The First Resurrection in Revelation Chapter 20.
One of the arguments from the post-tirbers against a pre-trib Rapture and those that don’t believe in a Rapture at all, is the mention of the first resurrection with verse 5 of Rev. 20. Many base their whole view concerning the Rapture or if there is a Rapture at all from this verse.
Rev. 20 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 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 post-trib view says since here it says this is the first resurrection, this is the resurrection that occurs with the Rapture, that this proves that the resurrection with the Rapture cannot be pre-trib, that it has to occur with the 2nd coming proving a post-trib Rapture. Those that don’t believe in a Rapture at all say this is the only resurrection.
Well, we see that this resurrection in chapter 20 is ‘after’ the resurrection and the catching up of the Church age saints, and that Jesus and the Church age saints have returned from heaven and Jesus is sitting on his Throne here on Earth to judge the nations and the earthly Kingdom of God has begun.
This first resurrection has nothing to do with the resurrection with the Rapture. The resurrection with the Rapture is for the Church age saints. The resurrection after Jesus has returned is for the Tribulation saints and the Old Testament saints. We see in Rev. chapter 20 that the Kingdom of God has begun. We’ve come to the end of the age. The new age has begun. This resurrection is the first that has to do with the Kingdom of God.
Let’s do a walk thru of the scriptures.
Paul tells us of a resurrection and a catching up of the living that Paul referred to as ‘in him’, in Christ, occurring together, at the same time.
1 Thes. 4: 13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep (died) in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep (died). 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and (the dead in Christ will rise first). 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be (caught up together with them) in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
Concerning the catching up, the Rapture, some like to argue that there’s no Rapture because the word rapture is not in the Bible. But it is. You just read it. The New Testament was written in Greek. They didn’t have the English word ‘Rapture’ for Paul to use. The phrase ‘caught up’ is from the Greek word Harpazo. It became the Latin word Raptus in the Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible. It later became the English word Rapture. As I just said, the New Testament was written in Greek, then translated from Greek into Latin, then into English. The translators chose to use the translation of the word Harpazo. So, the Rapture could be called the catching up. The word rapture just became the English word used to describe this event. I would also point out that the word Trinity is not in the Bible, but everyone agrees this is referring to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Trinity has just become the word used to describe God in 3 persons, just like the word rapture has come to be used to describe the catching up of believers.
Now for those who want to assert that Paul's use of caught up is meaning something other than being caught up to heaven, here's another instance of which Paul used the word Harpazo. Here, Paul was actually referring to himself.
2 Cor. 12:2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was (caught up) to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4 was (caught up) to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.
So, what occurs with the Rapture? First, in 1 Thes. 4 we see that Jesus will bring with him from heaven the spirit/souls of those that have already died that are referred to as ‘in him’. Their bodies are raised from the dead, resurrected, recreated.
Next, with verse 17 of 1 Thessalonians 4, we see those that are alive will have their bodies changed and will be ‘caught up together’ with them and will meet in the air, clouds. Then Paul said, and so we will be with the Lord forever. Notice no mention of coming down to the earth. Jesus is returning back to heaven. John 14:1-3.
Look at what Jesus said in John chapter 14: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
Notice he said he is going to his Father’s house to prepare a place for them, he did this with his ascension, which now is also addressing the Church. Which should be obvious since this did not occur with the disciples. They all died.
Jesus said in his Father’s house are many rooms. His Father‘s house is in heaven. And he said that he would come back and take the Church, his faithful followers there to be with him, that we would be where he is. He’s coming from heaven to the earth, but from what we just read from Paul, he is only returning in the air. Here Jesus describes “a coming for” His saints to take them to the Father's house. This is a description of the Rapture in contrast to the Second Coming. "This passage indicates that the believer is going to go to heaven, to the Father’s house at the time of Jesus’ coming for Him." This does not occur at the Second Coming because we see that will be a time in which Jesus comes ‘with’ His saints, who are already in heaven, see Rev. 19, not for His saints as John 14:1-3 requires. Furthermore, at Jesus’ 2nd coming he is not going back to heaven, he is coming down to the earth. Jesus is unveiling a new revelation about the Rapture of the Church. This is actually an illustration taken from how the Jewish Wedding Custom was.
We see in the Old Testament customs that were types and patterns, foreshadows of the coming of the Messiah and what he would do for mankind. The 7 yearly Jewish festivals for example. The most well-known is of course, Passover and the Passover Lamb and first fruits(Easter). We see in the New Testament and the Book of Revelation that Jesus is referred to as the Lamb of God. John the Baptist called him the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. The Lambs were sacrificed on Passover. Jesus was crucified on Passover. The feast of Unleavened Bread. Jesus' body was in the tomb. First Fruits(Easter), Jesus rose from the dead. Then Pentecost, the out pouring, giving of the Holy Spirit. These first 4 festivals have all now been fulfilled by Jesus. The remaining 3 of Trumpets, Atonement and Tabernacles are yet to be fulfilled. We see that the Jewish wedding custom also foreshadows what God the Father and Jesus would do. With the Jewish wedding custom we see the whole plan of salvation.
