Millenium just for Martyrs?

Revelation 20.4-6
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. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed 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.

It seems from a literal reading of this text that the distinct reward of those who are beheaded for the faith is to reign for a thousand years. I am ok with this either way because death is like time travel anyhow and my next waking moment will be the post-millenial kingdom. However, the idea of ruling the nations under the Messiah is a major part of my current hope. Does anyone have a solution to this?

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by JohnO on January 3, 2007 at 6:58 pm

    If by “solution” you mean to ask, why does it only say that just those who are beheaded get to rule? Other sections, including Revelation, say that those who overcome will rule, and that the saints will rule. Unless I’m missing something?

    Reply

  2. Posted by iRiley on January 3, 2007 at 9:37 pm

    I’ve read this section before with the same thoughts in mind but, beheadings are not very common nowadays but it also says that those who did not bow down and worship the beast would be there as well. I’m not totally clear on this section, but I’ve seen it to mean one of two things. Firstly, this is a revelation from God, so a literal translation of the text seems to put as Sean said, that the mellinium is solely for martyrs but, on a figurative level (an I say this very cautiously because the scripture should be read ‘as-in’, but things are lost in translation) these ‘beheadings’ could simly mean those persecuted for the faith. And, are we not all persecuted in one way or another? Be it physical abuse, verbal ridicule, or just the wary glance, and uncomfortable shuffle of feet when people are around you, I’m quite sure we’ve all perservered through persecution. Now, while this is all guesswork as I have not received revelation on the topic, I’ve always taken this to mean those persecuted, rather then those simply beheaded (ie. martyrs), and those who resist the beast in those three-and-a-half years.

    Like Sean also said, much of my current hope rests on having that chance to rule in the millenial kingdom, death is the easiest for of time travel, and I know I’ll be seeing my savior my next waking moment.

    All is well then, I suppose.

    Note: This is just my understanding, please feel free to share any of your own thoughts on the subject. I take no offense in response to scripture. 🙂

    Reply

  3. Posted by Dustin Smith on January 4, 2007 at 5:10 pm

    “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.”

    Well, I have not received the mark on my forehead or on my hand. I kind see this as 2 bits of criteria, one being martyred for the faith and 2 being staying away from the world.

    But thats just me….

    Dustin

    Reply

  4. Posted by TPI on January 18, 2007 at 3:34 am

    Hi! Everyone

    The key to understanding this portion is found with the words, “This is the first resurrection. Blessed 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”. More precisely, “a part in the first resurrection”.

    This takes us back to Hebrews 6:1-3 where it speaks of the foundation of our faith. Compare the ‘resurrection of the dead’ with 1Cor 15:13-14.

    Our inner as well as our outer man is concerned in the resurrection of the dead; it is the restoration of soul, spirit and body. It is a process of renewal starting at repentance and regeneration and for those who are in Christ, finishing with a physical return to life at the Lord’s coming.

    The verse you quoted speaks of those who share in the first resurrection (Revelation 20:4-6). The first resurrection starts when man’s life is restored on the new foundation of God, it is completed in the physical resurrection. The temple of God is complete when the Christian has been restored in soul, spirit and body, when he is completely filled with the Spirit of God.

    Resurrection is the change from death into life, from darkness into light, deliverance from the power of Satan and return to God. In the case of the prodigal son resurrection started when he said: ‘I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ His resurrection became a fact when the Father accepted him, put the best robe on him, and provided a ring on his hand and shoes on his feet. Then the Father said about his son: ‘He was dead, and is alive again.’ (Luke 15:11-32). Jesus described the spiritual resurrection in these words: ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes Him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. Truly, truly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live’ (John 5:24-25).

