Reign of the Saints

During the “thousand years,” Satan is imprisoned, and the victorious saints reign as priests. Ironically, the “rest of the dead” do not live until the “second death” at the “Great White Throne of Judgment.” Behind this image is Daniel’s vision of “one like a Son of Man” who receives the kingdom from the “Ancient of Days.”

In the book of Daniel, the prophet sees “thrones” surrounding the “Ancient of Days.” The individuals who sit on them are not identified, at least, not explicitly.

But in Revelation, their identity is made clear. These “thrones” are occupied by the victorious saints, the very thing promised to the congregation at Laodicea by Jesus - (Revelation 3:21 - “To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with me in my throne”).

  •  (Revelation 20:4-6) – “And I saw thrones and they sat upon them, and judgment was given for them, and I saw the souls of them who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and such as had not done homage to the beast or to his image, nor had received the mark upon their forehead or upon their hand, and they lived and reigned with the Christ for a thousand years.  The rest of the dead lived not until the thousand years ended. This is the first resurrection. Happy and holy is he that has a part in the first resurrection: upon these, the second death has no authority; but they shall be priests of God and of the Christ, and they will reign with him for the thousand years.”

JUDGMENT FOR THE SAINTS


After Satan is banished, “judgment was given,” and the Greek clause means that “judgment was given FOR THEM.” This alludes to the judgment scene in Daniel where the “Son of Man” appeared before the “Ancient of Days” and received the kingdom on behalf of the “saints” - (Daniel 7:9-14).

That judgment is made “for the saints” means either a judicial sentence in their favor or the bestowal of judicial authority on them. Considering the emphasis on “reigning,” the latter is most likely the intended sense. So, also, in the passage from Daniel, judgment was made “for the saints” that resulted in their “possession of the kingdom.”

These righteous men were “beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and the word of God.” This identifies the group as the believers who were persecuted for their “testimony,” that is, the “saints” against whom the “Beast from the sea” waged “war” - (Revelation 1:9, 6:9, 11:7, 12:11, 12:17).

This does not mean that only those who are killed for their “testimony” reign with Jesus. This company includes “such as have not done homage to the Beast.” For many, refusal to give allegiance to it means suffering and economic deprivation, if not actual martyrdom.

Elsewhere, overcoming “saints” are men who follow the “Lamb wherever he goes,” and consequently, they “come off victorious from the Beast, from his image, and from the number of his name” - (Revelation 14:1-4, 15:1-4).

LIVED AND REIGNED


The martyrs “lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.” Jesus is the “first and the last, who was dead and lived” - (kai ezésen). Likewise, these overcoming saints “lived” for the “thousand years” (ezésan). The passage includes verbal links to the letter for Smyrna that includes a warning that the congregation will experience “tribulation for ten days” - (Revelation 2:8-10).

This tribulation of ten days” is the source for the number, the thousand years. Numbers in Revelation are figurative, often doubled, and even tripled for effect. Elsewhere, overcoming believers qualify to sit on the throne in the same manner as Jesus did, by persevering in tribulations and martyrdom – (Revelation 1:5, 3:21).

The “first resurrection” means victorious saints will not participate in the “second death.” There is no mention of a “second resurrection” or a “first death.” The passage juxtaposes “first resurrection” with “second death.” Thus, the “saints” who persevere avoid the “second death,” but not necessarily physical death.

Likewise, the members of the church in Smyrna who remain faithful “unto death” will not “be hurt by the second death.” As for the “rest of the dead,” they will not be cast into the “Lake of Fire” until the Great White Throne of Judgment. Thus, they “lived not until the thousand years ended” - (Daniel 1:14, Revelation 2:7-11, 11:15-19, 20:11-15, 21:8).

Blessed and holy is he that has a part in the first resurrection.” This is the fifth of the seven beatitudes recorded in the book. Collectively, they define the blessed results for the disciple who perseveres – (Revelation 1:3, 14:13, 16:15, 19:9, 20:6, 22:7, 22:14).

Overcoming “saints” constitute a “kingdom of priests.” Previously, that status was presented as a present reality because of the shed blood of the “Lamb,” and if so, the reign of the saints as “priests” in the “thousand years” must point to that same reality. As “priests,” they mediate the “testimony of Jesus” to the nations. Priesthood is what defines their reign over the “nations”- (Revelation 1:5-6, 5:9-10).

And the rule of the “saints” is paradoxical. They “reign” even while persevering through persecution and martyrdom. By means of their faithful “testimony,” they participate with the “son” as he “shepherds” the nations - (Revelation 1:4-6, 2:27, 3:20-21, 5:5-7, 12:11).

The “thousand years” portrays the time between the coronation of the “Lamb” and the release of the “Dragon” for the “short time” when he makes his final attempt to eradicate the church – (Revelation 12:12, 20:7-9).

In the interim, the Devil persecutes the followers of the “Lamb.” However, he is not yet authorized to deceive the nations and lead them in a last-ditch effort to annihilate the church worldwide.

For now, overcoming believers “reign with Christ” by persevering in their “testimony of Jesus” - Even “unto death.” In this way, they advance the “kingdom of God” and the sovereignty of the “Lamb” over the earth.


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