Pet.
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

Cross References
Daniel 7:9
"I kept looking Until thrones were set up, And the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like white snow And the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne was ablaze with flames, Its wheels were a burning fire.

Daniel 7:18
'But the saints of the Highest One will receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, for all ages to come.'

Daniel 7:22
until the Ancient of Days came and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One, and the time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom.

Daniel 7:27
Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him.'

Matthew 19:28
And Jesus said to them, "Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Luke 14:14
and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

John 14:19
"After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also.

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