    When he is baptized in water a Christian testifies that his old ways of thinking, his old man, is buried and that a new life has started which is nourished from the heavenly places. Many Christians think that a believer goes to heaven only after he dies. If so, how can his ways and citizenship be in heaven? How will he be able to fight and conquer in the heavenlies if he is not present there? It says: ‘And raised us up with him, and made us sit with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus’ (Eph 2:6). He who is in Christ, that is, he who belongs to his spiritual body of which He is the Head, is in heaven, in the Kingdom of God, which is the good part of the Kingdom of heaven. In him our Lord’s prayer is fulfilled: ‘Father, I desire that they also, whom Thou hast given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory’ (John 17:24). Our life there is in faith, and we see with eyes that are opened spiritually. Natural feet cannot tread in the spiritual world, physical eyes cannot see it hands of flesh cannot touch it. There we hear God’s voice in the inner man and express ourselves in images derived from natural life, to create a picture of the unseen, unheard and untouched reality. Jesus spoke of this world in parables. He started his parables with these words: ‘The Kingdom of heaven may be compared to …’ Jesus said: ‘I am the resurrection and the life.’ We are resurrected with Him when we adopt his ways of thinking, for then we will speak and act as He did. Then we view earthly circumstances from the heavenly places, from ‘above.’ When a beloved disciple tried to keep Jesus from going to Jerusalem to suffer and die the Lord saw immediately who it was that had influenced and penetrated Peter in the spiritual world. Therefore the Lord said to Peter: ‘Get thee behind me, Satan.’ Before the same disciple denied Him Jesus warned that Satan would sift him like wheat. But the Lord also told him that He had prayed for Peter, that He had been active in the heavenly places to save this apostle from the claws of Satan.

    There are Christians who lack insight in the world of the Kingdom of heaven and so are unable to live and develop there. Their life is based on the Old Testament. Their knowledge is related to the natural world and this world does not go beyond the grave. The things that lie beyond the grave are a closed book to them. They like to quote the words of Moses: ‘The secret things belong to the Lord our God; but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children for ever’ (Deut 29:29). But in the New Covenant Paul says: ‘For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths (the deepest thoughts) of God’ (1Cor 2:10). We are to be found rejoicing for having received this Spirit!

    A well-loved text of those who teach the so-called sleep of the soul is Psalm 115:16: ‘The heavens are the Lord’s heavens, but the earth He has given to the sons of man. The dead do not praise the Lord.’ They fail to see that this verse shows the tremendous difference between the old and the new covenant. For the Lord says to his followers: “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the Kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given’ (Matt 13:11). Ecclesiastes says: ‘The dead know nothing, and they have no more reward; but the memory of them is lost,’ but of Christians who live at the Old Testament level it may be said that they do have knowledge of the things happening on earth, but know nothing of that which is related to the unseen Kingdom of heaven and do not share in the body of the Lord which is formed there.

    When we bury somebody he is dead for us but he lives for God who dwells in the unseen world (Luke 20:38). The so-called doctrine of the sleep of the soul is based on the assumption that at his death the entire person dies. He is assumed to cease existing in body, soul and spirit. This error is in flat contradiction with the things the New Testament teaches about the Kingdom of heaven. Just think of Abraham’s discussion with Lazarus and the rich man. Revelation 6:9 tells us of the crying of the souls that were slain for the Word of God. These dead are capable of crying even though they do not have a physical body. God Himself, and the host of spirits, are capable of calling, sometimes even with a loud voice (Rev 14:5).
    A sleeping person is not dead but moves in the unseen world only. In the spirit he is able to walk, to struggle, to have fear, even to make long journeys, traveling in the spirit. When a Christian dies he ceases to be able to function on earth. He falls asleep and lives on in the unseen Kingdom of God.

    When he is born again a true Christian he rises to a new life. To him applies: ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead.’ This should make it clear that this unseen man, the inner man, does not die a second time to be resurrected a second time at the coming of Jesus. Jesus said to the faithful of the new covenant they would never see or taste death (John 8:51-52), and those who believe in Him shall live, even though they die, and whoever lives and believes in Him shall never die (John 11:25-26). Once we have risen from spiritual death, and persevere in faith, we will not die to fall victim to death and Hades. We belong to the body of Christ and have, just as that body, eternal life only. When the believer dies when his soul is separated from his body, he will be at home with the Lord (1Cor 5:8). Death no longer has dominion over him because he is united with Jesus Christ, the Head of the body, who has conquered death (Romans 6:9). On earth he lived m the power of the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead, He who is united with such a Spirit will not enter death, and that Spirit will not abandon man when he dies. Timothy 1:10 says that Christ Jesus abolished death and has brought to light life and immortality through the gospel. That means He has done away with death.

