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Scripture often indicates that outside of Christ we are dead. The apostle Paul's Letter to the Romans emphasizes this point often:

  • Romans 5:12: "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned"
  • Romans 6:13b: "[Present] yourselves to God as those alive from the dead" (emphasis added).
  • Romans 7:9: "I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died"

"Death to all men"?! "Alive from the dead"? Since Scripture is inerrant and infallible, there is no doubt that Paul's words apply to everyone — that we really are dead if we have not accepted the Words of our Savior. Here is the clause under consideration:

  • Revelation 20:6a: "Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power..."

If we are considered dead, must we not have to be first resurrected or face the second death?:

  • Colossians 2:13: "When you were dead... He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions"
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  • Perhaps a more succinct question might be useful. From what you have quoted it is already answered.
    – steveowen
    Jul 4 at 0:32
  • @user48152 Thanks. I will try to do that.
    – Xeno
    Jul 4 at 0:45
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    @Xeno its talking about two different things, the first one is Paul talking about being dead / alive to sin/in sin law/spirit. The second John in Rev 20:6 talks about the first and second death, the first death is in this life while we are in a human body, the second death is after the white throne judgement those that will not inherit life their souls will be put to death in the lake of fire (rev 21;8). Romans and Revelation is talking about different deaths. God bless! Jul 5 at 8:25
  • @DanielDahlberg Your comment is very useful. However, outside of Christ, we are the walking dead in this world until we come to life by the blood of Christ. Therefore, our "first resurrection" is the moment we are cleansed through that blood. Our "second resurrection" is our transformation into our spiritual bodies (1 Cor. 15:51-53, 2 Cor. 5:8, 1 Thess. 4:17, etc.). While this is a bit difficult for us to understand, we are dead to God in this life if we reject His Son. Perhaps this will help, James 4:14: "[We] are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away."
    – Xeno
    Jul 5 at 20:31
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Can we interpret the “first resurrection”/“second death” (Rev. 20:6a) as being made alive in Christ?

Answer: From an amillennial perspective this seems most plausible.

The Book of Revelation is remarkably symbolic throughout. Rarely is it relating to literal occurrences, other than perhaps chapters 2-3 regarding the seven churches. Even then, metaphorical language appears in those chapters as well (seven stars, seven lampstands, etc.). Of course the pervasive symbolism correlates to actual, historical events. It is the interpretation of those events that leads to controversy.

Since the natural man/woman is dead to God, the "first death" should be understood as our condemnation as sinful human beings. The only means by which we may obtain life in God is through the blood of His Son and our subsequent obedience to His Word.

At least two passages speak directly to this remedy:

  • Colossians 2:13: "When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions"
  • 1 Corinthians 15:22: "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive" (cf. Col. 2:13).

Here is the clause from the OP:

  • Revelation 20:6a: "Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power..."

If we are "dead," how then can we be "made alive"? Clearly, since we are "made alive in Christ" it naturally follows that this constitutes a form of resurrection, that is, our "first resurrection." Most understand that the "second resurrection" occurs when we are transformed, bodily, into imperishable immortality:

1 Corinthians 15:51-53: "Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the [physically] dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality" (emphasis added).

Paul is describing our transcendence into the paradise of God. The faithful will, therefore, never encounter spiritual death. This is not true of the faithless and disobedient. Their destiny is too horrific to contemplate. However, we will definitely be changed although we may not now understand what that means:

1 John 3:2-3: "Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 3And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure" (emphasis added).

Spiritual death is the "second death" of Revelation 20:6a. Here, suppose we consider the surrounding text at this stage of the chapter for context:

Revelation 20:4-6: "4Then 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.

5The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. 6Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years."

What does this mean? Before we dissect these passages, let us note another verse of great relevance here:

1 Peter 2:9: "But [the saints] are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies [Scripture] of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light"

With this is mind, let us examine Revelation 20:4-6 step-by-step with bracketed notation and commentary:

I. 4a"Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them." The ones on the thrones appear to be the saints, those who constitute the "holy nation" in 1 Peter 2:9. Additionally, let us not miss the fact that the saints are to judge the world: 1 Cor. 6:2: "Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world?" That is what this clause seems to be conveying.

II. 4b"And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God" Again, this is speaking of the saints. For the past 2,000 years, the saints have been persecuted including beheading's. Who among the faithful has not watched the news and put their head in their hands asking themselves: "How long, Sovereign Lord, until you avenge the injustices of the world?" (cf. Rev. 6:10).

III. 4c"[Those] who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand" It is a well-known fact that Roman Caesars expected to be worshipped as gods. This became so widespread that those without the proper identification, whatever that may have been, no one was allowed to buy or sell in the Roman marketplaces without it.

IV. 4d"[They] came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years." We have already demonstrated that we are "made alive in Christ". There should be no mystery that saints are priest of God and of Christ just as 1 Peter 2:9 tells us. The faithful are a "chosen race", a "royal priesthood", etc. Note that all Christians are royalty. This verse is merely stating that Christians — in their entirety — will reign with Him throughout His Dynasty.

