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Revelation 20:5

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

The rest of the dead lived not again - It is generally supposed from these passages that all who have been martyred for the truth of God shall be raised a thousand years before the other dead, and reign on earth with Christ during that time, after which the dead in general shall be raised; but this also is very doubtful.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

But the rest of the dead - In contradistinction from the beheaded martyrs, and from those who had kept themselves pure in the times of great temptation. The phrase “rest of the dead” here would most naturally refer to the “same general class” which was before mentioned - the pious dead. The meaning is, that the martyrs would be honored as if they were raised up and the others not - that is, that special respect would be shown to their principles, their memory, and their character. In other words, “special” honor would be shown “to a spirit of eminent piety” during that period above the “common and ordinary” piety which has been manifested in the church. The “rest of the dead” - the pious dead - would indeed be raised up and rewarded, but they would occupy comparatively humble places, as if they did not partake in the exalted triumphs when the world should be subdued to the Saviour. Their places in honor, in rank, and in reward would be “beneath” that of those who in fiery times had maintained unshaken fidelity to the cause of truth.

Lived not - On the word “lived,” see the notes on Revelation 20:4. That is, they “lived” not during that period in the special sense in which it is said Revelation 20:4 that the eminent saints and martyrs lived. They did not come into remembrance; their principles were not what then characterized the church; they did not see, as the martyrs did, their principles and mode of life in the ascendency, and consequently they had not the augmented happiness and honor which the more eminent saints and martyrs had.

Until the thousand years were finished - Then all who were truly the children of God, though some might be less eminent than others had been, would come into remembrance, and would have their proper place in the rewards of heaven. The “language” here is not necessarily to be interpreted as meaning that they would be raised up then, or would live then, whatever may be true on that point. It is merely an emphatic mode of affirming that “up to float period they would not live” in the sense in which it is affirmed that the others would. But it is not affirmed that they would even then “live” immediately. A “long” interval might elapse before that would occur in the general resurrection of the dead. See the Analysis of the chapter.

This is the first resurrection - The resurrection of the saints and martyrs, as specified in Revelation 20:4. It is called the “first” resurrection in contradistinction from the second and last - the general resurrection - when all the dead will be “literally” raised up from their graves and assembled for the judgment, Revelation 20:12. It is not necessary to suppose that what is called here the “first resurrection” will resemble the real and literal resurrection in every respect. All that is meant is, that there will be such a resemblance as to make it proper to call it a resurrection - a coming to life again. This will be, as explained in the notes on Revelation 20:4, in the honor done to the martyrs, in the restoration of their principles as the great actuating principles of the church, and perhaps in the increased happiness conferred on them in heaven, and in their being employed in promoting the cause of truth in the world.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Here is an account of the reign of the saints, for the same space of time as Satan is bound. Those who suffer with Christ, shall reign with him in his spiritual and heavenly kingdom, in conformity to him in his wisdom, righteousness, and holiness: this is called the first resurrection, with which none but those who serve Christ, and suffer for him, shall be favoured. The happiness of these servants of God is declared. None can be blessed but those that are holy; and all that are holy shall be blessed. We know something thing of what the first death is, and it is very awful; but we know not what this second death is. It must be much more dreadful; it is the death of the soul, eternal separation from God. May we never know what it is: those who have been made partakers of a spiritual resurrection, are saved from the power of the second death. We may expect that a thousand years will follow the destruction of the antichristian, idolatrous, persecuting powers, during which pure Christianity, in doctrine, worship, and holiness, will be made known over all the earth. By the all-powerful working of the Holy Spirit, fallen man will be new-created; and faith and holiness will as certainly prevail, as unbelief and unholiness now do. We may easily perceive what a variety of dreadful pains, diseases, and other calamities would cease, if all men were true and consistent Christians. All the evils of public and private contests would be ended, and happiness of every kind largely increased. Every man would try to lighten suffering, instead of adding to the sorrows around him. It is our duty to pray for the promised glorious days, and to do every thing in our public and private stations which can prepare for them.
Ellen G. White
The Great Controversy, 661-2

Satan also and evil angels are judged by Christ and His people. Says Paul: “Know ye not that we shall judge angels?” Verse 3. And Jude declares that “the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, He hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.” Jude 6. GC 661.1