    God said to Adam: ‘In the day that you eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall die.’ For us, however, there is a tree of life, and those who eat of it will live forever. ‘I am the bread of life. If any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever, and those who eat it shall not die’ (John 6:48-51). The doctrine of the sleep of the soul interferes with the foundation, that is with Jesus Christ. It says that the spiritually resurrected will die again. This is a natural religion occupying itself with the visible world and not with the Kingdom of God, and of course in the natural world dead is dead.

    The most well-known text in the bible is John 3:16: ‘For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.’ Because of this eternal life the inner man is able to go on, to persevere for ever. This life cannot be damaged by death, for it is sustained by the Holy Spirit. It is life of a high quality.

    In 2Cor 5:1-10 Paul compares our death with the destruction of the earthly tent. He shows that even then the faithful have a building from God in heaven, an eternal house. The apostle longed for the moment of taking up a dwelling place in that heavenly house. It is a heavenly home, that is, a purely spiritual body. It functions in the unseen world only.

    What is now the resurrection of the dead? Does it mean that the graves are opened and the tombstones lifted and dead people suddenly arise? But then how about those who died ages ago whose graves have vanished? How about the martyrs who were burned, their ashes strewn out in the river? The answer is in 1Cor 15:35-49: ‘But some one will ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come? You foolish man! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body which is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as He has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body.’

    The kernel has the invisible life in itself and this life is the beginning of the new plant. The kernel does not produce a kernel, but a new plant which will produce new kernels later. The new life starts at regeneration and it grows just like a plant develops from the seed. The seed is not made alive, it dies. But that which was its life develops into a new plant.

    In the same way the physical body that dies is not made alive again but decomposes in the same way as the outside of the kernel. The inner life develops into a new appearance, different from the seed, but in keeping with the laws of life that were hidden in it. From every seed an individual body develops. It may be a tree, a shrub, or some kind of corn or any other kind of plant. The plant that develops may be compared with the spiritual house. The seed that vanished decomposes to dust, picture of the natural body, but the plant itself develops in another atmosphere where there is light and air and sun.

    When the Lord returns those who slept in Christ will be raised, they will arise first. Their spiritual body is raised (1Cor 15:44), but their physical body has long returned to dust and will not be raised.

    Resurrection is a new life and work in the unseen world. Those who have fallen asleep have rested from their labors, but at a sign of the Most High they will arise and take up their work. The power of God gives substance to their spiritual bodies, giving it flesh and bones, similar to ;hat of the glorified Lord. At all times, however the spiritual body remains spiritual, that is subjected to spiritual laws only, not to earthly laws. For that reason it is not confined in time or place; this body cannot be localized or entered into a time-scheme.

    Life in the body of resurrection is a mystery but I will try to draw a weak comparison. We know that water vapor is invisible. It is subject to the physical laws for gases. Water vapor is even able to penetrate walls. Under certain circumstances, however, it is transformed and becomes visible as water, fog, hoarfrost, snow or hail, which are all subjected to the laws for solids or liquids. The Lord’s immortal body was able to penetrate doors but at the same time Jesus said: ‘See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have’ (Luke 24:39). When Jesus ascended to heaven a cloud ‘took Him out of their sight.’ Now He is in the heavenly places only, although the possibility exists for our Lord to appear in a visible shape (Mark 16:12). This is what happened to John at Patmos, and to Paul, who is told that he is appointed ‘to see the Just One and to hear a voice from his mouth’ (Acts 22:14).

    During his life on earth a Christian moves in two worlds. In his physical body he is on earth, ‘away from the Lord’ in a foreign country but his spiritual body is in Christ, that is in Christ’s body. When he dies he is detached from the natural sphere and dwells with the Lord only. When Jesus returns to earth He is accompanied by the saints who have fallen asleep. When He appears they will appear with Him. The Christians who are alive left until the coming of the Lord. will be changed in a moment, ‘in the twinkling of an eye,’ and their perishable bodies will be transformed into immortal and glorified bodies. In these bodies they will be caught up to meet the Lord to join the saints who have already risen (1Thess 4:16-17). Then the time has come that the ‘planting of the Lord’ will be functioning anew and bear new fruit. These ‘trees of life,’ the bible says, will bear fruit twelve times, yielding it each month, and their leaves (the gifts of the spirit) are for the healing of the nations.

    In discussing this foundation I did not include the last resurrection in which the dead, small and great, will stand before the throne of God.

    [Note: Portions of the above were originally sourced from a JEvdBrink study]

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