NKJV - 5 But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
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To understand the term 'the rest of the dead' in Revelation 20:4, it needs to be put into context with the previous and the following verses. In Revelation 20:4 John in vision sees those that have given their life for God, and are sitting on the judgement seat with Christ. These are the people raised up in the first resurrection. In Revelation 20:6 it says: ' Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection, on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years ' Two resurrections: the first for the saved and the last for the unsaved. Jesus talks about two resurrections and the first of these is when He comes again: ' And shall come forth, they that have done good, to the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil, to the resurrection of damnation ' John 5:29 The 'rest of the dead' are those raised up in the second resurrection. Those that are lost. To put it simply when Jesus comes again He will resurrect His people and they will be sitting on the judgement seat living and reigning with Him for a thousand years. Revelation 20:4 Then, after the one thousand years the lost are resurrected and they are condemned to die. The second and final death. ' He which testifies these things says Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus. Revelation 22:20
Revelation 20:5, "But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection." In Luke 14:13,14 - "But when you have a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be rewarded at the resurrection of the just." The resurrection of the just, revealed in this verse in Luke, and the resurrection of life are distinguished from the resurrection mentioned in John: John 5:29, "And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of condemnation." This verse reveals that a separation exists in the resurrection process. Resurrection was believed by the patriarchs. (Genesis 22:5, Job 19:25-27). It was revealed by the prophets. (Isaiah 26:19, Daniel,12:2,13; Hose a 13:14) Jesus restored life to the dead, and foretold His own resurrection. A resurrection of bodies followed the resurrection of Christ. (Matthew 27:52,53) Apostles raised the dead. (Acts 9:36-41; 20:9,10) In the future there will be two more resurrections. All that are in the graves will be resurrected. -John 5:28, "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, (vs.29) And shall come forth: they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life..." -1Corinthians 15:52, "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (Vs.53) For this mortal body must put on immortality. -1 Thessalonians 4:14-17. Vs. 16 - " For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first:" Believers who have died, awaiting our Blessed Hope will be received. They shall be taken by Christ at this time, at His second coming. 1 Corinthians 15:23, "But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ's at His coming." Revelation 29:6 "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years." Revelation 20:11, " And I saw a great white throne... (vs. 12) And I saw the dead...and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books..." These are the rest of the dead. These are the unbelievers, facing the judgement. The believers are not going to be judged, except as to receive reward. See 1 Corinthians 3:11-15. There are 5 crowns we may earn. 1 Corinthians 9:24,25; 1Thessalonians 2:19,20; Daniel 12:3; James 1:12; Revelation 2:8-11; 2Timothy 4:8; and 1 Peter 5:1-4.
“The rest of the dead” are the wicked dead who will be raised and judged after the 1000 year reign of Christ. If you study the theology of Revelation (which we called Biblical Theology at Arizona Bible College in Phoenix, and I took the class), you will find that there is no assurance of life except for those who resist the beast (Rev. 20:4-6); those who worship the beast will receive everlasting torment (Rev. 14:9-11).
The rest of the dead come to life after the thousand years have ended in a figurative sense. It is only after proving themselves during the final test after Satan is released that they will obtain life in the fullest sense. Likewise Adam did not die immediately after eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Rather he was condemned to death on that very day. Furthermore, kingdom blessings are extended beyond the select group of believers who are ruling with Christ. Revelation 22:2 speaks of the leaves of the tree of life healing the nations. In Gen 22:18 God promises Abraham that through his seed ALL the nations will be blessed. This blessing culminates in God's kingdom rule of Christ. God's promise is to redeem mankind through his kingdom blessings. Therefore the judgment of the rest of the dead may be thought of as a process of restoration which occurs during the millennium. In this way the coming to life after the thousand years would be in the fullest sense of attainment after the judgment has been complete although the physical resurrection of the rest of the dead may have occurred much earlier during the thousand years itself.
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