20:4 describes the people of God being seated on thrones and being
given the power to rule.
I saw thrones on which were
seated those who had been given authority to judge
This coming to life to rule is
called the first resurrection, and it is linked with the binding
This is the first
resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part 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. Rev 20:5,6.
The first resurrection is not a
future event. It is the rebirth of the believer that takes place
at conversion. Paul taught that those who are baptised into
Christ, have not only died with him, but are raised with him (Rom
Having been buried with him
in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power
of God….God made you alive with Christ. Col 2:12,13.
God raised us up with Christ
and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.
These two verses are past tense.
A Christian is united by faith with Christ in his death and
resurrection. He has died with Christ, and is raised to new life
in him. At the moment he believes, he is born again to a new life.
In the spiritual dimension, he is raised up to sit at the right
hand of the Father and reigns with Jesus. He is able to reign
because Satan is bound. This is the first resurrection. It takes
place at the resurrection of Jesus (or when believers appropriate
it by being born again), when new life was established for all who
would believe in him in the future.
The first resurrection is only
for those who have faith in Jesus.
The rest of the dead did not
come to life until the thousand years were ended (Rev 20:5).
This is the second resurrection.
It is the resurrection of the body that takes place at the second
coming of Jesus at the end of the age (Rev 20:12,13).
The first resurrection gives new
spiritual life to believers. Those outside Christ are spiritually
dead. The second resurrection is the general resurrection of both
the righteous and the wicked at the end of the age.
These two resurrections are distinguished in
I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word
and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be
condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the
truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the
voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live…. Do not be
amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their
graves will hear his voice and come out--those who have done good
will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be
Jesus said that whoever hears his word
and believes, has eternal life: he has already crossed from death
to life. The time has already come when people who are spiritually
dead will hear the voice of God and live (John 5:24,25). This is
the first resurrection. It is limited to those who believe in
Jesus. It has already taken place, as it happens when a person
believes in Jesus (or more correctly when Jesus was raised). Jesus
spoke of the second resurrection at the same time (John 5:28,29).
He said that all people will hear the voice of God in their
graves. The righteous will rise to eternal life, and the wicked
will rise to be condemned. This resurrection involves all people.
It takes place at the end of the age, just before the last
Christians have tended to forget
the significance of the resurrection for human history. It is not
just proof of Jesus’ divinity. It did not just win new life for
believers. The resurrection brought a dramatic change in the
balance of power in the world. Satan’s power was destroyed.
Jesus was established as Lord of all creation. Those who are
raised with him share in that tremendous victory. At the
resurrection God began to work in the world in a powerful and
dramatic way. He will continue to work until his kingdom is
complete. This is why the resurrection is so important. Those who
were raised with Christ at the first resurrection will rule with
him. This ruling is not something that takes place in the future,
but is something that Christians should be doing in the present
age. They are seated on the throne of God now. They have already
experienced the first resurrection. Having been raised with
Christ, we should be ruling with him. Because Christians have lost
sight of the authority that they have in Jesus, this ruling has
not been a reality.