The Jewish wedding custom, the groom would go to the bride to Be’s house where he and his father would pay her father the price for her. You were legally married at this time; you just didn't come together as man and wife. Remember Joseph and Mary, how Joseph sought to divorce her quietly, but they hadn't come together as man and wife yet. The groom would return to his father’s house where he would build/prepare a room for her. Jesus came from heaven, from the Father's house to earth. He paid the price for us, his bride on the cross. With his ascension he returned to the Father's house where he is preparing rooms, dwelling places for his bride. John 14:2.
When the allotted amount of time had been met, the father would tell his son to return to the bride’s house and get her and bring her back to his house. John 14 v3 I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. With the Jewish wedding custom no one would know when the groom was going to return to the bride’s house to get her, not even the groom. Only the groom’s father. The father would tell his son when it was time. You see Jesus makes a reference to this with Mt. 24 v36, about that day or hour no one knows. He also said, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son knows, but only the Father. Again, no one except the Father would know when this would be not even the Groom. The bride would be making herself ready during this time. When the Father would tell his Son it was time to go get his bride he would leave his father’s house and return to the brides house to get her at a time unknown to her, at least the exact time wasn’t known.
The bride and her attendants, bridesmaids would watch and wait. When they heard the announcement that the bridegroom was returning the bride would make final preparations and then the bride and her bridesmaids would go out to meet the Groom. The streets would be lit. There would be the blowing of a trumpet/trumpets. There would be a procession back to the Father’s house. Sound familiar? We see in 1 Thes. 4: 16 of the Rapture Paul says, For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God. With the Rapture he will return from the Father's to receive his bride and take her, us back to his Father's house.
With the Jewish wedding custom the bride and groom would stay in the room prepared for her, called the bridal chamber for 7 days. During these 7 days there was a celebration, the wedding banquet. This was also known as the bridal week. Guests were invited to the wedding banquet. After the 7 days they would come out of the bridal chamber for the wedding supper/feast. We see this in Rev. 19, Jesus and his bride coming out of the bridal chamber, the Church age saints returning with Jesus from heaven back to earth for the wedding supper/feast. For more details see ‘Is the Rapture in the Bible’ and ‘The Jewish Wedding and the Rapture’. Don’t stop reading now.
In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul gives more insight into what happens with being changed. We see that the Rapture is a mystery. By the way, I’m not going to go into it here, but the last trumpet here is not the 7th trumpet in Revelation. For one John hadn’t received and written the book of Revelation yet. See the lesson 'Is the Last Trumpet the 7th Trumpet' on the lessons page all about the Rapture.
1 Cor. 15:51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep(die), but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and (we will be changed). 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.
Paul also mentions this in his letter to the Philippians.
Phil. 3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will (transform) our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
With Revelation chapter 19 we Jesus’ 2nd coming. We see he’s returning back down to the earth.
Rev. 19: 11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.
In verses 7 & 8 we are told who these are riding on white horses dressed in fine linen, white and clean. We see the Church age saints as a bride then as the armies of heaven. We know from Paul that the Church is the bride of Christ, that we have been betrothed to Christ.
7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.
8 Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.”
(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)
for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. NKJV
Now do you see a problem here? Here we see Jesus coming from heaven WITH his bride, the Church. The Church age saints are coming from heaven with Jesus. John said he saw heaven standing open. So, the Church age saints had to have been resurrected, Raptured, caught up before Jesus’ 2nd coming. Also, here with the 2nd coming Jesus and the Church are not going back to heaven as Jesus said in John 14, but are coming back down to the earth. This alone shows that the Rapture doesn’t occur at the time of Jesus’ 2nd coming and there is a resurrection before Jesus’ second coming. There is a resurrection before the first resurrection mentioned in Rev. ch. 20.
Let’s look at what takes place in chapter 20 after Jesus has returned to the Earth and is seated on his Throne. We know from Jesus that this takes place after he has returned back down to the earth and the earthly Kingdom of God has begun.
Mt. 19:28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Mt. 25: 31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
Rev. 20: 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 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.
With verse 4 John says he saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. This is the 24 elders we see in chapters 4 & 5 of Revelation of which 12 will be the first apostles, which includes Matthias since he replaced Judas, as well as others that are mentioned in the New Testament like Paul, that had a major role in establishing the early Church.
We see a clear description of what will be happening during the Tribulation. We see this from the statement, “the ‘souls’ of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life”. We see here AFTER Jesus and the Church age saints have returned to the earth those that died during the Tribulation being raised from the dead. But wait a minute. Paul in 1 Thes. 4 said the dead in Christ rise first, resurrected, then those that are alive and remain are changed, caught up, Raptured.
