In taking a figurative view of Rev.20, if the " rest of the dead" in v.5 are the "dead in Christ"(Col. 3:3), could this not define the " first" resurrection as the one and only resurrection at the last day?

4 Answers 4


It is clear that Rev 20 deals with events associated with the millennium (1000 years) and the two classes of people, namely:

  1. those who had been beheaded for their testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image, and had not received its mark on their foreheads or hands. (V4). This is the description of the righteous. S
  2. the rest of the dead (V5). That is, (by contradistinction to the above), the wicked, as per Rev 14:9.

According to Rev 20:4-6 -

  • The wicked remain dead during the 1000 years and are resurrected at the end of the 1000 years (V5)
  • The righteous dead are resurrected at the start of the 1000 years (V4)

The function and purpose of the "second death" is a separate question. To make this clearer, some versions bracket the V5 to show it functions parenthetically, eg, NIV:

4 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 a 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. 5 (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. 6 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.

The NLT is similar.

I will resist the temptation to place the 1000 years in a scheme of eschatology as it is extremely controversial. However, the message of Rev 20:4-6 is clear - the righteous dead are raised at the start of the 1000 years and the wicked dead are raised at the end of the 1000 years.

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    Did you know there's evidence for that part of Revelation 20:5 being spurious? "(The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.)"
    – Rajesh
    Commented Jan 4, 2022 at 23:28
  • @Rajesh - not according to UBS5. What data do you have?
    – Dottard
    Commented Jan 4, 2022 at 23:30
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    I'll write an answer soon. I'm working on something else right now.
    – Rajesh
    Commented Jan 4, 2022 at 23:38
  • So if the wicked are resurrected at the end of the thousand years, does this mean that the dead mentioned in Rev 20-13 are wicked ?... The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done.
    – Bagpipes
    Commented Jan 5, 2022 at 10:11
  • @Bagpipes - I presume yes. It appears that the dead are resurrected to receive final judgement as described in Rev 20:13 - the wicked are thrown into the lake of fire before death and hell are similarly thrown into the same lake of fire.
    – Dottard
    Commented Jan 5, 2022 at 10:19

Even if worms destroy this body and I die, yet in my flesh shall I see God. Job 19:26

Israel's dead men shall rise, together with my dead body shall they arise. Isaiah 26:19

I will open up your graves and bring you up out of your graves Ezekiel 37:12-13

many that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. Daniel 12:2

There shall be a resurrection of the dead, of both the just and the unjust. Acts 24:15

Revelation 20:5 ... this is the first resurrection. On such the second death has no power....

Revelation 20:13-14 the sea gave up the dead in it, and death and hell delivered up the dead in them... And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

Revelation 21:1 .... and there was no more sea.

[ The world is destroyed after the 1000 years, those resurrected in Rev 20:4-5 reign over the survivors of the arrival of Christ. The whole world will be required to go to Jerusalem to visit with Christ once a year for the feast of tabernacles; Zechariah 14:9,16-19. With a deadly punishment for those who don't. During eternity there will be no death, so we know that Zechariah 14 can not be about eternity. The fire in Rev 20:9 is 2 Peter 3:12-13, as the world is destroyed the remaining dead are raised and judged. ]

  • This would benefit from an explicit answer to the Title question: ‘Who are the "rest of the dead" in Rev. 20:5?’. Commented Jan 17, 2023 at 2:27

First of all, you cannot take a figurative view of this passage. Nothing in Revelation indicates that the 1000 years (Rev 20:5) nor the Judgement mention in Rev 20 beginning with v 11 are not very real events that are going to take place. In order to interpret what it is saying correctly, you cannot take it as anything but face value. According to Acts 24:15 Paul states that there are 2 resurrections. One of the righteous and the unrighteous. Only the righteous are resurrected at the beginning of the 1000 years because this time is what the Gospels refer to as the kingdom of God, it clearly states that only those whom have been reborn (John 3), i.e. those whom have been made righteous (Matt 5) will enter the Kingdom of God. Why is the 1000 years the kingdom of God? This is when Jesus reigns on the throne. This is the marriage supper. This is when the the virgins need their oil lamps (Holy Spirit) in order to enter the when the Bridegroom comes. This 1000 years is the time that is the fulfillment of a lot of what Jesus talks about in the book of Matthew.The second resurrection is of the unrighteous where they are given their new bodies and cast into the lake of fire at the great White throne Judgement. The “rest of the dead” mentioned in v 5 of Rev 20 are those not saved that are resurrected to be judged and then thrown into the lake of fire.

To answer your question v5 of Rev 20 refers to those who will be sent to hell. The first resurrection happens sometime before the start of the millennial reign.Exatly when is unclear and often debated (pre, mid, or post trib) but it definitely takes place before the 1000 year reign. Refer to v 4 in Revelation 20.

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    – Community Bot
    Commented Jan 15, 2023 at 18:13
  • The OP is seeking answers that take a figurative view of the verse in question. If your view is literal, you can only offer an answer if you take a neutral stance for the purpose of answering. That would require removing your first 3 sentences (that you edited in!) Then you would have to give biblical reasons for what you say about the 1,000 years being literal, with 1 resurrection at its start and another at its end. Otherwise, this is all interpretation and opinion.
    – Anne
    Commented Jan 22, 2023 at 17:19

if the " rest of the dead" in v.5 are the "dead in Christ"

But they aren't.

  • The "dead in Christ" (1 Thessalonians 4:15–17) are those in the first resurrection.
  • The "rest of the dead" are those in the second resurrection.

The first resurrection, which occurs at Christ's return, includes those that have been saved during this age, including those still alive at the time:

Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
— 1 Corinthians 15:50-53

Jesus had described the same event to Nicodemus:

Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
— John 3:3–8

For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
— 1 Thessalonians 4:15–17

Those in the first resurrection will be resurrected as immortal spirits:

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.
— Revelation 20:6

But, contrary to popular belief, God is not trying to save everyone during this current age. Only a relatively few people will be called to salvation at this time (the "elect", the "little flock").

Except for those few that were offered salvation and then later chose to reject God's holy spirit, everyone else that has ever lived, the vast majority of mankind, is what Revelation 20:5 calls "the rest of the dead". It is they that will be in the second resurrection at the end of the Millennium, resurrected to physical bodies and given their offer of salvation.

John 5:29 describes these two resurrections as "the resurrection of life" and "the resurrection of judgement" (judgement, not condemnation or damnation).

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    “and THOSE WHO HAVE DONE EVIL, unto the resurrection of judgment” — whether you want to translate it as judgment or damnation, it is still a resurrection reserved for THOSE WHO HAVE DONE EVIL. No offer of salvation is ever said to be offered to them. Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 1:13
  • @DerÜbermensch, imagine someone born in 500 BC in South America. There is no way they have ever heard of God's laws, much less know the only name by which they can be saved. It's almost certain they have "done evil", without ever being aware that they weren't living the right way. What kind of a loving God would not offer salvation to them when they appear in the second resurrection? What kind of a loving Christian wouldn't want them to be offered salvation? They will be judged on their behaviour after they learn what God expects of them. Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 3:08
  • An anonymous user said: "I don't think you're right. The rest of the dead come to life after the 1000 years. This is the first resurrection.". — Consider "The rest … years*" as a parenthetical comment. Yes, the "rapture" is the first resurrection, and "the rest of the dead" will be the second resurrection. Only those that have proven to be blessed and holy, the elect, will be in the first resurrection. Commented Jan 3 at 1:44

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