At the close of the thousand years the second resurrection will take place. Then the wicked will be raised from the dead and appear before God for the execution of “the judgment written.” Thus the revelator, after describing the resurrection of the righteous, says: “The rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.” Revelation 20:5. And Isaiah declares, concerning the wicked: “They shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited.” Isaiah 24:22. GC 661.2

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Ellen G. White
Sons and Daughters of God, 359

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. 1 Thessalonians 4:16. SD 359.1

The Life-giver will call up His purchased possession in the first resurrection, and until that triumphant hour, when the last trump shall sound and the vast army shall come forth to eternal victory, every sleeping saint will be kept in safety and will be guarded as a precious jewel, who is known to God by name. By the power of the Saviour that dwelt in them while living and because they were partakers of the divine nature, they are brought forth from the dead.31Letter 65a, 1894. SD 359.2

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Ellen G. White
Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, 84

Jesus and the saints return to the city. Satan goes forth among the vast multitude of resurrected wicked, and makes the feeble strong. He then points them to the countless millions who have been raised, and makes them believe that he, by his power, had brought them up from [their] graves. He points to the powerful race who lived before the flood, and to kings and warriors who were well skilled in battle, and flatters his subjects that their numbers are much greater than those in the city, that they can make war with them, and dethrone God and his Son Jesus Christ, and take the throne and occupy the city, and enjoy its richness and glory. As the wicked come forth from their graves, they resume the current of their thoughts where it ceased in death. The antediluvian race perished blaspheming God. Many perished in battle; they fell while thirsting to conquer; they rise with the same spirit of war that they possessed when they fell. They accept Satan as their general, and his angels as their officers. Satan and his angels were once inhabitants of the city; and they profess to understand just how to attack the city and take possession of it. With Satan at their head, they go up on the breadth of the earth, and compass the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city; and fire comes down from God out of Heaven and devours them. 3SG 85.1

Jesus and his loyal subjects ascend to the top of the city. The wicked host behold the splendor of the city, and the happy redeemed company upon its walls, and are amazed at the scene. They behold Jesus in his kingly majesty, his countenance surpassing the brightness of the sun, surrounded by the angelic throng. As the wicked look upon the redeemed, and see their faces radiant with glory, and glittering crowns upon their heads, their courage fails, and they wail in anguish as they realize that they chose a life of rebellion against God, and Jesus Christ their Saviour, and for their disloyalty have lost eternal life, and an imperishable treasure. Then many who had professed to be Christ's followers, but who had not honored God in their lives, enumerate their good deeds performed when they lived upon the earth, and entreat to be admitted into the city. They plead that their names were upon the church books, and they had prophesied in the name of Christ, and in his name cast out devils, and done many wonderful works. Christ answers, Your cases have been decided. Your names are not found enrolled in the book of life. You professed to believe in my name, but you trampled upon the law of God. I know you not, depart from me ye workers of iniquity. Satan and his angels try to encourage the wicked multitude to action; but fire descends from Heaven, and unites with the fire in the earth, and aids in the general conflagration. 3SG 86.1

Those majestic trees which God had caused to grow upon the earth, for the benefit of the inhabitants of the old world, and which they had used to form into idols, and to corrupt themselves with, God has reserved in the earth, in the shape of coal and oil to use as agencies in their final destruction. As he called forth the waters in the earth at the time of the flood, as weapons from his arsenal to accomplish the destruction of the antediluvian race, so at the end of the one thousand years he will call forth the fires in the earth as his weapons which he has reserved for the final destruction, not only of successive generations since the flood, but the antediluvian race who perished by the flood. 3SG 87.1

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Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7 (EGW), 986

Conduct Befitting the Bride of a King—The church is the bride, the Lamb's wife. She should keep herself pure, sanctified, holy. Never should she indulge in any foolishness; for she is the bride of a King. Yet she does not realize her exalted position. If she understood this, she would be all-glorious within (Letter 177, 1901). 7BC 986.1

(Chs. 3:4; 7:14; 16:15.) Clean Garments—The church is the bride of Christ, and her members are to yoke up with their Leader. God warns us not to defile our garments (Letter 123a, 1898). 7BC 986.2

11-16. See EGW on ch. 16:13-16. 7BC 986.3

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