If the Rapture, if the resurrection had just occurred in Rev. 19 with Jesus’ 2nd coming, these we see here that died during the Tribulation would have already been raised from the dead. Paul said the dead in Christ will rise first. Paul also said that those that are alive at that time will have their bodies changed, transformed into immortal glorified bodies. We just saw from Rev. 19 the Church, the bride of Christ coming from heaven with Jesus. And we don’t have any mention of a catching up, transforming of the bodies of those that are alive as Paul says in 1 Thes. 4.
With the Rapture Paul said the dead in Christ will rise first then those that are alive and remain will be changed. As we saw above, these in chapter 20 if they were also the Church age saints, they would have already been raised, resurrected. The post-trib rapture view with having the resurrection in chapter 20 the resurrection with the Rapture has the opposite occurring of what Paul said. A post-trib Rapture has the changing, transforming and catching up of the living first then the dead in Christ being raised, resurrected. As I just said, the opposite of what Paul said.
Those that don’t believe there’s going to be a Rapture, a catching up, ignore the scriptures or change what a plain sense reading says. But from the scriptures we’ve just looked at, I don’t see how someone cannot see there is indeed going to be a Rapture, a transforming of the bodies and catching up of the living saints in Jesus. And I don’t see how someone can say the resurrection in chapter 20 of Revelation is the resurrection with the Rapture.
This first resurrection has nothing to do with the resurrection with the Rapture. The resurrection with the Rapture is for the Church age saints. The resurrection after Jesus has returned is for the Tribulation saints and the Old Testament saints. We see from Daniel chapter 12 all those that are found righteous during the Old Testament times are raised at this time also.
We see with 1 Thes. 4 verse 14 that, 'God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep (died in Jesus) in him', and with verse 16 'the dead in Christ will rise first'. The catching up, the Rapture, this resurrection is of only the Church age Saints, not the Old Testament Saints. The Old Testament Saints were not in Jesus, not in Christ. They are not included in the Church. They are not included in the body of Christ. We're told that the Church is the body of Christ. The Church wasn't created, formed until the day of Pentecost.
In Chapter 12 of Daniel, the Angel Gabriel tells Daniel after the second half of the Tribulation, at the end of days he will rise to receive his allotted inheritance. He started the chapter off with, '“At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress(Tribulation) such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time (your people)—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. 2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. … We see Jesus describes the 2nd half of the Tribulation in Mt.24 15-31.
The resurrection of the Old Testament Saints occurs with the Tribulation saints we see occurring in Rev. chapter 20. In John chapter 6 verses 39 thru 54 and John 11 v24 Jesus mentions the resurrection at the last day. We see this resurrection with Revelation chapter 20. The New Covenant hadn’t begun yet. Jesus was speaking still under the Old Covenant. Remember we just saw from the scriptures that there has to be a resurrection before Jesus’ 2nd coming, and we saw that this first resurrection in Rev. ch. 20 is after Jesus has returned and is seated on his Throne to judge.
Look at what we are told with John chapter 12, 48There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day. … We see from Matthew 13, 19 and 25 after the Tribulation, after Jesus has returned, that Jesus will sit on his Throne here on Earth and will Judge the nations. We see that here with Revelation chapter 20.
We see there is a resurrection before Jesus’ 2nd coming and there’s a resurrection after Jesus has returned. The resurrection that occurs with the Rapture is a resurrection of the Church age saints, not the Old Testament or Tribulation saints.
We see here in Rev. chapter 20 that the Kingdom of God has begun. We’ve come to the end of the age. The new age has begun. This resurrection is the first that has to do with the Kingdom of God.
We see with verses 5 and 11 thru 15 after the 1000-year Kingdom of God another resurrection mentioned. Daniel’s ‘others to shame and everlasting contempt’. The first resurrection is at the beginning of the Kingdom, the second is at the end of the Kingdom. This first resurrection has nothing to do with the resurrection with the Rapture. This is another case of not taking all the scriptures into account and not paying attention to what is being said.
One more point about this first resurrection. This is not the first resurrection mentioned in the New Testament. You know of course of Jesus’ resurrection, but read what we are told occurred after Jesus was raised. Mt. 27: 52 and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep(died) were raised; 53 and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many. … So, we see with this there’s a resurrection before the first resurrection in Rev. 20. We are not told weather these continued living and later died again or were taken up to heaven with Jesus. In either case, they would have been the wave offering the High Priest would make. When Jesus died on the cross, he was our sacrificial lamb, when he rose from the grave, he became our High Priest.
This first resurrection has nothing to do with the resurrection with the Rapture. This first resurrection is at the beginning of the Earthly Kingdom, the second is at the end of the Earthly Kingdom. This resurrection is the first that has to do with the Kingdom of God.
Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus.