“And They Sat Upon the Thrones” (1)
To sit with the Lord
upon His throne in
the next age we must be
those who overcome
in this age
Revelation 20:4 presents the first resurrection in a brief way. (See “A Sketch of the First Resurrection.”) The next verse even tells us directly, “This is the first resurrection.” That much is pretty straightforward.
However, in describing the first resurrection, 20:4 begins with a statement that is somewhat difficult to understand:
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was committed to them.
It does not even explain who “they” are. We at least know, however, that since they are sitting upon thrones and judgment has been given to them, they are saints who have already been resurrected (cf. Dan. 7:27).
Only after speaking of these saints who are already on thrones does the verse go on to tell us of other saints being resurrected to reign with Christ:
Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark upon their foreheads or upon their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
So how is it that the “they” in the first sentence of this verse are already resurrected, ahead of the other saints?
To answer this question we first need to consider who “they” are. Much earlier in the book of Revelation the Lord makes this promise:
“To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me upon My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father upon His throne.”
— Revelation 3:21
So, what we see in Revelation 20:4 is the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise in this earlier verse. That is, those who are siting upon the thrones in Revelation 20:4 are the overcomers, those who were faithful to follow the Lord in this age, and who thus receive the reward of sitting with Him upon His throne in the next age, the Millennium.
And the fact that they are resurrected before the other saints indicates that they have received another reward, that is, that of participating in what may be called the “outstanding resurrection” from among the dead.
This outstanding resurrection will take place prior to the Great Tribulation; that is why these believers are resurrected before the others. However, it will still be a section within the first resurrection, for the Lord made it clear, when He was speaking to the Jews, that there are only two basic resurrections, the resurrection of life and the resurrection of damnation (John 5:28-29).
So, the outstanding resurrection will take place within the resurrection of life, the first resurrection. But, it will be a very special reward for those who are faithful to follow Christ in this age, and so overcome, not only to reign with Him, but even to sit with Him on His throne in the next age, the 1,000 year reign of Christ upon the earth.
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— 7 March 2023 —