Is the First Resurrection of Revelation Chapter 20 the Actual First Resurrection?

The Revelation describes two resurrections; the First Resurrection that will occur at the beginning of the 1,000 Year Reign of Christ and the Resurrection of the Dead that will occur at the end of the thousand years.

I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. Rev. 20:4-6

NOTE: In these verses, the rest of the dead who come to life at the end of the thousand years is a reference to the rest of the dead in Christ. Those who die without Christ will never “come to life” but will be resurrected to a second death.

Unfortunately, it is sometimes suggested that the First Resurrection cannot be the literal, first resurrection, due to the fact that other resurrections have already taken place. These other resurrections would include the resurrection of certain holy ones following the crucifixion of Jesus Christ (Matt. 27:51-53) and the resurrection of Lazarus from the dead (John 11:43-44). However, it is clear that the Scriptures do not consider either of these events to be the First Resurrection based on their limited scope and number of people involved. The raising of an Old Testament saint from the grave or an individual being brought back to life by Jesus is not the same as the First Resurrection, when all the martyrs of the Great Tribulation will be raised, or the Resurrection of the Dead when all the remaining dead will be raised at the end of the thousand years.

In addition, in the following verses, it is often taught that the armies of heaven who will fight with Christ at the Battle of Armageddon are resurrected saints because they are described as being dressed in linen. This would make the Battle of Armageddon the occasion of the First Resurrection, rather than the 1,000 Year Reign of Christ, as we read earlier.

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. Rev. 19:11-15

Although resurrected saints are described as being dressed in linen in the Revelation, the angels who work on the Lord’s behalf are also described as dressed in linen. (See: Ezek. 9:1-11, Dan. 12:5-7, Rev. 15:5-6). Likewise, when the Scriptures speak of the armies of heaven, they are referring to the angels in heaven, and not resurrected saints. 

Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his heavenly hosts (tsaba SEC 6635 army). Ps. 148:2

The angels who make up the armies of heaven can be seen in the account of the War in Heaven, which will be a battle between the angels of God and the angels of Satan.

Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven.

Rev. 12:7-8

The armies of heaven are also mentioned in the account of the arrest of Jesus. When the Lord was arrested by the mob, He told His disciples to put down their swords because He could call down twelve legions of angels if He chose to.

“Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” Matt. 26:53

From the above verses, we know that the legions of angels, who were at the Lord’s disposal during His arrest, will be the same army of angels that will follow Christ into the Battle at Armageddon. This is confirmed in our original verse, which states that the First Resurrection will not take place until the 1,000 Year Rein of Christ begins.

To read more about the events of the Last Days, click here: The Order of Events of the Last Days


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