[NOTE: The expression "reigning with Christ for a thousand years" represents the the holy, royal nation of saints (1 Pet. 2:9) of all periods until the end of the world, priests of God at this very moment. Unfortunately, this figure is often stretched well beyond its intent. Some recognize that this period is merely an indeterminate amount of time until the end.

It represents the totality of "this age", one that will cease upon Christ's reappearance at the end of the world, the end of time. Many hermeneutics simply cannot, or will not accept this as a figurative duration. Suppose we consider a passage from Psalm 50 to underscore the point:

Psalm 50:10: "“For every beast of the forest is Mine, The cattle on a thousand hills."

It this a literal 1,000 hills? Obviously, God is declaring that every beast on all hills — everywhere, belong to Him. It is surprising how many will claim that this reference in Psalm 50 is symbolic, whereas the 1,000 years in Revelation must be literal. This is terribly unfortunate, because the Book of Revelation is a treasure trove of O/T symbolism.]

V. 5"The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed." Again, outside the saving blood of Christ we are dead. "The rest of the dead" in this clause merely represents those who have rejected God's offer. Their eventual "coming to life" occurs at the end of time — which simply means they will rise to face God's judgment. They never experienced the "first resurrection" due to their faithlessness. Again, the thousand years point the conclusion of the material universe (2 Pet. 3:10ff.).

VI. 5-cont"This is the first resurrection." It is unfortunate that this tiny clause appears where it does because the "first resurrection" does not apply to "the lost" whatsoever: it only applies to those who have accepted the free gift of Christ. This is believed to instead be applicable to those in the next verse: Rev. 20:6.

VII. Here, I will paraphrase the verse using bracketed notation:

6Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection [baptism into Christ]; over these [Christians] the second death [spiritual death] has no power, but they [Christians] will be priests of God and of Christ [all Christians are priests of God and of Christ] and will reign with Him for a thousand years [until the end of the age, the end of time]."

Conclusion

Once we are willing to parse extraordinary symbolic language, as it is meant to be, we can gain a much greater understanding of this enigmatic text. The celestial imagery of a dozen books in the O/T appears throughout this Book. It is only when we put those pieces together that we can begin comprehend the great meaning being conveyed to us by God.

It should become evident as one studies many O/T prophecies on the subject, that the "first resurrection" is baptism into Christ, while the "second death" is spiritual separation from God: first in Hades, and ultimately, the Lake of Fire.

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  • You can even interpret this to mean all Christians during their life on earth after Christ's victory on the cross but before the last judgement. The image of beheaded souls referencing that the minds are in enmity with God and so only the headless souls reign with Christ (but the government is on his shoulders, so we have the mind of Christ). They are made headless by the two witnesses of the Word and Spirit of Prophecy.
    – Robert
    Jul 5 at 7:50
  • @Robert Thanks for your comments. I think you are on the right track, but I would disagree with you just a bit: The "souls under the altar" are struggling Christians all over the world who have been persecuted, tortured, condemned, beheaded (and worse) throughout their godly lives. We - as the saved - are those souls. I can't say much more here, but the two witnesses are Moses (who turned the waters into blood, Rev. 11:6) and Elijah (who shut up the sky, Rev. 11:6). Both of these men represent the O/T - this is what judges and condemns apostate Jerusalem, thus the siege in AD 70.
    – Xeno
    Jul 5 at 20:21
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Answer: From an premillennial perspective this seems like wishful thinking.

we really are dead if we have not accepted the Words of our Savior.

The quotations from Romans and Colossians use the concept of death in a larger sense. This is especially obvious in "sin became alive and I died", where Paul clearly hadn't literally died yet.

These expressions were used just as they are in the modern "Dead Man Walking", referring to a death-row prison inmate: the person has been condemned to death, but is temporarily still walking.

The "first resurrection" refers to the time when Jesus returns, with world-wide signs and heavenly trumpets announcing the event. It is then that the elect (the small number of saved people that died or are still alive at the time) will be converted, in the blink of an eye, into immortal spiritual beings, sons of God and brothers of Jesus.

If we are considered dead, must we not have to be first resurrected or face the second death?

Yes. At the end of the Millennium there will be a second general resurrection, when, as the preceding verse in Revelation says: "… the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished".

Those that experience the second resurrection (the vast majority of all mankind that has ever lived), along with the people still living in the Kingdom of God (here on Earth) will get their chance at salvation. Most of them will accept God's way. The few that refuse, having received guidance from God's holy spirit and then rejecting it (the unforgivable sin), will experience the second death, mercifully destroyed by being burned to ashes.

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  • I'm glad you used the expression "dead men walking." I wanted to use that myself because outside of Christ, that is precisely what we are, both men and women. We are all dead to God if we have not been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. The sole reason for our creation is to come to God and be washed of that sin and death to achieve eternal life.
    – Xeno
    Jul 5 at 19:18
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Colossians 2:13: "When you were dead... He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions"

This is referring to the spirtual death and birth described in John 3.

"You must be born again". The believer in Christ is born twice. Once physically for all people and then, for those who believe, born again spiritually. Read of all John 3 to get the context.

Those who are born again, born both physically and spiritually according to John 3, will not experience the second death.

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